A Father's letter

I must say, at first I thought the primary reason for sending one’s child to a private school was the advantage it provided in academic grades. However, although it is true that there is an evident academic advantage, I was wrong in thinking that this was the primary reason. From observing the progress of my son during the five years that he has been receiving a private education, I have realised that he has acquired something much more important than mere grades. He has acquired a specific type of personality that I struggle to describe concisely.

Although he has obtained the respectable grades of: 8 A*s and 2As in GCSE; I find that the type of person he has become is a much more valuable asset to have. Through hobbies such as debating and MUN he has built on his (already relatively high) confidence. It seems that schools, such as the one my son goes to, do not allow one to simply coast along and thus force its pupils to adapt and become good at doing so. One is forced to develop a wide range of social skills since in many cases you are obliged to. In my son’s own words: ‘you literally live with some people you dislike so you kinda have to be savoir faire about it’ (to this day I am not one hundred percent sure what savoir faire means).

My son has developed this attitude where academic excellence isn’t something to be praised or very proud of but rather ‘expected’. This can be seen in how he simply shrugged off his GCSE grades saying that: ’well – probably could have done better in English’ while I was euphoric. It is the same with all his reports that largely do nothing but praise him yet he doesn’t give it much thought. After GCSE’s (once exposed to all the free time he regained) he decided to start learning the piano and then the guitar. However, when I asked him what he thought was the most valuable asset he has gained during his time at Shrewsbury he thought for a while. He then replied quite shrewdly: ‘the ability to talk absolute nonsense while maintaining a high degree of confidence and conviction’.

My son won’t admit it but in my humble opinion he is truly set for life. There isn’t a moment where I don’t think that the majority of this is due to the education he has received and the environment he spends most of his time in. This education and environment, that he experiences, wasn’t something I was able to provide him with. Therefore, I am sincerely grateful that despite my own limitations, my son is able to have this. There truly isn’t a day that passes where the thought of my son’s truly extraordinary circumstances doesn’t cross my mind. On behalf of my son and me, I sincerely thank all who have helped him.

With thanks to Yousuf (a family friend) who translated this whole paragraph.