A School Boy's perspective of Independent School

Posted on: 12 Aug 2014

By Will Charley, pupil at Hampton School.

As part of his Work Experience, Hampton School pupil, Will Charley, age 15, spent a day at the ISC offices. Here he gives his perspective on why it’s the wealth of co-curricular activities that makes a schoolboy’s life special at an HMC school…

Going to an independent school. You may think it’s all long ties, shiny shoes and overly expensive fees. But you’d be wrong.

In September 2012, I joined Hampton School: a renowned, all boys, highly academic school.

It’s for students who have high aims and would like to prosper at professional careers in Mathematics, English, Sciences and History, as well as the more arty subjects including drama, art and music. Yet as the saying so clearly goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And Jack (or rather Will) was not going to put up with no play time.

So the first thing I did was begin to play the drums.

Yes, that loud ‘instrument’ which only thick, rebellious adolescents seem to crash out on.

However, I would quickly like to dispel this myth. The drums are as much a musical instrument as the piano. Furthermore, they bring around huge rhythmical help to fellow players and are a great source of stress relief. (They also happen to be a great retaliation when the neighbour starts to mow their lawn as loudly as they can at 7AM on a Saturday.)

But it was due to learning the drums which truly brought me to the great wonders of co-curricular activities available to the ordinary boy at an independent school. The next thing to do was join a band; and Hello, Work In Progress© was created.

Not only can I easily say my best friends quickly came from my fellow band members; but we immediately formed such a close friendship that within just weeks we were already promising to write each other’s names down to be together in the sixth form.

Now of course I’m not saying you can’t make a band outside of an independent school. Yet, where else are you going to find three rooms with four drum kits and enough space for a Steinway, a bass, two guitars and a professional quality xylophone? All simply available in our 75 minute lunch break.

Another possibly more practical opportunity also showed its head, amongst the repeated destruction of the band’s rendition of I’m a Believer and Chasing Cars. I quickly enrolled for the Duke of Edinburgh award. This involves volunteering within the community, keeping actively fit and honing your technique on a chosen skill.

As well as this, it includes two camping trips with your friends, in whom you’re completely self-reliant; from route planning; cooking your own meals to pitching your own tents (to which I can say we learnt the hard way.) Also added on, (but maybe best forgotten) come being flooded out in the middle of a rainy night, ending up with your face planted in boggy wet mud, rows and sing- alongs in all weathers.

It’s a fantastic experience and great to build up friendships and build your team working skills as well as your (originally) inexperienced knowledge of how to camp in the pouring rain and in the blistering sun. Considering its cost effectiveness and simple ability to run over a weekend or two, I was hugely amazed and once again thankful for the chance to do all these co-curricular activities.

Our school also shares some activities with our neighbouring schools, which makes it even more fun.

Take the Combined Cadet Force at our school. The girls at Lady Eleanor Holles are welcomed and so are the students from Hampton Academy, the state school just next door. We recently just had our latest influx of new ‘cadets’, with some numbers of turquoise coloured polo shirts from Hampton Academy. Excellent! Last year there were just five new cadets, but after just one “Parade, ‘shun!” it looks like there are a lot more this year who will be able to experience with us the brilliant opportunities I’ve been so lucky to enjoy.

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The ISC Press Office posts blogs on behalf of ISC schools and Associations.