The Value of Primary Education
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The Value of Primary Education

John Evans, Headmaster of Royal Russell Junior School, reflects on the value of primary education on a young learner’s long-term outcome

The continuing economic uncertainty is causing some families to ask themselves tough questions regarding independent education. With a natural concern around public examinations, it can dismiss how much difference a truly deep and broad primary education can have on future outcomes. 

Royal Russell School

Royal Russell School

Over my 20 years in schools, the one element of education that has not changed is that everyone has a passion. Every child has something that hooks them into school life and, eventually, develops their love of learning for the future. Truly great schools actively seek this moment for each child and the result is an affinity with personal development and growth that should last a lifetime. Missing this opportunity in the formative years means that the ‘sell’ of rigorous academic performance in teenage years may be even more challenging. 

The early years of child development are crucial. Not only in terms of character and personality, but physiologically. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to modify its connections and function in response to its environment, a process fundamental in learning. Young children demonstrate greater neuroplasticity than adults and capitalising on this stage of development is too good an opportunity to miss. A rich and vibrant learning environment with an explicit focus on Early Years and Primary development will pay dividends in the future. 

Individual pursuits: children find their passion at Royal Russell School

Individual pursuits: children find their passion at Royal Russell School

In a world of stickers, grades and reports, the importance of intrinsic motivation and the development of self-efficacy can be missed. Honing an environment where children foster their sense of self-worth and belief in their own abilities is vital. This is so powerful that a child’s perceived self-efficacy can be more important in determining their career and socio-economic outcomes than the beliefs of their parents or even their own actual academic achievement (Bandura et al: Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Shapers of Children’s Aspirations and Career Trajectories). In short, building self–belief must start from an early age. 

As senior schools, universities and employers continually move the goal posts for what they look for in prospective students or employees, a successful Early Years and Primary education focusing on breadth, depth and child-centered development is a necessity. 

Sports lesson at Royal Russell School

Sports lesson at Royal Russell School

Find out more: Royal Russell School is different by design. It provides boys and girls aged 3–18 with an outstanding range of exciting learning opportunities in a day and boarding environment. You are invited to its Junior School Open Morning on Friday 23 February, from 9.00am to 10.30am. For more information, visit their website or email [email protected].