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Independent Schools are for everyone

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Zanna Meynell (front right)

By Zanna Meynell - Year 13 Monkton Pupil

When I told my friends from my previous school that I was planning on going to a boarding school for sixth form the general reaction was that of surprise and worry that I was going to change and fulfil the stereotype of a posh, entitled girl. They definitely did not need to worry.

While there are widely believed stereotypes, on the whole they are entirely inaccurate - particularly at Monkton. The wide range of people and cultures at Monkton highlights this in itself. I love the fact that while I do have friends that are from England, I also have friends from Nigeria, Germany and Hong Kong - just to name a few. Monkton is not simply for the white middle class - it is a school for anyone who is willing to learn and embrace the opportunities that it provides. In my opinion, one of the best ways to describe Monkton is community. From the moment I arrived, my social status was not judged (as I was ignorantly warned it might be) and instead I was welcomed in and subsequently settled in very quickly. I still remember going home for my first leave weekend (having only spent a few weeks at Monkton) and enthusiastically raving about Monkton to both my parents and friends that I caught up with.

I feel very lucky that as the daughter of a vicar, I am able to get money off my fees, a benefit that many receive - whether that be because they have parents working in the clergy, army or because of various scholarships. The fact that the school is able to provide so many with the chance to come without having to pay the full fees highlights the fact that it welcomes people of varying economic status. The stereotypical attitude of entitlement is replaced by gratitude for the breadth of opportunities that Monkton gives us. We are here all day and all week which means there is always time to spend on the playing field, in the music rooms and on the stage. This allows us to grow in confidence, make strong friendships and develop our interests.

Coming to Monkton has done so much for me. As I come to the end of year 13 and both look towards my exams and think back to what I was like when I started (with boarding school still as a total unknown) I can see this clearly. I arrived as someone with relatively low self-confidence, yet through various opportunities such as talking in chapel about our school charity or debating in the Academic society, my confidence has grown immeasurably. Being at an independent school allows for smaller classes which have made a huge difference to my A levels as teachers have been able to give me a  considerable amount of personal help and constantly put students first to ensure they understand what they are learning. It is such a shame that independent schools are often associated with negative stereotypes as Monkton has impacted me both academically and personally in so many ways and I am SO glad I took the leap and came.

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