Independent education is often considered at secondary level, but not by the parents of younger children. Christ Church Cathedral School headmaster Richard Murray explains the benefits.

ONE of the activities which the boys at Christ Church Cathedral School love to pursue is playground football.

Part of our game involves kicking the ball against the wall of Campion Hall, belonging to the Jesuits, of whom the present Pope is a member.

It was their founder, Ignatius Loyola who said: “Give me a child until 7 and I will give you the man.”

Though he will not have had the benefit of modern psychology, he well understood the importance of education in the early years and there is no doubt that the earlier that children receive decent education the more they will benefit from it. In Form 2, (when the boys turn seven) the difference in attainment between pupils at Christ Church and many other schools is marked.

I have seen parents decide to transfer to us at the moment they see the books in our Form 2 classroom.

We have just had the first round of our writing competition – all the pupils from Form 3 upwards have to produce an investigative essay and I was leafing through the titles of essays written by our Form 7 boys – a group of 11-year-olds.

Among them I noticed 'What is the cause of semantic change?', 'Why was Everest not conquered until the 1950s?' and 'How stable is Armenia?'

I was also delighted that my son, a pupil at the school, had as his homework one of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, 'Batter my heart three person’d God.'

I talked it through with him and it was clear that he had gained a great deal from considering the poem.

There is little that pupils of this age can’t tackle if aspirations are sufficiently high and teaching is appropriately sensitive and inspired.

Another aspect of independent education at an early age is that boys and girls are allowed to be the people that they wish to be.

Independent schools tend to promote real independence and encourage people to develop interests which they love.

We have boys who are nationally successful at real tennis, we have a pupil who is in the top three in the country in his age group at chess, we have boys who have been auditioned for a Stephen Spielberg film, in music we have pupils who gain distinction at Grade 8 as well as boys who play sports for their county.

Class sizes are small, which means that teachers are able to attend to the individual needs of pupils, something which is key to academic success.

Who would not wish their children to have the tools to reason and the knowledge to see through false argument?

Who would not wish their children to have choices in life rather than to have to settle for the expected or the mediocre?

As a consequence of their early training, many of our pupils go on to win awards at senior school

Last year from a group of 15, 10 won awards including three academic scholarships.

Many of these come with bursaries which makes possible an education at an expensive secondary school.

These bursaries are often given by senior schools because they value what a pupil has to offer and that pupil is able to offer these things because of the preparation provided by an independent junior school like ours.