Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life, especially when it comes to education.
A quick look at league tables shows that the North-East's independent schools are getting the best results and are consistently at the top of the tables.
However, surveys reveal the main reasons parents choose to educate their children in the independent sector are based more on the cultural advantages.
A disciplined environment where respect for others underpins the ethos of the school is often the main selling point.
The North-East's private schools have a strong track record for inspiring students to flourish and become confident, happy and well-rounded individuals.
Whatever your child's abilities, his or her talents will be nurtured in smaller classes where the child can develop a real sense of belonging and self-worth.
Contrary to popular belief, about half of private school pupils have parents who were educated in the state system. One third are from families where neither parent is a university graduate and one fifth have parents who are neither university graduates nor attended independent schools.
It may also be more affordable than you think, with a number of scholarships available each year, based purely on academic merit, which can reduce fees by up to 50%. For parents requiring financial assistance with fees, bursaries may be granted.
Of course, the only real way to appreciate how much an independent school can offer your child is to arrange an informal visit on a school day. Alternatively, many schools have open days.
Mowden Hall School is Northumberland's leading preparatory school. Situated just off the A69, near Corbridge - the school takes girls and boys from three to 13 years, and offers well-balanced educational opportunities, which enable all pupils to flourish.
To fit around individual family needs, pupils can attend Mowden daily, as boarders, or "flexible boarders".
This arrangement ensures that children have the best possible standards of education and care, in a safe and happy environment.
With more than 50 acres of grounds, children can play and try their hand at a range of outdoor activities. Pupils can also benefit from superb on-site facilities including a science, art and technology centre, a theatre and a music school.
Sports facilities are exceptional, with an indoor heated swimming pool, a large sports hall, hard tennis courts, an artificial cricket surface with nets and extensive playing fields.
Amongst their other sporting achievements The Mowden Under 11 Hockey Team played and won their first hockey tournament of the season on Saturday, September 30 at Austin Friars School in Carlisle and were awarded the annual trophy.
Mowden will be holding a series of open days and scholarship exams (eight-plus and 11-plus) in the spring term. If you would like to visit the school, receive a prospectus, or enquire about open days, please call Linda Blair on tel: (01661) 842147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Central Newcastle High School, a change of uniform at the Junior School from brown to purple represents a metaphorical leap into a new age. Bright, modern and upbeat, the uniform ties in with the Senior School and is an outward reflection of the dynamic educational environment offered at Central High.
Another marked and visible change is the Senior School's multi million pound facelift. The school has a new library, art school, ICT resource centre, sixth form common room, English school and an additional state of the art science laboratory. The reception area and classrooms have also been considerably updated.
Hilary French, headmistress said: "There is a whole new buzz around school. The building work has quite simply transformed the senior department at Central High."
Top in the region and in the top 100 schools in the country for GCSE results, 75% of GCSE grades were at A/A* and 53% of entries were at grade A in A-level too.
Academic results at Central High are consistently excellent but for the new headmistress, Hilary French, education is about much more than results.
"We aim to help each girl achieve her full potential in all areas - personally, sporting, creative and academic," she said. "Each girl is known and valued for herself."
La Sagesse is a school which responds positively to change in all areas of education. Having educated children for almost 100 years, the school has experienced great changes in education but it has emerged stronger than ever in its commitment to create unique educational opportunities in the region.
The admission of boys to the Junior Department has strengthened an already flourishing area of the school and it looks forward to welcoming boys into Year 7 in the Senior Department in 2007.
The school's non-selective and inclusive approach has proven to be a great success. At GCSE its pass rate in 2006 was 96% and just under 50% of grades at A-level were at grades A and B.
Extra-curricular programmes are very important to La Sagesse. No matter what their interests all pupils are catered for.
Pastoral care has always been a strength of La Sagesse and it is one of the major reasons for the success of its learning programmes.
Children from many different religions and cultures are welcomed into the school's community and through this cultural mix, pupils have an increased understanding of the world in which they live.
Easily accessible by road, rail and metro, La Sagesse is centrally situated on a large site with extensive buildings and facilities which are regularly updated. On-site catering, nursery vouchers and free pre-and after-school care are also available.
To arrange a visit contact the admissions secretary on tel: (0191) 281-3474.
* To learn more about independent schools in the North-East or arrange a visit, see www.independentschoolsnortheast.co.uk. In addition, the Isis North office is online every weekday and all inquiries are welcome. You can request a copy of the free regional handbook, which lists all independent schools in the area and gives a review of what each has to offer. Isis North Ltd: (01677) 450139, www.isis.org.uk or email: email@example.com