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Bridging the gap between private and state schools

(349 Posts)
UnderCurrent Thu 21-Aug-14 13:53:00

Quite a few of our friends have recently put their children in private school. The main draw is the smaller classes and nicer facilities.
So I was thinking what are the other differences between state and private - ie, what can I encourage DC to do to 'bridge the gap' so to speak.
My thoughts are to try to encourage playing a musical instrument (pretty limited at current primary), play a team sport, read a lot.
Assuming you had the £5k or so needed for private education but chose not to send your kids there but instead spend it on extra curricula activities - what would you choose?
What else do they encourage at private schools?

This of course assumes DC would happily go along with all these new found hobbies and activities and not miss their usual hours and hours of Minecraft!grin

motherinferior Thu 21-Aug-14 14:00:53

Do kids at private schools read more than those in state schools?

And why do the poor buggers have to play a team sport (mind you there's plenty of that on offer in our local schools)? Seems cruel and unusual to me. Instruments, I can see. But then it's instrumental music a gogo round here too (a rather grotty bit of SE London).

UnderCurrent Thu 21-Aug-14 14:09:02

I just meant reading a lot in general is probably good to encourage - though I understand private schools give out a lot more homework at primary level than our state school.
Team sports are supposed to be good for building confidence - more so than individual exercise.
Learning a foreign language is another one to add to the list.
This is just general musing - I'm not going to be suddenly signing up for everything going.

motherinferior Thu 21-Aug-14 14:15:46

How are team sports supposed to be good for building confidence, specifically? And how is that linked to private versus state education?

I've just done a quick search and can't find anything much on the link between team sports and individual confidence.

MagratsHair Thu 21-Aug-14 14:19:59

£5k, I'm taking it you mean primary not secondary?

Beastofburden Thu 21-Aug-14 14:20:23

I only went private at secondary. The difference then was classes filled only with kids who wanted to learn, and taught by staff with degrees and doctorates in their subject. Actually the classes were quite big, and the sport and music and drama were fine but not all that different from what the kids in the state school did.

I'm not sure how you would spend the money to reproduce the actual teaching, unless you saved up to buy so e where in catchment for a super-state school.

CerealMom Thu 21-Aug-14 14:21:33

Languages, indies usually start in yr 3.
Logic/philosophy - dovetails nicely into debate/public speaking
Competitions in everything - maths/chess/sport/music/D&T/art/languages etc...

It's not just the academics. Any activity to get kids engaged and confidence in having a conversation with an adult.

UnderCurrent Thu 21-Aug-14 14:24:25

I thought private schools were big on team sports - my impression is they are always playing hockey, rugby etc. And lacrosse if you read Edin Blyton smile.

Building confidence and other benefits - things along theses lines:

UnderCurrent Thu 21-Aug-14 14:32:23

Yes, I've started to think Latin is a useful thing to learn especially if you want to get into the sciences. Unfortunately I imagine it'd be pretty difficult to convince a 10yo or so to voluntarily study that out of school!

Public speaking is a good suggestion.

Thinking both primary and secondary but agree £5k wouldn't get you far in secondary! £5k+.

WooWooOwl Thu 21-Aug-14 14:34:28

The biggest difference between state and private schools that has an impact on achievement is parental attitude IMO.

Smaller class sizes and nicer facilities are great, but private schools don't have to deal with the disengaged parents that won't support children's learning at home. It's not so much about what private schools encourage I don't think, but more about what a bigger percentage of their parents encourage at home.

But, to answer your question, I'd go with providing the opportunity to learn instruments and do extra sports/horse riding/skiing if that's what your children want, but mainly giving then a wide range of experiences is more important than the formal lessons. Travel to different countries for holidays and expose them to the differences. Take them to museums, go to the theatre and that sort of thing.

Beastofburden Thu 21-Aug-14 14:35:51

Latin is not remotely useful for science. If you want to promote the sciences, make sure DC is shit-hot at maths.

Sorry, but it is the second-best private schools that sell themselves on sport and extra-curricular stuff. The top flight ones do it, but their USP is the quality of the teaching.

antimatter Thu 21-Aug-14 14:36:09

How old is your dc?

My kids went to a small local private primary and then grammar schools.

They were lucky that during their time in the primary school their head was a music teacher and he absolutely encouraged arts in the school. There were musicals put up by y6 and younger kids could audition, choir and orchestra. I am not sure where their interests and hobbies would be now if it wasn't for that Head.
They had lots of sport at school. My dd played football, netball and cricket - not sure if state schools offer all of those to girls.
There was house system and collecting points for various achievements - not only sport counted.
Swimming gala for the whole school once a year.
Swimming once a week for 5 years.
They had one afternoon of sport in the local park or athletic grounds every week where coach took them after lunch for nearly 3 hours. They had othewr PE lessons as well.

I think you should talk to various people to see what they valued in their schools and try to expose your dc to similar experience.

My son isn't sporty at all but even he was included in playing football for school. He was very proud to grin

sausagefortea Thu 21-Aug-14 14:38:48

There was a pull out series in the times about how to give your state school child a private education for free. Articles were published in jan 2012, you might be able to find them online somewhere?

Artistic Thu 21-Aug-14 14:40:01

The confidence factor is a huge difference & easily noticeable.

Apart from this reading is big - DD reads one book a day (since year 1 spring). Her reading age was 10+ when she was 7 years old.

The smaller classes give them room to participate in everything & answer in class even when they are not sure of answers - not sure how this can be done outside. The zero bullying and 'stand up for your rights' is also common policy in private schools that gives enormous confidence.
Foreign Language started at year1; music & sport can done outside too (but being part of a school orchestra or sport team gives an edge which again can't be replicated outside I guess).

Overall the quality of teaching & attention of the teacher to each child isn't easily repeatable I suppose. But could be found in other good schools too?

This is up to year2 so far, not sure what lies ahead! smile

SirChenjin Thu 21-Aug-14 14:40:25

You get crap private schools and you get excellent state schools.

Exactly what part of the private system do you want to emulate, and why? Equally, what do you think the private system could learn from the state system?

funchum8am Thu 21-Aug-14 14:43:21

High expectations of accurate written English is promoted at all excellent schools. The main difference with private schools in my mind is the attitude to learning of all the students - your child simply would not meet or see any peer who didn't want to achieve, and so would be less likely to fail to meet the school's expectations themselves. There are loads of pupils at state schools with a first class attitude to learning as well, and it is this you need to try to encourage, so they ignore poor behaviour and effort among a minority of their classmates if they do see it. If they enjoy learning and reading and work hard to respond to teachers' feedback, and are praised for effort rather than just good grades, they have a great chance of academic success at any good school, state or private.

Artistic Thu 21-Aug-14 14:45:29

I agree with a previous poster who spoke about diverse experiences through travel, holidays, museums etc. Engaging the child in discussions on various topics & feeding their curiosity & appetite to learn is an important aspect to bridging the gap. Public speaking is also a good point to focus on - children in private schools get loads of opportunity to do this.

UnderCurrent Thu 21-Aug-14 14:47:01

woowoo I read something which suggested that it didn't really make too much of a difference academically if an individual child attended a 'good' school or 'bad' school - it was the parents attitude to learning that mattered.

I wonder if all the private school pupils stayed at state then the state schools as a whole would benefit.

I agree with you about giving a wide range of experiences if possible.

Small classes help because it encourages / enables a different style of teaching. One way of replicate that at home is to talk to your children about topics, to listen to their replies and have a proper discussion. (The thing we all mean to do but get sidetracked by washing up etc blush)

Mine have had specialist subject teachers in most subjects from Yr 3 and in some subjects from earlier.

They do a fair bit of public speaking and because the classes are smaller, its easier to make sure everyone has something to say. I know other parents who have sent their children to drama classes to improve their confidence.

Hakluyt Thu 21-Aug-14 14:51:24

More sport, more music and more drama.

Everything else is just what we would do anyway, even if out dc were in private schools.

And there are plenty of studies to show that the small class sizes don't make that much difference anyway.

chinamoon Thu 21-Aug-14 14:52:24

I'd spend £5k per child on:
Instrument lessons and summer school orchestras
Latin plus fluency in a key language such as Spanish, Mandarin or Russian
A good youth theatre or junior toastmasters to encourage confident public speaking
Lots of trips to theatre, ballet, opera, galleries, major European cities and skiing.
Rugby/rowing club for boys
lacrosse/ballet for girls
tennis/horseriding for either.

At home I'd focus on maths, English and critical thinking. These are taught to a much higher level in academic private schools than in state in our area.

Not all, of course. Depends on their interest. My DC are arty/musical so they tend towards that stuff more than the sports though they do both love rugby.

KnittedJimmyChoos Thu 21-Aug-14 14:54:03

And why do the poor buggers have to play a team sport (mind you there's plenty of that on offer in our local schools)? Seems cruel and unusual to me.

Are most of our sports people reps for UK privalty educated?

Xenadog Thu 21-Aug-14 14:56:08

As a teacher currently in the indie sector but who has worked many years in state ed I would say there are differences between state and indie ed which can't necessarily be bridged by a parent. By all means get your child involved in a team sport which can be good for their confidence and do find out if there is an instrument your child wants to learn. I would be interested in drama and/dance too. However the culture of an indie school is very different to that of the state schools I've seen. There is real self-belief in the pupils and usually a maturity in dealing with adults which the school somehow fosters. There is also a real sense of "can do" and not one of being too afraid to try amongst the pupils and this carries them along.

However I won't necessarily put my DD into indie ed. Instead I've thought that attending some out of school clubs, having trips to museums, theatres, and taking holidays to places other than beach and pool resorts will be almost as enriching. I would also want DD to attend a co-ed school and not a single sex which the majority of indies near me are.

chinamoon Thu 21-Aug-14 15:05:16

I think what Beastofburden says is the most genuinely relevant issue.

DC have been at state and private and may go back to state. They each have their advantages and you can get a lot from state that you can't from private.

Best things about private are the depth of knowledge of the best (not all!) teachers and the academic attitude of other pupils who think it is cool to do well and to be passionate and keen about your work. Teachers assume pupils can handle really challenging stuff which they teach with real flair and passion. DS2, not known for pushing himself at anything, ever, has come home in yr 7 wildly enthusiastic about Shakespeare, James Joyce, Edgar Allen Poe etc. Left to his own devices it's undiluted Stephen King.

Best thing about state was you didn't have to already be brilliant at something to be included - make sure your DC take great advantage of that . DS2 sang at the Albert Hall in the choir at state school. Got rejected for choir in wk 1 of private which was a bit of a shock (he can't sing grin but still!) DS1 lives and breathes music but barely registers at school as he is still not a high enough grade to get into even the second orchestra. At my old state school even the squawkiest of us could honk our clarinets and trash a nice bit of Schubert at parents' evening.

KnittedJimmyChoos Thu 21-Aug-14 15:05:36

Interesting Xena but I wonder how the school is achieving this self belief etc.

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