To ask if anyone has paid for a private education and has regrets?

(218 Posts)
Moontime Thu 04-Jul-13 23:54:19

We will have to think about schools this year and I really don't know whether private schooling is something we should do. We can afford to. I don't mean to sound smug by saying that. I say it meaning if we can afford to then surely we should do the best we can for our DC.

Has anyone gone down the private school route only to realise after a few years that the local state school would have served their children just as well?

CHJR Fri 05-Jul-13 01:21:55

As you say, this must depend on the quality of state schools available to you, the quality of the independent DC can get into (independents like state vary: some I think are only better because they refuse to take anyone who won't boost their statistics! some are not better at all!). Above all it depends on DC, if he/she needs a smaller class because spectacularly clever, just the opposite, or just eccentric. But also, age of DC: are they about to hit national exams? If you want them to go to a private secondary school, probably they will have to pass Common Entrance, and state schools (forgive a foreigner for being blunt) will NOT prepare them enough, though the really good independent schools have a separate route at age 11, and you can consider moving a child from state to independent at year 6/7. I haven't got far enough to judge at A level, but I'd guess the same sad rule of exams may apply. Yet I think the day is coming within our own children's lifetime when our top universities really will take properly into account whether applicants are coming from state or private, and then it ought to become an advantage to emerge out of the state system. Because truth? A child who gets one A* out of a state school must be far brighter, and more resilient, and more real-world, than the child who gets 5 out of Eton. (Though some of my best friends are Etonians.) Even if the actual teaching is as good in the state system (it may well be), the nurturing and cossetting may not be. Does your child need cosseting? -- of course we all wish to cosset DC, but tell yourself the truth. I do think a reasonably bright child in a reasonably attentive family will be fine in a halfway reasonable state school, and I don't think this is too big a deal at year 2 age, but look ahead and look around at the secondary school choices too. And don't look back with regrets later. If the choice isn't already obvious to you, it probably won't actually matter much.

Mimishimi Fri 05-Jul-13 01:30:31

It depends. I think if we could comfortably afford it, private school would be fantastic. As it happens we can't but DD got into the second top selective state high school in our state. We are happy with that. I've known families who've sent their children to top private schools at great personal cost when they couldn't really afford it. Half the kids have done well and half were miserable the entire time (couldn't go on overseas trips like their friends, got teased etc). The parents who had specific education goals for their children fared better than those whose parents just wanted a posh accent and for their kids to mix with 'the right sort'. It would eat at me to pay the equivalent of £20,000 a year if my kids were just average.

Ladymuck Fri 05-Jul-13 08:42:33

Not so much in answer to the private v state question, but for each of our dcs we have moved them from their prep schools to different ones at different times and for different reasons (!). The ability to pay usually gives you a wider choice of schools, and our views of what best suited our children changed over the years.

Whilst the ethos of the school, the quality of the teaching and the range and breadth of experiences are important, one of the key things that you can't know in advance is what their peergroup will be like, and that can have as major an impact on your child, especially in the primary years I think, as they are still learning the social rules of friendship. Certainly when I look at my children, their school friendships have in many ways been quite formative, but I see different dynamics within even consecutive yeargroups at their schools.

So I guess that I could make an objective comparison on teaching quality and extracurricular provision, but the impact of the peergroup is the hardest one to compare, but is possibly equally important. Some children need a bigger pool to choose friends from, others may thrive in a more intimate environment. Certainly I don't think that going private means that you will get a "better" peergroup, and there is a risk that you get a more homogenous group than would otherwise suit your dc.

dramaqueen Fri 05-Jul-13 08:52:26

My DS (12 years old) started year 7 at a local private school. I've got regrets ..... that we didn't send him years earlier. He was so far behind the other kids who had been privately educated in primary years but is catching up fast. He is so happy now and is in a class of 14 after spending years being ignored in a class of 33.

Midlifecrisisarefun Fri 05-Jul-13 09:00:00

We didn't pay much for DCs education because of bursaries and scholarships.The benefits were the academic side, expectations were always high...in daily mail terms we were 'underclass'. at the state schools very little was expected...the sport was also far more inclusive and focused on. All 3 DC have very high confidence levels...Indie schools seem to breed a 'can do' attitude. All three can interact well with people from all walks of life and speak confidently. It has been said that they have an 'air' about them that attracts others...

...but with hindsight DS1 should have gone to a local school be it private or state by mid teens or a solely boarding school..as it was, he was one of a handful of boarders at a school which after they went there decided to wind down the boarding, it is now only a day school.
Supervision was poor, unless they played a match on Saturday afternoons they were turfed out into town...we only discovered that after DS1 got into trouble at school. DS1 was mixing with 'dodgy types' in the town during these unsupervised spells unknown to us. He has always struggled with friendships, he takes people at face value and believes what they say even when they are using him. High IQ low but poor grasp of relationships.
DS2 was fine, he stuck with his friends and doesn't get attracted to that side of life like his DB! DD went day private and did well but having learnt our lesson went to college at 16. Again she knows how to mix well.
As adults DS1 still struggles with relationships, I now suspect now he has a mild ASD but we had no idea when he was younger, DS2 and DD are doing fine too, all are confident, well spoken, articulate and academically well qualified.

So whilst I would still have tried for Indies if I had my time again, I would have asked far more questions.

ovenbun Fri 05-Jul-13 09:04:03

I think just as there are good and bad state schools there are good and bad private schools...and it doesn't always show in results...many private schools just don't enter their lower achieving pupils into the exams..
I have friends who have regretted private schooling actually...I don't know why that would be so unthinkable? I know many wonderfully successful people who have been privately educated but it isn't always the perfect answer. A few examples include a friends son who ended up in prison for drug dealing, a friends daughter who was cruelly bullied (school dealt with this very poorly as the didnt want to loose more paying customers), and a couple of children who sadly have had mental health issues brought on by the pressured environment.
personally I feel state schooling is the best education because I want my children to know about 'real life' I would like them to know people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and I believe parental support has a lot more to do with success than any paid input.
My group of friends all went to an below average state school..now we are ten years on we have 2 doctors, 2 nurses, a lawyer a successful graphic designer, a car parts buyer, a portrait artist, three teachers, an accountant and yes a supermarket checkout girl...
But then I don't think life success is measured by grades and accent anyway...

littlewhitebag Fri 05-Jul-13 09:21:58

We moved to this area 5 years ago and both my DD started at a private school.

DD1 started in 6th form college after having attended state school for 4 years. She loved it and enjoyed the change of culture. It has stood her in good stead at uni but i honestly think she would have been fine at state school too.

DD2 started in Y6 and is now in Y10. She is the one i see the biggest difference in. She is a quiet girl and went unnoticed in her state school with big class sizes. In her current school she has gained confidence and been encouraged by wonderful teachers. She is now on track to gain all A* in her GCSE next year. I think in state school she would have remained an average student who was still largely unnoticed.

I suppose only you know your children and whether they might benefit from small class sizes etc.

BrianTheMole Fri 05-Jul-13 09:30:59

I think it depends on the schools available to you. My dc go to private school, but the state school in our catchment was failing and there were lots of issues with it that I wasn't happy with.

I dont know if my children are doing any better than a child at a good state school. They're not behind though and seem to be doing ok, which I am more than happy with.

It depends how you measure it really. I want my children to have a good experience at school (doesn't everyone) and to look back at it all with happy memories. The school isn't snobbish, its down to earth, and their statement of purpose has a big drive towards manners, kindness and respect to others. I don't know if they will pass their 11+ and move on to a grammar school. But if they don't its not the end of the world anyway. I want them to come out of school with the ability to read and write, to have respect for the world around them, and to eventually be able to get a job that they like doing where they can earn enough money to be independent. It doesn't have to be a high flying job. Obviously these things can be achieved at state school, and if the local one was good enough I'd use that instead.

Parents play a big part in helping their child move forward, whether its state or private. If the schools don't have parents like that supporting the children and the school, then I think it makes it difficult for the school to be a good school anyway.

Merrylegs Fri 05-Jul-13 09:31:26

Dd is at a GDST school. I'm afraid I'm going to have to second sodastreamy's erudite argument with a 'bollocks' to your comments klickklack. (Obvs I would say that!)

To address the OP's question of paying.

DD embraces every aspect of school life - in every team, all the clubs, always staying after school for an activity, orchestra, school sports at the weekend etc, basically all her hobbies are bound up with school so I feel like I'm (kind of) getting my money's worth. Plus she wanted to go to a single sex school and this was the only one. (Having 2 older brothers our house is always full of teenage boys. Eating mainly. Being surrounded by girls is a novelty for her!)

Ds goes to a (different) fee paying school and is not a joiner in of clubs or sport at school. So he has a life outside school. Plus this last term I have had to pay in full although he has only been there a few weeks as he is Upper 6th and he has been on study leave.

Do I think I've had vfm? Not really. BUT ask me again on 15th August when he gets his A level results and if (when!)he has achieved the 3 As he needs to get into his rg uni, then of course I'll say it's all been worth it!

Fairylea Fri 05-Jul-13 09:39:22

Hmm I have only my own anecdotal evidence....

I won a scholarship to a private school. For various reasons I absolutely hated it. I left after a year and went to state school where I achieved 10 gcses grades A* - A. It was a very rough state school in brixton in south London. No one else achieved 10 gcses. I'm not stealth boasting. Just facts.

My ex dh went to a very good private school as did all of his siblings. None of them achieved more than 4 gcses, not one of them achieved above a grade d.

I had a reasonably successful career in senior marketing and I am now a sahm to a dh who earns minimum wage. I am very happy.

My ex dh and all his siblings are now senior managers in one of the UKs major retail groups.

I think personally that education in general has very little to do with how well you do nowadays. Unless it's obviously medicine or law etc. Hard graft, who you know and the circles you mix in tend to count for more.

I also think dc who are likely to do well will do.well wherever they do school wise.

Chandon Fri 05-Jul-13 09:42:17

Not that far in yet, oldest only 11, but so far not regretted the swap from state to private.

I do not necessarily think private is always better. But I am not really motivated by school GCSE results and just grades.

Yes, I would like my DC to get good grades. But more important, f I am honest, is for him to enjoy school, to develop of love of learning and to learn that you can achieve something if you put your mind to it.

For me, the big difference between State and Private ( in our particular situation) was that the state school believes heavily in " natural ability" and sets children accordingly. My DC was bottom set, which was perhaps fair enough. What the private school does is ignoring most of the " inate ability" and not do sets, but instead expect ALL children to do well, to raise the bar, rather than it all becoming a predestined thing ( bad Sats at 6 means low attaining for life, when really some kids just blossom later).

The higher expectations of children with a lower ability is worth a lot, IMO.

If your child is naturally academic, hardworking and does not care much about school sports, I would not bother with private school. In that case it might be even better to have come from a state school when applying to Uni ( as the tides are turning and society is becoming more anti- private)

2phat2phaf Fri 05-Jul-13 09:43:39

Going against the trend here, but I regret sending ours, a bit. DD would have been fine anywhere, and DS went into private education a bright, under achieving boy and is just emerging from it....well, a bright under achieving boy. Not that he/we shouldn`t take responsibilty for this, but we have paid nearly £150k over the years for their education and I think might have hoped for more more tbh. DS going to the local state 6th form and I`m looking forward to getting my life back, possibly treating myself to a frock from somewhere other than Asda for once...

EstelleGetty Fri 05-Jul-13 09:44:06

It's a difficult position to be in, OP. DH and his brother went to one of the shittest schools where we live but were both incredibly bright and now have excellent careers. BIL is among the top 1% of earners in my city.

And on the other hand, out of the 5 people I know who went to private school, 3 did not achieve good enough exam results to go to university. They worked in shops until they married and then stopped working.

I guess it's all about how the 2 different factors - school and child - connect.

Triumphoveradversity Fri 05-Jul-13 09:45:42

DH was sent to an all boys school, professionally he has achieved what he wants. However he said it made him very shy around women when he was very young and at uni.

For that reason he said he would never send DS to an all boys school. The only really excellent private schools near us are single sex, the only co ed one is pretty crap and I have known a few people that work there so have the inside track.

The other issue is income projection because I think dc that are sent to private school and then have to return to the state sector would be in for a shock. This happened to a boy in my sixth form, he had a really tough time. Think Will in The Inbetweeners but not so much fun.

MarshaBrady Fri 05-Jul-13 09:51:21

It's difficult to know as you can't experience both at same time, (obviously!). So I know the schools for ds1 were and are a good choice, especially the one he's in now. He loves it and it matches his personality very well. It's quite an orderly, structured school which he likes. But it's hard to know what his experiences would have been in a state school.

ThreeMusketeers Fri 05-Jul-13 09:53:22

No regrets whatsoever. The school has less than 10 pupils per qualified teacher ratio, much lower if you include TAs.
Specialist subject teachers, lots of sport, magnificent playing fields and equipment and so very caring and nurturing atmosphere.
I would sell my kidneys if I had to to keep them there.
Worth every penny.

Soapysuds64 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:06:18

Dd1 was educated privately up to end of KS1 - she got level 3 in all her SATs, but this was achieved through endless worksheets starting in reception...... Not so much learning through play! It was an international school paid by DH's company. The small class sizes lead to a lot of bitchiness and exclusion of poorer kids. Amongst the excellent teachers were unqualified and terrible teachers. Some of the health and safety was iffy. There was a woeful lack of facilities - taking buses for any sports lessons. Back in the uk, she is in a state school, and has maintained the academic level she had, but has been able to excel in sports and music as well. She is happier and spends time with kids from a much wider social background.

I went to a private school - it was much like this one and I feel for all the parents who spent out on it. The only girl from my year who really 'achieved' was the one who married the premiership footballer. Plenty of others got degrees, but Oxbridge and the like we're not really on the cards. Don't forget it was selective!

That said, I will consider private for dd2, if it can accommodate her dyslexia as well as the state system has (my school certainly didn't). She is less academic and might need a school that will motivate her - this is where I see private schools working. Dd1 is due to go to secondary after one more year - she will go to the local state school. Only if I see her performance really suffer will I consider moving her to private.

My neighbour switched her daughter to private - she lasted 2 terms before switching her back. Daughter was happy enough, but she wasn't doing any better than in the state school, and was endlessly doing homework. I would say she regretted it.

Look very, very carefully at what you are getting for your money if you are considering private. Try and see past the stats and glossy brochures - be as cynical as I am. Not all private schools are a waste of money (far from it), but make sure the one you are looking at suits your child, and has good, transparent management.

xylem8 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:15:40

My next door neightbour is regretting it! Her DD and mine who were best friends at primary both passed the 11+, but she decided to send her DD to a girls boarding school, as one of the few day girls.She is not from the UK and went on the advice of her DH whose nieces went there.
She is very much regretting it now as from us comparing the girls' work they are nearing the end of Y7 it is obvious that the grammar school have moved way ahead already.She is hoping to move her to the GS in the 13+ intake.

hamilton75 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:34:15

Several of my circle were privately educated (all women) and to be honest they have all achieved rather less than I would have expected for the amount of money spent on their education. Teaching/dental nursing/nursery nursing etc.. nowhere near as high flying as some of the former state school pupils I'm friends with. Certainly very nice people but a distinct lack of any particular drive.

From what I've seen if you have excellent state schools locally private is not worth the money.

insanityscratching Fri 05-Jul-13 10:35:49

I suspect dsil and dbil regret funding their ds's education but they'd never admit it in a month of Sundays. They believed that private education would buy him a top university place when the academics didn't come easy to him.
He actually did 15 years in independent school and scraped E's in geography and PE at A level. He ended up on an apprenticeship at an accountants but couldn't manage the numeracy skills required so moved to a basic admin one instead.
I think the schools knocked his confidence no end as he was always the one who struggled in a class of ten maybe at a maintained school he would have had peers who struggled like he did and wouldn't have been as isolated as he is now and has been since his schoolmates left for university.
He's 24 now no social life, no friends, never had a girlfriend and not helped at all by being controlled by his dm who wants him to mix only with the "right types"

MustangRose Fri 05-Jul-13 10:42:11

REALLY depends on the school and its ethos
I went to a lovely pastorally excellent all girls school
It taught me excellent social skills and I got BBC at a level and 10 GCSEs a-c (nothing outstanding)

But of a year group of 50 odd there are no real HIGH achievers 20 years after we finished GCSEs
2 girls went to Oxbridge
And then another 10 odd to RG others universities
Few gals did PR and now pretty much the whole year group includes
lots of housewives tbh

redacted Fri 05-Jul-13 10:55:08

I haven't got any children yet so I can only tell you my/my friends' experiences. I was educated partly state and partly private. I did enjoy private school and I'm glad I went but I'm not sure how much difference it really made. I know a lot of people who were privately educated since they could first breathe and who have not achieved any notable success, and are less successful professionally than my friends who only went to state school.

If I were their parent I would wonder whether it was really worth 150k or whatever for my child to leave school with ordinary A levels, get an ordinary degree at a good but not brilliant uni and go into an ordinary London job... But I guess there are other factors to consider. A lot of their parents simply wouldn't think of sending their kids anywhere other than private.

redacted Fri 05-Jul-13 10:57:12

I would send my kids private if I could easily afford it with no serious cutbacks or stretches made (which may well be a possibility if career continues as intended), but I wouldn't pop a bollock to do it tbh. I am reasonably well-educated and feel that I know the system (uni/career wise) so I could support my kids that way, and also pay for any extra tutoring or activities to make up the difference between good state and private.

I don't think many people would say they regret it. It is a huge expense and commitment to your children, if you don't believe it worked well then you can end up feeling personally responsible for 'failing' your children.

We can't afford private, but both DH and I went (him to public boarding school, me to single sex day/boarding school in a very academic area) and we are not bothered really. Certainly at primary age we can supplement their learning at home if necessary, I suppose we will rethink at secondary.

Students I remember leaving our private schools for state did it due to bullying, parents going bankrupt and getting pregnant!

Those kicked out for violence, stealing, getting girls pregnant or bullying tended to go on to other private schools. Usually boarding to 'sort them out' for this reason I personally would definitely avoid boarding schools.

Chandon Fri 05-Jul-13 12:03:13

So many people quote a person withcertain grades ( low) at private and then go on declaring it was a waste of money.

Well, at private primary my DS got to level 4 b in English.

I can hear everyone reaching for the keyboard to tell me how their state educated DCs had level 5s and 6s and therefore I have spent my money badly.

However, this child was written off by the state sector due to his dyslexia, and I was told he would not get a level 4, as he was destibed to be a low attainer. Only 3 years ago he was more than 2 years behind his peers.

For HIM and for US a 4b is a massive huge achievment and we are very happy he got there.

Does that make sense?

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