Private education - a waste of money, for arseholes?

(209 Posts)
Pooella Wed 10-Oct-12 03:40:36

There's a certain irony in this title in that my DCs are both privately educated (both primary age)

And I apologise also for what must be the umpteenth rehash of the 'private vs. state' debate.

That said, what do you think?

I was thinking this having taken my DD to a playground near a state primary school. More community because the children tend to be local.

OTOH I shuddered a little when a couple of 'rough' kids came into the playground (about 9 or 10, swearing, etc.)

Though diverse ethnically the social profile of parents at private is very homogenous - if you're not a middle class, skiing at Christmas, type, you don't fit in.

We are quite well-off, about £150k/year net, but even so I'm conscious that senior education for 2 DCs is about a quarter-of-a-million. It is a little hard to see the value in that you can buy a whole set of after-school activities for about £1k/year (music, ballet, drama, sports, whatever you want), and then for bright children GCSEs and A Levels are not much of a challenge. (I went to a comprehensive school (albeit a rather leafy one) and got As and A*s in everything and then Cambridge, so hard to see what benefit I would have received from private.)

Outcomes so far from private? Posh accent, good behaviour, good levels of academic progress. But, we don't 'fit' in to the prep school parental mould, so not much social interaction for the DCs outside school (compounded with the greater distances to school), which is a shame.

My old school (now) gets about 80% A*-C, so it's not exactly Stabton Comprehensive, but I'm not sure if the 50-60%-A*-C-type places are necessarily mediocre (as in, if you've got the option to pay for it, as we do, then you'd be mad not to), or what.

There are some independent schools known for being for the 'nice but dim', but they still seem to get 80%+ on their GCSEs, and assuming the intake at these places is not up to the standard of the average comprehensive (which seems likely, unless you believe that being able to afford school fees means your kids are brainy), then they are presumably delivering better outcomes. But whether that is because the parents are more motivated, or because the school is better is not clear? Perhaps the expectations on the lower sets in comprehensives are not high enough? Or are they just too many kids/parents there that don't give a shit?

So is it in fact the nice-but-dim kids that get the value from private, where they will be coached to an inch of their lives to get them up to GCSE/A Level standard, whereas the brainy ones would get their A*s (almost) anywhere and might as well just go to the local comp and save £100k, and there will be plenty of motivated top set kids there to mingle with.

tiggytape Wed 10-Oct-12 08:02:59

Well I'm not so sure about your title but your thinking has pretty much summed it up:
There is no such thing as an average comp - they range in 'leafiness' value from the very bottom to something virtually indistinguishable from a great independent.
There is no such thing as an average independent - they range from academic and supportive to something akin to a posh social club.
There is nothing that will make some children work hard enough or gain the ability to achieve 12A* no matter where you send them.
There are other children that are destined to achieve this at virtually any school.
The figures at any school are bouyed up by the number of naturally bright kids or those with motivated parents.

All of that means some children will benefit (in a purely 'higher grades' sense) more than others from having money spent on their education. Local state options are a big factor in decision making as are how much you value the extras you get at private school (the hours of sport, freed up curriculum, longer school days, ability to get a place without living close to it etc)

Bonsoir Wed 10-Oct-12 08:06:50

I think a lot of people choose private school because it is a lot more comfortable than state school - more attractive premises, more polished community, lower teacher:pupil ratios, smarter uniforms, newer books... etc etc etc. Comfort is something that money can buy.

Pagwatch Wed 10-Oct-12 08:09:59

Every school is different.

And anyone who choses a school simply upon the basis of what results their child will get isn't really thinking it through.

happygardening Wed 10-Oct-12 08:10:21

I dont want to get too drawn into this long standing and often acrimonious debate with neither side backing down but regarding your comment:
"It is a little hard to see the value in that you can buy a whole set of after-school activities for about £1k/year (music, ballet, drama, sports, whatever you want),"
My DS is a boarding school which I accept is different from those at day schools but even if you live in central London you would be pushed to provide the range of extra curricular activities, its not just fencing clubs, rackets and croquet, that his school and others like his offers. Whether you consider thats worth the huge fees is of course a personal choice.

MrsShortfuse Wed 10-Oct-12 08:26:57

IME some parents see private school as a kind of an insurance policy i.e. kids are more likely to do well at private schools and not get in with a bad crowd etc. Not guaranteed, just more likely. Therefore if you can afford it but don't do it, if everything goes pear shaped you'd think 'oh if only I'd sent him to that private school none of this would have happened'.

Also IME people transfer their dc to private only to get a very big shock to find that swearing and bullying still goes on and that the school doesn't insulate dc from all of life's realities.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 10-Oct-12 08:38:21

It depends on exactly what choice of state and private schools you have available, and on what sort of child you've got. Private schools can be a total waste of money (DH regrets he was sent to a mediocre private school when he could have got into a grammar with better academic standrds - many of his schoolmates were dim and some were not nice at all). Or it can be the best money you've ever spent. Or it can be somewhere in between - if you've got enough money you might think that even marginal benefits for your child are more worthwhile than a flashier car.

DD went to a private primary, state secondary - in each case we made what seemed to us the best choice for her. We think the primary was money well spent, but the secondary suits her down to the ground and it would have been a waste of money to send her elsewhere.

ThisisaSignofthetimes Wed 10-Oct-12 08:43:13

There is such a huge variation in schools across all sectors. I don't recognise the "if you don't go skiing at Christmas you won't fit in" profile from my own experience. Predominently middle class, yes but then the middle class is a rather broad church these days!

I'd agree, especially for those parents who have been educated in the state sector (myself and DH), it is an insurance policy. My DD is bright but the state secondary that she would been offered a place at achieved around 35% A* - C at GSCE, I can afford a private education for her so I am not prepared to take the chance with the local comp. As for being able to buy the equivalent after school activities for £1kpa, I wish that were the case, I estimate if I had to pay separately for those activities, it would add up to around 2.5 - 3k - drama, music, 3 x sports clubs.

rabbitstew Wed 10-Oct-12 09:03:47

Things are never a waste of money if you are happy with them. And who's to say what makes someone an arsehole when they aren't a hole in your arse? grin

rabbitstew Wed 10-Oct-12 09:05:12

I agree that better exam results don't automatically equate to better teachers and higher teaching standards.

scaevola Wed 10-Oct-12 09:15:19

It's not just the results though, it's the educational journey over the years.

If you take the utilitarian approach that only the grades count, you'll probably make different choices to others who put weight on other aspects of a school.

(And following the title, any school could be a waste of resources for arseholes).

orangeberries Wed 10-Oct-12 10:17:17

I agree that it entirely depends on the local choices available. Ours is a run down, low achieving comprehensive and I think sending them there is a higher risk than say the very selective independent a few miles away.

Not sure about the skiing at Christmas brigade, the highly academic independents in our area tend to be very large schools with all sorts of parents, many whom just about manage fees and certainly don't have 150k net a year, not on an average "middle of the road" doctor/lawyer/accountant's salary anyway!!

ouryve Wed 10-Oct-12 10:25:34

There's plenty of arseholish parents of state school kids, too. Of all classes.

On a personal level, private education is where my socialist ideals fall down. If you can afford it and think it'll benefit your children, go for it.

Bonsoir Wed 10-Oct-12 17:53:59

"I agree that better exam results don't automatically equate to better teachers and higher teaching standards."

This is so true. Rigorous selection of children on the basis of their IQ and whether or not their parents are willing and able to plug any gaps with £££ and tutors --> good exam results, albeit in a very stressful environment.

wordfactory Wed 10-Oct-12 18:13:23

The great thing about private school is that (within reason) you get to choose. So you can avoid the ones that don't ring your bells.

I've chosen two entirely different schools for my DC. Tailor made to their intellect, personality and learning style.

I could only do that because a. I can pay and b. the choice was available.

Exam results are low on my list of reasons really. First, DSs school is so selective it should be a given. DD's school actually has the more impressive results as it's a lot less selective (hardly at all on IQ)...they are on par with the local grammar, often better.

We chose them because DS needs a real challenge. Far more than a mixed abaility school can provide. Indeed far more than most selective schools cvan provide.

DD needs lots going on in terms of music and drama and dance. It's like the kids from Fame with great exam scores grin.

mnistooaddictive Wed 10-Oct-12 19:34:05

I think that if money is no object, then you can afford to pay for the percieved advantages. Even if they are tiny, why wouldn't you?
What I struggle to understnad is people bankrupting themselves and making huge sacrifices to fund very mediocre private education in an area with excellent state schools. I understand some of them may have genuine reasons, but for some, they feel if they are paying it has got to be better. A friend of mine at primary, at roughly the same academic level went to a very expensive independent school. I went to my local comp and have better GCSE and Alevel results. AS do all our contemporaries. In fact out of the whole group of us, she has the worst results. She spent a year resitting Alevels and still has the worst results. There are plenty of stories the other way round I know, but why make huge sacrifices for this?

Chubfuddler Wed 10-Oct-12 19:43:58

Not all private schools are academically selective.

You really cannot generalise in any meaningful way, all anyone can do is look at the schools in their local area and pick the one they think best suits their child's needs. I think a blanket "never state/never private"!is a bit daft.

jabed Wed 10-Oct-12 20:33:33

At the risk of being controversial I take the view that these days it is really a caseof private education or no education. I do not believe that there are many good state schools. The very few there may be certainly do not exist where I live. They also seem very hard to get into and it is probably as expensive to buy a house in the catchment as it is to buy an education privately.

I dont know why other people consider a private education worthwhile. I have asked this question previously and it got a little heated. For my own part I am looking to buy a school with small classes, good staff and emphasis on good manners and a work ethic. I am also looking for confidence and a competitive edge. I think all of those will increrase in importance in the future world. I also want flexibility because I do not like the NC or the way in which the nanny state dictates what children should be taught or at what age.

I am also buying "people like us" as I have said before. I want my DS to feel he fits in - not that we go skiing every winter. I want his peers to share my attitudes and values. I want them to be well spoken and I want my DS to continue to be well spoken. Not with a dialect or accent, just RP

So I guess I am just an arsehole wasting my money, but its my money and my choice.

Have a nice eveningsmile

jabed Wed 10-Oct-12 20:43:31

One other thing I might add that I am looking for in a school for my DS. I want him to grow up with a solid moral code, an understanding of right and wrong against a single standard or principle - not wishy washy boo hurrah ethics or situation ethics. He can develop those laterI am sure. I also want him to develop a sense of feeling for other people, respect and to understand kindness. Those are difficult things to come by in state schools these days

Portofino Wed 10-Oct-12 20:48:30

I don't agree with Private schools on principle. I think that if the powers that be didn't have the option of opting THEIR children out of state education, there would be more of a focus on ensuring state schools are fit for purpose.

difficultpickle Wed 10-Oct-12 21:40:58

I chose private initially for my convenience. My primary concern was having a school that offered wraparound care so ds could do after school clubs at school and I didn't have to negotiate pick up times with the CM.

If I had more choice then I would have probably chosen state schooling. As it is ds has changed schools from one that finished at 11 to one that finishes at 13 so I feel as if I'm being sucked into privately educating ds to 18, which was never my intention.

shopofdreams Wed 10-Oct-12 21:52:02

Jabed
When you talk about accents what is RP?

difficultpickle Wed 10-Oct-12 22:02:03

Received Pronounciation like wot the Queen speaks, innit?

OwedToAutumn Wed 10-Oct-12 22:08:51

The point is always that if you can afford the fees, you get to choose out of a greater number of schools.

So, you would be an arsehole if you sent your child to a private school, if it wasn't the best place for your DC. (IMVHO)

BlastOff Wed 10-Oct-12 22:11:12

Recieved pronunciation shopofdreams

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