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.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 12-Oct-12 17:06:51

I think there are good and bad schools in both sectors. Perhaps the private sector offers more innovation in terms of the delivery of the subject matter.
I do think that the OP is wrong in the assumption that the after school activities mentioned would only cost £1k.
This might be possible if all of these were offered and to a good enough standard, by state provision. However, privately you'd be looking at at least double this/ maybe 3x as much.
I think the only way you can truely have innovative, imaginative and non nc topics is to find your own resources and teach them yourself. Otherwise your dc are confined to the system and teaching methods of the school, private or state.

captainbarnacle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:17:34

Abra1d - yes, I can see us doing that. Chazs - no, of course am not going to judge based on just one private school! But as that is geographically the only possible private choice for us, then it was important. And it was my first dip in the water to see what it is like. I thought I would be more impressed!

Yes, I dislike innovation for innovation's sake. I dislike the prescriptive National Curriculum and the hoop jumping. I like small classes. I like independent learning. I like a wide choice of extra curricular stuff. I don't need wrap around care at the moment.

Anyway, it seems that through OH's sheer bloody hard work, we have options. Lots of options. Very lucky for us. I'm going to keep in touch with the prep school I saw today and see how it develops in the next two years, and see if it is going to meet DS needs.

I just thought that the prep school system would be more.... Inspiring. But then I saw it not through the eyes of a parent, but through the eyes of a teacher (though only 7yrs experience) and I could see gaps between state school and prep school provision, and on some things the state schools I know were out on top.

captain
Fair enough.

I think the key thing is to find the right school for your child. If the state option is the better option at the moment than the only private school in your area then you would be mad to pay for the private option at this stage (there is plenty of time to spend your money in the future). If its a 13+ prep and you are looking at Common Entrance for Senior school then yr7-8 that are the most critical although some Senior Schools do pre-test and/or interview in Yr6.

Its not just about learning styles but also facilities for me. We are in central London and the primary schools have very little outside space whereas my sons' prep has playing fields. They have an active orchestra, ensembles and choirs at a time when state school music is facing cuts. I know that in some parts of the country the difference between some of the private schools and some of the state schools is not very noticeable.

CokeFan Fri 12-Oct-12 17:49:10

If I ruled the world I'd set a maximum size for schools of 700 so that pupils didn't get "lost" in the system. Schools could share sports facilities or whatever if necessary.

I don't think that closing private schools would help the state sector at all. There's nothing that the parents of privately educated children could do that the current state pupils' parents aren't doing already and those with the most money/time/motivation would make sure they moved house to get into the "best" schools and tutoring to make sure they stayed in the top sets with the other motivated pupils, pushing those with fewer resources out.

rabbitstew Fri 12-Oct-12 17:55:28

I don't think big schools necessarily mean people getting lost in the system, though, CokeFan - even that is a generalisation. Sometimes there is an economy of scale with big schools: they get the same funding per pupil, but can therefore be more creative with the money and thus provide, if well run, better support for individuals.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 12-Oct-12 17:59:32

OP, fwiw, if you don't feel you fit in, you should leave.
I say this not out of my own experience but what dh told me of his former work.
He witnessed the effect on the dcs who invariably suffer as they become more engrossed in the school.
When our 2 older dcs were school age we were offered discounted fees/ reductions for this and that, etc. It wouldn't have cost us much.
We refused and I am so glad we did now.
Its not about which school is better, how they are taught, etc.
If you don't fit in your dc wont either.
It was a very good school in a fantastic beautiful location and the education would have been second to none.
My dcs friends would have been Princes, dcs of Multi Millionnairres, Owners of our countries most well established companies.
Talk about fish out of water.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 12-Oct-12 18:14:59

Sorry OP miss read your post, Friday afternoonitis.
However, I still say go for what suits your dc not which appears to offer more.

My eldest ds ended up in the worst secondary school you could ever imagine. Barbed wire, roughest estate in the NW, drugs, knives and resident police presence.
The environment was hostile and teachers were incompetent.
A super head transformed it so much it became a beacon of success and local model for other schools. He finally got the best education he could have wished for and fully reached his potential. He achieved 10 GCSE's all grade C, which was far better than anyone could have imagined for him grin

happygardening Thu 01-Nov-12 21:05:23

Only one person on MN writes this kind of bizare guff with any degree of seriousness jabedor his recent name change ronaldo

happygardening Thu 01-Nov-12 21:10:54

Sorry managed to post the above comment in the wrong thread should have been in "Super child - Part 1 (related to 11 plus)" the responses are absolutely fantastic; I laughed so much that I cried and couldn't read the bloody screen!

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