If you can afford private education but remain in the state sector...

(1000 Posts)
TheseJeansHaveShrunk Sun 30-Dec-12 08:59:01

It's going to be hard to avoid this becoming another state v private thread, but what I'm interested in is a slightly different take on that debate. It's not "which is better?" but "if you think state school is better even though you could afford private education, then why is that?"

The question is based on the assumptions that the DC in question is/are reasonably bright (so might benefit academically from academically selective education), that the state school is non-selective (as most people don't have access to grammar schools), and that you hope for your DC to go to a good university (to make the £££££ fees worthwhile!)

I've been mulling this over ever since I heard some maths professor from Cambridge talking on the radio about the age-old private v state inequality of Oxbridge admissions. He was all for improving access for state school applicants but said that the simple fact was that for maths, even the best state schools generally teach only to the A-level syllabus, whereas the best private schools take their maths/further maths A-level candidates well beyond the syllabus and so the state school applicants are at a huge disadvantage - they simply don't have the starting level of knowledge required for the course.

This made me wonder: with this sort of unequal playing field, if you have the choice of private education, what reasons might you have not to take it?

Would be interested to hear from those who've made this choice - how it's working out, or if your DC have finished school now, how did it work out? Did they go to good universities/get good jobs, etc? On the other side of things, if you paid for private schooling but now regret it, why?

My DC go to a state school by the way.

<Dons hard hat>.

adeucalione Thu 03-Jan-13 18:57:15

I appreciate that the discussion has moved on, but on the off-chance that the OP is still interested in answers to her question :

We chose state education when we could easily have afforded to send all of our DCs to independent schools. We did this because the local state schools are Ofsted 'outstanding' and well regarded by parents locally. I make a point of not wasting money, and at that time felt that they would receive a great education for free - they are bright and hard working, so I thought they would 'do well anywhere'.

Unfortunately we were disappointed and have since moved them all to private schools. They did progress well academically, but I was sick of the crap they had to put up with.

PenelopePipPop Thu 03-Jan-13 18:57:37

Bonsoir it isn't professional incompetence. We are quite explicit about this. The clear criteria for admission are specific predicted grades (A*AA)and a high score on the LNAT. Get those and we'll probably make you an offer. Where the reference and personal statement are useful to us are where we are a student has excellent predicted grades but is on the borderline with their LNAT, but even then the school reference and the LNAT essay and far more likely to be of use to us than the personal statement.

This only applies to law admissions at one uni and I haven't specified which one. Anyone applying to uni really needs to attend the Open Days and talk to the admissions tutors about what we want from them. As part of our admissions policy we decided to keep our entry criteria as simple and transparent as possible to maximise the chances of students from as diverse a range of backgrounds as possible applying. To get in to our department nobody needs to have done any work experience that they could only have got through personal contacts, played in an orchestra or captained a sports team. They just need to show academic aptitude. That is all we select upon. We stopped about erm X years ago (that will out me!) and raised our entry criteria at the same time and noticed no decline in standards as a result.

Yellowtip no idea about overall policy for the uni. We don't interview. Medicine and nursing will obviously. I'm not sure which other departments do if any.

bunnybing Thu 03-Jan-13 18:59:01

Why? So that we can afford really good holidays.

creamteas Thu 03-Jan-13 19:05:15

Yellow we have a similar approach to the PS if applicants are applying with A levels/BTECs and we only interview for health profession related degrees.

For most subjects we scan the PS for information about disability, adverse circumstances that might have impacted on grades or if a complete change of direction (eg science A levels applying to social science degree). Not really interested in anything else.

TwistedReach Thu 03-Jan-13 19:11:26

Ultimately, whatever my views on the standard and type of education in private or state schools, the issue I have with private schools is that it is divisive and forces segregation. That, in my opinion, is a very bad thing for society.

If everybody went to their local school this would not be the case nearly so much. Yes some areas are richer than others, but in London anyway (until the tories manage to screw this up too) even rich areas are mixed because of social housing. This is a fantastic thing, but it does not reap the benefits it should largely due to the divisive nature of private education in this country.
If the local school is not providing what you think it should, it certainly won't improve by you buying your way out.
Although, I do think that regardless of what people say, much of the desire for private schooling comes from ingrained snobbery. I don't just mean looking down on others, but actually something that is closer to fear of 'rough' kids, which is very sad.

PenelopePipPop Thu 03-Jan-13 19:12:11

Hey Bonsoir any chance of an apology for accusing me of professional incompetence?

seeker Thu 03-Jan-13 19:17:40

"Unfortunately we were disappointed and have since moved them all to private schools. They did progress well academically, but I was sick of the crap they had to put up with."

Say more?

countrykitten Thu 03-Jan-13 19:28:42

rabbitstew if you actually bothered to read my posts instead of having some sort of bizarre knee jerk reaction to everything I post I think you will see that I am speaking about my own experience and make that clear.

I do not wish to go in to my career details with you as I do not wish to become identifiable but I will say that your assumptions are wide of the mark. Plus I did not actively seek to leave the state sector it sort of happened so your argument about my being jaded is also wrong. Was I impressed with the difference? Absolutely but I have never tried to imply that all indies are as good as the one I currently teach in or that all state schools are dire. It is very different in terms of autonomy from ministerial meddling but then the clue's in the name.

anonnona Thu 03-Jan-13 19:29:31

if children are in the top or bottom couple of percentage of all children nationally then they are likely to need expertise beyond that of a local school. It is understood that this is the case in sport and nobody would dispute this and parents and teachers know to join local clubs where there will be routes for progression to regional and national levels. I don't see why it is beyond the wit of man to replicate this academically and there ARE examples of such networks via summer schools, G & T conferences, university workshops etc.

Sorry to go back several hours but I have to comment on this. Summer schools etc are not necssarily the answer. A friend's child was in the G&T category and eigible for these 'extras'. She refused them on the basis that it was ridiculous to expect her to endure hours of boredom in the classroom and only be offered suitable extension in the holidays and weekend i.e. her free time.

Millais Thu 03-Jan-13 19:34:49

Not quite Bonsoir! The state teachers are wanted because they are used to being able to try new ideas and being innovative in the classrooms. The private schools are often stuck in a rut with traditional methods and know that they will find what they want in the state sector. In one school they particularly wanted to increase parental engagement -not just paying the bill!- and therefore my brief was to find somebody who had years of experience of doing this. The teacher who got the job wasn't stifled in her previous job , she moved for more money and actually less hours!

Not all private schools / not all state schools!

rabbitstew Thu 03-Jan-13 19:51:47

countrykitten - we are clearly a couple of pots and kettles, given that you have generally had a bizarre knee jerk reaction to everything I have written and don't appear to have read anything I have written very carefully, either. That is normally the case when someone has irritated you intensely.

teacherwith2kids Thu 03-Jan-13 19:58:54

I would agree with anonnona that for 'SEN-level exceptionally gifted' children - many fewer than the top couple of percent - then only offering a suitable level of education outside school or for a very small proportion of the day via the web is not really acceptable.

It might be OK for those children who are only gifted in a particular area, where the remainder of the school curriculum remains relevant, which is a closer parallel with the sport example given.

However for those children who are exceptionally academically gifted across a broad reach of the curriculum, it can't form all of the answer.

I mean, would we find it acceptable if a pupil with a high level of SEN at the other end of the ability spectrum, to whom the majority of the curriculum was irrelevant, was asked to 'just sit in school all day learning nothing, then attend special school during the holidays and at weekends'?

rabbitstew Thu 03-Jan-13 20:01:37

I'm sure, countrykitten, if I read back over some of your posts, I would be able to see them in a different light, if it weren't for your reaction to my original post and your bizarre and fixed belief since then that everything I post is prejudiced and based on fixed ideas (something you have seen fit to comment on twice, without making it clear what you think these prejudices and "fixed ideas" are, if they are anything other than empty insults to try and put someone else down...), when I have made it clear that I don't have fixed ideas on this subject and that I am considering private education for my children...

rabbitstew Thu 03-Jan-13 20:02:35

Or maybe you do just think the latter and respond in kind?

rabbitstew Thu 03-Jan-13 20:04:01

teacherwith2kids - I thought we did force a lot of children with a high level of SEN to just sit in school all day learning nothing?...

rabbitstew Thu 03-Jan-13 20:07:51

(NB that was not an entirely serious comment).

teacherwith2kids Thu 03-Jan-13 20:10:11

Um - I don't. And certainly I do not hesitate to use the expertise of special schools where a child has a level of SEN where even with 1 to 1 help full time in a mainstream school much of the curriculum remains inaccessible - which is the parallel I was thinking of.

teacherwith2kids Thu 03-Jan-13 20:11:09

Rabbit, apologies - didn't see your 2nd post before I replied.

fivecandles Thu 03-Jan-13 20:41:07

Dear me, I had sort of taken it as read that access to regional/national networks would be IN ADDITION to appropriate differentiation within school. If you'll read my posts you'll also notice I mentioned the need for flexibility for these exceptional children and also suggested that there should be better use made of the Internet such that such children could receive personalised learning via regional or national forums and expert tutors but in their own school. This should not be impossible. It's a question of joined up thinking and there is already some good practice. However, my point remains that it is unrealistic to expect any school to be able to accommodate the needs of the top 1 or 2% of children in the country because by definition they have needs which go beyond the expertise of most schools. If my child was in this category I would expect flexibility in allowing my child to access computers or read books which go beyond the scope of the usual curriculum or to do independent projects but I would not expect the school to be able to provide 1:1 expert tuition in every subject and I would not see any school that couldn't do this as failing.

fivecandles Thu 03-Jan-13 20:45:29

I think a lot of money was chucked at G & T in a bid to keep middle class parents on side but it was not used effectively. It should have been used instead to create national forums and networks and fund national tutors who can be contacted via exceptionally bright children via their own school. But I also maintain that this is not anywhere near the greatest problem faced by our school/society. Very able kids by their nature can and should find their own ways of channelling their interests. While you do hear of individual kids getting frustrated and bored I do not believe that there are great swathes of kids being held back or that in this day and age there are no outlets for them.

fivecandles Thu 03-Jan-13 20:47:04

Such kids can and should outgrow their schools very quickly just as good footballers or gymnasts will.

Mominatrix Thu 03-Jan-13 20:48:52

Going back to what Bonsoir was saying about privates and innovative teaching - I cannot speak for the entire private sector, but I do believe that the very best of them, which probably encompasses maximum 2 handful, do. This article, a bit old, but the program still exists and is more in demand, was an interesting read. I think that this is a good collaboration of private and state. This school also has a program at the primary level.

Bonsoir Thu 03-Jan-13 21:55:00

PenelopePipPop - your arrogant remarks still stand. I am stunned that you will let down your profession and the whole UCAS organisation in such a way.

Bonsoir Thu 03-Jan-13 22:24:12

Mominatrix - that is quite an interesting article (I was particularly interested in the way it highlighted the deficiencies of NC maths, to which private schools are not bound).

Before private school innovation initiatives are highlighted in this way in the broadsheets, it needs to be pretty far advanced and successful.

And while some private school parents may be paying for "tradition", most private school parents work in the private sector (where they earn the cash to pay the fees) and know only too well that relying on tradition in anything is not the way forward. So it would be rather odd if anything but a small minority of heirs and heiresses were spending their hard-earned cash to purchase something that is not forward-thinking and going to prepare their children in an optimal way for the future.

seeker Thu 03-Jan-13 22:29:01

I just think it's bizarre that all mumsnet children appear to be so gifted that an ordinary classroom can't contain them. In real life, most children fit well within the parameters of a comprehensive school. There is a discussion to be had about what's best for the outliers, but education policy has broadly to be targeted at the 94% that form the bell of the curve, not the 3% at each end. That's not to say that those outliers don't need proper provision, of course they do. But their needs cannot lead the diesussion.

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