Please help me to choose a school - state v private I'm afraid

(131 Posts)
clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:59:22

I know it's been done to death and I've read loads of old threads, but am still struggling to make a decision and now only have one week before accepting a place at the independent school and paying a hefty deposit.

DS has been offered a place at our local independent school - it seems to be well regarded (top 50) and is academically selective. It has great facilities, great results, lots of extra curricular stuff etc but he would have a longish commute (car journey to neighbouring village where he can catch the school bus, an hour door to door).

This would be an easier decision if our catchment state school wasn't also very well regarded - Ofsted outstanding, top 250, also great facilities, and obviously free.

The reason we looked at the indie is because DD1 and DD2 are at the state school and, despite the pr, there are lots of things that we aren't happy about - having said that, they're both doing well.

We could afford the fees easily, and would not have to sacrifice holidays or anything like that, but obviously don't want to waste money - I have no doubt at all that the indie is better than the state option, but remain unconvinced that it is better enough iyswim.

I'm going round in circles and would welcome any views.

Coconutty Mon 11-Feb-13 18:44:29

I don't mind at all picking up from sleepovers, parties etc. My DCs school has a massive catchment, some friends live an hour from us and they seem to arrange it that sometimes they get the bus back to ours, sometimes to theirs and it is honestly not an issue at all.

When we moved house, DS1 asked if we can move further away so he can get the bus! He now gets the bus even though it would be easier to drop him off, out of choice,

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 18:49:22

You're a more saintly person than I am, coconutty.

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 18:50:32

Actually I may have to change my opinion slightly after reading some of the later posts as it has jogged long distant memories. Funnily enough I went to a great school as a child but it was some distance and a bus journey from my home and I hated not having local friends. That said I had commuted right from the age of 5 (private Catholic school bus, not any old passing bus!) and didn't ever have the chance of making local friends whereas the OP's DS presumably already has those friendships in place.

Mmmmm, I'm doubting my own point of view now!

Mutteroo Mon 11-Feb-13 18:51:25

I hated the thought of DS being a day pupil at a school where he would need to travel an hour each way, so we told him he would need to weekly board. Thought it would put him off choosing the school. It didn't.

Still consider 2 hours a day travelling to be too much for a senior aged pupil. maybe it's more manageable at sixth form but its not something I would be happy with for either of my DC.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 18:52:57

Its probably much easier to be relaxed about the driving around if there's only one needing it.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 21:08:18

OP if I understand you correctly you or A N Other will have to drive him to the next village every morning and pick him up every evening and you'll need to be on time if you're meeting a bus is he good at getting ready in the morning? Assuming he stays to 6 th form that's an enourmous and exceedingly tedious committment. You will have to incorporate this into you day everyday unless you can find a lift share. One of the joys of children going onto senior school is that in many cases they can get themselves back and forth to school without you having to help. I personally would find this more irritating than the odd long drive on Saturday morning after a sleepover.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 21:37:44

"Making a child travel for over an hour is plain stupid."

That kind of comment is plain rude.

Don't we all just want to do the very best we can possibly do for our children? Nobody needs to be told they're stupid for their decisions (and no, I don't make mine travel for over an hour, so have no vested interest here!) Comments like that aren't just rude; they don't help the OP in the slightest either.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 21:54:45

NTitled saying its "plain stupid" to make achild undertake a long commute is indeed a rude and inconsiderate remark. I suspect the person making the remark does not live in a rural community where travelling to do anything is the norm. Friends in London are always shocked by how far I travel to work/shop/socialise although traffic jams are blissfully infrequent compared to London.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 22:13:31

>you correctly you or A N Other will have to drive him to the next village every morning and pick him up every evening and you'll need to be on time if you're meeting a bus

That's exactly what we do. I'm lucky in that DH and I both work (mainly) from home so between us its not that hard to manage - really no worse than when she was in primary. DD used to be terrible to get to school on time in primary, but now she has to be out of the door by 7:30 and so far (yr9) she's not missed the bus once - because its the school she wanted to go to and she decided that the journey and getting up wasn't going to be a problem. It does take buy-in from the child as well as the parents for it to work. (We haven't missed picking her up either --so far--).

Its a lot to do with attitude - if you're sure its the right thing to do, you don't mind these logistical details and can even see having to get up earlier as being a good thing.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 22:30:28

Your right Grimma having driven 700 miles in the last five days for work and school I'm probably just feeling negative about driving. I personally wouldn't want the twice daily committment because 1 I'm an awful time keeper and 2 I wouldn't be able to work as I dont work from home.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 22:32:05

The OP also needs to work out who picks up/drops off her DS if she can't for an unexpected reason.

clevername678 Tue 12-Feb-13 10:31:29

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your thoughtful posts - I made DH read the thread last night and then we had a discussion ourselves before bringing the DCs in for a family meeting.

I have honestly given consideration to all of the negatives raised here - money, bus journey, local friends and possible future resentment from his sisters - and weighed these against the positives. In the end, we have decided to send him to the independent school but of course we can always consider switching him back to state if it doesn't work out.

Thanks a million thanks

SocietyClowns Tue 12-Feb-13 10:47:01

OP Good luck smile. I am sure you won't regret your decision!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 12-Feb-13 11:08:02

>The OP also needs to work out who picks up/drops off her DS if she can't for an unexpected reason.

yes - or a backup plan such as going home with a bus friend instead in emergency.

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 12-Feb-13 12:08:00

Yeah! now come help me out when I start a similar thread smile

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 12:55:04

"yes - or a backup plan such as going home with a bus friend instead in emergency."
if your child is going to an independent school there is no guarantee that there will be a "friend" on the bus unlike if you child is attending the local state school. Some friends of ours send their DS to a boarding school and were hoping for a lift share there were no other children from their county in the school and we're only talking 140 miles away so its not a given.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 12-Feb-13 13:08:40

Hence the 'such as' - though as in the OPs case there is a school bus there will be other kids using the same stop. Who may or may not turn into good friends.

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 13:50:44

I know Grimma you think I'm stating the obvious. But in my now extensive experience many parents are so enamoured with the school that they forget to find out about the nuts and blots of it. It never ceases to amaze me when for example a friend complained that their DD cant pursue her horse riding obsession when the school does not have any equestrian facilities, another that their rugby hating DS is miserable becasue he standing on a rugby pitch in the freezing cold five afternoons a week, best of all that they're cross with their school becasue they wanted their DD to be a day child even though the schools website clearly states its full boarding only and finally that the school bus is 1 not free and 2 doesn't take their child to their house! If it matters ask.

NTitled Tue 12-Feb-13 14:14:37

OP: congratulations on making your decision. I think it's the right one (obviously!!), but the great thing is that you've made a decision that you and all your family, DDs included, are happy with. I hope your DS has a great time!

Katryn Tue 12-Feb-13 15:41:17

I don't think the journey is so much of a problem. However in your position I would be wary of having sent two siblings to a state, and then the youngest to a private. Even though they have been given a choice, there will always be a bit of resentment? No?

Katryn Tue 12-Feb-13 15:42:41

Sorry, I didn't see OP that you had made the decision - I am sure it is the right one! I had to make a decision for my DS this time last year, state v private, and went private, and am happy we did.

rabbitstew Tue 12-Feb-13 22:15:27

Resentment doesn't always work the way around everyone on here seems to assume... I was the only entirely state educated child in my family and the only one entirely happy with my education. It depends on the individual child and what they think of their school in comparison to that of their siblings'.... and whether they feel able to ask to change their mind!... and if they do change their mind, whether they like the alternative any better or feel out of place as a result of their prior experiences...
All a parent can do is what they think is right at the time - so on that basis, clevername678 has made entirely the right decision!!

brandis Wed 13-Feb-13 12:16:29

Good luck OP! I am sure you made the right choice.

PS. You do realise I was joking about the DS's school bill, don't you? ;)

cumfy Wed 13-Feb-13 17:00:14

In answer to the question 'what does DS want to do' - he says he's leaving it up to us

Hmmmgrin, is that really true ?

Or does he secretly know you really want him to go ..... so it will be all your decision.

Maybe let him decide like DD.

Faxthatpam Wed 13-Feb-13 17:59:25

rabbitstew is right about that... my oldest sis STILL goes on about how unfair it was to send her to grammar school a train journey away, when we all went to the local comp a 5 min walk down the road. She says it was awful for her to have friends who lived so far away (they came from all over London to go there). My sis is 50+ !!! confused

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