Can anyone answer a few questions about private schooling please?

(95 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 07:17:05

Is it better to school privately from the word go, or if there are decent primary school places available - do those early years make much difference? The school I'm considering is from 4-16 which really appeals to me for DC, seems to me they'd be more settled etc.

How much should I calculate on spending over and above basic fees? I can work out the food and uniform but what else is there to consider?

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 14:20:36

My children are at state secondary (it is a super-selective grammar) and each year they have an trip which although voluntary, takes place during the in term time and covers part of the curriculum (history/french/geography etc) the vast majority of children go (2 didn't last year, one because of a wedding and the other for religious reasons), trips cost around £80 for day trip to France, up to around £350 for 5 days on the continent with a very full itinerary. I suspect private school trips cost more.
There are various optional trips available to all school years and there is enough interest in the school to run these, but certainly no pressure on children from peers to go on these trips (ski trips, Japan, Germany etc).
Personally, I think my children are getting a fantastic state education and as I'm saving on school fees, I'll be able to fund my children to go to a good university!!!

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 15:46:20

Xenia, re "hit a drum and sing "wheels on a bus", in DS state primary a third of the children receive individual instrumental lessons during the school day, the school has two choirs and a school band, with lots of opportunities to perform including music assemblies, fairs, and an annual concert where all children get to play solos.

Re Latin, AFAIK prep children won't start it till yr 7 which is the same time state primary educated children will start it if they go onto a secondary that offers it.

Re extracurriculars and clubs, DS school offers chess, music, art, rugby, football, tennis, cricket, netball, drama, ICT, etc and have run termly clubs on photography, the school magazine, lego building, code breaking, art, library club, etc. They also take part in debating competitions and spelling bees. Every year group put on their own play and there are numerous drama workshops happening. French is taught to all from Year 2 (one weekly class) and there is also afterschool French and Spanish clubs.

In terms of DT, yes, no good facilities for this but we were able to find carpentry and metal work workshops for DS during easter and summer holidays, and again, because I was not paying school fees, I never thought twice when it came to paying for holidays activities which were affordable. Same with swimming.

In terms of specialist teachers, I think they are more important as of 11, and I like the fact that if the teacher considers the art project they are working on requires the whole morning, he/she is able to bend the timetable and have them doing art all morning (it has happened).

So that's why I think that if you can be in the catchment of an outstanding primary, the money a prep will cost is not worth it... unless you are so rich you don't even notice it.

My views re secondary schools are quite different though!

Lovemytablet Sat 30-Mar-13 15:46:36

One extra that you can't opt out of is exam fees. Our private school has just sent us a bill for £600 - 11 GCSEs. You certainly don't have to pay these if you're in the state sector. With all the retaking of modules at some schools the exam boards must be raking it in.....

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 16:05:31

Hardboiled - a third of the kids at your primary gets individual instrumental lessons during lesson time and they all get to perform a solo at the annual concert???

Is it some small village school and a 'third' = 5 kids? grin

It's just that from a logistics viewpoint your claim makes me a bit hmm

juneau Sat 30-Mar-13 16:17:43

There are hardly any extras at my DS's school. Last term the extras came to about £20 - one trip to the theatre, and two sessions of after-school club. This term was just one item - a visit from a guy with bugs and snakes and things, so his extras were £6. I think they get more stuff as they get older, but at reception level the extras are very minimal IME.

juneau Sat 30-Mar-13 16:20:50

One thing to mention - I've been surprised by how much charitable fund raising goes on requiring parents to stump up 50p here, £1, £5 somewhere else. It's literally every week they're collecting for something - their sister school in Africa, the local homeless shelter, Fair Trade week, the PPA, a cake sale, a quiz night, and so it goes on. You should probably set aside about £30 per term.

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 16:58:17

Just a comment on music available at state primaries, it really is more than just "wheels on a bus"!.
My 2 children had individual music lessons (lessons available for violin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet , guitar, piano, keyboard, flute; children do other instruments like cello as outside school). Music exams are arranged via the individual music teachers (and paid for by parents), the standards of children varied greatly from beginner to grade 5. The summer music concert this year had about 45 children performing (from amazing grade 5 solos, to just a minute from a beginner, and some children only perform as duets).
As well as the school orchestra, the music teachers also encourage children above grade 2 to join the local town orchestras.
There is also a fantastic choir, which competes in many competitions,
If you are interested in music, choose your state or private school with care, as it will vary school to school. Music provision at a private is not necessarily better than an outstanding state primary. However i will guarantee it is more expensive.

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 16:59:52

MTS last year they had to run three separate concert sessions for different ages, I think there were about 80 children performing solos all through the day. When I said all children I meant the ones who want to perform (some don't want to, some aren't or don't feel ready). The concerts do go on forever, some parents can't take it!

Laura0806 Sat 30-Mar-13 18:35:28

Just to go back to a previous point about my earlier reply. My issue certainly isnt that im not academically pushy at all, my dc was down as G and T and I was very supportive of her educataion; what I found difficult was the attitudes of other parents towards it (jealosuy/competitiveness) and the attitudes of other parents in my dds class ie that money was somehow what bought you success and that was the 'bee all and end all'. Obviously this is not the case in all private school classes and I acknowledged that but I find it hard to believe the poster who said they are not sure why state school mean you mix with a wider range of people. Private schools may have a greater mix in terms of ethnicity in certain areas but you are dealing with a group of society who can afford private school which is very small. I dont want my children only exposed to that group. However, its a personal opinion.

LIZS Sat 30-Mar-13 18:58:43

dc did Latin from Year5 at prep school, don't think it I that unusual tbh. Level expected by Year9 for those wanting to do GCSE is high.

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 19:28:28

Mine didn't go to the attached prep school but Latin was taught from Year 5 albeit not to any great detail.

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 20:42:55

Sorry I stand corrected then. I was under the impression Latin started at yr 7 everywhere!

May09Bump Sat 30-Mar-13 20:50:47

Hi Laura,
sort of disagree with "you are dealing with a group of society who can afford private school which is very small. I don't want my children only exposed to that group" - yes the parents can afford the school, but the parents / wider family group often don't have that privileged background. My husband and I grew up in an extremely bad council estate (think rife crime, drug dealing, schools that had given up) yet we both became professionally successful with bloody hard work and sacrifices. We know a lot of families with similar stories, so although the children are private they may have additional exposure you are unaware of. We have also found the cultural diversity great -not just for our child, but I have found it really interesting learning about different tradtions / ways of life.

Your morals, ethics and experience as a family also influence - if you find your child is becoming too polarised in terms of money then why not do some charity work together or projects on different families / cultures. Or they could join some external groups for extra activities - my child will be taking martial arts etc, so he will not just have one group of friends and he obviously mixes with my friends and family.

I understand your concerns though - maybe ask to chat to some of the parents, I spoke to some of the PTA and found that to be helpful in deciding on prep. I would pay for private from the start, to prevent any differing levels of education and I think it is more settling. I hope you find the right answer for you.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 30-Mar-13 20:52:31

Isn't it amusing when someone makes a pig ignorant, offensively thick post, and then her next post warns against generalisations?

My daughters have indeed been'spewed out' of their schools at 3.30 like the effluvia they apparently are. Not, it must be said, humming 'wheels on the bus'.

How do some people get away with this rubbish?

dottt Sat 30-Mar-13 21:12:18

For us a term's half hour music lessons (10) at ds state primary £240 v £180 at his independent.

rabbitstew Sat 30-Mar-13 21:30:37

Good heavens, dottt. Where on earth did the state school/you find such a ridiculously expensive music teacher?? It's not as if the tutor at your children's independent school is cheap...

rabbitstew Sat 30-Mar-13 21:36:38

£48/hr... wow...

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 21:43:50

'Standard' fee for music teachers is £15 per 30min although some charge £18. DC1 has an exhibition at his private school but if we had to pay then thats £20. £24 is very expensive.

Laura0806 Sat 30-Mar-13 21:48:44

May09bump, I totally see where you are coming from and you sound like parents that I wish were in my daughters class.Unfortunately, I didn't come across many like you !

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 22:34:00

At state primary we only pay £64 for 10x15minute one to one lessons or £128 for 10x30min lessons with an excellent music teacher. Daughter is taking grade 3 next term.
When daughter leaves primary this year, we plan to carry on with this teacher, but it will be more expensive as private lessons.

Xenia Sun 31-Mar-13 08:46:13

Half of the places at university got to state school pupils so if you cannot afford or don't like private schools don't go. I was just making the point that many private school parents are very pleased with what they obtain. There may well be good state schools with good musical standards but our children did a joint local event with a local state school and I was hoping my prejudices would be overturned but the only ordinary decent music done was from the rep school. The state school's performances from about 4 different schools including two secondaries was just pop stuff. It was a bad standard.

Parental backgrounds differ a lot in private schools and many people are first time buyers. Some are funded by grandparents. Many are not posh. Some are on scholarships. I don't agree that you do not learn to mix withdifferent people at private schools. You also tend to do more volunteering in care homes etc as most children do Duke of Edinburgh awards etc so they will meet all kinds of different people from that. The fact you share a class room in academic privates and state grammars and comps which have classes which are set is a plus not a minus. IT means lessons are all at a similar standard. You don't get that in state primaries - you will be in a class with some children with the average 100 IQ, plenty who are under that and some who are disruptive and spoil lessons for the rest. It is harder to learn in that kind of environment.

dottt Sun 31-Mar-13 09:00:21

Rabitstew local authority outsourced body provide the teachers and set the price of £240! Agree outrageously and prohibitively expensive.

purples Sun 31-Mar-13 09:43:38

IcouldstillbeJoseph, in answer to your original question, it comes down to how good is the local state primary compared to private option. I looked at both and opted for state primary education in an outstanding state primary. Had I not got a place at an outstanding state primary , I would have opted for the private route. If you are unsure if you would get into an outstanding primary, then I would have the insurance policy of applying to a private school just in case.
Each year many children form my daughters small state primary go onto grammar schools, super-selective grammar schools, scholarships at private secondaries. Some parents have less academic children, but still opt out of the local state secondaries and pay the full amount for private education. I know children who have taken all these routes successfully, there has been no problem integrating into any of these excellent schools if you have been to a good state primary.

basildonbond Sun 31-Mar-13 10:15:54

In the OP's situation I'd start off with state and only change if a) dc wasn't happy or progressing at local primary and b) if the private alternative was genuinely better

We moved dd to a private school for the start of y3 because she was lonely and thoroughly bored at the local state. She's been fantastically happy ever since, partly because there are lots of other bright girls there with whom she 'clicked', partly because they are set for English and maths so the work is challenging and interesting but also because of all the extra opportunities she's had to take part in proper sport, drama, music etc

I'm perfectly well aware that there are some state schools which provide the same opportunities but unfortunately in our area you have to pay for what some families get for free.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sun 31-Mar-13 10:34:46

Xenia, I don't agree with your generalisation about disruptive children being specific to state schools at all. Schools are all very different and everything about a school comes from the head imo.

Also, when you talk about children who are average intelligence - it it those children who most benefit from a private school. My friends who have clever children, who have been ahead from pre-school have done very well in state schools. It is the more average children who get left behind in state schools as I have seen it.

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