Please be frank: is paying for prep/junior school worth it?

(279 Posts)
IHideVegInRice Sat 20-Apr-13 00:40:19

Hello, continuation from my previous thread but with a more specific question! We have mixed sex twins - while private is an option at this stage, the local faith school is pretty good.
What can a prep or private junior school offer my DC that could not be matched by state + extra curricular activities?
Looking further ahead, would they be disadvantaged when applying for highly ranked public schools (if we/they feel this is right) later on if they did not attend private school at primary level?
Thanks!

IHideVegInRice Mon 22-Apr-13 20:17:21

Thanks everyone, some really great advice and food for thought here. State primary would be a of an unknown quantity for us - DH both went to preps followed by, in DH's case, one of the big schools mentioned, while I went to a girls' school followed by a relatively recently co-ed boarding sixth form. We both went on to oxbridge - but equally, so do state educated children. Reading things back, I just wanted to clarify: the money is not the issue here - I should have worded it something like 'is prep school necessary for entry to the big/highly regarded secondaries?'

IHideVegInRice Mon 22-Apr-13 20:20:22

(Not that you'd know from reading my post.)

IHideVegInRice Mon 22-Apr-13 20:20:24

(Not that you'd know from reading my post.)

Gracie123 Mon 22-Apr-13 20:23:46

I've worked in two fairly prestigious boarding senior schools, we have certainly never penalised against someone for not having attended a prep school.

Your children would need to take a common entrance exam, but it's not rocket science - you or a paid tutor could easily prepare them for it in a few months.

For what it's worth my children are not attending prep school.

meditrina Mon 22-Apr-13 20:28:17

I agree with the previous poster who said it's not just the destination that matters; it's what it's like on the journey.

Being a bit Jesuitical "Give me the boy until 7 and I will show you'd the man". These are formative years in so many things, and definitely in attitude to school and to learning, and to education in its broadest sense. That is the context in which a wider range of activities, and a less fettered curriculum might appeal. It all depends on the quality of what is on offer. And what value you put on the early years.

IHideVegInRice Mon 22-Apr-13 20:35:24

Sorry - MN on a blackberry is a borderline nightmare! We've had lenghty discussions about the relative merits of each type of school and have managed to conclude we want co-ed until at least 11, sports and music (whether at home or school), and nice friends. For us the academic side of things is really, really important and the prestige element not at all - I'd like my children to be quietly confident but without that sense of entitelement etc. DH was an arrogant little shit supremely confident in his own abilities at university and freely admits it needed to be toned down, though I suspect family plays a more important role in development early on. I'm possibly over thinking this - but I don't know what to do and don't want to blindly follow the decisions our parents made for us a generation ago!

BoundandRebound Mon 22-Apr-13 20:41:38

No

Gracie123 Mon 22-Apr-13 20:50:00

I agree that family should play a more important role in development in those early years.

They are really important years, but I think they are really important years for you to influence them as a parent. Like you said, some of the kids that come out of prep school can be a little "over confident" in their abilities, but others come out just lovely. They are from the same class, so I can't conclude that it has anything to do with the teacher, but family support. Interestingly those that board from an early age do tend to have much more similar temperaments that often reflect those of the house parents/matrons.

Wherever you send your twins, make sure you imprint your family values on them whilst they are little. Children with strong family culture are less likely to be peer dependant teens wink

happygardening Tue 23-Apr-13 05:43:43

"interestingly those that board from an early age to tend to have much more similar temperaments that often reflect their house parents/matrons."
Gracie what utter rot I can only assume you have no direct experience of boarding young children. Both mine full boarded from yr 3 not only is DS1 physically a ringer for my DH he has an almost indentical personality. DS2 on the other hand is a very different personality from DS2 which is very similar to mine.

Oddsocksrus Tue 23-Apr-13 06:44:58

Changing to prep at 11 is an enormous cultural and educational shock.
Do not underestimate as well the benefit of a smaller class size, the general morale in a state school with Mr Gove messing around at the moment and the level of qualification of the teachers.
We looked at 4 preps and two primaries, the state schools are considered the best in our area but they could not come close.

We feel we are getting excellent value for money, we did shop around, we are involved and we do support homework and additional things out of school. We have taken the view that it is the best way to spend our money and will help our dd avoid the dreadful comp frankly.
Neither dh nor I had any private education, but we were both badly bullied which does colour our view of schools we know

Shop around, definitely start with your target secondary schools, they will be deleted to help you find the right route at the school that suits your child.

Xenia Tue 23-Apr-13 09:14:17

IHid, I think you need a very academic private day prep from 5+ as that will fit in with the education you and your husband had. Schools like Haberdashers boys prep etc. I don't think you need mixed. Mixed can often mean worse quality, had to let in girls as numbers were dropping. So if you were in Herts then Haberdashers girls and the boys school over the wall would be the obviously choice for twins if they were bright.

IHideVegInRice Tue 23-Apr-13 10:36:42

Xenia - not sure I really understand your post?

handcream Tue 23-Apr-13 11:19:12

Blimey - boarding school pupils turning into their matrons or house masters. Not in my experience!!

SkinnyLove Tue 23-Apr-13 11:20:43

Xenia, I do not want my kids entering adult life burdened with debt, or struggling to get through uni because of demands on their free time.

A private education is fuck all use if you can't get through uni. University is far more important.

Xenia Tue 23-Apr-13 11:41:35

You said you had both been at fee paying schools and are considering this at pre level for your children. In that case it is probable that that is the best course as you are used to that, not the state system (which is not as good). I think that was all I meant.

SL, most students have jobs whilst at university or at least during the holidays - mine did even though they graduated debt free.

Pyrrah Tue 23-Apr-13 11:49:13

I worked out for a friend that the repayment on university fees was something like £120 a month for someone on £50k - which is very affordable.

If I was in a position to pay my child's university fees I would rather put the money into an account to help with a downpayment on a flat/house which is far more useful - and less affordable than paying back a government loan.

Helping out with living expenses is a different thing. Although I was a little shocked that DH graduated a year later than me with debts of £15k whereas I had only £1.5k (and no my parents did not help out).

The amount of 'fun' needed at university seems to be somewhat excessive in some student's minds imo.

wordfactory Tue 23-Apr-13 15:17:57

pyrah is that on a loan covering current fees?
Does it include any loan for living expenses?

Xenia Tue 23-Apr-13 17:44:31

Some of my daughter's friends took the full loan (in the days when fees were £3k) and put it in an ISA and then repaid it from there (parents supported them). I did not even think it was worth doing that to make a small profit as you are then on the books of the loans company who can make mistakes so not really worth the bother given university funding is cheaper than school fees so you feel better not worse off when they go (if you pay fees at school).

IHideVegInRice Tue 23-Apr-13 19:09:55

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but from what I can gather the student loan isn't viewed in the same light as a 'normal' loan and wouldn't prejudice future mortgage applications for example. I agree with the others who say it is better to invest that money in a deposit - university is really important, and much more so than schools in my view, but I would rather my children used the student finance system with support if needed from us, and we saved that money to help towards a flat later on. Obviously in an ideal world we'd all have pots of cash to pay for everything [GRIN]

KathySeldon Tue 23-Apr-13 19:51:26

Also, another danger with sending to prep at 11 is if the senior schools set pre-tests? Around here, Pre-tests are sat in y6, and October y7 - both for 13+ entry.

IHideVegInRice Tue 23-Apr-13 22:50:40

The reasons we'd like to go for state primary are local friends/ community, and as the schools we would prefer are faith schools, a backdrop of religion/morality & development of their religious identity. I suppose another argument pro-state is that the twins will gain an appreciation of people being from different backgrounds - however, another (more knowledgeable) poster has pointed out and in doing so confirmed our suspicions that the particular schools we are looking at are not diverse in socio economic terms. Would it be really bad to send them to the local state school for reception, 1 and 2? And then look at a prep? We've come to the conclusion that we'll be doing work/learning fun with them regardless of where they go to school so topping up before age 7 is fine - I'm itching to get them started on suzuki violin but that's a whole other story..!

IHideVegInRice Tue 23-Apr-13 22:55:54

Also, would just like to say thank you to everyone - it has been so useful to bash out my ideas and confusion here! I realise I've not really come to any sort of conclusion and am going round in circles but it's great to get lots of opinions and perspectives.

MTSgroupie Tue 23-Apr-13 23:00:14

Our state primary was predominantly white middle class. Our private secondary is a mixture of Brits, European, Oriental, Asian and African with a few North Americans.

So I always smile to myself when someone makes the point that they want their DCs to go to a state school because they want their children to mix with children from different backgrounds.

If money is not the issue, then educate privately and let some poor bugger without that option have the faith school place.

BoffinMum Tue 23-Apr-13 23:04:50

TBH they would probably need the help with Common Entrance, so if you are planning highly selective later on, then prep school feeds into this well.

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