Is private education really worth the cost?

(145 Posts)
peanutbuttersarnies Sat 04-May-13 19:13:23

This is a genuine question. Sorry it's such a open question but I have no experience of private schools. And i just dont know. But I've started to wonder if we should send our two ds.

We can easily afford the costs per month based on our current salaries.

I've worked out that private education for both would be about £300k. With this money we could save and give them a deposit for a house. Or buy a property when they go to uni for them to share as their first property. So private education would need to be pretty amazing.

Dh and I were both state educated and nobody we know was privately educated. Our schools were I would say good at primary and average at secondary.
Dh thinks our dc will be state educated, it's just never occurred to us to use private education. I mentioned the possibilty the other day in front of my pil's and they seemed shocked that we'd consider
The local schools to where we are now are similar to the ones I attended myself, perhaps slightly less good.
One thing that is making me wonder about private education is that I wasnt all that happy at my secondary. I was sporty, but sport wasn't encouraged or cool. And I think private schools might be nicer places to be?

happygardening Tue 07-May-13 11:20:51

"I think because we are paying for it I expect it to be perfect, but like any school, it isn't."
OP this is what you have to remember no where is perfect and there isn't a school out there thats perfect for every child.
Its all about what you want and expect from education versus how much money you've got. We believe in boarding we personally like what it offers I'm aware that plenty don't that's their choice and this is ours we also believe in super selective education probably less controversial but still not everyones choice. Combine the two together and we're happy to pay for it. I personally wouldn't waste my money pay for a selective independent day school let alone a non selective independent day school but then we've got good state alternatives on our door step. Again thats my choice plenty happily do.
"You also need to ask yourself if you'd be happy to spend lots of money on your DC education and then accept that they might not want to be suited to a well-paid high flying career,"
I may be in a minority but I don't give a toss about these things its not what I'm paying for.
Regarding spoon feeding I've absolutely no idea if one sector spoon feeds more than the other a lot probably depends on the individual school/child/the subject and even teacher.

MRSJWRTWR Tue 07-May-13 11:30:15

For us it is.

DS1 (Y9) went to the big (3 form entry) local state primary which suited him just fine. He is bright but tends to coast a bit so he took the entrance exam for a local independent secondary and is now doing well.

DS2 (Y2) started at the same local primary school but started to struggle pretty much straight away. We decided to move him to the prep school attached to DS1's school and with only 15 children per class, he has improved hugely in all areas.

One mother I spoke to whose child started after DS2 said "Oh well, DS was not being given enough work that extended him - just like your DS I suppose...." and I had to explain that actually, it was for totally the opposite reason that I moved my DS. Although, I suppose, it all boiled down to the 'individual' attention that this school could give to both our DS's.

We are nowhere near London so for the two of them it costs approx 20K pa. At the senior school there are expensive trips that the pupils can go on but many dont. The uniform can be expensive but both schools have very well attended second hand uniform sales.

wordfactory Tue 07-May-13 12:07:00

Absolutely no school is perfect.

Even when you pay top dollar, there will always be things that you'd like to change!

You have to ask yourself what you really value about a school. That might be selection, or sports, or good after school care, or outdoor space etc etc. If a school ticks enough boxes and doesn't tick any of the 'over my dead body' boxes, then it's probably going to work out dandy!

Abra1d Tue 07-May-13 12:15:55

Some of the differences can be subtle but profound.

For instance, my son is currently sitting his 10 IGCSEs. Ten, all at the end of year 11. No modules, no coursework, no resits, just pure examinations. It is a tough business. They expect a lot. A B is considered a disappointing result.

everlong Tue 07-May-13 12:27:00

The price in the north is so much cheaper

Prep is £7041 a year plus lunches and clubs
Main school is £10,000 plus £650 for bus fare and about £300 ish for music lessons.

The uniform isn't much different to a state school.

GooseyLoosey Tue 07-May-13 12:30:32

I agree with wordfactory - there is no such thing as educational nirvana.

I also agree with all the comments that it depends on the child and the local schools.

Mine were in state primaries until 7 and 9 and moved a year ago. The state primary they were in was lovely and many children flourish there.

My reasons for moving them were very different for each child:

Ds (then in Yr 4) did not fit in and there was a lot of low level bullying and exclusion by his peers. He was assessed by an ed pysch who said he was functioning about 7 years ahead of his peers and recommended (off the record) that if we could afford it, we should transfer him to the most selective school we could find as he would stand a much greater chance of fitting in there. We did. Ds still struggles socially with some things, but he does not stand out so much and the school are much more on board with helping him and stamping out any bullying. He is a much happier child.

Dd (the in Yr 3) was a quiet, well behaved child. She was in middle groups for everything. However, when doing her homework with her or looking at her books at parent's evening, it was apparent that often she had no idea about what was being discussed in class and relied on copying from the other people on her table. School were quite clear that although there might be a problem, as she was in the middles, they had niether the time or the resources to help. I moved her to a single sex school with much smaller classes and she too is much happier and coping much better.

From my experience so far, it has been worth cost.

Mumzy Tue 07-May-13 12:56:24

DS1is in he first year of selective independent secondary and we think its worth it. All 3dc went/ go to the same inner city primary. What I wanted foremost for ds1 at secondary was the fantastic academic teaching I recieved at my state grammar in the 80's. looking at the national curriculum now He wouldn't get that in any state school including the grammars as they have to teach what the government prescribes and imo it is very dumbed down. dS1 school being independent doesn't have to follow the national curriculum and I'm very pleased with the what he's being taught and how he's taught. However we have found there are a few badly behaved dcs in his class and some low level bullying but it is dealt with swiftly and parents are quickly called in if there is a problem.

Dozer Tue 07-May-13 20:54:07

"educational nirvana" grin

AlienAttack Wed 08-May-13 19:31:21

I agree with everyone who says it is about understanding the needs of the child and what each specific school can provide. I have a friend whose first and third children are at the same prep school but she moved her DS2 in year 4 to the state school which her youngest DD attends. All about what works for certain children. I went to a selective private school and my siblings went state. Again all about my parents thinking about what made more sense for each of us. I also know some of my friends from my private selective school tell me that they would have preferred to attend a school where they weren't in "the bottom groups" the whole time.

sashh Thu 09-May-13 05:01:17

Surely it is which school is best for your child. And one child might suit one school rather than another.

Also do your children have any hobbies or talents? You can buy a lot of sports coaching or travel for that money.

Have you considered a governess? They are making a comeback, popular with Russian families.

Basically what do you want your boys to get from their education? What do they want, if they are old enough to articulate.

Elibean Thu 09-May-13 10:47:16

I agree with the last few posters.

In answer to the OP, 'it depends'. There is no one better option.

motherstongue Thu 09-May-13 13:15:16

Peanuts - the thing is, in Scotland where you live will depend on what private education is available and also the quality. You have posted that it would need to be pretty amazing to be worth the money so you would need to really consider if you are wanting a prep school environment with the ability at age 13 to choose a school that suits your DCs at that stage in their development or if you are looking for a 3-18 school which would primarily be day schools with a few exceptions.
Many of the day schools do the same Scottish Curriculum as the state schools but most of the boarding schools follow the GCSE/IGCSE and A levels. A few schools do the IB, state & Private. If you decided on a prep school, there are very few in Scotland to choose from. However, that would always be my prefered route rather than a 3-18 as it allows you the freedom to see how your DCs develope and to choose secondary based on the facts you have at age 13. Your DCs needs will change between 3 and 13 and in my opinion (fwiw) once they are in a 3-18 you are less likely to concider a move so you would need to be pretty sure the school can deliver all the way through.

My experience was this, local state school until P4, moved to prep school for P5 onwards as lots of travelling was required and I wasn't prepared to do that with a child younger than P5. At age thirteen we opted for full boarding (that is what DS wanted) as he chose the school based on what he and we felt was right for him. By the way we are in Scotland too but my DS school is in England.

musicalfamily Thu 09-May-13 13:19:44

I also think that going state or independent prep for primary gives you the chance to really choose the secondary that fits your child and they will also get a bit of a say in which school they like/feel comfortable going to.

stealthsquiggle Thu 09-May-13 13:31:42

Haven't read the whole thread, but I would echo what SanityClause said - given that you can afford it, the best thing to do at each stage is to look at all the local options, state and independent alike, and choose the right school for the child. If an independent school is the right place and your DC thrives then it is worth the investment. That in no way at all means that all independent schools are worth it, or that DC do not thrive in state schools.

On a lighter note I agree with others - DC's uniform is probably cheaper than most state options (especially as I can and do get most of it secondhand) but as DD gets older I am becoming SportsDirect's favourite customer, and I suspect that the cost will get a lot worse as he starts to make it into teams which have "special" (chosen and supplied by the school) kit.

peanutbuttersarnies Fri 10-May-13 17:41:32

Thanks. I havebeen reading replies but haven't had a chance to post. Interesting what you say about the lack of prep schools in Scotland. It is true that the schools I am considering are from 3-18. There is only one private primary school I know of and it's not supposed to be very good. Although better on pastoral side.

losingtrust Sat 11-May-13 18:33:13

Am considering state and Indy secondary for dd. She is struggling with concentration but is very well behaved. My ds at state secondary and happy although he does say some most of the kids seem to be thick. It is streamed and they are changing the groupings round next year as some will move up and others down. Overall happy with the school. Teachers seem to know the kids really well and level of language learning in particular has really impressed as I have language degree. Not sure with Dd though due to concentration and confidence issues. Am considering private girls school for these reasons plus the performing arts is much better. Never considered it for primary although now I think a private non-11+ chaser but supportive school may have suited her better. Again each child is different and the point people have outlined with How would you feel if child under performed your expectations is probably the best. One of the downsides to former privately educated friends of mine is the feeling that they let their parents down by not getting top jobs.

Zigster Mon 13-May-13 22:57:15

Just spotted this thread as I was browsing mumsnet.

Felt quite relevant - we are just having a "wobble" about DD-squared's education. They are currently at a reasonably prestigious pre-prep and we've always been quite clear that we're prepared to make sacrifices to give them the best possible education.

But the reality is kicking in. Yet another inflation-busting fee increase, but my pay has been flat for a few years (negative once tax rises are taken into account) and there doesn't appear to be much in the way of pay rises (or bonuses) for some time.

We've got a "spreadsheet" which tells us that total fees for 4-18 for the two of them will be in excess of £500k if fees keep going up at this rate - starts off at about £8k pa per child and rises to well in excess of £20k for day pupils at the moment. That means it averages out at the best part of £3k per month out of net pay EVERY SINGLE MONTH FOR 14 MORE YEARS, with extras on top! You'd have to be earning well over £200k for that not to hurt.

I have a decent income, but £3k per month is a good chunk of that. It means that we rely on bonuses each year to make ends meet - and that makes me very nervous. It also means that we have to economise on holidays and some stuff around the house gets put off. I can do "sacrifices" for a few years but 14 years (followed by university!) takes me almost to retirement.

We're currently looking at the local State primary (short walk from our house). It's a sweet little school in a very nice area but currently full to the brim so we have no option to get out of the private school system.

I don't want to be too negative about private education - there are lots of positives about private education - but if the question is "Is it worth it?", I think you have to be very clear about just how much it really costs.

Wuldric Mon 13-May-13 23:01:41

I'm counting down the years ...

Only 6.5 more years of school fees (2 for one and 4.5 for the other). Then university kicks in. I'm budgeting for 4 years of that. So that's 8 years.

<tears hair out>

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 23:25:23

We've budgeted for up to 6th Form. Thereafter it's student loans for my DCs while I try to save some dosh for me and my retirement.

I've known parents who financed their kids uni costs. One went to uni, did a Women Studies degree and coasted for three years. She was a bit rudderless but since her parents were willing to finance it why not be a carefree student for another 3 years. Another, free from student debt, spent all his post grad income on lots of holidays and a new car every 18 months.

I don't think parents who finance their kids for uni are doing them any favours. Better to put the money aside without them knowing about it and maybe give it as a present when they need a deposit for a house or similar.

Wuldric Mon 13-May-13 23:29:51

I'd feel guilty if I weren't to fund their university fees.

There's a whole generational inequality thing going on here. DH and I had free (ish) university educations, and our DCs are going to have to pay for a qualification that is worth less (as far more people have them). It doesn't sit well with me.

I have, however told them, that Terms And Conditions are attached to parental funding of university fees. Namely, arsing around degrees can be self-funded. Arsing around of any description will be self-funded.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 23:42:36

I can't remember the rules in detail but your DC only needs to pay it back once their income reaches a certain.

Keep your money invested and in a couple/several years time pay off the loan for them if that is what you want.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:11:17

I will get my dcs to take out loans but save and pay them back if they finish the course. My retirement now well funded as started young and house will be repaid so feel I owe it to the dcs for the same reason. I had a full grant for uni so I don't want to leave it all up to them. Used state schools though and have always topped up when needed for tuition and extra curricula.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:12:24

Oh and they need to earn some money in the holidays. The experience will do them good. No money from me in the vacs.

lottieandmia Tue 14-May-13 19:38:33

I haven't read the whole thread, but it's impossible to know if your child is at a private school, whether they would have done as well in a state school and vice versa. And of course, private schools are all vastly different from one another as are state schools.

My dd is currently in year 4 at a prep school. She has done very well there socially, emotionally and academically and is well above average on the NC levels. Would she have done as well in a state school? I have no idea.

The main advantage of a private school is smaller class sizes. No school is ever perfect, ours included.

Different schools have very different ethos. My daughter is at a girls schools where the ethos is about girls believing in themselves which a strong pastoral approach. There is another private school nearby which I wouldn't dream of sending her to because I don't think it would be right for her.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:41:24

It's impossible to know if your child is at a private school, whether they would have done as well in a state school and vice versa.

No, this is just not true. Private schools do not offer the same curriculum as state schools (they offer much more) so it is pretty easy to measure what a child has learned above and beyond what was on offer at a state school.

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