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?

moonbells Fri 26-Jul-13 22:15:10

I shall have to be more careful with phrasing and not ask if he'd prefer one with girls in!

AlienAttack Fri 26-Jul-13 22:06:58

Thanks for clarifying moonbells. We walk past a boys pre-prep on our walk to my DD's state school and she is fascinated by the idea that there might be a school where no girls are allowed! She keeps talking about all her friends who are boys and saying " but they wouldn't have me at their school?!" I just keep emphasising that different people make different choices and different children like or need different things.
I was really unnerved by the idea you might be using the local school as a threat...

moonbells Fri 26-Jul-13 21:54:24

Sorry Alien yes that does sound a bit odd! blush

He doesn't know that there are different types of school, just that the local one has girls in as well as boys and he hates playing girly games! He's at holiday club this week and is complaining bitterly that he's having to do dance...

Coming from a state background myself (comp all the way) and having parents who were born and brought up WC in council houses, and then only going to uni because it was a grant, he is definitely going to know when it's age-appropriate that he is extremely fortunate. Don't worry about that...

Anyway he came home today and announced he had two girlfriends. grin so I guess the club is doing its job!

AlienAttack Fri 26-Jul-13 19:46:46

moonbells I'm hoping I misunderstood your point about "we ask if he'd prefer the local school instead. Oddly he then gets up very fast"? That sounds like you're using the local state school as a threat...surely not a great way of teaching your child the importance of community inclusion, that some people have less money than others etc etc.

moonbells Fri 26-Jul-13 14:43:14

DS is going into Y1 in Sept at a boys-only London pre-prep, and the fees are already eye-watering. We only planned one child so we could do this (I think my reaction at my first scan was thank goodness there's only one! grin) but it's still a struggle. He's there for the extended day Boffinmum mentioned, but in retrospect it was the best school for him, too, as he's a very boyish 5yo and can't stand girls! (Apart from me, apparently, as I'm not a proper girl! even bigger grin)

But we did take financial advice to minimise outlay by going for tax-efficient plans, we remortgaged, we are so far scraping paying out of earnings (not very tax-efficient!) but once it gets to the point where we can't, due to fee increases and the like, then we have a reserve to use which should allow us to get him to Uni.

If it's any help, my total projected fees-only outlay for YR to Y13 is £299,150 (assuming 6% rises and that he goes to a local Indy senior school).

If I thought DS was not happy there, I'd have him out in a heartbeat and stuff my job. But so far, so good. If he's being a horror and refuses to get up for school, we ask if he'd prefer the local school instead. Oddly, he then gets up very fast!

So far extras have been very small: £20 for the school trip, and some items of uniform that are customised. Blazer (yes, it's stripey!) was an extremely stupid price, but I have two secondhand ones in the cupboard waiting for him to grow into them. I have secondhand scarf, tie, art apron (yes you even have to buy those!) and anything else I can get my hands on. Y3 (Prep) is where things go up and when you get the specialist sports equipment to buy. Again we're planning on inflation-proofing by getting stuff years in advance - fees go up but so does kit! I also am always very polite to the Bursar!

My best advice to anyone is plan ahead (with professional advice if possible), and always overestimate cost increases.

poppydoppy Thu 25-Jul-13 13:36:10

All my children are privately educated but I would say that things are definitely changing, so many children are tutored outside of school the teachers have cottoned onto this which has resulted in sub standard teaching. You are then could up in a catch 22 do you tutor to keep up with others or let your child fall behind, considering the fees I pay it drives me crazy.

I would stay in state education and tutor after school if I had my time again.

rabbitstew Thu 25-Jul-13 08:43:19

Private education is worth the cost if you think it is. It doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks.

pixelchick10 Thu 25-Jul-13 07:29:53

Coincidentally my DD's private girls secondary takes loads of girls from primary state schools so if money is tighter you can certainly save by sending state for primary and supplementing by extra curricular activities/tuition if you feel its needed ...

pixelchick10 Thu 25-Jul-13 07:27:19

Apart from one year, I've always sent DD private and don't regret any of the fees. It's obviously expensive though, and as others have said, fees go up and there are extras - though these IMO aren't any more than my sister's kids pay at their state schools. The uniform costs more but there is a thriving secondhand shop. Advantages are smaller classes, and more one-on-one attention, and the school really puts it all into getting the best from your child and pushing them to the top of their ability (when my DD was at state school, they only seemed bothered about getting kids up to an average standard). Schools vary obviously and there are good and bad private and state schools so you need to look around and talk to other parents who have kids there whatever you choose.

Lizzzar Thu 25-Jul-13 07:20:11

If you think you can afford it, but it might be a bit of a strain, I would personally try to find a state primary that is doing reasonably well and wait to pay fees until secondary. Bursaries usually expect that your child will initially be in state education as well. As far as sports go, almost all private schools do quite a lot of sports and there are some that specialize like Millfield (it also offers sports scholarships, as some independents do) but again state schools can be reasonably sporty. But some do have problems like lack of good access to playing fields or funding for a lot of different sports.

Lizzzar Thu 25-Jul-13 05:09:11

It obviously depends on the child and the school. And sending every spare penny you have on private education is probably not worth it - although if you have to do that you may well be eligible for a bursary - I don't think they are well publicized enough. Christ's Hospital's endowment is apparently somewhat reduced, but will still offer up to full fees to eligible children, as will very well known schools like Westminster and Eton. Obviously many children do perfectly well in the state system and still get to Oxford or Cambridge.But reading some of these threads, I will say that my personal irritation would be reasonably well off parents congratulating themselves on moving near to well known grammars or comprehensives and saving on school fees as well as stating that their children are bright enough to do well practically anywhere. This may be true, but it doesn't mean that children with learning differences are "thick" and at the moment it tends to be true that they tend to be better supported within the private system, as are the very bright or the very bright with learning differences frequently are too.

cory Thu 23-May-13 16:42:15

Personally I am very pleased that no school fees has meant I am now in a financial position to allow dd a very special educational experience this summer that I think will be important to her- just had the letter that she got in, very excited!

As others say, if you have pots of money it doesn't matter, because you can do both the fees and the things you want to give your child outside of school. If you have a very limited amount, you have to choose. As far as I can work out there isn't a private school around here where she could have had this opportunity and I'm so glad the money is there!

But these are the things you won't know beforehand. When dd started school I had no idea where her talents would lie.

lainiekazan Thu 23-May-13 12:26:28

Actually I used the name "Hermione" as it seems to have caught on with people who are aspirational rather than straight posh. Probably the Harry Potter thing. Same as Lily, Amelia/Amelie... but this ain't a baby names thread.

exoticfruits Thu 23-May-13 07:10:37

You have to get out if the idea that private = good.
Private schools are like any other and have the entire range from excellent to dire.

lottieandmia Wed 22-May-13 22:16:03

I think it does depend on the child and the school.

SoggySummer Wed 22-May-13 19:53:37

I would say some schools are worth every penny. Others a total waste.

Its not is private education worth the money type of question really its more is this school worth £x for my child.

musu Wed 22-May-13 19:47:13

Habba at ds's school boys wear caps and girls wear boaters. Mind you ds 'lost' his cap fairly early on in the school year saying it was 'too small' for his head. It fitted him perfectly the month before so I assume he has lost it deliberately. At least he wears a normal plain colour blazer. At his previous school he wore a stripey blazer. When we were looking at changing schools I recall taking him to visit a very posh school indeed where every single person we met commented on his blazer (I lost count once we'd reached 30 grin).

Stripes, caps etc do make children readily identifiable as being at private school since none of our local state schools do this. Interestingly a local new academy school has a stripey blazer as part of its uniform.

HabbaDabba Wed 22-May-13 16:57:29

"boaters, caps .... Hermione"

Do these kids wear the cap on top of the boater or vice versa? confused

And why is it whenever people recount these anecdotes they invariably insert a stereotype posh name?

lainiekazan Wed 22-May-13 16:41:08

I think it's true that some parents want others to admire their kids (and by default, them) in their private school uniform.

I live very near a posh little prep school. The uniform is kilts, boaters, caps, etc etc. The parents - when I pass them - are not exactly top drawer . But their noses are stuck high in the air.

A while ago there was a bit of a stand off when dd and I encountered prep school mum + offspring on pavement. Mum said in uber-loud voice, "Don't you step on the verge, Hermione - you don't want to spoil your uniform." As opposed to dd's sweatshirt and M&S school dress.

Zigster Wed 22-May-13 11:11:38

I confess I've come to the same conclusion as BoffinMum - i.e. the extra cost of private education isn't worth it. I look at our local State primary and about the only differences I can see are smaller class sizes (which can actually be a double-edged sword) and more emphasis on sports (which is easily fixed outside the private sector by using lots of after-school clubs).

But I am currently feeling quite negative towards the pre-prep my DSs attend so it's likely that my view is at least partially clouded by that negativity.

lottieandmia Wed 22-May-13 10:47:19

It's ok - what happened at our school was that the head was new and she proposed a complete uniform change but she agreed to consult with parents about it throughout and listen to their views. So I think she just asked if we could do away with the boater and most people said no.

The new head came at a time when a lot of people were leaving the school and since the uniform change lots of new people are enrolling their child (the old uniform was very old fashioned). I have spoken to people who actually said the old uniform put them off.

HabbaDabba Wed 22-May-13 10:41:09

Sorry Lottie. I didn't mean to call you a liar. The confused smiley was probably more appropriate.

lottieandmia Wed 22-May-13 10:31:19

HabbaDabba - what I said is true, I don't have any reason to lie hmm

lottieandmia Wed 22-May-13 10:28:28

'To some parents it matters that others know which school their dcs go to.'

Really?? How odd confused

HabbaDabba Wed 22-May-13 08:39:07

grin at all the snobby parents/snobby uniforms comments.

Ladies. If the parents can afford £30k plus pa fees then I suspect that impressing their fellow Sainsbury shoppers is not top of the list of things that they obsess over.

Also, MN is full of rants about the school imposing a uniform policy that is unpopular with parents. So I'm a bit hmm about the post where the parents overruled the HT decision to get rid of boaters.

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