So we need to make a decision... (sorry, might be long!)

(37 Posts)
SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 13:28:45

Have NC as I'm very recognisable in RL from my normal moniker. New user name pretty much sums it up!

DS is in reception at an "Outstanding" infant school, and next step is a "Satisfactory" junior. After that, the secondary options are very few and far between due to our location so we would need to move to within the catchment area of one of the local schools.

However, property anywhere near these schools is really at the top end of what we can get mortgage wise based on our joint income and equity we have in the place we own now (which we rent out). In addition to that, we currently get subsidised housing through DH's job which means we live on site and pay a % of his salary as rent. We can remain on site as long as we wish, and his job is long term and secure.

We've worked it out that the difference between our current rent and the amount we'd have to pay for a mortgage in the catchment area is actually as much as it would cost us per month to send DS to the local independent school, and the local prep is a feeder into one of the top 20 secondary schools in the country. For us, this is a bit of a no-brainer.

We went to the open day at the prep this morning with a view to DS finishing infant school where he is and then starting in Y3, but they happened to mention that there is still one space in Y1 left starting in Sept.

We've paid a very small deposit to register him, and then if the space hasn't already been taken we shuold get an offer of a place in the next 3 weeks at which point we'd need to make a large financial commitment.

DH feels that if we're going to move him anyway, which we've basically agreed to do, then we may as well do it earlier before he makes any attachments. Also, if we wait till Y3, he will have to do a standardised test (which I'm sure would be fine) whereas if he starts in September, he's guaranteed to move straight from pre-prep into prep.

I think I agree, but it all feels like it's moving a bit fast! Can someone please talk to me about it if you've made the move from government to independent and why you sent them/didn't send them at particular times? I'm very nervous for some reason!

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 13:48:50

Bump!

redskyatnight Wed 08-May-13 13:53:50

I don’t think the fact the move is from state to private is particularly relevant as he is only in Reception.
Moving school in either Y1 or Y3 would seem equally good. In Y1 the children won’t really have started to make firm friends and he should settle in quickly.
The same is likely to be true in Y3 (especially if it’s a standard entry point and lots of new children joining).
Of course if you move in Y1, you need to find 2 more years fees. Is that a consideration?

Your post reads as though you are only moving your DC to private because you don’t have a viable state secondary and it’s as cheap as moving house.
I think I’d want to have more of a “positive” reason for moving to private tbh. If it’s just an issue for secondary, why not move him at 11?
Also, have you checked your sums – have you included extras and fee increases over the years?
I know you say DH’s job is long term and secure, but will he really still be there when DS is 18? Are you planning any other DC who will need to be considered.
Taking on a commitment to paying private fees throughout school is a big commitment – you do need to think it through properly.

wineoclocktimeyet Wed 08-May-13 13:53:53

Can you narrow down what your concerns actually are? ie is it the financial commitment thats worrying you? Or would you feel the same way if you were moving your son to another state school?

Perhaps think about how you would feel if the independant school phoned up and said "sorry, been a mistake there isnt a place in september" - if you would be very disappointed, then there is your answer!

Good luck - sometimes crystal balls would be very useful!

MTSCostcoChickenFan Wed 08-May-13 13:59:24

11+ rather than prep but still relevant.

We toyed with the idea of giving our allocated secondary school a try and if that didn't work out then go for the 13+ at the indie. We dropped that idea when we realised how difficult the 13+ was compared to the 11+. We didn't want to take the chance so we went in at Year 7.

There is always the chance that your DC will have a bad day come test day. Or you may find that the kids sitting the test that year are exceptionally bright and your DC is edged out.

I would take that guaranteed place now providing the money isn't a (major) issue.

moonbells Wed 08-May-13 14:00:02

It's dangerous going to prep open days - I once went to the local one for a nosey when DS was 3 and almost came out crying because I wish I'd had that kind of support or facilities when I was at school!

If you move house to get into catchment, at the end of it all you will still have a house.
If you pay school fees instead then they're gone. Bit like having premium bonds instead of buying lotto tickets.

Remember the fee hikes. Last 5 years have been between 4% and 6% generally. Multiply fees by the number of years you expect your DS to be there, but remember that Y2 is Y1*1.06, Y3 is Y1*1.06*1.06 etc etc (compound increases)

Check to see if your projected finances will cover the total! You don't want to be selling the house you do have, to cover fees in Y6.

Take financial advice even if you think you're able to cover it. There are advisers out there who specialise in tax-efficient fee planning. Using taxed salary isn't that efficient.

Bottom line is, does the school and its ethos suit your family and especially your DS. Will he be happy?

moonbells Wed 08-May-13 14:03:02

I forgot to ask, is the top 20 secondary indie or state?

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 14:03:05

YOu're right, redsky it's not state to private, it's more about timing. Fees will be fine - it's only been 8 months since we stopped paying his exhorbitant full-time nursery fees, so we're used to budgeting for it.

The positive reasons for moving him would be that the class sizes are so massively reduced that we feel he would benefit from the one to one attention to help him in areas he needs it (writing) and stretch him in areas where he's ahead of the curve (maths).

In terms of why Y3 and not secondary, it's because of the junior school, if I'm honest. It's not a good school, not many have anything positive to say about it, and he will automatically go into it from his infant as it's a feeder. I'm worried that he's going to lag behind and that by the time he goes to secondary we will really need to pull all the magic tricks out the bag for him to succeed. He's bright, but easily distracted and we just want to make sure he's getting the best support.

Yes, the job is one that DH is likely to be in until retirement, either in the current role or one step higher. We don't have any other DC, and aren't planning any more.

adeucalione Wed 08-May-13 14:03:43

I would not reject the junior school purely because of a 'satisfactory' Ofsted inspection - talk to local parents, have a tour and meet the Head at least before making any hasty decisions.

I say this because all three of mine did very well at a satisfactory junior school, supported at home and with additional tuition as needed - this allowed us to save a hefty sum of money, and they are now all at academically selective secondary schools.

adeucalione Wed 08-May-13 14:09:05

Ah X posts - I see that you've definitely decided against the junior school and that fees are not a problem.

If you are certain that he will be going to the prep in Y3 then yes, I should move him now and grab the guaranteed place.

However, as others have said, factor in extras, fee increases and the cost of any other children being given the same opportunity.

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 14:18:32

Moonbells, we would still have a house whether we stayed where we are or moved as we already own and rent out. If we stay where we are, we will likely sell the house we used to live in, buy something more lettings friends with a lower mortgage (2 bed, for eg) and rent it out for a higher yield which will also help contribute to fees. We always want to stay on the property ladder no matter what.

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 14:22:15

Sorry, keep posting and not answering questions properly! Can't multitask!

The secondary was in top 10 indie schools last year based on A level results. He isn't guaranteed entry to the secondary if he's at the perp, BUT they test the kids every year from yr3 till Y6 and provided they pass at least one of these tests they are guaranteed entry into the secondary. Whereas, if they go in at Y7 that have to do an entry test and it's much more competitive at that age.

lljkk Wed 08-May-13 14:22:34

The whole family benefits if you live somewhere nicer. Whereas the possible gain in private ed are mostly just for your son.

Is the "top secondary" state or indie, I didn't understand that. How selective is it, can you be so sure your DS will get in?

Can you afford the extras of a private school, this is a problem for some, right clothes, nice trips... compulsory lunches were an extra £15/week at a school DD looked at.

Fees in private sector go up faster than inflation, whereas your mortgage payments would go down in real terms.

Bowlersarm Wed 08-May-13 14:26:24

Just about to go but only point i have to make is that I don't think changing schools and coming in at year 3 is a problem at all. In the prep school my DC's went/are going through there is a bit of movement in and out of all years but especially Y3. So if you want to save a couple of years school fees, I think it would be fine.

As an aside, it is still an easy age for you, as parents, to meet other parents at the school gate, and lots of opportunities at sports matches as well.

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 14:40:22

lljkk, without giving too much away, where we live at the moment is amazing (for DH's work) - much nicer than any areas we would need to move to.

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 14:42:16

And the secondary is top 20 indie (top 10 last year). If at the feeder Prep, he would only need to pass one test in 4 years in order to be guaranteed entry to the secondary.

moonbells Wed 08-May-13 15:38:10

From what I see as regards indie admissions, the earlier you can get in, the easier it is on all concerned (esp parental fingernails!)

Local prep to us that I looked round had 36 spaces at nursery, and six for YR (after two children went elsewhere). For those six places, ratio was 10:1. I think it was nearer 2:1 for nursery.

And if you have somewhere you can get from prep into senior without doing CE, go for it!

IndridCold Wed 08-May-13 17:53:32

Difficult to advise, but I do have some comments which I hope you may find useful.

We moved DS from local primary in year 3. He was a bit unsure at first and didn't want to leave his friends, but once he had been on a taster day all doubts completely vanished.

The year he started about half of the children came up from the pre-prep and half came from a range of local primaries, same as DS - so there was a good mix.

However, two years later the sister of one of DS's friends also started in year 3, but she was the only one who didn't come up from pre-prep. Although she is a sparky and outgoing child, and she also had a big brother in the school, this did make it much harder for her to settle in and make friends.

You may want to try and find out the percentage of children starting in year 3 who come from other schools. Obviously this can vary hugely from year to year, but if it likely that your DS will be one of only a few from outside the school then year 1 entry may be the better choice.

My son was the new boy in class at the beginning of Y2, and it is only now, at the end of Y3 that he starts feeling settled and is making friends. The group was very settled together after 2 years, and it took another new boy starting just before Christmas in Y3 for my son to get a friend.

I would move now, not wait.

Mumtogremlins Wed 08-May-13 19:19:44

OP, your situation sounds very like mine. Outstanding infant school but satisfactory junior school for which I've got nothing good to say! Also poor catchment secondary schools. I'm currently trying to decide whether to send oldest DS to private but I have other DCs so its a big decision.
You're probably nervous as it is a big financial decision but I would definitely send him now. Especially from what you say about getting him into the secondary school - that's the most important thing in the end

SchoolsBloodySchools Wed 08-May-13 20:05:42

Thanks, gremlins - the more DH and I talk about it, the more I think we should just do it. It's just such a big decision to make in a day! I need to keep reminding myself that we were always going to do it anyway, we're just doing it earlier.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 08-May-13 23:02:53

We moved dd from state primary to indie, at the start of yr 2. If we had waited, I am not sure she would have passed the exam at year 3 and they did do a little extra work with her to bring her up to speed with the others.

Personally, I would say do it sooner rather than later, settling in did take time and it was a little hard for her to break into established friendships. What was good, is when the new Yr3's started, she was well established and not a new girl, which definitly helped

Our fess are not extortionate like some, around £9,000 a year, no extras apart from lunch and maybe a trip each term of around £10/15. I don't know why people say cost in all the extras, unless you do stuff like singing or music lessons there aren't any! Uniform is a cost, but her blazer still fits from yr2 (year 3 now) and there are uniform sales, which everyone goes to. However fees will go up through the school, so just check that out.

Personally, I cannot get over how different the school is. Her old school was outstanding, but wasn't, but I also work in another outstanding ( and it is) state school, but her indie is still streets ahead in so many ways and this was obvious from our first visit.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 08-May-13 23:10:27

Oh and we did it all very quickly. Went back to state in the Sept. and we visited the new school a few days into term, moved a week later. It would have been sooner, but there was something going on in school she didn't want to miss,

It was bloody scary doing it so quick and I felt physically sick at upsetting her little world, but the thinking of it was worse than the doing!

SchoolsBloodySchools Thu 09-May-13 07:16:35

Paddling, your message came last night literally as DH and I were discussing the same thing.

I'm so worried about doing the right thing for DS. We always said if we had an only child, we had two main responsibilities: to foster his friendships and to give him the best start in life.

I'm so scared that he'll look back when he's older and be unhappy that we sent him private. I don't want his personality to be crushed, and I just want him to be happy. I'm also scared that he'll be unhappy if we tell him he's moving schools. He's had so much disruption in his life (we've moved 3 times in the last 4 years). But I think this move would be the last for him for a long time.

On the other hand, I also don't want him to have a mediocre education at mediocre schools when I know we had the opportunity to send him somewhere better.

adeucalione Thu 09-May-13 09:06:48

I don't know many people who have grown up unhappy because their parents sent them to a private school, but if it didn't work out for him then there are several natural exit points, they don't force you to stay in the system for the next 13 years grin

I think it's far more likely that he, and you, will love it and never look back - I had the same concerns when I moved DD, but those doubts disappeared pretty quickly.

Regarding disruption - I would have thought that a move at the end of YR would be less disruptive than a move at the end of Y2, when he will be leaving an established friendship group and being asked to sit an entrance exam/interview.

If it helps, look ahead to Y2 - which decision are you most likely to regret?

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