Genuine question which, I'm sure, has been done to death. Dd has a small chance of a place at a fee-paying secondary, which is something we'd never previously considered, but now it's sort of cropped up, I feel duty-bound to give it some proper thought.
I know the classes are smaller, they are selective (I am uneasy about that) and they often provide more opportunities to engage in sport and music. Anything else I should consider?
For background, dd is bright, bit of an all-rounder, conscientious, friendly, well-liked without being in the 'in-crowd', resilient, eager, funny...all qualities that I think will help her to thrive in any setting. Oh yeah, and she'll already know kids at either of the two state secondaries we're considering, or the fee-paying secondary and she gets on with all of them - seeks out their company and they hers, etc.
I think I have tremendous guilt about even considering private. Please feel free to tell me I either should/shouldn't or to simply get over myself. Thank you.
What you need from after school care and how much ferrying around you need to do to out of school activities will depend on the age of the child and where you live.
Since the thread is about secondary school age, I would have thought the thing about needing to ferry them around would only apply if you live somewhere very rural. My secondary school age ds is perfectly capable of taking himself to after school activities either on foot or by public transport. But obviously this only works if public transport is there.
You need to look at the specifics of the schools. I have spent a lot of time in state schools, both teaching and observing, and there is no 'cookie-cutter' school - they vary enormously. I have DC in one of the best independent schools in the country, but I do not claim that 'indies are best' - again - they vary! Look at your child, or better still, get a trusted friend to look at your child, as objectively as they can, and tell you what your child needs, and then do a gap analysis with the schools. Because no school is perfect, its just what the best fit is. And, hey, its not irrevocable - you can change if it turns out to be ghastly mistake... As a general rule, my advice would be... If your child is exceptional (rare) they will do well anywhere, but if you can afford it, and if you have one in the locality - send to an outstanding local indie where they will be with children who are curious and exceptional. If your child is mediocre/normal, send them to a local solid indie. If your child is struggling, keep on the case. Send to local school but insist on detailed info on their progress so you can supplement as needed. Give them a home environment where they are loved, supported, and given a calm quiet space to do their homework. Encourage extra-curricular activities (Scouts?) where qualities other than academic prowess are valued. them a pet to look after. Listen to them when they want to speak, and don't over-question them. Cook with them. And they will exceed your expectations
I was educated in private schools but have worked in state schools. My experience has been that the teaching is infinitely better in state schools. Teachers there seem to care a lot more.
It seems to me that private schools simply take your child away from an inclusive experience of society. Children in state schools also learn to be self-motivated, not just motivated to please an authority figure. This ends up showing itself in the evidence that state school students do much better at university than their private school peers with equivalent grades.
Obviously it depends on the school. A school isn't better because it's private and there are some round here I'd not choose over the local state schools even if they were free.
But for us, private school means academically selective, so surrounded by bright children who want to learn and take pride in hard work and will bring each other on. Having been at state schools myself and worked in state schools, I know that however brilliant the teaching, classes get bogged down by the pupils who disrupt for whatever reasons, and teachers also have to teach to the class average, not to the brighter children, who then get bored.
Also, our private school has smaller classes, far wider curricular and extra-curricular choices, excellent facilities and a warm, gentle atmosphere. Local state schools feel like trying to swim upstream.
IME children in state schools don't always learn to be self motivated, but can swiftly become demotivated because it's not cool to learn, or because doing the minimum, if you're bright, is perfectly acceptable, as you are on target for average class grades. Whereas at private school, children are expected to produce high level standards of work and hand in homework daily. More report cards, more feedback from staff creates an overall greater sense of responsibility to the work they are given.
There's a danger of narrowing the social mix, but that can be sorted out outside school. MY DC go to three different clubs outside school which have members from all walks of life, and they mix with those children. Cliques form in comps too - the haves and the have-nots at one local comp are pretty blatantly segregated from each other by the end of yr 7.