Independant education - are we overstretching ourselves?

(112 Posts)
Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 15:49:32

We are in very early stages here of just looking into options. Have just done some figures and after paying all bills/expenses for our home etc, were we to send DD to private school we would have an average of £300 left per month for anything non essential (and that would have to cover cost of clothes and going out etc but not petrol/insurances/food/bills/mortgage). Does this sound unreasonable or doable? We would certainly not be able to save anything (we try to now but not a huge amount) and would struggle when things need doing on the house/we need a new car etc, but we would be able to live and eat, go on one cheapish weeks holiday a year, have a nice but budgeted life. To me education is very important, but I don't know if I'm over reaching things here and would be interested in opinions on how this sounds, it's so much money for us but can you put a price on a good education... thanks

Marmitelover55 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:10:36

We considered private for our DD1 who has just finished Y6, as we really didn't fancy our catchment school. DD1 did the entrance exams and was offered a place, but fortunately she also got a place at a local girls academy with a lottery system in place (I had hardly dared to dream of this out come).

I have to say I still sometimes wake in the night in a cold sweat thinking that we are committed to the school fees, and is such a relief when I realise that we haven't got to pay.

My parents had also offered to help out a bit with the fees, but I was worried that they may suddenly need the money for some form of care, as they are in their late 80s.

Good luck with what ever you decide to do - I'm sure that you can make it work smile

Bowlersarm Mon 05-Aug-13 19:19:02

Go for it OP. Sacrifices are worth it, IMO. If it really really gets too tight then you can pull her out. It wouldn't be ideal but people move their children for schools all the time.

And no one will ever be able to take those years, however many there are, away from her.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:21:03

What would you spend the money on if you don't send you DD to private school? Do you think whatever it is would make you happier than having her at the school but having to stick to a more limited budget? How does your DH feel about your parents paying the fees?

Abra1d Mon 05-Aug-13 19:24:13

I'd save the money on early years at primary and go independent (not independant, btw) when your daughter is older: perhaps eight or so. Frankly, the teaching in many good state primaries is better in the early years than it is in the private sector (my children went to private schools that had reception-year six in them but did not themselves start privately until they were both ten). I have seen some inspired lessons in our local village school. But it depends where you live, of course!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 05-Aug-13 19:33:48

It is bloody hard to be frank. I pay the school fees ExH left me 12months ago so I have had to cut back every single aspect of my life to accommodate this. However, I knew it was only for 12 months as in October for a variety of reasons my income will nearly double and 12 months after that rise by a similar amount. So I have had only had to spend 12 months like this.

Farewelltoarms Mon 05-Aug-13 19:50:00

How would you feel if your boiler broke down? That's a litmus test for me.

To me, education is also very important. Valuing education is not incompatible with sending your child to state school.

But I understand education to be something quite broad and one which, frankly, money helps enrich. My children this holidays are going on an amazing family holiday, as well as brilliant sports camps for the sports-mad one and really extraordinary art course for the arty one. Both of which are at a level that few schools other than Eton would be able to match in terms of instructors and resources. We go to museums, we eat out as a family (where I find we talk more than we would at home), I can afford to turn down work over the holidays (I'm freelance).

We also do lots of free stuff, too, I'm not saying that you have to blow money on extra curricular stuff necessarily. But what I like is that not having to penny pinch allows me to pick and choose the elements of education that we give them.

Plus they seem to be doing better than fine academically at the local primary.

JammieMummy Mon 05-Aug-13 19:50:11

I think only you know the schools locally and if it is worth the sacrifices you will be making. You can live on £300 for everything non essential, but it will be hard. I wouldn't worry about designer clothes etc at primary age, my experience is that the children really don't notice what they are wearing let alone anyone else (my DD attends and independent school).

Personally, we live near a good state school but the indie school is even better and we believe gives us value for money. You need to think are you going to get value for money and are you going to get frustrated that you have no spare cash. I personally think that private education is about far more than learning and also about confidence, happiness etc which is something to also consider about your situation.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 21:19:11

abra blush to the typo!

fluffy it would go on home improvements, saving (potentially towards university fees to help DD out should she choose to go or just general savings), tutoring when she's older towards the 11+, a nicer lifestyle, more frivolity tbh.

I just keep thinking to my own education where I easily coasted through (as in not pushed or stretched or made to work as hard as I could, not as in I found it easy) as I was an obedient student who got on with what I was asked to do. I was also very quiet in class and got away with never putting my hand up/answering questions. Should I have been given the opportunity to have more individual help and support and taught to my level rather than an extremely mixed group of over 30 children from 2 year groups (my school put 2 years groups in each class) I think my work ethic would be so much better/different/I could have really developed more than I had. Maybe I'm generalising too much though....FWIW the school I'm looking at isn't highly academically focused (well, as much as any school is...) it more looks at enjoyment in learning and developing a thirst for knowledge. I like that ethos more than pressurised stressful schooling at a young age.

farewell if the boiler broke down we would have savings to cover it. If the boiler needed to be replaced our savings could probably cover that too. But, if something like the boiler breaking down happened frequently/regularly, then, no, we couldn't manage.

jammie agree about the confidence thing.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 21:39:06

Would you consider moving to an area with really good state schools?

Marmitelover55 Mon 05-Aug-13 22:05:54

If the school you are considering isn't highly academically focused, then you may find that you still need to tutor for the 11+ any way.

Would it be worth trying the state primary and then moving at 7+ as this would give you time to save a bit more?

I went to a selective indie by the way and am not very confident unfortunately. Even so I would have still liked to be able to afford private school for my children, but it would have been too much of a stretch for us.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 07:27:53

marmite they have an 11+ club at the school to prepare those taking it and it is academic.....just not as pressurised/stressful on/about it as other private schools in my area (this is from what I can gauge from visit/prospectus/local reputations that is). You see, also part of my desperation to send DD private (and I really don't want this to sound snobby) is the children at our local state primary - we live very close to it so I often see/pass the children and parents and shudder at the behaviour/attitude of the parents and children - lots of ranting about how awful teachers are to dare tell off their children for being badly behaved (?!), children being rude and fighting/head butting/swearing etc etc and parents not caring or laughing shock and the children are always being shouted at for bad behaviour when they are out doing sports/outdoor activities alot confused. It's just not the kind of environment Id like DD to feel is acceptable or get her morals from when she's so impressionable. I hope I don't com across as sounding awful there. I know I won't eliminate this with private school and there will still be bad behaviour/troublesome children, but the difference being that it's more likely to be stamped on/shown as unacceptable/parents taking more of an interest in their childrens behaviour (vast vast generalisation I know and please don't flame me if I've worded this not as I mean).

fluffy for various reasons I won't bore you with we won't move house. We have good secondary schools in our area though.

fabricmum Tue 06-Aug-13 13:00:06

If you have to watch the pennies every month, I wouldn't do it, having done that myself for 3 years, it sounds fine but the reality is very different.
Someone posted on here yonks ago saying that if you have to ask what the fees are you can't afford it, at the time i scoffed at that, but now it's a golden nugget of advice. Life's hard paying school fees with only just enough money to cover them, £300 disposable income isn't enough. You only need 2-3 months of awful things happen, things breaking, bigger unexpected bills and it becomes a downward spiral.
Sorry to be negative, fees are also going up like mad, with no signs of slowing down, that's the South East though.
I'm a great believer in making the the time outside school richer, in terms of museums, galleries and trips, it just seems more important now.

Regarding morals, it's your job to instil them in your child like all decent parents would, the school (private) will only compliment this, i'm afraid it's the reality, your job is to show your child the difference between right and wrong, you shouldn't have to spend 70k to accomplish that.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 13:07:21

That's interesting fabric . If course I'm going to instill good values into DD (or try!) and don't expect this to be the schools job, but you're right in that that in itself isn't a reason for private education (it's not for me, but it is one point).

Janesb Tue 06-Aug-13 13:12:54

What about sending to private and in the meantime putting her on waiting list for every decent state school. Then if things get too much you have a way out.

I can't fault private school for early years for excellent grounding and confidence building. As poor state school can not compete with that.

We survive on less than £300 and just cope if something comes up. It's not worth worrying about what if as I think their education is more important.

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:15:23

'They will want you on the breadline to qualify for help.'

Not necessarily. At my dd's prep school the cut off for bursary entitlement is £55k a year.

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:17:34

If you own your home outright though I think generally they would expect you to remortgage.

Llareggub Tue 06-Aug-13 13:24:18

I used to be a member of a gym where after school it was flooded with the output of the local prep school. I wouldn't want my DCs to have their sort of confidence. Be careful what you wish for!

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:27:17

To be fair though, Llareggub, all prep schools are different. There is a school like the one you describe near us. I would never have wanted my dd to go there.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 13:35:12

Wow lottie we're on wayyyyy less than 55k!

Llare yes, an interesting point....

Jane very good idea. I think I see things the same as you re: education. However, what are you going to do if your DC want to go to university? I'm assuming because of fees you haven't managed to save enough to pay alot towards it, does this worry you (or anyone else struggling to meet the fees)? I just keep thinking of how much it costs and how much we could save towards her future if we didn't go private, but then, we are doing this for her future....argh!

Llareggub Tue 06-Aug-13 14:48:03

Have you been into the state school for a look around? Is it really that bad? My local state had a terrible local reputation that was completely undeserved. It served a large council state and private housing. Little by little the good reputation spread and it is now over-subscribed. If I'd gone by what I'd heard (mainly from those who shuddered at the catchment) we would not have gone there. You can't beat actually seeing for yourself what goes on at a school. You might be pleasantly surprised, and financially better off too.

fabricmum Tue 06-Aug-13 16:03:53

Llareggub- That's exactly the problem we've got with our local state comp. We live in a village with a small primary school but barely none of the children go to the local comp which is 5 mins down the road because they think it's a dump. The odd thing is, none of them visit it! We did, it's a small comp with an excellent learning support unit. Yes, it doesn't have all the facilities my son had at his prep but his travelling time has gone down from 30 mins to walking in 5 mins. I can't beat that!

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 16:16:43

llare yes it truly is that bad, but there are other schools not our most local one which might/likely will be OK, but she's unlikely to get a place there as this is her most local school (but we can live in hope)

homebythesea Tue 06-Aug-13 16:25:58

Reastie I must just pick you up on the point you make about saving for Uni fees

You can't pay up front - your DD will repay as she earns. It's the biggest misconception about Uni funding and it is my personal bugbear to hear people say "I can't afford Uni because of the fees". Everyone can afford to repay the cost of a couple of pints of beer a week when earning a fair amount as a graduate!

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 16:34:04

home point taken re: fees but there's still the cost of accommodation/living expenses/text books etc. I'm really lucky I know, but my parents paid for all of this for me when I went to uni. Without that help I don't know if I would have done it for fear of getting into debt so young (I know many others don't have the option, but I wanted to give my DD the same opportunity in this respect if I can).

Fluffy1234 Tue 06-Aug-13 17:39:06

As a mother of 3 DC in their twenties and teens I'd concentrate on a five to ten year plan and think about uni fees a bit later on. Are you and your DH in careers where your salary may go up or at your peak? Do you have lots of equity in your houses? What's your monthly take home pay and how much would your half of the school fees be? Do you think you and your DH can have a happy, full life with 3.6k a year spare for holidays, Christmas, birthdays, meals out, treats, clothes, big things breaking etc. It's not just about your DD but you and your DH too.

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