Would you consider a fee-paying school like this?

(42 Posts)
bronya Sat 24-Aug-13 15:02:06

A school that had:
- no uniform
- handwriting practice for note taking but otherwise everything taught/recorded through tablets/laptops and practical work. Work saved and marked in a 'cloud' that parents can access to see how their children are doing at any time.
- parents supply lunch, tablet for first two years, then laptop with relevant software.
- Max ten in a class, with two classes per year (one girls, one boys)
- Low fees (£2500 per term) but fewer facilities. Use local park/pool etc rather than own.

An acquaintance of mine was raving about her new business idea over lunch today. In principle it sounds great, but would people go for it? I didn't think so - was I wrong?

JeanPaget Sat 24-Aug-13 15:13:53

I wouldn't be keen at all.

This might just be down to where I am (Scotland) but c.£9,000 a year is what you'd pay here for a 'normal' private school, with all its own facilities.

Your friend's ideas don't really match my particular preferences, although I think this might just be down to what different parents are looking for. For example I actually quite like a (cheap!) school uniform - saves me having to think about what the kids are wearing. I'd also prefer my kids to be writing on paper - can't quite put my finger on why though tbh, I use a computer more at work etc. Wouldn't like single sex classes either, although class size sounds good.

On a more general level, I'd much prefer to send my kids to a well established school run by people who know what they're doing rather than these new start up academies or private schools.

AuntieStella Sat 24-Aug-13 15:16:32

Secondary or primary?

Either way, my short answer is 'no' as you can only use keyboards in public exams if you have additional needs. I wouldn't be willing to take a punt on this changing in time for any specific year group. And until you can touch type to a reasonable speed, you can have real difficulties and a slower pace of work.

Also, I wouldn't send my DC to a school where I couldn't trust the teaching standards. So the idea of being able to check up any time has no appeal.

IslaValargeone Sat 24-Aug-13 15:18:39

Nothing about your friend's idea appeals to me at all tbh.

Inclusionist Sat 24-Aug-13 15:18:44

I think the finances would be bloody tight. By my rough sums well over half of the income would go on salaries, leaving less than half a million to run the premesis and pay for consumables. That is assuming the children sign up in multiples of 10 so no free places per class.

Doubt it would turn a profit.

IamFluffy Sat 24-Aug-13 15:39:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 24-Aug-13 15:44:14

Ds went to a prep which was similar but it was heavily subsidised by the church it was connected to and required help from the parents to listen to the children read/do maintenance etc. I'd say that she has no chance of keeping the school afloat with the fees that she plans on charging due to the staff and maintenance costs. The lack of writing raises issues in itself.

Just out of interest, why does the lack of writing bother you? How much pen to paper writing do you actually do? And, if the answer is very little, why do we need to teach our children how to do it?

As a teacher who teaches in a school that's looked to become more like this I've got a professional interest in it!

If I liked the school then I would send DS there.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 24-Aug-13 15:52:44

It's a life skill. Even though we have computers there's still times when we have to write by hand, such as filling in forms, writing cards, writing shopping lists or making notes. It's a bit like asking why we learn to add and subtract when we have calculators. smile

wonkylegs Sat 24-Aug-13 15:55:19

Doesn't appeal
We're not big fans of private school but have considered them since moving due to no spaces in local schools.
The fees you've quoted are approx similar to the 'normal' fee paying school, as are class sizes. Lunch is included and compulsory (yay I hate doing lunches) as are ipads and computers of which there is fab access. Full facilities included and the teachers are available to discuss progress and parents are actively involved in the school.
Sounds a bit of a 'cheap' idea which actually would be quite expensive.

bronya Sat 24-Aug-13 17:04:43

Hmm, so I'm right. How do I tell her? She's so enthusiastic! Round here, typical fees are £4k per term, and nearly all schools are single sex, so she was sure she'd found a way to make private school more affordable and co-ed for convenience yet keeping the separation for teaching.

Inclusionist Sat 24-Aug-13 17:33:37

How much experience does she have of school management??

I would like to set up a school one day- Special School for HF ASD with behavioural difficulties, where I know there is a niche in the market. I wouldn't dream of doing it until I've done a good decade as a Head and I would do it for the kids (who currently get slung into EBD schools), not to make a profit.

difficultpickle Sat 24-Aug-13 20:47:05

One of the things that most parents pay for are the facilities. It is a question of being cash rich but time poor. There is nothing in your friend's proposal that appeals to me.

Fairdene Sat 24-Aug-13 22:44:16

Absolutely no way would I have my DC attend your friend's school even if it were free. It sounds dreadful and the leadership very dubious indeed.

Fairdene Sat 24-Aug-13 22:50:32

Inclusionist, do high functioning ASD tend to get slung into EBD schools? Or only if they have behavioural difficulties? Is that a worse setting for those kids, or better than mainstream school? Sorry if that sounds ill educated, I don't have experience - I'm merely interested to know what the current situation is and what those who know about it consider best.

microcosmia Sat 24-Aug-13 22:55:02

I would question the financial viability of this proposed school if, as earlier posters indicated,the teachers salaries have to be paid from fees income.

Where I live in Ireland there are a couple of private schools in this fee range and they have the teachers salaries paid by government. Despite this some of these schools are struggling and some are even trying to join the free school system.

It's not all due to the recession either as some of the more expensive one's are expanding. It comes down to a complex mix of factors influencing parental choice but just having low fees isn't enough if parents have concerns about standards.

GeoHound Sun 25-Aug-13 00:03:27

I would be fine with this as a concept if it were not for the IT overload. I do not want my children plugged into technology all day.

Wuldric Sun 25-Aug-13 00:08:45

Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole tbh

This is presumably a primary school? Where children need to learn to read and WRITE? No proper sports facilities? No music? I have to pay AND supply lunch? Is bonkers, this idea. Utterly bonkers.

Adikia Sun 25-Aug-13 00:59:34

No definitely not, I don't think that much relying on technology is good as it would be at the expense of learning to write, plus it wouldn't be good for learning to spell as children would rely on spell-check too much. The children would also likely suffer if they went to a different school later on or decided to go to uni as you can't sit an exam on a laptop and they wouldn't be used to handwriting lots so their results would be likely to suffer.

Wuldric Sun 25-Aug-13 01:08:28

As a matter of principle, I would always ALWAYS avoid schools that exist to make a profit. The vast majority of independent schools are not-for-profit organisations. They break even. They use the money that they receive to educate the children. That seems okay to me.

You have to ask yourself how schools that exist to make profits for their owners operate. How do they make the money? Do they do so by cutting corners on education? Or do they do so by inflating fees? Neither of these options appeal to me as a fee-paying parent.

What is your friend's motivation in this? Presumably she hopes to make a living out of it? It sounds cack-handed and underfunded. You would need a massive amount of capital to make this work properly and even then, why would you invest that capital in this venture? It makes absolutely no sense.

Adikia Sun 25-Aug-13 01:19:49

As for how to tell your friend, I'd show her this thread as theres some hints as to what she could change to make it work.

MidniteScribbler Sun 25-Aug-13 03:44:00

I think she's in lala land and has no idea of how to run a school, which alone is enough for me. How does she think sheis going to attract and retain staff?

Inclusionist Sun 25-Aug-13 08:00:36

Fairdene there are a significant number of children with ASD in any EBD school and (generalisation) it tends not to be the right environment for them. A rough, tumble EBD school where the other children can be very unpredictable is not necessarily an ideal setting for a child with ASD.

Some children with HF ASD have what appear to be 'behavioural difficulties' because they struggle to self-regulate their emotions, get over loaded and frustrated easily, don't always pick up unspoken social rules, have very rigid thinking so won't accept a teacher's view point etc etc. They fall through the net because they can be too difficult to manage in mainstream due to ^ but are too high functioning for general or ASD specific special schools.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 25-Aug-13 08:09:47

Firstly classes for me are too small because they are not financially viable 10 children at £2,500 per term £75,000 not nearly enough for decent teacher, building, insurance etc. Also too small at friends 15 is border line for friends below that there can be real problems.
Supplying tablet as a parent, I don't pay much more than that and the school supplies the tablet. There needs to be a balance between written work and on-line as public examinations are written.
No school uniform that alone would have me running for the hills in a private school.
Lack of own facilities, one of the reasons why a lot of people choose private schools is facilities.

Runningchick123 Mon 26-Aug-13 08:09:56

Prep schools near me cost on average £2300 per term and senior schools cost around £3300 per term and these schools all have small classes and excellent facilities as well as good traditional teaching methods.

Nothing about your friends proposal sounds interesting or worthy of consideration (sorry).

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