When to go private?

(279 Posts)
Vijac Mon 21-Oct-13 12:18:13

If money is limited, which stage do you think is most beneficial for a child to have private education? 4-7, 7-11 or secondary? Secondary is obviously where you get all your qualifications etc and where you are most likely to go off the rails and participate in club. But then, if you don't have the best start in education could it set the tone in a child's attitude and would they get into the more academic secondaries? What do people think. Just as an aside, I do know that there are good state schools available too.

bsc Mon 21-Oct-13 20:37:55

I don't think you can put a price on a good education, and really, the phase you choose will depend upon the quality ofprovision available to you.
Many we know opt for primary, because we're in an area with super-selective state-maintained grammmars, which they're aiming to get into.

The fee-paying schools in our area list the teachers' qualifications, and university, so parents can see exactly who is qualified. None of them use unqualified teachers! (Also helps that there are lots of universities and teacher training colleges in the vicinity)

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 20:39:38

I agree that learning on the job can work well. I'm just surprised that some would claim that one benefit of private education would be fully qualified teachers, when that's not necessarily true.

29chapel Mon 21-Oct-13 20:52:41

No unqualified teachers at our school, and i have to say, the peer group was never a factor in our decision making process to send DD private. It was purely based on smaller class sizes, facilities and the pastoral care offered.

basildonbond Tue 22-Oct-13 07:54:41

Well before dd's experience of primary I would have strongly asserted that private primary was a waste of money ... However seeing how miserable she was in years 1 and 2 - lonely, bored, becoming increasingly less engaged - we realised we had to do something. We looked around at some local private schools, most of which we immediately discounted for various reasons, but one which seemed to be a perfect fit for dd

She's now in her fourth year there and the difference from the first few weeks has been remarkable. She's loved every minute and will be desperately sad to leave. It's not been about buying results as she's bright and motivated and I suspect she will do fine academically wherever she's at school, it's more about her daily experience and what makes her happy. It might have been in another part of the country that she could have been as happy in a state primary - we are lucky that we are in the postion of being able to make a choice from a wider range of schools

Btw I've not made many friends at all through dd's school, but she has and that's what's important!

KiplingBag Tue 22-Oct-13 09:54:25

TBH I am not fussed if mine are taught by fully qualified teachers or not. It does not make them necessarily a better educator. Many private tutors are not fully qualified teachers either.

My priority for our dc and their private education is 1. their happiness, 2. the nurturing environment 3. The opportunities that state just are unable to offer such as all the extra curricular activites, small class sizes, copious amounts of sport. far more trips and travel. 5. To finish with exams which could lead them onto what they want to do in the future, be it university or employment at 18.

I would start with your local primary and get saving. It is easier to support the first couple of years at home. Whilst you can buy in support as they get older but I didn't want to have to do that outside of school hours as I was concerned about putting the DC under pressure. Consequently we've gone down the private route. We've gone private from the beginning because the primary choice was poor. If money was tight I would have gone with secondary.

JammieMummy Tue 22-Oct-13 15:54:16

I agree with everyone else, we chose our DD's prep school almost entirely on the fact that we knew she would be happy there. The rest of the thought process was "if she is happy she will enjoy learning and therefore give it her all" we do not pay for grades or her peer group! And to be honest struggle to think anyone would be so shallow as to pick a school based on the other parents.

However, it is not the right school for our son and we are increasingly looking to send him to a state school until 8 and then transfer him to a prep school then. This is partly because the boys prep schools are some distance from us and I don't want him having a long journey at such a young age and so we will have a better idea of what will suit him in a few years time. I do think he will be happy at the state school but it isn't a patch on the prep schools (class sizes, extra curricular etc).

We will decide on secondary schools when the time comes I have no strong feelings for either public, private or state, only for the school that suits them individually.

My advice to OP is to look at your schools, even if you feel very a bit daft looking at secondary schools when your child is 2 years old. Just get an idea of them and see where your money is best spent but also bear in mind that they are likely to change in the future. I would warn you that once you have entered the private system it is difficult to leave other than at normal exit points (11, 13, 16 and 18) and some find it hard even then.

PrettyBelle Tue 22-Oct-13 16:14:09

A very useful thread.

I am not the OP but taking in the other parents' experience with interest. On a personal note, I wish I knew what would suit my DC! They just seem so adaptable that I feel really unsure how I can justify my school choices based on what is best for them and not on private/state.

DS went from a very relaxed state to a very structured private and seems to be enjoying it just as much. DD is currently at that state school and loving it; however she seems to be coping very well with lots of extra work at home in preparation to the upcoming exams - which makes me think that she should be at a more academic school.

Anyway, that's a topic for another thread!

DailyMalePlease Tue 22-Oct-13 17:15:38

The point about a child's daily experience is so valid.

I've been a school governor at various state schools for many years and my dc have been through the state system. They were mainly at schools judged as Oustanding and they've done very well fortunately. However the daily reality for many children in the state system even the outstanding ones, is any of the following: boredom, underachievement, a succession of supply teachers, violence, swearing, bullying, appalling behaviour and attitudes from other children/families. Often heads and governors are pretty powerless. If children get excluded the problem just gets passed to the next school. It seems to be taboo to want to protect your children from these things, but that's exactly what a private education does on the whole. Obviously private schools are not immune from these things but their range of sanctions is greater. People who criticise those who choose a private education are often in blissful ignorance about what life is really like in some state schools and the day to day misery it brings. Just a shame the choice is not financially viable for so many.

ZiaMaria Tue 22-Oct-13 17:24:36

The peer group was important to me - because my local state school (as well as being on the edge of special measures) is entirely white middle class. Whereas the private school round the corner has a great mix of ethnicities and income levels.

It depends on the schools around you, and your child!

DS1 floundered at State and we moved him to private school aged 8.

He has had 3 years in a good private school, and has gone from "2 years behind" to "on target/average/above average" depending on subject.

We will move him back to State for secondary as the local selective private secondary is too much of a pressure cooker hothouse. And the non-selective indies are not better than the comps (worse GCSE's!).

And it gets a lot more £££ for secondary (one mum says the big thing is her son gets fencing lessons....I could pay a private fencing tutor at £15k a year!)

So for us I would say 7-11 gives them a good basis, especially In English and Maths, and they will be off to a good start at the comp.

But if your local comps are rubbish, then it's different!

JammieMummy Tue 22-Oct-13 18:39:52

zia I would agree that my DD's school is more diverse than the local state school but I think HeadsDown was suggesting that we pay for schools as we don't want our children associating with non middle class children (I apologise if my interpretation was wrong but this seems to be all I see on MN from anti private posters), which is what I was commenting on.

At DD's school so many grandparents help fund fees that there is a special coffee morning for them once a term smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Oct-13 18:44:41

zia I would agree that my DD's school is more diverse than the local state school of course it's bloody not! hmm

Anyway, difficult conundrum. Leave them in state until 11 and risk them not getting set up with the right attitude, since they won't be 'getting the best start', or send them back to the wolves at 11 in time to go off the rails... unfortunately for me my children have been at state all along and consequently never got the best start or the right attitude, but the upside is that that meant when they did go off the rails it wasn't so noticeable.

JammieMummy Tue 22-Oct-13 19:11:54

steamingnit are you a parent at my DD's school? At DD's school there are a number of different cultures, children from Germany, Canada, China, India, Nigeria to name a few. Parents live in anything from a 2 up, 2 down to houses we can only dream about and the same with the cars they drive.

The local state school has only white middle class children who, almost without exception, travel to school in flash cars. I know exactly the type of swish houses they live in due to the tiny catchment area it serves. It is a good school, but it is not right for my DD for a large number of reasons.

I do know all about the state system both DH and I were educated in state school and did pretty well for ourselves, along with a large number of friends who send their children to states schools etc AND my son will be going there. I have no concerns about my kids "going off the rails" if they went to state school but I am lucky enough to have the choice of where to send my children and it is my obligation as a parent to consider all those options and pick the right one for them, what ever it may be.

rabbitstew Tue 22-Oct-13 19:38:02

For those whose local state schools are packed full of middle class white parents who drive flashy cars: perhaps you are living in the wrong area if you genuinely like diversity. Or are you being a tad hypocritical to claim you genuinely like diversity when you appear to have chosen to live in a part of the country where everyone is rich and white. grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Oct-13 19:43:53

Quite, rabbit. And if you're telling me there are as many people who live in cheap houses as not at private school, and that every parent at any state school could afford private if they were to forgo the flashy cars, then frankly I don't believe you.

I'm sure there are a few poorer people at the private school who got scholarships. But rich German children, rich Canadian children, rich Nigerian children do not make a diverse school. They make a school full of rich children, some of whom are originally from different countries. Now that is more diverse than rich children who are only White British, but it isn't really 'diverse' as I think the word is generally understood.

ZiaMaria Tue 22-Oct-13 19:50:35

Or perhaps we live where we live due to affordability, the fact our DHs work nearby, family connections...

And of course, all the kids at private school must be rich. No such thing as bursaries at all.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Oct-13 19:54:18

If full scholarships are available to anything above 50% of pupils, you might have a point. Though even then it's not specially diverse just to pick the bright poor kids, is it?

Soooo, the places where people live where the state primaries are full of wealthy people with flashy cars are chosen due to affordability? How does that work?

Or could these exclusively middle class wealthy primaries be a teeny bit exaggerated?

TOSN

The local catholic state primary has less ethnic diversity than my son's prep because in the particular area we live in there is a reasonable correlation between ethnicity and religion. I accept that the prep is less economically diverse but does one type of diversity trump the other.

curlew Tue 22-Oct-13 19:58:26

"unfortunately for me my children have been at state all along and consequently never got the best start or the right attitude, but the upside is that that meant when they did go off the rails it wasn't so noticeable"

grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Oct-13 20:01:28

Well, obviously people can do as they please, and ethnic vs economic diversity is a debate... But it does particularly infuriate me when people claim they value diversity in private schools without taking into account that they are not diverse in the slightest in the sense that most would recognise. Am not in favour of faith schools either, but the fact that they aren't diverse doesn't mean private schools are, or should claim to be. They're not; they are, by nature, definition and ethos, exclusive, and the people they exclude are people who aren't rich. That's just how it is.

curlew Tue 22-Oct-13 20:11:44

"At DD's school there are a number of different cultures, children from Germany, Canada, China, India, Nigeria to name a few"

Yep- every country in the world has rich middle class children. A English child at St Custard's will have more in common with his classmate from Hong Kong than he will with an English child at Bash Street Comprehensive.

ZiaMaria Tue 22-Oct-13 20:16:00

TOSN. I have no idea what cars people drive in my local state school's catchment area, but I do know that it is (aside from about 3 people) white middle class. I also know the proportion of children at the school registered as special needs or on free school dinners or with english as a second language. That state school does not have a diverse selection of students. Sadly I wasn't thinking about local schools when I moved here, what with being childless at the time.

I also know similar data for the private school (not including free school meals). It is far more diverse ethnically, and due to bursaries does not exclude people who aren't rich.

Maybe all the private schools near you are toff shops, but that is not the case everywhere.

curlew Tue 22-Oct-13 20:19:51

"It is far more diverse ethnically, and due to bursaries does not exclude people who aren't rich."

Ho many bursaries? And what % of the fees and other expenses do they cover?

Altamoda Tue 22-Oct-13 20:20:59

Oh fgs this is a ridiculous argument.

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