Best Education money can afford - from start to finish.

(121 Posts)
mirtzapine Fri 08-Nov-13 14:55:28

This isn't meant to be intense or anything, what I'm looking for is some direction, advice and information.

Background:
I was fortunate enough to have two very intelligent grandparents who helped me a lot. I went to a pretty bad (state) school that didn't help much. I also spent a lot of time bunking school, sitting in the local library where the Head Librarian was a former house-master of a well known boarding school in the west country. He took a lot of time with me knowing my grandparents and knowing the reasons I bunked school. I used my part-time job money to pay for 'o' levels at night school that got me into the grammar school sixth from. From there to university and on to post grad.

The downside of my "unconventional" education is that the basics of effective study, doing homework, mocks for exams &c.bypassed me, so its always been a real struggle for me to study and sit exams, by some means or other, I've passed them.

I have no intention of being a "Tiger Parent", but I would like my two dd's to have the best groundings possible from schooling, so that in the future the world will be their oyster - educationally speaking, the pick of the litter, so to speak when it comes to Universities and courses.

Financially, I've worked that bit out, projecting inflation, cost of living and ancillary costs over the next 23 years based on the three London Schools I'd like them to go to and the four RG Universities to doctoral level.

Sounds a bit harsh, eh! mapping out their lives like that. That's not the intention, the intention is to plan the best possible. if they choose to go on different paths - b'ezrat Hashem (shrugs shoulders).

My Question:
So from experience, knowledge and understanding, what do people consider necessary to ground them on the right paths to educational success?

peteneras Sat 09-Nov-13 14:37:03

And what the fuck are you talking about morethan? Where did I say there's anything wrong with train drivers?

enderwoman Sat 09-Nov-13 14:45:57

I went to a school that was top 10 in the national league tables and onto a RG uni (so I'm guessing the sort of thing that you're planning for your dc)

Obviously qualifications are important but I wouldn't say that it was the best education money can buy. To me, the best education that money can buy is one tailored to your child's interests and personality. So if my child had a thing about animals they could learn how to charm snakes in India, if they were sporty Id get a Hollywood stuntman to teach them how to move like a ninja or if they were musical they'd be could learn whatever unusual instruments that they fancied rather than the mainstream ones.

The only people who I know who will follow regimented educational plans are like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge where all sons have to attend Eton or wherever.

Mutteroo Sat 09-Nov-13 15:21:39

You've had some good advise but can I offer one more little bit. Please take the pressure off yourself & stop the planning! I've been guilty of over-parenting which has been fine for my DS but not so good for his sister. Go with the flow, pay if you can afford it when you need to & don't feel you have to give them all opportunities. Let them explore some for themselves & they will grow up to be happy healthy adults (hopefully).

Newbizmum Sat 09-Nov-13 17:07:04

Nothing wrong with planning to have the funds to be able to make the choices should the opportunity present itself. Ignore the naysayers who need an excuse to spend their income on frivolities and then console themselves in later life that they never had the opportunity to pay such sums.

Do not worry, in the dark of the night, they too wish they did things differently, when little Jonnie's future looks more like bus driver than astronaut.

TheArticFunky Sat 09-Nov-13 17:17:53

All you can do is provide support and encourage their interests. Children are not little projects they are individuals and if they feel they are being pushed in one direction they will probably go in the other. Ds1 is completely different to me academically his strengths were my weaknesses and vice versa.

Success and happiness doesn't always follow a straight line. Some of the most successful and qualified people I know flunked their exams. Sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed.

cory Sat 09-Nov-13 18:21:43

Newbizmum, some of us are the teachers at the RG universities. We are the ones that have to deal with offspring who have very little aptitude for the path their parents have encouraged them into, with students who are devastated at the thought of being unable to live up to expectation, with students who resort to plagiarism or fall into depression because they are so shamed when they find cannot be what their ambitious and intelligent parents thought any child of theirs must be. And they are youngsters who might have done perfectly well and been happy elsewhere.

For my own children, I would wish that they develop the courage to see where their own talents and their own desires lie and try for that- whether that means Oxbridge or RADA or an apprenticeship with a local bricklayer.

If I lie awake at night a thought that is more likely to occur to me is "please do not let my child be the one who is sobbing his heart out in front of the academic integrity officer because he felt obliged to take a path that was not right for him just to live up to my expectations".

cory Sat 09-Nov-13 18:33:41

This is absolutely not to say that you should not be saving money for his future, OP. It's a lovely thing to do and nothing more natural than that you should wish to do it.

Just that child-rearing involves a kind of involvement that is far more active, far more flexible, far more able to see the real child and make the right choices at any one time for that child as an individual. It is the opposite of laziness: so far from making a decision once and for all, you will be making hundreds of little decisions: about secondary education, about extra tuition or no extra tuition, about extra-curricular activities, holiday activities, days out that may stimulate a particular interest etc etc.

You will be able to see that while some activities are lovely and worth doing in their own right, they are unlikely to have an educational value for your particular child (even if they might have for somebody else):L a child with two left feet doesn't need sports tuition at the same level as a potential Olympics contender. On the other hand, you may find that your child has a talent or an interest where putting extra money in makes educational sense: for a child with linguistic ability a year abroad could make a huge difference career-wise.

But you don't get to decide in advance whether your child will be the great entrepreneur of the next generation or the next Kiri te Kanawa. It's a gradual process.

When you choose a primary school, you choose a school that seems right for your child's personality and needs then. When you come to secondary education, and particularly Sixth Form, you will be dealing with a child who is half way to being a grown-up with ideas of his or her own, so it is very much going to be a discussion between you.

When you get to HE, your child will be an adult and will not be bound by any decisions you made about your child, so again that flexibility will be required: is this money best spent on university fees or maybe he needs money to start a business or maybe there is something else.

TheArticFunky Sat 09-Nov-13 18:37:34

Very good post Cory.

NumptyNameChange Sat 09-Nov-13 18:52:58

blimey - i think i'd rather be sent to state school and given the £200k i'd saved my parents in education fees to invest.

NumptyNameChange Sat 09-Nov-13 18:59:25

i mean seriously - if you invested those fees year on year in a portfolio for your children imagine how much money they'd have at the end?

it also makes clear what a joke the idea of social mobility is when some people are getting a 200k leg up before they even enter work.

SlicedLemon Sat 09-Nov-13 19:09:14

Its the additional things that real life just brings their way that are educational without actually sitting them down to be educated.

There are many surveys etc that show children that develop a natural passion for reading - are more intellectual, get better results, better vocab, grammar etc. Its not always reading high brow stuff either. Dont force what is deemed edcuational/suitably stretching on them but let them develop a passion for reading themselves. They have to like and be enthusiastic about what they read to develop a passion. Giving them material you deem suitable but they dont love will do more damage than good and possibly turn them off. That said there is a definate place for guidance.

DD2 reads endlessly we have to drag her away from books. At age 10/11 she developed a passion for crime fiction and read all the Agatha Christie books. In between, she would occassionally dig out an old Jacqueline Wilson (aimed at younger than age 10) book just for fun. people frowned and said she should not reverts etc. It did no harm. She had a passion for it. DD2 is flying academically. Her vocab in everyday use is way above her reasonably bright (grade a) 15yo sister(DD1) who has never enjoyed reading much. Lots of teacher believe and have said DD2's academic skills have been boosted by her passion for reading and books.

Another everyday factor is access to news and current affairs. Again DD2 reads the papers. She watches to news and asks me questions I cannot always answer. This too has been commented on by teaching staff and in educational articles about boosting intellect.

Its not all about class room teaching althlough it has to be said a shit school with shit staff/teaching will rarely boost or bring on any enthusiasm for learning or school.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 09-Nov-13 19:19:03

My DH went to the local comp and feels every penny spent on the DC's education has been worth it. Our only regret is trying to be principled and sending dd to what we thought was an outstanding comp because there were options here for girls and it was a very sought after school. Now that was a mistake - big time. I think a lot depends on where you live tbh.

MaeMobley Sat 09-Nov-13 19:48:22

OP, I am interested by the fact that you do not mention your parents and their role in your education.

How involved were they?

I think you are right to save for the most expensive options; it strikes me as prudent. But I think your support, attitude are much more important than buying what is perceived as the best.

tiggytape Sat 09-Nov-13 22:51:40

If you are asking how to draw a between 2013 and some point 23 years into the future when the last DC gains a doctorate from Oxford then life is just not like that. It is impossible to do.
Planning your finances to make it a option is different.

Whatever path they choose will be no doubt helped by extracurricular activities and be being able to attend schools that suit their needs and abilities. All the rest though is down to them and how they grow, what they're good at, what motivates them, how much effort they are prepared to make, how they respond to schooling..... so many factors in fact that it would be impossible to plan even for guaranteed GCSE outcomes let alone doctorates for 2 children.

The one part of your unconventional path that will still determine outcomes for those on the more conventional route is motivation and determination. The answer to how to get a child a doctorate from a RG University is to have a child who really wants to go to a RG University and study to PhD level.

tiggytape Sat 09-Nov-13 23:00:11

meant to add: I don't have a PhD but did attend a RG University and the people who did well were the people who really wanted to be there. Those who saw it as a fantastic opportunity and were passionate about their subject.
The people who left or did less well were the ones who had been dragged through A Levels that they hadn't enjoyed much and all but dumped on the doorstep by their parents on the first day of term. There were a few who just had no interest at all and were only there to please their families - obviously that desire only took them so far.

I think this experience has left me leaning the other way. Both of my DC's already know what they want to study at university (I expect it to change a million times between now and then of course) but I always remind them that they don't have to go at all. That there are other options including entering tertiary education much later in life or pursuing other avenues entirely.

NumptyNameChange Sun 10-Nov-13 07:00:31

joking aside i really think you need to look into what is motivating all of this compulsive planning and need to give the absolute best of everything and the focus on education being all.

if we just do the opposite of what our parents did, or just give what we wish we'd had for example without a lot of thought it is still not our authentic parenting but reactive rather than progressive.

your children's needs will be different to your own and you need to be sure you've dealt with your unresolved needs for yourself/with yourself/with a therapist etc rather than project them onto your children and try and rewrite stuff on that slate. i'm not being very clear but this is def meant well and not a dig. i think you need to resolve your own disappointments and hurts from childhood in yourself rather than in your children.

mirtzapine Sun 10-Nov-13 08:11:00

There is a very interesting omission in all of the posts. No-one is admitting to micro-managing or "everything" planning, which I feel is that a lot of you assume I intend to do.

Yet at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister", "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor", "Yosep IS going to be an accountant", "Sophie WILL be a vet" and then go on about it.

I'm left thinking "are we going wrong somewhere", or am I falling foul of the school gate bullshittery and cock measuring. I suspect now the latter after reading your posts.

I have no doubt that my dd's will change path and tack over the years and I see no shame in discovering a career in later life. I'm interested in how to give the grounding, nurture, support and guidance so that dd's can achieve what ever they want to achieve.

Money is only part of it, although an important part which will allow them to try things, discover things and let them be exposed to things that they otherwise wouldn't encounter. Given the changes that are undergoing higher education, I feel that I should prepare now to financially support them then. Given that the halcyon days when I attended university on a full grant and tuition fees are long gone.

Rentahoose Sun 10-Nov-13 08:19:46

I went to a state comprehensive. I am Oxbridge educated. I have two degrees. I've never had a high-flying career. I've worked a series of mediocre jobs I've not enjoyed. Part-time administrator now and the best job I've ever had.

evertonmint Sun 10-Nov-13 08:42:29

I think you have a particularly terrible school gate. I don't know any parents who have these sorts of conversations. However I do know parents who might have certain expectations for their DCs but then realise they need to revise these to fit in with who their children actually are; I know none who bend the will of the child to fit in with their plans.

lljkk Sun 10-Nov-13 08:51:13

at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister"

Wow. Must be the people you mix with, then! You're already in an elite group.
I hear
"Amy loves art."
"Dan's English is very good."
"I just hope Tor gets any GCSEs."
"I accept that my boys are going to get in trouble with the police like I did" (chat with police officer who comes as a parent to our toddler groups; the cop uses a teen from same family as a babysitter so not too worried, methinks).

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 10-Nov-13 08:58:23

I do know a parent who sent her ds to the best, best pre-prep to get into the best best prep which fed into a school that's often No 1 on the UK Indy league tables. She had it all planned OP. She argued with the head over the lad going to the best best prep and refused to accept advice because that would get him into the best best indy and that would mean he would have a better crack at Oxbridge and more chance of earning the equivalent of 100K.

The only problem was that when the lad got there at 7 years old he was working two or three hours on top of school with a tutor too just to keep up and barely did that. He was deeply unhappy and bullied and struggling and after a year the school gently suggested that they needed to find another school for him.

Parental ambitions can be rather sad I think.

SanityClause Sun 10-Nov-13 08:59:36

I have heard one or two parents say what they want their DC to be. Mostly, the parents I speak to talk about what their DC want, and what they are interested in.

For example, I was chatting to a mother last week, whose DD loves sciences and physical Geography. This woman knows someone who works in the petro-chemical industry, so she was going to ask the woman to speak to her DD, to perhaps give her an idea of where her love of geography could lead, and how to get there.

I have a 12 yo DD who wants to be a vet. I am going with her next week to start to do voluntary work at an animal rescue centre. She can't go alone, as their insurance wouldn't cover her without me there. So, despite mucking out animals being about the least exciting thing I can think of, this is how I will support my child in her dream.

happygardening Sun 10-Nov-13 09:00:23

We have tried to encourage both our children to be renaissance men so from an early age have exposed them informally to a huge variety of things. We've not tried to micro manage this we're just let it happen, both of us love classical music my DH in particular loves 18 th century organ music (groan) and opera so the children have always heard it and I thought hated it. We were talking the other day about seeing Don Giovani next yr and both spontaneously said they wanted to come, we regularly visit museums/art exhibitions both were taken as small children one in particular remains very keen on art the other is surprisingly knowledgable even if he claims to be uninterested if you live in London it's so easy and you can just drop in for a short while. Politics is big in our house a source of frequent discussion, as are other subjects; the global economy, homophobia etc. we don't plan any of this or for that matter want our children to have our views, racism homophobia etc aside, it's just part of our and their lives. Sporting opportunities are the same I used to ride and compete seriously we used to own a pony (which spent most of its time being ignored) DH sails a bit both children have ridden and sailed, DH wind surfs canoes ditto, with friends they water skied, rock climbed, etc nothing planned just opportunities which are/were their at various times in there lives. Don't over plan your life, be flexible, so when someone calls and asks your DD's if they like to come sailing this afternoon your more likely to be able to say yes please. We rarely book things more that two weeks in advance our children are now older teens but when little we didn't formally book activities morning noon and night. You DC's also need time to just sit and get pleasure from sitting and watching the world go by, to laugh at TV or films books, tell jokes, go to the park and play on the swings walk the dog and learn to do nothing just be.
The one thing you can try and do is to encourage your children to try something new, not too close of something before giving it a go be it art, music, poetry, literature a subject at school they wouldn't normally chose, sport etc. This IMO is the best piece of advise you can give you DD"s and it's free! They will then get more out of life in general even if they end up flipping burgers.

schoolnurse Sun 10-Nov-13 09:15:12

Many of our friends over the years have said Henry (sometimes as young as 5 yrs old) wants to be a barrister doctor etc although I've noticed Henry doesn't always say this! I've talked to quite a few parents who've already taken Charles (11 yrs old) to their Oxford College and said this is where you'll go when you leave school.
Thee is nothing wrong with encouraging our children to aim high but I talk to children away from their parents who are stressed and anxious and afraid to say to their parents that they don't want to go to heir fathers Oxbridge College, or study medicine.
On the radio this morning there's a report saying that children from affluent backgrounds suffer higher levels of neurosis e.g. DSH, anorexia etc because of the high expectations of their parents and lives.

tiggytape Sun 10-Nov-13 09:18:59

*at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister, "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor"

I assume your children are primary school age if the 23 year plan is to fit. At this age children still 'belong' to their parents to a great extent and the parents will only have seen their child in the context of relatively few other people and usually a small school. Some parents have set ideas about which careers are worthwhile and are able to persuade children of this age to follow their way of thinking.

At secondary age there is no school gate so that pressure eases off. The child is generally less compliant (i.e. determined not to be a doctor if it means having to study Chemistry for one second longer than necessary or having to put in the hours to get straight A's). They are in a year group with many more people and set for subjects. The top dogs at primary school find they aren't always top at everything afterall. They come to see their genuine strengths and weaknesses and not just their parent's assessment of these. Mainly it all shakes down and works itself out at this stage but a few parents manage to retain their input and it is often their children that can end up 2 years into a degree that they've no intention of finishing let alone using.

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