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Feel like pulling out of the private school choice

(31 Posts)
brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 11:59:40

I am probably not feeling rational right now so would be really grateful for any thoughts.

I have enrolled by 7 y.o. DD into a private school to start in September. So if I pull out now I will have to pay 1st term's fees anyway. Yet this seems a lesser evil compared to paying these fees for the nest 4 years (the school goes until 11). I will probably earn a reputation of a total wacko parent at this school too.

I really wanted to send DD private from Year 3 - so that she is prepared her grammar or senior school exams (which are crazy competitive in our area). But the nearer it gets the more I feel worried about my job, about the fact that school fees are covered by my earnings only and I already have an older child in a prep school. So I will need this job for the next 4 years at least. I also usually get some freelance income (which used to cover most of the other child's school fees) but June was really quiet and now I am nervous that something can go wrong here as most of it comes from just one client.

In light of the above her state school option doesn't seem so bad after all, her friends go there and it is quite lovely - even though previously I was determined not to send her there as I wasn't very happy with the academic outcome of my older child who went through the same school (hence he was moved to private eventually).

What the hell do I do???

iseenodust Mon 30-Jun-14 12:10:21

Surely it would be worse to pull your DD out if your income drops? I would go with the state primary & then reassess if things become more financially secure or you're really unhappy with her academic progress.

pamplemoussed Mon 30-Jun-14 13:06:32

What are your options? Can you still get a place at the local state primary or have all the places been taken (likely?)

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 13:20:39

pamplemoussed, she has a place at a primary school.

BucketsnSpades Mon 30-Jun-14 13:27:29

Does the private school offer a bursary for parents whose circumstances change? Do you have savings that you could fall back on if need be for a term or two? I would be considering the what if's if i were you. It might not be as bad as you think.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 30-Jun-14 13:30:37

Yes you will have to pay a terms fees anyway

Dd had accepted a place at a private secondary school last year but made a late application for a place at a dance school. So we informed them at half term (May) she wouldn't be starting in September.

I had to pay a full terms fees in lieu even though her brother is at the school. They did offer that if she ever returned for any reason they would offset it against her first term.

We also lost the deposit.

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 13:32:02

So far they have offered bursaries and also assessment for scholarships every year for existing students. I have savings in place which would cover 4 years fees (but obviously that money was put aside for a different reason).

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 13:35:20

Picturesinthefirelight, thank you for sharing your experience, very useful. Is that a normal practice that the fees could be offset if she were to ever return to the school?

I know this shouldn't be my primary concern but I am also dreading the talk with the private school - if I do decide to pull out. It is very small, with a family feel and interaction with it has been quite friendly and personal, so to say. What do I even say - that I am suddenly not sure although have been sure all along?

jeee Mon 30-Jun-14 13:39:53

If you decide to pull out, just tell the school that your financial situation is less secure than you would like and you no longer feel confident in your long-term ability to pay (which is, after all, absolutely true). I'm sure they'll understand, and what is more, will be sympathetic (and if they're not, I think it probably says something about the school).

So, she's currently in a state school, she likes it, her friends like it, you like it? But you've got yourself onto a run of 'continuing with a decision I made ages ago in different circumstances'?

I'd withdraw the application, and explain that your finances don't seem stable enough to do this, much as you like the school, and that you prefer not to risk disrupting her later if you find that you can't continue to fund it.

If possible, put the money away for later, so that you can reconsider in another year or two.

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 13:56:17

May I say first of all - thank you for letting me speak it all out, it's been boiling inside for ages.

DD is moving into the school linked to her current one so technically she will be changing school. Her friends go there but about a half of the year 3 intake will be from other infants so not sure how many of her current friends will be in the same class.

When my older DC went there they had 32-22 in a class. They don't stream for English or Maths, their OFSTED is satisfactory (but things are supposed to be improving). It is a fairly relaxed, creative, happy place for the children, with spacious sports facilities.

So yes, I do like it in a way that it is not dreadful and as I said has a happy feel to it - but the older DC had to catch up on a lot when he moved to the next school.

A difficult one…Many schools will hold the term's fees to be used later if the child does start at the school, so all may not be lost there.

Otherwise, if you are concerned about the academics at the state primary, can you speak to them about your concerns, offer extra support yourself or perhaps find a tutor to ensure that Maths and English remain up to speed? All these are more affordable and reasonable as a first step. Promise yourself that you will keep a close eye on her development and give yourself permission to keep her state if that is what you can afford. Use the money you save to help her access learning in other ways - learning doesn't have to be confined to school!

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 13:59:36

The private school goes to Year 6 only - so if I don't move DD now it will be for Y4 or even Y5. Is it be a good idea to change schools again in 1-2 years' time and spend in the new school 2-3 years before again moving to secondary?

They are also learning new music instruments in Y3 as part of the curriculum which I wouldn't want DD to miss out on.

Oh bugger.

brandis Mon 30-Jun-14 14:03:40

onlyfortonight, her current school doesn't have any concerns about her and she is not behind academically. Still, I looked at the workbooks of the girls when I visited that private school - they were all miles ahead of what DD could do at the same age.

DS is still lacking some skills in English writing and comprehension, I am really not looking forward to catching up on the same things with DD.

ChickenFajitasAndNachos Mon 30-Jun-14 14:16:15

One option is to write of the terms fees, keep your DD at state school and then get a really good tutor to prepare her for the 11+.

summerends Mon 30-Jun-14 16:55:44

You are paying for your older DC for the same reasons that you are contemplating moving your DD. I seem to remember, you tried tutors without success for your DS.
Your DS was moved later, is he transferring to his senior school in year 7 or year 9?
Personally I think that if you are contemplating sending your DS to a secondary private school or grammar you should give your DD an equal chance to try as well. If that is with outside tuition fine but just make sure she is n't at a disadvantage to her brother.

wigornian Tue 01-Jul-14 12:15:45

I'd send her as planned, sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, you a chunk of savings, it is very unlikley you would be without work for so long you had to use them all up.

Our view is, if you wait until you are 100% certain and sure looking into the future re: school fees, you'll never get there. Education can't be delayed, it has to be now for the DC you have, take that leap now rather than look back when its all over and think "actually, we would have been alright." Good luck.

Dozer Wed 02-Jul-14 20:25:48

Doesn't seem fair to treat your younger DC differently, espespecially if your fallback for older DC is private secondary.

JammieMummy Thu 03-Jul-14 11:24:32

I agree with wigornian's approach. You have money saved up so if you had a slow month or didn't get some freelance work for a short while you can cover the fees. This money will also give you the time to assess situations should they change (change of job for example) without having to pull her out while trying to think of everything.

Our DD goes to prep school and we have a years fees in a separate savings account for her. In theory we should never need to touch this but if one of us lost a job or something unexpected happened it gives us either the time and space to sort it out or the time to prepare her for the fact she will have to leave the school and do it at the most appropriate time for her possible (I.e. Not in the middle of the school year) and it gives us time to find her the right state school place.

You will not be able to factor in every eventuality but right now you can pay the fees, you have saving should the unexpected happen I order to pay the fees, you have concerns about the state school and this year is the perfect year to move her as everyone will be "changing" schools she is just going to a different one to most of the others. To me everything points to making this change for her, that you have consciously wanted to do for a long time and you are having cold feet at the last minute (as we all do, you should have seen me the night before the state school deadline suddenly convinced we should apply having not visited a school at all "just incase").

Best of luck with your decision though, I know how tough it is.

Josuk Thu 03-Jul-14 21:00:20

I agree with the later posts - it seems that you are treating you DD differently to your DS. How will you one day explain it to her when she asks - why DS was worth it and I was not?

He was at the same school and ended up academically behind. You moved him to private and he is still catching up.

She is in the same school and, while happy there, you see that she is also behind. But somehow you are still considering having her struggle the same way you DS did when he had to catch up a lot.

Moving to the private school at Y4 or 5 will be quite difficult - there will be a big gap and the pace of prepping for 11+ will be full on.

If there are good grammar options in your area - I would really consider sticking it out with private. I understand that it is really difficult and scary to be the sole bread winner, but you do have savings as you mentioned, and schools do sometimes have flexible arrangements for parents who fall on hard times. And more importantly - you are not here yet - it all may will work out ok!

bluewisteria Sun 13-Jul-14 20:49:48

If you are going to be sending her to grammar school, then go for private primary. It will be her best chance to get in, if what you say about the work there is true. And then it is free, you won't have to worry about secondary fees.
I completely agree with summerends and wignorian too.
You have fees saved. I think it is admirable you are worried financially as you are really taking the commitment seriously. But that is a lot of money there - you won't be unable to work for 4 years! That is a long time! Have faith in yourself that you can provide for them. Dipping into savings for the odd month is fine. It sounds like a great school, and a real opportunity.

brandis Tue 15-Jul-14 14:39:17

Thanks everyone so much for your posts and for much needed support.

I don't think I am treating DS differently. He went to private in year 6 whereas for DD I am considering year 3.

Grammar schools are an option so that's definitely one of the reasons. In terms of private secondary, we happen to have a couple of really brilliant (and consequently hard to get into) independent ones and also a very good comprehensive school. So the plan is that either the DC get into the selective private/grammar - or, if they turn out to be not so clever, will go to the good comp. I will know that I provided them with a chance rather than playing the guessing game of "what if".

It just seems so difficult to know for sure what's best and what suits you child. Does anyone else have this problem? For example, DS - was average in most subjects and above average in the rest - but after we started doing more work at home his results improved a lot. Then he moved to private and was doing better and better, and for the next year he's been placed in the scholarship class! So does it mean that he was always very bright and just wasn't studying properly? And does it mean that we could actually think about selective schools - whereas previously I was worried about him being behind? It is so frustrating when you can't be sure about your own child's ability - and yet you are supposed to base your decisions on this knowledge.

That's the exact reason why I don't want to leave it to chance with DD.

summerends Tue 15-Jul-14 15:05:10

It's great your DS is doing so well. Again I seem to remember that he was strong in maths but you were concerned about his English so with maturity and more input at school and home he has now improved.
The difference with your DD is won't she have to move after year 6 for secondary whilst your DS is moving after year 9?
This means unless you move your DD now, she won't have the same amount of time as your DS in a private primary. As I said you may decide a tutor is likely to be more effective with her than your DS give her as much input as your DS.

queenofthemountain Sun 20-Jul-14 19:13:54

What do the 11+ exams consist of in your area?

peanutbutterandbanana Sun 20-Jul-14 19:30:35

OP - your primary school sounds very much like the one my DD attends and is about to leave to move onto Y7. She is going to a selective private school in September and she passed the 11+ with no tutor - just me doing some books with her. Having been through the mill of education both state and private with all my three DCs I would say save your money in Years 3-6. It is possible to pass the 11+ without tutors, but with tutors your DD would have a very good chance of getting in. One state school mum I know got private tutoring for her DD from Year 3 and .... bingo..... her DD got a scholarship into the selective private school. But even if her DD hadn't got a scholarship the mum has still spent less than if she sent her DD to a private school Years 3-6.

IMHO state primaries give children a broader education than the private schools that pump for 11+, hence why your son is now in the scholarship stream - in junior school he was busy developing other parts of his brain that may not have been developed had he gone private all the way (eg creative thinking skills). If the state primary currently attended has a good OFSTED then I would stick with it and spend some of your money on tutors, possibly even remote Kumon (ie you talk to the tutor via Skype apparently - a friend did this) if you want to stop worrying about 11+.

Round our way lots of parents who want to do private do state till 11, private till 16 and then excellent state sixth form for Years 12 and 13. Mind you we have three very good state comprehensives all with fab OFSTEDs as well - spoilt for choice!

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