Sensitive, timid boy - Private or state? any experiences?

(63 Posts)
Ouchy Fri 01-Aug-14 18:09:16

Hi there

I'm hoping for some advice really, regarding my 4 year old summer born who's due to start reception in Sept.

He is super sensitive, timid and lacks confidence. Is embarrassed easily and is a perfectionist. I'm nervous about him at school, he'll be an easy target for bullies. He does not make friends easily.

He is quite anxious and will not join in with a crowd. He's ok with one on one playdates but only once he knows the child well and has sussed them out. When there's more than one he shies away.

He's got into a nice state primary but he'll be one of 30, he'll shy away from the big groups and his voice won't be heard. I'm worried this will dampen down his already fragile confidence. He loved his time at pre school but struggled with the teachers who tried to force him to join in when he just wasn't ready.

Or we could fork out the fees for a very nurturing private school with small claws and teacher to child ratios where hopefully his interest in learning will still be picked up on as he might have more confidence to voice it and I presume teachers will have more time for ask the children as they are less stretched?

I don't know the right answer. I just wondered if anyone else has our had a timid summer born boy, what they did and how it panned out? Forgot to mention at the state primary the classes are mixed reception year one so he'll be the youngest by far.sad

Ouchy Fri 01-Aug-14 18:10:20

* classes, not claws!!!

Loobylu44 Fri 01-Aug-14 18:43:22

Hi, this is an easy one, I would say private every time. I taught in reception class for ten years and have five amazing children of my own. As a teacher regardless
of your skill set there are just some very badly behaved children who have no ground rules or idea how to behave well. There are increasing numbers of these
children and there is no way that a teacher can look after and protect 30 children. The fact that all children now start school in September means that there are lots
of children starting school who are no where close to being emotionally ready for school and all the independence that it brings. I wouldn't hesitate, go private until your child is ready to deal with unpleasant and often violent
children and robust enough to cope with school. There are well behaved and lovely children in state schools but unfortunately you can't guarantee who is in your child's class. My youngest child tried school and hated it, she could not accept being punched and kicked by a child who the teacher could not control. She had night mares and lost her faith in grown ups so we took her out of school and slowly we got her back. Such a shame but true I'm afraid.

TheLateMrsLizCromwell Fri 01-Aug-14 19:14:59

Private - no question.
I teach in state (outstanding school, but nowhere near as good as indies) and have DC in independent, and if you can afford indie it is money well spent - no question.

Missunreasonable Fri 01-Aug-14 19:19:26

My son is just like yours OP; shy, timid, lost in a crowd but keen to learn.
First few years we went state, classes of 30, my son had a horrible time.
Been private for last couple of years and it's much more suitable.

Hakluyt Fri 01-Aug-14 19:20:49

Class of 30- how many grown ups in the class?

TeenAndTween Fri 01-Aug-14 19:26:28

What is the state school like? Have you spoken with existing parents? Are there behaviour problems there which aren't well managed? Does it have a robust and working policy regarding bullying?

The state school Looby describes is nothing like my DD2's run-of-the-mill one at all. I won't say scare-mongering as she obviously has a lot of experience as a parent and a teacher, but still, the behaviour she describes would not be tolerated at DD's school.

In a bigger class there may be more like-minded quiet children to be friends with. There may well be many other less confident ones. They may have special programs in place for nurturing if needed.

My DD1 has a lovely friend who was shy and quiet and needed a nurturing school. Now part way through secondary she has been so cocooned she still won't join in activities with people she doesn't know. Would she have done better socially if she had had to? I don't know, she would have sunk or swam. (Plus sadly also she seems to be afraid of / looks down on 'chavs' which is an attitude I don't like at all)

Does the private school 'turn out' confident children who are capable of the rough-and-tumble of a big state secondary? Or only children who can cope in a well-behaved-small-class-private school?

Can you afford the fees for the next 7 years (allowing for over-inflation increases)?

Private school is probably the 'safe' option for you. But expensive, and maybe not needed. Best of luck with your decision.

apermanentheadache Fri 01-Aug-14 19:28:47

State=unpleasant and violent children
private=naice well-behaved children

Ummm, slight over-simplification there.

TeenAndTween Fri 01-Aug-14 19:32:05

Of, forgot to say, DD1's friend has suffered bullying both at her nice private junior school and at her nice private secondary. Not physical as far as I am aware, but 'nice' articulate girls can be very wounding with words, and with stealing possessions etc.
Bullying doesn't only happen in state schools!

TheLateMrsLizCromwell Fri 01-Aug-14 19:51:47

Bullying in state - no sanctions - they will not exclude for bullying.
Have not seen bullying in my DC indie school.

TeenAndTween Fri 01-Aug-14 20:03:44

*Bullying in state - no sanctions - they will not exclude for bullying.
Have not seen bullying in my DC indie school.*

I really don't think it is possible to generalise. Some schools private or state do not deal well with bullying. DD's state school does exclude for poor behaviour, and if there is a problem of clashes in the playground it takes direct steps to keep everyone safe.

OP - you need to look at the individual schools, and take private v state out of the equation (assuming you can afford the fees).

Hakluyt Fri 01-Aug-14 20:08:39

"Bullying in state - no sanctions - they will not exclude for bullying"
Categorically not true.

Have not seen bullying in my DC indie school
No such thing as a school with no bullying. And the worst case of bullying I have ever come across started in a prestigious prep and carried on into public school.

TheBogQueen Fri 01-Aug-14 20:30:49

Why not go to the state school and talk to them about your concerns?

Many state primary schools are very nurturing - ours is a big inner city school but the children are well supported.

You may find the private school is very results driven, you may find it attracts children used to getting their own way and parents who are very results driven and pushy ( to counter the massive generalisations about state primary schools)

In the end only you can decide - you know your some, you know the options available, you need to make the decision. No one on here can help.

grassroots Fri 01-Aug-14 20:54:44

We have been in your shoes. All I can say is that our experience of our local primary has been extremely positive. We were in the same situation (mixed classes, summer born, extremely shy and sensitive) - and DC has blossomed into a happy, confident child, who loves School. Any 4yo starting School is starting on an amazing journey. Good schools come in all shapes and sizes though - I wouldn't rule out your primary just because it is a State school.

whydoIhavetodoeverything Fri 01-Aug-14 21:09:39

My super sensitive little boy sounds exactly like yours. We put him in our local state primary, 30 in a class, 60 in a year. I thought he would be murdered alive/bullied/miserable. A house we had put on an offer on in the catchment of an alternative small, cute primary school fell through at last minute. I can honestly say, its been fantastic. He has come out of himself, and is confident, outgoing, with loads of friends, male and female. And all local to us, so great for playdates, walking to school etc. Invited to all parties. Class has all sorts of kids, so always someone to click with -confident, quiet, shy, loud, reserved, funny - and no bullies. I don't think that been couched in a small class of 15 kids would have brought him out of himself as much. Good luck - it all came good for us in the end x

Loobylu44 Fri 01-Aug-14 21:26:58

Sorry knew you guys may take offence, not scaremongering or over simplifying just telling the truth as it is. Schools that I worked at a wide variety really so also have a wide experience base. Too many parents who have no idea how to parent, too many children arriving at school with no social skills. It's true, sorry if this is not how you see things but its true. Private is simply better than state - it's a no brainer.

Ouchy Fri 01-Aug-14 21:57:05

Thanks for the replies. To answer some questions, there will be two adults in the class of 30. It is a nice school, I have spoken with the head teacher who was helpful but did not try to persuade me that they would be able to cater to his needs specifically. Because, quite simply, they can't.

I have no experience of private schools so this is a whole new ballgame for me. I would love to leave him there and he probably does need to toughen up. But I don't know if he will, or if he'll retreat into himself. In the pre-school there over the past year, he did a bit of both. He is sometimes more comfortable with the teachers when he doesn't feel he can join in, but I've seen the teachers just ignore him then. That was upsetting.

When he does join in his voice is very quiet and often not heard which then makes it even harder for him to join in!

The state school is a good one with some lovely children and families. I don't have rose tinted spectacles on when it comes to private either. I'm sure they do have drawbacks and there I have concerns about children who are just ' entitled' although that's not based on any evidence.

Thanks again and I agree there's only me who can decide as I know the schools and my son. I am just finding it hard. It would be much easier with a Crystal ball!

AmberTheCat Fri 01-Aug-14 22:08:00

Of course there are sanctions in state schools for bullying, TheLate... Do you really teach in an outstanding school that lets bullying go unpunished?

Hakluyt Fri 01-Aug-14 22:41:43

"Because, quite simply, they can't."

What do you want them to do?

Missunreasonable Fri 01-Aug-14 23:00:02

If the state school will have 2 adults in the class of 30 then it is a decent ratio. Will that ratio continue in ks2?
I do agree that all schools are different wether private or state. Our son has thrived in a class of 15 at private school whereas he had a horrible time in a state school with classes of 30. But each child and school is different. You already have the preschool experience to base your feelings on so weigh up the pros and cons.

RelocatorRelocator Fri 01-Aug-14 23:07:19

Op I remember having similar concerns about ds1 as he started school. But I have to say we have had a really positive experience of state school and he has really blossomed. The school has a pretty mixed intake and is really good at nurturing children and encouraging their confidence. He has a really lovely set of friends. He's 10 now and doing really well.

Chiana Sat 02-Aug-14 05:09:40

Your DS right now could have been my DS 3 years ago. My summer born DS is now 7, and gradually growing in confidence. But it goes in fits and starts. 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, and so on.

In our case we went with a private international school, because we live abroad. Moving back to England next year, and wondering ourselves what to do in terms of education once we get back. I have no experience of state schools (well, not as a parent. I went to them myself and did fine).

A class of 30 kids sounds like a lot, especially when they're 4 years old. Even if it's a good school, that's a lot of kids. Would paying the fees be a serious financial burden or would it be onerous but in a manageable way? If you lost your job and didn't find another one right away, would you still be able to afford to cover the fees for, say, 2 terms? If your DS had to move schools suddenly, possibly in the middle of a school year, that would probably be a lot more traumatic than going to a pretty good state school from the start. Is it possible to send your DS to the state school for Reception with the independent school as a backup option for Year 1 in case it doesn't work out at the state school?

I ask these personal questions partly because DH and his siblings were privately educated, but his parents couldn't really afford it. They made a LOT of sacrifices to educate their kids privately, perhaps more sacrifices than they should have. To this day DH feels guilty about the sacrifices they made to give him an education, and he's 37 fucking years old. I've made my peace with the fact that he'll never really be at peace with it, but it's not a comfortable position for him to be in. He feels guilty, one of his siblings feels resentful. It can go either way with kids.

If you can afford the indy, go for it. Be aware, though, that there could be bullying at an independent school as well, as other posters have pointed out. Our school was reasonably responsive when DS was being bullied, but I've heard horror stories around the school gate about ones which weren't.

Good luck!

nameuschangeus Sat 02-Aug-14 05:40:31

My question would be if you could continue to afford to send him to a private secondary school. I would be worried about hot housing him in a private primary and then sending him to state secondary as the culture shock would be dreadful.

My ds is a similar character to yours but I made the decision to send him to the largest state primary available as I didn't want him to get to 11 and suddenly find out what life is really like.

And I'm sure there are horrible kids in both types of schools, as there is in any walk of life. Better to get used to dealing with them early, I think.

Taz1212 Sat 02-Aug-14 08:04:37

My DD is similar to your son. She has been in a state school since P1 and is now about to start P5. I would say that she "survived" the first three years and no more. Last year was a good year thanks to an outstanding teacher who really brought her out of her shell. She'll be going to a private school once she starts P7. From our experiences with DS at that private school, I wish we'd lived close enough to it to have been ale to start her there from P1!

Missunreasonable Sat 02-Aug-14 08:16:59

My question would be if you could continue to afford to send him to a private secondary school. I would be worried about hot housing him in a private primary and then sending him to state secondary as the culture shock would be dreadful.

Why would it be a huge culture shock?
Not all private schools are hot houses and not all state schools are large.
Going from any primary school to a senior school often means the child will have to get used to a much larger environment because even the largest primary schools are often much smaller than senior schools.
Both types of schools can have incidents of bullying and poor behaviour.

I fail to see why there would be a huge culture shock. I do hear people sometimes say that it will be a culture shock but I don't understand why they would think that. Children are adaptable and can make new friends when they move to a new school.

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