Please help me to choose a school - state v private I'm afraid

(131 Posts)
clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:59:22

I know it's been done to death and I've read loads of old threads, but am still struggling to make a decision and now only have one week before accepting a place at the independent school and paying a hefty deposit.

DS has been offered a place at our local independent school - it seems to be well regarded (top 50) and is academically selective. It has great facilities, great results, lots of extra curricular stuff etc but he would have a longish commute (car journey to neighbouring village where he can catch the school bus, an hour door to door).

This would be an easier decision if our catchment state school wasn't also very well regarded - Ofsted outstanding, top 250, also great facilities, and obviously free.

The reason we looked at the indie is because DD1 and DD2 are at the state school and, despite the pr, there are lots of things that we aren't happy about - having said that, they're both doing well.

We could afford the fees easily, and would not have to sacrifice holidays or anything like that, but obviously don't want to waste money - I have no doubt at all that the indie is better than the state option, but remain unconvinced that it is better enough iyswim.

I'm going round in circles and would welcome any views.

Farewelltoarms Mon 11-Feb-13 09:18:32

Your boy is awake for what - 12 hours a day. He's at school for six and a half, eating breakfast, supper, bath, etc for at least one and a half. So of his actual free time, you're proposing that he spends half of it travelling each day.
Take it from someone who did this, albeit at secondary, there's no school worth that.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 09:20:23

What are the things you aren't happy about in the state school?

HSMMaCM Mon 11-Feb-13 09:26:14

Can't he do the extra curricular stuff when at the state school? ie extra classes.

What will his siblings think if their school is not good enough for him?

Long school journeys really are horrible (from experience).

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 09:27:27

seeker, most of the issues stem from the fact that the school doesn't set for any subject. DDs are in Y11 and Y9 respectively, in mixed ability classes for everything except maths. The pace is quite slow in some subjects, and there seems to be quite a lot of disruption from a minority of children, and some teasing and low level bullying of those children that are keen.

senua Mon 11-Feb-13 09:31:04

Just to de-rail slighty: what is DD1 (Year 11) doing next year? Staying there or moving elsewhere?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 09:32:40


DDs quite happy, they were given the option of switching to an indie and decided against it, although I am not convinced that the argument 'you're paying £x for his education' won't come up every time they want something!

Extra curricular at the state school is rubbish, but I could arrange things myself of course. The problem is that, ime, teens are more likely to get involved if their friends are getting involved.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 09:34:09

senua, dd1 will be staying there - she was given the option of switching but decided to stay.

Flisspaps Mon 11-Feb-13 09:35:08

There is teasing and low-level bullying in every school, state or private.

I'd send him to the state school; quite simply because if it was good enough for the DDs, it's good enough for DS. If the state school isn't good enough for DS, then it should never have been good enough for the DDs.

If the girls are doing well, then the fact that classes aren't setted is irrelevant really. If they weren't, then I'd understand it being a problem.

Use the money to spend on things that will benefit all three children, more extra curricular activities etc.

wordfactory Mon 11-Feb-13 09:36:26

OP, you're not happy with the state provision (for me the setting or lack of would be a huge issue) and can afford something you're pretty certain would be better...

What is there to think about?

senua Mon 11-Feb-13 09:39:43

The extra-curricular at the Independent: is that logistically possibe? A lot of distance students often have to choose between after-school EC and catching the one-and-only bus (unless you fancy being a taxi service).

camgirl Mon 11-Feb-13 09:45:51

We do this for pre prep. DS uses the time on the bus for socialising, reading or just unwinding. There is a TA on the bus so they discuss what they see, sing songs etc too. There are a couple of others from his form and it's also been nice for him to meet children across the years on the minibus. He'll move closer for prep, but to be honest by then it would be easier anyway as he'll be more sensible about looking after his things and not loosing them all the time I hope! It's been absolutely completely worth it for us (top 10 academically selective indie versus OK/good state primary.)

Farewelltoarms Mon 11-Feb-13 10:06:17

Sorry I thought this was primary so he will be awake a few more hours in the day!
Still I hated that journey to school. The bus was exceptionally cold though. When I weekly boarded in sixth form I felt like I'd been given the gift of time.

Muminwestlondon Mon 11-Feb-13 10:09:57

What do your DD's at the school at the moment think? They normally have a better idea of what actually goes on. Do they think he will settle in well, be popular with teachers, be vulnerable to bullying etc?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 10:11:57

Yes, I have heard that the bus journey is quite sociable, and a good opportunity to do last minute homework. I'm not unduly worried about the journey, although a 10min walk to the state school would obviously be better!

A lot of the extra curricular stuff is done during the day - they have a really long lunch break to allow them to do this - but after school stuff could be accommodated because DH could pick him up on his way home from work sometimes, or I could do the taxiing (the bus takes ages due to picking up, but it would be 40min round trip for me).

Flisspaps - I can't agree with the argument 'if it's good enough for the DDs, it's good enough for DS' because they are all totally different characters - DDs much more resilient and able to rise above the nonsense that would (probably) really upset DS.

rabbitstew Mon 11-Feb-13 10:12:54

Well, nobody likes commuting. I would hate a childhood spent commuting followed by an adulthood commuting. I would only consider it if it were necessary, rather than tempting.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 10:14:13

muminwestlondon - it was DDs that first got me thinking about the indie for him, saying he would be 'eaten alive' and would have to 'toughen up'.

mummytime Mon 11-Feb-13 10:23:05

I would listen to your DDs. But put some money aside for them for Uni or whatever.

If they say he will be eaten alive I would try the independent. Or you could have a family meeting about the whole thing.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 10:25:29

>I can't agree with the argument 'if it's good enough for the DDs, it's good enough for DS' because they are all totally different characters

Yes - e.g. some kids can deal with messing around in class, others can't (either getting upset or messing around themselves.

My DD had the choice of good local comp or the sort of commute you describe to either indie or GS. She chose the latter - the bus is no problem at all - in fact its a major part of her social life (we suspect that indie belted-in coach might be less fun than an ordinary bus). DH once asked her if she wishes she lived nearer school - emphatic no! Her friend who goes to the local school gets home way earlier but then seems to just mooch around... so unless there's something your DS would really be doing with the extra time, other than TV/FB etc, I wouldn't necessarily worry about that aspect.

senua Mon 11-Feb-13 10:36:40

Have you drilled down to the detail of your State school? The Government twigged that some 'good' schools are playing the League Table game by getting everyone to a C Grade, and not putting the effort into the outliers. They now publish data for high/medium/low attainers. Also, what is the value-added like?

wordfactory Mon 11-Feb-13 10:36:54

I really dont think bus journeys are a problem.
Most kids, all around the world, do them to private or state...

Sparkleandshine Mon 11-Feb-13 10:40:30

Just to add a slightly different perspective....

Think very carefully about your DD's, your instinct is that DS should go to the private option.

-->she was given the option of switching but decided to stay

My parents gave me the choice to go state or private and I went state because my friends were there. I would have been far better off in private school, looking back as an adult I would make a different decision for myself. Moving school is hard but may be the best for you to make that decision for them as an adult.

rabbitstew Mon 11-Feb-13 10:46:56

Short bus journey (eg 20-30 mins), no problem. Long journey, more of a problem. Just ask anyone who commutes into London from a long way away when it's snowing/raining/there's work on the line/roadworks/traffic accidents/strikes/on a normal day etc. An hour on a normal day becomes 2 hours or more on a less normal day. HOWEVER, if it's a specific bus just for that school, at least you won't have the problems I used to have with buses not stopping for you, refusing to let you on if you didn't have the right change, moving off before you've sat down when your hands are full of musical instruments, PE bag, school bag, etc, etc... grin and he would be in the bus with other children from the school, so it could be sociable (provided there aren't bullies on the bus...). Presumably, if he doesn't like it, he could transfer back into the state secondary? I know several people near me who started out commuting to school and then decided the gains were not great enough to justify the journey when they could walk to the local school with friends - but then the town I live in is big enough to offer all sorts of extra curricular activities outside of school for local children, which I guess isn't the same if you live in a small village and have to travel out a reasonably long way for everything, anyway.

rabbitstew Mon 11-Feb-13 10:50:18

And of course, these days, you can't learn to smoke on the bus. That used to be a favoured activity of a lot of children on the bus to school... good behaviour and doing a credit to your school certainly weren't favoured activities on bus journeys that I observed.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 11:16:16

Thanks for the link senua - very interesting in terms of the difference in attainment between the lower, middle and higher attainers.

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 11:46:19

clevername678, this is my own perspective - but still.

Something compelled you to get the DS to sit the exam/assessment for the selective school. Something went right with the stars for your DS to get accepted. And lastly, something is still bothering you to the extent that you can't make a decision in a situation of your own making.

Personally I think that you know which option is better - but you get distracted by the "pros" for the state school - such as, it does have outstanding ofsted so that must be worth something, right? Well, don't be distracted. If you sensed that your DS was not achieving in his current school then you were probably right.

I was in a similar situation a few months back - DS in an oustanding-rated state school, offer from an independent school and really bad hesitation on my part as to what the hell do I do now?! Our indie was mostly well regarded but didn't have great facilities so apart from class sizes and the proverbial private school "je ne sais quoi" I couldn't really rationalise moving him from the school he loved and where I believed he was achieving well. Now I regret it bitterly - so bitterly it's doing my head in. He will go private next year but now he will have to sit the actual exam so it will be more difficult to get in.

Anyway, that's just my experience and my musings. Good luck with your choice.

Timetoask Mon 11-Feb-13 11:52:27

You go to school to get an education for the future.
For a minute put to one side the bus journey and money (which luckily is of no impact for you), now ask yourself "where will he get a better education?"

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 11:54:46

Do you plan to move the other two? And how do they feel about it?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:30:01

I know he will get a better education at the private school...but can't stop thinking that he will get a good enough education at the state school, it seems to suit the vast majority of local children just fine.

In all likelihood, he will achieve similar end results wherever he goes, with parental support and tutoring if it becomes necessary.

The state school is the sort that people lie, cheat and move house to get into...I can't believe I am on the brink of giving it up, and paying lots of money for the privilege!

But but but..I left it up to fate and said we'd send him to the indie if he passed, and he has...and it is really great, it's a fantastic opportunity for him [begins another lengthy circuitous argument]

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 12:39:42

One important question to you: if you genuinely think that he will achieve similar end results wherever he goes what made you consider private in the first place?

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 12:39:42

And think of all that lovely money you could spend on all of you!

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:55:09

Ah you see I read Brandis's comment and thought 'you're right, I'm not happy with the state school and he can do much better elsewhere...exam results are not the important thing here!' but then I read Seeker's comment and am back to square one.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 11-Feb-13 12:57:13

An hour is nothing. The dc commute 45 mins for prep and we never feel they miss out.

SocietyClowns Mon 11-Feb-13 13:00:23

Please do it. My parents had a similar dilemma and I pushed for my younger brother to go at 11 because it was the right school for him. I made the change at 15 and was 'eaten alive' from 11 to 15.
The bus journey is no problem.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 13:02:01

If he has a place and you can afford it, it's surely a no-brainer.

I would not settle for 'good enough' if there were a better alternative, especially for a child who would be 'eaten alive' at the local school. I only have experience of private schools (DH and I went to them for our entire school lives, as do our DC) and they are by no means uniformly brilliant - but the overall experience is excellent. If it were just 'good enough', we wouldn't be paying.

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 13:04:12

Ok I know I am biased here - but you do say that you can afford the fees easily. What's money for after all?

On this web-site, I read a very useful advice which I wish I'd come across before: "Don't make yourself decide long-term, take it term by term, year by year. Assess the situation as you go. In the end of DS' first year at the new school ask yourself - how has it been? Has it lived up to expectations? And then you can re-evaluate again, if you have to". But chances are, you will be much more sure either way, after you've tried it. I understand you don't have any experience of private schools for your children? Then the only way you can avoid "what ifs" is to give it a try.

Damn, why wasn't I so clever when it was turn to make this decision! smile

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:06:58

"especially for a child who would be 'eaten alive' at the local school."

He won't be, you know.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:09:00

Now this is more like it...four comments in a row, all urging me to do it!

It's surely wrong that I am placing my child's future happiness and educational attainment in the hands of MN strangers, but somehow it is helping thanks

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:09:34

Gah x-post seeker, whyyy????

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 13:10:42

Send me DS's school bill if it doesn''t work out for him. ;)

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:12:37

Because you've already said it's an excellent school, his big sisters are there, presumably most of his friends are going there...why on earth should he be "eaten alive" there?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:13:32

Brilliant, a money-back guarantee from brandis, that's the sort of certainty I need grin

lopsided Mon 11-Feb-13 13:14:09

I commuted for 50 mins as a school child. It was a waste of time. If at all possible I will not inflict that on my kids.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:14:57

No seeker the plaintive 'whyyy????' was me bemoaning the fact that you'd spoiled the run of replies telling me what I wanted to hear, I am not questioning your logic at all.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:17:55


I suppose if I were you my main concern is what happens if your other two throw it in your face that you paid for their brother but not them......

Oh, and all that lovely money to spend on lovely things too.

Thewhingingdefective Mon 11-Feb-13 13:26:13

You have a lovely free school on your doorstep where two of your children are happy and doing well. If there are things you are not entirely happy with, get on the board of governors. There are no guarantees that the fee-paying school comes without its problems too.

BookWormery Mon 11-Feb-13 13:28:12

Two hours travelling a day?! shock

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:31:49

Oh, and one thing people don't take into consideration when they think about commuting to school is their social life. My dd goes to school 15 miles away- her best friend lives 20 miles further away from us, and the public transport is ....variable. And incredibly expensive. Ifthey want to see each other at weekends or in the holidays it's logistical nightmare.

JoanByers Mon 11-Feb-13 13:51:54

What are the actual schools you are talking about here?

I think a lot of questions depend on that.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:56:17

What do you want to know joan? Thought I'd said enough about the two different schools tbh.

JoanByers Mon 11-Feb-13 13:57:38

Well obviously people will have experience of the schools in question and can comment on specific issues re travelling, e-c activities, bullying, and so on.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 14:00:25

Oh I see! I'd prefer not to name them specifically actually, and completely understand if this means that people can only offer very general advice.

bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 14:02:00

Is there an option to board in the week and come home weekends?

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 11-Feb-13 14:03:48

aaggghhhh! can I go round in circles too?

So most of me is thinking you should take the offer. You aren't doing this out of snobbery or vague aspirations. You're a balanced enough parent to see the problems in the local school, offer your daughters a choice but then respect their decision when they said no, which I think is really impressive. You've committed to the local comprehensive and you've found it lacking in important respects, particularly the lack of setting. Because (again) you seem very balanced, you'll hopefully be open to acknowledging it if in fact you find that the indie is different to what you expected.

Then a small part of me thinks "what if he is eaten alive at the indie and you are very far away and he doesn't feel able to tell you?"

I think it will be easier to go back into the state sector if you need to. You have set a wonderful example by giving your daughter the choice. So your son will hopefully believe you when you tell him that if he doesn't like it he can move back.
PS what does he think about it?
PPS have faced similar dilemma only the super-selective is grammar so free. Have chosen local comp. If this were my thread, you'd be seeing more positive comments about the local comp.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 14:06:10

>Oh, and one thing people don't take into consideration when they think about commuting to school is their social life.
It can work well (if its a school bus). DDs best friends at school are from her bus. At weekends she continues to socialise with her local friends.

As to the money - well, it sounds as though the DDs first put this idea into the OPs head so presumably won't be totally bent out of shape by it. Some siblings care about each other more than money! If the OP can afford it easily the question would be what else would they spend the money on which could be of more value than their child's education?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:11

I think the fact that your girls are happy and doing well and were given the option to leave and didn't take it speaks volumes for the school they're at! Unless they're saying that because they're happy coasting but you're unhappy with how they're doing, I suppose.

I don't see any reason at all to think ds will be 'eaten alive' at the school where your daughters are already - one person here has a bad memory of that happening, but I am sure that others in history have been 'eaten alive' at all kinds of schools.

however, I think that you do want to send him to the private school - just based on the fact you were happy when several posters said so. It's kind of like when you toss a coin and it's heads, you suddenly know you wanted tails! So perhaps you'll just have to go with your feelings on this.

Coconutty Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:48

I think you should consider why your Dds are advising you to choose the private for him if they are so happy at their school. Could they be trying to let you know that they're not happy?

I would go for the Indy if I could afford it but would move them all.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 14:09:07

How old is your dd, Grimma?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 14:17:47

>How old is your dd, Grimma?
Just turned 14. Where we live, if the friends aren't in our village then there would be much the same transport issues anyway regardless of school. Obviously this sort of logistical detail is highly variable.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 14:28:57

I loved my school bus. Dd loves her school bus too. I offer to drive her instead but she loves the chance to chatter, chill and hang out socially with her friends.

I had the turmoil of trying to decide what was best. Eventually in yr 2 I decided to give private a go and haven't looked back so far.

Faxthatpam Mon 11-Feb-13 14:29:46

Well personally, I would send him to the local comp. If you are lucky enough to live in the catchment for an outstanding rated comp then I firmly believe this will give him the very best all round education.

If it doesn't work out then you can move him to the Indy later - as another poster said, it's not set in stone, if it doesn't suit him it's pretty easy to move. There will always be people with good and bad experiences of both, but if you are dithering I don't see the problem with trying out the (free) comp for size first before committing a load of cash to the Indy. You might find he absolutely thrives at his sisters' school.

Hope I haven't added to your confusion, good luck either way!

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 14:39:03

But the OP has a choice between having her children at a school where all her friends are in striking distance, and having , like me, the possibility of a best friend a 60 mile round trip away. With hindsight, that is a deal breaker for me.

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 14:49:47

I think the OP said that her DS will have to sit an(other) entrance exam so not that easy to get in if he doesn't take the place now.

I've moved from a good state primary to fee paying and it was the best move ever especially as secondary option not so great. Personally if money isn't an issue I would jump at the chance especially if his sisters are saying he would be 'eaten alive' they will know better than anyone I would have thought.

You get used to the long days, I don't even think twice about it now and yes DC's enjoy the social and not overly tired even with all the extra homework etc.

How do the two schools feel to you though clevername? I just loved the feel of our DC's new school, you need to go with your instincts.

racingheart Mon 11-Feb-13 15:09:40

If I were in your position I'd have a serious discussion with everyone in the family about how they all feel if one is sent private and the other two aren't. There's a lot of blame that could be laid in later life. Why was he more precious/important/worth more etc? Why did you let us make that all important decision as to where to be educated, but make the decision for DS in his favour? (Not saying these qus are inevitable, but I'd want to know I had rock solid answers to them all.)

We've chosen private. Of the two Ofsted 'excellent' comps nearby, one I'd rather home ed than send my kids to (interestingly senua's data backs up my hunch that it's all mouth no trousers), and the other is lovely, it's fine, it's just not as good as the local indie. But if we only had money for one, I'd not think of it. Or if two were at comp and there was no watertight reason to send DS elsewhere, I'd tread very carefully.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 15:29:07

Contrary to seeker, I quite like that school friends are some distance away. School bus is social, events and activities are social, but when it is time to knuckle down to homework school friends are far enough away not to be knocking at the door causing distraction.

Dd does still have some local friends, but not the same level of distraction.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:01

bacon - yes there's an option to flexi board, so that's maybe something to think about in the future.

On balance, I don't think I am overly worried about the travelling - I travelled a similar distance to my state school, and enjoyed it actually.

The issue with his sisters is a fair one I think. They are both doing very well and I can't imagine that they could do any better elsewhere. They looked around the indie and reached the same conclusion themselves, although DS is a different kettle of fish entirely. I have talked to them both about this decision, and they both say that the indie would be a good fit and a great opportunity for him.

Interesting that music teacher suggests trying the indie with a view to moving to state if it doesn't work out, while faxhatpam suggests doing it the other way round. I wonder whether it is easier to move from indie to state, or state to indie, if the first choice doesn't work?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:09

INeed - I'm inclined to agree.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:14

Forgive me if you've already said this, and I missed it, but.....which school does DS want to go to? Assuming he's been to look around both?

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 15:34:37

Wow- you don't have much faith in your children, do you!

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 15:34:52

Definitely easier to move from state to Independent I would have thought.

WiseKneeHair Mon 11-Feb-13 15:44:46

Hi Op
We are in a similar position. DS1 has been offered a place at our selective secondary school. Or, he could go to the local, good enough state school.
I don't have the answer, but our decision has been made by DS. He likes the indie school, enjoyed his taster day there, but doesnt want to go there. Therefore, we are going with the state option. I do have at the back of my mind, that if it doesn't work, that as he passed the entrance test, that there is the possibility of him going there in year 8/9, but I don't know how realistic that is.
What does your DS want to do? I'm not sure an 11 yo has the emotional maturity to fully make this decision, but obviously they need to be part of the decision making process.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:45:09

Is it? I can imagine dd1 (currently at a state primary) having the shock of her life if I move her to an Indie - in terms of homework, length of school day, amount of sports played, at the very least. Not to say she wouldn't adapt - I'm sure she would - but I don't think it would be easy that way around.

Whereas the other way around, given that she's already had experience in a state school (and thrived there), I think it would be easier. Maybe it depends on the child, and the schools - as usual.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:45:32

oops - was responding to Sulawasi's point!

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:46:42

And would echo WKH - we plan to take dd to see the schools that are possible options, and let her be a part of the final decision. She's the one that has to go there for years smile

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 15:49:49

>Wow- you don't have much faith in your children, do you!

Enough, I think - for instance, they can arrange something after school in that town and come home later on the public bus (some of the way) together. Takes a bit more organisation on their part than the ad hoc door knocking. At the moment this tends to be end of term special dispensation but I expect this to change as they get older.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 15:50:28

I imagine places at a top 50 inde or a top 250 state (I think they are the 2 options) will both be highly sort after in yr 7 or later. It may be which ever you opt for, you will lose the hope of a fall back place at the other.

stealthsquiggle Mon 11-Feb-13 15:55:09

I think your DDs are probably excellent judges of whether DS would thrive in their school - and it does seem that they don't think that he would.

I would talk to some parents who have DC on the bus, though - and if possible to the DC themselves, especially if they are a bit older and have been doing it for a few years - because the reality of what happens on the bus may be very different from the school's version. I did a similar bus journey, BTW - and whilst I certainly don't resent my parents for making the decision (they offered me the option of boarding, but I hated both the idea and the reality when I tried it for a couple of weeks), my happiness/friendships/social life depended a lot more on the bus than on school. Think about it - the "bus crowd" will be who your DS is spending 2 whole unstructured hours of each school day with - that's a lot more free time than he is likely to spend with the rest of his class. You need to know more about that bus.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 15:55:29

"Interesting that music teacher suggests trying the indie with a view to moving to state if it doesn't work out, while faxhatpam suggests doing it the other way round. I wonder whether it is easier to move from indie to state, or state to indie, if the first choice doesn't work?"

My guess is that one you and your DS have experienced an indie, you will never consider moving him back to state. I know countless people who were very much in two minds, but who became completely committed to independent schools once they had tried them. An independent school would have to be very poor indeed to compare badly to a good-enough state school.

But even if you would try it with a view to moving him, I would definitely try the indie first. I would normally say that if you're doing it for one child, you have to do it for all of them, but it sounds as if your DDs are sane and sensible enough about this, and realistic enough about their school, to support you.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 15:56:10

Btw, I loved the school bus. My mum used to collect my sister from school (we lived about 45 minutes away), and I still got the bus because it was the biggest laugh of the day...

stealthsquiggle Mon 11-Feb-13 15:59:47

Oh, NTitled, so did I, on the whole. One of my friends from the bus (different indie school, shared bus) is now Godfather to one of my DC. I am not trying to say that the bus is a bad thing, just that the OP needs to know - because there were some other buses (country school, large catchment area) which were hell on earth for some DC, and that would be a horrible thing to have accidentally put a DC into.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 16:01:05

Fully agree with ntitled re the bus gang. Dd is shy, but through the bus she has a ready made group of boys and girls, of varying ages. Without the safety of the bus I can't imagine she would have ever dared speak to the older kids.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 16:02:18

<faints> at the idea that any of the boys' school boys on the bus could have been a godfather to any of my DC. grin

But, yes, you're quite right - school buses can be horrible too if there's the wrong mix. Worth investigating.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 16:09:32

Grimma- so no parties then? sad

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 16:10:22

Oh, and dd was sooooo pleased to give up the school bus and start getting the train once she started 6th form!

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 17:03:28

>Grimma- so no parties then?
eh? what gives you that idea? She had her 14th last weekend, a nearly 24 hour skating followed by sleepover party. I suppose when they're older it becomes a bit harder if they want to go to a party which doesn't involve sleepover but then I wouldn't want her walking or coming home alone by public transport very late anyway so I'm not sure what the difference (apart from a bit longer parental drive time) is.

wordfactory Mon 11-Feb-13 17:16:20

TBH I'm unconvinced that DC should have all local friends who live a stones throw away...maybe when they're little, but when they're older?

By the teen years, isn't that a little suffocating?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 17:16:39

Well, a £5 taxi door to door is easier to organise once in a while than in the situation Seeker describes her dd in, I guess.

School buses I think vary in appeal according to season! I used to quite like sitting on the top through the countryside in June - not so keen on hanging around on cold dark November mornings waiting for it! But such is life.

Chandon Mon 11-Feb-13 17:18:24

I will have this decision to make next year.

My Ds does not run the risk of being eaten alve or anything, but he has Dyslexia and is easily distracted, and I can soooo see him do better in a smaller class in a smaller school.

His brother would, and di, do well at the local state school as he is ambitious, hardworking and has no SEN.

Still, I would not send one of them private and the other not, so I will either send both, or neither. I think.

My best froend went to state school whist his brother went to a private school, and 20 years on he is still very resentful about this. Kids compare, if jot now, when they are adults...

So, tricky one! What does your DP think?

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 17:19:33

A few years ago DS2 was offered a place in yr 9 at one of the UK's top and most competitively fought over grammar schools. We had to decide whether to take it or a place at one of the UK' super selective boys boarding schools. A vision of exotic holidays decent cars and trips to the ballet appeared before my eyes. But it was the travelling to the grammar that was the biggest factor in my decision. It was approx. 1 hour that was after I'd driven him 10 miles to the bus. We rural so he would not have gone to school if had been snowing, if he's stayed after school for extra curricular activities I would have to gone and got him a three hour round trip, his friends would have come from miles around as the school was in the next county and has an enormous catchment area as it does not have a defined catchment area and most importantly for me the agro of getting him to the bus in the morning and always being available to pick him up for the next five years. I just didn't want the hassle. So chose the boarding school and have never once regretted it. We also have one of the top 50 comps on our doorstep a perfectly decent school lots of nice children but we would not put him in a school without streaming of any description.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 17:38:44

Lots of good advice and things to think about, thank you all.

I just rang someone who has children on the school bus to the indie - sounds like it's quite a fun part of the day, no bullying issues that she is aware of, her children choose the bus even if offered a lift apparently.

I think I'm also going to discount the friends thing too - he will still be doing local activities and (I hope) keeping in touch with good friends who live nearby, and there are enough children being bussed out to the indie to suggest a decent pool of indie children living locally.

But the point that chandon and others have made, about how his sisters will feel about it in later life, is still causing me concern. They are adamant that they don't want to go, and that they are happy for him to go, but I still wonder whether they will resent it at some point or feel that I should've tried harder to persuade them.

But what's the answer? Either they grow to resent the fact that DS was given a great opportunity, or DS resents the fact that he couldn't take up a great opportunity because his sisters weren't interested in changing schools?

In answer to the question 'what does DS want to do' - he says he's leaving it up to us (so no help at all)!

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 17:44:16

re. your daughters' views. It sounds as if they are very firm about this. I suppose you have to think for them at this point. Are they doing so well at their current schools that you can see no reason to move them? Would they feel mightily aggrieved/miserable at having to leave a school they love, and make new friends (etc)? I do think it's harder to move schools at 'funny' times (it's easier at 11+, 13+, 16+). If you feel that on balance they are right to stay put, and that the indie is a better bet for your DS, I would go with that.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 17:47:03

The fact that you keep referring to it as a 'great opportunity' suggests to me that - as I said earlier - you know in your heart what you want.

ReallyTired Mon 11-Feb-13 17:47:49

Making a child travel for over an hour is plain stupid. If you have loads of money then there is lots you can do to top up a rather vanilla state school.

Are your children happy? If they are happy then I would leave them at their present school.

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 17:48:17

My children still have their local friends and are always spending time at the weekends with them or school evenings when the evenings are lighter. There was the odd hiccup to begin with but they adapted very quickly and now have new and old friends as it were.

I think either way you will be left wondering 'what if' but I think I would prefer to deal with the possible resentment of the two sisters than your son not coping with that particular school further down the line.

newgirl Mon 11-Feb-13 17:57:50

you may have already done the sums - can you afford uni fees for all 3? That is a huge factor for us.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 18:03:55

But sula there is no more reason to think that the son won't cope with one school than the other, as far as I can see.

lesmisfan Mon 11-Feb-13 18:04:18

You choose the school which suits your child and don't worry if you choose an independent school whilst leaving his sisters at the very good state school. Despite what mumsnet would have you believe, having different children and state and private schools is not unusual. Your duty is to give your children a good education and the fact that some of it comes at a cost and some doesn't is neither here nor there and if you don't make a big deal of it then neither will they. Having said that, a big commute when you have a good school on your doorstep seems insane. I did the coach thing for 11 years and it wears you down in the long run not to mention that as everyone came from different directions it was a pain in the neck socially and I really wished my parents had sent me to a more local school. I rarely had friends come over as we weren't centrally located and any kind of meet ups involved several buses and hours of my time so for that reason alone I would take the local option.

lopsided Mon 11-Feb-13 18:12:08

Sulawesi, I think it would be very hard to deal with the resentment (possible) and the local school could turn out to be a great fit.

The commute though will be a pain, with friends potentially an hours drive away. I said I enjoyed the school bus at the time. Reading Just 17 was really fun, but I was really tired and had a tonne of homework and I'd rather have been at home. I never complained as I knew how much my parents wanted this school (one of the girls schools often talked about here).

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 18:27:56

"having different children and state and private schools is not unusual."
I have one in each neither would be happy in the others school.
The best piece of advise I've ever read on MN: "if you don't make a big deal of it then neither will they"

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 18:41:07

Please don't underestimate the pain in the neck that driving people around at the weekend is! It is horrible to realise that all of Saturday morning is going to be taken up collecting a child from a sleepover.

Coconutty Mon 11-Feb-13 18:44:29

I don't mind at all picking up from sleepovers, parties etc. My DCs school has a massive catchment, some friends live an hour from us and they seem to arrange it that sometimes they get the bus back to ours, sometimes to theirs and it is honestly not an issue at all.

When we moved house, DS1 asked if we can move further away so he can get the bus! He now gets the bus even though it would be easier to drop him off, out of choice,

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 18:49:22

You're a more saintly person than I am, coconutty.

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 18:50:32

Actually I may have to change my opinion slightly after reading some of the later posts as it has jogged long distant memories. Funnily enough I went to a great school as a child but it was some distance and a bus journey from my home and I hated not having local friends. That said I had commuted right from the age of 5 (private Catholic school bus, not any old passing bus!) and didn't ever have the chance of making local friends whereas the OP's DS presumably already has those friendships in place.

Mmmmm, I'm doubting my own point of view now!

Mutteroo Mon 11-Feb-13 18:51:25

I hated the thought of DS being a day pupil at a school where he would need to travel an hour each way, so we told him he would need to weekly board. Thought it would put him off choosing the school. It didn't.

Still consider 2 hours a day travelling to be too much for a senior aged pupil. maybe it's more manageable at sixth form but its not something I would be happy with for either of my DC.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 18:52:57

Its probably much easier to be relaxed about the driving around if there's only one needing it.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 21:08:18

OP if I understand you correctly you or A N Other will have to drive him to the next village every morning and pick him up every evening and you'll need to be on time if you're meeting a bus is he good at getting ready in the morning? Assuming he stays to 6 th form that's an enourmous and exceedingly tedious committment. You will have to incorporate this into you day everyday unless you can find a lift share. One of the joys of children going onto senior school is that in many cases they can get themselves back and forth to school without you having to help. I personally would find this more irritating than the odd long drive on Saturday morning after a sleepover.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 21:37:44

"Making a child travel for over an hour is plain stupid."

That kind of comment is plain rude.

Don't we all just want to do the very best we can possibly do for our children? Nobody needs to be told they're stupid for their decisions (and no, I don't make mine travel for over an hour, so have no vested interest here!) Comments like that aren't just rude; they don't help the OP in the slightest either.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 21:54:45

NTitled saying its "plain stupid" to make achild undertake a long commute is indeed a rude and inconsiderate remark. I suspect the person making the remark does not live in a rural community where travelling to do anything is the norm. Friends in London are always shocked by how far I travel to work/shop/socialise although traffic jams are blissfully infrequent compared to London.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 22:13:31

>you correctly you or A N Other will have to drive him to the next village every morning and pick him up every evening and you'll need to be on time if you're meeting a bus

That's exactly what we do. I'm lucky in that DH and I both work (mainly) from home so between us its not that hard to manage - really no worse than when she was in primary. DD used to be terrible to get to school on time in primary, but now she has to be out of the door by 7:30 and so far (yr9) she's not missed the bus once - because its the school she wanted to go to and she decided that the journey and getting up wasn't going to be a problem. It does take buy-in from the child as well as the parents for it to work. (We haven't missed picking her up either --so far--).

Its a lot to do with attitude - if you're sure its the right thing to do, you don't mind these logistical details and can even see having to get up earlier as being a good thing.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 22:30:28

Your right Grimma having driven 700 miles in the last five days for work and school I'm probably just feeling negative about driving. I personally wouldn't want the twice daily committment because 1 I'm an awful time keeper and 2 I wouldn't be able to work as I dont work from home.

happygardening Mon 11-Feb-13 22:32:05

The OP also needs to work out who picks up/drops off her DS if she can't for an unexpected reason.

clevername678 Tue 12-Feb-13 10:31:29

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your thoughtful posts - I made DH read the thread last night and then we had a discussion ourselves before bringing the DCs in for a family meeting.

I have honestly given consideration to all of the negatives raised here - money, bus journey, local friends and possible future resentment from his sisters - and weighed these against the positives. In the end, we have decided to send him to the independent school but of course we can always consider switching him back to state if it doesn't work out.

Thanks a million thanks

SocietyClowns Tue 12-Feb-13 10:47:01

OP Good luck smile. I am sure you won't regret your decision!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 12-Feb-13 11:08:02

>The OP also needs to work out who picks up/drops off her DS if she can't for an unexpected reason.

yes - or a backup plan such as going home with a bus friend instead in emergency.

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 12-Feb-13 12:08:00

Yeah! now come help me out when I start a similar thread smile

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 12:55:04

"yes - or a backup plan such as going home with a bus friend instead in emergency."
if your child is going to an independent school there is no guarantee that there will be a "friend" on the bus unlike if you child is attending the local state school. Some friends of ours send their DS to a boarding school and were hoping for a lift share there were no other children from their county in the school and we're only talking 140 miles away so its not a given.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 12-Feb-13 13:08:40

Hence the 'such as' - though as in the OPs case there is a school bus there will be other kids using the same stop. Who may or may not turn into good friends.

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 13:50:44

I know Grimma you think I'm stating the obvious. But in my now extensive experience many parents are so enamoured with the school that they forget to find out about the nuts and blots of it. It never ceases to amaze me when for example a friend complained that their DD cant pursue her horse riding obsession when the school does not have any equestrian facilities, another that their rugby hating DS is miserable becasue he standing on a rugby pitch in the freezing cold five afternoons a week, best of all that they're cross with their school becasue they wanted their DD to be a day child even though the schools website clearly states its full boarding only and finally that the school bus is 1 not free and 2 doesn't take their child to their house! If it matters ask.

NTitled Tue 12-Feb-13 14:14:37

OP: congratulations on making your decision. I think it's the right one (obviously!!), but the great thing is that you've made a decision that you and all your family, DDs included, are happy with. I hope your DS has a great time!

Katryn Tue 12-Feb-13 15:41:17

I don't think the journey is so much of a problem. However in your position I would be wary of having sent two siblings to a state, and then the youngest to a private. Even though they have been given a choice, there will always be a bit of resentment? No?

Katryn Tue 12-Feb-13 15:42:41

Sorry, I didn't see OP that you had made the decision - I am sure it is the right one! I had to make a decision for my DS this time last year, state v private, and went private, and am happy we did.

rabbitstew Tue 12-Feb-13 22:15:27

Resentment doesn't always work the way around everyone on here seems to assume... I was the only entirely state educated child in my family and the only one entirely happy with my education. It depends on the individual child and what they think of their school in comparison to that of their siblings'.... and whether they feel able to ask to change their mind!... and if they do change their mind, whether they like the alternative any better or feel out of place as a result of their prior experiences...
All a parent can do is what they think is right at the time - so on that basis, clevername678 has made entirely the right decision!!

brandis Wed 13-Feb-13 12:16:29

Good luck OP! I am sure you made the right choice.

PS. You do realise I was joking about the DS's school bill, don't you? ;)

cumfy Wed 13-Feb-13 17:00:14

In answer to the question 'what does DS want to do' - he says he's leaving it up to us

Hmmmgrin, is that really true ?

Or does he secretly know you really want him to go ..... so it will be all your decision.

Maybe let him decide like DD.

Faxthatpam Wed 13-Feb-13 17:59:25

rabbitstew is right about that... my oldest sis STILL goes on about how unfair it was to send her to grammar school a train journey away, when we all went to the local comp a 5 min walk down the road. She says it was awful for her to have friends who lived so far away (they came from all over London to go there). My sis is 50+ !!! confused

Beveridge Wed 13-Feb-13 18:34:27

Re: OP's DDs resenting brother having private education while they have state.

An exbf of mine went to a reputable independent school while his sister went to the local comp,which did not have a brilliant reputation ( her decision, wanted to be with her friends and did not fancy indep school).

This didn't cause any problems or resentments at the time or in the years immediately after. But this was maybe due to the fact that she did far better than he did in the long run - she ended up as a lawyer with a top firm while he got into university but dropped out due to not doing enough work, losing a sponsorship from an oil company in the process.

Academic ability was very high for both but in myexbf case, he couldn't handle the fact that no- one was spoonfeeding him at Uni/breathing down his neck anymore whereas his sister had been used to motivating herself and managing her own workload (I know this because I also went to her school and had to do the same myself!).

So, take what you will out of that anecdote!

stephrick Wed 13-Feb-13 18:47:52

If I could have afforded it, my children would have gone private. If we are honest I think most would.

rabbitstew Wed 13-Feb-13 19:31:16

stephrik - stick to your own opinions and don't assume you know others'!

Faxthatpam Wed 13-Feb-13 19:35:25

Not me stephrick, I hate that assumption, and we could probably have streeeeeeetched to it if we did want to.

NTitled Wed 13-Feb-13 21:16:34

Folks, the OP has made her decision and is happy with it. Not sure this is helpful now!

ICanTotallyDance Tue 02-Apr-13 05:58:46

I appear to be awakening some zombie threads today but...

If your DS is Yr 9 or above and wants to go, let him go.

But does the school have a boarding option? My nephew started out like that, one hour commute to his school (rural), but found on Monday and Tuesdays he wasn't home till 10 because of activities, so started flexi-boarding, then the spare time let him try more activies, so he pushed for weekly boarding, so be became involved in a lot of activities and ended up as a full boarder within 2 years. So be wary of that happening! (Alternatively, look into boarding straight away if he wants).

If your DS is (going into) Yr 7 or 8 be a bit more careful- that's a long time each day.

If your DS will be Yr 6 or below- nope. Not worth it.

You can always go from private to state but not always from state to private.

And talk to your daughter(s?), take her to the open days etc. She might change her mind and you don't want her getting jealous later, because lower 6th is the only time they can switch now, really.

You've probably made your decision by now, but if you haven't, I hope I helped.

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