Can anyone answer a few questions about private schooling please?

(95 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 07:17:05

Is it better to school privately from the word go, or if there are decent primary school places available - do those early years make much difference? The school I'm considering is from 4-16 which really appeals to me for DC, seems to me they'd be more settled etc.

How much should I calculate on spending over and above basic fees? I can work out the food and uniform but what else is there to consider?

Technoprisoners Thu 28-Mar-13 08:02:44

You will get a multitude of different opinions on this. We took DS2 out of state primary after having spent R and Y1 there, for various reasons. Now in Y2, his private school say he is very behind and yes, we wish we had started him at private school from the beginning. He is catching up, but the early years are very formative.

You'll need to factor in trips, things like music/dance lessons, any extra lessons that DC might need (check this carefully, the costs can mount up). Currently spending a good few hundred on these extras per term on top of fees, lunches and uniform. I think extras tend to get more expensive as they get older as they have residential trips etc.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 28-Mar-13 08:11:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Thu 28-Mar-13 08:17:40

It is going to vary . Check how many they take in at other entry points 4,7 and 11+ are typical but often places come up in between. One thing to bear in mind is that it can be quite difficult to stay as enthusiastic in one place for that length of time and you may find what suits one child doesn't another, but awkward to say so and change path.

As to fees , it will depends on what is included - lunches, after school clubs and care, curriculum trips etc - and what is not - dance , music, drama lessons, learning support for example. We paid between 10-15% for extras plus fees always increase annually well above inflation. Uniform also depends on how much is school specific/chain store , sports kit , shoes/trainers - allow between £200 and £500 new , to which you will need to add /upgrade as they move up.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 08:18:33

We couldn't afford to go private all the way so we did extra stuff with the kids doing their primary school days. For example I would set daily maths and English homework for them. We also sent them to a Spanish teacher and a Cantonese teacher at weekends. Then there were the various after school clubs like ceramics and art.

We basically chose the DIY route. I reckon we spent about £4k per child pa which is still a saving considering that prep would have cost an extra £5k per child pa.

Now that they are at private school we spend the following per child.

£250 on trips which support their lessons. £1500 on trips which are 'fun' trips like to skiing or netball team tour. These are optional in the sense that only about 20% go so if you can't afford it there is no peer group pressure to go. School coach is another big cost. We live 20min away so that's £400 per term. That is about it.

Shanghaidiva Thu 28-Mar-13 08:28:55

my children are in an international school, so slightly different, but extras are as follows:
school bus
uniform - summer, winter, and sports kit for summer and winter
music lessons
school trips - DS gets back from Borneo tonight
school clubs - some quite expensive (e.g fencing) others run in house and therefore cheap or free - e.g film making, baking, rugby, badminton.

mumsneedwine Thu 28-Mar-13 08:46:48

I know this is probably not helpful but I have had 3 through state education, paying nothing. Produced 1 Doctor & 2 Oxbridge students. Still have 2 to go and both doing well. One wants to be a vet and the other a criminal psychiatrist (bit worrying !!)No extra studying at home & have a variety of interests from horses to guitar (rock played very loud). There are great state schools out there & education is not a race. Kids take their exams in year 10 & 11 so if they can do calculus at 9 it really doesn't make much difference. My son was very 'behind' in maths in KS1 &2 but is now doing a maths degree at Oxford. There are good private schools and good state so look at them all and see what your kids like. I never had the choice of private as we are broke but would it have made any difference ?

vertex Thu 28-Mar-13 09:03:06

Our 5 year old is in Reception and loving it. In addition to the fees, we pay for after school clubs which for 3 nights per week adds approximately £100 per term to the bill.

On the flipside the school offer a 10% discount if you pay a terms fees two weeks in advancee of school starting which more than covers the cost of extras (we just save like mad each month to make sure we have monies ready for the following term). We had to pay a £100 fee to reserver a place and another joining fee.

However as mumsneedswine points out with the right frame of mind and attitude on part of child and parent state education can work; my three siblings and I went to a school that was classed as the most violent in the North of England (by the Sun newspaper and LEA !) and yet we have one Doctor , one Senior Army Officer , one Architect and a Senior Civil Servant (common thread was a really strong single mother kicking all of us up backside lol). However, my Mother as well as being a force majeur is also unique and no way either of us could replicate here efforts and so we went private.

In current political climate, if you have the funds and there is no decent state school nearby then I would advocate private.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 09:16:21

It would be a struggle to manage financially and a few sacrifices (to put it mildly) but I feel I really benefitted from a grammar school education but this is not an option where I live. I obviously just want to do the best by DC.
The local primary is outstanding but I'm worried about getting DC into private school of choice at 8.
Also, do you think that DC would suffer from being from a smaller house, not expensive area etc compared to classmates?

vertex Thu 28-Mar-13 09:39:11

OP, of all the things you could worry about I would NOT give any thought to your house or the area, it is a cliche but people who judge you on such things are not worth worrying about and the teaching staff are not going to factor it into their approach or dealings with your child.

As for when your DC turns 8, speaking for the local private schools DC would have to sit a couple of exams to gain entry rather than simply moving up between years but if primary is outstanding then good chance will have the skills and ability to pass.

This is not a decision anyone can make for you but I suspect you will get lots of advice but at the end of the day you know your mind and circumstances better than any of us.

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 09:50:03

If finances are tight, and you have a decent primary, then maybe go private for the secondary. We did a mix thorughout the years with our 3. All started state primary, then moved over to private at times which suited the pocket and the child.

Extras, they can go on forever! I allow £1,000 per term for the 2 in private at the moment, which would include trips (international as well as local) plus all the other bits and pieces.

completelybonkers Thu 28-Mar-13 10:28:30

I would suggest that if finances are tight stick with the state primary and, as others have suggested, "top up" with private tutoring as and when required. I could tell you a lot about our personal experience of private schooling: DS1 attended one school all the way through from age 4 to 18; for DS2, it's a long story (including a year in an "outstanding" state) but if you want the details feel free to PM me! Let's just say I seriously question the value of some private schools, especially in the early years.

diabolo Thu 28-Mar-13 10:49:56

DS is in his final year of Prep and will be starting at an independent senior school in September, he's been privately educated since the start of Year 3, having been at a state primary until then.

Extras per year for us are about £700 or so, this includes 2 residential trips, (one in the UK, one usually in Normandy), uniform (which is not terribly expensive and the blazers etc are usually sourced from the excellent second hand shop by most parents). Lunch is included in the fees and will continue to be at the senior school. Other trips, educational visits etc. are no more expensive than anywhere else.

He got Level 3's in his KS1 SATs, but even then was only average when he joined the Prep but he is in the top 5 students in his year now. They other children had been studying French since Kindergarten, so he had a lot to catch up on there.

We are not rich compared to many other parents, and we never ever try to compete with some of the lifestyles we see, we are simply us and it has never affected DS's friendships. As someone said above, the odd snobby cow you encounter really isn't worth worrying about and these type do tend to be in the minority and stick together anyway. Many of the other Mum's work.

I really do think it is worth it from an early age, but that opinion is based purely on my personal experience. The trouble is that, once you find good independent schools, it's hard to imagine changing back to the maintained sector. I work in a state school and have done for many years so it's difficult not to compare the two experiences.

Timetoask Thu 28-Mar-13 11:09:54

My ds goes to pre-prep and we are very happy with it.
Personally, I think that if you have decent primaries available, then I would use state education and only move to private if you really are unhappy.
From the perspective of the child, I think it is probably much more difficult (emotionally) moving from private to state than viceversa.
It is very expensive. Also, like it or not, there is definitely some snobbery amongst parents. If you have FANTASTIC social skills and are the type that fits in easily with any type of person, then it probably won't matter, if you are the type of person that finds it hard to mix and fit in, then it will be hard.
Having said that, there will always be people you will like and that will like you.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 11:50:16

We live in a modest detached and drive a 10 year old Honda. DD's best friends live in £million plus houses and drive Mercs and BMWs. We are spending Easter at home. They are flying off to Italy and Hong Kong. The difference in income or lifestyle hasn't been a problem to date.

I think such problems are greatly exaggerated. Going by threads about school gate politics and bullying, state schools aren't exactly problem free. So I wouldn't obsess about whether your child would fit in.

As for anecdotes of state school kids going on to be doctors and vets, no one is saying that doesn't happen but it's like saying that Usain Bolt didn't have to train from childhood to be that fast so neither should your child. Some kids are naturally bright and self motivated but for the majority they need the push to achieve their full potential.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 11:56:58

Time - Judging from past threads, problems with children that find it hard to fit in aren't unique to private schools.

If I were to stick my head out I would say that private schools are more likely to accept kids that find it hard to fit in. At our school there is this kid who is rubbish at sports and is socially awkward. But he regularly scores 95%-100% in everything. To the boys it's as if he was some sports jock.

mumsneedwine Thu 28-Mar-13 18:46:04

All I meant was just check your options. No point paying lots of money for something that is free ! If state isn't good then def go private if you have the chance - no brainer. But I was just trying to say that sometimes it's not necessary, so always worth checking. Bright kids can't get an education without good teaching and that's what matters - the quality and dedication of the staff. Good luck with your decision - it's much easier when there isn't the option of private !!

cleangreens Thu 28-Mar-13 19:55:39

I have twin boys and they moved to fee paying school in year 5 from an adequate to good state primary. I would definitely say that this was a good route for us as they have some fantastic local friends from their state school time and have now made some great new friends at the prep school.

I haven't encountered any snobbery whatsoever at the private school, it was much more suffocating before if I'm honest as the cohort was so much smaller.

Money can be an issue, we are comfortable but mix with some very wealthy families. I can't lie, it is tricky when they go off to Barbados for half term but I just tell the DC's that is life - there will always be people better off than you but far far more people in the world worse off.

Costs aren't massive apart from uniform and the odd trip. There was a ski trip this year but definitely the minority of children that went, I didn't feel at all awkward with mine not going.

My reasons for moving across were dreadful secondary options as we are in a grammar area and mine too dim to pass the 11+ and only other decent option is an excellent church school which I would have to lie through my teeth to get into and I'm just not that hypocritical hmm.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 08:48:50

Dd has been in an independent since yr2 and is yr3 now, she had a lot of catching up to do last year from her outstanding primary and is probably about the middle of her class now, but not a week goes by without me wondering what she would have been like if she had been there from Reception. I feel her primary school let her down, reception was treated as a nursery school, no reading or starting to write and yr1 was teaching them to sit still and listen - which they couldn't do, as never had in reception.

However, I do know that there will be primary schools that give the education that she is now getting, unfortunately just not in our area, so consider that first, as we did save £11,000 in those first two years, but I am glad we moved in yr2 , as I am not sure she would have got in at the yr3 exam.

Think about the fees seriously, we have just had a bill for summer term, £2,500. This includes lunches, but I still shudder when I see it and think what could that be spent on and we can afford it!

Extras are uniform, but really that is the start up, a blazer can last two years - dd still has the same one, which will be ok for this summer and there are usually second hand uniform sales - which even the wealthier parents attend, I also give things to other mums I know further down in the school. Funnily enough there is less kudos about this than in her state school!

School trips, one a term through primary, around £15 each time, so not a huge cost. They do a residential later, which is £100.

Extra lessons i.e. music/ singing - we don't do these, but are expensive through school.

After school club - around £8 per session up to two hours same for breakfast club. This is added to your bill if you want.

As they progress though the school to juniors, the fees increase slightly and again when she goes to seniors. I haven't even thought of 6th form yet!

As for other parents, there really are a mix, we have gone to play at houses I could only dream of (and the parents themselves don't take things for granted and appreciate how lucky they are IYSWIM) and semis and city terraces. So far I have not encountered any snobbery. Everyone (nearly everyone) works hard to afford it.

There are a few wannabe WAGS and some real ones, but really not the norm, so don't worry about that side of things. We haven't got into the 'where are you going on holiday?' thing yet, but will cross that one when we come to it. We would normally be skiing this week, but because of other things happening it isn't possible, but I am glad, because that basically is the fees sorted, I don't give a toss damn what anyone else is doing!

titchy Fri 29-Mar-13 09:57:11

You need to look around both schools then decide what's best for your family as a whole. Don't automatically assume private = better simply cos you're paying for it. You actually need to visit and see for yourself.

newpup Fri 29-Mar-13 10:15:54

DD1 went to local village state primary for all her primary education and then passed the entrance exam to a selective private girls school. We moved DD2 to the private Junior school in Year 5 as we were unhappy with the local school. I wish we had sent them both from Year 3! The quality of education, the provision, resources, extra-curricular and pastoral care are way way above the local school. Of course this is what we pay for and perhaps there are state schools that provide the same levels of care and education but not where we live and this primary was a good one. I wish we had done it sooner. Although I also am sure there are private schools that are not very good too. As long as you are satisfied that you are getting value for money and it is the right school for your child go for it. we have found that extras at Junior level are not too bad, uniform, music lessons and the odd trip. It does get more expensive at senior level though, trips are more adventurous!

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 29-Mar-13 10:18:07

My daughter started at age three- we have found it to be worth it. Although it doesn't matter in the long term, they do a lot of academic work even at nursery- most are writing their names and many numbers and letters in nursery and they have the use of amazing facilities and the secondary school teaching staff as well as Norland nannies in the nursery. The parents are all comfortably off, but there is no obvious snobbishness and many are fairly frugal! No WAGs though, mostly doctors, lawyers and lots of bankers!

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 10:49:09

"Dd has been in an independent since yr2 and is yr3 now, she had a lot of catching up to do last year from her outstanding primary and is probably about the middle of her class now, but not a week goes by without me wondering what she would have been like if she had been there from Reception."
Paddling I wouldn't worry my DS didn't even start any formal education thus couldn't read/write etc till he was five going on six and because we're completely crap slack non pushy parents he'd never seen a flash card or heard a times table to music CD. By the end of year 1 at his state primary he was top of year three and after one term of yr 3 just before moving to his prep top of year 5 At 11 he was offered places at two super selectives one with 900 applicants for 75 places and at thirteen he did exceedingly well in one of the independent school sectors toughest entrance exams. He has up until joining his senior school had in both sectors primarily mediocre teaching all the way.
OP it is a difficult decision I've got DS's in both. There are good and bad teachers in both sectors and good and bad schools in both sectors. When the push comes to the shove top senior independent schools will always offer more extra curricular stuff than any state school ever can but have to able to afford it and 2. just becasue its there doesn't mean that your DC will take advantage of it. My DS1 "high achieving" academy will send an above average number off to Oxbridge study medicine etc but that still did not make it the right place for DS2. On the other hand DS1would have hated DS2's school. We as parents need to try and work out which school will provide the best environment for our individual children.

Xenia Fri 29-Mar-13 12:01:46

We had the same plan as you. The girls got into North London Collegiate and Haberdashers through primary level and stayed on to A levels and are now doing pretty well in professional careers in their 20s. It worked well.

On costs it really just depends if you think you can afford it. I always worked full time and took no maternity leaves and I am sure that was why I could afford to pay 5 lots of school fees and my career choice. I certainly feel it was money worth spending (two are still at school). However if you don't have the money then as said above plenty of children do fine at state schools.

Look at the A level results (look at FT secondary schools league tables) to see if the school you propose is better than others. It may be private but it may get bad results. Check.

At our girls' schools loads of parents scoured the second hand uniform sale. I don't think ours had any new uniform at all for years and no one minds. As to what extras there might be there aren't that many at most schools. Most children don't choose to go on the school ski trips.Three of ours won music scholarships but even for those we pay/ paid for music lessons as they all did a lot of music but not all children choose to learn an instrument. Sports was free although I suppose they might need a second hand tennis racket at some point. Our older ones took a private school coach to school (which enabled us both to work full time so I'd see that as a financial plus rather than a financial loss although we paid for the coach fees). In many schools the additional costs are not very many - just lunches and the occasional school trip. Ours had one to the theatre last term.

Go for it.

hardboiled Fri 29-Mar-13 12:18:03

Early years are about more than getting to read, write and speak french as soon as possible. I don't get the rush and hurry. The social aspect is as if not more important. So is gaining independence and confidence. So is becoming a moral and good citizen, undertanding our mixed society. A good primary school will teach your child all that. Then you can change to private for secondary. DS has been at an outstanding primary and his education has been as good as a friend's DS attending a well regarded prep. The only difference is we were paying nothing and they were paying 14000 a year. DS got a place at a superselective grammar and several private schools, theirs failed to secure a place at several top schools and has stayed at the prep till 13. I know this is anecdotal, but it shows there are no rules.

AFAIK it's a no brainer. Just choose the right primary school.

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 12:45:28

Hardboiled a good prep will offer loads more than even an outstanding highly sort after state primary. My DS was offered a place in yr 3 at one of those but even the exceedingly ambitious head admitted he couldn't compete with an outstanding prep. At prep my DS had specialist teachers in all subjects from yr 3 and specialised classrooms labs, music rooms etc, art room DT dept the so tedious literacy numeracy hour is gone instead a proper time table five lessons of French a week, four of Latin, seperate history with history teacher ditto geog sciences all taught seperately games five afternoons a week setting ( or is it streaming au get confused). Oh and lets bot forget no sats. No primary can compete with this. I'm not actully saying its essential but top preps are in a different league In terms of what they offer to any primary.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 12:57:32

Hardboiled I agree, if you have a good primary great, if you don't, then those early years are really important for a good foundation in how to learn and your view of school in the future.

The wrong school can actually hinder rather than help learning. The difficulty of course is that if it is your first child at school, you don't know about all this stuff and what the school is really like. Outstanding means diddly squat, just that they have ticked all the boxes.

OP. you have to really go with how your gut feel about a school, ideally speak to the parents locally and any you know at the private one.

As others said, there are good and bad both private and state.

Happy, I don't worry anymore, because we have the right school, I do worry for the other kids at her old school, whose parents are worried about progress and behaviour, but haven't got the option that we had sad

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 12:59:56

Personally, I think those primary years are so important.

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 13:38:17

I don't doubt that at a good primary most children can learn all the necessary basics reading writing math etc but at a good prep children receive a much broader education. IMO many boys are turned off education and I believe one of the reasons is the narrowness of education in the UK and the obsession with teaching to the requirements of Sats especially in yr 6. I also think the ability to stream/set/seperate lessons rather than just seperate ability by table is essential even at an early age for the top 1-2 % and of course those who are even more able. Obviously primary schools through no fault of their own cannot do this. I also like the greater emphasis/opportunity to participate n games/ other sports at top prep. None of these things may have a direct influence on results at 18 or which uni your child attends but just provides them with a broader and hopefully more interesting education just for the sake of it. Of course top preps charge accordingly many day preps offering this kind I
of education are now coming in at over £5000 so sadly putting them out of the reach of most people.

rabbitstew Fri 29-Mar-13 14:01:03

But happygardening, you have described lots of academics and sport at your ds's prep - Latin, history, geography, science, French. And mentioned in passing art, DT and music rooms. If the children are doing so much French and Latin, not to mention formal science lessons, when are they fitting in the music, art and DT? Maybe an example timetable of a typical week would be helpful, so that people can understand how it is all structured, how long the days are, how many days a week they are in school, how much is paid for in the fees and how much costs extra?

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 14:13:20

Rabbit school 5 1/2 day a week day children there till at least 5 30 just looked up current day fees £5500 per term.
As I've already said not doable for most people but I dont understand why school has to finish in the majority of cases at 3 30 or why children cant have specialised teachers classrooms and a MFL taught daily (from reception if I ruled the world). If it appeared that I mentioned in passing music art etc it was unintentional. I think rabbit that the depth subjects like geography are studied at many top preps children find very enjoyable also the way science is taught my DS's were using buncen burners and cutting up rats in yr 3 and best of all reinacting history some battle and chemistry; lots of explosion. They used to love it.

Xenia Fri 29-Mar-13 15:37:53

They seem to fit it all in in prep schools reasonably well. The days ends once they are at the upper end of the school around 4pm. Our local comp spews out its pupils (11% of whom obtain 5 good GCSEs) at 3 every day on the dot. Something sporting every day too.

Loads of music. Mine could get 2 grade 7s or 8 by age 12 even and music scholarships. This is important. Why can a prep school sing very difficult music which takes hours of practice in Latin - wonderful wonderful stuff which will be with them for life when the local primaries think the children so thick and useless they can at best hit a drum and sing "wheels on a bus"? There is not cost in imposing high standards.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 16:48:45

DDs timetable

845-9.15. Reading

915-1015. Mon - Swim. Tues/weds/thurs - Maths. Fri - English

1015-1030. Assembly/house assembly

1030-1045 Break

1050-12.15. Mon - Maths. Tues - ICT/Music. Weds - Sci. Thurs - Eng. Fri - French/PE

12.15-1.10. Lunch and lots of clubs - choir, netball, computer,drama

1.15-2.15. Mon - English. Tues - hockey/Eng. Weds - Art/DTThurs - Sports Hall. Fri - Maths

2.15-2.25. Break

2.30-3.30. Mon - History/Geog. Tues - Eng. Weds - Art/form time. Thurs - History/Geog. Fri - RE/PHSE.

So they do an hour of maths everyday. An hour of English four days. Sports of some sort three times a week and it is 'proper sports' netball hockey athletics. They don't do much ICT in Year 3, this and science ups a gear next year, but they do have specialist teachers and a lab to work in for science. They also have a Science Club after school, which most of the juniors go to, so they have four groups.

I am a training to be a TA at a local state school, a very good one, outstanding, with high achievers, but it is a world away from what dd is getting (but I keep quiet about it!)

titchy Fri 29-Mar-13 17:40:59

Good of you to admit 'none of those things may influence their results or university at 18, but will provide a broad education for its own sake'. I'm all in favour of a broad education for its own sake, but quarter of a million is a very high price to pay!!!!

Laura0806 Fri 29-Mar-13 18:17:03

I moved mine out of independent because I though they weren't learning some very important skills such as how to mix with a wide cross section of society and basic values . To me thats far more important than extra PE and Latin! I think it all depends on how you see it but I think the ability to mix with all the different people in life is key and mine certainly weren't getting that in private school, plus ( and it could have been unique to me) the snobbisnish and competitiveness from some parents was just unnecessary. children are children, I am pleased I am now letting them grow up in their communities and be children without cramming in extra this and that. There is a lifetime of that ahead of them. If I were you I wouldstart in a state primary and then see how you go from there

FernandoIsFaster Fri 29-Mar-13 18:40:05

I don't want to put a downer on the thread op and for what it's worth we are not fabulously well off by any means and are considering privately educating our dd.
But, I was one of the poorer children at my private school (I had an assisted place in the days when they existed) and I know that it shouldn't matter but kids can be really cruel. As an adult I would certainly say 'fuck you' to anyone who judged me on the basis of finances, but when you are 11 and constantly aware of being the odd one out and having to say no to some trips, extra lessons etc it can have a negative effect.
On the other hand, it made me bloody determined not to feel like that as an adult and has driven me to have a good career so it can be character building.
Obviously I don't know what your financial situation is and it may be a lovely bunch of kids who wouldn't dream of teasing someone about The size of their house but just be aware that it can happen and your child may need a little bolstering to be able to brush it off.
Good luck in your decision either way, it's a tough one!

Xenia Sat 30-Mar-13 08:21:16

I don';t think all private schools are like F's though. At my twins there is one away school trip a year and it free as they want to make sure everyone goes - presumably the school fees are a little higher than they otherwise might to cover it. I think were ski trips but mine (silly things) chose not to go. I suspect it depends where you live. In busy towns like London you get heaps and heaps of different types of families some pretty working class backgrounds, taxi drivers etcs, lots of Asian families who thnk education is all and pool 5 adults' money to fund one private school place, a few very very bright children on full bursaries, children of teachers working all hours to fund the place and a few like me who fairly easily can afford them but are not kind of ostentatious rich in any sense. The schools tend to be very academically able ( think Manchester grammar) and not really posh particularly at all.

Then you get what tend to be country boarding schools in very wealthy areas with some day places perhaps not quite so good academically, slightly lower exam results, may be slightly thicker children who perhaps due to lower IQs tend to see other children as rich or poor and make a big deal that their parents drive some stupid showy car.

I don't think you can generalise.

Laura's points are interesting as I found the private prep schools very very good at teaching values. I never pay for exam results. I pay for the wider education and the value system, the treating all others whoever they are as you can to be treated and I don't think private schools are any worse and often are better than state schools at the value things. Mixing with many others - well in the private schools here you get more of that as the ethnic mixing is in the private sector. In the state sector there is much less of it - loc C of E primary is almost 100% white, local other state primary almost 100% black. You get the mixing in the private schools as entry is colour blind and based on IQ and IQ crosses all colours and religions.

newgirl Sat 30-Mar-13 08:33:17

Hmm I think financial disparity between families is very noticeable to teens and their parents. In my experience tbe richer families tend to hang out together.

And it's not just about ski trips - there are costs to play away matches for all sports which can really add up - it's easy to say no to skiing but not for swimming, netball etc!

Of course if you don't have a good state schoo then you need to go private but go in w your eyes open

SanityClause Sat 30-Mar-13 08:34:01

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned the timing of getting a child into private school, if they have to sit tests.

In my experience, there is a much better chance of getting into a school in a larger intake, than a smaller one. So, for example, at the school my DDs went to, there was a main intake at 4, (and then again at 11) but a smaller intake at 7. There is more competition for the 8 places at 7 years, than for the 40 at 4 years.

Competition for any casual places is quite fierce.

Obviously, if there is no competition for places at the school you are looking at, this is not a problem. (But I would ask myself why there is no competition.)

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 09:11:47

Laura - My DCs' friends at their primary school was predominantly white lower MC.

At their private secondary their friends are obviously 'comfortable' but they include Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, African, European, English and one American.

I struggle to understand the argument that children get to mix with more different types of people at a state school.

Your complaint seem to be that you aren't that academically pushy and that you or your child didn't therefore fit in. If that is the case then your beef is with selective schools and not with private schools. And it doesn't mean that the OP won't like private schools.

Madsometimes Sat 30-Mar-13 10:03:21

Dd1 went to a state primary and is at an independent secondary, slightly selective, but not hugely so. She is bright and creative, but not very very clever, and her school suits her well.

Some people my family would say that if she doesn't get into Oxbridge, then we have wasted our money. I disagree, we pay for the rounded education, not for exam results.

Dd2 is a different child altogether. She is clever, and will do well where ever she goes. She also doesn't care what other people think. She will probably go to dd1's school, but we will look at a variety of others too (she's in Y5 now).

In terms of extras for dd1, there are very little. Lunches, and about 4 day trips per year to local places for subject enrichment. There was a PGL trip in Y7, and one in Y8, about £200 each. Dd1 will be going to Italy in Y9, which will cost £500. Most people go to the PGL. A lot will go to Italy, but not everyone. There are also ski trips etc, but dd1 is not interested in these - she doesn't like the cold. Most children do not go on these. She was also offered a trip to China and to Iceland, but very few are going to these places.

happygardening Sat 30-Mar-13 10:10:28

Titchy I dont need to "admit" it I've always said it the only thing re: university entry is that some (a small minority) are very very geared up for entrance into the ivy League and if you are seriously considering this them its a factor to consider. But I appreciate that most people aren't.

MoreBeta Sat 30-Mar-13 10:17:50

My children have been at private school all their school lives. However, there are rubbish Prep schools that trade off parents fears and hint that they alone can get your child into the private secondary schools. It isnt true.

My children now go a to a good but not super selective or super expensive private school and they take a very good cohort from local Primary schools at 11+ (Yr 7 entry). I really could not be happier and frankly leaving them in a good Primary (like I was before I went to private boarding school) is not a bad thing at all. You might need to do some additional support at home with reading, writing and maths but as long as you not aiming at the insanely selective private schools in London/South East or need to achieve scholarship level exam results a good well educated Prinary school child will do well at a good private secondary.

Private school is not cheap though and dont imagine there will be bursaries on offer or you child will be scholarship standard. It really is quite unlikely.

For a good quality private secondary day school you should be expecting £5,000 a term for all costs including uniform, meals, trips and other incidentals. For boarding school you can double that fee.

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 11:14:49

I looked at the private option for my 2 children and decided that private does not actually mean the best teaching.
The private schools I looked at did offer the option of better after-school clubs sport clubs (and for instance my children are not so good at tennis). However looking round my area, I was able to get them into a state primary which is rated outstanding by Ofsted. The teaching at this state primary is excellent, both had music lesson there etc. This was considerably cheaper than the private route.
But the big problem was that state schools do not gear the teaching towards 11 plus or entrance exams, they are interested in the SAT exams which are much later in the year and cover a slightly different curriculum. So both my children had 1 hour a week private teaching (first child had 1 year of tuition, second child 18 months tuition). Both passed the 11 plus and have places at super-selective grammar schools.
Had the local state primary not been so good, I would have opted for a private primary and tried at that point for the grammar route. The local secondary private schools are reasonably good, but the academic teaching level is nowhere near the level of the super-selective grammar school.

happygardening Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:12

I never buy into this if you pay your children don't mix with a broad cross section of children. DS1 goes to a high performing acadamy in a exceedingly wealthy rural area 95% are white MC. DS2 at his boarding school comes into contact with boys from so many different countries ok middle class upper middle class aristrocracy and the super rich but still significany broader that DS1 state.
We've been in boarding education for 9 yrs and many parents have been Sunday Times rich listers aristocracy etc etc we've never found it a problem that we are one of the poorest in the school neither has my DS.

Elibean Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:31

I loathe rush and hurry in early years, personally - based on knowledge of child development as well as personal preference - so would avoid that in either sector.

I think it does depend an awful lot on a) the schools available in each sector and b) the child/family, too.

Well supported, reasonably bright children in good state school - absolutely fine! And lots of kids move to private schools at 7+ and 11+ from dds' state primary (London), without masses of extra tuition. Most have a year of tutoring in NV/VR as school doesn't prepare for it, but that's it.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sat 30-Mar-13 11:43:58

I have a dd in year 4 who has been at a local prep school for girls since she was nearly 4 and her younger sister will be starting reception there this year.

Both of my girls have bursaries so that is something to consider asking the bursar about.

The issue I have with state schools is that our local primaries only seem interested in the most clever, advanced children and are quick to write off young, reception aged children as low ability (this is currently happening to my friend's dd who is in an outstanding primary school and is August born), just because they are slower to read or something. My older dd was one of the last to learn to read in her class and could not read ORT in reception, but at her current school she was never written off and they only had positive things to say about her. Now in year 4 she's working at level 4b. She has also really blossomed socially and emotionally and loves doing her speech and drama classes and exams. My younger dd is also a late bloomer and I think she will do much better in a small class.

The teaching is not necessarily better in a private school but because the class sizes are small the teachers have more time for the children and to nurture their individual strengths.

That said, there is one particular private school near me that I wouldn't dream of sending my dds to because I don't think it would suit them.

Xenia Sat 30-Mar-13 12:13:07

On extras it must depend on the school then. I think one of mine was just about the best at most sports certainly by sixth form - she won some sort of cup to that effect so was in loads and loads of sports and I don't remember any costs at all. The school transported the girls to the matches. I would have bought a second hand lacrosse stick and a tennis racket and I suppose a badminton racket but I don't remember huge expenses for sports at all.

Very few go on the exotic trips. I would have loved mine to take all those opportunities and I could have paid for them but they like to ski with their own family, not the school and they never wanted to do to the China type trips. The last one to go on a school sports trip abroad said it was theft of his half term (so not keen).

As someone said above if you can get them into some school at 4 is does take pressure off at 11+ when heaps of state primary school children are competing for places.

Also if as a woman you always work full time then usually you and your other half are paying in the SE about £14k per full time childcare so £25 k - £30 either for 2 or 3 nursery places full time or one nanny at your house. That is about the cost of 2 lots of school fees so when the children turn 4 or 5 and go to full time school the cost is not too noticeable. It is also just about university cost so if like I am they have a full time nanny, then go to day school and then you choose to allow them to graduate debt free the costs are pretty much the same from age 0 - 21 - although that is quite a lot of years of paying of course.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sat 30-Mar-13 12:27:49

The children at our school certainly don't all attend the residential trips. The last one I noticed only half the class went.

titchy Sat 30-Mar-13 12:45:42

State schools have trips abroad too so I don't think you can ever avoid that cost if they want to go!

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 14:20:36

My children are at state secondary (it is a super-selective grammar) and each year they have an trip which although voluntary, takes place during the in term time and covers part of the curriculum (history/french/geography etc) the vast majority of children go (2 didn't last year, one because of a wedding and the other for religious reasons), trips cost around £80 for day trip to France, up to around £350 for 5 days on the continent with a very full itinerary. I suspect private school trips cost more.
There are various optional trips available to all school years and there is enough interest in the school to run these, but certainly no pressure on children from peers to go on these trips (ski trips, Japan, Germany etc).
Personally, I think my children are getting a fantastic state education and as I'm saving on school fees, I'll be able to fund my children to go to a good university!!!

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 15:46:20

Xenia, re "hit a drum and sing "wheels on a bus", in DS state primary a third of the children receive individual instrumental lessons during the school day, the school has two choirs and a school band, with lots of opportunities to perform including music assemblies, fairs, and an annual concert where all children get to play solos.

Re Latin, AFAIK prep children won't start it till yr 7 which is the same time state primary educated children will start it if they go onto a secondary that offers it.

Re extracurriculars and clubs, DS school offers chess, music, art, rugby, football, tennis, cricket, netball, drama, ICT, etc and have run termly clubs on photography, the school magazine, lego building, code breaking, art, library club, etc. They also take part in debating competitions and spelling bees. Every year group put on their own play and there are numerous drama workshops happening. French is taught to all from Year 2 (one weekly class) and there is also afterschool French and Spanish clubs.

In terms of DT, yes, no good facilities for this but we were able to find carpentry and metal work workshops for DS during easter and summer holidays, and again, because I was not paying school fees, I never thought twice when it came to paying for holidays activities which were affordable. Same with swimming.

In terms of specialist teachers, I think they are more important as of 11, and I like the fact that if the teacher considers the art project they are working on requires the whole morning, he/she is able to bend the timetable and have them doing art all morning (it has happened).

So that's why I think that if you can be in the catchment of an outstanding primary, the money a prep will cost is not worth it... unless you are so rich you don't even notice it.

My views re secondary schools are quite different though!

Lovemytablet Sat 30-Mar-13 15:46:36

One extra that you can't opt out of is exam fees. Our private school has just sent us a bill for £600 - 11 GCSEs. You certainly don't have to pay these if you're in the state sector. With all the retaking of modules at some schools the exam boards must be raking it in.....

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 16:05:31

Hardboiled - a third of the kids at your primary gets individual instrumental lessons during lesson time and they all get to perform a solo at the annual concert???

Is it some small village school and a 'third' = 5 kids? grin

It's just that from a logistics viewpoint your claim makes me a bit hmm

juneau Sat 30-Mar-13 16:17:43

There are hardly any extras at my DS's school. Last term the extras came to about £20 - one trip to the theatre, and two sessions of after-school club. This term was just one item - a visit from a guy with bugs and snakes and things, so his extras were £6. I think they get more stuff as they get older, but at reception level the extras are very minimal IME.

juneau Sat 30-Mar-13 16:20:50

One thing to mention - I've been surprised by how much charitable fund raising goes on requiring parents to stump up 50p here, £1, £5 somewhere else. It's literally every week they're collecting for something - their sister school in Africa, the local homeless shelter, Fair Trade week, the PPA, a cake sale, a quiz night, and so it goes on. You should probably set aside about £30 per term.

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 16:58:17

Just a comment on music available at state primaries, it really is more than just "wheels on a bus"!.
My 2 children had individual music lessons (lessons available for violin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet , guitar, piano, keyboard, flute; children do other instruments like cello as outside school). Music exams are arranged via the individual music teachers (and paid for by parents), the standards of children varied greatly from beginner to grade 5. The summer music concert this year had about 45 children performing (from amazing grade 5 solos, to just a minute from a beginner, and some children only perform as duets).
As well as the school orchestra, the music teachers also encourage children above grade 2 to join the local town orchestras.
There is also a fantastic choir, which competes in many competitions,
If you are interested in music, choose your state or private school with care, as it will vary school to school. Music provision at a private is not necessarily better than an outstanding state primary. However i will guarantee it is more expensive.

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 16:59:52

MTS last year they had to run three separate concert sessions for different ages, I think there were about 80 children performing solos all through the day. When I said all children I meant the ones who want to perform (some don't want to, some aren't or don't feel ready). The concerts do go on forever, some parents can't take it!

Laura0806 Sat 30-Mar-13 18:35:28

Just to go back to a previous point about my earlier reply. My issue certainly isnt that im not academically pushy at all, my dc was down as G and T and I was very supportive of her educataion; what I found difficult was the attitudes of other parents towards it (jealosuy/competitiveness) and the attitudes of other parents in my dds class ie that money was somehow what bought you success and that was the 'bee all and end all'. Obviously this is not the case in all private school classes and I acknowledged that but I find it hard to believe the poster who said they are not sure why state school mean you mix with a wider range of people. Private schools may have a greater mix in terms of ethnicity in certain areas but you are dealing with a group of society who can afford private school which is very small. I dont want my children only exposed to that group. However, its a personal opinion.

LIZS Sat 30-Mar-13 18:58:43

dc did Latin from Year5 at prep school, don't think it I that unusual tbh. Level expected by Year9 for those wanting to do GCSE is high.

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 19:28:28

Mine didn't go to the attached prep school but Latin was taught from Year 5 albeit not to any great detail.

hardboiled Sat 30-Mar-13 20:42:55

Sorry I stand corrected then. I was under the impression Latin started at yr 7 everywhere!

May09Bump Sat 30-Mar-13 20:50:47

Hi Laura,
sort of disagree with "you are dealing with a group of society who can afford private school which is very small. I don't want my children only exposed to that group" - yes the parents can afford the school, but the parents / wider family group often don't have that privileged background. My husband and I grew up in an extremely bad council estate (think rife crime, drug dealing, schools that had given up) yet we both became professionally successful with bloody hard work and sacrifices. We know a lot of families with similar stories, so although the children are private they may have additional exposure you are unaware of. We have also found the cultural diversity great -not just for our child, but I have found it really interesting learning about different tradtions / ways of life.

Your morals, ethics and experience as a family also influence - if you find your child is becoming too polarised in terms of money then why not do some charity work together or projects on different families / cultures. Or they could join some external groups for extra activities - my child will be taking martial arts etc, so he will not just have one group of friends and he obviously mixes with my friends and family.

I understand your concerns though - maybe ask to chat to some of the parents, I spoke to some of the PTA and found that to be helpful in deciding on prep. I would pay for private from the start, to prevent any differing levels of education and I think it is more settling. I hope you find the right answer for you.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 30-Mar-13 20:52:31

Isn't it amusing when someone makes a pig ignorant, offensively thick post, and then her next post warns against generalisations?

My daughters have indeed been'spewed out' of their schools at 3.30 like the effluvia they apparently are. Not, it must be said, humming 'wheels on the bus'.

How do some people get away with this rubbish?

dottt Sat 30-Mar-13 21:12:18

For us a term's half hour music lessons (10) at ds state primary £240 v £180 at his independent.

rabbitstew Sat 30-Mar-13 21:30:37

Good heavens, dottt. Where on earth did the state school/you find such a ridiculously expensive music teacher?? It's not as if the tutor at your children's independent school is cheap...

rabbitstew Sat 30-Mar-13 21:36:38

£48/hr... wow...

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 21:43:50

'Standard' fee for music teachers is £15 per 30min although some charge £18. DC1 has an exhibition at his private school but if we had to pay then thats £20. £24 is very expensive.

Laura0806 Sat 30-Mar-13 21:48:44

May09bump, I totally see where you are coming from and you sound like parents that I wish were in my daughters class.Unfortunately, I didn't come across many like you !

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 22:34:00

At state primary we only pay £64 for 10x15minute one to one lessons or £128 for 10x30min lessons with an excellent music teacher. Daughter is taking grade 3 next term.
When daughter leaves primary this year, we plan to carry on with this teacher, but it will be more expensive as private lessons.

Xenia Sun 31-Mar-13 08:46:13

Half of the places at university got to state school pupils so if you cannot afford or don't like private schools don't go. I was just making the point that many private school parents are very pleased with what they obtain. There may well be good state schools with good musical standards but our children did a joint local event with a local state school and I was hoping my prejudices would be overturned but the only ordinary decent music done was from the rep school. The state school's performances from about 4 different schools including two secondaries was just pop stuff. It was a bad standard.

Parental backgrounds differ a lot in private schools and many people are first time buyers. Some are funded by grandparents. Many are not posh. Some are on scholarships. I don't agree that you do not learn to mix withdifferent people at private schools. You also tend to do more volunteering in care homes etc as most children do Duke of Edinburgh awards etc so they will meet all kinds of different people from that. The fact you share a class room in academic privates and state grammars and comps which have classes which are set is a plus not a minus. IT means lessons are all at a similar standard. You don't get that in state primaries - you will be in a class with some children with the average 100 IQ, plenty who are under that and some who are disruptive and spoil lessons for the rest. It is harder to learn in that kind of environment.

dottt Sun 31-Mar-13 09:00:21

Rabitstew local authority outsourced body provide the teachers and set the price of £240! Agree outrageously and prohibitively expensive.

purples Sun 31-Mar-13 09:43:38

IcouldstillbeJoseph, in answer to your original question, it comes down to how good is the local state primary compared to private option. I looked at both and opted for state primary education in an outstanding state primary. Had I not got a place at an outstanding state primary , I would have opted for the private route. If you are unsure if you would get into an outstanding primary, then I would have the insurance policy of applying to a private school just in case.
Each year many children form my daughters small state primary go onto grammar schools, super-selective grammar schools, scholarships at private secondaries. Some parents have less academic children, but still opt out of the local state secondaries and pay the full amount for private education. I know children who have taken all these routes successfully, there has been no problem integrating into any of these excellent schools if you have been to a good state primary.

basildonbond Sun 31-Mar-13 10:15:54

In the OP's situation I'd start off with state and only change if a) dc wasn't happy or progressing at local primary and b) if the private alternative was genuinely better

We moved dd to a private school for the start of y3 because she was lonely and thoroughly bored at the local state. She's been fantastically happy ever since, partly because there are lots of other bright girls there with whom she 'clicked', partly because they are set for English and maths so the work is challenging and interesting but also because of all the extra opportunities she's had to take part in proper sport, drama, music etc

I'm perfectly well aware that there are some state schools which provide the same opportunities but unfortunately in our area you have to pay for what some families get for free.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sun 31-Mar-13 10:34:46

Xenia, I don't agree with your generalisation about disruptive children being specific to state schools at all. Schools are all very different and everything about a school comes from the head imo.

Also, when you talk about children who are average intelligence - it it those children who most benefit from a private school. My friends who have clever children, who have been ahead from pre-school have done very well in state schools. It is the more average children who get left behind in state schools as I have seen it.

hardboiled Sun 31-Mar-13 11:15:31

Xenia, our primary streams as of yr 2. There are currently three sets in yr 6 for maths and English. Lots of primaries stream, I don't know where you get your info from. DS is targeted L6 for both subjects based on assessments, and works in a small group at that level. If he gets to do some shared art project with as you say a kid with an iq of 100 then I think that is great, it will teach him the width and variety in the human race.

happygardening Sun 31-Mar-13 13:24:36

hardboiled out of curiosity do the top/middle/bottom set have separate lessons/teachers?

boomting Sun 31-Mar-13 13:38:06

Personally I think that so long as you can get your kids into a decent state primary, then the most bang for your buck comes at secondary level, particularly the sixth form. Looking back at the people I went to school with (I went to a state primary and private secondary) then the later the private education then the more successful the outcome, on average. Those who left the private for sixth form definitely seem to have had worse outcomes than those who remained private for sixth form.

HOWEVER this was in an area where the secondaries were atrocious - it may be different in your area.

hardboiled Sun 31-Mar-13 14:13:09

Hello happy, yes they do. For Maths and English which is almost the whole morning more or lest. The morning starts with quite reading then the sets go to separate classrooms. They also have separate homework.

hardboiled Sun 31-Mar-13 14:14:17

sorry typing on phone...More or less not lest

hardboiled Sun 31-Mar-13 14:15:09

Quiet not quite..gosh

Hamishbear Sun 31-Mar-13 14:40:28

We have a similar system Hardboiled and whilst I think it works for most I think there can be casualties at the margins.

6/7 years old is very young - I feel - to separate into ability groups inevitably working at different speeds and following different trajectories in time.

Teachers tell me they usually know (whilst children are very young) who are the ones who have the innate ability with Maths etc are as they have intuitive number sense. These children don't need to be shown, they pick up the concepts and can give answers to sums instantly.

I think there needs to be real fluidity between the groups (if you have a system like this) but as the years roll on this does not seem to be the case and an achievement gap can open up. It's often very difficult to move up as the top set will be working at a much faster pace for one thing. They also don't like to move children down so space in the groups can become an issue.

Was interested to learn recently that Prep schools have the scholarship class - often very few in it. These get lots of extra resources directed at them. The decision as to whom is suitable is often made quite early on. (Am not sure how I would feel if I was paying steep fees and may child getting an inferior teaching experience/a higher teacher:pupil ratio etc)?

Perhaps it is true that some are just quicker and will always have more innate ability so this sort of system is fair? Not sure.

Elibean Sun 31-Mar-13 14:40:57

grin I was thoroughly disrupted in my private secondary all girls' school - mostly by my best friend, who did not like or 'get' maths!

purples Sun 31-Mar-13 14:51:07

My 2 children had steamed maths and english at a state primary, initially streams were in the same class with the same teacher and differing homework. However at year 5 and 6, the years are mixed together for maths and english and then split into 3 steamed classes, each in a separate class room with separate teachers. The morning sessions are streamed and children return to their usual mixed ability class in the afternoon. Within each class, there is further steaming, so each child is working at the appropriate level. The top children in the top set are also given additional support to stretch them and these children frequently reach level 6, (well above the national average of level 4). There are exceptional state schools out there, but they do tend to be very oversubscribed, I was lucky enough to get my children into one. As a back up I would apply for a private school.

purples Sun 31-Mar-13 14:56:32

Forgot to add that at my state primary that there is additional support for children who are struggling, as the school offers booster classes for maths, english, grammar, spelling etc in the form of early morning sessions, so all children can reach their full potential.

CardinalRichelieu Sun 31-Mar-13 15:06:13

I also think that if you have to choose at what point to send kids private later is better. I was state-educated (decent school though) until 16, then did my A levels at independent school. Went to rg uni then oxbridge for masters, now training to be a commercial solicitor. I have lots of friends both state and privately educated, and while I wouldn't say it makes NO difference, I think the most important thing is parental attitude. Plenty of my state school friends make more than privately educated friends, but that is largely down to their choice of profession (oxbridge classics lecturers make less than IT consultants, it would seem).

Basically, what I'm saying is don't stress about not being able to send kids private all the way through or even at all. Parental attention and attitude is the most important factor.

Mutteroo Sun 31-Mar-13 16:12:06

My DC have had a mix of state & indie & not only this, but we've experienced good & bad teaching in both. It's not as simple as thinking private may be better because pick the wrong school & you could seriously damage your children's education & emotional well being. Been there, done it, now writing the book!

If you're near a good state primary & your child is bright, there's little need in considering an independent school at this stage. That is unless the independent school offers something you feel your child needs? Also if your child needs a nudge, is easily distracted & would benefit from smaller classes, then go the private route, but choose wisely.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Mon 01-Apr-13 03:16:34

So interesting, thank you all

WynkenBlynkenandNod Mon 01-Apr-13 07:03:56

I think it depends hugely on the area you are in. There aren't very many independent schools for 13+ in my area as we have 4 Grammars in a relatively small radius and the preps are very often used as feeders for these. The overwhelming majority of people opt for state and I know people who have started children privately but pulled them out as they didn't feel they were getting anything for their money.

We also have the three tier system so in year 5 state they move to upper school where they have far more specialist teachers and lots of extra curricular activities I went to a Grammar and am not keen on mine going through the ones here, though DS says he wants to do the test. I think they get a high standard of education in most of the Uppers which perform very well considering the highest Achievers usually get creamed off. There's lot of extra curricular trips and activities.

But that is just here, you need to get a feel for what's happening in your area. Personally I wouldn't want my children to go right through the same school. DD has gone to a different upper school from her friends as she wanted a fresh start after a miserable time with her peers in Middle school. She's changed so much that everyone keeps commenting she's like a new child plus her grades have soared. DS is in year 4 and will be going up in September (hopefully different Middle school to his sister ) and is definitely ready to make new friends so the change works well for us.

Talk to lots of people in your area to get a feel for what goes on. Schools often move in cycles and reputations from a few years back linger when in fact things change. What suits one child won't suit another. Look round with an open mind and change your thinking as appropriate as your child gets older and their personality develop.

happygardening Mon 01-Apr-13 08:23:33

Assuming you have sufficient finances to pay, as already said it does depend hugely on your area, your child for example the super bright IQ's 150+ are poorly catered for in much of the non selective state sector and what you want and believe education is for. Many want different things there is no right answer.

rabbitstew Mon 01-Apr-13 09:44:47

I agree with happygardening on that - there is no right answer. For the same child, even, there may be no "right" answer, because there are so many things to take into account, you are unlikely to find the perfect solution. Something always has to give.

Xenia Mon 01-Apr-13 11:21:44

On going through 4 - 18 years in same school for our girls it didn't really have any bad impact because at 11+ you tend to move for girls into a totally new school albeit the senior part of the juniors with loads of new children from state primaries so it never really felt boring or wrong and same school for too long. I certainly agree that if you had to pick when to pay fees the later the more impact - if you look at some successful women who say went to Westminster for the sixth form only etc i am sure those sixth form years have the biggest impact as your expectations and peer group are formed then and career choices although if you can afford it it pay throughout as we did.

Schmedz Mon 01-Apr-13 11:50:28

We have paid for private education for both our girls since Reception. We would dearly love to have a viable state alternative, but we don't, so we pay.
Although the classes are somewhat smaller than in the state system, it is the range of clubs and activities available that really make the difference (and also the fact that the intake is selective so the average ability of the class is higher...iron sharpens iron and all that!). They both love school and are extremely happy, so we are happy with our decision (hard to say if it would be the same in the state system as we have never tried it!)
When it comes to the senior school, there are a number of students arriving from state schools, so I think with the ability, and good teaching/tutoring they have received, they are on par with the privately educated children academically.
If you have a good state school for primary I would go for it! Unless you have a top option for Secondary, that is when I would go private for sure.

purples Mon 01-Apr-13 14:18:10

One thing I would add, is that if you do opt for the state option (which I did), you may want to consider 1 hour a week private tuition on a one-to-one or group basis when they reach Year 4 or 5. Most state primary schools do not teach verbal reasoning or nonverbal reasoning skills which is important for many 11 plus or scholarship/entrance exams. The content of secondary school 11 plus/entrance exams vary, so make sure you choose an appropriate tutor. I choose my daughters tutor from several recommendation from parents at her state primary who had been successful in previous years. The cost of tuition is a fraction of the cost of private primary fees. Although private primary schools are more likely to cover verbal reasoning/ non verbal reasoning, surprisingly most parents I know who have had children in private school have also gone down the route of private tuition as well!

Pyrrah Mon 01-Apr-13 16:42:27

Depends on what is available in your area.

Go and look round as many of the local state primaries as possible - we looked at 5. There are no indies in our local area so that wasn't an option.

After the first 4 I decided I needed to completely readjust my expectations of what was on offer in the State system (3/4 were OFSTED outstanding). Then I visited school no.5 and it was exactly what I was looking for. We're too far outside their 'last distance accepted' to get a place in the initial allocations I think, but I'm going to hope for a waiting list place to come up even if it takes a couple of years.

I went to a high-pressure academic prep myself and so have a good idea what is needed to have a good chance at the super-selectives we eventually hope to send DD to.

If you understand how the selective process works and are prepared to put in the extra effort and work needed then I would spend the extra on school fees for secondary.

I would never pay for any old private school just because it was private - unless I was in the situation of having a very unhappy child and that being the only possible alternative.

FWIW, none of my siblings or I ever went on the skiing trips etc - neither did the vast majority of the other students. I think a lot of 'new to private education' parents feel that they have to keep up appearances and kill themselves paying for a gazillion extras that they don't need to.

For me, education is one thing that can never be taken away from someone and so I hope to give DD the best I can. That doesn't mean the most expensive - just one where she is happy and fulfilling her potential.

If you don't like what you are getting - state or private - you can vote with your feet and move to another school.

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