Please be frank: is paying for prep/junior school worth it?(279 Posts)
Hello, continuation from my previous thread but with a more specific question! We have mixed sex twins - while private is an option at this stage, the local faith school is pretty good.
What can a prep or private junior school offer my DC that could not be matched by state + extra curricular activities?
Looking further ahead, would they be disadvantaged when applying for highly ranked public schools (if we/they feel this is right) later on if they did not attend private school at primary level?
Some people will spend £7 on a takeaway that they can cook themselves for £3 if they could be bothered to go shopping or to do the shopping.
Same with prep schools. They don't offer anything that you as a parent can't do yourself IF you have the time and the inclination.
Having said that, prep schools will prepare your DCs for the 11+. A lot of primary schools don't. So, if you are thinking of applying to a highly selective secondary school, private or otherwise, then you will need to tutor DC yourself.
It really depends on the prep school you are looking at. In my case my much greater use of independent learning that local schools and much greater language exposure French, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin studied between reception and year 6. And finally much greater sport 7 hours 20 per week in school.
Not all schools are the same this is only for me a direct comparison with the other primaries available to me and the particular school I choose with reference to my own child.
Your children will not end up at a 'highly ranked' public school if they never went to prep school, it is marginally possible but highly unlikely. The top public schools begin at year 9, meaning your children will have to sit the 13+ common entrance exam, only prep schools prepare for this.
What a prep can offer depends on the prep. If you local state school was 'pretty dire', rather than 'pretty good', you'd be considering this question in quite a different way.
What you have are schools where you think you could secure places (by admissions criteria or nice fat cheque) and you need to take the funding out of the question. Think instead about what elements you'd like to see in your DCs education and then see which school offers the closest thing to it.
The bigger 'higher ranked' private schools BTW usually have additional entry routes for those not being prepared for CE. So I wouldn't worry too much about school transfer yet. Though of course, as there are usually no SATS results standardising prep school performance, you need to enquire about leavers' destinations as a rough measure of academic level.
Just to add, the first thing you need to decide is what kind of senior school do you want your children to end up at ? There are plenty which only require the 11+ or equivalent exam, in this case i agree it is possible to go state and prepare for the exam via external tutoring, but if you're thinking ' top public' your only choice is prep school i.e goes up to yr 8. People tend to confuse private primaries with prep schools, private primaries only go up to yr 6, these are not really preps.
It depends entirely on the individual schools concerned!
Your DC would be disadvantaged if you expect them to sit CE after state primary/2 years secondary.
If you want them to go to selective secondaries then that is certainly possible from state in some areas, but highly unlikely in others.
Oh, and could you guarantee a place in your local faith school? For ours, even the devout must live within 240m of the front gate!
In that case bullet you need to have a word with the Sunday Times. Our 'private primary' was Prep School of the Year a little while back AND it goes up to Year 6.
The 'prep' feeds into the senior school in Year 7 but there remains a 13+ entry for other 'traditional' preps.
If by top public school we are referring to the top twenty in tables then it is possible to get in from non- traditional schools as I and friends have children who have done it at 13. the schools test for potential at 11 (year 6) then if you get an offer your child need to pass CE at 13 which can be done either by employing tutors (many will work via skype now) or by working hard yourself. It helps to have your child at a very good secondary for years 7 and 8. The children have been able and keen though.
It would be easier to go to prep school or to go to a selective secondary which starts at 11. A number of very well known schools bypass CE and allow non prep children to take their own exam which doesn't require children to have followed the CE syllabus. You can easily check which they are and whether they match your idea of a top school as we all tend to have different ideas about what that means.
If you are keen don't assume this is not a possibility for non prep children but be aware there will be a fair bit of effort involved from you and your child.
I have replied to your previous post. As I have an indication of the schools you may be considering I am assuming you are looking at preps until 11 followed by good independent day schools. The honest answer is that you gain very little by going private at primary, some more sport and art essentially and certainly more homework and a lot more testing from year 3. I am not aware of any of the local preps offering many languages and certainly no mandarin or Latin. You would absolutely 100% be able to top up any of the schools you have alluded to with a good tutor, that is what everyone does. Every year the children who sit for private schools from good state schools get into the top private day schools in the area, the tutors have many children from the good state schools coming to them and the private schools are very receptive to these children. If you go private you will still be tutoring, everyone does and you won't want to fear that you will miss out.
Quite a few 'highly ranked public schools' offer their own exams for dcs who are in the state system and therefore won't do CE. Perfectly possible. Probably easier though to go through the prep system as a good prep will give guidance on suitable senior school chocies.
If you are looking at senior day schools rather than the likes of Eton, Winchester, Harrow etc then lots of those start at 11 and will take in a share of pupils from state schools (still have to do an entrance exam).
The only real difference between prep and state at primary age is smaller class sizes (although not always the case), access to a range of extracurricular activities, better wraparound care provision. You may also find that if you have a average ability child they may get more of a push at prep.
I agree that it depends on what you want for senior school. We went the prep school route as it is the prep division of a top 5 nationally senior school, and we would avoid the 11+/CE route (there is an internal exam for passage into the senior school, but it is more of an exam you would need to fail, as opposed to an exam you need to pass). However, to enter into this prep, there was the matter of a highy selective 7+/8+ to enter. As I am not confident enough to home-prepare DS for this, he started in a pre-prep which did an excellent job getting him up to speed for that exam.
Some preps are just like primaries with smaller classes ridiculous uniforms no specialised teachers games once a week. Those charging £7000 + a term will have specialised teachers for nearly all subjects from at least yr 3 science labs language labs DT suites art rooms music departments some have golf courses, ponies, shooting ranges, squash court and large covered swimming pools are obligatory. There will be at least one MFL 4-5 times a week from yr 3 Latin 4-5 times a week from yr 4 no literacy and numeracy hour Then theres a whole raft in between. It all depends what you want and how much you want to spend.
It depends as in all cases on the specific schools involved. Some children from DCs state primary even go on to Prep for a couple of years to do common entrance.
It very much depends on the individual schools.. It seems to be so difficult to get a decent state school in London that is equivalent to a prep (there are obviously some exceptions), but very possible outside London.
Locally (not London), there are 2 types of private primary / prep schools.
Type 1 goes up to 11, and their chief raison d'etre is to prepare children to take the 11+ to enter state grammars (of whom there are a few locally), with a sideline in sending girls to the local all girls private, which obviously starts at 11.
As local state primaries are good, and the grammars draw mainly from state primaries (so having done e.g. more languages or separate sciences isn't critical when starting secondary), there is little advantage of such primaries over and above state school + 11+ tutoring (at home or professional). Unless, of course, your child is the type who will genuinely need 7 years of focused preparation to stand a chance of passing the 11+ OR your picture of 'a good education' is children in immaculate uniforms sitting in silent rows of desks being talked at by a teacher and taking dictation using a fountain pen...
Type 2 go up to 13, and are attached to the traditional 13+ entry schools, which are now mixed but were boys' schools. They take extra classes in at 11 - one of them I believe doubles in size at that point - but they do offer some advantages IF a child's eventual destination is the senior school attached - almost automatic transfer between schools, an extraoridinary amount of sport (the senior schools have poorer academic results than the local comprehensives but their sport is VERY impressive) and some subjects - e.g. Latin, languages - that a child transferring at 11 or 13 would have to pick up.
So I would start from a secondary school choice, and work backwards, thinking about when the 'big' entry points are e.g. 7+? 11+? Locally, I wouldn't bother with the 'to 11' privates unless I happened to live in one of the few areas with a genuinely poor primary, and would only bother tranbsferring to the 'to 13' preps at 11, because that is such a big entry point locally (they scoop up 11+ grammar school failures from the 'to 11' privates, as well as state school pupils looking to go to the senior schools)
Thank you everyone, much appreciated. It hadn't occurred to me to be thinking about secondary school and working backwards but actually it's really quite obvious so thanks for pointing it out. We are lucky in that there are a fair number of day schools in London, although boarding isn't a something we'd dismiss out of hand if the school was right - I boarded for sixth form and loved it, while DH boarded from 13.
Am I right in thinking that if we would like DS to try for schools along the lines of Eton/Harrow etc effectively our only option is prep to 13? But for the London day schools we'd be ok with a state school?
For DD we'd be looking at 11+ options or 13+ for co-ed I suppose, but regardless we would be sending them to the same school until 11 at least.
We have concluded that we'd be more than happy with our state (faith) option as long as it would be the best preparation for the DCs' secondary transfer -so if we decide on a good day school, this would be fine, but if we go for the public boarding school route, we need to find a good prep. Hill House, anyone?
I don't think you absolutely have to be in a prep for entrance into Eton/Narrow et al. It's easier certainly as good preps know what the individual schools want but it's not essential and as already said most now offer alternatives to CE for those from state schools. If on the other hand you were trying for a scholarship into Eton or somewhere similar you would be very pushed to get your DS up to the required level if he was at a state school unless you were prepared to spend your every waking spare moment tutoring him.
When the kids are sent to prep they get familiar with the environment outside and also open up with other children. It is always a plus for them.
Public boarding school would probably need a good prep for a few years - but not necessarily a pre-prep. One possibility might be state for infants, then prep for juniors - or state primary, prep for a couple of years to prepare for 13+.
(Anecdotally, relative bitter that after spending much money on several children at mediocre pre-prep, eldest of said children has not made 7+ or 8+ entry into prep school, while several children from the good state school round the corner have made exactly that transition with ease ... possibly worth asking the state school of your choice whether they have had any experience of their pupils moving at 7+ to prep)
I know 2-3 children at my DS2's school have come from state senior and a few at other public boarding schools so it is doable but I think it can he a bit of a culture shock not just boarding because plenty from preps haven't boarded but it's a huge change in ethos.
Why not send him to a prep school at 11?
One of our local prep schools sent a boy up to Winchester last year, he was state educated to 11 and transferred to the prep for two years.
The biggest problem with sending them at 11 is that if a senior school uses CE it could expect a child from a prep school to sit it and the problem arises with the MFL which I am reliably informed is very much equivalent to GCSE. Remember most children at prep have been learning at least one MFL (usually French) since yr 2/3 not half an hour of singing a week but proper French lessons, Latin is also required by some schools as well again prep school children will often have been doing this regularly since yr 4. Its not impossible and some senior schools will allow you to not sit these subjects but parents need to beware that it could limit your choices and certainly impact on scholarship exams into super selective schools.
Prep schools want you to think they operate some sort of educational voodoo, that can't be emulated without huge fees. It's nonsense.
Little Frieda, that's a bit of a generalization. Yes, there are many preps which your statement might accurately describe, but there are others which certainly are worth the fees. In London, which is where the OP seems to reside, the difference between the good preps and the mediocre ones is vast and I'd advise her to do her research.
I'd say, like any big purchase, look at the options and purchase wisely.
I do sort of agre with you LittleFrieda it is possible but in you example the child going onto Win Coll did spend two years in a prep.
Ds has been doing French since reception (now in year 4). He knows next to know French and didn't seem to know the basics when I put him to the test in Paris last year. When I enquired whether his classmates were the same everyone said yes so I'm not sure what the benefit is of starting to learn at a young age. If you have a motivated child transferring from state to prep at 11 I don't think it would take long to catch up.
Ds starts Latin in year 5 but again I don't think that would be difficult to catch up either.
The one thing that prep does seem to give ds is bags of confidence and an expectation that he will go on to a senior public school. I've told him that he would need to get a scholarship equivalent to the level he has for his prep for that to be a realistic possibility.
Anecdotally, I joined a school in the equivalent of Yr 8 having done no French at all. Most of my classmates had done it at least from the age of 7.
I took my O-level a year early, having done French for exactly 3 years, progressing from the bottom set to the top of the top within 3 terms. No extra tuition.
The Win Coll Latin exam is notoriously difficult a part is AS level but I do agree a bright child with a fantastic teacher could do it in two years but I think you'd have to an aptitude and a liking for it. St Pauls want the higher level for CE Latin (?level 3) and 70+% again I think you would have to have a fab teacher and an aptitude for it. I believe you can be allowed to sit a lower level at St Pauls if you have a legitimate reason and as many come from abroad at Win Coll I suspect they just don't sit Latin. But on starting at either of these you will have to quickly learn it and work at it in schools where A*'s are expected especially if your DC is sitting the significantly harder IGCSE the set text is a bit of a nightmare.
If a boy from my son's primary school two years ago is anything to go on, the scholarship to Winchester College was offered at the beginning of year 6 (on the basis of good academics and music at primary school and home) and included the cost of two years at prep school.
As far as the respective benefits of prep school or primary school you cannot generalise. My son's class (primary in county town) includes 7 children with scholarships to private schools / 11 plus passes to neighbouring county super selective grammar 20 miles away.... basically all the children who applied did extremely well. My son got an academic scholarship to local HMC selective independent.
A parent at the feeder prep school indicated privately that a number of the prep school children had not got into the senior school. She put the responsibility of complacent parents thinking that private education allowed one to abdicate any responsibility for support at home. I have no idea if it is correct there or anywhere else. However, for primary schools it is useful to look at where the children end up going and numbers achieving level 5 and now 6 in SATS.
Justice According to the Win Coll website you have to be a minimum age of 12 and a maximum age of 14 to sit the scholarship exam. Harrow do offer a scheme very similar to that which you've described, and Eton used too.
DD has been in an independent primary since reception. She is now in Y6 and is going to an independent secondary. I guess the main advantage is that the independent schools will do some entrance exam practise within the curriculum whereas state primaries won't, but that is probably it.
Is it worth it?
Well, it depends on what you mean really. DD has loved her primary school and will be very sad to leave. She has developed into a bright, capable and politely confident 11 year old, loves school and learning, enjoys trying lots of new things, is happy to stand on stage and act, sing or orate.
For DD, we do feel she has benefited from what has been on offer from her small independent school with small class sizes and a full varied curriculum. It has certainly prepared her for her coming years at her chosen secondary.
But most of this is available from state schools, after school clubs or from doing things ourself at home too, with time and money.
Some people will say yes, others may feel not. You can only do what feels right for you and your children, and your own current situations.
Definitely think a prep will help in getting into the senior schools. Pick your school carefully. It is difficult to get into the senior schools unless you have a child genius and know when to register, and key dates if you are trying to do on your own. You will be an unknown. A prep school will help you with this and a head's recommedation for places such as Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow etc will really really help.
I have two children one of whom goes to one of the big senior boarding schools. I have also seen parents try and use the last two years of the prep to get their children into Eton etc. It doesnt always work, references are taken at at least 18 months before they are due to join.
I think the good preps are worth their weight in gold!
handcream boys sit the Eton test in yr 6 THE closing date for registration for non scholars is 10 years and 6 months so would be too late if they applied when they started at a prep in yr 7.
Is it worth it?
Well, I think it depends how much you value what they're providing and how much money you've got [WINK]
It depends on the school. We chose an independent prep but could have sent DS to one of a number of outstanding rated state primaries. It was a difficult decision, especially considering the fees, but we felt more confident in the prep school's abilities to educate our son. Plus there is a high degree of expectation - from the parents and the school which tends to drive up performance. Also, with the government constantly tinkering with the education system, we didn't want that to interfere with his education. I believe they have removed the restrictions re max 30 in a class too.
My friend use to commute to Amsterdam weekly and he would always fly front of the plane class. He arrives just in time so it's not as if he uses the lounge. The middle seat in the three seat setup becomes a tray so it's not was if he gets a more generous seat. And the flight only last about an hour. He does get on and off first though
Is he getting anything extra for his money? Yes. Is the extra money worth the extra in comfort and convenience? Depends on you, the individual. Same with private education.
I don't think it's possible to say whether it is worth the money or not. But the best advice I had, from someone with way more experience than me, was that it is better to start independent school ASAP (we were originally planning on state and then independent secondary).
I think it also very much depends on you primary school as well. DS2 spent a brief period in a quaint roses round the door primary with 38 children from reception to yr 6 16 of those were in yrs 2 and 3. There were 4 n his year and 3 in the year beneath him the head was shared with another slightly larger primary and there were only three teachers in total. Ok everyone knew everyone else but there were no extra curricular activities no breakfast/ after school clubs no differentiation between work for different abilities because with such tiny numbers it wasn't possible or realistic.
OP you need to decide where you want your children to end up; what senior school in the ideal world, when would they go tbere yr 7 or 9, how hard will the entrance test be, can you tutor or find a tutor for your DC's if it's necessary because they're in state ed and there not covering all the curriculum or you're hoping for a scholarship into a super selective, do you want wrap around childcare or loads of extra curricular activities on site? Will you need knowledgeable advise about the right senior school for your DC's, would you be more confident about getting into your choice if you felt a prep was preparing them, writing references, practising interviews CE etc (that's why they were called prep schools they prepared children for their senior schools) having worked this out then work out if a state primary or prep will best fit your requirements.
My DS went to Eton. With the benefit of hindsight I think he'd have done fine in the state system until he was 11.
Those schools 13+ offering sponsorship tend to pay for 2 years a pre school from 11+ so I suspect at least paying for those 2 years is sensible.
We had some our children in schools at 4 or 5+ which saved them worrying too much about getting into the same school at 11+ which is a plan that worked well and because of my career choice I could afford 5 sets of school fees.
To echo what has been said above, it depend on where you want to send them at senior school stage. It also depends on the prep school- there are some mediocre ones, and then there are those which completely outstrip the local state schools on all levels in terms of facilities, sporting opportunities and academics.
Id only consider it once I knew uni fees were absolutely sorted for all my kids.
I attended an average private and an excellent state school. Private school encouraged a much more confident (some might say entitled) attitude amongst the kids but had the only slightly higher proportion of oxbridge entrants. Think overall its healthier to mix with a variety of individuals if the standard of education is the same.
Foe example, in my geography in East Berkshire we have Ludgrove, Eagle House, Papplewick and Lambrook....there are no primary schools that remotely come close to these in terms of facilities, opportunities etc. ...whether rated "outstanding" or not...but there are also some lesser known mediocre prep schools (I won't name them so as not to offend). This is in an area that is supposed to be known for its good primary options...the secondary options apart from the two single sex grammars are not great (and getting into those is as much of a long shot as getting onto Eton), so that also affects the decision.
Why university fees? Also if you can afford a set of private school fees out of earned income university fees are cheaper so your outgoings go down at that stage if you choose to fund the university fees and have bene paying private school fees, not up.
Also not a penny of fees is payable unless and until the child earns over the threshold. If they intend to work for 5 years and then be housewives for life or never over the minimum wage which seems to be the choice of many mumsnetters they will never pay a penny of the university fees back so why save to fund them?
If you are going to use state primary, have a frank discussion with the head-teacher about competitive entry to private schools at 11+.
I did this and got a wide variety of responses - from a look that suggested I had asked whether they practiced satanism and it being made clear that they didn't really approve of private education and would not be helping in any way, through the 'never really thought about it's to the 'oh yes, we send lots of our children to selective schools every year' and a list of the latest placements and information of the 11+ prep classes arranged after school!
Obviously we are now sweating it out on the waiting list for the latter!
If your school is very supportive and high achieving then I think you could either stay there throughout and not dent your chances at the big London day schools or similar.
If you want one of the big schools - Eton, Win Coll etc - then I would suggest state until 8, then take a look and either try for a prep place or if things going well then maybe hold off till 11. I wouldn't try and do a state secondary entry to one of those schools unless you know exactly what you are doing and have some serious help with tutoring.
FWIW, I went to a hot housing prep and then a grammar. The difference between the two in terms of all round education was HUGE. At the time the grammar took the top 25% of the local comps (was 13+ entry) and the prep kids basically marked time for the first year - I believe it's now a tiny number from the local comps and mainly prep kids going there so things have probably improved.
My prep had specialist teachers in every subject from Yr3, huge grounds, sport 4 afternoons a week and activities the other. I wasn't happy there for various reasons, but I can say it was the best education I had at any school - we were not just taught to the test, but way beyond and sideways.
That said, there are a lot of preps which are just expensive versions of a mediocre primary.
As for university fees, I think I would want enough put aside to pay off DC's loans as and when they activate.
But there's not a cat in hell's chance I'm paying for fees up front. I can't see any advantage in that money sitting in the government's bak account rather than mine!
Thanks everyone, some really great advice and food for thought here. State primary would be a of an unknown quantity for us - DH both went to preps followed by, in DH's case, one of the big schools mentioned, while I went to a girls' school followed by a relatively recently co-ed boarding sixth form. We both went on to oxbridge - but equally, so do state educated children. Reading things back, I just wanted to clarify: the money is not the issue here - I should have worded it something like 'is prep school necessary for entry to the big/highly regarded secondaries?'
(Not that you'd know from reading my post.)
(Not that you'd know from reading my post.)
I've worked in two fairly prestigious boarding senior schools, we have certainly never penalised against someone for not having attended a prep school.
Your children would need to take a common entrance exam, but it's not rocket science - you or a paid tutor could easily prepare them for it in a few months.
For what it's worth my children are not attending prep school.
I agree with the previous poster who said it's not just the destination that matters; it's what it's like on the journey.
Being a bit Jesuitical "Give me the boy until 7 and I will show you'd the man". These are formative years in so many things, and definitely in attitude to school and to learning, and to education in its broadest sense. That is the context in which a wider range of activities, and a less fettered curriculum might appeal. It all depends on the quality of what is on offer. And what value you put on the early years.
Sorry - MN on a blackberry is a borderline nightmare! We've had lenghty discussions about the relative merits of each type of school and have managed to conclude we want co-ed until at least 11, sports and music (whether at home or school), and nice friends. For us the academic side of things is really, really important and the prestige element not at all - I'd like my children to be quietly confident but without that sense of entitelement etc. DH was
an arrogant little shit supremely confident in his own abilities at university and freely admits it needed to be toned down, though I suspect family plays a more important role in development early on. I'm possibly over thinking this - but I don't know what to do and don't want to blindly follow the decisions our parents made for us a generation ago!
I agree that family should play a more important role in development in those early years.
They are really important years, but I think they are really important years for you to influence them as a parent. Like you said, some of the kids that come out of prep school can be a little "over confident" in their abilities, but others come out just lovely. They are from the same class, so I can't conclude that it has anything to do with the teacher, but family support. Interestingly those that board from an early age do tend to have much more similar temperaments that often reflect those of the house parents/matrons.
Wherever you send your twins, make sure you imprint your family values on them whilst they are little. Children with strong family culture are less likely to be peer dependant teens
"interestingly those that board from an early age to tend to have much more similar temperaments that often reflect their house parents/matrons."
Gracie what utter rot I can only assume you have no direct experience of boarding young children. Both mine full boarded from yr 3 not only is DS1 physically a ringer for my DH he has an almost indentical personality. DS2 on the other hand is a very different personality from DS2 which is very similar to mine.
Changing to prep at 11 is an enormous cultural and educational shock.
Do not underestimate as well the benefit of a smaller class size, the general morale in a state school with Mr Gove messing around at the moment and the level of qualification of the teachers.
We looked at 4 preps and two primaries, the state schools are considered the best in our area but they could not come close.
We feel we are getting excellent value for money, we did shop around, we are involved and we do support homework and additional things out of school. We have taken the view that it is the best way to spend our money and will help our dd avoid the dreadful comp frankly.
Neither dh nor I had any private education, but we were both badly bullied which does colour our view of schools we know
Shop around, definitely start with your target secondary schools, they will be deleted to help you find the right route at the school that suits your child.
IHid, I think you need a very academic private day prep from 5+ as that will fit in with the education you and your husband had. Schools like Haberdashers boys prep etc. I don't think you need mixed. Mixed can often mean worse quality, had to let in girls as numbers were dropping. So if you were in Herts then Haberdashers girls and the boys school over the wall would be the obviously choice for twins if they were bright.
Xenia - not sure I really understand your post?
Blimey - boarding school pupils turning into their matrons or house masters. Not in my experience!!
Xenia, I do not want my kids entering adult life burdened with debt, or struggling to get through uni because of demands on their free time.
A private education is fuck all use if you can't get through uni. University is far more important.
You said you had both been at fee paying schools and are considering this at pre level for your children. In that case it is probable that that is the best course as you are used to that, not the state system (which is not as good). I think that was all I meant.
SL, most students have jobs whilst at university or at least during the holidays - mine did even though they graduated debt free.
I worked out for a friend that the repayment on university fees was something like £120 a month for someone on £50k - which is very affordable.
If I was in a position to pay my child's university fees I would rather put the money into an account to help with a downpayment on a flat/house which is far more useful - and less affordable than paying back a government loan.
Helping out with living expenses is a different thing. Although I was a little shocked that DH graduated a year later than me with debts of £15k whereas I had only £1.5k (and no my parents did not help out).
The amount of 'fun' needed at university seems to be somewhat excessive in some student's minds imo.
pyrah is that on a loan covering current fees?
Does it include any loan for living expenses?
Some of my daughter's friends took the full loan (in the days when fees were £3k) and put it in an ISA and then repaid it from there (parents supported them). I did not even think it was worth doing that to make a small profit as you are then on the books of the loans company who can make mistakes so not really worth the bother given university funding is cheaper than school fees so you feel better not worse off when they go (if you pay fees at school).
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but from what I can gather the student loan isn't viewed in the same light as a 'normal' loan and wouldn't prejudice future mortgage applications for example. I agree with the others who say it is better to invest that money in a deposit - university is really important, and much more so than schools in my view, but I would rather my children used the student finance system with support if needed from us, and we saved that money to help towards a flat later on. Obviously in an ideal world we'd all have pots of cash to pay for everything [GRIN]
Also, another danger with sending to prep at 11 is if the senior schools set pre-tests? Around here, Pre-tests are sat in y6, and October y7 - both for 13+ entry.
The reasons we'd like to go for state primary are local friends/ community, and as the schools we would prefer are faith schools, a backdrop of religion/morality & development of their religious identity. I suppose another argument pro-state is that the twins will gain an appreciation of people being from different backgrounds - however, another (more knowledgeable) poster has pointed out and in doing so confirmed our suspicions that the particular schools we are looking at are not diverse in socio economic terms. Would it be really bad to send them to the local state school for reception, 1 and 2? And then look at a prep? We've come to the conclusion that we'll be doing work/learning fun with them regardless of where they go to school so topping up before age 7 is fine - I'm itching to get them started on suzuki violin but that's a whole other story..!
Also, would just like to say thank you to everyone - it has been so useful to bash out my ideas and confusion here! I realise I've not really come to any sort of conclusion and am going round in circles but it's great to get lots of opinions and perspectives.
Our state primary was predominantly white middle class. Our private secondary is a mixture of Brits, European, Oriental, Asian and African with a few North Americans.
So I always smile to myself when someone makes the point that they want their DCs to go to a state school because they want their children to mix with children from different backgrounds.
If money is not the issue, then educate privately and let some poor bugger without that option have the faith school place.
TBH they would probably need the help with Common Entrance, so if you are planning highly selective later on, then prep school feeds into this well.
"I suppose another argument pro-state is that the twins will gain an appreciation of people being from different backgrounds "
If you want to educate you children in "socio economic backgrounds", then dont take up a school place doing so, it is friggin insulting. Do your shopping in Asda, and holiday in Butlins (rather than St Lucia or boutique hotels in Corsica) and they will get the gist.
Crikey sorry - didn't mean to cause offence. In case it wasn't clear: I don't want my children to grow up with airs and graces or with any sense of entitlement. I expect them to work bloody hard, and I would like to do my best for them - whether this means private or state school remains to be seen, but the reasonable person can see there are pros and cons of both options and we are fortunate that as a family we have the choice. I've found this thread really helpful, and I'm sorry if I have caused any upset - certainly was not my intention.
Oh, and on a lighter note - I most certainly do my shopping in Asda. Their chocolate peanuts are the best, ever!
You won't escape the "airs and graces" at a state school. They just come in a different form. While there are plenty of private school students who seem arrogant, there are just equally as many obnoxious and lary students who attended state school.
They are the same - they just appear different to others.
I am sorry but it seems to me that you regard state school as a social experiment for a few years for them to get to know the kids "below stairs" rather than a valid education in itself.
To a point you are right about friends, but the friends they make in the early years wont matter much. My friend was moaning that her child was displaying a rather brattish attitude berating children without swimming pools at home, so she decided to speak to a mum in her sons class at prep what SHE did to teach her children appreciation for their good fortune, and got the reply that the prayed together reinforcing that it was Gods will that they were so fortunate.
Having said that. My oldest is going into the independent sector for Y7. He sat the exams for various public schools in January, and got offers from the schools he wanted most. He has a state background, which probably is worse than your average UK state education. He was educated largely in Norway.
He did Reception and Y1 in a London RC primary, then we moved to Norway where they start school at 6, so he started a fresh, and spent 3 years in Norway. He were still just doing addition and subtraction and basic reading homework when we returned to London 3 years later, where he joined Y5. (from Norwegian Y3, thereby "skipping" Y4 alltogether)
He was shellshocked. He did have a tutor from January, for a year (not including holidays) until his exams, and still did really well.
He has not had music. He has not had Stagecoach (which the other parents proclaim is brilliant for learning public speaking), neither has he had French, or any other foreign language (not counting Norwegian which would not count at all)
What has he done? He has done lots and lots of mountaineering and outdoors survival skills. To be honest, I bet he has done the equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award, purely from a lifestyle of hiking through mountains and managing on his own. He can find shelter, he knows how to source what he needs from building a bonfire from scratch. He knows how to handle himself with a box of matches and a knife. He can put live bait on a fishing hook and go for it. He can navigate using map and compass. He can build robotics, and program the robotic brain of lego mindstorm, he is fabulous at skiing, mountain biking and has stamina like an ox. He turned 11 on saturday and has presented us with a shopping list with all the requirements for building his own computer. He is pretty great. His education up to y5 has been abysmal, but he has still earned a good place at a private secondary, because of who he is, not where he was educated (rather in spite of where he was educated)
So, my advice to you, enjoy your children, challenge them, nurture him and her, but dont think that school is alfa omega for making them who they are, YOU are.
Lovely to hear that your ds is doing so well, Quint. he sounds marvellous
Private school is becoming deeply unfashionable.
"Private school is becoming deeply unfashionable."
A bit of a sweeping generalisation LittleFrieda 98% of our friends with DC's send them to private schools over 70% are boarding I know of no one who is planning to stop doing this but then maybe we're all just "unfashionable"; what a relief.
'Private school becoming deeply unfashionable...' In whose view!
Wasnt a survey done a while ago where 65% of people said they would use a private school if they could afford it.
I was listening to LBC Radio this morning and a number of people called in saying they dont have a school place in London for Sept!
It really does depend on your local state schools. My children are in a prep which does well at getting boys into a couple of the London day schools that we are particularly interested in. My DC are not Christian so we had very limited options for state primaries as 3 of our 4 nearest primaries were faith schools. So for us, prep from YR was the best option.
Children do join the prep other than YR. Yr3 is a fairly usual entry point as some pre-preps only cover KS1 age groups. Yr6 is another entry point for boys that are aiming for 13+ schools.
If your local state schools are good then have a look at them and see what you think. One consideration for me was that the local state primaries had very little outside space whereas the prep has 2 sets of playing fields.
The prep is ethnically and religiously diverse as is the local area. There isn't the same level of socio-economic diversity. However, if our local faith schools are anything to go by the are less socially and ethnically diverse that the community schools. I did dig out the figures from the Dept of Ed website before and the difference was very noticeable. So if you are going for state education for diversity's sake it might be interesting to compare the EAL and FSM figures for the church and community schools - I was a bit shocked.
Happy gardening - the ISC publish a census. Intake from abroad (mostly China) grows 5% year on year, intake overall broadly static (if you smooth the fluctuations). About as unfashionable as a Burberry check shirt & trousers ensemble.
In a recession fewer parents can afford fees but most parents would pay if they could afford it so I suspect anyone talking about fashion is just covering up the fact they made a bad career choice as a young woman and now pay the price in not being able to afford a decent education for their child.
I would be surprised if private school parents decide to pay fees because they want to look fashionable.
Xenia - I made an excellent choice of DH.
My DC is in a local (expensive end of the spectrum) prep school; the other will follow in a couple of years. This is against my inclination, and I have struggled with that - I am opposed to the very existence of private schools - but that is my problem. The alternative was a local primary rated 'excellent' by OFSTED. There were some very good practical reasons for our choice, and some less good reasons. But despite my significant reservations I have to admit that there is no comparison between the two schools. Within 18 months there is a clear difference both in the type and quality of work being done (I am v close to mothers of children in the other school so have some opportunity for direct comparison). Of course, much of this is due to the extra attention children in a small classes with lots of extra support receive. It is in part due to superb facilities and highly qualified teaching for (for eg) sport, art, music. It is due to the children not having to be prepared for ridiculous SATS etc, and instead taking a real delight in what they learn. Much of this, of course, I could have given them through the extra tutors etc (which, yes, their friends in the local primary have) - though of course, my DC gets to play in the evening (while their friends are having to sit at the kitchen table being tutored), which I think is valuable. There is other stuff, which shouldn't matter but actually in the real world does - like making sure all children even in Reception have lovely handwriting and nice manners - I have noticed that people respond really positively to stuff like this, although there is no denying that it's superficial. But I think what has been invaluable for my DC is the increased confidence (and this is absolutely not another word for arrogance) she has been given. They are able to provide a lovely, nurturing atmosphere. Lots of (for eg) performance opportunities might be part of this but I suppose simply the extra time given to each child has been invaluable, along with the ethos of the school. Also, I've noticed that even amongst very little children of my acquaintance it isn't very cool to be good at things - schoolwork, music - but in DCs school both hard work and talent seem to be respected right across the year groups. Of course, this is school specific, and I'm not saying it would be the case in all circs (and after all, a horrible child in any class would significantly affect the experience of other children, so there are many things money can't guarantee!). We are also v lucky that most of the families in the school are not at all snobby, which was a bit worry of mine, and lots of them are like us - struggling financially to give their DC the very best they can. Of course, my DC could have gone to the local primary until 7, and then moved (at that point I think a real difference emerges in academic terms, partly due to all the above but also to having subject teachers - I get to see a lot of school work from a range of schools and there is a very obvious gap in content - of course the kids at DC's school aren't any brighter; they've just covered loads more stuff), but that wasn't an option for me - DC would not cope well with the change, I think. Anyway, I wanted to say this because whilst working back from secondary is a good idea in practical terms I think if you are focussing on the happiness and roundedness of your children, then you might consider my experience. Do you want the best for your child? Which school offers the best for that individual child? Don't forget, you can't go back and do education differently - you get one shot at giving your child the very best education you can. We are v lucky in that there were things we could sacrifice to make that just about possible; it doesn't sound as if you, OP are in that position - it sounds like you are just worried about wasting the money. If it is a good school, it won't be a waste. I'd be grateful for being in such a comfortable position, and then decide where your child would most like to spend each day now, not in a few years' time, and where they would be most likely to thrive, regardless of age, or anything else for that matter.
Who cares if w're unfashionable I know that my Ds gets an education that is vastly superior to any offered in the state sector. Thats good enough for me.
I think you will also find that the reason for the large increase of children from abroad has most to do with the size of boarding fees and their increase over the last 10 - 15 years which has been significantly higher than inflation. Coming in at at least £32 000 PA per child only a tiny % of the UK population can afford this.
Xenia is correct! Some women want to be SAHM's or work part time. Their choice of course - but unless your partner is an investment banker or you have some inherited money then you are unlikely to be able to afford the fees.
And of course, you are then relying on them to continue to pay the fees and in this world of marriage break ups......
I had a good look at the private boarding schools because tbh I didnt want to choose a school that was primarily attended by pupils from abroad. The unwritten view is that these schools did not want to take more than 10% of pupils from overseas.
Talking about schools such as Harrow, Charterhouse and Wellington btw
Yes it is worth it but much more of a luxury than educating privately at senior level IMO.
I have done local state primary up to year 4. I chose private after that because I have no wish to drive my children to endless clubs and tutors. They do everything in school and have enormous amounts of fun doing it.
I agree Tacked - my SIL is using state and then private from 11 due to financial constraints.
However, despite the fact that we wouldnt have a mortgage if we didnt go private I dont regret it for a moment!.
I also agree that I just dont have the time to drive the boys around to clubs and tutors. The school provides all of this - of course at a cost!
Perfectly possible to join a prep at year 7 as LONG AS you have done lots of sport of the kind that the prep plays - eg join local hockey or netball club while at primary if being in the teams and practices is importatn to you, also don't wait until then to learn music otherwise you'll be one of the very few studying for grade 1.
Private school is not unfashionable, it's simply become unaffordable for the vast vast majority.
Cory - Thanks. We had a terrible year, for all sorts of reasons last year, and this year it has all slotted together for him!
I think there may well be less advantage in prep schools in the next 10-20 years or so. I predict independent school exams at 11 becoming increasingly tutor-proof designed to assess innate IQ. IAPS apparently already believe that NVR and VR can't really be improved through tutoring and I predict more along the lines of Durham CEM tests becoming the norm. Already computer tests are popular.
Class sizes in preps I predict will be generally bigger in the future - up to about 24 or 25. Subject specialist teachers where they exist will be increasingly a thing of the past too I think. Studies seem to be showing there is no advantage to having a small class size just in a high quality teacher.
Independent schools complain that the over-tutored arrive there and then can't keep up. Hothousing is frowned upon and there's lots of talk about the lack of soft skills & creativity in children & members of the workforce they become that have been overly crammed. Independent schools want the free thinkers, the naturally bright and the biddable.
The exception will be London and feeder preps for the well known public schools.
I think the class of people who used to consider private schools automatically for their children is dwindling. Middle-class professionals, unless superstars like Xenia, find it a push to afford them, certainly at primary level.
There's also a huge amount of talk about free schools/academies which have made them at least look at a sector they previously would have considered beyond the pale.
State schools in London, at least, are far improved from even a decade ago. Many offer very impressive facilities and achieve excellent results, especially given the backgrounds of many pupils. A lot of my (privately educated) contemporaries take the long view that the best unis now actively search for state-educated pupils, so their children's long-term prospects should not be damaged and £££ will be saved.
So private schools are becoming a bit like Burberry, out of reach of many - plus there are more and more decent high-street knock offs available for those who want something close to the product without the price.
MrsShackleton I think you may well be right. Anecdotal but I've been shocked recently by some private school pupil failing to get into Oxbridge as predicted - think IQ of 150, very pleasant, creative, free thinking and 5 A*s at A'level sort of ilk.
I was going to say the same thing as mrsshackleton. Fewer and fewer middle class professionals are able to afford them, or should I say would feel the pain and therefore look for alternatives. Even doctors are in that category (unless they do extensive private work).
It's a herd thing, middle-classes talk up their decision to choose state, then others who were previously frightened of state, decide to give it a go. "After all, Camilla and Jonny's children go there, so it can't be too terrible."
Then because more m/c children go into the state system, standards improve.
It's a virtuous circle, the best legacy of the recession imvho.
Hamishbear - v frustrating to hear this nonsense! Much of the time we are bombarded with 'Oxbridge is stuffed with public school toffs' crap; the rest of the time it's 'Universities are actively selecting state school students'. I am heavily involved in Oxbridge admissions. Can I say, once and for all: we use a lot of information to select those students who are the brightest and the best. There is no active selection in any direction, apart from on the basis of merit and promise. We spend a huge amount of time and money in ensuring selection is as fair as possible. Of course it isn't perfect, but we do our very best, and it is very disheartening to hear that we are always getting it in the neck from one party or the other! I think, really, people hear what they want to hear in order to justify their decisions, or on occasion to console themselves when things don't work out as planned. It is easy to blame the universities' admissions processes! The kind of anecdotal evidence you mention perhaps comes from this kind of selective deafness. For another thing, there are good state schools and bad state schools; good private schools and bad private schools. It simply doesn't mean the same thing to go to a struggling school in a deprived area as it does to go to one in an affluent rural catchment, even though they might both be 'state schools'. Any institution selecting on that sort of basis would have to be stupid not to have spotted that, and on that basis alone would be highly unlikely to introduce such silly, broad-brush criteria. Please stop spreading this nonsense about as it only discourages applications from one quarter or another, and we want everyone who is good enough to apply! We want the best people, whoever they are and wherever they come from!
We have gone for private since age 4, simply for the small class sizes, personal tutoring and high levels of pastoral care. It has worked brilliantly for my wayward boy, who is about to finish Y5.
We wanted to get the basics right and make sure he did not fall through the cracks in a 30+ class size oversubscribed primary.
He is going to go to a high achieving local
compAcademy and my onlly worry is the big class sizes. Along with everyone else We will be tutoring him privately to make up for the big classes.
We can't afford £30K for a major public school, and he would be the poorest in his class probably. We don't mix socially with oligarchs, so I don't want him losing the battle of possessions with everyone else in his year and the consequent damage to his self esteem
Middle class, two working professionals, like us, are the type of families I want him mixing with and they are much more likely to be found now in excellent state Academies than in major public schools and many middle class families are being priced out of private education.
Sorry - in terms of how that relates to the OP's original question - I would say that choosing the best option to make your individual child happy and well rounded now (and only you can know what that it) is the best way forward - don't try to second-guess things like university admissions based on baseless gossip. (Anyway, by the time our DC get to university things will prob be completely different - for eg, my parents certainly didn't realise university fees would be part of the picture when they were planning me!!)
Charlie and lola speaks a lot of sense.
Our boys 6 and 8 are at local state school in London, and both seem to be doing well. Top of class, confident, happy and popular. The children and parents are generally very nice.
I speak with other parents now and again about private / state. I was privately educated from 8, while DH was state, and we aren't sure what path we would take - if money was no object, which it is! There is similar ambivalence in other parents.
Compared to a friend's son who is privately educated, my son of the same age appears to be doing equally well - although my son's reading is more advanced. But this is a snap shot. I think my sons have a lot of opportunities at the moment (participating in events at the South Bank Centre etc), although sport is limited. My major concern about private, were we to be able to afford it, is that my children would become entitled types, expecting to go on the cricket trip to Australia / Barbados etc. Will he miss out on opportunities if we remain in the state sector? I don't know, but at the moment, I don't think he is.
TBF state schools have also become a lot more consistent and better run over the last couple of decades, and standards are getting higher, so the difference between state and private has shrunk quite a bit in many cases.
However until the whole Common Entrance problem is addressed, if parents are really looking at highly selective independent secondaries (i.e. top 10), particularly in London, then a feeder prep is more or less the only way forward for about 90% of kids if you really want to be sure of maximising your children's chances.
That having been said, I am not convinced about CE at 11+ or 13+ and I think a new system is long overdue.
BTW I think the point about private school extras is a valid one. It seems to be routine in some schools to send letters home about school trips costing four figures, without any thought whatsoever about the parents' overall disposable incomes, number of children in the family and so on. Combine that with the general discussion of long haul holidays and general consumer expenditure amongst some groups of children at indi schools, and yes, children can develop the impression that this sort of spending and way of spending time is completely normal and even compulsory.
I'd be a lot happier if it was discouraged, and the kids encouraged to think a bit more about sustainability, wider society and the responsibilities of being affluent. That's something that indi schools used to be incredibly good at but they seem to have lost their way a bit on this.
Really Shhhw, I am not peddling complete nonsense I could give you facts about the cases in point. Ok, it's anecdotal and a small pool of people but they were undoubtedly absolutely exceptional - they've since got into other good universities. Everyone involved in their cases was staggered. Of course being exceptionally bright, hardworking and getting exceptionally good results is no guarantee of Oxbridge entry and undoubtedly there may have been worthier candidates but...
BoffinMum I think a new system is on the way.
Hamish, I would be interested in hearing about that.
I never can persuade my children to go on school trips at private schools. One did go last year and regarded a week in Europe playing rugby as a theft of his half term. They could have gone on a wonderful exchange to China this year and didn't want to. I never feel any pressure at all from peer group or friends whatsoever to go on trips at private schools and plenty of parents cannot afford it anyway.
I suppose it depends where your kids are at school. I know my own parents felt a lot of pressure as we had lots of expensive overseas trips on offer, and I think they went rather white faced every time I brought a letter home. DD was more of a home body and only went on 1 or 2, but we still ended up with a massive extras bill every term. And there were a lot of kids there with seriously big money (although interestingly rather neglectful parents IMO), who seemed to jet off somewhere exotic at the drop of a hat.
fedup - you are concerned that expensive school trips will may your children feel entitled??? Some people have weird ideas about parenting.
I am probably repeating what has been said, but I don't think this is a question which can be answered out of context.
It depends on where you live and the schools that are available.
I'm a teacher who has taught in the independent and state sectors. Both my DCs went to all state schools because we couldn't afford otherwise.
Their primary schools were very good, and DDs secondary school was almost on a par with some local independent schools. Both of my DCs had private tutors for A level and ended up at Russell Group unis, gaining good science degrees.
Had we paid squillions for private schools I don't know if we'd have had abetter outcome.
DSs school mis-informed him over entry requirements for top unis re. A level subjects and he ended up not being able to apply to the top 4 which he wanted, and one teacher for 1 subject was useless meaning DS ended up with a B not an A grade. So a few regrets there, but some of his peers got into LSE/ Cambridge etc.
But the cost of private secondary schools is high- you are looking at £20k each which is £40L pa after tax- equivalent to almost having to earn / have £75K gross to pay for fees alone- each year.
As a teacher I have tutored children for common entrance ON TOP of what their prep schools offered, and it's not unlikely that a child at a state school could be tutored for CE by a tutor.
So I don't believe the situation is so clear cut as some posters here maintain.
Depends what you can afford. My children's father is a teacher. That meant a virtually free place for one of them. 3 won music scholarships and I earn quite a lot anyway so affording fees although it's never easy ( I just looked on line and the fees just came out today) for me it's not a big issue. By the way even here in outer London the fees are nearer £10k to 15k a year. Even haberdashers girls usually in the top 10 - 20 where one of mine went is £10k for juniors and £12k or something for seniors, one of the very best selective girls' schools.
I certainly recommend children and parents in both sectors looking very carefully at A level requirements for university courses. Never just rely on the school or what your child says. I actively looked at requirements myself in the library when I was 15 before the internet as I am sure any bright teenager can today.
Xenai- your comment about which subjects for which unis/courses is obvious and as a teacher I knew it too- but the situation was more complicated than that. DSs school underestimated his ability and his actual A level grades- based on his GCSE grades. He was advised not to take one subject- which wasn't mandatory for his degree bur preferred by some top unis. This was more to do with his school not appreciating his potential at A level. He got round it (almost) by doing an additional AS level on top of his A levels.
I have a lot to do with independent schools and many day schools' fees are nearer £20K than £10K.
I think you are maybe a little unrealistic over fees and affordability-three children @ £15K a year is twice the average wage before tax so a parent would have to earn well into the 6-figure zone- and something like 5% of the population earn over £100K. Which is probably why only 7% are educated privately.
No. I've said this here many times. IMHO private education tout court is not worth it.
I would say I think it is rarely worth it. However if you are only in a school system for a short time, or your child can't study the subjects they want in the state system, or you need to have them boarding and can't get them in a state boarding school, then there is a real place for indi education. Plus its very existence keep governments on their toes and stops them thinking they can always force feed their own model of education to the masses like some kind of brain washing.
I would add that we need state schools too, so independent schools need to look nervously over their shoulders at what parents can get for free, and raise their game accordingly. Plus state schools often set a good example in terms of SEN, social inclusion and the like.
BoffinMum I think what you say about Common Entrance at 13 is really interesting. When I was young among posh Tory voters like my parents, it was very common to go state for boys until 7 then prep and public school and girls to go state until 11 (or to a private primary, but to go to senior at 11). Now lots of public schools are mixed so girls are starting at 13, while the London boys' schools seem to be increasing their entrance at 11 over that of 13.
I think mine are probably going to private for secondary (with some ambivalence) but I'm really put off schools that have their main intake at 13 or from their own feeder preps. It really undermines their claims (I'm thinking you, UCS) that they're all about 'intellectual elitism' rather than that which comes with a wallet.
I suspect that at some point, these private school consortiums will want to streamline it all to one main entry point in order to make sure they can fish from the biggest pool of both girls and boys, state and prep applicants.
I went to state school (and rubbish it was too!). My children go to private school and some of the comments on here are just plain wrong with regard to extra's etc and the pressure on the pupils to have the lastest this, that or the other.
Having been in the private system for over 10 years with two children at well known schools (one in a well known boarding school) there are all sorts there. There arent millionaires at every turn. Some boys get full scholarships or busaries. The boys dont care who you are. As long as you are a good egg and up for a game of squash or a swim you will be fine. There are some trips but again no pressure to subscribe. In 10 years I have never felt under pressure to put my son's name down for anything.
We are middle class (I guess!) with two salaries but we dont earn £100's of thousands. We just decided to only have 2 children and both work full time. Please dont believe what you read about these well known private schools and the nonsense about who attends them.
My sons have moved schools at 13+ and I have thought it really suits boys. They are much less mature than girls so to be at the absolute top of the school, top dog, prefects etc at 13= rather than a little new tiny squirt in a big school at 11 is better. Also if you want them to sing treble to age 13 it is much easier to get them singing good choral music to age 13 in an an all boys' school. For girls 11+ is fine.
Most nice children are not bothered about how rich other children are at private schools and teaches them to be sensitive to others. Mine had a friend who wasn't at all well off and I always made sure we sent mine with their cinema money when they all went out so his poor mother was not lumbered with paying their ticket price etc etc.
The day places at boarding schools are indeed nearer to £15k than the £10k to £12k I quote but some of the very best most selective day schools have fees which are near £10m, and £12k. Even so I agree that many mothers do not pick careers which enable them to pay a lot of fees for 3+ children. However perhaps that is a lesson we need to teach our teenage girls - pick a career where you will enjoy it but also have spare money. Too many children of people I meet are going into acting which in effect means they are going to be waiting tables for 20 years and yet their parents seem perfectly happy they go off in droves to take performing arts degrees because this what little Janice says she would like to do. In fact Janice would be better off reading English or PPE at Oxford and saving her acting for the Footlights.
Zenia - how I agree with you and wish I knew what I know now! If you go for a career with low salaries but the best job in the world for you - do that but accept you are unlikely to be able to afford private school.
Some on this forum have 3-4 children. Well, not in a million yrs could we have afforded to have so many children and still pay the fees. So we didnt - we stopped at 2. Often people cannot see the issue, they are SAHM's with 3 children and a partner earning say £60k and complain they cannot afford the fees or knock the private system as not worth the money. For us it has been worth every penny.
One boy at older DS's school has stacks of money. He often invites the boys out to London (on him!), another friend is on a busary. No one really knows... I didnt until he told me a number of years later. Just mentioned it in passing. And very clever he is too, he helps my son and some of the others in English which he is brilliant in. English is quite a tough subject to excel in as a boy and whilst it isnt cool to overload this chap with thanks I know that they appreciate the help he gives behind the scenes.
Xenai- I think you are a tad out of touch in some ways
Very few people earn the kind of money which you appear to have- if your DH/DP is a teacher then he will be earning more than the average wage of £27K- but even teacher's salaries are not high unless you progress to a very senior post in a large school.
The comments about encouraging young people to earn good money in order to pay for their own children's education is a bit IMO. I agree with your point in principle, but TBH unless someone is a city lawyer, city banker, or top doctor/ private, then they are not going to be raking in shed loads! Nowadays most young people are struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder by they are 30, if they live in SE.
The only way we could have afforded private education x 2 would have been if I had worked full time and I didn't want to do that.
There are very few professions where people can earn huge amounts and it's not as simple as saying oh she ought to go to Oxford to read PPE then get a good job- just how many people do you think do that percentage wise?
I know what people earn. I've 3 children who've graduated recently.
So bella is saying she could have afforded private schools but chose to be at home so that's an active choice. You didn't want to so you chose your own self indulgence over the good of the children I suppose on one analysis.
Xenia- do you go out of your way to be offensive? What an obnoxious judgy pants post! Talk about being bitchy
I am intrigued why you think that choosing to work part time in order to be IMHO a better parent than a worn-out one with no energy left for my DCs is self indulgent- and somehow by choosing to work p/t and not send my DCs to an independent school my children suffered?
We struggle with this regularly. At the moment they attend a small village school .Ds in yr 4 is working at yr5 in literacy and yr6 in maths (nc levels 4c and 4a respectively). Dd is year one working with year 2s. So I think the academics are ok. I work pt and take them to ballet, riding and football after school and at the weekend.
I have seen the local preps and TBH the only advantage is the one stop shop aspect. They would keep th till 6 and when they got back they would have done their homework and some sport. On some days this is realy tempting.
However the fees for 2 would be 24k post tax. If I changed to working ft I wouldn't earn the additional 40K we would need to fund it. So we would have to comprise on things like our annual skiing holiday and meals out.When I look at it so far it hasnt seemed worth it to me.
Bella -I think you are the one being offensive here. Who are you to say that your decision to work part time works for EVERYONE! It wouldnt work for me....
Xenia, it's rather simplistic to suggest that people can just pick a high flying career. If only it were so easy! Not everyone has the academic capabilities/personal attributes to become a doctor, lawyer etc. And even if they did, these careers are extremely competitive and I've met a fair few law graduates unable to secure training contracts ....
Bella, good for you for working part time. Having worked full time and part time, it is much easier to retain a balance between work and family when working part time. However what is often overlooked is that often prt time workers are doing full time jobs in part time hours and for part time pay. That's hardly self indulgent is it?
Xenia my love, you are a little bit bonkers about the relative salary thing. I am in the top 10% of wage earners nationally, and there is no way I could put three kids through independent school at once on full fees, out of my taxed income. There used to be cheap little private schools dotted about but so many of them have closed down now. So many people have made sensible career choices and earn good money but haven't got options like that open (although in actual fact in our case we're pleased with the schools the kids attend).
BoffinMum, I agree. We have 4 kids but we are also in high earners' brackets and it would be a huge struggle to put 4 through private at the same time out of earned income.
Having said that, one thing it's often not spoken about is inheritance and the bank of grandparents; this is a reality for many people, we know a number of friends who have fees paid for by grandparents or have had their house bought by their parents or who have inherited quite large sums. Even having grandparents help with childcare can make a big difference.
Sadly we haven't had any of the above, so maybe that's why we are poorer in comparison to many on similar salaries!!!
Gosh Xenia, are you for real? How many young women are going to think: "right, need to go to university x and secure job y so that I can send my hypothetical future children to schools a b or c, without giving a damn if it's a career path I'd like to follow etc"
Xenia, have you ever acually stopped to think what would happen if everyone followed your advice?
- No university lecturers.
- No research scientists (and therefore no new drug discoveries etc)
- No charities of any description.
- No performing arts of any kind.
- No writers, poets, playwrights.
(And that's just a few off the top of my head)
All of the above, and many, many more jobs like them, rely on highly intelligent, gifted people NOT choosing to maximise their income.
IHideVegInRice It might be a sad thing, but in retrospect (being much older now), that is probably the best way to do it. Of course, you would not do it to afford future kids' school fees ... but more along the way of:
- I need to earn a LOT of money... How?
- OK, so these jobs pay a LOT of money... How do I get there?
- They recruit from these unis... Again, how do I get there?
... and so forth.
This coming from someone who already naturally thought like this, although I wish I could turn back time, and then, I would have pushed myself harder. There were certain points in my life/career where I chose the easier path. Had I not done that, I would most likely be making MUCH more money now as evident by those contemporaries of mine who chose the trickier path. They were not more intelligent - they just went for it, whereas I didn't... mainly due to lacking self esteem at the time. Now, I'm going out all guns blazing, but it seems a sudden shift for people around me.
Sometimes, I wish my parents had been more transparent with me, like Xenia suggested. You see, I grew up in a household that regularly had 5 weeks of long haul summer holidays (wouldn't get that at my employer now!), I went to school in different parts of the world, lived in a nice house in the poshest area of the town... and you see... my dad did not even have to work that hard. Mum was a SAHM who is still living in blissful ignorance as to why her DD and hard working Son-in-Law don't have the things they expect us to have with our all qualifications! Somehow, I expected my own life (and that of my kids) to be the same, but then, I realised too late that (1) the world had changed - my dad had less competition (only 7% went to uni in his days), and (2) my dad had a lot of extra income (inheritance) that literally doubled his salary... seriously, I didn't know that!
So DC will learn the value of money very early on...
It depends on where you live and what the local primaries are like. It might be worth thinking about moving rather than forking out money for a prep school. If your local primary is good (as mine is) school fees for pre-prep and prep are a total waste of money. My dd and ds have both gone through the state system. My dd is at a Russell Group uni and is forecast a first and my ds (in Year 10) is doing three GCSEs (maths, history, geography) a year early and is forecast A*s in all of them. He's doing another 8 (all academic subjects) next year and will almost certainly achieve As and A*s. He's obviously thinking about Oxbridge, but he's also wondering if places such as the LSE offer courses he might prefer. Wherever he ends up, the state system served him well and I find it quite amusing that people with more money than sense throw money away.
Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.
daphnedill - that is an unpleasant and gratuitous insult to someone with whom you happen to disagree. Xenia is entitled to her life choices, as you are to yours.
"I find it quite amusing that people with more money than sense throw money away"
Is that your opinion of all parents who send their children to private school?
"Wherever he ends up, the state system served him well and I find it quite amusing that people with more money than sense throw money away."
suebfg many people a labouring under this view but those of us who pay usuually know that in many cases the state does not serve their children well.
The thread shows some people think women should not work and it is better for children if women stay home. Others think one of the best things women can do is work full time to pay school fees and give their children a better life.
Others have children at good state schools they love and others happily pay school fees and feel their children do better for that. That's wonderful as we are all different people happy to discuss different ideas.
Given the 8% at private schools get 50% of the best university places and make up 80% + of senior judges, huge percentages of the cabinet etc etc in just about every good job there is I suspect those of us who happily choose to pay fees may well have a good bit of sense. However if you cannot afford to pay or have a good state school then gosh loads of state school children do very well at state schools. It is certainly not something to beat yourself up over.
On the women and careers point sometimes it is what can you live without. Some fee paying mothers on here might not have holidays or buy second hand clothes in order to afford £10k to send a girl to Haberdashers for example or go back to full time work. Those are choice. Okay if the mother has more than one child and cannot earn more than the minimum wage then it is not an issue of choice now in 2013 but it may well have been when she picked her career.
Yes, I was lucky to be born fairly bright, but other things are part of choice - working 30 years without a maternity leave more than 2 weeks and no career breaks, picking a well paid career, working very hard, researching careers as a teenager in the library to find one which paid well, not drinking, graduating with prizes rather than having spent my student years drunk, eating well (I am virtually never ill which is a huge benefit) etc etc. We paid school fees when I was 26 years old whilst also paying a full time daily nanny. It was not easy to fund that first set of school fees by any means but manageable and I agree that fees have increase over the years more than inflation - I pay about £14k a year now per child (I only have older children now)
handcream Wed 24-Apr-13 19:24:33
Bella -I think you are the one being offensive here. Who are you to say that your decision to work part time works for EVERYONE! It wouldnt work for me....
errr....I didn't actually say that! I think you need to read the 2 posts again to make sure you understand. I said what suited me and my family- don't know where the words are that said it was the way for everyone
The suggestion that my decision to work part time was self-indulgent ( as if perhaps I was having manicures all day) and worse that my children suffered as a result of my not working hard enough to send them to a private school is appalling- how can an internet stranger possibly know the background and reasons behind my choice?
That kind of comment is breathtakingly arrogant and judgemental. I said what worked for me and my children. There are many reasons why I didn't choose to work full time -which is no one's business except mine and DHs- but the implication that I was doing what was solely best for me, that my children suffered, ( when they have actually done better than some friends who went to private schools!) and that somehow I was pulling my weight, is offensive.
This guy at work brews his own beer at home. To him, we (fellow office workers) have more money than sense. Imagine paying £3.50 for a beer and then standing in a noisy pub drinking it.
We all do things that are a waste of money to people that have different priorities (and income)
My friend spent £20k pa for x years on his DD. She recently got a slate of good but average GCSEs. Although some here might have a good laugh at close to £250k been spent and only getting so so grades, my friend is happy with the results. He always knew that his DD wasnt highly academic but it wasn't as if he was going to miss £250k.
Xenia has always been blunt on the issue of women who choose not to work. We can pretend that money is not important but virtually everyone one this thread needs it to survive.
Women need to have honest discussions with their Children about future careers and it is possible to be happy and solvent. Thankfully i come from a culture where hard work is not looked down upon. My parents encouraged me to aim high and as a result i have the choice of being able to pay for fees.
The best advice my mum gave Mr was I should never give up my career to become a housewife. She said it was the most risky thing i could do as a woman.
Given the 8% at private schools get 50% of the best university places and make up 80% + of senior judges, huge percentages of the cabinet etc etc in just about every good job there is I suspect those of us who happily choose to pay fees may well have a good bit of sense.
You forget about the kids who go to private schools who are simply too dim to get to good unis, or those who get there then drop out or get a 3rd class degree, because they have only got to the uni by being coached to within an inch of their lives. It's well documented that many kids from private schools fail at uni because they have been spoon fed at school to pass exams, way beyond their innate ability.
I don't think explaining how little time you took off work to care for your baby is something to be proud of.
"Yes, I was lucky to be born fairly bright, but other things are part of choice - working 30 years without a maternity leave more than 2 weeks and no career breaks, picking a well paid career, working very hard, researching careers as a teenager in the library to find one which paid well, not drinking, graduating with prizes rather than having spent my student years drunk, eating well (I am virtually never ill which is a huge benefit) etc etc. We paid school fees when I was 26 years old whilst also paying a full time daily nanny. It was not easy to fund that first set of school fees by any means but manageable and I agree that fees have increase over the years more than inflation - I pay about £14k a year now per child (I only have older children now)"
Is 'Xenia' a bot that spouts anti-feminist nonsense every ten posts or so?
Bella, I would love to see a citation of the supposedly "well documented fact that many kids from private schools fail at univ because they have been spoon fed at school to pass exams, way beyond their innate ability."
The evidence collected by the government shows that state school educated pupils are twice as likely to leave higher education, as their private school counterparts. The percentage for privately-educated is quite low, less than 4%.
I think the comment was along the lines of gvae up work because it suit me (ie self indulgent). Why should working mothers constantly have to be subject to barrage of comment that somehow staying home with a baby is best? It isn't. It can be worse. Now we can disagree on that but it is no more wrong for someone to say I damage my children if I return to work full time when a baby is 2 weeks than to say women who could work and pay school fees but choose to laze around at home instead and deny their child the best education are wrong. They are simply people's views.
Children at the better universities are much less likely to drop out. Children at private schools tend to be conferred a huge benefit. Plenty of them are not tutored beyond their competence in any sense at all. The universities are not stuffed with thick private school pupils who only got AAA because of factory farming cramming. If you look at how well the private ones do after university too you can see that they cannot be as thick as a plank.
Happygardening - you are in the fairly unusual position of educating one of your sons in the maintained sector and one son as an independent boarder.
Can I just say that out here in the sticks day schools do cost under £11000/year. From my point of view (now only paying for one thankfully) that means sinking most of my earnings into one set of school fees whilst juggling demands of 3 yo but it's been just about doable over the last 4 years since the recession hit. DD2 now has a music scholarship which will take a bit off, and we've been awarded a bit of a bursary as well. My husband earns a decent enough wage (not quite into higher rate tax) that we can luckily afford to live on his salary while all of my earnings go into school bills. Have done for the last 11 years now, very thankfully coming to the end of it. It hasn't been at all easy since 2008 and wasn't easy before. We realise that we are very lucky to be able to (just about) afford the choice.
My DC have had many friends at their independent schools in far worse circumstances than us. The worse off ones tend to be in single parent families with maybe a very good bursary or masses of grandparental support. Almost everybody finds the fees difficult (apart from the very few who had a trust fund settled on them at birth to pay for fees)
Shock horror at the thought of private school kids droping out of uni or getting Third Class.
That never happens with kids from non selective state schools
Hm to all above.
The point is, what do you get for the massive fees that the state doesn't provide?
My DS is pretty bright, and he had some DREADFUL teachers at his private secondary school, including one who made a string of factual errors in every lesson. He has had some very good teachers at his FE college - and one very mediocre one. I don't think the private teaching and facilities were WORTH 22k per year. For less money - a LOT less - I could have hired very good private tutors for him in all subjects.
The social atmosphere at private school is grossly overrated. There was at both my dcs secondaries endemic bullying and also a lot of drinking and other substance abuse. There was total chaos. Most of the kids were not very motivated. A lot of time was
wasted spent watching DVDs and chatting. At the prep school, which is widely seen as One Of The Best, there was frequent complete chaos, vandalism on a terrible scale, sexual activities, and routine laxity in boarder supervision, leading to low work standards, bullying of pupils and also teachers, and sleep shortages.
To those of you who think your Dcs have been at private school and not had these experiences, three words - are you sure?
Why do people persist in comparing crap private schools to good state schools?
"Happygardening - you are in the fairly unusual position of educating one of your sons in the maintained sector and one son as an independent boarder."
Yes I am and it enables me to what the difference is between a top independent school and atop state comp is.
"The point is, what do you get for the massive fees that the state doesn't provide?"
*seilinde" do you really want me to detail the differences?
I think sieglinde is talking about a school almost universally lauded as Very Good Indeed, up there with the school that happy has a DS attending.
I'm CONVINCED you don't get better teachers at private school. And DD1 has had mostly excellent teaching at the FE college through 6th form.
What they did get from independent secondary versus the schools available to us was triple sciences (not available when DS and DD1 were transferring) crucial to them as they are both broadly scientific (DS is now doing engineering, DD1 applying for medicine); the opportunity to do Ten tors (again was not available at our local secondary school when they were transferring although they have started fielding teams since then); plenty of music and groups to play in (DD2 plays in 5-6 things a week at her school, there was nothing but a steel band once a fortnight available at our local secondary school- I know because we asked when we went round); Latin and Greek which DD2 is now mad keen on and wants to do as a degree.
What they got from private prep was sport (my DS obtained a place at a state middle school which simply didn't do any sport apart from music and movement and had no morning break (just 5 mn in the book corner) beyond the first term of year 3 because the children "took too long to calm down afterwards" and offered 35 to a class. DS had just spent 3 years in a class of 35 staring at the wall and being labelled with all sorts of disorders, I wasn't prepared to pursue that frankly. They also got specialist teaching from year 3 including in the sciences and languages. Differences well worth paying for imo.
We have people who are against private schools because they look at the stats for Oxbridge and top jobs and they see an unfair bias.
Then we have the people who think that parents who go private have more money than sense. Afterall, goes the argument, private doesn't offer much, if anything, extra.
How about parents like me step back and let you people fight it out?
Either private schooling gives you something extra or it doesn't. Discuss
OP: I don't think so. DC at inner London state primary and hopefully will get into highly selective secondaries at 11+ (private or state). We do need to tutor though in English to make sure he is likely to be able to compete with the prep schools kids. But that is £35 per week. (Interestingly, the Maths at the primary is top notch, there are extension classes for the top kids, and no extra preparation is needed out of school there.)
Comparing CD's experience and those at the preps around SW London that we know, I'd say the education (with the extra help) is broadly the same. The social mix though of class mates is completely different, obviously. Also sport and music is better at the privates - but again we make up for that after school.
The killer for me though is that even the private school kids (around here) get tutored to pass 11+. I had thought the idea of a prep was that that school did it all for you. I was wrong. So am glad we didn't pay.
(And before someone picks me up on it I use the word "prep" in the looser sense of a private primary even if it doesn't go up to age 13.)
But I will likely pay for secondary - since the selective state grammars are so much harder to get into....
MTS, fwiw, my local state school is not "crap". It gets very decent GCSE results and it's a school people travel to deliberately. We actually have very little choice about where to send our children in the state system, either primary or secondary, living where we live. A choice of two primaries and two secondaries. We along with anybody else around here, would only get free transport or any kind of school transport for one of the primaries and one of the secondaries, which kind of forces people's hand about where to send their child.
I never thought that I would be saying this but we need seeker's input on this .
No, I am not going to get started on the old Christmas carol service in the school hall thing. Or how there is no orchestra at the school for her musical son to join. Or how she has to go outside to fill in the extra curricula stuff that many private parents take for granted.
Rest assured seeker, I am not going to dredge up all those things. I just thought that you would have an insight on what having more money to spend on a DC actually translates into.
seeker is busy on another thread describing her method for finding out all the other kids' marks at parents' evenings....
yellow I too think I know what school sieglinde is talking about and I am surprised but maybe my experience is fairly unique rather than "fairly unusual* IME my DS2's school in terms of its provision (I'm not talking about exam results) in comparison with the state sector (of which I also have quite a lot of experience of both my DS's and the children work with) is not even inhabiting the same planet. I do accept that there are some independent schools even the famous ones whose provision is surprisingly inadequate although not apparent until your DC has either started there or you have inside information. .
I think we all have to accept that not only do we all have legitimate and different expectations of schools our DC's also require and thrive in different environments.
daphnedill what sort of a school is that? Comp? Grammar? Top grammar?
On no, please not Seeker. I have seen a thread where she berates selective eduction. Really hates it yet allows her DD to sit the 11+ and go to a grammar school. When her DS doesnt pass the same test she goes to appeal.
Still hates selective education though....Really really believes in the comp system (but not for her children!) Diane Abbott springs to mind tbh.
"I'm CONVINCED you don't get better teachers at private school. And DD1 has had mostly excellent teaching at the FE college through 6th form."
duchesse there are good teachers and crap teachers in both sectors. The one thing I do think parents who are paying very large sums of money expect is better communication between teachers/parents/pupils.
Last year i was working for a couple of week in an location where we were not allowed to take our mobile phones or have incoming calls once you been passed to enter the building you stayed until you finished at 5pm. I was desperate to speak to my one of my DS1's teachers and she to me, she left 6 messages in one day on my home phone /mob every time commenting that I was not returning her calls. The following day I left a message at the school explaining my situation and asking her to call me at 17 30 as I was unable to take calls before this and she left me a message saying she didn't call parents after 5pm. She then over the next 4 days proceeded to leave 10 more message accusing me of not returning her calls. I personally find this sort of thing exceedingly irritating.
I've had other similar experiences in the state sector this would never IME happen in the independent sector.
So, private school parents have more money than sense. Really? Do I honestly want to spend large amounts of money to get the same as the state offers?
I went to a terrible state school. I dont want that for my children. I want them to have sport on their doorstep as opposed to having to tramp once a week to some sports field for a hour or so. There are some terrible state schools and for some its the ONLY choice. What happens to them? My DM works at a struggling primary where often English isnt the first language. She gave up teaching years ago but goes in twice a week as a volunteer to hear reading, etc.
My older DS is at a well known boarding school. His school says all to aim for A and A*'s. Do I think he will get that being a late August birthday - no, but he will have a dam good try. He also has a couple of close friends, one is on a full busary as he is a brilliant scholar, the other has very rich parents. It doesnt matter to him one way or the other.
Xenia is right. If private schools are so bad how come a high % of the top best paid jobs are given to ex private school pupils. And where on earth do you get the view that they are spoon fed. Left wing clap trap again.
If your state option is good, well lucky you! If its not or you want a different type of education where disipline is taken seriously, where the hours are longer but you are expected to do your very best then look at a good private school
Am still v concerned at the huge focus here on future university places, jobs, etc etc. What about deciding on the basis of where your small child will be happiest and best nurtured, day-to-day, now? That may well (or it may not) make a difference to their future 'success' measured in the essentially economic terms which keep cropping up above. The OP is in a position to pick and choose. 'Is it worth it' is not just a phrase applicable to financial transactions; 'worth' can be measured - IMO should be measured, at this age - in terms of wellbeing. For almost anything, the facilities at a good prep school are likely to be better than those at a good state school. If your child likes x, y and z, and it makes no odds to you in financial terms (and won't make you hate yourself for political / philosophical reasons), then send them to the place where they will get most chances to do x, y and z, and the place where they will feel happiest and secure (which is probably the place where they have smaller classes and lots of individual attention). I went to a really, really bad school, and yet am now an academic in an Oxbridge college. I think that parental support is what makes children able to get where they want to go in life, in career terms. School can help, but parents are key. So choose a school in the same way as you might choose a nursery - think about the care and attention your child will get, daily, now.
Sorry, true believers, but both dcs schools are universally lauded, top-ranking schools, not crap schools at the bottom of the league tables.
Now someone will say it's my fault, then, or my dcs' fault. It isn't. DS is really academically able, pretty much garlanded with A-stars, and so is dd. The schools were however shite, and I am willing to bet than 9 out of 10 parents have NO IDEA what really goes on at them.
At our private secondary a teacher was recently let go. The school noted that the end of term results for two terms running was worst than under her (maternity leave) predesessor. Same kids but worst results. The school monitored her lessons and concluded that she didn't reach the schools teaching standards so they terminated her.
I accept that there are crap teachers at private schools. I am simply making the point that the academic ones have a reputation to think about. After all, it doesnt take much to make parents transfer their kids.
So yes there are crap teachers at private schools but I maintain that there are less of them compared to the state system.
I think you make a good point. I visited a number of primary schools and preps and the prep I picked was the friendliest of the lot. Although it has high expectations of behaviour the atmosphere wasn't stuffy and the children were really relaxed in speaking to the teachers. It also happens to be great for sport and music and feeds into the senior schools we like. Another "well respected" prep I went to see left me cold. The state primaries seemed nice but the large class sizes put me off as both of my children a summer birthdays. Linked to that, both of them would have had delayed entry into the state primaries which I didn't think was in their best interests.
are summer birthdays
sieg - there are parents here who believe that all the choice uni places and jobs go to kids from private schools. If you believe that parents who privately educate their kids have more money than sense then I suggest you open up a dialogue with the above group of parents.I am sure that they would be interested in your insights.
Actually MTS I disagree with you there. I think you will generally find better teachers in the sense of being better at teaching in the state system. The problem is that often they will not be teaching in their own subject area, and will not have sufficient qualification in the subject they teach to be able a) to really enthuse the pupils or b) cope with any questions from brighter pupils.
For quite some years it has been deemed acceptable for teachers to be "one page ahead of the kids" in the state system. That is not their fault- it's a problem of recruitment and timetabling. Ideally all teachers would be teaching what they are truly interested in, and that's where most private school teachers have the advantage. They are not necessarily better teachers, in fact far from it, but they're far more likely to know their shit and the pupils know that and respect it.
handcream ^On no, please not Seeker. I have seen a thread where she berates selective eduction. Really hates it yet allows her DD to sit the 11+ and go to a grammar school. When her DS doesnt pass the same test she goes to appeal.
Still hates selective education though....Really really believes in the comp system (but not for her children!) Diane Abbott springs to mind tbh.^
Seeker - I believe - lives in a grammar school area. There is therefore no comprehensive system where she lives and she has no choice but to do the 11+ thing. It is not the same as Diane Abbott.
Your comment is plain wrong.
That is true that Seeker doesn't have a choice of a comprehensive so I agree with your comment. However, she isn't always very sympathetic when other people talk about their choices being limited if the choice they have made involves a private school .
"I am willing to bet than 9 out of 10 parents have NO IDEA what really goes on at them."
I agree. sieglinde I'm curious would as your DC is no longer at the school would you care to tell us what independent school your talking about or PM me think I know but my memory isn't all it used to be.
My DS's went to a very well regarded prep frankly i think its bloody awful but most parents thought it was fab and in fairness it worked really well for their children just not mine and a few others.
I doubt there's a school out there however famous and however much you spend that don't have some disgruntled and unhappy parents. Our DC's are not machines they are all different and without a doubt what works for one doesn't work for all. We were one of our parents from my DS's prep who all went on the same day to look at Eton. We had the same tour with the same HM's wife, we listened to the same talk about how wonderful it is (yawn), watched the same video and ate the same
cheap biscuits two of us left thinking it was frankly a ghastly place two thought it was the best place in the world. This is life we all drive different cars, wear different clothes and eat different food its only when things don't go the way we as individuals feel they should do we become disillusioned.
Chazs - she won't be sympathetic to me then!
duchess - I accept that private schools have the luxury of employing teachers that are specialists in their subjects and that good state school teachers sometimes have to double up and teach a subject that they are weak in.
So, saying that private school teachers are better is probably a bad choice of words. Nevertheless, the end result is the same. My DCs are receiving a better education as measured by gcse points.
I think happygardening's comment is sensible and I know where sieglinde is coming from. I switched for sixth form to a very famous and selective school (where I boarded). The quality of teaching was indeed outstanding and I had a fantastic time; I went on from there to Oxbridge (along with around half the year) and eventually an academic career. It is a great school and I would definitely consider it for our (still baby) DS in time if we were able to afford it. But I would think very carefully about the fit between child and school. When I was there drug taking (and dealing) in school was rife, supervision was very lax, and the pastoral care was pretty hit and miss. Everything I know about drugs I learned at school - I saw so much less of it at university. (Also the food was appalling, which seems a small point but is actually pretty disgraceful for an expensive boarding school I think.) Combined with intense academic competition this was a destructive environment for some children.
I think if possible it's sensible to speak to recent leavers of a school as well as (or even more than) parents. I certainly did not enlighten my parents about what was going on and I don't imagine anyone else did either.
As far as primary goes, I was at a rubbish private prep and would undoubtedly have been better off socially, emotionally AND educationally at a good local primary. It was drummed into us, for example, that multiplying one number by another always makes it bigger - which obviously works OK for positive whole numbers but sets up a few probs as soon as you start thinking about anything beyond that (e.g. fractions, negative numbers). My mother did loads of extra stuff with us to make up for these shortcomings, which seems a bit crazy when they were paying for the school as well.
kalidasa - At our primary school my DS was taught a method of column addition that only worked for 3 digit numbers.
DS got into trouble one day when the teacher.told him off for not using the taught method. "My mom has a maths degree and she said that this method is stupid".
"silly" maths is not the sole preserve of preps
shhh is right that you need a school where your chid will obtain the best care and attention but with the leading private day schools just about all of them are excellent. Many have small classes (if that matters to you) and most have incredible hobbies available so there is likely to be something for everyone. So I don't think if you have say 6 schools available and they all look after the needs of individual children well that it is wrong to add to your analysis that one gets children to a place where life will be easier (good exam results, full development of hobbies they will enjoy for life etc etc).
Anyway it looks from the thread as if many are happy to pay and plenty are happy with the state system so that's a nice position for everyone to be in - happy largely with what they have found.
I chose primary school for my DC on exactly the basis shhhw suggests on the basis that if they're happy they'll enjoy learning and the rest will take care of itself. No such thing as a leading private day school round here in any event, but the 'academic' side of things didn't feature, or barely at all.
I absolutely agree that talking to parents will rarely lead you to the right choice, firstly because all children are different, all parents have different ideas/expectations and also many are not prepared to be truthful.
The latter point became absolutely apparent in our school when it came to the 11+ for independents, I knew for a fact some had been intensively tutored for 2 or 3 years (they passed us on the tutor's details!) and yet heard them brag in the playground that little Johnny got in with "no tutoring at all". Terrible behaviour really, but quite common I believe.
musical - here on MN I read post from people who go on about how their child sat the 11+ without being tutored. Elsewhere they will go on about their highly ranked prep school. Yup, no tutoring being done there eh?
Some parents aren't truthful to themselves let alone with strangers on the Internet.
DS2 swapped his selective Indy for our local comp for sixth form. I'm really impressed with the comp: impressed with the teaching, impressed with the politeness of the students, impressed with the Oxbridge and careers guidance. The Indy is an excellent school too but I really don't think it's worth paying £15K a year (plus unnecessarily wanky uniform, plus b us fares and other extras) as the educational difference is small so as to be imperceptible.
We are now reviewing our previous definite intention to send our younger two to the same fee paying route as their older brothers. It's all a lovely revelation.
Independent school is a big sales gimmick. My sons' independent school is nothing like its brochure.
Which school is that LittleFrieda?
Sometimes the grounds and buildings are the ONLY constants, Frieda. What is often lacking is the promises about treating dcs as individuals, high standards, and an antibullying policy.
"The Indy is an excellent school too but I really don't think it's worth paying £15K a year (plus unnecessarily wanky uniform, plus b us fares and other extras) as the educational difference is small so as to be imperceptible.
We are now reviewing our previous definite intention to send our younger two to the same fee paying route as their older brothers. It's all a lovely revelation.
Independent school is a big sales gimmick. My sons' independent school is nothing like its brochure."
*LittleFrieda" I've absolutely no doubt you points are valid. But a lot depends on what we as parents and our DC's expect from education I'm not saying my expectations are better than yours just different . Im not just talking about exam results and universities. As someone whose sent their DC's to a boarding school from a relatively young age my expectations are likely to be different I'm looking for something else to those comparing one good independent school with a good state school.
sielinde well in my experience the state sector is not exactly covering itself in glory when it comes to treating children as individuals.
With regard to bullying I cant comment on my DS1 (state comp) effectiveness of their policy as fortunately I've never needed to find out. I do have inside knowledge on two top big name independent schools (not my DS2's one again luckily i've never needed to find out). Frankly I was stunned at how fast and hard they came down on bullying.
I can comment on how boarding schools deal with bullying. They move very, very quickly. Parents just wont put up with it having paid all those fees. My DS's friend was removed from a famous school for mucking around in class and taking too much of an interest in girls (he was 15 btw).
I've seen one or two secondary kids pulled out of posh Cambridge indy schools lately as they were underachieving. The parents got completely fed up shelling out the cash for something they could get in a village college for free. In the event the village college had to provide top up tuition in both cases, so the indy pupils could catch up, and I was really But brave of the parents, I though.
Boffin - are your children going to Hill Road. Its just you mentioned Cambridge and I have a friend raving about Hills Road.....
well, happyg and handcream, that's nice. But I found there was some noise and little action.
Hills Road is a very very good school.
Ds's FE college def. treats him as an individual.
Boffin - People often talk about kids that are pushed to their limits and who scrape in by the skin of their teeth at 11+ time. I suspect that the kids that you've mentioned fall into this category.
Speaking generally it's funny how kids that don't do well at private schools are often held up as examples of how private schools aren't that great. However, private school kids that don't do well at Oxbridge are often held up as examples of how private school kids aren't being properly prepared for higher learning.
In one it's the private schools fault for not being able to turn all their pupils into grade A students. In the other it's not Oxbridge's fault for not being able to turn all their undergrads into First Class Honours students. Instead, it's the private schools fault for not preparing their students properly.
Private schools get the blame regardless <rolls eyes>
"But I found there was some noise and little action."
I don't wish to name the two boarding schools I'm talking about but not only do they make a lot of noise they took immediate and very strong action. i don't think I do know where your DC went but certainly most boarding schools I know take a very dim view of bullying perhaps more than day schools.
I aslo agree with you MTS if children at independent schools don't well its because independent ed is crap. But only this morning I was talking to at teacher at a well regraded localish comp she was explaining to me that pupils who are borderline C for Eng Lang GCSE have literally been told this week that thy wont be entered in for it this June even though they've done the course work etc becasue there poor performance will spoil the schools over all results and position in the league tables.
happy - you mean it's not just private schools that manipulate things in order to look good in performance tables?
I too was shocked MTS everyone knows that only independent schools play those sort of games. As you and I know state schools are positively stuffed with fab teachers who treat each child like an individual, have high expectations for all, the children have a myriad of high quality extra curricular activities; more than any independent school could offer and facilities to die for. Those of us who are paying have been brain washed or we're screaming snobs and social climbers who dont want our children mixing with the hoy paloy (not sure how you spell that) or are too stupid too realise that there is not a scrap of difference.
Oh and let not forget the reason why those who are against independent ed are so vocal is not because they think it's unfair that someone can buy their DC a better education but because they are concerned that we are wasting our money and feel a need to point this out to save us from ourselves.
Sorry, but both my dcs were at boarding/day schools. The prep was a boarding school too. IME, not all independent schools have a proper bullying policy at all. They tend to think a Friday detention and a bawling out will fix it.
Happyg, just to be clear - I never said any of the above stuff you attribute to your opponents. Just that IMHO it's not worth the money. I wish I'd known fifteen years ago what I know now.
I was after all willing to pay out a grand total of 250 k for my dcs until I saw that it wasn't actually benefiting them - and I did pay nearly all of that.... So I'm hardly in a position to play the class card.
By the way, it's 'hoi polloi'. Hoi is just the plural for 'the', and polloi is the plural for people. It's ancient Greek. I hope this isn't taken as rude... I honestly mean it donnishly.
MTS, I can't say more without some serious outing of various people and places but suffice it to say I think these kids were actually overlooked quite badly at the independent schools and that was the root of the problem IMO. I don't think there was a lack of ability there.
sieg -It took you 15 years to realize that you have been getting a sub par product??? You obviously spent 15 years not paying any attention to your children's education.
I'm on the fence in this one. Crap school or uninvolved parent? Not sure who to blame for the underperforming children.
I don't necessarily think that a parent who does not realise that the educaion their child is getting is not as good - or is roughly on a par with - another school down the road (whether that be a private - state or a state - privae comparison) is an uninvolved parent.
It is just, as someone said above, that there is no way of conducting a double-blind trial - and schools (of either colour) do not exactly go around saying 'no, honestly, you'd get much the same down the road': it is in their interests to sell their own establishment.
So IME highly involved parents of children at private primaries / preps have been genuinely surprised when having (for economic reasons or through moving) to move their child to a state school to find that, despite oft-repeated 'they're 2 years ahead of state school pupils' claims, their children have slotted in most cases pretty much into the middle of a state school part [or in one spectacularly egregious case in my own class, straight into the SEN group]. Equally, parents of pupils at 'nice little village primaries' have had a shock at the gaps in their child's education when transferring to local privates at 7 or 11.
Unless, as a parent, you go out of your way to visit a cross-section of schools on a very regular basis, and make in-depth comparisons between work done at different ages (and dig below the surface. Me, in a chat with private school educated dance friend of DD's 'Oooh, that work on the Great Fire of London looks interesting. That bit there on sources mnust have been fun'. Reply 'Oh, we just copied all the writing off the board. It's what we normally do in history. Then we learn it off by heart for the end of year exams.') then it can be genuinely difficult to establish a basis of comparison for your individual child at different schools.
sieglinde thanks for the spelling assistance as soon as I saw the correct version it all came back to me. I wasn't attributing any of my comments to you.
I accept that you've had an unfortunate experience at a boarding school (still curious to know which one) but I've had three very unfortunate experiences in state ed. My DC's have not benefited from it. In fact the longer my DS1 spends in it the more disillusioned I become and the more I thank my lucky stars that DS2 is not at a state school.
My experience of bully policies at boarding schools has been that of complete zero tolerance even those with an impeccable record are dealt with very fast and hard all were at the very least suspended for a significant length of time some were expelled.
teacher well I moved DS1 from a prep to a state school at yr 9 and I'm far from genuinely surprised. I moved him really believing it to be a good school but over time I've found it to be far from that. Just the same old crap that I've found everywhere else.
Happy, I am not suggesting that it is universally true. I am merely saying that comparison between schools without moving a child from one to another, is very difficult - so sending a child to a private school for many years, transferring them to an excellent state school and finding that the difference was not as great as one had been led to believe seems to me not a sign of an uninvolved parent (as MTS claims) just an indication of the difficulty of comparison.
Equally, I moved DS from 1 state school to another. I am sure that, had I moved him to private instead of state, I would have said that the new school being private was the basis for the totally miraculous difference both in the school and in DS. As it happens, it was just that 1 state school was poor, and the other was great (Ofsteds were the same, though...just goes to show).
Teacher - I regularly chat to my DCs about school. What they did today. What homework they have. What questions came up during their end of term exam etc etc. I also ask about their friends. DD's friend is an academic scholar. If DD's test scores are close to hers then I know she is doing well. If her other friend who isn't very academic gets 90% and DD gets 92% then I would want to know why DD didn't get 98%.
I have no idea how they compare to other schools but I do have an idea as to have challenged they are and whether they are coasting.
sieglinde he's garlanded though. Obviously I realise there's a vast amount more to education than A*s (this is the elusive quality that happyclaims and is confident that she's buying). But your/ his experience sounds so downbeat, and miserable really. What was it that was so bad? And how did he come about his garland, if he hated his time? Was that down to your input, with nothing or not much added by the school?
MTS, but that is a 'within school' comparison - which is exactly why comparisons BETWEEN schools is so difficult. The child who transferred to my class, into the SEN group, was near the top of her class at the tiny local private. Her parents had (internal to the school) no cause for concern. Given a different vbasis for comparison - the peer group at the local primary - her performance seemed very different.
Internal comparison CAN be fine, especially if it is in a large secondary , with external exam results to look at. But this thread is about prep / primary, and there the comparisons can be less easy to make, especially within the 'local education market' outside big conurbations.
[I've not yet produced a teenager who talks much about school. How do you squeeze the information out of them?]
teacher - I don't understand why I need to compare my DCs to kids in another school in order to decide whether their current school is failing them. I mean if your DC is still reading a Kipper book in Year 6 then do the alarm bells only go off when you realise that kids in the next school are reading Dickens?
I know that it's a silly example but I don't know how else to make my point.
Xenia - we always eat dinner together. No gadgets allowed at the table and we cancelled Sky years ago
teacher - just to be clear, my comments are in response to sieg's about how she spent 15 years of fees before realising that her school had failed her DCs and nothing else.
Sieg, I don't think that she said it was failing them- just that on transfer to state she found that the umpteen k of money spent had not conferred significant benefit because the state school was just as good. Egregious failure is, I agree, relatively easy to spot. The 'only doing as well in school A as they would in school B, whereas doing better might be expected / might be what is 'sold' by the school' is harder to distinguish.
I mean, would DD - bright, able, school-friendly, level 5s in Year 5 - be doing better at a local private? I don't know. I observe what her peers from other schools are doing informally, but without actually moving her I cannot make a meaningful comparison. Sp she stays where she is, because she is doing very well indeed. If she were in a private, I might assume that she was doing so well because she was in private, and not realise that she could do equally well in a state school with no fees to tell. It is those more subtle comparisons that are harder to make.
teacher - if you read sieg's 9:43am post you will see all the negative things she had to say about her private school.
She isn't saying that she finally saw the light and realised that the free state school was just as good as her good private school and if only she realised this 15 years ago then she could have saved herself a lot of money.
Xeina I find the way to get my kids to talk to me is to spend time with them ergo I work pt.
yellow how can a school provide a "vast amount more to education that A*" " that elusive quality"? How do you know that your DC's get it free yet imply that my DS is either not getting it or is not getting it any more than your DC's?
Talkin I happen to know that my DS can't do equally well in the state sector or for that matter in many independent schools because I asked them exactly what they offer gifted mathematician (according to the report which I can't find thus can't give you the exact figures but it was at least 1 in 10 000 if not higher general IQ 1 in 500). The bottom line is that they don't offer anything to the level of provision he's currently getting. As I've said before I don't want to pay, I struggle to pay I would love nothing more than to send him to the local school which he can walk to across the field and still receive the same level of education and the same opportunities.
happy my comment was addressed to sieglinde and was not about either your school or mine, nor did I make a comparison.
That said, since I'm in the fairly unusual position of having had seven DC going through a single secondary school (four having recently left Y13, two in the Sixth Form and one lower down), I have a very good grasp of exactly what it is that that school provides. The fact that it's a day school probably means I'm that much more in touch too.
I love how private schools manage to be both a waste of money and an unfair advanatage. Quite a trick that!
I love how parents who are against elitist schools are so proud that their non elitist secondary school DCs got into the even more elitist beast that is Oxbridge.
.... apparently elitism is bad if you can't afford to be part of the elite. However elitism is good if you can 'buy' it with a student loan.
word Yes I like that trick too. I've got no problem with those who feel aggrieved that independent ed offers an fair advantage because in many cases it does and it for me an answerable ethical dilemma. It's the people who categorically state that there is no difference that baffled me. yellow you rightly claim knowledge of state ed having put 7 through recently but where does your knowledge of independent ed come from? How many of your 7 children spent 5 years at Westminster Eton St Paul's Girls/Boys Winchester et al to enable you to speak with such certainty about the quality and breadth of the education provided?
MTS if that comment is directed at me I don't know where it's come from, and it's silly. I've made no anti private school comments on this thread, or anywhere. I'm in favour of good education however it's delivered so I'm not in the least against good private schools. I'm a bit more dubious about the value of the second raters though, and do have a strong antipathy towards the arrogance which is sometimes bred purely from having attended a second rate fee paying school. Other than that, I'm absolutely fine with independent schools. I really don't have an issue with Oxford and Cambridge either; it's not like I had to grease anyone's palm.
happy I'm not going to engage on this one again, since it's entirely whipped up by you. I haven't dissed any of those schools you mention, nor would I: they're extremely good schools. I think you're imagining I've said something here that I haven't.
Ultimately though it is all down to affordability and how much of a sacrifice it is to send them private.
I mean if you were a millionaire, you would just send them private because even if the advantage was 1%, you might as well "buy" it for your children.
If it means a degree of personal and family sacrifice - from the no holiday/no new clothes/no car brigade to the more extreme cases of working all hours and re-mortgaging your home - then my answer is a resounding NO.
Not so much because of the merits of the individual school or sector, but because I think that puts too much pressure on the family but most importantly on that child. Any child in any school could fail, not do too well for so many reasons, and if you've sacrificed so much you won't help but resent that child in a terrible way.
I have personal experience of families whose children have done ok but who have put themselves under huge financial pressure and they have served me a very sound lesson in this respect. To a certain degree you ought to always be a little selfish and not sacrifice everything for someone, even your own children.
As I final point, I think we do focus too much on Oxbridge and Russell Group, life doesn't grind to a halt even if your child doesn't get all As or a First from Oxbridge. In the UK there are so many opportunities (still) to do well, yes maybe they won't be off to do Medicine or Law, but there are a huge multitude of other avenues open, even in today's difficult economic climate.
PS just as an example I had a friend of the family hosted with me a few years ago from my home country who did a degree in Politics at an ex-Poly and since then she has done extremely well in various commercial positions and is now on the higher tax band although she is still only in her 20s. Hard work and ambition can take you very far!!
I agree with m5 that there are plenty of ways to skin a cat. it may be with some careers accent and clothes help you so just get them watching youtube elocution videos for example which could cost you nothing or whatever else the element is that might confer some advantage in getting a good job.
[Talking teenagers: I spend quite a bit of time with the boys, am here when they get home most days, but they are pretty silent. I drive them to school every day. I am laughing because it's like living with Trappist monks at times, which is not unpleasant but I never get a detailed description about the day]
Yellow - My comment wasn't directed at you
Wherever there are threads about private education there are invariably posters who go on about how they are against selective/private schools because they are elitist. They then go on about how their DC got to Oxbridge via the comp route.
My comments was directed at these parents.
Thanks for that MTS although I have to say it's quite a slim argument to use against those parents. All they're saying is that they got into one or other university without any obvious prior advantage. Anyhow, we're mixing elites here a bit. Some people are fine with educational elites.
Great thread OP - I am currently looking at options for DD and struggling as there seems to be only one primary which scored 'Good' in the latest Ofsted... It is our local one but a new development was built at the top of my road with 200+ houses/flats and I am now worried it will be over subscribed in a couple of years time. So far no plans for a new school locally. Only other option is private junior with the idea she would stand a better chance of getting into a grammar. I want her to go to a grammar if possible, but looking at the prep/private juniors on line they all get around 96% 11+ passes, which surely can't leave much room for the state schools?
(If anyone can advise in more detail about Canterbury area that would be greatly appreciated - hijack alert!)
"this is the elusive quality that happyclaims and is confident that she's buying"
yellow The implication of this comment is that you dont believe that I'm getting this "elusive quality or maybe I'm misinterpreting you. You have also stated on this thread or others i cant be bothered to look through it that you firmly believe that indepednent ed is a waste of money and that everything that is provided by second rate school (I niotice you're downgrade) is available in the state sector. But you don't have children in independent ed. whether they be the top 20 or the bottom 20 so you don't actually know what is provided. You've stated that as a day parent you are more aware of what goes on (i doubt this but lets not argue over that point) but being a day parent at a state school does mean that you know what is going on at a independent boarding school or for that matter at a independent day school. IME also extensive experience of schools whether they be independent or state you don't actually know whats going on until your actually in the school, you can read the websites, do the open days, listen to friends who have children there or even those who don't but have lots of anecdotal stories to tell you but its not till you actually walk through the door and your DC is in the school do you actually know. Many parents in both sectors are surprisingly ignorant of what goes on even when their DC's are there, teenagers are often reluctant yo give feed back, and they trust schools to deliver what that clearly state they will.
yellow in your experience state ed met your expectations which I've already said are probably different to mine especially as your DC's are likely to be different to mine. I think thats great I only wish I could say the same. IME state ed has never met my expectations. I am not alone this morning walking my dogs I'll probably meet 5 other mothers at a conservative guess at least one of those will voice concerns about her state school. I work in 6 different counties (because of our location these are primarily affluent areas) and three large cites I meet probably three thousand people a year not only do i meet patents who are concerned about their state schools many of of my colleagues from professionals to unskilled manual workers express similar concerns. These are not all white pushy MC parents with super bright children but working class parents, black parents Polish parents parents with children with SEN (they really are stuffed) or just average people I here the same story over and over again they feel that their DC's are just not getting a good enough education nearly all say if they had the money they would pay.
More worryingly I've recently met two teachers when walking my dogs and the example I gave above is not a one off incident they too are increasingly disillusioned with state ed.
By contrast when I meet parents at my DC's school all I have met seem genuinely pleased with it Im not saying there are some who aren't but I've never met them.
My DH works for multi millionaires he was talking once to one of the richest men in the world about the effects of the recession. On asking whether or not multimillionaires would still spend their money the reply was "of course we will but we're just going to be more certain that we're getting what we're paying for." There will always be some who stump up large sums of money without asking what they are buying whether it's super yachts, designer lighting/drapes or education but most people who have the kind of money to put 2-3 children through independent boarding schools are pretty shrewd and will IME not tolerate the wool being pulled over their eyes.
I suspect most children from state schools who get into Oxbridge do have some kind of prior advantage - at the least a high IQ but probably also a school which is supportive or helpful parents or lack of illness or ability to work hard or even in some cases such an awful homelife that that is the "advantage" they have which causes them to work hard and get in.
I don't think we can hermetically seal paid for education into some kind of special bubble and say it is more pernicious than having hard working parents whose example you emulate or parents who read to you.
I can't really be bothered with this happy except to say a) you're reading a meaning into my sentence which isn't there and b) I strongly object to you imputing to me a 'firm belief' that independent ed is a waste of money since I don't even havethat belief, let alone a firm one. The highest I'd put it is that if I chose to pay I would only want my DC to go to the most selective schools, not the middling ones because I do have quite a strong dislike of the arrogance which too many of those schools seem to breed. But I like the sort of education the best in the sector provides. Which I'm pretty confident my school also provides.
I happen to be very lucky geographically and in terms of having a superselective on my doorstep (without downshifting) and kids who were able to pass the test. I'm very conscious of that. And I'm not so dim as to say that therefore state ed is uniformly excellent, because it quite clearly is not. But then neither are some of the very flaky schools to be found in the private sector. I also don't feel an overweening need to 'prove' that my school is 'better' than yours and I wonder what insecurity is borne of your school that you constantly feel to need to assert primacy. It's just absurd.
Yellow - why is it a slim argument?
My niece, for reasons I still don't understand, did badly in her A levels (BCD). She failed to meet her RG offer and had to go through clearing. She graduated from a reputable former poly with a First but found that the companies that offered training contracts would only look at Oxbridge/RG graduates.
Don't get me wrong. If I was HR and I had 500 DCs for 20 jobs then the most obvious starting point is to shortlist by degree classification and uni attended.
I am merely making the point that elitism seems to be bad between ages of 4 to 18 but ok from 18 to 21. It becomes bad again if the choice jobs go to Oxbridge grads instead of (general) your RG DC.
I think it's slim because you're conflating social elitism not based on any particular merit with educational elitism based in very large part on merit.
For the same reason, it makes economic sense to recruit from the best universities, although I agree that it would be good for exceptional other applicants to have a look in. Unfortunately for those in your niece's position the job market is currently flooded with applicants with excellent degrees from excellent universities, so it's brutal out there. I feel for her though; exams can quite easily go wrong and that sets off a miserable chain of events from which it's possible not to recover.
Yellow- I must admit I shared your mistrust of lower tier private schools until DD started in one. I had wanted her to take up a place at an academic girls school or the nearest GS. But she was adamant and I was pursuaded to give it a go. And by god have I been proved wrong! Worth every penny. If I had a girl with low ability I'd cheerfully sell a kidney for a place.
My friend moved to be in the catchment of a highly ranked state school in Surrey. Our houses are roughly the same spec but theirs cosr about £350k more.
I'm sorry to disappoint you yellow but i don't feel in the least bit insecure about my choice of school. I'd be the first to admit that I have felt insecure about other schools in both sectors that my Dc's have attended but not at the moment. I have also repeatedly stated that I don't believe all independent schools are 1 st class or nor am I against state ed. What I object to is people making statement about independent ed, the children who attend these schools and their parents that are completely erroneous. When I see these comments I feel a need to dispute them. That too you may come across as arrogant but I find these comment (not just made by you) as offensive and often based in prejudice or anecdotal evidence few are based on genuine experience. You like me are quick to comment on similar comments made about state ed.
Pressed Post too soon.
We on the other hand chose to go private.
Hopefully our respective DCs will meet up. at Oxbridge in x years. In the mean time I struggle to understand how mine would have got there because of rich parents buying an premium education for their kids where as my friends kids got in on merit
£350k more. More than the cost of a top boarding schools fees!
The points about highly selective (1st tier?) private schools vs middling to crap ones is really interesting and exactly what I'm concerned about. If we are going to be paying between 20 and 60 thousand pounds (!) per year for the next millennium, give or take a few years, for two children, we want to be absolutely sure that the schools we have chosen are giving the biggest return on that investment - in terms of academics, extra-curricular activities, pastoral care and in essence the best chance to grow into the best people DS and DD are capable of being. By that I mean happy, balanced, caring, achieving their potential, curious etc NOT necessarily one of the 18A*s, double starred 1st in particle physics from Oxford and a PhD from Harvard crew. What I want to avoid is sending the children to a series of very expensive "comprehensives" when the provision is no better than the school down the road. Someone mentioned this further up and I absolutely agree - independent education wasn't something my parents considered as optional, it was just the done thing, whereas for us and I suspect many of our generation it is not unthinkable to put the children through Hill House/Newton/Dragon/Eton/Westminster/CLC blah blah but requires careful consideration of what exactly one gets for what is actually a massive amount of money. Hence my neurotic posting!
Happy - I don't find the comments 'offensive'. However, I do privately roll my eyes at the prejudice. Occasionally it's accompanied by a loud tut.
Here are some of my favourites.
I want my kids to go to a school with a diverse cohort. As if there is lot of diversity in their predominantly white MC village school.
I don't want to mix with a bunch of snooty mums. No chance of meeting bitchy mums at the school gate of your state school eh?
I don't want my kids to become entitled. Too late. The mobile phone, Xbox and the Hollister/Jack Wills tops has already made your teenagers feel entitled.
I do not believe in buying an premium education for my DCs. You paid how much to be next door to your highly ranked state school?
Xenia [I've not yet produced a teenager who talks much about school. How do you squeeze the information out of them?]
This. My kids never stop talking about the stuff that interests them (or, at the moment in DD1's case, the stuff she is revising. Why she thinks that telling me all I (never) wanted to know about earthquakes is any help at all given that I didn't do geography and I have no idea whether she is telling me accurate information or made up gobgoo I do not know) but it's like getting water out of a hen's tooth to get any info out of any of them at all about actual school. Although since I adopted their policy of answering every question (such as 'what is for dinner') with 'I d'know' they have got a little better.
You make a good point about advantage. On the face of it I was very disadvantaged, but ultimately, the most important thing for me was having parents who loved me, and parents and teachers who believed in me. I also had some really good friends, a couple of whom were really quite posh, so their aspirations/attitudes were probably a factor too.
Like Yellow, I have no problem at all with academic elitism. The problem that some of us have on these threads is not the existence of such bastions of excellence as WinColl but the arrogance of the parents who send their kids there and then say such things as 'my children aren't like yours' or 'I want different things from education than you do' implying that the different thing isn't privilege additional to that bestowed by being rich and brainy (which surely should be enough?) when of course, it is.
Xenia why are you so obsessed with accent? Is this a northern thing? Times have changed and people really don't mind regional accents in the City any more, you know. Accent and being able to speak articulately and grammatically are of course not at all the same thing. Mind you, I firmly believe that some people are kidding themselves if they think they speak articulately based on some of the events I've attended and participated in this week. That is something that the really posh schools do excellently well, although I think they sometimes miss the mark with their less bright kids who can be prone to bluster. But for the bright ones (ie most of them), the confidence in speaking situations is noticeable and it is something I really admire about both posh school education in this country and also the US education system.
Oh, and Xenia - part of me thinks/would like to think you aren't being serious about the working vs stay at home mothers stuff? Have you stopped to consider that not everyone wants to work in finance (which is the industry in which I assume you work?), regardless of whether or not they are capable? I say this as someone who does work in this field - I spent my 20s working until 3am in the City and being sent home in taxis on expenses. I'm not sure I'd do it again if I was given the chance. In fact, I'd probably become a harp teacher, and and go live on a small holding while home educating DTs and living off our homegrown apples
Russian - here on MN and in the Real World I often feel that my children aren't like the children of the people that I am engaging. So guilty as charged.
Apparently some parents think that my kids are going to burn out from the academic pressure. Why? Because their kids wouldn't be able to handle it. And since their kids are really bright neither can mine .
Sorry very belatedly I want to say how sensible and eloquent Teacher's posts are. You will never know. None of us will ever know. Comparisons even within the same school with different children are meaningless. I think what we can all agree on is that we want our children to be happy and reach their potential, via whatever route. What sometimes irks both sides on these threads is an implication that those that don't use state/private don't want that.
I'm also with Teacher in that I do get irritated by the 'private primaries are two years ahead' (not said by anyone on this thread I hasten to add). I would say that the average child at a private primary is ahead of the average child at a state school. However, a more valid comparison would be between the average child at private primary and the average non-SEN, well-supported child at state. Then the difference might be negligible. My son, like Teacher's, is couple of years 'ahead' (i.e. good level 4s in yr4). Would he be further ahead at private? Who knows, but I'm happy with his progress which seems unhindered by the broad range of abilities in his class. Possibly even encouraged by this broad range.
I also think there can be a conflation between the very top schools (e.g. Winchester) and the average private school. I suspect that some of the very best (usually boys') schools are worth paying for if you've the money. But the gulf between these and the average private is far wider than the gulf between private and state.
So OP, your children will probably be fine wherever. Just make your decision and try to be happy with it and never wonder 'what if'.
IHideVegInRice - can't you just do a list of what experiences you would like to be offered to your children as they go through primary/prep school and then see whether that actually will be offered by the schools you are considering, or by a combination of the schools plus activities and experiences outside of school (which you will have time to organise and co-ordinate and which are available to the general public where you live) and with you as parents? It's not as if school is the only thing that will happen to your children when they are of primary school age...
happy you can't possibly know what people here know or how they know it unless they choose to explain. But you can't really assume ignorance unless what they say purports to be factual and is self-evidently tosh.
Russians I love it when happy tells me my DC must be different from hers and that I want different things from her. It's very funny
But MTS, I think that saying that in a patronising way to others when you may have no idea of the merits, demerits, skills, or deficiencies of their kids, is to say the least, unwise.
My children are all 2E so it seems reasonable to assume that they aren't like most other posters' children on MN, they are certainly not like most peoples kids in the real world. And in some ways that's good, in some ways that's bad. But I wouldn't usually say to another person 'my kids aren't like yours' in either a boasty (as in the cases we normally see on MN) or whiney way. Because what's the point - very few of us know much about other peoples' kids in reality, even people we have been acquainted with through the education system for years.
And I expect we will now get about 10 other people saying that their kids are 2E too (you have to or you'd cry, some days)
'my children aren't like yours' or 'I want different things from education than you do'
My DC's are not like your neither is my DH or my DM or my chosen breed dogs or my chosen breed of horses you would probably hate the last two. This is a fact not once have I said any of them are better in fact I believe I've gone out of my to repeatedly state that we are all entitled to our own personal choices,. There are people out there who believe Steiner education is the best and actually Im not totally against it they will give you all sorts of reason as to why its best. I met a fascinating and exceedingly committed group of home eders they too were utterly convinced that there approach to education was the best they have no time for either sector. Both these groups will tell you that their individual DC's are not like mine or yours and in the case of the home eders they were right but like me they never said their DC's were better than mine or yours. They will also tell you that they have different expectations of education from you or me again not necessarily better. Is having a strongly held belief arrogant. I don't think so. I met these home eders and not once did I think they were arrogant. I didn't agree with them there hostility to any formal schools was palpable but I still would never label them up as arrogant. They had a vision of how they thought education should be and they were pursuing it and exceedingly successfully at that including Oxbridge entry. Best of luck to them but I m not about to join them.
We are all entitled to our views we all see things differently and we all have different expectations whether its holidays films education or restaurants. That is what makes human beings so interesting.
AS far as I'm aware MN is a debating form we are all free to brings our views to the table its seems a a shame that when people make comments others don't like some resort to personal accusations of arrogance.
Is 2E their shoe size? Or is it supposed to mean something else???
think it means doubly exceptional.
'twice exceptional' gives me rage.
Some parents do want different things for their DCs.
I would like my DCs to go to Oxbridge, graduate and get a high flying (well paid) job. Not all parents want this for their DCs. So I don't understand why thinking it or saying it makes me arrogant or patronising.
It'd probably give you more 'rage' if you had kids who fitted that category. FFS. Rage doesn't eve begin to cover it actually. But thanks for your contribution.
Yellow not just dyspraxia, 2E means top 1% or higher on IQ but also SEN conditions or conditions such as AS, ADHD etc. My kids are all in that bracket on IQ but have a variety of (in some cases quite extreme) SEN issues including but not limited to dyspraxia, dyslexia and AS.
My point in mentioning this was that I don't habitually go round saying 'my kids are different to yours' to people I don't know. Or even to people I do know. Although there are several people very happy to tell me their kids are different to mine.
I certainly wasn't inviting snidey comments and I wish I hadn't mentioned it now.
happy - my friend is going to have the last laugh. At the end of it all they will still have their desirable house whereas we will have nothing tangible to show for x years of fees. Coupled to this, my DCs will carry the "stigma" of being a couple of privileged adults who achieved what they did because their parents money
happy it's quite exceptionally arrogant of you to infer so obviously that your DS is so much brighter than everyone else's child and that other parents can never aspire to wanting the same sort of education that Winchester provides. You really don't get it, do you?
Obviously your DS may be significantly clever than each and every one of my DC but in fact I do want that sort of education for my DC, broadly, but less the fees and less the boarding, since I haven't had an extra £150k net pa to shell out and also, more importantly, I like them at home.
I knew what 2E meant; I thought in the case of your all your DCs the second E was dyspraxia. Sorry.
Yellow nothing for you to apologise about at all. I'm feeling somewhat depressed today, DD2 is having quite a challenging week.
No, it gives me rage because my son fits that category, and I don't see that it's a helpful term to use, even among friends, because it sounds very entitled.
I haven't read the whole thread I'm afraid but sent my son to a London prep from age 4, he is now at St Paul's in the lower 6th. Every boy there in his year attended a prep school from age 9 at least. Although the prep experience was lovely in the early years, with hindsight I would have waited 3 or 4 years, saved the money and sent him at age 8.
Russians - you say your children have high IQs. Are these universally high, iyswim? I have a child with an exceptionally good verbal IQ (100th centile) who measured a full 50 points lower in his performance IQ. Not diagnosed dyspraxic (probably because he has a phenomenally good memory so can learn physical actions by rote, which is not a common feature in dyspraxics!), but it certainly indicates that he is both exceptional and learning disabled at the same time. He is doing extremely well academically at the moment, but when younger had to be taught how to roll over, crawl, pull to stand, walk, dress himself, etc, and I suspect will not be the most organised secondary school child. Not to mention the effort he has had to put in to fight against his hypermobility and low muscle tone. Doesn't that make him "twice exceptional"? And is it similar to any of your children? Because I'm not really sure at this stage how to prepare him for secondary school, because his particular IQ profile appears to be rather unusual... so if I ever found anyone with children anything like him, it would be nice to talk!
It doesn't sound entitled at all (well - it sounds odd which is why I don't use it which was the point I was making. I could really say, with reams of documented diagnostic justification, that my kids are different to most peoples kids. But I don't.). For anyone who knows what they are talking about it just sounds sad. Which is what it is. It also sounds disenfranchised the way things are now with SEN provision, as you should know.
DH refers to it as 2F though. Twice fucked. He's not wrong.
rabbit he sounds very like two of my kids (the girls). My son isn't dyspraxic but has other SEN issues, some of which have areas of overlap with dyspraxia. And yes - massive differences across the different categories. Neither of my girls could crawl (and neither could I) urban rumour has it that this is an early marker for dyspraxia (not necessarily for IQ) but, who knows. My sample of 3 of us is hardly representative!
(ps obviously wasn't actually 100th centile, but about as close as you can get - could they have got the test wrong? He certainly couldn't get very far in the block design test, so no way was his performance IQ going to be great!).
A lot of people have things they are good at and others not -I think for fitting things together my IQ is probably very low indeed and if you're fairly bright over all you work around it as suggested above. My older one has mild dyslexia but would never send anything out without loads of spell checking etc. and of course it's not terribly bad so did not significantly hold her back.
I have worked with very dyslexic or disorganised business people who can work around it but they often do need a great secretary or organiser or in bigger companies hire organised accountants and others to make their good ideas work and to follow through.
Happygardening - why has Win College produced so few notable alumni in recent years, relative to other big-name private schools? This doesn't make it a bad school but one would have thought notoriety was a non-coincidental by-product of success.
Somewhere like Eton attracts the self confident, who are more likely to make themselves notorious.
There are plenty of successful Winchester alumni, they just aren't so in your face.
There are no Wykehamists in the cabinet, for example.
Winchester is a school for nerdy types. Scientists and accountants, not politicians.
My DS maybe cleverer than yours DC's yellow then again he might not this is not a competition but a debating forum but I don't think this means he's a "better" person (obviously as his mother to me he's wonderful but that a different kind of best). I personally am not shallow enough to judge how good a person is by his level of intelligence. The most difficult person I know went to Oxbridge at 15 he might be super super bright but he's made a rotten husband and father. On the other hand one of the most devoted father you could ever meet was caring for a severely disabled child was himself disabled with an IQ of 80.
LittleFrieda one of the reasons we choose Winchester was that "notoriety" is not something I wouldn't want to inflict on my worst enemy let alone my children and as for being in the cabinet I'd rather send them to a state school than send then to a school that turned them in politicians. I'm not sending him to Win Coll so that he will be "successful" in later life I'm sending him for the type of education they offer which I hoped and now know he will enjoy and make him happy today not successful in 10-20 years time. This is my individual expectation of education and it may not be yours and neither of us expectations are better but providing neither of us are actually abusing our children to get the education we want them to have does it matter if we all want something slightly different. Some believe this makes me sound arrogant maybe it does but at the end of the day I actually don't care what people I don't know think it's the people who do know me that matter. In fact many much to my surprise most believe I'm rather self effacing.
I haven't read the thread at all but I have DS1 in Yr 2 at a mixed private prep (he did Reception and Yr 1 in a London primary rated good by Ofsted and then we moved out of London) and DS2 in reception at a tiny, lovely local primary (also rated Good by Ofsted - DS2 got a place there and DS1 didn't).
The only big difference I can see in the quality of education is when it comes to sport. The private school has its pupils doing far more physical activity and a far broader range of sports. The sports facilities at the two schools bear no comparison - the private school has acres of sports fields and a dedicated sports hall and a whole culture of Wednesday afternoon matches against other local prep schools. DS2's school has a concrete playground and a grass football pitch and the onus is on parents to sign their DCs up for after-school activities if they want more sport. DS1 does some kind of timetabled physical activity 4 days a week, DS2 did 1 PE session per week but has just gone up to 2 days this term as they've started swimming.
There is also a sort of assuredness/cockiness (depending on how you see it) in pupils in DS1's school. I kind of prefer the kids at DS2's school - they seem to spend more time just being children than some (but not all to be fair) of the kids at DS1's school who are busy over-achieving and crowing about it.
The food sounds better at the private school too! Other than that, we're delighted with both schools.
Oh I assumed that it was the fact of his brilliance that made him different from all these other DC happy, sorry. Yes, that's what I look for from education too.
Clearly things have moved on - well, up to a point.
I'd be the last to deny that I should have spotted the problems earlier in DS's case. A warning, though - because he knew the fees were a struggle for us, he was MORE tongue-tied about the problems he saw. In DD's case, we did spot them early, primed by DS. Bullied kids are often ashamed of it and imagine the parents will side with the bullies. As for the disorder, unfortunately most kids think of whatever they are used to as 'normal', so DS only once said, mummy, the computers have all been broken again so I couldn't email you or do my prep.
FWIW, we went to visit Winchester with DS, who quite liked it, but really didn't want to board. Even if he'd got a bursary it would have been a giant mistake for DS - he's dyspraxic, borderline Aspergers, and subject to panic attacks, which I'm afraid I think are the result of some of his prep school experiences. However, I liked the master of School House and I think more confident boys could easily flourish there.
Not Eton, though. DS went there for music lessons for four years, so I spent an hour a week watching the boys interact. A privilege offered to few. Ack.
Happy, if you message me I will disclose where DS did go, provided you promise not to share the message...
OP, it depends on the school, it depends on the child.
And re the second part of your question, it depends on the 'highly ranked public schools' you think you (and hopefully your dc) may be keen on.
I'm not sure personal experience is going to be of much help to you here, but fwiw my neice went to local village school, then a state secondary, then Oxford and is now doing a PhD at Oxford. Her brother went to the same schools, then Bristol.
My brother went to a very well known prep school, then to London. My sister and I went to small Montessori school, then small private secondary, then Oxford (sister) and London (me).
So IME, prep/primary and state/indie don't necessarily make any difference whatsoever. BUT that depends on the individual school (and family/child, probably).
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.