Pre-Prep - builds foundations or complete waste of money?

(64 Posts)
Phoenix78 Mon 27-May-13 13:29:09

I'd be interested in people's views on this as I am undecided.

I know from my own experience that I barely remember by pre-prep days other than winning an award for a poetry reading and learning how to count in French. I believe the main positive influences in shaping my character, aspirations and willingness to work hard came from prep school.

I wondered how many felt that education at ages 4 to 6/7 were key years in determining a child's blueprint.

How important is it to you and why?


amazingmumof6 Mon 27-May-13 17:29:03

yes, education at any age is important.

what are you undecided on?

are you asking if it is worth spending money on tuition after school hours?
or extra lessons like sport or music? or swimming?

not sure what your question is

scaevola Mon 27-May-13 17:35:48

If you're a Jesuit, they're the key years!

And they may be formative of attitude to school (true of any school - positive or negative experiences are decided by quality, not method of funding).

Phoenix78 Mon 27-May-13 17:47:52

The question, in a nutshell, is whether you believe it's worth spending out on school fees between the ages of 4 to 7

Bonsoir Mon 27-May-13 17:50:12

It is nearly always better for children to remain as far as possible within a coherent school system that progresses in a logical fashion from year to year. So if you want your DC to go to prep school, pre-prep will make that easier for them.

Hulababy Mon 27-May-13 17:56:57

DD has been in an independent school from age 4y. Hers goes up to 11y, so this is her last year, equivalent of Y6, and she leaves for high school in the summer.

Do I think it has been worth it? Well yes. She has loved school, every bit of it. She has a school of friends, she knows her teachers well. She is quietly confident and had a lot of very positive experiences. She's not restricted by the NC constraints and the joy of SATs.

Would she have got most, if not all of this, from a non fee paying school? Yes, quite probably she would have. She wouldn't have had the small classes, so her confidence (quiet confidence, not arrogant confidence btw) may or may not have been affected I guess, and her slight dyslexic types issues wouldn't have been picked up on I doubt, definitely wouldn't have had support for it ime, but we'd have still supported that aspect.

But for us it wasn't about that anyway. We didn't chose the school for extra French or whatever. We just chose the school which felt right for her and us at the time, having visited 5 or 6 schools, in both sectors. She is happy and loves learning.

Hulababy Mon 27-May-13 17:57:59

We also didn't want to move DD from school to school, and wanted her to be in the same school for the whole of her primary education, and to remain with the same friends. She will also move up to high school with the majority of her class too.

Phoenix78 Mon 27-May-13 18:09:22

Thanks for the replies.

Hulababy - when you say 'high school' do you mean independant or state secondary?

Hulababy Mon 27-May-13 18:12:44

DD is going on to an independent high school. About 60-70% of her class are, others state. Again before deciding we looked into all our options and chose which worked best for DD and us.

Before DD going to an independent school DH and myself had no experience of them at all as we both went to our local state schools, and I have always taught in state schools.

Bonsoir Mon 27-May-13 18:39:44

I think it is better if DC have continuity up to age 11/13 and don't change school/peer group unless it is absolutely necessary. Thereafter, I think it is important to take their personality, talents and interests (that should hopefully have emerged by then) into account and to choose a school accordingly rather than keeping them with their friends as first priority.

amazingmumof6 Mon 27-May-13 21:08:05

ok, , sorry, I didn't know what pre-prep was! I take it it means private primary education.

a close friend sent her daughter to a private school at the age of 4.
It cost a fortune and turned out to be a huge mistake, because when she went to a state school for year 3 she was way behind every one else from a local (brilliant) state infant school!

the parents regretted their choice. They always knew they couldn't afford private education beyond infants level, but they sent her to the same school where her father went for the sake of it.

I can't afford private so no choice here, but if I could I would choose state through infant and junior levels, pay for extra tutoring if I felt the need, then send them to private.

I hope this answers your question better.

teacherwith2kids Mon 27-May-13 21:32:41


To be honest, the primary influence on a child's work ethic, character, aspirations and attitude to school are you, the parents.

I speak as someone whose siblings (for reasons I won't go into here) went through educational paths from very academic private school, state ex-secondary modern followed by private 6th form, to state (just) ex-secondary modern [last SM intake still in the school when sibling started] followed by state 6th form college ...and all went to Oxbridge to get very good deegrees including further degrees.

Why? Because our parents went to Oxbridge, and expected it of us - and to a certain extent, knew how to get there enough to ensure that none of the barriers indifferent schooling may have put in our way were insurmountable.

Whether pre-prep is worth it depends on a) the pre-prep in question (do not, as a previous poster has so eloquently pointed out, assume that academic standards are higher just because a school charges fees), b) the state alternatives and c) your ability and willingness to do some of the educational legwork (e.g. reading to / with your child every night) yourself.

Pre-preps, in my experience, are more formal than the same years at a state school. Reception, to a parent expecting school to mean rows of desks and an omnipotent teacher at the front, looks particularly alien - despite being an absolutely fantastic educational environment. if you knwo that you want an education for your children that 'looks like your own', then a pre-prep is more likely to provide it. It may not be better than the education provided in the state school next door, but it will be more amiliear to you. If you are willing to be a little more open-minded, and if your local state schools are good, then those may be a more lively educational environment.

it also depends on the selectivity of the next school - for highly-selective prep schools, a pre-prep that offers several years of coaching for the entrance tests may be a good investment (though it is interesting that an acquaintance of mine is FUMING because several state school pupils have got in to their chosen prep school and her child - from a private school - has not. 'I paid money, my child should get the place').

Hulababy Mon 27-May-13 22:20:14

Certainly at preprep level DD's school was still very much more relaxed. There were/are no rows of seats facing a teachers desk. In reception there is still a lot of free flow or continuous provision, also making use of the facilities in the pre school in the room next door. They do some whole class and small group learning activities, and whole class is easier as half the number of children than in state, but tbh they don't do much more compared to the reception classes at my school or the one my godson goes to. Due to class size there is much more 1:1 reading ime, but still some group guided reading type too. Y1/2 again - still quite flexible, have small role play areas, groups of tables, not rows. More academic work than reception and more structured, but still topic based and lots of hands on learning.

DD's is a fairly academic school but preprep remains flexible and informal.

HabbaDabba Tue 28-May-13 00:52:54

Speaking as a parent that went the primary » indie secondary route, the pre prep route isn't my idea of money well spent.

I wouldn't call it a waste of money since you usually get smaller class sizes, better facilities etc but a pre prep offers nothing of significance that you as an involved parent can't provide yourself.

wordfactory Tue 28-May-13 08:09:46

We used private education from the start and yes, I would say it was well worth the money because the classes were small and the resources wonderful.

It was particularly nice that the DC had access to so much green outdoor space...

That said, if money were tight, I'm sure the local primary/together with parents would do a similar job on the basics.

It's at 7/8 I think the real business of a decent prep school kicks in!

QTPie Tue 28-May-13 17:05:06

DS is at an excellent school that happens to be a pre-prep. Because we have gone private, we have chosen the school and have not been subject to the LEA lottery....

Will DS (3) go to Oxbridge and become a brain surgeon? Who knows?! But he is certainly getting a great education and having a lot of fun: enjoying learning is a great gift smile

(We are very lucky to be able to afford it)

Phoenix78 Tue 28-May-13 20:05:45

Thank you to everyone for your views especially Teacherwith2kids for such wonderful thoughtful responses.

Our local primary is ofsted 'outstanding' and has 50% level 5 attainment for key stage 2 results which I think is pretty good from what I've read - happy to be corrected!

ReallyTired England Thu 30-May-13 22:25:08

I think a lot depends on what you are looking for in a school. State schools are very play based in the early years and sometimes more able children are not challenged. Private schools often offer better wrap around care and have subjects like French taught by a proper French teacher, smaller classes, better sport, fewer distruptive children.

However private and state schools vary a lot in quality. Some private primaries offer little more than the average state school.

The big divide really comes at prep school stage (ie state juniors) when children have specialist teachers for science, PE, music etc. Having better facilites like science laboratories or a computer room help academic progress.

In a selective school the curriculum can move at the speed of the children's intelligence. Many private schools do not bother with SATs and can progress faster than the national curriculum.

State school primaries often have children working at level 2 and level 6 in the same lesson. (Although there are different tables, the differentiation is a real challenge when teaching a class of 30) There are outstanding schools that do manage to differentiate well.

"Our local primary is ofsted 'outstanding' and has 50% level 5 attainment for key stage 2 results which I think is pretty good from what I've read - happy to be corrected!"

In that case a private school may give your child nothing extra.

happygardening Fri 31-May-13 09:09:09

My DS didn't start independent education until he went to a boarding prep in yr 3. Between reception an yr 3 he attended well regarded and quaint but completely useless rural primary schools. Most of his classmates had attended pre preps (some very pushy) and all had learnt an MFL from reception. It didn't make a scrap of difference on his day to day classroom work or his achievements at 13 which is ultimately what one sends them to a prep school for.
IMO the juries out on paying for a prep i suspect if you want you DC prepared for a scholarship into a super selective at 13 then your going to have to down the prep school route by yr 5 unless you live in a multilingual house and someones got oodles of time to provide a very broad curriculum out of school but certainly by yr 7 unless you plan to home tutor, for those aiming for a super selective at 13 but not a scholarship you might get away with entering a prep at yr 7 again providing you've put in some leg work. For the selective and definitely the not very/non selective you can probably get into many independent schools at 13 from a state school with a bit of extra work outside school.
What I haven't factored in is all the other stuff that you get in a good prep obviously specialised teachers smaller classes loads of extra curricular music is usually significantly better art and games etc are often taught by specialised coaches etc. This comes down to personal choice, the amount of spare time you have and your location if your rural like me you might like the fact that so much is provided by the school as its not available on your own doorstep, Londoners may feel differently, and also if you have to interfere organise your child's waking moment or if your happy to out your feet up and let someone else more capable do it.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 11:06:44

50%ish level 5 is good - though I would say it needs to be taken in the context of the school. If the school is in a challenging area of high deprivation and FSM, has lots of children on the SEN register, high pupil turnover etc, then those results would be exceptionally good. If on the other hand it draws from a stable, MC catchment, low SEN, low FSM, then it may well represent only 'expected' levels of achievement given its intake. FWIW, my children's Ofsted 'good' primary, in a nice MC area, has L5 results in the 60 - 70% range and a good percentage of L6s in maths last year - but so they should, given the intake.

Look at the progress measure (between KS1 and KS2) as well, and consider the levels of FSM and SEN. Also consider the age of the 'Outstanding' report - outstanding schools are inspected really quite infrequently, in some cases almost never, and what is required to obtain outstanding becomes greater each year, so an old 'oustanding' (say 3+ years old) is best read as a current 'good' and you need to make enquiries about e.g. changes of key teachers / the head and look at trends in results over time. Some 'oustanding' schools DO remain outstanding, but there are those that drift. A recent 'oustanding' certainly one obtained this academic year, would indicate a very high level of achievement ... but may equally indicate a school obsessed by results and paperwork. Always worth a personal visit.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 11:13:38

I can spell 'outstanding', honestly!

Xenia Fri 31-May-13 11:24:32

If you cannot afford it then do not bother but I went from age 4 and all my 5 children did too. Reasons I wanted it at that age for them were:-

1. If they get in at 4 they aren't worrying about getting in at 11 and less competition perhaps at that age than at 11 when all the state school parents pile in.
2. Liked the grounds, atmosphere etc - lakes, fields, hobbies - one got her taste for riding in the school holiday club aged 5 - 7 which became a major enthusiasm for her as a teenager.
3. Music is crucial to this family and 3 won music scholarships. It tends to be a higher standard aged 4 = 7 than in state schools.
4. Soft factors - other parents more likely to be compatible with this family, accents perhaps better, grammar and spelling better. Arguably the children are 1 - 2 years ahead of state schools.
5. Wanted them in a selective school with other children who had IQs of 120+ not with many who had under 100 IQ and plenty who disrupt the class.

I do remember school aged 4 - 7 (private). I remember a lot about it. It was a good influence. It does matter.

ReallyTired England Fri 31-May-13 12:56:33

I think that so much depends on the private school in question. If you can get your child into that fanastic highly sort after prep then that is great.

"Soft factors - other parents more likely to be compatible with this family, accents perhaps better, grammar and spelling better. Arguably the children are 1 - 2 years ahead of state schools."

Depends whether you are comparing "like for like" children. My state educated son can certainly hold his own academically with private school kids. Low ablity children will not achieve however much money is thrown at them.

State schools take all comers where as some independents are very selective. Since intelligence is partically genetic there are very few children with low IQs whose parents can afford the fees. (In most cases parents have to be reasonably intelligent to make the money to afford the fees, although ofcourse there is the Royal family... and one or two aristocrats with old money...)

Music is important to our family as well and we can afford plenty of outside music activites. When you choose music activites outside school then you can pick something at the level that your child is working at. ie. if they are gifted then they can join the National Children's Orchestra otherwise if they lack talent they can join the county saturday morning music school and play 3 blind mice on the recorder or when they are grade 2 they can join a local children's orchestra.

Xenia Fri 31-May-13 16:19:55

I certainly was not suggesting children aged 5 - 7 do no music in state schools, but if you want your children with other bright children and they sometimes tend to be those who also excel in hobbies like music they are more likely to be concentrated in highly selective leading schools even at 4 - 7 years.

I suppose one key issue is UK state schools never offer selective education until 11 and at 11 only in a very very few counties which still have grammar schools. The private sector gives you a choice - plenty o f schools for those not too bright or fairly comprehensive and then also if you like that sort of things selective education for brighter children instead at 4 - 11 if you want it.

However as I started my post with if you cannot afford it then remember the 92% of children at state schools do get 50% of the best university places and there are plenty of schools you can choose in the state system simply by house price although that can be more expensive sometimes than paying fees.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 17:14:04

Xenia, do you happen to have any data about comparative outcomes for children who transfer to private schools at different points?

ie Do the children who start at 4 do better than those who start at 7, who then do better than those who start at 11, with those who start at 13 doing the least well of all?

I appreciate that there are entry points that are 'easier' (academically, not in financial terms), and those that are 'more competitive'. That may skew the figures somewhat as it might mean that children who are admitted at 4 might not be quite as bright on average as those who are admitted at 11, and therefore might not be expected to do quite as well UNLESS those additional 7 years at a private school actually do enough to outweigh the differently-selective starting point.

However, it would be interesting to know how many of those who go on to 'top universities' (I use inverted commas as of course there are certain universities which are very, very highly sought after for individual courses without being prestigious in themselves ) from private schools went to private schools from pre-prep age, and how many joined much later in their educational career.

Just because there appears to be an advantage at the end point of schooling - once, of course, some children have been gently 'managed out' of private settings that turn out not to be for them - does not mean that the advantage is of the same magnitude from the very earliest point IYSWIM. Nor of the same magnitude from every school.

ReallyTired England Fri 31-May-13 19:25:07

I remember being bored witless in music lessons in a private secondary school as the teacher was spending her time teaching music theory and I was grade 2 standard in two instruments at the age of twelve. Inspite of the fact that there were one or two girls of grade 7 standard in the class the teacher still spent her time explaining the difference between a crochet and a quaver.

A friend of mine who was really gifted at music went to Trinty Guildhall on Saturdays for her music. The private school offered her nothing musically as there are very few twelve year olds of grade 7 standard.

Music lessons at state primary are pretty non existant. Which in many ways is preferable to having really dire music lessons. I feel children learn better with music lessons outside school as they can go to an orchestra/ choir/ emsemble that suits their ablities.

Many music groups that my son attends/ has attended are heavily attended by private school children.

wordfactory Fri 31-May-13 19:33:22

teacher there is some research somewhere (I'll see if I can dig it out at some point _not tonight-apologies) that shows private school outcomes versus state school outcomes including SATs.

I know many private schools don't bother with them. But those that do, are included I think.

The data shows that DC in private schools do better (on the whole) right from the first Key Stage. Though of course you have to factor in SN and how that affects the stats, I should think.

Mutteroo Fri 31-May-13 20:06:07

My DC went to a wonderful state Infant school which had Womderful grounds, small classes (20-23 pupils) & first rate teaching. The school as situated on the edge of a council estate with a large proportion of pupils getting FSM. We selected it over 3 more local schools which included 2 church schools & one highly sought after. For us the feeling of the school was important & in part so were the results. We picked a school which was on the up & don't regret that decision one bit. DD moved to the independent sector in year 9 & DS in year 7.

I'm glad we were not in a position to pay for independent schools for ages 4-7 because I feel we would have selected private thinking it was better & not even looked at the state options. Instead we found there was good & bad in both sectors of education.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 20:07:14

Word, that's not quite what I mean.

The question is:
Do you do better by the end of schooling if you have been in private school for longer?

So of those who leave at 18, do those who have been private schooled since 4 schieve better than those who joined at, say, 11 or 13? Are the benefits cumulative each year, or can a child who movs to a private school at 11 on average catch up with a child who has been in a private school from the start of their school years.

That's slightly different from 'At 11, do private school educated children on average do better than their state school counterparts?' - which it would seem to me obvious that they should, as the average ability of their intake is higher at the point of entry (as someone earlier in the thread said, those who have made enough money to send their children private tend to have used their intelligence to make that money, and intelligence is to a degree inherited).

A more interesting question along those lines is, of course 'do private school pupils from exactly the same type of family background in terms of education and income, and with the same ability on school entry do better than their state counterparts', but even that wasn't the question that I was asking!

wordfactory Fri 31-May-13 20:16:38

Well I guess there might be a cumulative affect (?). If good teaching and small classes help outcomes for, say, two years, then I suppose one might assume it would help even more for fifteen years...

But I'm not certain you could measure that.

ReallyTired England Fri 31-May-13 20:38:59

I think there are so many variables. Its not just family income or intelligence that affects how children perform - the most important is thing is the mindset of the family.

This research suggests that parental support is more important than quality of school for academic achievement.

Attending a good quality school does help, but good parenting can make up for a bad school. Certainly being able to read well is important and prehaps there is something to be said for concentrating resources in the early years were vital skills are learnt.

Xenia Fri 31-May-13 20:59:58

We all know that when women make sensible career choices that enable them to pay school fees their children (the 8%) get 50% of the best university places, make up vast numbers of high level jobs and do much much better in life than simply being 8% would ever manage. It is just about the best thing you can give a child aside from love. Whether you gain the same effect by say just moving to the private system for A levels or not I very much doubt. There will be some cumulative effect.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 21:08:30

Word, tbh I think it would be fairly easy to measure - simply take the children at 18, divide them into cohorts depending upon point of entry, and compare the outcomes.

As I said in my first post, there are complicating factors about competitiveness of entry at different points, but if there genuinely is a strong 'private school effect' it should over-ride the small variations due to difffering ability at various point of intake into the same schools.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 22:36:36

Interesting that you mention A-levels, Xenia. Even I had assumed that entry only at 16 might not confer significant benefit ... but then I thought about the many overseas students who do join many schools in the higher years and, in many cases, do so much to improve their headline exam passes.

So I refine my question still further 'Of those who are in private schools who would have been eligible for English state schooling throughout their school years what is the benefit of being in a private school vs a state one if family backgrounds are the same, and how does that benefit increase over time?'

I have always thought, by the way, that stripoping out overseas students would make a much fairer comparison in league tables of secondary schools that compare private and state schools - after all, even the best state schools cannot go on a recruting round to the Far East or wherever to boost their cohorts.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 22:41:02

(Of course, neither can private day schools - but many private boarding schools do. I suspect that some very well-known boarding schools would drop sharply in the rankings, while day schools from both sectors would rise to fill the gaps)

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Fri 31-May-13 22:44:53

Appalled - but sadly, not surprised - to find a teacher automatically equating SEN with low academic achievement.
My ds has ASD - is the best at reading and maths in his class in yes, a private prep school. Where I sent him, in part, to keep him away from ignorant, bigoted teachers who cannot shake their low expectations of children like him.
Couldn't think of a better way to spend my money, frankly.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 23:03:52

Karlos, Apologies. As a parent of an able child with strong ASD traits (though no formal diagnosis) I understand exactly where you are coming from.

Of course, there are schildren who are on the SEN register who are very academically able. In fact, DS was put on the register initlally because he was so very able that special provision needed to be made, before ASD even came into the equation. But the fact tremains that, purely statistically, the majority of children on the SEN register are those who need additional help to learn and progress (especially as in many areas part of the criteria for being placed on the register is a gap between expected and actual progress and ability). Therefore statistically, a school where, say, 35% of children are on the SEN register has a higher proportion of children needing additional help to rach the expected standard than a school with 2%.

Within those broad statistics, yes there are very able children who also have SEN. Just as there are exceptionally academically able children who receive FSM and come from very troubled backgrounds. But taken as a statistical whole (which was how I was using the expression), having 33% more children on the SEN register than another school makes it harder - not impossiible, but harder, because of the additional needs of the children - to achieve particular benchmark results.

If you knew me in RL,saw my classes and met my family, you would know that I am absolutely the last person to have lower expectations of a child just because they are on the SEN register.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 23:06:53

(I would also say, in relation tio your comment about a prep school, that several private schools - and indeed one outstanding state school - made it very, very clear that DS was NOT welcome, because of his ASD traits. I think the line used by the most brutal was 'well, he'd just have to shape up and be normal HERE')

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 23:12:55

Dredging my memory for other choice lines, I can also remember 'We don't have an SEN register here, of course, as we don't really cater for that type of child'.

The state school - legally in a more difficult position of course, went for the 'Well, I really think that DS would be happier and better catered for in a school with better understanding of his particular needs' line.

JoyMachine Fri 31-May-13 23:18:16

I don't have any research specific to independent schools... however, I know (from having analysed 45,000 children's end of key stage assessments) that changing schools has a negative impact on attainment, indeed, the larger the number of changes, the worse children perform (in relation to prior attainment).

If you cannot afford to remain in the independent sector (at least until 11) then I would hesitate from going into independent at 4.

It really depends on the schools available to you- there is no blanket statement that applies across the UK.

I do believe the first 7 years of life are the most important though.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 23:31:58

Further comment to Karlos - because Iam genuinely sorry that the use of broad statistics in a post has caused an individual pain.

In my classes - which have contained up to 40% of children on the SEN regsiter - every child is an individual. I know that the child with severe mental retardation caused by an unknown genetic disease has very different needs from the child with pathalogical demand avoidance, from the child with foetal alcohol syndrome and from the child with acute visual tracking issues. I know the barriers to making progress that each og those children has, and in conunction with support staff, SENCo and external agencies do my absolute utmost to enable every child to make the progress they are capable of - because although statistics like SATs are used to 'benchmark', what really matters is the progress made by each individual child every day. For one child, that progress might be recognising the first letter of their name. For another, it might be finding an environment in which it is possible to show their true mathematical ability without experiencing distress from auditory or visual stimuli.

But on a general statistical level, having 10 or 12 such children in a class of 30 makes reaching specific test benchmarks a harder job than it is in a class where there are virtually none and many children have tutors outside school to hasten their academic progress...

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 08:19:48

Most private schools are not bioarding schools and the day private schools have very very few overseas students. I cannot think of a single one in the classes when my older children were at Habs, NLCS, MTS so surely most of the private school results are not good because they have 30% Chinese in the class. I don't think over seas students warp figures therefore and in fact I'd always assumed the overseas ones tended to do worse in the boarding sector than native speakers and schools with a lot of them were schools that could not fill their UK places because there was not that much competition for entry and the school was not that good. Of course a school with the odd Arabian prince is a different - I mean boarding schools with 20 - 30% of all pupils boarding from overseas.

wordfactory Sat 01-Jun-13 09:55:36

Overseas students are concentrated in pockets. Schools that offer termly boarding. Not many left and not all that selective.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 10:35:58

They may not be all that selective, but they probably include a fair handful of 'well-known names', especially outside London. I think that many of the remain all-girls' borading schools - CLC, Roedean etc - rely quite heavily on overseas boarders, and would be interested to know the proportion of overseas pupils at e.g. Oundle, Rugby etc, or even Eton and Winchester.

Not something that I have researched in detail, so I am quite prepared to be told that all those contain very few overseas pupils. I appreciate that the situation is very different in London.

happygardening Sat 01-Jun-13 11:14:12

We have lots of friends who didn't send their children to pre preps just used local schools often not rated ofstead "outstanding", they moved onto boarding preps at yr 3 the parents took the view that any problems/gaps will be sorted out by the prep school thats what your paying a ridiculous sums of money for. Nearly all have gone to very selective top independent schools including two who got the KS into Eton so obviously didn't do them any harm.
I'm not fully signed up to this get them reading writing math thing at 3 yrs old. DS2 didn't start school till yr 1 and its certainly not had a detrimental effect on his ability especially for math.

happygardening Sat 01-Jun-13 11:15:40

teacher I believe about 12% of boys at Winchester come from overseas. The head vision for Winchester is to turn in into an "international academic centre of excellence".

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 17:19:22

Yes, but even if the boarding schools were stuffed to the gills with overseas students as it is such a small % of private school children at boarding schools it would mean that the overseas element is not what makes the exam results so stunning. In fact with a few rare exceptions in the best schools those boarding schools with high numbers from overseas are the ones with falling numbers and which you would be best to avoid. I think some boarding schools has an unofficial % limit.

Post private school pupils are not in boarding schools.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 17:35:10

Xenia, that's not what I mean in this particular case, though I agree that it does not shed much light on the 'length of time in private school - adds additional benefit or not?' debate..

I was pondering more about how the results of overseas pupils influence the position of individual private schools on local league tables, and their wider reputation.

I agree that in London, the 'big name' private schools are day schools - this is not the case where I live, where off the top of my head I name only one private secondary (certainly only one anywhere near the top 30 or so schools in the local league tables) without a boarding element. the others, through my observation, are possibly c.15-20% from overseas, in one case possibly more - and the latter, with an international reputation, is the only one that does better than the local comp.

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 22:05:21

On the basis many of these overseas pupils are usually not the brightest int he school but they are filling up places otherwise no one would take in mediocre schools and are a cash cow I would imagine they lower results not raise them particularly as the children are struggling with language issues but I might be wrong.

ReallyTired England Sat 01-Jun-13 22:15:31

I imagine that boarding schools have a lot of army children who may have issues that affect their academic results. (Ie. anxieties that Daddy may well be blown up in Afghanistan or have been in loads of different state primaries before being sent ot boarding school.)

Happymum22 Sat 01-Jun-13 22:18:26

My children all went to private schools from Reception. But it was a a time we were living somewhere with all fairly poor state options.
Nowadays, if I could send DC to a great infant school then possible move them, I may do. I think at that stage the most important thing is the parents attitude to education. You set your expectations to your child and I really believe that makes all the difference.
DC went to all through academic schools and the children joining at 11 from state (admittedly many fantastic state schools and a fair amount of tutoring) all fitted in fine, had just as strong work ethics and went on to do brilliant universities. Others who went right through the school from reception, left at 16 and are now not in such great positions or enthusiastic about education.
I really think it depends on the child and parents so much.
My DC thrived in academic environments where trying hard and being ambitious was the norm (but also a lot of fun and some amazing friendships) from an early age. They made good foundations and I do think it makes a difference at age 8, but whether at age 11 there is a difference between those who have been in prep from 4 and those who joined at 8, I am unsure.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 22:41:14

Hmm. Xenia, could you suggest some girls' schools, which include boarding, outside London that you would not describe as mediocre? Or do you believe that all of them are? I cannot think of any, even the most prestigious, that do not have a substantial body of overseas students - and while I do believe that they are cash cows, I do not believe that all lower the academic standard. Even in my day - and that was when many Hong Kong Chinese were establishing toeholds of residence in the UK prior to handover to China - the girls from the Far East contributed very significantly to the results of many girls' schools.

happygardening Sun 02-Jun-13 07:58:10

Really there are not loads of army children in every boarding school because many don't offer an armed services reduction. IME the main reason why boarding children are anxious is because they're parents are going through an acrimonious divorce.

goinggetstough Sun 02-Jun-13 08:12:58

I agree with HG there are not loads of army children in all boarding schools. DCs in any school come from a cross section of families with many different issues. Plus military DCs don't bring down the results due to being the DC of military personnel!
Back to the original OP... we moved around a lot when our DCs were of this age. We used pre preps and they gave our DCs small classes which helped with the constant moves.

Xenia Sun 02-Jun-13 08:29:07

I was saying the results of foreign pupils do not improve private school results materially as most children in private schools are not boarding so the foreigner results are neither here nor there. There is one girls' boarding school in the top 20 schools - I think - Wycombe Abbey - 11th

I just think it is a red herring to say private schools do better as they take a lot of overseas pupils.

Farewelltoarms Mon 03-Jun-13 10:11:45

I think Teacherwith2kids raises a really interesting question and one that I've never seen addressed. I have read that once you extrapolate socio-economic factors, then the gulf between private and state schools is actually much smaller than one would expect. I do always think that the sort of kids who get into Westminster/St Paul's Girls might be so bright from such motivated families that they have a 50-50 chance of getting into Oxbridge from anywhere.
On the specific question of the difference in outcomes dependent on when one enters the private sector, I can only offer one personal example. I left my state primary to go to a (not partic good) private school for y6. Most people had been there for four years and they did subjects I'd never done like French and calligraphy (!). End of term exams resulted in a class position for every subject and then one overall (urgh, not my cup of tea to do that and the fact that I can remember suggests I was a bit scarred by it). Anyway, end of first term exams, I was in the top half by not very much. Something like 17 out of 40th, I'm guessing. By the end of the year, I was 4 out of 40th (I think, long time ago!). In other words, it really didn't take long to catch up and hit my natural place.

wordfactory Mon 03-Jun-13 10:20:07

farewell how much value a private school adds, is, IMVHO, impossible to calculate.

Sure, you might be able to work out how many A*s pupil x left with and compare with pupil y, but that wouold only tell you half the story, wouldn't it?

Value is far too subjective to be properly measured. It is so very personal, taking into account how much money was has to begin with, what one wants from an education, what alternatives are on offer etc etc etc...

Farewelltoarms Mon 03-Jun-13 11:32:05

Oh I agree, Word, it's not just about the results and you're right that the value is very dependent on an algorithm of factors. I do think Teacher's question about the entry point is interesting though as by comparing the pupils in the same school by when they went there you could possibly see some meaningful data.
For instance, UCS is pretty difficult to get into at 11 (say 250 for 25 places, though obviously those 250 would all be applying to other schools). However, there is an automatic senior school place for any boy in the juniors. And almost of all the boys in the Phoenix pre-prep get into the juniors. And there is preference given for sons of old boys for entry into this pre-prep. In other words, the process of getting into the senior school by attending the pre-prep at 4 is far less academically rigorous than doing a competitive exam at 11. My friend argues that the pre-prep and junior are so academic in their teaching that the boys who go up via this method are just as clever if not cleverer than those entering at 11.
I have absolutely no idea whether this is true, but it would be pretty easy to compare the university destinations of the two groups.

Vietnammark Mon 03-Jun-13 15:25:52

Living in Vietnam and being involved in overseas study I see the occasional UK boarding schools coming to give scholarships to Vietnamese students. The schools don't try and hide what they are doing and these are generally good schools, but not the best.

They administer tests to students and if the high scoring students pass the oral interview they will be offered anything from a 50-100% scholarship.

According to the school representatives they are doing this to raise their standings in the school tables.

I do not believe this is widely done amongst the good schools and I doubt it changes school grades that much, but it is finitely done.

ReallyTired England Mon 03-Jun-13 15:41:50

"Living in Vietnam and being involved in overseas study I see the occasional UK boarding schools coming to give scholarships to Vietnamese students. The schools don't try and hide what they are doing and these are generally good schools, but not the best. "

Prehaps these schools are trying to meet their charitable aims of giving a world class education to the poor. In the UK every child has access to an education as even the state comps are better than what the rest of the world has.

Private schools have to justifiy their charitable status.

rabbitstew Mon 03-Jun-13 17:09:14

I agree with all those who say that whether it is a waste of your money or not depends on your own very subjective opinion. If it feels right to you and you can afford it, then it isn't a waste of your money. It might well have been a waste of someone else's money, but it's self-evidently not a waste of yours. grin

beltsandsuspenders Mon 03-Jun-13 21:11:03

I agree rabbit - the thing is we are all coloured by views (good and bad) and have had different experiences. We will never know if it was a lot better (or not) because we won't have had the other experience.

Vietnammark Tue 04-Jun-13 02:54:58

Really tired: they may have various reasons for coming to Vietnam to offer these scholarships, but over the years I have worked with a number of these schools and they make it clear to me that the main reason for coming to Vietnam is to get excellent students to boost their ratings.

Tanith Sun 09-Jun-13 19:19:33

DS is at prep school. They take children from both state infants and pre-preps. They reckon it takes around 5/6 months for the state children to catch up and everyone to be on the same level.

I'm not sure if that helps?

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