What advantages does private school bring you?

(183 Posts)

Genuine question which, I'm sure, has been done to death. Dd has a small chance of a place at a fee-paying secondary, which is something we'd never previously considered, but now it's sort of cropped up, I feel duty-bound to give it some proper thought.

I know the classes are smaller, they are selective (I am uneasy about that) and they often provide more opportunities to engage in sport and music. Anything else I should consider?

For background, dd is bright, bit of an all-rounder, conscientious, friendly, well-liked without being in the 'in-crowd', resilient, eager, funny...all qualities that I think will help her to thrive in any setting. Oh yeah, and she'll already know kids at either of the two state secondaries we're considering, or the fee-paying secondary and she gets on with all of them - seeks out their company and they hers, etc.

I think I have tremendous guilt about even considering private. Please feel free to tell me I either should/shouldn't or to simply get over myself. Thank you.

motherinferior Fri 19-Jul-13 13:07:15

An overdraft.

grin Good point, motherinferior. It's bursary or nothing, I'm afraid. Not yet sure if school is talking scholarship or bursary. Will find out in due course. Not staking my hopes on anything, just mulling it all over.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Jul-13 13:40:49

It really depends on the school. What extracurricular opportunities are there would she benefit from the.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 13:45:33

It depends on the school.

But start with your DD. Is there a need that is not being met at her current school? Is she anxious for new challenges, broader horizons etc? What kind of school would do most to help her achieve her full potential?

You don't make clear whether you have already chosen a particular school. If you haven't - do masses of research. Arrive at a short list. Call. Visit. There should be at least one that she can hardly bare to leave. Hopefully that will be the one that thinks she is exactly the right fit.

If you have not gone through this process carefully you could easily find that the school provides no advantage whatsoever....

The important thing is that the school brings a visible improvement in the quality if her day to day life now. Have you found a school that will do that?

corlan Fri 19-Jul-13 13:54:41

The main difference for me is a result of DD's school being selective, rather than being private.It's that every child is expected to do well. It is expected that most students will get an A or an A* at GCSE.

I work in a pretty average comprehensive and we just don't have high enough expectations of our students. It's almost as if they get 5 A-C GCSE's that's enough.

lljkk Netherlands Fri 19-Jul-13 14:01:11

Agree totally it depends on the schools.
The private I considered for DD doesn't offer the right sports & was too far a commute for me to stomach. I think she'll have more opportunities at a large state secondary nearer to home.

Pyrrah Fri 19-Jul-13 14:11:59

Totally depends on the school.

I went to a private prep and looking at their prospectus today they have:

- purpose built theatre
- indoor swimming pool
- pottery department with visiting professional potter.
- golf course
- indoor rifle range
- vast numbers of sports pitches, tennis courts, squash courts - and games every afternoon and inter-school matches on Saturdays.
- huge grounds
- specialist subject teachers from Y3 onwards, each with at least a BA in their chosen subject.
- fabulous results in terms of getting students into the secondary school of their choice.
- orchestra, choir, string quartet etc
- specialist science block
- huge library
- max class sizes of 15
- offer Greek, Latin and Mandarin.

Then there are other private schools that have no better facilities than many state schools.

Personally I wouldn't pay just for any old private school and if there is a decent state primary on the doorstep, then I would opt for that and use the £££ to pay for extras and for tutoring for a super-selective at 11 and stump up the fees for secondary.

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your comments. We've got a shortlist of three (two state, 1 fee paying). Dd is bound to love all three (she's just like that!) but hopefully will love one more than the others. I'm only going to tell her about the fee paying one if it looks like a serious option.

It's got International School status and dd is especially good at and loves languages. That's its main draw, really. It's also good for music, but so is one of the state schools we're looking at.

Corlan that is a really good point. My state secondary had low expectations. I did OK, but even as a pupil there I knew I could do better. My efforts to do so were met with bemusement by my teachers and scorn by my peers, so I settled for 'OK'.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 15:14:00

Hmmm...

OP As you haven't yet decided, I would strongly suggest that you investigate at least half a dozen fee paying schools (that meet your criteria) across the country. Read their websites, check out threads on them here, and ask yourself if the one on your short list measures up or surpasses what you see.

I'm sure you've already looked up the first one (here) - is it local to you?

Thanks, Something. It's local. There are two others: one I don't like at all, the other looks fabulous but we could never afford it, then there's this one, which is small, friendly, well-thought of and seems like it would serve dd well.

When I say local, it is, but we'd need to go in the car. The two state secondaries have bus routes - I am keen on the idea of the bus.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 15:37:02

And you are, or will be applying for a bursary? You've said your DD is bright so I guess it is a selective school and she'll have to excel at the entrance exam?

If you're hoping for funding there's no reason why you should not apply to both schools. Have you investigated bursary possibilities at the "fabulous" school as well?

And have you considered boarding? Quite substantial bursaries can be available for the right child. Then you would be less restricted by location. (If you have not - have a look before saying "never"...) smile

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 15:46:21

Look for the one that suits your child rather than what they have. Ds went to one with a tennis court, instrument galore and looked very swish but they wanted children who were little square pegs and I have a little square peg. Some only want children who will give them an easy time (won't ask questions, don't need any SN support, will produce good sats results). Another had no facilities (no kitchen so needed a packed lunch, no sports facilities and a run down building) but the most caring, nurturing staff we've ever met. Don't let the 'advantages' steer your decision.

No, not boarding - the mere thought makes me want to cry. Really excited about dd's teenage years. I'm sure she'll run us ragged, but I want a ringside seat. Absolutely not judging another's decision to board, I just don't want to consider it for us.

I'll look into the other one too. Local legend has it that you'll never get a bursary there, but I'll investigate. She'll know girls there too, come to think of it. And the journey is less onerous. The other one's near, but involves heavy traffic.

I think, for most places, we'll be in the 'too poor for fees, not poor enough for a bursary' bracket, but none of us'll come to any harm by trying, I guess.

MorningHasBroken Fri 19-Jul-13 16:26:54

My independent school had small classes so enough teacher focus to draw me (fairly quiet at the beginning) out and give me more confidence. They had high expectations of all of us - academic and other, but also gave us the opportunities to fulfil those expectations.

It also got me 2 jobs (old school tie network kicked in I'm afraid).

senua Fri 19-Jul-13 20:22:20

You have only talked about your DD but your username is "Mumto5". Does this decision impact on other DC?

cantdoalgebra Fri 19-Jul-13 20:43:25

Not all private schools are the same - check carefully.
Some schools also operate school buses. Think about ALL the costs. The fees are only part. There will be extra activities to be paid for, as well as exam fees in many schools. Uniforms can be extremely expensive.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 20:46:44

Ds's prep charged for everything! £10 a ticket to go and see the school play!! shock Do your research.

crazycarol Fri 19-Jul-13 21:14:05

It has to be the right school for the child in my opinion, state / private is not really the deciding factor. For my dd it went like this:

DD- very shy, quiet, hard working but needs to be pushed, reasonably academic but not straight A student. Loves music.

School 1 - very big, lots of kids from deprived backgrounds, police patrol the corridors during breaks. Music - well, we were at a joint concert and frankly it was diabolical (and embarassing!).

School 2 - smaller, academically selective and high expectations of students, a very good reputation for music.

We also considered 2 other schools. DD was offered a place at school 2, school 1 was our local catchment school. 5 years in and we know we chose the right school for dd. She loves it and has done very well (up to now - exams results next month!).

You need to look at what the different schools offer and what is the best 'fit' for your child.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 19-Jul-13 21:19:19

Is there an aaaaah moment coming up here, *carol, where it turns out that school 1 was the private school and school 2 was the state school?

AlienAttack Fri 19-Jul-13 21:23:26

"Police patrol the corridors during break"? Are you in the UK? I'm surprised that didn't hit the newspapers since it seems unusual...

dapplegrey Fri 19-Jul-13 21:25:39

You say you are feeling guilty about considering a private school. If your dd does go to the independent school how long do you think these guilt feelings will last?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 19-Jul-13 21:27:51

Yeah... It's not about private vs state, just sometimes you want a school without any deprived children, which is academically selective and Has naice music concerts. And sometimes, y'know, that just randomly happens to be a private school! hmm

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 21:35:07

We live in a small market town with a selective private school and a state secondary school that takes everyone including deprived kids <outrageous>

Sister and I both went to the state school. DH and BIL both went to the (hugely expensive) private school. Sister and I both have far better A level and degrees than the boys.

Fee paying ain't always better. You need to consider the school and the individual.

AmandaCooper Fri 19-Jul-13 21:38:50

An entry level job in a competitive field; I happened to have gone to the same school as one of the senior managers. Apparently that's what tipped it for me.

musicalfamily Fri 19-Jul-13 21:52:10

AmandaCooper, that's just luck though isn't it. I went to an interview for my current job and the guy interviewing happened to be someone I knew at university. It also tipped it for me, but that has nothing to do with private schools, just knowing someone, no?

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 22:08:35

Also, AmandaCooper, that is assuming that all managers/recruiters went to fee-paying schools, which is ridiculous! I am a senior manager and I went to a state school.

Thank you, everyone. I looked up the other fee paying school. To get a full bursary there, we would need to be Catholic, which we're not. So that leaves me three schools, if the original private school wants to offer a bursary, and two state schools if it doesn't. On reading all your advice, which has helped to clear my mind, I will try and judge each school on its merits and suitability for dd. Put like that, it is rather obvious, but my thinking had got all muddled. grin

My username stems from a daft thread I once started, where I pretended to be Mrs Bennett (of Pride & Prejudice fame). I really have 2 dc and, yes, you're right, I'd have to do it all again for him and he's a boy, so it would mean different schools, and I think he'd be better off in a co-ed school anyway. He is, however, ridiculously bright, so I'd have to consider for him what I consider for dd.

In answer to, 'How long would it take for the feelings of guilt to subside?' Five years, probably, until dd joined state sixth form. I know that is unnecessary guilt, but the vast majority of her classmates won't go private, none of our neighbours go private, none of my family have ever gone private. I think I'd have a fair bit of cultural dissonance to overcome.

I've very much appreciated your input. I'll let you know what I think of the school and what they think of us.

PearlyWhites Fri 19-Jul-13 22:37:41

Confidence and contacts

My post above made it sound as though I think ds should only be considered for the same opportunities as dd because he is bright. Sorry - that is not what I meant. He should be considered because he is her sibling. I meant that if I went through all this for dd and not ds, family would think I had lost my marbles. To be honest, I think I was making a rather irrelevant point!

Good points. Confidence we can give her, contacts we can't. Depends what she wants to do ultimately, I guess.

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 22:58:55

Advantages : Larger cohort of like-minded peers.(selective school)
Sports activities on tap
Music groups on tap
New activities/clubs to try out and join
Higher expectations for discipline and academics
Passionate Specialist subject teachers
more language lessons

Disadvantages : Further to travel / fuel costs
Earlier wake-up time
Friends further afield
Cost

So basically, compared to our local village primary, for our dc they can have a much more varied school experience.

Depends on the school though obviously, and what your dc are into.

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 23:02:59

Sorry Petruska, are you saying that state school teachers aren't passionate? I know quite a few including my DH and have to say they are - they devote enormous amounts of their own time (and cash!) to ensuring that kids learn.

And I'd also like to point out that fee-paying school teacher don't have to have the same level of qualifications and experience as state schools, so your DCs could be being taught by people who are not qualified teachers.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 23:08:47

Advantages:
Small classes (child with sensory processing disorder so it really helps)
Lots of male teachers (single parent to a boy who doesn't see his father so this helps too)
Personal tutor who stays the same throughout his time at the school (social communication disorder so helps to have someone who knows and understands him)
Lots of extra curricular activities
Work is catered to his ability
Wide choice of subjects (he loves languages so these are catered for)
Wide choice of musical instruments to learn
Longer school day so no need for after-school care
Decent standard of behaviour
Strict bullying policy
Academically selective so there are more boys 'like him'
Very able teachers
Lots of trips
Swimming pool/climbing wall/cricket pitches etc.

Disadvantages:
costs a bloody fortune
Friends live miles away so he can't see them in the holidays
Forced to attend a founders day ceremony which is as dull as... erm... yes... once a year.
People assume I'm a snob/have money to burn (I don't, it's the best place for him).
Lots of homework.

I don't really care about the contacts to be honest, I just wanted an environment where he is safe, where he can learn and where he is accepted. It's not perfect but it's the best I can get for him.

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 23:34:51

giddy - I can only comment on my own experience. The advantages I listed were OUR advantages, not sweeping statements about the whole profession. I myself am a teacher (eek - officially an "unqualified" one).

The teachers at our old school showed little enthusiasm for subjects other than maths and english. Again - I am talking about one school. What I was trying to say is that my dc now get taught geography by a 'geography nut', history by a passionate historian, music by a musician, science by a mad scientist, drama by an actor etc etc

Whether a teacher is officially qualified or not is not the most important thing to me. As I said, I teach, but do not have QTS. DOes that make me a poor teacher?? I think not. Can a QTS teacher be poor? Of course!

The OP asked what advantages private school brings TO ME. And that is what I said. Lucky you if your dc can access a stimulating school environment without having to pay for it.

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 23:37:59

Petruska, I have to say you're right - we happen to be lucky enough to live in an area where the 5 state primaries are all Ofsted 'good' or 'Oustanding' and the state school is also 'good'

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 23:45:34

I personally think we were unlucky and chose badly when house buying. But back then I only had a 6month old baby and thought "how lovely to be able to walk to the local village school, then the bus up to the secondary". HA HA HA. Being fairly rural, our state choices are limited.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 19-Jul-13 23:53:51

DD1 is going to an international school in Surrey. I am quite sure they don't give any help with fees, as they don't need to - they have a ready pool of expats (mostly Americans) who can pay quite happily. Thankfully, we get very substantial help with the fees, otherwise she wouldn't have been going there at all. DD's current school (well, the one she has just left), also an international school, gives a tiny discount on fees - I think something like 5% to parents who have to pay the fees themselves. So worth asking what, if anything, is on offer.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 19-Jul-13 23:55:59

And you get crap teachers both in private and in state schools. The only difference is that they are easier to get rid of in private schools. DD2's teacher last year was "told" to retire by the school. She was utterly crap, and once she knew she was going, only came in to school when she felt like it. In the end they told her not to bother and she had a supply teacher for most of the last term.

Sconset Sat 20-Jul-13 00:05:23

Off topic, but Georgian- I always assumed you had 5 DC! And lived in Bath, hence the Georgian bit grin

I personally believe it depends entirely on the school (state or independent) and the child. There's no definitive answer.

RiversideMum Sat 20-Jul-13 08:16:13

Going down Lady Mary's list, our local comp offers most of that. OK, so the swimming pool and climbing wall are not there - it's not selective and there is not an extended day to provide "free child care". Average class size is 25 - which (as a teacher) I think is optimal. I do get tired of state education being portrayed as an exercise in crowd control. In my experience, bright children do very well in state education.

AmandaCooper Sat 20-Jul-13 08:33:41

musicalfamily I didn't know her at all; we were at the school at different times. They told me afterwards it was because of the school and frankly I was gutted to hear it; I had thought it was entirely on merit. It turned out they were buying my contacts list. Tbf whenever I check out my former classmates on LinkedIn I can see their point.

[sconset] (grin). 2 dc in Surrey. 5 dc in Bath sounds nice, if hectic. I should have kept up the pretence - I could have spoken like a mum of two and sounded marvellously serene and in control. grin

Sorry - 'like a mum of five but marvellously serene and in control'.

tiredaftertwo Sat 20-Jul-13 09:37:03

Do you mean she couldn't get to this school on public transport - that she would always need a lift?

Unless the other schools were terrible, that would be a deal breaker to me. Teenagers need to develop independence, organisational skills - part of that involves getting themselves backwards and forwards at silly times with ludicrous amounts of kit. Socialising, friends coming over, will all be much harder especially as they get older and do not want their dps involved in their every arrangement.

Sharpkat Sat 20-Jul-13 09:52:09

Are you planning to move DD to a state school for A Levels?

Think it would be a difficult move for her and negate the benefits of 5 years at private school. Very difficult to fit in then.

I went to an independent school from 11-18 and it was the best thing my parents ever did for me and I had the best time ever but would have found it really difficult to leave for A Levels.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Jul-13 10:39:59

Riversidemum the school ds was allocated doesn't have all of this. They were aiming for a 26% GCSE pass rate last year and the children had told the Ofsted inspectors that they didn't feel safe at school sad and the inspectors witnessed fights in the canteen. Languages were basic and very few stayed on to do A Levels. Not all state schools are great (not all private schools are great either). If I had a good state school close by I wouldn't hesitate but I don't.

ReallyTired England Sat 20-Jul-13 10:49:11

Advantages of private school

Small classes
Distruptive (or sometimes academically slow!) kids are kicked out
No need to follow the national curriuclum
No SATs
Choice of single sex or mixed in some areas of the country
Children swear a little less and speak better
Some schools have better wrap around care
Smarter uniform
higher expectations
Better teaching of foreign languages.

However not all private schools are good. Paying for education doesn't necessarily mean better.

Advantages of state schools

There are far fewer unqualified teachers
State schools tend to be more up to date with teaching methods
Better social and ethnic mix
cost
Good links with NHS if a child has special needs.

Schmedz Sat 20-Jul-13 11:02:02

Best advantage of private school is at it gives you the choice of the school at which your child is educated not the random lottery of state school allocations.
Like Petrushka, I am also an 'unqualified' teacher in this country, simply by means if gaining my degrees abroad. The majority of my teaching experience has been in the UK, I am now Head of a thriving department with outstanding results. When I worked in a super selective state grammar school they didn't seem to mind that I was 'Unqualified' and went out of their way to ensure I received the same salary as if I held QTS (the unqualified teacher pay scale is substantially less than the QTS one).
Thinking that having QTS guarantees quality is like thinking that SATS test results actually reflect the all-round ability of the child...

The essential difference is not really about private vs state - in many cases, especially with SEN provision it is a disadvantage to children to be in a private school because they are unable to easily access LEA support. Schools vary in quality and suitability for different DC. If you are fortunate to have a super suitable state school to which your child can go, you are fortunate indeed (but will often have paid for by a premium on your house price!) For many people, independent school fees are less than the cost of moving house!

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 11:02:27

ReallyTired Better social and ethnic mix

I refer you to just about any one of the hundreds of private school threads here! In fact I'm willing to bet substantial sums of imaginary ££ that a major public school will encompass a far wider range of parental incomes and ethnic backgrounds that your nearest secondary school.

jamster66 Sat 20-Jul-13 11:10:58

Agree with a lot of what others have already written re: advantages (small classes, fab facilities) and disadvantages (paying for EVERYTHING - £2 on the bill for a house badge WTF). But personally the main advantage I've found is the attitude that studying and doing well is a good thing, messing around and not doing homework is really looked down on by the other girls. I've taught in state schools so could rattle on all day about the pros and cons but I think this is the one thing that has struck me from day one. The staff have high expectations but so do the girls and they encourage each other to do so. I'm sure there are state schools where this is true so bear in mind I'm coming at this from a very personal viewpoint.

I like that messing around and not getting on is seen as a bad thing. I think dd is grounded enough to know this anyway, but I've watched it happen to a young female relative and it's very depressing. Dd has seen it too, so is aware of it as one possible option. I don't think she'd do it though. I can't make up my mind if my relative does not care, or is affecting not to care, as a means of self-preservation. Either way, it seems a dreadful waste of five years of her life.

Dd would appreciate having peers who want to get on, although her friendship group currently is mainly of that ilk.

We have an excellent state VI form locally, so I'd anticipate dd continuing her studies there.

ReallyTired England Sat 20-Jul-13 12:45:53

Somethingyesterday

There is certainly a more varied social mix at your average state comp.

"In fact I'm willing to bet substantial sums of imaginary ££ that a major public school will encompass a far wider range of parental incomes and ethnic backgrounds that your nearest secondary school."

Some private schools have zero social or ethnic mix. Infact many parents do not want their children mixing with kids whose families are on benefits and are as thick as pig shit or into crime at an early age.

The private schools that give the odd bursury to the poor child pick the very brightest. There are gifted children who are on free school dinners.

I seriously doult if little Alfie who tries his best, but is underachieving because his mum is too pissed to listen to him read will get any kind of scholarship.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Jul-13 12:48:42

I was in a disruptive class. It was the top set too but most of the lessons were a waste of time as it was impossible to learn anything. I didn't have an academic family (there were other issues at home to deal with so homework could never be a priority) so knew nothing about self study. I managed to get 6 Cs and 1 B for GCSE, which was the highest in the class. hmm I do wish I had been told about the assisted placed scheme (it's gone now). I still managed to get into University (not a great one) and complete a law degree but it was hard going.

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 12:49:45

OP Happily you and DD have some time before she has to make firm decisions about subjects but - to be frank I'm not sure about this "moving to the state for sixth form" business.

I think Shaprkat's post is worth serious consideration. Given the title of your thread...

1) Moving for sixth form is more dislocating than at any other stage. If you've taken the care to choose the very best school for your child she should be at the peak of her engagement, dedication and ability just at the start of sixth form. And she should have built a strong support network of peers and staff who help her to do her best.

2) She is likely to have discussed and assessed A'Level choices long before the end of GCSE exams. It seems a pity to make those decisions at one school and then have to renegotiate them at another.

3) Assuming she has fulfilled her potential to that point, the school will be geared up for very traditional A'Levels. Will they all be available at the sixth form college?

4) If your DD is offered a bursary by a private school they will be working towards her A'Level success - which brings credit to the school. It might not seem quite fair that she builds the foundations at their school and then reaps the benefit elsewhere....

But you have lots of time to think about it!

Thanks. The school doesn't have a sixth form. With a few notable exceptions, the general approach round here is, 'separate sixth form to school'. A few secondaries (mix of state and private) have them, but the majority do not. The school actively feeds into the state sixth form, so, in this instance, it's seen as 'normal'.

cory Sat 20-Jul-13 13:16:22

It is always going to be the case of visiting all your options- state and private- and actually checking what facilities they have/how their students do at GCSE/whether the head of history is passionate or blase/whether the students you see are polite and look happy. As for extra-curricular activities, you also need to think about what is easily available in your local community, e.g. we wouldn't depend of dd's school having a drama club because there are any number of youth theatres available locally and once you have children old enough to make their own way to activities it doesn't really matter if they are on school premises or not.

Xenia Sat 20-Jul-13 13:40:16

Why guilt about going private? Surely guilt about not. if you go state and could pay you are stealing money from the mouths of the poor. The correct moral choice is to pay fees.

If you cannot afford it though that's a different matter although plenty of women work full time to pay school fees whilst others sit around not working expecting full time working mothers to fund their school fees. There is no moral high ground for state school parents. Those who might work to pay fees or who could pay but choose new shoes over their child occupy a very low moral ground indeed.

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 13:41:24

Oh!sad That's very interesting. And quite outside my experience. OP I'm not sure I even knew that any selective independent secondary schools only went up to GCSE.

Does it work well? (I mean do you know children who are at the other type of school and how do they compare?)

To be honest I've generally assumed that having a successful sixth form pulls up the aspiration of the rest of the school. And inevitably attracts really knowledgeable teachers who can get pupils into the best university, but also enthuse and stretch the littles.

lljkk Netherlands Sat 20-Jul-13 14:03:21

Bloody hell, Xenia, slow off the mark or what? Took you long enough to turn up here. 9/10 for hitting all your soapboxes in first post, though.

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 14:39:31

Yes, why guilt about going private? Don't you know that the average IQ is only 100 and that such people bear very little resemblance to the heavenly beings who go to selective private schools? They're actually almost another species, aren't they, Xenia. So long as you are always nice and polite to them when you encounter them, because of course some of them just can't help being inferior, you shouldn't go round thinking that mixing with them in school is a good idea. Basically, state school children are either moral degenerates whose parents prefer shoes and idling around to school fees, or lacking higher level intelligence, or even worse, both.

lemonmuffin Sat 20-Jul-13 14:41:05

Lady Mary wrote: "I was in a disruptive class. It was the top set too but most of the lessons were a waste of time as it was impossible to learn anything. I didn't have an academic family (there were other issues at home to deal with so homework could never be a priority) so knew nothing about self study"

Exactly my experience. You could have been me. And it did tremendous harm unfortunately.

So, I agree with Xenia on this; I would feel very guilty if dd does not go to a private school.

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 14:46:03

It is so heartwarming to think of all those popstars' children, footballers' children, bankers' children, oil executives' children, Russian oligarchs' children, estate agents' children, lawyers' children, etc, doing the morally right thing. Morals are the first thing that pop into my mind when I think of private schools. grin

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 14:57:15

What you need to do is get yourself a proper career, like Xenia's. Then you can have your own island, as many shoes as you want AND send your children to private school. This is all achieved by being morally superior.

lljkk Netherlands Sat 20-Jul-13 15:15:35

pmsl

motherinferior Sat 20-Jul-13 16:36:34

WRT ethnic and social mix: do please come and look round my daughter's comprehensive school before pontificating on about its lack of social and ethnic mix.

Xenia Sat 20-Jul-13 16:42:02

It comfort the less well off or lazy to assume there is some moral advantage in taking an expensive state school place but there is certainly a moral argument that we have a duty to minimise our cost to the state and pay for what we can ourselves for the good of others.

Also I never understood the argument that there were some golden glow about children in private schools that if we put the 500,000 of them into state schools the other pupils would benefit from the mere presence of our precious little darlings. In fact all that would happen would be that the state would spend less per child and those who cannot afford fees would have a worse education.

funnyossity Sat 20-Jul-13 16:46:57

I may send my Ds private for the chance to study more than 6 subjects at age 15 to 16, our local comp (in scotland-don't panic down in England!) has this as it's new format and it's the final straw for me. I will feel guilty if I do this as other pupils don't have the option.

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 17:29:37

motherinferior You may have read my post in a hurry. I am sorry you feel I was pontificating. At no point did I say that any particular comprehensive did not have any social or ethnic mix.

I daresay you read the other private school threads here? You will have noticed that those parents who are looking for a fee paying school and who can pay are often surprised, when they visit a given school, to find that it is more "mixed" than the no doubt outstanding state school in their own local, exclusively expensive area. Surely that is inevitable? A major public school attracts people who can pay the extraordinary fees, but it can also afford to offer places to children who would be excluded from many of the best state schools because their parents are much too poor to live within the catchment area.

I have experience of both state and independent education both as a child as an adult, which is why I felt qualified to comment here. I was not making it up! smile

I was a bit confused back there, but then I saw it was Xenia who had come to my aid and it kind of made sense, in a parallel universe sort of way.

Right, so: own island, full-time job in proper career...how hard can it be? I will need a cure for my incurable disease first though.

HeyCarrieAnn Sat 20-Jul-13 17:43:11

Not sure I can answer the question about 'advantages' but my ds (HFA) is in a private school for the reason, as described perfectly and succinctly by LadyMary that it is our best hope for

'an environment where he is safe, where he can learn and where he is accepted'.

They are all I care about.

motherinferior Sat 20-Jul-13 18:07:11

No, I hadn't noticed that, actually. You're using that well-worn trope of the 'leafy comps', I assume? In fact what you said was not 'state schools in posher areas' but 'your nearest state secondary'. I didn't read it in a hurry.

Granted, my daughter doesn't go to the nearest state secondary - though that one is also incredibly mixed - but to one that's extremely close, and in no way a posh one.

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 19:03:02

"there is certainly a moral argument that we have a duty to minimise our cost to the state and pay for what we can ourselves for the good of others." grin Because State provision is just charity for the poor, it is absolutely nothing to do with being part of a shared enterprise. We also have a moral duty to minimise our payments to the state, so that we can afford to pay for things ourselves. gringrin

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Jul-13 19:13:32

Do you get any help with funding, HeyCarrie? sad I'd do anything for ds but I feel as though I'm backed into a corner. I did send him to a state primary but had to pull him out after a term and a half as it was just too much for him. They won't say he has HFA as he doesn't fill enough of the criteria.

Fairdene Sat 20-Jul-13 19:16:12

Where I live I would be doing my children a disservice to send them to any of the independents, both in terms of academics and society. I don't feel any moral qualms, none whatsoever.

Rulesgirl Sat 20-Jul-13 19:29:03

I went to a private boarding school in Australia called MLC and what it did for me was to polish me up in a way. It taught me to be a lady and to be more interested in my studies. The teachers were all graduates and wafted around in long black cloaks and they were really interested in giving us the best education they could. I look back with such fond memories. I am still in touch with the school 35 years later as an Old Collegian and receive a monthly magazine from the school and invites to reunions etc. Feel very priviledged to have been able to go there.

Tasmania Sat 20-Jul-13 19:51:30

I think you have the moral obligation to do the best for your child - and that includes sending him/her to the best school possible, which may at times include paying fees (if you can afford to do so).

That's where morals come in, really...

lljkk Netherlands Sat 20-Jul-13 20:27:41

That must explain why my step-sis got her mother (ie my dad) to pay for my nephew's education. It was her moral duty to ensure the very best for her son.

Whereas my 4 DC go to mediocre state schools.
I think there's some complicated morality going on there, for sure!!

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 21:10:09

I think some people get confused between doing their best for their children and getting "the best" for them. grin

That's a good point, rabbitstew. I'm still not clear on which is best for dd but then, to be fair, I'm still not actually sure which are even genuine options for her. grin

rabbitstew Sat 20-Jul-13 22:16:28

Just try not to make your decision on "moral" grounds or it all becomes too confusing!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 20-Jul-13 22:34:10

Can't believe no-one has mentioned the main advantages I noticed in the privately schooled I met at uni:

- the ability to eat huge amounts of revolting canteen stodge without batting an eyelid;

- the ability to wear a three piece suit in the tropics without breaking a sweat (disclaimer: girls' schools may not teach that one). Won't someone think of the Empire!?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Jul-13 22:38:38

I enjoyed the 'delightful' food at ds's prep for a week; dry pasta and home made chicken nuggets. Poor lad didn't start putting on weight until after he left. sad Uniform was cute; peaked cap, wool blazer, jumper, shirt, tie... and bermuda shorts with long socks, even in the winter. confused

Plonkysaurus Sat 20-Jul-13 23:04:39

Hmm I've not had to think about this as ds is 19 weeks. However, I was privately educated from the age of three and attended three different schools.

I had no say where I went. My independent high schoo' was fabulous - tiny classes, exceptional teachers, not at all selective just very arty farty. I got 11 gcses A*-C. They had no 6th form so I attended an 'outstanding' GDST school for sixth form. The transition was shocking. All my friends went elsewhere, and I was suddenly not a big fish in a small pond. I failed one of my a-levels, leaving sixth form with modest prospects and my self esteem at rock bottom. The same sixth for set my sister up very well, but she had been at that school since year 7.

My parents are very working class and had no clue what a struggle I was going through, and I was a latch key kid from the age of 14 so they could afford our fees.

I did somehow go on to get a masters but feel this has absolutely nothing to do with how I felt at sixth form, rather that excellent teachers had shown me what I could achieve from an early age.

OP I'm not saying this to be all 'woe is me' but to provide some balance and make you aware of what pressure can do to high achieving individuals. I rebelled against a school I found oppressive and out dated. It had excellent facilities and routinely got 10+ girls every year into Oxford and Cambridge but it was beyond me.

Tasmania Sun 21-Jul-13 01:27:55

lljjkk - sorry, but having four kids probably threw a spanner in the works for you. We can afford sending one or two to private school and still have nice holidays but NOT four...

I do personally think that if you find a school that would be the best fit for your child, you should send him/her there. But as I said, that may end up being a fee-paying school...

Anyway... *main advantages of private schools are*:

- small class sizes;
- can exclude disruptive kids;
- loads of sports / extracurricular, so they WILL find something your child is good at;
- often, they have nice grounds; going to school in a place that looks nice is quite motivational

Xenia Sun 21-Jul-13 08:06:54

I only raised the moral good of paying for school fees because state schoolers seem to think they occupy some moral high ground. Best to leave morals out of it and pick the best school for your child.
however it is a point for our teenage girls - they may well want to fund 5 children through private schools from 3 - 18 as I have done and if they do then they need to be guided into high paid careers when they suggest they want to do something that is not as likely to make them able to achieve that aim.

Anyway no one is saying all state schools are bad or all private good. If possible pick academic schools in the top 50 in the country whether state or private and you cannot go too wrong with a reasonably bright child.

lljkk Netherlands Sun 21-Jul-13 08:22:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Xenia, I think you make a good point about opting for a high-paid career if you want the funds to carry our expensive ambitions. I also think there is nothing wrong with that. Luck comes into it too though. Whatever decisions I made as a young woman, today I'd still be contributing a paltry amount to the family purse through my low-paid part-time job because no decision could have prevented me from developing a long-term incurable disease, which requires careful lifestyle choices to keep me out there and working at all. (Not to mention alive.)

I'm not complaining - I enjoy my life - but there it is.

There are moral arguments but rabbitstew is right - you can't base your decision upon them. Unless you are a Labour MP.

Xenia Sun 21-Jul-13 09:33:46

I know. It's not easy and plenty of very hard workers do not earn much. I do appreciate that although you can plan from your teens work which tends to be better paid, not socialise, work really hard, make sacrifices, not take maternity leaves - www.telegraph.co.uk/women/10192274/Warning-maternity-leave-can-damage-your-career.html We can reap what we sow sometimes, but not always. As my mother always said life is unfair. I suspect the best thing is not to compare yourself to others and just seek internal happiness. Comparisons and keeping up with the Joneses is a route to unhappiness.

( The only reason I mentioned the moral issue is that state school parents can go on about the halo they bear because they have sent their wonderful children to rub off on children of those who cannot afford fees whereas I think the moral good is in relieving the state of educating your children.)

rabbitstew Sun 21-Jul-13 09:54:47

Xenia - it would have been far better to leave out that last paragraph... there is no way you are ever going to convince anyone that you sent your children to private school because you wanted to relieve the state of a burden. grin

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 21-Jul-13 11:05:41

I can see Xenia's point. A lot of parents will move or 'convert' their faith in order to get their child into an outstanding school. Moving into the catchment can often cost thousands so families who are less well off can't do this, it's selective schooling by being able to pay for a house!

Pretending to be a certain faith is just wrong IMO. I have a friend who sent her son to a catholic school despite never setting foot inside a church! confused Parents who are able to pay school fees get a great deal of stick on here but people don't remember that all state provision isn't the same across the UK. I suppose it is good that those who can pay do as it frees up their child's state school place for someone else.

Xenia Sun 21-Jul-13 12:00:58

Yes, that was the only point I was trying make on the moral issues.
On the why I send them that does not really even feature on my own list as the reason - for the good of other citizens less fortunate than I am. It is more for the other reasons people have put on the thread.

bulletpoint Sun 21-Jul-13 23:17:47

Private schooling has allowed my dc to be introduced to extra curricular activities the type i would never had had the inclination to introduce them to.

nlondondad Mon 22-Jul-13 10:21:26

interesting how this thread moved: the question was actually what are the ADVANTAGES of private schooling (over state schooling), but the OP also introduced other considerations by mentioning guilt...

To start with I would remind people that just because a school is either private or state does not mean it is superior or inferior. There are excellent state schools and poor private schools, and overriding that the school right for your child....

However to generalise:

1. Private schools have significantly more money, which is why the fees so large. This money, if managed wisely, goes through into better facilities and smaller class size. It MAY also go through into better teaching. Advantage.

2. In London, private schools are in general selective, while state schools, in general, are not. (So is selective "right" for your child? Well if they do not get in, perhaps not.) Could be an advantage, for the individual child anyway.

3. Because they charge fees, and hefty amounts of money at that, the lower income distribution of society not present. Some think this a regrettable side effect. (Hence schools like St Pauls boys school who have said they want to work towards "needs blind" admission where there is enough money in a bursary fund that the school can just decide who to admit ignoring ability to pay, and then sort out the required bursaries later.) Others see that as a positive advantage.....

4. Education, to the great disadvantage of everyone, highly politicised in this country. Send your child to a fee paying school and you are instantly labelled, as to a degree is your child. Depends on you whether you think it a disadvantage. Helps if you have not made the mistake of pontificating about other people sending their children to fee paying schools, See Diane Abbott MP for an example of this...

My daughter went to Parliament Hill in Camden, and reported how at University this gave her ENORMOUS street cred, cos she had been to an "inner city comprehensive."

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 14:10:04

nlondondad Actually I think the OP was asking a more subtle question than the one you have chosen to answer. I should imagine she already knows "all that" but is really looking for the magic ingredient - the unspoken thing that would make the choice of private school imperative and thus absolve her of nagging feelings of guilt.

And early on in the thread people were saying that essentially the magic ingredient is the "thing that happens when the best school for the child meets the best child for the school." And that that could be any school. (And essentially you only have to pop across to the "withdrawal from RE and assembly" thread to realise that there is no advantage whatsoever in a disastrous or ill-fitting choice of fee paying school.)

I have to say I am finding this thread difficult to navigate. You are the second person to use the word pontificate; whereas I am pretty sure that people generally speak and act with the very best of intentions.

motherinferior Mon 22-Jul-13 14:16:52

Nah, loads of them pontificate. Especially about education. On both sides. Masses of pontification going on.

I've been known to pontificate. Don't think I've done on here.

I think I might have 'done a Diane Abbott' in the past, maybe. Oh well, am a nobody, hopefully people can just laugh at my folly.

I'm no longer sure what my exact intentions were, especially as I just nodded sagely to nlondondad and Somethingyesterday.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 14:41:58

But motherinferior surely, surely you would concede that Diane Abbott could and can only act in response to her own lived (rather than anecdotal) experience and anticipation of what the future might hold for her own Dc?

I wonder if the OP had that particular parent in mind?

I should imagine Diane Abbott saw a yawning chasm between one future and a possible other for her child. I guess the OP's problem is that her child is not in that position. There's no bad future awaiting her if she doesn't go to a fee paying school.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 14:43:42

X post! Thank you for the nod OP. smile

Isatdownandwept Mon 22-Jul-13 14:44:42

If I could pontificate for a moment, the advantages I value most are that my DCs think studying and being good at academic stuff is cool, and that there are no boundaries to my schools ambitions for them.

All the rest is just icing. But these two stick with me as they are so clearly different from the experiences close family members are having with their own children at state school in comparison. There are other huge advantages another how my sons SN needs are being met but that's it relevant to the OP.

Saying that I endorse the view that (a) it totally depends on the school and sending a child to a crap private is just daft, and (b) supportive parents can usually do more than any school to bolster their kids self esteem and broaden their horizons (but I say 'usually' deliberately :- there are many studies that show the enormous strength of the impact of peer pressure on children's attainment relative to their intellectual capability, and some of them are hair raising).

motherinferior Mon 22-Jul-13 14:46:40

I wasn't talking about Diane Abbott. I was saying lots of people pontificate about schools. And going back to my point above, loads of people pontificate about the Fabulous SocioEthnic Mix provided by fee-paying schools and how this is actually wider than at state schools. (Usually then invoking the Leafy Comp stereotype to cover themselves, as even they wouldn't claim that the mix is greater than that at, just for instance, my daughter's comprehensive. She has poor people and black people and all in her class shock.)

motherinferior Mon 22-Jul-13 14:47:30

My daughter thinks being good at academic stuff is madly cool. It's not just the preserve of fee-paying schools.

Thank you. Yes, perhaps Diane Abbott was in the back of my mind. I do like the idea that Dd would be in an environment where learning is seen as 'cool' or, at any rate, desirable. Then again, she's quirky enough to maybe device that for herself...maybe.

motherinferior Mon 22-Jul-13 14:52:36

Oh please don't convince yourself that comprehensives are feral dens of sex and violence, mere holding-pens before they're old enough to qualify for the dole queue. I know it's a convenient way to convince yourself that the only way is fee-paying, but it's just not the case.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 15:02:16

Oh good grief! How can I put it more plainly. I was speaking from my own experience (as an adult; was different decades ago...) not from any stereotype of the leafy comp. I could easily give you chapter and verse but then I would have to change my nickname - which would be a real bore.

And I'm happy that your Dc at her state school is encouraged to excel. But believe me - that is pretty irrelevant if you don't happen to fit the demographic that the staff think it worthwhile to push.

OP If you think that three years from now you might say "thank god we got her to St Posh because otherwise ...." -then your choice is easy. If on the other hand you think she would do equally well elsewhere then .....

Tasmania Mon 22-Jul-13 15:10:16

I still think that the main advantage of a fee-paying school are down to a handful of things:

1) Loads of extracurricular activities the range of which a state school could never offer without significan expense. Given that not all kids will be good in class or playing football (which is often where it stops with some state schools)... this is very important. At good private schools, they can excel in drama, endless list of musical instruments, tennis, hockey, lacrosse, swimming, skiing, debating, chess... and so forth. I find that kids knowing they can do at least one thing well, provides them with confidence early on. That confidence also spills into other sectors of life, meaning the overall result is quite good. In most good private schools, an "extracurricular" activity such as swimming is actually embedded into the daily curriculum for years. This may result in longer days.

2) Longer school days / extracurricular activities at school = less money spent on childcare and less time spent on chauffeuring to clubs.

3) Smaller class sizes. (speaks for itself)

4) Kids are "prepared" for entrance to "good" unis. They are encouraged to take A-level subjects that get them there (facilitating subjects) rather than things like "Business Studies" that lead nowhere.

5) Private schools seem to tell their kids that Oxbrige entrance is "normal" and at times "expected", whereas many kids from comps are somewhat intimidated - which to me says their schools had low expectations.

My school (comp) had low expectations, but I don't recall much in the way of sex and violence, either. I'm not afraid of comprehensives - I went to one. They're not the great mystery to me. It's the private schools that are.

Isatdownandwept Mon 22-Jul-13 15:19:30

Of course everyone talks from their own experience and of course there are great schools where learning is considered uber cool. Which is why everyone says that you can't generalise and need to look at the particular schools in detail.

however research clearly shows that the most measurable explanation of the difference in achievement between privately educated and state educated children of the same intellect is peer pressure (and certainly quality of teaching nor class sizes). Family support also plays a strong, though not decisive factor, according to research. There is a huge meta-analysis on all of this which was done on this a few years ago which hopefully someone else can locate (has been put on these types of threads before). Would find myself but am on beach with kids and can't be arsed only intermittent wifi.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 15:27:01

Everything Tasmania said is true. I'm sure I remember a very recent thread suggesting subjects for a dream education (?) First aid, fire building, surfing... All the things in fact that a decent prep school provides as part of the curriculum.

OP I am about to say something harsh. I'm not actually sure, as regards outcome, that you will see that much difference between the fee paying school you are looking at and the state alternatives. I think the differences you are looking for would be far more apparent, and would bring a far more significant improvement to your daughter' s day to day life, if you were thinking of a traditional independent school. Going up to sixth form. Probably boarding.

If I were paying, I would only pay for the latter.

claraschu Mon 22-Jul-13 15:32:17

Our three kids have been to a combination of state and private.
One private school was VERY flexible, with absolutely fantastic teachers, and this school truly catered to the individual children. It was a wonderful school, which really suited our son since teachers had the time (and inclination) to notice and appreciate individuals.
One other advantage of private for us was the longer holidays.

Longer holidays appeal, I must admit! Not that ds or I would get them. Boarding not an option and only local private school with 6th form is not offering bursaries.

musicalfamily Mon 22-Jul-13 16:41:26

somethingyesterday what do you mean by traditional independent school? How does one know the difference? genuinely interested and I think the OP might be too?

Theodorarosepetal Mon 22-Jul-13 16:44:03

I really can see advantages and disadvantages to both systems. You know your child best.

I do hate that arrogance that is displayed by some privately educated individuals.

adeucalione Mon 22-Jul-13 17:02:32

I moved all three DC from state to private and the main advantage for me was choice. The decision to pay fees meant that there were loads more schools to choose from and I could get the perfect fit for my children.

For my children the advantages have been smaller classes (without the low level disruption they had become used to), opportunities to represent their schools at sport (B & C teams), huge variety of extra curricular activities that have led them in unexpected directions and an increase in confidence because they are surrounded by like-minded clever children (instead of in a little group of friends being called swots or geeks and not being able to hang back at the end of a lesson to ask extra questions for self preservation).

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 17:15:52

Goodness muso - you're very generous with the rope but I'm rather fond of my neck...

Type "public school" into search here. Ignore the nonsense. Lots of valuable info.

Tasmania Mon 22-Jul-13 20:12:11

"traditional independent school" - the senior schools are typically old; goes all the way to A-levels or Cambridge Pre-U, often needs a prep school education to get into (though not necessary).

We have a Royal Grammar School round here that fits that description, Tasmania. A friend of mine went there. Years ago I asked my mum, 'What do you think his education has given him? What's his edge?' My mum replied, 'The ability to use sarcasm and a working knowledge of how to work through the cutlery.'

I was only about 17, but she did make me laugh. I think he probably gained a little more.

rabbitstew Mon 22-Jul-13 20:49:00

An assumption he could rule the world if he put his mind to it? And that just in his Gap Year. grin

I think so, yes. [A grin]

Emoticon fail. grin

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 21:07:38

OP is this a "Reader, I married him..." story?

What DID he gain?

Is it a single sex school?

Is it the kind if school you would want for Dd?

If not, why not?

No, thank god.

He is in a well-paid job. He has always known how to converse easily on a wide range of topics, can dominate a conversation if he chooses. He had a wider range of interests than the state school kids I knew and was able to pursue them. He is also not very nice now, but that may not be the result of his education. I have spent many hours pondering how that happened and have yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Single sex, yes.

Not the kind of school I want for Dd. Leaving aside that she is ineligible by being a girl, it is too elitist, I think. Dd would go somewhere like that, look at where she came from and have the awful realisation that she no longer belongs anywhere.

The school I am looking at is more ordinary, I think. It would raise her, but not isolate her. I sound like I'm on Downtown now.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 21:45:06

You really, really need to spend more time on the Winchester College threads.smile

The ideal school for a really bright child should be distinguished by intellectual elitism - not economic.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 21:58:07

Yes you do sound like Downton and it is beneath you! This is not the nineteenth century; your Dd does not need to be raised from anything; she can be admitted to any school in the country and find many, many girls just like her. With intelligent, thoughtful parents doing their utmost to help her to fulfill her potential.

Seriously, I wish you knew someone close by who would drag you to look at a few really good schools! You have asked about the advantages of a private school, people have offered opinions.. <And breathe> Those opinions were based on schools that would be worth paying for. If it's ordinary - would it be worth paying for?

rabbitstew Mon 22-Jul-13 22:07:56

Intellectual arrogance is not hugely more appealing than arrogance based on wealth, however.

Somethingyesterday Mon 22-Jul-13 22:10:31

I'm interested that you feel elitism is synonymous with arrogance. hmm

rabbitstew Mon 22-Jul-13 22:12:36

I don't think that any more than I think wealth is synonymous with arrogance. But sometimes it is. grin

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 00:16:53

rabbitstew There is also a lot of invert snobbery going on from certain corners of Mumsnet. Just as arrogant in my book...

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 00:32:16

But seriously... OP... you keep on asking what the advantage of a PS is, but each time someone gives you an answer, you seem to become all "leftist". What's the point in asking?!? You seem to have already made up your mind, so why not just keep dd at state school? No matter what we say, you won't change your mind anyhow.

if I was to pay £10k+ on a private day school, I would like to get my money's worth and opt for the "proper" one. That's what you normally do in anything in life, i.e. you won't buy a car full price if the engine is missing, won't you?!?

I often describe "proper" independent schools to American friends as follows: a good school with all the benefits of a US summer camp (i.e. activities). In the US such summer camps cost US$10k+ per 7-week stay. Yes, that includes overnight stay, but given kids at private school pretty much spend the whole day there, the school fees compare almost favourably.

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 00:59:19

Not leftist. This horrible (not the OP who is lovely..) idea of "social mobility", the idea that there is some state in 21st century Britain that people should scramble over their neighbours to escape - is extremely conservative. Here we have all been, cogitating since Friday(!) and the OP does not strike me as someone who needs to be escaped from.

The point of a school is not to wrest someone from their life, but to make the best of what you are. But if you already believe that private schooling is primarily about class struggle.....

OP Visit some schools. Not just the nearest one. it takes a lot more effort than that to find the right place. You will be able to see the advantages when you talk to the staff and pupils.

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 01:38:58

In fact, read this:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1375677-Is-it-worth-paying-for-prep-school

Again, ignore any rubbish, but read the whole thread. Even though you are not looking for a prep school it should give you an idea of "what people think about when they think about traditional independent schools..."

Enjoysmile

rabbitstew Tue 23-Jul-13 07:42:50

My dh went to a "traditional independent school." He hugely appreciated the opportunities he was given and the fantastic education he received. However, he would be the first to admit that, as some state schools have a disruptive element, so "traditional independent schools" have their arrogant, over-privileged cohort. To pretend otherwise is frankly as ludicrous as pretending there aren't state schools where education is disrupted by chair throwing thugs.

rabbitstew Tue 23-Jul-13 08:16:16

Tasmania - the "proper" private schools are considerably more expensive than the "improper" ones. It is actually the pro-private school parents who are doing the best job of putting the OP off the private school she is considering, by implying she'd be wasting her money, because it doesn't sound like a "traditional independent school."

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 10:06:19

Yes, rabbitstew - there are black sheep in both sectors. However, I get a strong feeling that people like to hush over the ones to be found at state schools, but openly and quite loudly complain over the ones to be found at private schools.

People tend to say that the "disruptive ones" at state school may not come from "good" families, etc., and hence we should show leniency. However, "bad" families exist on both sides of the fence. You may have a poor and disjointed family living on a sink estate - but you can also have a moneyed (at times titled), hugely dysfunctional family living on a grand estate. The outcome would be similar: lonely children who have to cope in life without much support. They both show this in different ways, but in essence, it may be a cry for help.

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 10:11:20

And yes, I know that people are putting her off the private school she is considering (I am, too!). But that's because I would want to get value for money in all aspects of life - and by sending dc to a private school that isn't really a private school (but a copy of a smaller state school from a leafy suburb) that charges you 75% of the fees... you won't get that...

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 10:49:14

Yes.

The interesting (exciting) thing is that the OP has a Dd who is clever enough to try for a funded place at a presumably selective school. It's perfectly natural to think first of the local options - and indeed that may well turn out to be the best fit after very careful consideration of all the other possibilities.

The OP's description of her Dd suggests that she may well be capable of doing well in competitive entrance exams and it seems a shame not to even consider the sort of school that really is different to a state school.

Particularly since well established trad schools have so much more money available for bursaries.

That's the thing.... The big, rich school (as I'm sure I've repeated a hundred times....) will have a much larger proportion of ordinary children - on bursaries - than the local non-trad that may only offer one a year.

As a matter of logic (as if I know anything about logic...) a private school that automatically feeds into the state sixth form is never going to be significantly different to the state schools that also feed to it. They may all be superb. But (other than a smart uniform, nicer buildings and boasting rights for parents) it's hard to see what the "advantage" might be.

Did I equate elitism with arrogance? If so, I apologise. My friend is arrogant (as a result, I think, of trying to hide a gnawing sense of his own unworthiness) and attended what looks, to me, to be a school for the elite, but I don't think that's at the heart of his problem.

Yes, I did sound Downtown. Sorry. If I'd like Dd 'raised' it is to opportunities that might otherwise be difficult for her to access. I don't want her 'better' than others. If she is 'better' it will be due to how she thinks and acts, not because of where she goes to school. All sorts of things are helping her to develop her inner core and sense of self, not just school. A school's outlook will help her to look upon the world and herself in a particular way, but any school suited to her could help there. That's what I'm after - a school that best suits her. (As are we all, I imagine.) I'm fortunate in that there is, at least theoretically, a choice of schools from which to pick a best match.

I keep going all leftist? I am leftist, so that's probably why. I am also a bag of contradictions and muddled philosophies. Those will no doubt keep revealing themselves. I realise that makes conversing frustrating. Sorry. I am also genuinely interested in the all the advice and opinion you have to offer.

SomethingYesterday you are putting my thoughts so much better than I can. I type something and it sounds ridiculous, you type the counter-argument and I think, 'Yes! That's what I meant!' Please follow me on all threads and in RL too. grin

I've been reading some of the private school threads and so far been very taken with the idea that dd will have access to more sport, more music and more activities. It all looks a bit more 'whole person'. I will very carefully consider all the options. I realise I'm completely ignoring a whole load of options by not considering boarding or a commute, but I can't ('won't' is actually more accurate). I've looked at the two other local private schools for girls. One we cannot afford and the other I do not like. It is not, IMO, a good school and offers pretty much the antithesis of what I want for Dd. I've just realised, there is one other. I'll look into that.

Again, thank you. I know I sound like I still don't know what I'm doing. I don't! I'm beginning to understand it all better though and I do appreciate your help with that.

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 12:06:53

Hey OP quickly before I read your post - No, my "elitism" reply was to rabbitstew.

ICanTotallyDance Tue 23-Jul-13 12:07:20

I have come rather late to this party but I will throw my two cents in.

In my experience, within my family (most of my generation were sent private), private schools are worth the money.

However, before you decide, do compare academic results between the schools in a variety of ways. Look at overall, look at value added, if possible look at people who have similar children to your DC and see how their kids turned out. Ask about pastoral care and bullying policies, ask about leavers destinations (beyond sixth form) and ask about disciplinary policies. Ask about homework loads, ask about learning support, ask everything of any school you're considering!

There are some crap private schools out there. Ask old girls of the school (recent ones) how their experience was.

If the school is a good fit for her, she will thrive (this is true of any school, of course) and their should be a good programme in place to deal with any bumps in the road, as well as good programme to help with her interests or gifts (it helps if the school allows children who aren't necessarily the best to be involved, e.g. a novice player in the chess team, a quiet girl in the debating team, a drama queen on the exchange, etc).

I can pm you the "why you should attend this school" page from my sister's old school, if you want, which gives you a general idea about private schools, but here are some other resources:

All American sorry, didn't realize this until now:

This Whole Website, Actually, Not Just This Page

here

here

Just remember, as these are from the US, public=state.

Personally, I think the big thing you get is a tight community feel with great school spirit. Everyone shows up for events, supports student initiatives, have the same set of ideals/morals and stick to them (e.g. studying is good, bing drinking is uncool), helps each other study, it's not always a walk in the park but you're all in it together, there's a tangible but indescribable feeling where you're at a school with a strong school spirit. You're not guaranteed to get this at a private school, nor are you guaranteed it to get it a state school, but I think chances are higher if you go to a private school to get this feeling. And it's worth every penny.

You said boarding is off the table, but how about for sixth form? You may both feel differently when she is approaching the end Year 11 and unless your finances chance, you will need to be planning ahead for a Year 12 boarding bursary.

Anyway, in your circumstances, I would wait to see if I got the bursary before setting your heart on a school (trust me, it's CRUSHING as a child if you get rejected due to finances on a school you've fallen in love with) and then decide from there. Ultimately, your daughter's happiness and education come before every other aspect.

(And don't be surprised if you get in and it isn't all wonderful from the start. At major transition points in my old school (year 1, 4, 7, 9) about half of new arrivals took over a term to catch up academically and settle socially. It can be tough but it's not unusual.)

Sorry for the long message, I got carried away as per usual.

ICanTotallyDance Tue 23-Jul-13 12:09:34

And that was binge not bing drinking, sorry.

rabbitstew Tue 23-Jul-13 12:41:38

Tasmania - I don't think people do actually like to hush over the bad sheep found in state schools at all. I do, however, agree they are naïve if they think all state schools are capable of dealing with the black sheep effectively, or all the special educational needs children, etc. In an area where the choices are a state school with a bullying problem and low academic expectations, and a private school that is not much different from a good state school except for the £12,000 a year fees, I do not think a parent would necessarily be wasting their money to pay £12,000 a year in fees rather than move house at vast expense, taking themselves and their children away from their established networks and friendships. I also don't think such a parent would be wasting their money to decide to do this rather than seek to put their children through several entrance exams in order to gain scholarships and bursaries for boarding schools if this was seriously outside their comfort zone. My dh went to boarding school and has openly said it just would not suit everyone, however fantastic the school. No harm in posters suggesting it as an option to the OP, of course, though: it is an option some people would be willing to take up.

As for parents in an area where the state schools seem to be perfectly good; even then, it really depends on what the alternative private schools offer: they don't have to be all singing, all dancing like the top public schools to be a good fit for a child with specific established interests and talents, or specific established needs. To say that only a "traditional independent school" would ever be worth paying for is just inaccurate, even for a bright, articulate child. And there is still the issue for some people of getting to the point where the amount of experiences and money being lavished on a child just seem to be so far removed from the normal experiences and opportunities of the majority of the population that, however character improving, it feels uncomfortable to be offering so incredibly much to so few, however clever and appreciative they are. If you can't wholeheartedly enjoy the lavishness of it and are made to feel a bit uncomfortable by it, then it's better not to try and join in - it is none of it essential to bring up a valuable, worthwhile human being that could make you proud.

Thank you again. Sorry, Tasmania, I only just took in your point about my mind already been made up. It honestly isn't. I veer back and forth between my options. My mind is about as far from being made up as it could be.

ICanTotallyDance, yes please, I would love that pm.

ICanTotallyDance Tue 23-Jul-13 13:21:43

PM'd you. Good luck with this choice.

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 13:49:07

rabbitstew But isn't that just life? I'll never have the resources of an oligarch and dine at Cecconi's everyday, watch Wimbledon close up every year, etc. I have to cope with that,too?

Ditto, you can spend your cash travelling the world with your kids for experiences others will never have. It's not just school. Would you prefer communism - which has been proven to not really work?!?

rabbitstew Tue 23-Jul-13 15:09:37

No, I'd prefer to be happy living with myself. We all have our own personal limits when it comes to self-indulgence. I really don't understand the specious argument that you either have to join in with and approve of all levels of excess or you have to be a communist. Most people fall somewhere between the two extremes and moderate their lives accordingly. I'm OK living in a world where other people have different limits. It's life that you can't force people to approve of your choices any more than you have to approve of theirs.

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 15:29:07

rabbitstew - it was you who pointed out that it isn't fair for other kids that so much is lavished on a few. You can moderate that if you want to - but I'd rather like to see parents spending their hard-earned money on education than on toys, designer clothes, cars and the like...

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 15:30:01

... you have to spend it on something. Otherwise, what's the point in working so hard?!? So that the bank can keep your money???

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 15:59:19

What! shock

I turn my back for five minutes and you've packed Dd off to America?

Well you have no argument now against looking at the next county. So - just in case she should come back - do take a look at these ; purely for comparison.... (They're not schools I have personal experience of, and other people will no doubt suggest others...)

St Edward's Oxford

City of London School for Girls

Wycombe Abbey

The Perse School

Oxford High School

rabbitstew Tue 23-Jul-13 16:18:39

Tasmania - yes, I would also rather see parents spending their hard earned money on education than toys, designer clothes and cars. If you're going to spend your money on anything, it seems like one of the most meritorious options to me. However, it isn't really that simple a choice, is it? The fact remains that even if parents don't spend money on cars, toys and designer clothes, the vast majority just don't have the cash for public school, or indeed any "lesser" type of private school, particularly if they are also trying to be sensible about saving for their old age, looking after other relatives in their infirmity, giving money to charity and dealing with other societal demands and expectations. Life is complicated - even paying for a good education does not come without complications. I really don't blame people for prioritising a fabulous education for their children, though, just point out that it is not something that others feel able to make with the same clear conscience, despite recognising the value of a good education. I envy those who see it as a black and white choice, I really do. I just can't stop seeing it as a little bit like choosing a Porsche when a Renault would have been loved and appreciated just as much.

grin She has family in the States. I could...

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 16:56:01

Awesome commute grin

Doesn't Wycombe Abbey look amazing? (Only followed that link, so far.) About three times the cost of the school I'm looking at, too far away and mainly boarding, so it's a no-goer on too many fronts, but I do now see what you are saying. grin Yes, it offers more, all-round, than the kind of school I am looking at. It is possible that this school, however, offers more than the other state schools I'll be looking at.

beatback Tue 23-Jul-13 17:13:24

Comparing WYCOMBE ABBEY with a state School is like comparing a 1.3 litre ASTRA WITH A FERRARI AND SAYING GOD THAT FERRARI IS FAST" A obvious thing but when you have massive resouces though fees of 30k plus pa and the brightest girls in the country how can you compare and judge such an unfair contest.

Zigster Tue 23-Jul-13 17:18:15

I don't think there is much you get at a private school that you can't get from a State school with a bit of parental effort. Or, more precisely, easily get in addition to that provided by the State school.

For example, my DSs' pre-prep does "forest school" - great idea and the boys love it. Or Beavers/Cubs/Scouts as one might call it if the school didn't provide it.

Swimming lessons? Well state schools finish at about 3.30 so take the kids swimming for an hour before tea.

Football? Sign up the kids for the local Sunday league kids club.

Small class sizes are definitely something private schools have as an advantage over State schools, but that can be double-edged - in DS1's class there are only 4 girls and 3 are thick as thieves, which isn't much fun for the remaining girl.

In my view, do it if you can easily afford it. But I'm not convinced it's worth the sacrifices some people appear prepared to make - and I'm thinking about the CostCo chicken thread from a few months ago (camping in Cornwall, 10 year old Volvo, etc, etc).

Somethingyesterday Tue 23-Jul-13 17:23:16

(won't is actually more accurate)

I confess that if you had been asking about your son I would have thrown good manners to the storm and insisted on a serious consideration of boarding. I have an agenda.... in my ideal world all boys between 11 and 18, who could, would have the opportunity to board for at least 3 to 4 years.

But girls are different. We're more complex, need more privacy as teens and, although all children can bully, there's nothing quite like the bitchiness of a girl-clique. I think weekly or flexi boarding is pretty good for girls - it can damp down the intensity.

Icantotally's idea of prepping her for sixth form boarding is brilliant!

Tasmania Tue 23-Jul-13 19:01:55

Zigster - your idea only works for non-working mums who are willing to drive around like a maniac... just saying. Could never work for us (who on Earth gets off work at 3.30pm?!?). The after school childcare expense alone would cost about 60% of the annual school fee.

Zigster Tue 23-Jul-13 21:59:55

I agree. Very few of the mums at my DSs' pre-prep work. My DW doesn't work so we are becoming increasingly sceptical about the added value (at pre-prep at least) of private schooling as DW can pick up the slack herself if we moved to the local village primary.

I've no idea how so many with kids in State schools (and with both halves working) manage to afford after school care.

No, no, I was comparing Wycombe Abbey with the small independent I'm looking at which, in turn, I was comparing to local state schools. It is, I admit, confusing. (Especially the way I've just explained it.)

Right, I've been to visit. My gosh, it was nice! I don't mean it looked nice (though it did) but the head teacher met all my ideals for a school.

A bursary, should we be offered one, will still mean we have to pay almost £2000 per term. We can't do that, sadly. We especially won't be able to do it for two children (Ds is three years younger). You're going to ask me why I didn't research that first. I did, but the information wasn't available online.

I now completely 'get' what a private school offers, over and above a state school: it offers a more holistic approach to education (this one does, anyway) because it is free of some of the restrictions placed on state schools. It can also offer, and be more certain of achieving, an environment where learning is seen as 'cool'. Perhaps I saw those benefits there because they represent the things I value, but I saw them and I earnestly desired them!

I will very carefully go over our finances, but in truth I know that it is beyond our reach. Realistically, I think my next steps will be to take a very careful look at the state schools, find my best match and think very carefully about our home culture and how we can best supply the 'value added' things, by which I mean the learning ethos.

Dh has hit his earnings potential, a while back. I work part-time and earn so little that I am below the tax threshold. My earning potential is restricted by ill-health. We already holiday cheaply in this country, the kids wear hand-me downs and I'm dressed by Sainsbury's, George and, if I'm feeling flush, Matalan. Our food bill is costly, because three of us have food intolerances and these things do not come cheaply. I already cook from scratch. I have no childcare bills. Our main expenses are food and kids activities (ballet, swimming, gym, violin) and what are they, if not adding value? We are not poor and we live well, within our means. Like many others, really.

My mind was not made up from the start. I've really enjoyed thinking about this. I'm glad I looked into it. I'm sad that this is out of our reach, but it's onwards and upwards for us. You do what you can and you do it well, eh? It has helped me to focus right down on what really matters to me, for Dd. That wasn't the object of the exercise, but it's not an altogether bad outcome.

derektheladyhamster Wed 24-Jul-13 13:15:24

We pay a similar amount on a bursery, and have a similar set up re jobs. We are very lucky that we bought our house in '97 and therefore have a very small mortgage. We have extended the mortgage to help pay the fees which is costing us about £250/month more.

Our is boarding though, which means we only have the expense of feeding our teen boy during the holidays :D

Tasmania Wed 24-Jul-13 13:27:26

GeorgianMum - do think about boarding schools again. As the poster above indicates, they do have better bursaries, and you will have less food costs during term-time.

For what it's worth - it's a pity that there is such a difference between private and state.

I can't think about them, Tasmania. All power to those who do, but it's like asking to think about removing my own arms - it's that far away from what I want out of life.

I have no qualms at all about other people choosing boarding. It's not that I am fundamentally against boarding (I have no strong views on it, as a concept) it's simply that it is a long, long way from anything I want for us.

You're right, it is a shame.

Our mortgage is small too. Just what are we doing with our money?!?

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 14:19:59

it's that far away from what I want out of life.......

Ok. Before I say anything - I dare you to say what you currently understand about boarding.

Because lots of otherwise sensible people that I know well think it involves depositing one's child at the beginning of September and then welcoming back a stranger at Christmas...

(I am only being so insistent because I suspect you do not want to let the idea drop but have decided to be realistic. I completely understand that it might look as if I am being pushy.)

derektheladyhamster Wed 24-Jul-13 14:44:34

Maybe talk to a financial adviser about the best way to release some funds? Or maybe an interest free loan from a member of the family? And look at your outgoings seriously. It's not fun being on a bursery, you literally have no spare cash. In our case it's worth it, but it won't be everyone's choice

Evageorge Wed 24-Jul-13 15:10:24

I am somebody who is completely committed to state education, but when it comes to your own child, you should do what meets your child's needs, and not feel guilty about it. Private schools are selective, and have smaller classes. However, they are not per se better than state schools. You should have a look at their progress measures compared to the state schools you are considering. The most important thing that private schools give you are contacts. Your child will have good contacts for when they are grown up. The open evenings will give you a feeling for what suits your child best. I find www.how-to-choose-a-school.org/ helps with choosing a state secondary school. It is not for profit, and tries to be impartial.

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 15:18:24

Evageorge I don't question your own experience - but I would be astonished if a single parent at any of the independent schools that I have attended or been involved with has sent their child there for contacts.

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 15:47:25

Woo....

Jane Austen has just been named as the new face of the £10 banknote.

Surely this is significant?wink

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 18:30:32

Here:

www.dragonschool.org/flippingbooks/dragonstoday_summer2012/#/6/

Please have a look, even though I am being a horrible nuisance. Purely for info....

Tasmania Wed 24-Jul-13 19:29:34

Somethingyesterday - that's our "local" private school... lol.

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 19:36:56

smile Not surprised you're enthusiastic about boarding! Although there are other good schools in the area....

Snog Wed 24-Jul-13 19:42:37

Don't forget that private schools also deliver disadvantages eg there is a lot of prejudice against people who went to private schools from people who didn't....

peteneras Wed 24-Jul-13 20:09:18

It works the other way round too!

Fairdene Wed 24-Jul-13 23:06:16

OP you visited a private school which told you it offered certain things, or showed you evidence that that is what it does, but that visit can't confirm that the state sector can't offer those very same things. The state sector isn't always constrained, the private sector is constrained too and neither sector has a monopoly of any one virtue or vice.

Good point, Fairdene. My next plan of action is (after the hols) to scout about and see who offers what. I'm slightly disappointed, but undaunted. It's not so much a barrier as a sign that I need to look elsewhere.

SomethingYesterday, you're not being pushy, don't worry. grin I think boarding is about rarely seeing my child during the week and sometimes not at weekends either. I think it's about my son not having his sister around to talk to/annoy/chill out with. One day she and he will grow up and leave home, but I need them to do the growing up part first, or some of it, anyway. I accept that there are loads of great things about boarding, including adventure, forging strong friendships, opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on, but I'm also confident that there are loads of great things about being in our family and those are the things I want to focus on.

I'll have look at your link now. I've been busy reading that excellent 'how to choose a secondary school' site. How useful is that?! Thank you, whoever posted that.

What's Jane Austen got to do with it? Other than it's always good to bring her into any conversation, I mean.

cory Thu 25-Jul-13 12:03:33

What you need from after school care and how much ferrying around you need to do to out of school activities will depend on the age of the child and where you live.

Since the thread is about secondary school age, I would have thought the thing about needing to ferry them around would only apply if you live somewhere very rural. My secondary school age ds is perfectly capable of taking himself to after school activities either on foot or by public transport. But obviously this only works if public transport is there.

poppydoppy Thu 25-Jul-13 13:37:55

Private schools are not what they used to be........state schools are catching up especially in the suburbs

Somethingyesterday Thu 25-Jul-13 14:41:21

Doh.. Jane Austen? ... (I thought it was a good omen for a Georgian mother......)

grin Oh yes! <dim>

MrsSalvoMontalbano Sat 27-Jul-13 16:30:11

You need to look at the specifics of the schools. I have spent a lot of time in state schools, both teaching and observing, and there is no 'cookie-cutter' school - they vary enormously. I have DC in one of the best independent schools in the country, but I do not claim that 'indies are best' - again - they vary!
Look at your child, or better still, get a trusted friend to look at your child, as objectively as they can, and tell you what your child needs, and then do a gap analysis with the schools. Because no school is perfect, its just what the best fit is. And, hey, its not irrevocable - you can change if it turns out to be ghastly mistake...
As a general rule, my advice would be...
If your child is exceptional (rare) they will do well anywhere, but if you can afford it, and if you have one in the locality - send to an outstanding local indie where they will be with children who are curious and exceptional.
If your child is mediocre/normal, send them to a local solid indie.
If your child is struggling, keep on the case. Send to local school but insist on detailed info on their progress so you can supplement as needed. Give them a home environment where they are loved, supported, and given a calm quiet space to do their homework. Encourage extra-curricular activities (Scouts?) where qualities other than academic prowess are valued. them a pet to look after. Listen to them when they want to speak, and don't over-question them. Cook with them. And they will exceed your expectations grin

JavaDad Sun 28-Jul-13 19:59:16

I was educated in private schools but have worked in state schools. My experience has been that the teaching is infinitely better in state schools. Teachers there seem to care a lot more.

It seems to me that private schools simply take your child away from an inclusive experience of society. Children in state schools also learn to be self-motivated, not just motivated to please an authority figure. This ends up showing itself in the evidence that state school students do much better at university than their private school peers with equivalent grades.

JavaDad Sun 28-Jul-13 20:02:28

Private schools are also mostly motivated only to get good grades for their students. State schools seems to focus more on the development of whole person. It depends what you think education is for.

apatchylass Sun 28-Jul-13 20:10:51

Obviously it depends on the school. A school isn't better because it's private and there are some round here I'd not choose over the local state schools even if they were free.

But for us, private school means academically selective, so surrounded by bright children who want to learn and take pride in hard work and will bring each other on. Having been at state schools myself and worked in state schools, I know that however brilliant the teaching, classes get bogged down by the pupils who disrupt for whatever reasons, and teachers also have to teach to the class average, not to the brighter children, who then get bored.

Also, our private school has smaller classes, far wider curricular and extra-curricular choices, excellent facilities and a warm, gentle atmosphere. Local state schools feel like trying to swim upstream.

IME children in state schools don't always learn to be self motivated, but can swiftly become demotivated because it's not cool to learn, or because doing the minimum, if you're bright, is perfectly acceptable, as you are on target for average class grades. Whereas at private school, children are expected to produce high level standards of work and hand in homework daily. More report cards, more feedback from staff creates an overall greater sense of responsibility to the work they are given.

There's a danger of narrowing the social mix, but that can be sorted out outside school. MY DC go to three different clubs outside school which have members from all walks of life, and they mix with those children. Cliques form in comps too - the haves and the have-nots at one local comp are pretty blatantly segregated from each other by the end of yr 7.

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