My son hasn't even started private school and I am already a nervous freak

(67 Posts)
PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 11:13:21

This September my DS is moving from state to private. My DD will be sitting 7+ exams next January. As things stand, we can afford two private schools on my salary alone.

Private education for my two children has always been my ultimate goal even though our local state schools are supposedly great and both DS and DD have been happy in their schools. But naturally I want the best for them and can't help wondering if they will achieve better in a private system.

Yet, ever since I wrote that cheque confirming our acceptance of DS's place I seem to be on edge all the time. I have a salaried job and some self-employed income and I am terrified at jinxing my good fortune. I am afraid of screwing up at work and risking my job. I fear that I will make a mistake in my freelance project, lose a client and a chunk of income.

And I will have to make the state vs private choice for my DD next year so the troubling thoughts are likely to get worse.

Has anyone experienced the same? How do you reason with yourselves?

dalek Mon 29-Jul-13 11:18:23

If you feel that this is what you want for your children take a deep breath and tell yourself that you will do it for as long as you can - if your circumstances change (and I hope that they will not) then you may have to take the children out of the private school but until then you will do what you believe is the best for them.

All the best to you and your family

dalek Mon 29-Jul-13 11:19:50

This is what we told ourselves when we moved DD (and still tell ourselves). Sadly there are no guarantees with jobs/work etc - you just have to go with what you have today.

encyclogirl Mon 29-Jul-13 11:24:30

Are you me?

DS starts at a fee paying school in September. It is by far and away the best school in our area and we are just delighted to be able to do this for him.

Since I wrote the first cheque I am really nervous though. Lots of our friends were gobsmacked when they found out where we were sending him. Some were a bit hmm about it.

It makes me so jittery. What if we can't sustain it? What if one or both of us lose our jobs?

We have one other dc. She has SN and goes to a special school which is state funded. So we will only ever have one set of fees to find.

We got his uniform at the weekend. He's so excited about going I am terrified of letting him down.

Relieved to see I'm not the only one!!

Ladymuck Mon 29-Jul-13 11:40:04

It may be helpful to think about both children and break down the different stages of education. At each stage we have thought, for each child, what the minimum time commitment should be. We have always tried to have savings earmarked, so that we're not faced with moving a child at a critical point. So for your ds, if starting in year 7, you would want to be able to keep him there until end of Year 8. Then once he starts year 9 you are committed to end of Year 11, then again once he starts 6th form, it is another 2 year commitment.

If you can't earmark the fees until the next obvious moving point, then it is a trickier position overall. You won't be alone, and usually schools will try every thing they can to hold on to pupils. Children are also more resilient than you might think, and they will manage change, especially as they start being old enough to understand that you are not moving them on a whim.

i'm in the same position, my two middle dc start fee paying schools in September to, dd1 will be yr 3 and ds2 will be yr7. I'm incredibly nervous as we are by no means a well off family, and have been fortunate enough to have inherited a trust und specifically for school fees and associated costs. I am worried that the children might not fit in and won't be as well off as other children attending but hopefully I won't matter.

I could afford to send 1dc on my salary alone, so could not have considered it for 4 dc.

My eldest who has just finished gcses looked at some fee paying 6th forms but has decided that the local college offers the courses that he is interested in, so is going to go there instead.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:26:17

Hi encyclogirl, indeed, our circumstances are very similar!

DS's school is not the best (the best has been oversubscribed forever) but is very well regarded. I decided to move him because he will be sitting 11+ exams next January and there didn't seem to be much preparation going on in his state school. This school is also great for sports and music opportunities as well as academically pushy.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:31:52

Ladymuck, that sounds like a sensible approach.

DS is moving in Year 6 so unless he gets into his first-choice senior school (and maybe even if he does) he will stay in his new school for 3 years.

For DD, we are talking junior school - years 3-6.

I too am inclined to take it one step at a time. I may be wrong but I already wonder if they'd done better had they both been in private since reception - in smaller classes, with more dedicated attention - so decided to give it a try and see how it goes. Wasted money is worse than wasted time.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:35:47

I guess what bothers me, maybe even more than the expense, is that I have taken DS from the school he loves (albeit he would have to move in 1 year's time anyway). And looking to move my DD next year - she is currently in infant school so if she goes private she will be taken away from her many friends who will go on to the linked junior school.

So I am looking to uproot two perfectly happy kids for the sake of supposedly better education and better opportunities.

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 12:47:21

Do you have savings? Income insurance? Helps a long way with those jitters. Always good to have one year worth of fees saved up...

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 12:49:19

PS: kids adjust better than adults. They will have new friends in no time and WILL move on...

Sconset Mon 29-Jul-13 12:52:40

I disagree- wasted time can never be regained, wasted money can be reearned.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:52:44

Tasmania, we have savings which would cover at least 2 years of senior school for DS.

How does income insurance work?

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:05:36

Sconset, I actually meant to say the same thing - but as I see I said the opposite!

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 13:09:18

Income insurance / protection (not to be mistaken for the ones offered with mortgages / credit cards)...mine works this way: Should I ever lose my job, I will get 50% of my gross salary a month for up to 6 months (or a year?!? Have to check...). Should be enough to find another job.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:14:07

I guess what bothers me as well is that we do live in an area of great schools, both private and state. And there is huge competition for places between state school applications (especially secondary, and we are in the right catchment). But at the same time, there is a lot of exam frenzy going on for private schools. So there must be something special about them too?

I am not from the UK originally and not knowing the system inside out is making it even more complicated for me.

I guess if my children were totally brilliant in their state schools I would be happy and content. But they are average in English and above average in Maths.

dinkystinky Mon 29-Jul-13 13:22:32

Prettybelle - I'm the same as you. We are moving ds1and ds2 from the local state school around the corner, where they have been pretty happy on the whole, to independent schools for reception and year 3. It would have been a much easier decision to make if they weren't happy. Ds1 had an amazing teacher this year, after 3 years of nice but not so great teachers (he only started reading and starting to write half way through year 1), which has also made me wonder what it would have been like if he'd had teachers like her from the start. Am really hoping the gamble pays off and they are happy at the new school which will be a pain logistically with drop offs and pick ups and that they wont suffer from not having local friends to play out with in years to come.

musicalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 13:25:04

Hi PrettyBelle,
I am also not from the UK and it is all very overwhelming sometimes. I have been on the verge of signing that cheque too and then pulling out at the last minute. I have done this twice now!!

I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else. I felt a bit panicky. Ultimately though you just have to go with your choice and make the best of it. We have decided to keep the children in state primary for the time being until secondary, and save for then.

What tipped it for us is the music ambitions of my DD, which are very expensive and time consuming at the moment. So I think we should wait and see what happens with that in a couple of years' time.

You never know what would have been either way. Good luck with it!!!

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:39:21

Musicalfamily, your words "I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else" are just spot on!

My original plan was to wait until secondary - and for DS that's what's going to happen (although I moved him in year 6 so nearly secondary).

But - I don't know if your family has had this problem - we don't speak English at home and I feel that my children are not quite up there with their English as a result. Over the course of DS's childhood I kept hearing that kids pick up language skills naturally - I suppose they do. But I don't think it happened for DS.

According to his year 5 school report, his reading is above average and his writing is average. Aged 10, he doesn't always understand eveything when he watches a movie or listens to a song and he is not good at comprehension exercises. He is a keen reader but doesn't like "proper" books, he prefers magazines and comic books. I can't be certain of course but I tend to think that being behind in English has hindered his progress overall. So maybe it would have been wiser to send him private for those formative primary years. And that's what I am considering for DD who has exactly the same problem with understanding and vocabularly despite always being considered "very bright".

So the way I see it I may have to pay huge money just for the sake of my children, who were both born here, getting a proper grasp of English.

Please forgive the soul-searching here...

musicalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 13:59:58

I do strongly believe that being bilingual has its compromises.

Whilst it is wonderful for a child to learn two languages, in my experience some things have to give. For example if you are supporting their reading/writing/maths it is impossible to do it in a different language (very confusing, especially when they are young), also if you are reading a book in your original language you are not doing it in your own.

I struggle with this a lot and unfortunately felt on my own on this subject as people tend to think it is all incredibly easy and don't really understand the challenges one faces on a day to day basis.

I found that my children's original mother tongue has suffered because of this, and I am forever trying to catch up with one at the expense of the other. This summer for example I have decided they will be spending it with my parents in my original country, and they will be reading and writing in that language too. This will mean their English will slip (both reading and writing) but ultimately that's the way it is.

So I don't have an answer but I agree that it is very hard!!

Xihha Mon 29-Jul-13 14:24:39

DD starts at a private prep in September, we are not a well off family either but, like Dontletthemgetyoudown, DD's school fees are coming from a trust fund. I am quite worried about her fitting in as we are a lot less well off than the other parents, also I'm a little worried about the cost of the uniform (especially the £90 blazer with a 4 year old who would lose her own head if it wasn't screwed on)

What I'm more worried about is that dd had a lot of friends at playschool but they are all going to the state primary and all the kids in her new class went to the prep's nursery together so already know each other whilst dd doesn't know anyone.

encyclogirl Mon 29-Jul-13 14:32:02

Agree with this to the nth degree:

I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else

If we didn't send ds we would be seriously better off. I would not have to panic about the security of my job for the next 6 years and we could afford an extra holiday while putting a decent chunk of money extra into savings.

On this basis we vacillated for 2 years before we applied to the school, then we told noone, not even ds until he had a place.

Then we got the acceptance letter and we knew, absolutely, we were going to do it. Then we told ds and he cried, bless him. At that point I felt the pressure of making sure we can finance this all the way to the end.

We have the first 3 years fees saved in a fund. Hopefully we can leave that there and pay year on year.

OP, this thread is really helping me, I haven't vocalised this anywhere apart from with dh, so thank you smile

Parmarella Mon 29-Jul-13 14:32:10

Maybe a bit late, but imo only do private if you have one ortwo years of fees sitting in bank to tide over any tough times as freelancer.

britishsummer Mon 29-Jul-13 16:09:46

I agree that being bilingual is a huge advantage and from our experience, children do catch up with English and in fact often English dominates as that is the language of their peers. I would stick to speaking the non-English language at home, sometimes it is the minor faults of a non native speaker that the children unconsciously pick up on and may cause their problems with their English.
You may not want to hear this but unless you are absolutely convinced that the particular private schools are absolutely worth it, IMO it is better to supplement with one to one tuition (I have DC in both sectors but would only pay for a school that was really worth it not just because of the perceived advantages of private). Obviously if your DC had a peer group that dissuaded them from trying their hardest in state or private that would be an reason to change, however happy they are.
I suppose you could always change your DS back to your secondary state if the private school was not living up to expectations

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 16:52:50

britishsummer, I tried one to one tutors. Spoke with four, two had lessons with DS over the course of Year 5. I don't knowhow much use they were, to be honest, although both came recommended. Maybe I was just unlucky. Another factor is both I and DH work full-time so finding time for tutors was nearly impossible because we would only get home at 6 pm on a week-day.

britishsummer Mon 29-Jul-13 17:23:41

Your private school may have excellent teachers, better than the tutors you tried in which case it will be very much worth it. It may have extracurricular provision and wrap around care that you could n't match logistically because of working full time which would help make it worth the possible financial risk. However it is worth keeping an open mind and finding out more over the next year for example are the academic results of the private school due to extra stuff the pupils do at home (parents or tutors) rather than the quality of the teaching?
it is definitely worth talking to as many parents as possible whose DC are at the later stages of going through the private system in your area to work out what are the real advantages rather than hype.

fabricmum Mon 29-Jul-13 20:24:23

I've just spent the last three years paying my sons school fees. He's going onto a state secondary school now, the pressure to pay his fees for the last three years has almost killed me and i wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Think very carefully before sending a child to private school, it is my no means the golden ticket. My son is dyslexic and is average academically and i've discovered from experience that the state system is better set up for this, particularly at secondary level. He did go to a very good prep school, mixed ability. The facilities are great, but often that's all your paying for and it's been proven that small class sizes don't do anything, it's the quality of the teaching that matters.

Runningchick123 Mon 29-Jul-13 21:19:35

fabricmum I agree that children with dyslexia or other identified learning needs are better catered for in the state sector, partly due to the availability of additional funds to support the learning need.
However, I disagree about your point on class sizes as there has been lots of research done n the subject matter and it shows that the brightest children suffer more in large classes due to the difficulties of teaching a mixed ability class of 30 children.

I think different schools suit different children. I have one in state and one in private and they are both well suited to their schools due to having different needs and different personalities. I worry enormously about the viability of affording school fees long term but I think that worry is natural and comes with the territory as nobody wants to move their child to a new school if they are happy. There isn't, however, a feeling that my child doesn't fit in due to us not having the same spending power as some of the other parents or driving a top level range rover. All the parents and children at the private school get along with each other as much as they do at the state school. There isn't an air of needing to keep up with the joneses - that's just an urban myth.

britishsummer Mon 29-Jul-13 21:40:12

As an aside to what has just been said, OP you have had problems even with the help of recommendations in finding a single tutor who gets the best out of your son in a one to one situation. This is emblematic of why it is often so difficult to be confident of the extra quality that any private school may offer an individual child. Unfortunately if we do get it wrong, unlike changing tutors, changing schools can't be done too many times as we risk messing up our children's all important building of friendships, particularly at the secondary stage.
There is also the trap that one has less and less time to spend with one's DC because of having to work more hours to cover the fees.

fabricmum Mon 29-Jul-13 21:43:34

I definitely don't or have never tried to keep up with the joneses, you would need to be extremely shallow or stupid to do that whilst paying school fees. In my experience, most people i've met who pay school fees, either have them paid by grandparents or earn enough a month to cover them, generally company directors or bankers. I live in the south east where many parents are taking on extra mortgages to pay for school fees which is dangerous in my opinion, I've watched them like lemmings.
Parents who choose to pay for private schooling come in two categories: they were privately educated themselves and consider it's the only way, or two, they had a crap education themselves and don't want to subject their kids to the same fate. I'm of the latter, but having slogged my guts out for three years, i consider that my and my family's quality of life is better.

Runningchick123 Tue 30-Jul-13 06:39:43

fabricmum there aren't many bankers or company director parents at my sons private school. It must be different in the south east as up here in the north west prep school fees average £2300 per term and senior school fees around £3300 per term. It is expensive, but probably cheaper than your south east schools, lots of the parents (including teaching assistants, nurses, labourers, secretaries, small business owners) afford the fees by sacrificing foreign holidays and new cars etc. There are some parents who are quite wealthy (probably a 50:50 split) but like you said people would need to be stupid to try and keep up with the joneses.

Zigster Tue 30-Jul-13 09:42:07

I'm in a similar situation to fabricmum. DW was privately educated and thinks it is the only way; I was state educated and it was frankly abysmal. So DSs have been privately educated to date.

But the fees merry go round is such a chore. I earn a good income and feel like I should be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, but the school fees are such a big sum of money that it is a constant pressure. Also, for reasons I won't bore you with, I'm looking at a career change - and I can't do that with the pressure of school fees. The career change is likely to mean lower income but also shorter hours so I can spend more time with the family.

It's not even the early years school fees at £2.5k-£3k per term, it's the senior school fees in the future which go up to about £7.5k per term at the moment which I need to save for now as I can't afford £4k per month out of net salary when they get to GCSE and sixth-form age. And fees have been going up at a much faster rate than my salary over the last 5 years - at that rate it will be unaffordable in the future. I suspect many of the prep school parents have their heads in the sand over it (those that aren't absolutely minted or have trust funds/generous grandparents).

The problem is that once you are in private schools, it is difficult to leave. You feel like you are letting your children down as the school has been such a focus and you have convinced yourself that the better education is worth the huge cost (it's a big mindshift to move away from that), and you don't want to take your kids away from their friends (easier to do when they are young than when they are teenagers). There is the difficulty of then getting the kids back into the state sector - if it's a good school, chances are there is a big waiting list. Even if you do get offered a place at the state school, the private schools can have quite onerous withdrawal clauses.

duchesse Tue 30-Jul-13 09:45:40

Believe me it never gets any easier to sign away those ££££ every term. You just do it while you can and if the luck/money runs out you think of something else. If your state system is good you know that will always be there if you need it. It doesn't matter if DC change schools, really it doesn't.

duchesse Tue 30-Jul-13 09:47:16

Zig- Aaaargh and shock at £7500/term. Here in the SW senior school is £3500/term and most people struggle with that. We simply could not afford it at your local prices.

TheRealFellatio Tue 30-Jul-13 09:53:37

I think this is a very normal reaction. The fear is that your circumstances will change, and you mayto suffer the humiliation of having to pull them out, making them leave behind their friends, and that you will have forfeited the chance of a half-decent state school place elsewhere and they will all be full, so they end up somewhere awful. Which is a worse scenario than if you'd just accepted a good state school in the first place! Or that you can manage it for the first but come the time for DC2 you find you cannot manage it for the second, so will have all the guilt attached to that.

There are no solutions to this - all big financial commitments are a worry! All you can do is be realistic and honest about your finances and your forward projections, and act accordingly. If in any serious doubt, don't do it. The pressure and the stress will eat you up.

PrettyBelle Tue 30-Jul-13 09:59:56

britishsummer, thanks for your post. On the subject of tutors - I wouldn't say that they couldn't get the best out of my son. Our first one was an all-rounder i.e. she prepared him for Maths, English and VR. And as far as I could tell all she was doing was go through the 11+ Bond books with him - which we could do with him at home for free. DH is a Uni professor so he has been doing Maths with him - thanks to which DS was one of the top Maths students in his class. So no problem here. With VR, DS seemed to be doing well by himself. My main concern was and remains English so our second tutor was only preparing him for English. He was good and DS loved their lessons but in my opinion it just wasn't enough - one hour a week and a bit of homework. I guess if we could afford more time with that English tutor the effect would have been better but we couldn't do afternoons on weekdays. Actually he was the one who advised me to consider movong DS to private for preparation for 11+exam.

encyclogirl Tue 30-Jul-13 10:08:11

My sons' school is a 50:50 split also from what I can see. Southern Ireland so the fees are a lot cheaper than SE England. Not to be sneezed at either mind you! €3k per term.

Before ds was accepted I was looking a complete career change. I've now made the commitment to my job for the next 6 years (6 year cycle in Ireland). If we weren't doing this, I would be looking to bail much earlier.

I've made my peace with that turn of events and now I worry that I can manage to not lose my stressy job!

PrettyBelle Tue 30-Jul-13 10:23:14

Thanks very much everyone to your posts so far. I sort of resigned myself to funding DS's private education until Uni - unless our money situation changes dramatically or he is very unhappy in private school.

He is bright, everybody says that, but, as often the case with boys, he needs pushing. As soon as DH started doing Maths with him at home he shot up to the top set in three months. And if I feel I can help my 6-year old DD with her schooling I sure cannot cover the senior school programme for my DS is I feel he is not getting enough at the state school. So as much as I want private prep school for DD too I realise that DS's education is more crucial - albeit more expensive.

That's part of my reasoning...

PrettyBelle Tue 30-Jul-13 10:26:07

PS. Sorry for the typos! Don't see an option for editing posts here...

TheRealFellatio Tue 30-Jul-13 10:27:02

You don't need to justify/explain why you want to send him to anybody. You just need to be sure that you can afford it without creating undue stress.

sussexmum38 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:43:41

We have financially struggled to put dd's through private education. We went private due to their dyslexia and needed the smaller classes and one to one teaching. Naturally we wanted to give them the best chance even if we had to make do. Everything has been expensive. We thought that if we couldn't find the money we would put them back in the state system. Some of their friends have had to do that. No problem on the education side but their biggest challenges was the bullying by the kids.

Their rich friends and parents accepted our poverty. I don't think that it mattered one bit. The real time that it was noticeable was at party time. Birthday parties and gifts were lavish ours was a trip to Pizza Express.

You have to do what you feel is the best.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 30-Jul-13 10:53:00

Sorry PrettyBelle, I don't understand why your DS's education is more crucial?

I think there can be a bit of an Emperor's New Clothes effect with private schools. The very large cost makes people think there must be something excellent about them, but that isn't necessarily the case.

SunnyIntervals Tue 30-Jul-13 10:57:46

Watching with interest and hand holding.

DS is only 2 and I would prefer state for him really. But he is late summer born and young for his age. I know a lot can change, but we are looking at a Montessori attached to a very caring prep with small class sizes (gulp)

PrettyBelle Tue 30-Jul-13 11:01:12

ElephantsAndMiasmas, because he is older so his education is more complex at the senior stage, so to say... Also he needs more attention and structure - whereas my girl is a keen learner on her own initiative so is likely to do well regardless.

Our state school, although well regarded, is huge. 10 classes per year. I am concerned he will be "lost" there.

These are my thoughts anyway. Am I missing something?

Still, she will be sitting 7+ exams next year so if she gets in her first or second choice school she will probably go private too.

Runningchick123 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:22:15

prettybelle yo don't have to justify your choice that private is more crucial for your DS at this stage than it is for your DD. you know your children best and what will suit their personalities and learning style best.
I have one son in state and one son in private and the decision has been based on what suits each of them as an individual, what makes them happiest and what helps them to learn in the way most appropriate to their individual needs. I don't feel guilty for spending more money on one sons education than the other and nor will I feel disappointed if the privately educated son decides not to go to uni.
As long as each of my children reaches their potential at school and is happy then I am happy.

encyclogirl Tue 30-Jul-13 11:54:50

My dd has SN and is in a state funded unit attached to a mainstream school. I could not buy a better quality education for her. Her teachers, SNAs and the wider school population have made the experience fantastic, it's a local comp, newly built and the facilities are amazing. We have totally lucked out with the unit coordinator too, and e works like a dog for the students.

It is exactly the right school for her and she is dying to get back in September.

Ds is going private because we have identified this is the exactly the right school for him.

We've had a few raised eyebrows locally because he's not going to be attending dd's school. We have our reasons, mostly because I represent the Special Needs unit on dd's School Board and I know a bit too much about the mainstream section of the school. I would never disseminate any of that information but it's enough for me to know that we are doing the right thing not sending ds there.

fabricmum Tue 30-Jul-13 12:36:08

Our main problem being in the south east is that the senior selective schools are priced okay (4-5k). But the 2 unselective senior schools near us (from y9 onwards) are sooo expensive. We first registered our DS 2 year ago when the fees were £4950 per term so just about affordable, they've now gone up to £6200. So by the time he would start we reckoned they'd be about £6800 per term, which is outrageous amount of money considering it's not even for boarding.
The price of senior schools are just going up and up, and when the money dries up these schools are going to be in trouble although i suppose the wealth in my area means they'll sustain the interest.

britishsummer Tue 30-Jul-13 22:08:06

PrettyB, it sounds as though you think the possible secondary private schools in your area are very much worth an extra push at this stage for at least your DS. He is extremely unlikely to be unhappy at his new school.
Look forward to hearing an update from you. We have experienced excellence in both sectors as well as mediocrity in a private prep (but the DC had a great social time there so it definitely had its benefits!).

Xihha Wed 31-Jul-13 00:27:53

Their rich friends and parents accepted our poverty. I don't think that it mattered one bit.

Sussexmum, that is so good to know, I hope dd's school friends are the same. I don't know anyone who has gone to private school other than my mum who went 40 years ago so I have no idea what the children and their parents are likely to be like!

OP, I'm so glad you put this up, it has made me far less worried, hope you are feeling better about it all too

primroseyellow Wed 31-Jul-13 00:54:54

Years ago a relative got an 'assisted place' so the govt paid the basic fees but parents found there were loads of 'extras' eg cost of school bus, lunches, after school clubs, uniform and endless very specific kit for every sort of sport, need for new shoes because the black ones purchased did not meet the standard required (coloured stitching!), replacement kit for that lost, 'damage' payments, swimming, music etc etc etc. Relative did not rate the teaching and returned to local comp in Y9 and has done extremely well since.

janji Wed 31-Jul-13 01:46:51

This actually happened to me! I lost my job and our income halved! However, we jiggled finances, I took any (temp) job I could and our dd is still luckily in school. The simple answer is that I've found that even if the worse happens, as a parent you will always find a way!

Dozer Wed 31-Jul-13 10:18:07

Relate to what you're saying about the worries, but in general (exceptional circumstances like SN aside) wouldn't educate one DC privately and not others, recipe for problems IMO.

OnGoldenPond Wed 31-Jul-13 14:06:28

What if local girls comp is outstanding, but local boys comp is in special measures Dozer?

PrettyBelle Wed 31-Jul-13 14:24:12

I did give some thought to the notion that if I were to send DS to a private school it would be fair to do it for DD too. At least for secondary (DS is moving in Year 6, after all). So if worse comes to worse I will at least have 1 set of school fees to deal with at a time (bar some overlap when DS is in his final school years).

But to me, it's not about treating them equally but about offering the best to both of them. After all, DS's school will be much more expensive (boys school generally are) so it's not like I will be spending equal money on them.

Xihha Wed 31-Jul-13 14:27:53

Why is it a recipe for problems Dozer?

My eldest is at an outstanding state school and daughter was offered a school in special measures, which is why we are sending her to private school, we asked ds if he wanted to go too but he says he doesn't want to change schools, he's happy where he is, the quality of teaching there is excellent, the sports facilities are good (which is important to him) and he is well above average for his age in all his subjects, dd's school is more focused on art/music/drama, which is perfect for dd but ds would hate so I genuinely don't see the point in changing schools for him.

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 11:51:07

Thank you for your views so far.

I am feeling so stressed out I cannot imagine how I am going to last until September at this rate.

It's not just about money. I guess I still can't get over the fact that DS was happy at his old school and it was a very popular school too. With this, I cannot help feeling like an inadequate parent who is imagining problems and has too much spare money which she is itching to spend.

I moved DS for the following reasons:

1) ensure adequate preparation for 11+ exam. His state school does get some boys in too but as far as I understand they are either naturally very gifted or had proper tutoring - and neither would be the case for DS.
2) his state school was rated satisfactory in the recent OFSTED report and I have been unhappy about their way of teaching for quite a while.
3) I want DS to go private for secondary and I wanted him to get used to new sports, to become better in music, to raise his level in specialist subjects (his general knowledge is really low).

All of the above, I hope, will be provided in a private setting.

I don't know why I am still not fully content with my decision. FWIW, I didn't take up a place in private school for DD because I thought that her current infant school was enough for now - and I am still not sure if it was a right decision. Now, for DD I did take up the place - but now worried none the less.

Thanks for reading. Ifanyone has any thoughts I would be really greatful to hear them.

Runningchick123 Thu 01-Aug-13 13:42:44

When my son changed from state school to private I shared all of your concerns mentioned above. I spent 2 months agonising over whether to take the plunge and move him then i signed the enrolment forms and then the next six months waiting for the new school year to arrive (when he was moving) and fretting about it all.
Our sons state school was hopeless - bullying, poor teaching, judgemental management; it was generally an unhappy and uselss place but our son didn't really want to move despite being unhappy as he was anxious about starting afresh and not fitting in.
A week into his new school and i Knew we had made the right decision. Our own was happy, he was learning loads, he was fitting in well with his peer group and he was going to get the teaching that he needed to take selective school exams. We haven't looked back since and our only worry is the school fees and making sure we can afford it on a continuos basis.
The private school has specialist subject teachers, good facilities, good pastoral care, good teaching and is a great environment for children to learn in.
If our son had been at a good state school with good pupil behaviour and good pastoral care then I would have probably got a tutor for the selective school exam prep, but the school was so hopeless that a couple of hours a week with a tutor was never going to be enough.

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 15:15:43

Runningchick123, thanks for sharing your experience. My son's state school was good in a way that staff was always friendly and available, the general mood was great and it was a happy place (I think). The only problem, in my opinion, was with education. They don't stream for English and Maths, don't have homework - something which DS needs and something from which any child would benefit, IMO. DS is behind in English - he has never caught up.

I read so many negative threads here about teachers and schools that it makes me wonder whether his school is actually great. And that if DS is not achieving there he would not achieve elsewhere. I have nothing to compare it with and it's killing me because I have to make this choice for DD next year - does she go to the same state school as DS's? To another state school? To a private school?

I feel like I am missing something very important here and that's why this choice is so difficult.

The funny thing is, I am nearly 100% sure that unless our situation changes dramatically that DS will go private for secondary. So it's really a matter of next year only. Even if his new private prep school would be disappointing he won't have to stay more than 1 year.

Am I really fretting that much just because he won't be in his state school for Year 6??? Why the hell am I killing myself if just a few months ago I was so determined to move him??? If anything, I was worried that he won't get in!

Anyway, nobody here can answer that for me. It just helps to vent. Thank you.

britishsummer Thu 01-Aug-13 16:03:30

Pretty, I may have missed it but how does your DS feel about the move? Wondered whether any anxiety about the move on his part is contributing to yours?
All your reasons make a lot of sense, plus moving for year 6 will give him a head start in making friends for the private secondary ( as well as hopefully keeping his old friends from primary)

fabricmum Thu 01-Aug-13 19:47:02

The only thing i can say is, preparation for the 11+ starts much earlier than Y6. Some parents start tutoring (not me!) from Y3 onwards. The 11+ exam is sat in October where I live and the results are given out fairly quickly now.
The school should know whether they consider your son would pass, I would hazard a guess that if he isn't academic enough to pass the 11+ he won't get into the most selective schools either.

I would also add, that I'm a great believer in sticking to your original decision as it's normally the right one, probably made when you were thinking rationally. You've probably just got last minute panics which will pass when you decide to stick to your original choice.
If the money really isn't an issue then i'd certainly give it a go, my son made loads of lovely friends when he attended a private school. These children enriched his life as they were from all over the world.
If we weren't priced out of the system i would've preferred he stayed in the private sector but sadly our circumstances just won't stretch to another 5 years of paying school fees.
Perhaps if finances allow, move your daughter either beginning Y3 or Y4 just as the junior school starts.

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 21:23:39

fabricmum, we started preparation for 11+ from the beginning of Year 5 - he has had a tutor and has also been doing practice papers 3-4 times a week. So he had a full year so far. In our area, exams are in January.

For secondary, we are aiming for the only local boys senior school in the area which also happens to be highly popular so the competition will be fierce and DS's new school did point out that they cannot guarantee that they have time to prepare him. Yet, not all their pupils get into that senior school even if they've been there since Reception so there are no guarantees anyway.

At the entrance assessment he got high scores in English and Maths so he is at the level of the other pupils.

Money is not an issue in the sense that we can afford the fees without stretching ourselves. At the same time, we have mortgage so there are of course other ways to spend £12K per year!

Why would you have preferred to stay in the private system?

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 21:34:56

I guess - sorry, I keep on rambling but it helps to express my thoughts in writing! - what scares me is the unknown. I have been thinking about private education for a few years now and now that this is finally happening I am nervous.

I am not doing it for "elitism" or whatever, the only thing I am after is better education and better opportunities for DS.

So I have decided - I will keep an open mind, we will see how this year goes. DS will resume preparation for 11+ in September which in combination with the prep school should give him the best chance to get into that senior school. If he does, then we will decide whether he wants to join it at 11 or stay in his prep school until 13. If he doesn't - by then I will have visited other senior schools and - again combined with the prep school experience - it will hopefully give me a clearer idea of what I can expect from private education and whether it's worth the expense. After all, we did buy our lovely but overpriced house for the sake of being in the catchment area from one of the best secondary comp schools in the county. So he can always go there and maybe after a year of spending huge money on fees I will feel differently about state education.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

everlong Fri 02-Aug-13 04:28:03

I was like this 3 years ago after pulling ds out of his outstanding c of e village school.

I now come out in hives just thinking about what if I hadn't moved him.

Try not to worry. Any change causes stress and uncertainty. It will be fine I bet.

glastocat Fri 02-Aug-13 05:04:51

I would think very carefully about finances before putting my child into private school. My husband won a scholarship to boarding school when he was a child. His parents had a farm, so while not poor, were certainly not rich. My husband was horribly bullied, most of the boys were from very rich families and treated the poorer children like shit. He eventually refused to go back and his entire (expensive) education went up the spout. He isn't bitter about it, but it was pretty disastrous for him. This was an Irish school in the 80s, probably things are better now but it's certainly something to consider.

Runningchick123 Fri 02-Aug-13 06:54:44

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

It does sound like a reasonable plan, but as fabric mum says above; most prep starts before y6 for the majority. If it is just fine tuning that your son needs then a couple of months (exams oct/ nov) might be ok, but best to get down to whsmith and get him some bond reasoning books to start practising now and give him a kick start before school starts.
Most prep schools which go to year 6 dont take new pupils after the start of year 5 because they need more than a few months for exam preparation but if they have assessed your son already then they must have seen potential in him to pass his exams with only a short prep time.
If he isn't ready for senior school next year then he can do the extra couple years at his prep school and be super ready for the 13+. The schools up north don't have a 13+ intake and the prep schools only go up to year 6 so we have to do senior school at the 11+ stage (hence the prep schools stop taking new pupils at year 5).
I'm sure you will be back posting at the end of October telling us how the school move is the best decision you have ever made and your only concern is how to afford it for your daughter as well.

fabricmum Fri 02-Aug-13 08:41:11

Definitely agree with Runningchick. Give it the year and see how things go.
Regarding, why i'd like to stick with the private sector, a few reasons, most idealistic, but there's nothing wrong in that. I'm not heartbroken or anything, it's just one of those things.
Secondary school can do weird things with boys, Y8 is a bad year for example, (I have an older boy, now working), so i know where the potential pitfalls are. But my older boy came out of the state sector unscathed so i'm sure it will all work out in the end. If it doesn't we'll have to cross that bridge if it comes and find the 6k a term. Help!!

PrettyBelle Thu 05-Sep-13 13:48:22

Thank you so much for your insightful posts and your support. I thought I would post an update.

A few days before the start of the school year DS mentioned that he "actually wants to go" to the new school which was a major relief for me because I hadn't touched the subject for the whole of August. Yesterday was his first day and he came back excited and in the best mood. He showed me his diary, timetable, some school books, told me how delicious his lunch was and how he could get on the football team. His form tutor is very lovely.

I know it's early days but the new school is already different from the old one - it has specialist subjects, it has a timetable so I know what my son is doing every day, he will get homework, he has French 4 days a week and brought home his new workbooks for me to see. I hope his enthusiasm won't wane because apart from excitement he is also looking at doing much more work than before.

Anyway. fingers crossed, I think we are off to a good start. smile

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now