Independant education - are we overstretching ourselves?

(112 Posts)
Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 15:49:32

We are in very early stages here of just looking into options. Have just done some figures and after paying all bills/expenses for our home etc, were we to send DD to private school we would have an average of £300 left per month for anything non essential (and that would have to cover cost of clothes and going out etc but not petrol/insurances/food/bills/mortgage). Does this sound unreasonable or doable? We would certainly not be able to save anything (we try to now but not a huge amount) and would struggle when things need doing on the house/we need a new car etc, but we would be able to live and eat, go on one cheapish weeks holiday a year, have a nice but budgeted life. To me education is very important, but I don't know if I'm over reaching things here and would be interested in opinions on how this sounds, it's so much money for us but can you put a price on a good education... thanks

derektheladyhamster Mon 05-Aug-13 15:51:06

It's probably more than we have left over! As long as we can feed/clothe and house ourselves I'm happy.

musicalfamily Mon 05-Aug-13 16:02:03

Have you factored in things like:
Cost of uniform
School trips
Lunches
Extra chargeable lessons, e.g. music
You don't say if this is for primary or secondary school, obviously they will be scaled up for secondary in terms of how expensive they are.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 05-Aug-13 16:06:59

It's 'doable' but it's not fun. All you'll do is work and pay the bills. As musicalfamily points out, does it include the uniform/lunches/trips etc? Do you have a separate allowance for emergencies (new fridge) or Christmas/birthdays? Also school fees tend to rise per year, sometimes by 3.5%, sometimes more as it depends on the school. If you have a good state school near by then you should look into sending her there and doing extra activities with the money that you save.

homebythesea Mon 05-Aug-13 16:07:33

depends...

Have you factored in 4-5% increases in fees year on year - will your income keep up with that? Have you factored in extras such as uniforms, trips, books, lunches, after school care all or some of which will not be included

How old is your DD ie how many years are you looking at? Are you likely to get any inheritances in that period - venal I know but worth thinking about. Any further children to consider?

Is it really sensible to live without any kind of financial cushion? What happens when the boiler blows up, the clutch on the car goes, you get ill and need to take time off work etc etc etc

What is it about the private school you think will provide a benefit that will trump your limited financial future? I honestly think that unless your alternatives are truly dire the benefit of a private education are not worth the stress you may be putting your family under to find the fees. Being able to tutor where necessary and go on trips and holidays and do dancing or music or sport or whatever to provide experiences and education outside of school might be a better way to spend less money to get the same outcome

<disclaimer - our children have been privately educated but it's never been a struggle financially and I think that my kids would have done equally well in the state sector as it's turned out>

Howstricks Mon 05-Aug-13 16:12:15

We have managed so far. I guess it is important to think of a plan b if your financial situation changes and yes, factor in the extras like uniform, trips etc. We have never regretted it and both kids have been very happy but we have had to cut down in other areas and plan ahead.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 16:33:15

Thanks for the quick replies. It's for primary (she's going into the nursery soon so we want to pick a nursery she would continue through to the school). We have 11+ here so it would be in the hope she would be in grammar for secondary, but go on to private secondary if we had to.

We do have savings for essential problems of a few k so we do have somewhat of a fall back if anything goes wrong with the house etc, but would struggle to replace the car easily (by the time DD would finish primary school it would be as old as she is)

I have incorporated fees and lunches into the cost along with expected fee increases, but not uniform (we would get second hand, the school has an outlet for this) or extra's/trips (I don't know how much to budget for this. I've asked the school how much to expect for this and they just say they keep it as low and reasonable as they can and they don't charge for text books). She would only use late stay and school buses very occasionally and extra lessons (eg music lessons) we might not do through the school in any case (but these would be an extra cost granted)

We are unlikely to get any inheritances in this period but my parents are paying half the fees (we wouldn't be able to afford it at all otherwise) so the prices I've said are for us paying half fees.

I'm concerned about expectations DD will have to have huge expensive birthday parties/designer clobber etc, but hopefully she'll understand.

Home our local state is awful, simply awful, I would do anything other than send her there. Having worked in state vs independant and been educated in state then grammar and a sister educated in private the thing that pulls me to private is the small class sizes, nurturing environment, high expectations, more individualised care, support and teaching. It's so hard to know what the best thing to do is though...

invicta Mon 05-Aug-13 16:35:40

Are you eligible for any bursaries or scholarships at the school?

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 16:40:15

I don't know, they say on their website they will expect you to sell other properties etc before they consider this (we own our home outright and have a small buy to let mortgage property which is our retirement nest egg property) although our actual income in our pockets is not high. I also am a bit confused about asking this before we join, I was thinking more if a change of circumstance happens I would discuss it with them then.

Howstricks Mon 05-Aug-13 16:57:47

Regarding the designer clothes, huge parties etc. We have a modest house, lifestyle etc and neither child has any designer clothes.Neither have ever had any problems related to this apart from an unrequited desire to go to Disneyland!! There are some schools where this is a stigma but not the ones mine went too and i'm sure you'd have got wind of any snobbery when you looked round. Of course there are some lucky rich so and so's smile but there are a lot like us, working hard to get our children a good education. (Now i sound like a soapbox!) Like you our local state was dire which was a shame..we did try it..so it wasn't a hard decision! The eldest dd now goes to grammar which is free..who knows about the youngest..I may yet be selling body parts on ebay!!

newpup Mon 05-Aug-13 16:58:00

Hello. We send our Dds to a private school and it s worth every penny. I just wanted to point out that in this area fees rise about 5-6% every year and this is fairly usual in the private sector. Good luck.

Somethingyesterday Mon 05-Aug-13 17:03:21

Reastie - don't wait until your daughter is in the school to enquire about bursaries. Nowadays schools want to choose their bursary recipients for what they can bring to the school - rather than being "bounced" into offering them to unexpectedly needy parents. The bursary is for a child who simply could not get there without it. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

If you have a second property there is no chance of a bursary unless you sell it. They would expect you to have worked out your priorities.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 05-Aug-13 17:06:46

Something is right. I'm a single mother, I don't own a house or a car but pay full fees (and he's a straight A student). They will want you on the breadline to qualify for help.

Zigster Mon 05-Aug-13 17:10:35

I think private education is great (smaller class sizes, emphasis on confidence and sports, etc) so worth making some sacrifiices.

But, for me, your suggested sacrifices are too much. £300 pm left over for non-essentials such as clothes (!) is not a lot.

If sacrifices involved driving an older, cheaper car then fair enough. If the car is on its last legs and there is no spare cash for repairs or replacement, that's a problem.

My kids' prep has just changed the uniform slightly - now includes a yellow stripe - so second-hand is non-existent at the moment. If even a small change like that would scupper your budget, then I think it is a stretch too far.

If there is no margin for the unexpected in your budget, it sounds like a recipe for stressed, unhappy parents.

A relative said at the weekend when we discussed it (having a wobble about the cost stretching ahead of us for umpteen years) with them that if you thought about the finances, you wouldn't do it. I'd agree with that but it's not in my nature not to think carefully about the finances. And then you realise just what a huge sum of money it is for something just a little better than the State provides for "free".

Somethingyesterday Mon 05-Aug-13 17:14:22

Sorry, my previous post sounds much less sympathetic than I meant it to. If you haven't yet seen any bursary application forms you may not be aware that you are obliged to list all your assets as well as income. (And they visit your house to check.) People have been told to re-mortgage their homes as well as selling second homes etc.

I can't comment on whether you are likely to be able to manage on your current income - but perhaps you could rethink your assets?

I don't think the bursaries are for those who have a NFL and own their own home outright thu. Given that you could just remortgage if you needed to, and that £300 is a really big cushion actually, I think it sounds like you can easily afford it.

For NFL read BTL! My biggest concern in your position would be whether your parents can definitely afford the 50% for the whole school career.

OhTinky Mon 05-Aug-13 17:20:01

Would it put a lot of pressure on your parents too - what I'd they stopped being able to afford their half?

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 18:33:46

They could afford it (my parents) throughout DDs primary education as they have inherited a fair bit and want to help out. They also have good financial circumstances in general.

It's interesting peoples perceptions of £300 a month cushioning vary so greatly! I know we could afford it, it's just are the sacrifices worth it, will it put financial pressure on us, can we justify the cost when we can get her educated for 'free', how will we cope struggling to make major purchases (eg car)....

Re: bursaries. I think we wouldn't be suitable as our position is too good for a bursary. My only experience of bursaries is at my sisters school her best friends mum went to the HT and told them they had a change of financial circumstances meaning they couldn't afford the full fees and unless the school could help them out they would have to move her. She was a bright student and they wanted to keep her. they helped them out towards paying fees. I'm not sure how (un)usual this is. I can't see us mortgaging our house or selling the other property (we have discussed this) as the other properties rental income would be used to pay for her secondary school fees once the mortgage is paid off when she gets towards the end of primary school, and we want the property as a retirement investment. DH could look to extend the morgage a little perhaps to reduce monthly payments though, that might give us a little more a month.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 18:38:19

Try living on that amount for six months and see how it feels, it's the only way of knowing if it's doable. Are you planning any more children?

keepsmiling12345 Mon 05-Aug-13 18:39:07

I don't want to sound harsh but I can't see why the school would ever be happy for you to have a second property (as well as owning your house outright) and still give you a bursary, either at the start or if your income changed. And yes, if you have a second property as a retirement pot or ready to sell for secondary fees then of course £300 is a comfortable cushion each month...because you've always got that asset to fall back on.

Coconutty Mon 05-Aug-13 18:44:50

You wouldn't qualify for a bursary at any school I know of with your circumstance so put that idea out of the equation.

I think you could do it with that much left over but would be a bit of a squeeze. What are your other alternatives like? Could she go state for infant/primary for example?

JohnnyUtah Mon 05-Aug-13 18:48:53

IndependEnt.

I wouldn't do it if things were that tight. I definitely don't think you could do it for 14 years. What if she doesn't pass the eleven plus? We felt that private secondary was more important than private primary.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 18:52:22

No more children planned

Sorry, you understood me wrong, I wasn't expecting to have or looking to seek, a bursary.

messalina Mon 05-Aug-13 18:58:59

i personally think it is not worth it and i do have insider knowledge. you are going to need the school and your DD to work extra hard for the money as you are going to have to make considerable sacrifices. Will you think it is worth it if DD doesn't especially take to it and doesnt seem to be doing particularly well? Am sure she could well love it and do brilliantly but if she doesnt are the sacrifices worthwhile?

Marmitelover55 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:10:36

We considered private for our DD1 who has just finished Y6, as we really didn't fancy our catchment school. DD1 did the entrance exams and was offered a place, but fortunately she also got a place at a local girls academy with a lottery system in place (I had hardly dared to dream of this out come).

I have to say I still sometimes wake in the night in a cold sweat thinking that we are committed to the school fees, and is such a relief when I realise that we haven't got to pay.

My parents had also offered to help out a bit with the fees, but I was worried that they may suddenly need the money for some form of care, as they are in their late 80s.

Good luck with what ever you decide to do - I'm sure that you can make it work smile

Bowlersarm Mon 05-Aug-13 19:19:02

Go for it OP. Sacrifices are worth it, IMO. If it really really gets too tight then you can pull her out. It wouldn't be ideal but people move their children for schools all the time.

And no one will ever be able to take those years, however many there are, away from her.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:21:03

What would you spend the money on if you don't send you DD to private school? Do you think whatever it is would make you happier than having her at the school but having to stick to a more limited budget? How does your DH feel about your parents paying the fees?

Abra1d Mon 05-Aug-13 19:24:13

I'd save the money on early years at primary and go independent (not independant, btw) when your daughter is older: perhaps eight or so. Frankly, the teaching in many good state primaries is better in the early years than it is in the private sector (my children went to private schools that had reception-year six in them but did not themselves start privately until they were both ten). I have seen some inspired lessons in our local village school. But it depends where you live, of course!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 05-Aug-13 19:33:48

It is bloody hard to be frank. I pay the school fees ExH left me 12months ago so I have had to cut back every single aspect of my life to accommodate this. However, I knew it was only for 12 months as in October for a variety of reasons my income will nearly double and 12 months after that rise by a similar amount. So I have had only had to spend 12 months like this.

Farewelltoarms Mon 05-Aug-13 19:50:00

How would you feel if your boiler broke down? That's a litmus test for me.

To me, education is also very important. Valuing education is not incompatible with sending your child to state school.

But I understand education to be something quite broad and one which, frankly, money helps enrich. My children this holidays are going on an amazing family holiday, as well as brilliant sports camps for the sports-mad one and really extraordinary art course for the arty one. Both of which are at a level that few schools other than Eton would be able to match in terms of instructors and resources. We go to museums, we eat out as a family (where I find we talk more than we would at home), I can afford to turn down work over the holidays (I'm freelance).

We also do lots of free stuff, too, I'm not saying that you have to blow money on extra curricular stuff necessarily. But what I like is that not having to penny pinch allows me to pick and choose the elements of education that we give them.

Plus they seem to be doing better than fine academically at the local primary.

JammieMummy Mon 05-Aug-13 19:50:11

I think only you know the schools locally and if it is worth the sacrifices you will be making. You can live on £300 for everything non essential, but it will be hard. I wouldn't worry about designer clothes etc at primary age, my experience is that the children really don't notice what they are wearing let alone anyone else (my DD attends and independent school).

Personally, we live near a good state school but the indie school is even better and we believe gives us value for money. You need to think are you going to get value for money and are you going to get frustrated that you have no spare cash. I personally think that private education is about far more than learning and also about confidence, happiness etc which is something to also consider about your situation.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 21:19:11

abra blush to the typo!

fluffy it would go on home improvements, saving (potentially towards university fees to help DD out should she choose to go or just general savings), tutoring when she's older towards the 11+, a nicer lifestyle, more frivolity tbh.

I just keep thinking to my own education where I easily coasted through (as in not pushed or stretched or made to work as hard as I could, not as in I found it easy) as I was an obedient student who got on with what I was asked to do. I was also very quiet in class and got away with never putting my hand up/answering questions. Should I have been given the opportunity to have more individual help and support and taught to my level rather than an extremely mixed group of over 30 children from 2 year groups (my school put 2 years groups in each class) I think my work ethic would be so much better/different/I could have really developed more than I had. Maybe I'm generalising too much though....FWIW the school I'm looking at isn't highly academically focused (well, as much as any school is...) it more looks at enjoyment in learning and developing a thirst for knowledge. I like that ethos more than pressurised stressful schooling at a young age.

farewell if the boiler broke down we would have savings to cover it. If the boiler needed to be replaced our savings could probably cover that too. But, if something like the boiler breaking down happened frequently/regularly, then, no, we couldn't manage.

jammie agree about the confidence thing.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 21:39:06

Would you consider moving to an area with really good state schools?

Marmitelover55 Mon 05-Aug-13 22:05:54

If the school you are considering isn't highly academically focused, then you may find that you still need to tutor for the 11+ any way.

Would it be worth trying the state primary and then moving at 7+ as this would give you time to save a bit more?

I went to a selective indie by the way and am not very confident unfortunately. Even so I would have still liked to be able to afford private school for my children, but it would have been too much of a stretch for us.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 07:27:53

marmite they have an 11+ club at the school to prepare those taking it and it is academic.....just not as pressurised/stressful on/about it as other private schools in my area (this is from what I can gauge from visit/prospectus/local reputations that is). You see, also part of my desperation to send DD private (and I really don't want this to sound snobby) is the children at our local state primary - we live very close to it so I often see/pass the children and parents and shudder at the behaviour/attitude of the parents and children - lots of ranting about how awful teachers are to dare tell off their children for being badly behaved (?!), children being rude and fighting/head butting/swearing etc etc and parents not caring or laughing shock and the children are always being shouted at for bad behaviour when they are out doing sports/outdoor activities alot confused. It's just not the kind of environment Id like DD to feel is acceptable or get her morals from when she's so impressionable. I hope I don't com across as sounding awful there. I know I won't eliminate this with private school and there will still be bad behaviour/troublesome children, but the difference being that it's more likely to be stamped on/shown as unacceptable/parents taking more of an interest in their childrens behaviour (vast vast generalisation I know and please don't flame me if I've worded this not as I mean).

fluffy for various reasons I won't bore you with we won't move house. We have good secondary schools in our area though.

fabricmum Tue 06-Aug-13 13:00:06

If you have to watch the pennies every month, I wouldn't do it, having done that myself for 3 years, it sounds fine but the reality is very different.
Someone posted on here yonks ago saying that if you have to ask what the fees are you can't afford it, at the time i scoffed at that, but now it's a golden nugget of advice. Life's hard paying school fees with only just enough money to cover them, £300 disposable income isn't enough. You only need 2-3 months of awful things happen, things breaking, bigger unexpected bills and it becomes a downward spiral.
Sorry to be negative, fees are also going up like mad, with no signs of slowing down, that's the South East though.
I'm a great believer in making the the time outside school richer, in terms of museums, galleries and trips, it just seems more important now.

Regarding morals, it's your job to instil them in your child like all decent parents would, the school (private) will only compliment this, i'm afraid it's the reality, your job is to show your child the difference between right and wrong, you shouldn't have to spend 70k to accomplish that.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 13:07:21

That's interesting fabric . If course I'm going to instill good values into DD (or try!) and don't expect this to be the schools job, but you're right in that that in itself isn't a reason for private education (it's not for me, but it is one point).

Janesb Tue 06-Aug-13 13:12:54

What about sending to private and in the meantime putting her on waiting list for every decent state school. Then if things get too much you have a way out.

I can't fault private school for early years for excellent grounding and confidence building. As poor state school can not compete with that.

We survive on less than £300 and just cope if something comes up. It's not worth worrying about what if as I think their education is more important.

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:15:23

'They will want you on the breadline to qualify for help.'

Not necessarily. At my dd's prep school the cut off for bursary entitlement is £55k a year.

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:17:34

If you own your home outright though I think generally they would expect you to remortgage.

Llareggub Tue 06-Aug-13 13:24:18

I used to be a member of a gym where after school it was flooded with the output of the local prep school. I wouldn't want my DCs to have their sort of confidence. Be careful what you wish for!

lottieandmia Tue 06-Aug-13 13:27:17

To be fair though, Llareggub, all prep schools are different. There is a school like the one you describe near us. I would never have wanted my dd to go there.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 13:35:12

Wow lottie we're on wayyyyy less than 55k!

Llare yes, an interesting point....

Jane very good idea. I think I see things the same as you re: education. However, what are you going to do if your DC want to go to university? I'm assuming because of fees you haven't managed to save enough to pay alot towards it, does this worry you (or anyone else struggling to meet the fees)? I just keep thinking of how much it costs and how much we could save towards her future if we didn't go private, but then, we are doing this for her future....argh!

Llareggub Tue 06-Aug-13 14:48:03

Have you been into the state school for a look around? Is it really that bad? My local state had a terrible local reputation that was completely undeserved. It served a large council state and private housing. Little by little the good reputation spread and it is now over-subscribed. If I'd gone by what I'd heard (mainly from those who shuddered at the catchment) we would not have gone there. You can't beat actually seeing for yourself what goes on at a school. You might be pleasantly surprised, and financially better off too.

fabricmum Tue 06-Aug-13 16:03:53

Llareggub- That's exactly the problem we've got with our local state comp. We live in a village with a small primary school but barely none of the children go to the local comp which is 5 mins down the road because they think it's a dump. The odd thing is, none of them visit it! We did, it's a small comp with an excellent learning support unit. Yes, it doesn't have all the facilities my son had at his prep but his travelling time has gone down from 30 mins to walking in 5 mins. I can't beat that!

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 16:16:43

llare yes it truly is that bad, but there are other schools not our most local one which might/likely will be OK, but she's unlikely to get a place there as this is her most local school (but we can live in hope)

homebythesea Tue 06-Aug-13 16:25:58

Reastie I must just pick you up on the point you make about saving for Uni fees

You can't pay up front - your DD will repay as she earns. It's the biggest misconception about Uni funding and it is my personal bugbear to hear people say "I can't afford Uni because of the fees". Everyone can afford to repay the cost of a couple of pints of beer a week when earning a fair amount as a graduate!

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 16:34:04

home point taken re: fees but there's still the cost of accommodation/living expenses/text books etc. I'm really lucky I know, but my parents paid for all of this for me when I went to uni. Without that help I don't know if I would have done it for fear of getting into debt so young (I know many others don't have the option, but I wanted to give my DD the same opportunity in this respect if I can).

Fluffy1234 Tue 06-Aug-13 17:39:06

As a mother of 3 DC in their twenties and teens I'd concentrate on a five to ten year plan and think about uni fees a bit later on. Are you and your DH in careers where your salary may go up or at your peak? Do you have lots of equity in your houses? What's your monthly take home pay and how much would your half of the school fees be? Do you think you and your DH can have a happy, full life with 3.6k a year spare for holidays, Christmas, birthdays, meals out, treats, clothes, big things breaking etc. It's not just about your DD but you and your DH too.

fabricmum Tue 06-Aug-13 18:00:44

Fluffy-That last sentence is very poignant and true. We all have a habit of constantly worrying about our offspring whilst neglecting our own needs. There certainly needs to be a good balance when deciding something as big as this.

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 18:38:10

fluffy half fees approximately is £500 a month. My income is £800 - £900 a month. I'm at the top of the pay scale for what I do where I work but it's likely I could work an extra afternoon a week should I want to when she goes to school. DHs wage covers the mortgage shortfall on the buy to let property and all bills/essentials but not much more. We have around 8 years left on his mortgage so then we will be in a much better financial situation (around 6k or so better off a year from rental income). DH is self employed and his income is relatively stable (well, as stable as it can be) and is unlikely to get much more comparatively). I think as parents we always put ourselves at the bottom of the list don't we. I'm desperate to rejoin the gym once DD goes to school when I'll have some time to actually go but if we sent her privately I wouldn't be able to. I was shrugging this off as how can I compare my gym membership to her education....maybe I need to think about us as a family and our life together a bit more. Thanks fluffy

JohnnyUtah Tue 06-Aug-13 18:57:05

You could always take up running instead of paying money to the gym though

keepsmiling12345 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:10:37

reastie this honestly doesn't sound a stretch to me. If I understand correctly, you have no mortgage on your own property and one on a buy to let property which will end in 8 years (and for which you are presumably receiving rent?). You could work extra hours if required, so presumably are part time now, and your DH's income is relatively stable. And you are content that your parents, who are paying 50 % of the fees, won't have any issues continuing to do so. Yes, £300 isn't a huge amount each month for non-essentials but it seems plenty. If there was a big issue with your house that required fixing, you could presumably use the fact you own it outright to borrow or remortgage to cover any large expense. Honestly, in my world, this is positively comfortable!

cockerpoodle Tue 06-Aug-13 20:05:21

Education isn't important to me, so I just send mine State.

cockerpoodle Tue 06-Aug-13 20:19:50

Go for it OP... no one will ever be able to take those years, however many there are, away from her

You do know it's just a school, right? It's not some glittering, magical fairyland. It's not, like, Narnia...

Reastie Tue 06-Aug-13 20:24:29

<shows cockerpoodle the prospectus for Narnia School for naice girls and Lions> wink

cockerpoodle Tue 06-Aug-13 20:33:19

grin

there will be big, spendy trips in secondary school, they will cost between one and several thousand pounds. My eldest DD travelled to four continents on school trips at quite some cost, and this was at a state school. Private will be even more spendy. Your daughter will want to go, and you will really, really want her to. No way I could have afforded it if I'd been paying school fees, and I wouldn't have had her miss those trips for the world.

Farewelltoarms Tue 06-Aug-13 20:46:04

Cocker, when parents tell me that they'd love to use state but their children are so bright and so sensitive, I always think it's lucky mine are such thick brutes then...

seventhchild Tue 06-Aug-13 21:01:02

My son holds an offer for Oxford this year, he went to a comprehensive school. Private isn't everything.

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 06-Aug-13 21:06:27

Hi, my daughter is at a prep school, and it is a stretch, but worth it. I think though that if I was you I would try and increase my own earnings. For me, the fees are a lot, but there are all the other bits, which you don't have to do, but may want to. For example, play events aren't normally cheap! We tend to go to things like the zoo, pottery, soft play and lunch etc, I haven't spent less than £25 at each one yet, plus the mums regularly go out and it's not on a budget. Then there is the whip rounds for staff at Xmas and end of term- £20 a time, plus a birthday party every other week, and yes, they are all expensive parties. Just something to think about, as it wasn't something I had thought of before sending my daughter. But again, for us it was worth it.

Zigster Tue 06-Aug-13 21:15:03

<b>fabricmum</>

I'm with you all the way on this - your view and experience of this sounds spookily close to mine.

If money was no object, I would definitely send my kids to a private school.

But I have no other financial commitment anything like as large as school fees - it is several times the mortgage, for example. Without the school fees, we would enough money for all we wanted to do and still have plenty left over; with school fees, we have financial pressure.

I work harder than I would like to because I have to keep bringing home the bacon. So I'm stressed about money (particularly around bonus time - what if my boss decides this is the year to stitch me up? That would mean no holiday and our senior school fees planning would be shot to pieces).

Without school fees, the financial pressure is off. I can come home more promptly rather than busting a gut and spend those evenings with my kids rather than hunched over a spreadsheet.

So would my kids (and me) prefer private school and weekend-only daddy? Or the local State school and a daddy who is around, engaged with them and smiling? Is it even possible to compare the additional benefit of a private school education with the benefit of an involved daddy who plays football with them, helps them with their prep and takes them to Disneyworld?

Private schools are (for the most part) great. But they're not that great.

Farewelltoarms Tue 06-Aug-13 21:22:37

I know this isn't a state v private so apologies if I sound snippy, but when people talk about how it's so important to lay the foundations of education in the early years at private, it makes it sound as if kids at state primary school are running around learning how to swear and nothing else.

They do learn the basics and then some at state schools especially if they have parents as committed as you op. Money wasn't an issue for us and I chose our local state for entirely positive reasons. Just as someone above feels sure their private is worth it, I feel sure my children could not be happier or more fulfilled anywhere else. Of course, neither of us can ever really know how they'd have fared in a parallel life.

I'd guess that maybe they'd possibly be further ahead in a purely academic sense in smaller classes. But whether one reading band higher or times tables learnt in y1 instead of y2 is worth 12k pa is moot.

Farewelltoarms Tue 06-Aug-13 21:27:52

Sorry xposted with you Zigster but I think what we're saying sort of tallies.

PareyMortas Tue 06-Aug-13 21:36:11

It's very common for a few children to leave their state schools at the end of year two to go to independant schools. I'd properly research your local state school options, it's highly unlikely that you have a choice of one school. Find your best school and send dd there until Key stage 2. You might love the school and want to keep her there if not shell have all the basics and plenty of time in an indi if she starts at the begining of KS2.

It's unusual for primary schools to all be rubbish in a grammar school area, so do your research.

Inherent meantime live on the reduced budget for the next few months and see what it's like, including Christmas, birthdays etc.

Reastie Wed 07-Aug-13 07:14:34

Yes we will be living on a reduced income to 'practice' how it would be if DD is at private school <hides purse>

zigster yes that's very interesting. I had thought about presents and parties, but I didn't think of the cost of social meetings/going out with friends etc.

parey yes we get to give our choice in where we'd like DD to go to state primary but the likelihood of her getting a space at the other local ones are not great (very popular, as we are opposite our local primary school and not that high on the entrance criteria of the other schools it's highly likely she'll get a place there).

Mendi Wed 07-Aug-13 07:39:05

Farewelltoarms isn't your interpretation of the comments about primary level schooling a bit reductive? I don't think it's as simple as suggesting kids in primary schools are all running riot just because some suggest private schools are "better".

Speaking from personal experience, I sent both my 2 to the local primary, a nice OFSTED "outstanding" school. It was ok. DD who is "gifted and talented" (level 5s at end of year 4) has been bored in school for ages because the school's idea of "extension work" for her has been just to let her do the work of the year 5s and 6s. In the last year, when doing that work itself hasn't been a challenge, the approach has just been "what more can we do?"

On the other hand, DS is a much more middling child, can do well but not like his sister. Has finished year 6 with a perfectly respectable level 5s and a 4. But he has had no homework at all for the whole of year 6, has not been encouraged in school to stretch himself that bit further to get the 4 up to a 5, and from what I can see, has just loafed around in class while all of the effort of the teachers has been focused heavily on the few kids at the bottom of the class who were not going to hit level 4s across the board. All the attention is on dragging those ones up to the minimum "good" standard so the school can look better on it's SATS results.

I understand this is even more so at secondary level with the holy grail of 5 A-C at GCSE. If my DS - who given the chance is quite happy to coast along and do "ok" rather than go the extra mile to do his "best" - were to go to our local (also "outstanding") comp., he would probably leave with some A-C grades but I know he can do more than that and that's why I'm sending him to a selective private school instead. DD is also moving and can't wait "to do some interesting work". I will have less than £300 left at the end of the month like the OP but just consider the smaller class sizes and higher expectations in the schools they are going to to be vital.

Little story about the expectation levels: when DS was approaching the time for the exam for the school he's going to, I got some Bond papers for him to practise. He was routinely getting 60% on the maths (min. 70% needed). His primary school had always given him fantastic reports for maths, so I wrote to his teacher with a copy of a paper he'd done asking if this was the level she expected of him as a "good" maths pupil, as it was nowhere near the required pass mark. I got a letter back which simply said "the expectation levels are very different". She was happy to leave that as her answer! This is in an "outstanding" school, remember.

I'm sure it all evens out in the end, cream rises to the top in any school, etc. But I want my kids to really enjoy school and find it interesting while they're there, not just coast along while the school concentrates its efforts on the kids at the bottom of the class. That's why I have decided to move them to selective private schools and I think many people move for similar reasons.

middleclassonbursary Wed 07-Aug-13 07:59:43

We have a significantly larger amount left over than that although literally not a bean of savings. IME its the week in week out, month in month out emotional strain of spending over a £1500+ a month on school fees this is our 13th year of paying fees of some description and the amount we've paid has risen every year as they've progressed through their school career. Very sadly for me it looks like we will soon inherit some money and we will use all of it to pay off completely all future fees (we've three yrs to go).For us this will literally be life changing an enormous weight will be lifted of our shoulders; we work in our current jobs and at the level we do simply to pay the fees, after food and utilities fees are our number one priority, I don't believe we "sacrifice" things because we are not hard up we pay in fees more than many people earn and we've chosen this road but they hang over our heads morning noon and night.
So the 64 million dollar question is it worth it? Looking back there has been times when I don't think it has been worth it we've usually had excellent state options as well or I believe for a short period when entrance exams were meant to be being prepared for I could have done it myself better and cheaper but currently I know that the education being received is in a league its own and frankly I would double my hours rather than change our to "excellent" state options.
Finally I wouldn't worry about designer clothes etc the vast majority of parents at my DS's school are frankly loaded paying £30 000+ a year per child is fees, most live in very large houses and drive large new cars and have very expensive ife styles my DC's will tell you not once has so our obviously less expensive life style ever been a problem.

fabricmum Wed 07-Aug-13 08:22:22

Mendi- You've had the experience of state and based on that experience you've made the decision to move your children into the private sector. You obviously haven't done this on a whim and you clearly have a very good grasp of the downsides in state education.
My eldest son who was bright, not academic went through the state comp route. He obtained 10 gcse's, mostly c grades, a spattering of b's. He wasn't particularly pushed to better his grades by the school, secondary schools only aim to get kids to the C grade they rarely push any harder (me at home getting desperate). He didn't like school and was lazy, what's worse is the school didn't pick up on his talent in the IT department, and they should've done. And to add, he had a terrible Y8, I can't explain it other than; the lights went out in his eyes. I wanted to move him into the private sector, he wouldn't budge!
He's now 19, works full time and it's transpired he is a gifted computer programmer. I spent all those secondary years worried out of my mind about exam results, revising (he pretended to revise), worrying about how many hours he was spending on his computer. By the end of next year, he would have saved enough for a house deposit. School didn't agree with him and he wouldn't have reached his potential there, it is in the workplace and doing something he loves that's going to achieve that.

teacherwith2kids Wed 07-Aug-13 10:28:29

OP,

From what I read of your posts, you sound relatively cash poor (as in income coming in, which is what you have based your calculations on) but if push came to shove you have other means of releasing / raising money (working more hours than you do currently, remortgaging one of your two properties).

FWIW, I feel that this is a very different situation from someone already mortgaged to the hilt or renting a property, working full time with no possibility of further hours etc.

In your case, there is a 'contingency' should things go pear shaped for a while - OK, it's not desirable for you to activate that contingency, but it would not put you out on the street or using food banks to gain enough to eat.

A general state / priate discussion isn't of use to you here - you can only compare the schools that you have available to you, not the excellent state or excellent private schools available elsewhere in the country. In your position, I would visit your supposedly 'undesirable' local option and see if its reputation is deserved (FWIW, the very, very 'mixed' school I used to teach in was, in terms of ensuring every single child progressed, a better educational environment than many very leafy schools, and you could not possibly udge that from the parents in the playground / children outside school), all the other schools that you have a chance of getting into AND the private options to set your overall order of choices, then see what happens when you apply to the state system. There is movement between the two systems at all ages (the gap between the two is very seldom as large as one is told) so if you do change your mind then the option to move is there with some ingenuity.

emmameghan Thu 08-Aug-13 14:41:10

My 2 dds were in private education for 6 years then me and oh got divorced and felt we couldnt afford to carry on, i cried and cried, felt I was letting them down etc. They have now been in state education for 4 years and are both very happy and doing well. I am not sure I would go down the private route if i had my time again, the cost is huge, and there does seem to be a presumption by schools that you will fork out for trips, music lessons and I remember it cost £600 approx for the first set of uniform!! Yes my dds enjoyed their time, but was it worth the cost? No I dont think it was. I will just add that the pressure to be top of the class/a team for netball was huge. But I am sure not all private schools are the same.

LIZS Thu 08-Aug-13 14:44:50

is that £300 based on Pre Prep fees ? They tend to climb quite steeply form one phase to another and above inflation increases. Your £300 could quite quickly evaporate.

Reastie Thu 08-Aug-13 15:05:39

LIZS the £300 is based on an average of the fees from reception - year 6

teacherwith2kids Thu 08-Aug-13 15:10:30

Have you factored in the cumulative effect of fee rises, though? So what you want is the average of:
Reception
Year 1 + 5%
Year 2 + compound interest of 5% each year (so 105% of 105% of current Year 2 fees)
etc

As I said above, i don't think the £300 is the issue (I suspect that it is in fact nearer to £0 in the later years than you have calculated). It is your willingness to generate more cash flow by realising some of your non-cash assets (property or ability to do more work) to respond to circumstances or fee rises that is a bigger issue.

Hamishbear Thu 08-Aug-13 15:49:22

Mendi, IME you are spot on.

I realised, over time, that so many could do so much more & be taken so much further. The question is , is 'good enough' ok? And do they all get there in the end anyway?

Mendi Thu 08-Aug-13 15:51:15

Fabricmum, thank you for your reply to my post. It's wonderful that your DS has found his niche despite an unsupportive educational experience. To be honest, what your DS has achieved, I would be delighted with for my DS - he also has an interest in computers and so on, which I'm trying to encourage despite no understanding myself. I totally get that some kids just don't "get" education, or perhaps others don't get it for ages and then just wake up one day when something sparks their interest. However, some never get that and I just worry that my DS could be one. Private school is no guarantee of success, but I just feel that he is more likely to be interested in the smaller class/specialist teacher environment. You can only give your kids the best opportunities you can manage, can't you? It's up to them to make something of them. Well done to your DS - you must be so proud of him.

LIZS Thu 08-Aug-13 15:56:38

Presumably also there is also likelihood that your other expenses will rise - petrol, utilities , council tax etc - over time as well as general cost of living . Will your income rise ? Also you are assuming that your dd gets a 11+ place , you need to consider all the options just in case she doesn't or the system changes in the meantime. Private secondary will definitely cost much more than your average for primary.

fabricmum Thu 08-Aug-13 17:48:39

Mendi- Yes my DH and I are very proud of him, those adolescent years are so hard! He's come a long way. I will never forget, however, the hard slog those secondary school years were.
I think with the private versus state debate; your damned if do, damned if you don't.
If you can afford it, do it. If you can't, don't even try because it gradually wear you down and make everyone miserable and very, very tired!
I guess moving them from primary isn't going to matter too much, moving them at secondary would have an impact (in my opinion) if the fees or circumstances change dramatically.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 18:02:41

I think surviving on £300 a month is all very well if you have to survive on that (and of course people survive on less) but choosing to is a whole different issue. What happens if you make this sacrifice and your dd doesn't do well at school? I know someone who wasn't happy with the effort their dc was making at school so drove them to the gates of the local state school and told them that this would be where they would be going if they didn't try harder. The child was 5 and subsequently diagnosed with SENs.

I could imagine feeling very resentful at the sacrifices you have to make if your dc doesn't do well at school.

Have you factored in holiday clubs into your budget (assuming you work)?

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 18:07:16

I suggest go to that budget NOW. Give yourself £70/week for all non-essentials. See how easy or hard you find it to live on it for next 6 months. Then you will know.

Reastie Thu 08-Aug-13 18:49:49

bisjo I work in a school myself so I have school holidays off so no huge childcare worries on that front (work in a private school!).

Llj I am indeed now on that budget. We shall see how we go with it.

teacher I've factored in fee increases (well, guessing increases) and tbh we would not want to release equity unless there was no other option, but we have some savings if needed. If we had to then we had to but it would be a last resort.

Let's see how the next few months go and how we cope hmm

mendi and bis very interesting comments

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:06:56

Does your school term completely coincide with the school you are proposing to send your dd to? Ds has been to two private schools so far, both in the same area and they didn't have the same term times as each other or at two other local private schools. It is worth checking and then working out what you would do if you need to find childcare. Also what will you do when your dd says she wants to go to tennis holiday camp with her school friends? I'm thinking the usual daily holiday activities rather than going away for a week.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:10:49

I had to survive on very little when I was made redundant and even though I thankfully only had to do it for two months I found it soul destroying. I wasn't used to living like that (although I am definitely not profligate) and found it hard. Little things like not being able to afford treats like expensive breakfast cereal or trips to the cinema. Having to watch every single penny and that impacts more widely. Not being able to go to a mums' night out as I couldn't afford to spend £30-£40 on dinner in an evening.

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 19:58:06

I think my budget is about £100 per person for "extras" which I am finding quite difficult.

Tasmania Thu 08-Aug-13 20:05:35

OP - I would look at what you spend on the 'essentials'. Not sure how much you and your DH earn, but when I looked at our 'essential' expenditure (as DH calls them, i.e. food, bills - not housing), I was a little shocked. DH kept on telling me that the money we spend on the essentials is normal and I had to tell him that other families have to survive on what we merely spend on essentials.

After careful money management (not too careful - still went out a few times), we slashed it by half this month compared to last... which came as a surprise to DH.

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 20:23:09

Good point. When I asked MNers to share their spending recently, I put answers into one of 3 types: core fixed costs (maintenance, work-related commuting, utilities, council tax, pension, but not including mortgage or rent), Tier 2 (some room for tweaking, like food, clothes, non-work related transport & mobiles) and then "optionals". Some items were fuzzy to place, so this is just approximate. The average spends were

Core household: £486
Tier2: £459
Optional: £470.

How does that compare to what you have, Reastie?

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 08-Aug-13 21:48:43

What happens if something goes wrong with your second property? What if you need to do repairs on it, or you have a void period? Would you be able to absorb these costs? I understand you have some emergancy savings, but they don't sound enough to absorb repairs/running costs on two houses plus a car over the course of 7 years.

Obviously you have the option to remorgage your home, or possibly sell the second property, but these things take time, and you could end up very stretched. I would think up some contingency plans for a worst case scenario at the very least, if you haven't already.

Reastie Fri 09-Aug-13 07:47:53

tasmania yes you're right, if we needed to we could cut down on the food bill (we don't count every penny and overly careful but we do watch what we spend/have a budget I stick to, I can imagine if needed we could easily cut that back a bit).

Well Ll I don't have a mobile bill as I put on about £20 a year, so that ones easy wink . Tbh I couldn't tell you how much exactly are on each of our optional budgets, all I know is we have £1k a month in our bills/food/insurance/essentials budget. We would likely use this account if we went out as a family. Occasionally we run short if we've had alot of outgoings but equally sometimes we have excess building up we move to savings/use on house improvements etc. This could probably be budgeted better/we could reduce this if we had to.

slow this is another issue. We have to replace the kitchen in the other property next year, even cheaply that's an expense we need to save for. We had problems with a non paying tennant leading to eviction last year and then the property was empty for a couple of months. We struggled more than normal.

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 08:13:32

"yes you're right, if we needed to we could cut down on the food bill (we don't count every penny and overly careful but we do watch what we spend/have a budget I stick to, I can imagine if needed we could easily cut that back a bit)"
We do not "cut down" on the food bill in fact our food bill is relatively large because of my commitment to fair trade and UK produced high welfare standard foods although I don't drink alcohol in fact no vices (I'm a bit boring). We don't have money to eat out, go to the theatre, opera ballet, weekends away (only one holiday a yr but we are lucky enough to live in a fantastic area) etc, our big issue is that neither of us have been able to afford decent dentistry in 13 yrs. We're not dressed in Primark clothes (that would be against my principles) but we lot clad in expensive clothes either, cars are old the youngest is 8 yrs old but well looked after but old cars are of course more likely to go wrong and consume more petrol, a really big thing for us is that we spend over a £100 a week on petrol and it just keep getting more expensive..
Its so easy when you start paying fees to think that "cutting down" on the food and other important things in life will will be OK and some people relish the challenge of cutting corners at every turn but believe me I dont think it is. Its having to do it week in week out for the next 15 years I think you might find living this kind of life is quite draining. The prospect of being able to pay of the fees completely (however sad the reason for being able to do this) has completely changed both my husbands and my outlook on life my husband already looks better and its just an overwhelming relief, I can't put into words how it feels even in the midst of enormous sadness.

DocMarten Fri 09-Aug-13 08:17:28

Best thing we ever did was go private.

Just remember to factor in all the extras, of which there are many including foreign trips of at least one or 2 per child per year.

DocMarten Fri 09-Aug-13 08:18:18

Must add that the trips are optional, but worth scraping the money to send them on as they are well worthwhile.

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 09:04:34

Our extras are not too bad and we literally pay for every pencil, pen, piece of paper, text book (they board). In the first term of senior school it was over £500 a term but text books ect were being bought this term it was less than £60. No compulsory foreign trips in the first or second yr although loads and loads of optional ones to far flung parts of the world but places were often limited to only 10 - 15- on each trip. Next yr my DS will go on a first come first serve as the places were very limited exchange visit but I have to say very reasonably priced.

burberryqueen Fri 09-Aug-13 09:07:14

I wonder if a privit/independant skool wood help with her speling

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 09:19:17

As we all now use computers with spell checks I personally don't think its worth living a hand to mouth existence just possibly improve spelling!

amicissimma Fri 09-Aug-13 16:57:23

I see you're already 'practising' paying the fees, so should have an idea of how it feels to live on what's left over. Presumably you are paying this into a savings account, so you can use it to reduce the amount of termly bill coming from income?

I wouldn't get too hung up on 'extras', although it's a good idea to check with a particular school. IME, books and stationery are included, as are compulsory trips; the optional trips are similar to those offered by the state schools and uniform is considerably cheaper than the state school as there's a thriving secondhand 'shop' - which has been the case at every independent school I've known about and none of the state ones.

lljkk Sat 10-Aug-13 07:57:33

Compulsory hot dinners at many, adds an extra ~ £15/week (ouch).

cantsleep Sat 10-Aug-13 08:22:41

It is 'doable' on the figures you describe but would be difficult.

We are in a similar situation but are very low income yet dd goes to a private school (she has a bursary for the majority of fees) but we have to make up the rest and the uniform was not included. We usually have nothing left at the end of the month and often are overdrawn but due to complicated circumstances we felt it was important for dd to attend a particular school.

We obviously have to watch everything we spend, we have a holiday within the uk usually once every 2-3 years for a few days and keep other costs to a minimum. Our food shopping is sometimes quite depressing as never many 'treats' but we know we are doing it for a good reason.

We save all we can and once in a blue moon do have the occasional treat, recently dh had booked me a special day for my birthday which was lovely but the rest of the time we justgo without but that was our choice.

I think that you would probably manage OP especially with the added security of your second property. Def a good idea to practice living on the amounts you mention now to see how you will manage once your dd starts school. It is hard sacrificing so much for private education but really is worth it if you can.

ipadquietly Sat 10-Aug-13 14:31:15

I'd be so miserable being 'forced' to live on £300 per month (or less).

You guys must feel very, very confident that the private school system is going to lead to your dc's ultimate success. Don't you ever feel you're wasting your lives with all this sacrifice for something that is so unpredicable? (Genuinely interested - no offence meant!)

cantsleep Sat 10-Aug-13 22:31:08

To be fair, If dd was in perfect health we would have chosen the local (outstanding) state school but given her complex problems the very small local private school could meet her needs far better than the state.

We consider ourselves very lucky.

middleclassonbursary Sun 11-Aug-13 09:12:07

"You guys must feel very, very confident that the private school system is going to lead to your dc's ultimate success. Don't you ever feel you're wasting your lives with all this sacrifice for something that is so unpredictable? (Genuinely interested - no offence meant!)"
Ipad as I've already said we have more than £300 PCM left over but its still a huge pressure. Over the years we have repeatedly thought long and hard about what we're doing and there have defiantly been times when its not been worth it and we're not looking just for "ultimate success." But over all I have not regretted what we have done genuinely believing its better than any state option. I just want add that my DC's have nearly always full boarded and we are paying for the many opportunities that bring as well as academic excellence.

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 10:35:52

Ipad,

I would also say - and this is from someone who works in, sends her children to, and believes wholeheartedly in, the state system - that the gap between state and private options varies hugely across the country, or even within a single town, and it is often this gap which is important when making choices, not the absolute quality of the private school.

So in some areas, using the private system does not give any more likelihood of 'ultimate success' than a good state option does in another area, and may even give less. However, it does give a very much better chance than the stae option available to that family at that time, and iut is on that school by school (not sector by sector) comparison that choices are made.

The OP has stated that she would cheerfully send her child to a state school elsewhere in her area, but that living where she does, her best chance of an education comparable to that available in the good state schools is via the private system, and I understand that, though I would still urge her to take a really good, close look at the state option and examine the education available there to the subset of children who are like her own child, rather then being swayed by rumour, overall results, and the type of cohort.

I would be posting differently if she was saying 'there's a brilliant state school just opposite my house but I want to send my child private because I think that might give her a bit of an edge'...and even then it would depend if she was talking about St Somebody's tinpot private with nice braided uniforms or Winchester.

Where I live, going private for primary buys you nothing over and above the local state primary (except outmoded teaching, more traditional uniforms and - critically for most of the people who send their children there - a degree of social esegregation and 7 years of intensive coaching for the local 11+ superselective system). However, live a mile across town and the calculation really is very differnt, simply because of a wide variation in primary school quality.

curlew Sun 11-Aug-13 10:46:12

Have you actually visited the local school, or are you judging it by the noisy minority you see in the street outside?

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 11:01:41

Would add my voice to curlew - go in and visit the school. Really, really look at what is going on, and ask specifically about the achievement and progress of 'children like your DD', for want of a better term. You do seem to be projecting your own experience onto what your child might experience - try not to do that, education has changed [less so in the private system in many cases, but A LOT in the state system].

In my last school, I know that parents from a nearish village discussed my school in appalled terms. They judged the children by the behaviour of a minority of children who played in the park opposite it, and on the fact that we had a substantial minority of Traveller children...and their views were also coloured by the relative affluence of their village compared to the one that my school was in.

Then a few clued-up parents, who actually started looking critically at the education that their children were receiving in the 'pretty little village school' in the affluent village (many were teachers themselves, or simply knew something about education) started visiting our school. And their children transferred to us in droves (we grew by 1/3 in a year, while their numbers, always smaller than ours, shrank by half). ALL those children were behind where we would have expected them to be, bu 1-2 years - because our expectations of children were more rigorous even though our actual ability profile was very much more boased towards the lower end, so our results didn't look as good. Their behaviour also wasn't as good - because the school had a 'naice' intake, low level stuff wasn't dealt with. Because we had the potential for really serious disruption if we didn't keep great control, our expectations of behaviour were that nothing less than exemplary was allowable when inside the school - and so Outstanding behaviour was what we got.

What you see INSIDE a school in terms of education may - or may not- look very different from what you see on the street outside, or hear about in local gossip.

Looster Sun 11-Aug-13 11:09:38

Could you increase your income in anyway? I think £300 is tight. Have you factored in all costs? Moneysavingexpert's budget planner is really detailed - I think you need to work out a budget that does include clothes, going out, buying birthday cards - the lot! My kids are in state primary but even with that, am still shocked by the costs of the extras. DD1 is massively into sports - we get through so many shoes/ trainers /hockey boots. List is endless! Some months between the two of them they might get invited to 4-6 bday parties - it all adds up.

ipadquietly Sun 11-Aug-13 14:37:41

I asked my question about whether all the sacrifice is worth it with ds in mind.

He was quite an 'academic' lad at primary and in yrs 7 and 8 (all L5s in Y6, grammar school, aspirations to be a lawyer). Then in yr 8 he lost all interest in conventional academic subjects and chose to take art and graphics, which none of us would have predicted (and he really enjoys).

If I had decided to send him to an independent primary and a private secondary (which would have been within our means), I wonder what would have happened - and, having paid thousands and thousands of pounds over 14 years, would I have felt cheated and disappointed had he shunned the 'academic' subjects for art?

Would the sacrifice of my extra comforts on behalf of his education have been worth it?

Reastie Sun 11-Aug-13 14:47:17

curlew I have indeed visited said local primary school, I'm not just judging it on here say.

teacher that's true re: projecting my experience onto DD. I guess I just want her not to find the same problems I had, but of course she is a different person. She is quite a 'sensitive' child and think she would be eaten alive (in her current manner/behaviour) in a rougher school.

looster will check out that MSE budgeter - haven't seen that before

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 11-Aug-13 15:23:49

I do think your question is slightly odd, ipad. My ds moved to a private school for secondary - for mostly SEN/pastoral/size of class reasons - and I would love for him to go down the art/graphics route should he so choose.

He is fairly academic (near the top of his year in all three core subjects) but also adores illustration and drama etc and still has no idea what he wants to do for a living.

The difference between his school and the 'best' state school option is most visible when it comes to non-core subjects - I really do feel he's getting a fantastic art and music education, for example (and not necessarily/always down to better facilities).

The thing is, I won't judge the outcome of his education on what he earns when he eventually does start earning or on what qualifications he achieves, but on how happy and settled he's been during his time there, on how 'all-round' educated and cultured he has become, how independent a learner, and how mature, considerate and reflective he has become.

Obviously all of these outcomes are achievable within the state sector and most of them are equally related to parental input, too.

But from amongst the choices we had open to us, we feel very strongly that his school gives him (us) the best chance of him 'turning out' how we would like him to. Not of earning a particular salary or having a particular career.

And (to slightly answer the OP) we are sacrificing quite a lot. Dh has had to take early medical retirement (has terminal illness) and we have downsized our house considerably for location and fee-paying purposes. We don't have lots of spare money but a bit more than the OP.

I do think the primary years can be quite expensive for all the reasons others have listed (even just all the birthday parties!) and I (personally) think private primary schooling is far less worthwhile than secondary. But that is just me with my options and location, and not yours!

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 15:37:45

So what did you think of the school whe n you visited it? All of the opinions that you posted earlier on the thread were about behaviour outside the school, which gave me the mistaken impression that you hadn't been round in detail inside. What's it like in terms of teaching / progress / engagement / buzz / focus? It won't look, necessarily, like a private school - but that may be for good reasons such as the proper implementation of a play-based foundation stage. But what does it look like as an educational environment? What's their added value like? What is the text of their Ofsted report? Turnover of staff?

Reastie Sun 11-Aug-13 16:00:29

OK, I should have been clearer teacher I have visited the school but it was as a teacher professionally rather than as a parent having the tour as a prospective parent. I found the teachers weren't bad in the lesson observations but behaviour and attitude of children wasn't good, the teachers had alot of work just to get them on task and remaining on task and it was the bad behaviour which really spoilt what would have been a good activity for everyone. Maybe this is the norm??? I realise private won't be a utopia where all children behave impeccably and there will always be issues in every school, but I also think smaller class sizes must help alot in this respect (and private schools can choose who they do and don't want). Turnover of staff is relatively quick, alot of staff have come and gone in recent years and there's been a number of head teachers/fill in heads in the past 5 or so years. We went for a tour of the nursery there recently for DD and asked the nursery leader about the school and she heavily implied from her answers to our questions the school was going through a problematic time staffing etc wise. I will give you some ofsted blurb later but DD wanting me to read her a book.

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 16:17:08

That kind of behaviour definitely isn't the norm, IME - or needn't be, IYSWIM. As I said, the children's behaviour in my old school, with a very, very mixed cohort, was impeccable. In fact in my very MN new school, very MC, the level of low-level off topic behaviour is significantly worse and some of the children regard my behaviour expectations as unreasonably greater than those of other staff - simply because it is never going to get worse than mild off-task behaviour, some of my colleagues don't seem to crack down on it in the same way that I so.

teacherwith2kids Sun 11-Aug-13 16:19:08

Thanks for the full reply, btw, from what you had posted before it seemed as if you were judging from the outside - from what you have posted now, your concern seems entirely reasonable. As i said a few posts ago, the private / state decision is often much more to do with the local options available in each sector, not the desirability of one sector over and above the other in principle.

Reastie Sun 11-Aug-13 16:21:32

The ofsted report talks of not extending learning at all and lessons/learning at a very slow pace/children's development is slow because of this and they are not fulfilling their potential (that last bit is my interpretation of what they say). It seems to be satisfactory at everything, good only for attendance.

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