How much would you pay to avoid a not-great school run?

(31 Posts)
Elvesandthepoomaker Fri 17-Jun-16 09:08:32

I need your insights on our current dilemma. DD1 will be starting school in September 2017. We are lucky to have a choice of two great schools - the outstanding Catholic school (20 minutes away) and the prep school (across the road) where she currently attends nursery.

The Catholic school would involve us buying a second car so DH could do the morning school run, and we would then have to look at getting an after-school childminder for the days we don't finish early. It gets fantastic results and I meet many of the parents through Sunday School but I haven't yet been on the Open Day. The prep is great, I know many of the parents and teachers and it would give DD an edge in the 11+.

While we could afford to send both DDs, however, it would mean sacrifices - we'd end up with a smaller house, less flash holidays. I don't really have strong principles with regard to faith schools or private schools so that's not a factor. I'm just wondering whether the long-term sacrifices are worth it for avoiding the hassle of daily school runs which are not ideal but not horrendous.

BertrandRussell Fri 17-Jun-16 09:10:45

Are you asking for permission to go private? hmm

Elvesandthepoomaker Fri 17-Jun-16 09:30:28

No. I have no strong feelings about going private and I don't think it will necessarily offer any significant academic advantages compared to the Catholic school. It really is just the logistics. But thank you.

BertieBeats Fri 17-Jun-16 09:33:51

Tbh you don't sound like you're really keen to send her. I don't think it would be worth the sacrifices (for you and your family).

museumum Fri 17-Jun-16 09:36:48

Walking to school vs driving? I'd choose walking. Not just the exercise but the chat, the community, playing with friends spontaneously etc.
However where do the rest of the prep school kids live? If they all get picked up by car leaving your dd and Dh the only ones walking then it's not the same.

Dixiechickonhols Fri 17-Jun-16 09:41:19

Catholic school is 20 mins walk or drive away? If it is 80 mins drive a day then I can see the appeal of the one opposite!
All you can do is set out costs and pros and cons. If school opposite is potentially giving you a lot more family time and less hassle eg no cm needed then it's a question of if that daily benefit is enough to offset the other things like less holidays for you. Do check school hours prep may have a longer day. Do they do lots of activities onsite at the prep eg music/ballet swimming. Again the convenience of just picking dd up at 5pm across the road rather than having to drive to other school then drive to swim lessons/music class etc may be a big help especially if you work.

CookieDoughKid Fri 17-Jun-16 09:47:41

And it may boil down to what you can afford at the end of the day. I do a mad 25min car commute to so that my dcs can attending an outstanding state Primary school where at least 70% of its children are above the average level attainment by the time they leave. It's a very middle class school (average house price £700k). I have a prep much closer to home and more convenient but I can't comfortably send 2 dcs to it nor can I really justify spending over £100k+ on prep when my state school is excellent. I'd much rather keep the money for Uni or contribute to house deposits for dc etc.

Boils down to what sacrifice and level of affordability. To some people £100k literally is just peanuts.

pinkdelight Fri 17-Jun-16 09:48:56

Slightly confused by the smaller house thing - if you have to move to afford the prep, then you'd no longer be close to it. Or do you mean that much longer term plans for a big house would be negated? It's hard to factor that in without knowing how content you are with the house that you have.

As PP says, it sounds like you want to go private, although for me a 20 min school run and some afterschool care isn't that big a deal, especially when it's a good school. Sure you're used to the prep, and that's of course how families end up making the sacrifices when their pfb is settled and all the benefits are so tangible compared to the new and slightly more inconvenient. Although it's worth saying there will be other inconveniences of going private - longer holidays to cover for instance.

In your situation, I'd only pay for private if the state option was less good and substantially more inconvenient. We made a similar decision (to choose state over the place DC1 had been to pre-prep) and have never regretted it, and been very glad of the money we've saved. But only you can decide.

Autumnsky Fri 17-Jun-16 10:32:28

20 minutes drive is not that bad, you can chat with DC in the car. Without the financial burden, you have less stress, can choose work less hours if you don't want to find afterschool childcare.

Floggingmolly Fri 17-Jun-16 10:36:10

If you're 20 drive away from the Catholic one, what are your chances of getting a place, realistically? Don't assume anything.

CruCru Fri 17-Jun-16 10:37:35

20 minutes drive is not awful, quite a lot of the people I know do at least that to get their kids to (private) school. I'm not convinced that you can decide until you've seen the Catholic school - you will get a gut feel for whether it is right for you.

Where do children typically go on to after both schools? You mention the 11+ - are you in a grammar school area or is the 11+ for private schools? If you go with the Catholic school, they will not prep for the 11+ (it just isn't the job of state schools to do so) so you may need to get a tutor.

Needmorewine Fri 17-Jun-16 10:41:51

We are in a similar situation and after going round and round in circles will be 99.9% opting for state. The private school we looked at was lovely and I so wanted DD there but ultimately the money worries and what ifs were giving me nightmares and I think the pressure of DH and I both working full time to fund it would have been very tough. Id rather top her up with extra curricular / tutoring if and when they need it / save for secondary.

Also agree with poster who mentioned without the financial burden of fees you may have flexibility to re jig your work schedule. 20 mins in the car is preferable to £££ fees every term in my opinion. Yo can always move them to private later on if it's not working out.

BertrandRussell Fri 17-Jun-16 10:43:56

It seems extremely unlikely that you will get a place at an outstanding school 20 minutes drive away. It would be pretty unlikely to get a place at an outstanding school 20 minutes walk away..........

CruCru Fri 17-Jun-16 10:48:47

It wouldn't happen where I am (central London). However, if the OP lives right in the middle of the countryside (and I assume that she gets points for church attendance), it might be possible?

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 17-Jun-16 11:07:25

BertrandRussell Presumably the Sunday School link is what makes the OP confident, some of the religious schools, prefer any religious link over distance even when outside the parish.

I think saving a 20 minute is worth loads, but that probably means another school that's nearer rather than a long commute to simply be with the right people or wasting money on private.

Floggingmolly Fri 17-Jun-16 11:29:28

As you say, sirfred... But it would be a very unusual for parents not to have noticed this faith school's preference for any sign of a religious link grin.
If it's been rated outstanding; op will definitely not be the only one attending Sunday school to up her chances of a place. It'll still come down to catchment, which is usually second on the priority list.

Elvesandthepoomaker Fri 17-Jun-16 11:45:10

Thanks everyone. The Catholic school is fairly unique in that it has more places available than baptised Catholics so it is a sure thing, regardless of distance. With regards to our house, we have accommodation provided by DH's employer so we have more financial flexibility, but are obviously saving towards our own house for the future. It's a grammar school area so that would be our ultimate aim, depending on DD's ability (she's 3...).

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Fri 17-Jun-16 11:48:30

Living a 20 minute drive away from school is a pain in the hump. It's not just driving and collecting, it's the assemblies, clubs, parents' evenings etc - you go back and forth from school a hell of a lot in primary!

Andbabymakesthree Fri 17-Jun-16 11:51:08

Will you have more children following her into private. Personally I'd choose a 20 minute journey.

Mirandawest Fri 17-Jun-16 11:54:37

You still can't know that you'd definitely get a place at the catholic school - there may be other people without baptised children who also want their children to go there and there could be more of them living nearer than you.

eyebrowse Fri 17-Jun-16 12:09:43

I would think about how safe your jobs are and whether you could move closer to the catholic school if you are thinking of moving anyway. At the catholic school near here the children come from the whole area so it would be less unusual to be coming from a distance. Do you know anyone from sunday school you could share lifts with or could ask to mind your daughter?

Kanga59 Fri 17-Jun-16 12:58:21

I chose a prep school car journey over a state school walk. on the basis of the scjool for my child. choose school based on the school fit for your child. not the commute!

Artistic Fri 17-Jun-16 13:12:15

If you are happy with the state school, can't you pay a cm to collect/drop/after school? Compare that with the fees you'd be paying to private.

My prep is 20 mins away & we use the school bus. The 80 min save ( nearly 2 hours including getting dressed & waiting for parking) is not worth my time.

BravoHopeful Fri 17-Jun-16 13:22:19

I would pick the school that I thought was going to give my DC the best educational experience for them.

I picked the school 15 mins walk away over the one next door for this reason (both private). I have often thought about how handy it would be to nip next door for drop-off/pick-up etc. but I am happy with my choice because it is definitely the better school for my particular DC.

FinallyHere Fri 17-Jun-16 13:27:32

You are 'saving' to buy your first house and are considering paying private school fees. What impact would the fees make on your (financially v v sensible) idea to buy a house?

Struggling to get my first proper job and living in student type rent a room accommodation, I remember working out what sort of place i could have purchased with all those fees. If your DC are reasonably bring, they will do fine wherever you send them. Special needs, or needing a bit more help i might consider private education.

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