Would you move him to private if you were me?

(49 Posts)
ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 13:16:33

Name changed for this thread.

I have a year 2 boy, very easy going, on the quiet side, has a good friend in his class which is similar to him and whom he plays with most of the time. He was late summer born (just turned 6), top in math last year and among top 5 in English. Outside school he is learning to swim (not showing any sporting talent at this point) and preparing for grade 1 for a musical instrument (suggested by the teacher, not me). He is not a child genius but reasonably bright. DH and I can help him with maths/science till A levels but English is not our first language so a bit limited there.

Since the beginning of the school year I have been thinking about getting him to do 7 plus for a private 7 to 18 school which is academically rigourous. I don't actually agree with private primary education, tutoring at young age etc, I much prefer him to spend his primary years with children from wider background but I do have the money to pay (very very reluctantly though).

I was very happy with his current two form state primary for the reception year but I am worried that the gap between the education he is receiving and that his private school peers is getting will rapidly widen. One week after school started I have received no reading books, no homework, no curriculum or newsletters, not even notification of when PE day is. His class will not get any time from specialist PE or music teacher. He had spent significant time every morning to do silent reading from ungraded picture books chosen from the box on table. No indication of any differentiation in work yet. It is early days I know but there is definitely no feeling of everything hitting the ground running and I am feeling unsure. It is acceptable for reception year and year 1 in my opinion but not so great for year 2.

Long waiting list at other local outstanding state primary schools, we won't get in.

See, the school is not dire but isn't it not good enough? Am I being ridiculously picky or should I aim for something better for my son? Will I regret it if I don't try at 7 when the private school has a bigger intake?

I hope someone with experience or hindsight can enlighten me.

MrsNuckyThompson Tue 13-Sep-16 13:19:59

I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever with paying for private education. I feel that if you can afford it and think it will be best, you should go for it.

I don't like the concept of tutoring young children like this as a rule, but realistically if the school you're talking about is academic and popular, you may have little other option unless you move him to a pre-prep which will get him ready as he goes...

Seeline Tue 13-Sep-16 13:24:50

HAve you actually visited the private school - both junior and senior sections to see how it feels? Would the style of education suit your DS? Just because you pay doesn't mean it's the right school for your DS. Also, are there guarantees that the children in the Junior school automatically progress to the senior school, or is there some sort of weeding-out process?
Don't get me wrong, I have to DCs at private schools (secondary) - because they were the right schools for each child.

mouldycheesefan Tue 13-Sep-16 13:26:59

The school he is at doesn't sound great. Exploring alternatives would be worthwhile.

irvineoneohone Tue 13-Sep-16 13:29:20

Yes, if you can afford it, and there's right school for your dc, definitely go for it. If you don't feel right about current school for 2 years, it's not likely to get better later.

smellyboot Tue 13-Sep-16 13:30:39

I'm not sure exactly what you want. The start to yr2 sounds totally normal to me. Mine are a week in and only expected reading books later this week as they are settling in etc. I don't need to know what day PE is. I think I've been told but cant remember. It's my DC that need to know not me?
They are doing recorder and basic music this year. Most DC we know do a ton of extra sports, music and drama outside of school. Our school is a very very high performing state school. Not expecting home work for a week or so either.
If you have your heart set on a specific private secondary you may as well just send him now surely? People will quickly grab your free place!!
It's either that or get him a tutor for yr4/5/6 ?

Florin Tue 13-Sep-16 13:43:39

Look at a range of private schools to see which one fits your son. My son has just started at private school in reception. He had a reading book from the very first day and this is changed 3 times a week as well as a book from the school library which he chooses every week. We have a time table and have already had a meeting about what they will be learning this term. PE is 3 times a week and taught by specialist teachers. He also has specialist teachers in IT/programming, French and music. He gets great individual teaching with less than 10 in a class and he has already learnt so much in a few days.

mouldycheesefan Tue 13-Sep-16 13:46:32

I wouldn't worry too much about how often books are changed, they soon get old enough to change their own books.

redskytonight Tue 13-Sep-16 13:50:50

Nothing in that list sounds bad for a few days into the new year!
Though you are obviously worried. Why not make a list of specific concerns and go and speak to the teacher?

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 13:52:34

Thanks so much everyone!

The private I have in mind is academic first and foremost, which should at least be a better fit for my boy than a sporty school. The thing that impressed me most was that the teachers we met at the open evening all sounds like they are well supported and less interfered to get on with teaching, and has the resources and freedom to implement more creative method of teaching. The children are expected to move up to senior school but will all sit the scholarship exam for a shot to save some money for their parents, but avoid the worst of the 11plus.

I know my situation re:state primary is not uncommon, but that is not what I hope for and I worry about the later primary years that he will be left to get on but not actively taught. He will still do ok if I keep pushing but will there be a big gap? If he stays in his current school it will be because I want him to grow up in the community and be less sheltered, and to save some money for future as a family, not because of excellent teaching or opportunities.

I suppose we should apply and see how it goes? He might not get in anyway......

smellyboot Tue 13-Sep-16 14:01:21

It's hard to know without seeing both schools. Our school has a very creative curriculum as do several round us. But you also say you want academic rigour. The schools near us that are focused on entrance exams and entry to private secondary are more traditional and not as creative, not the other way round.

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 15:55:54

smellyboot I guess the private is particularly attractive because the Prep only needs to bring the children to senior school standard so they will save a lot of time not having to do SATs or the VR non-VR drills. It allows for more flexibility in curriculum too. I guess I used the word creative wrongly when I described what I like about the teaching method. What I meant was that the resources allow good teaching methods to actually be implemented, something simple like teaching maths by playing shop or making mocktails etc, which is fun and effective for the children, but unfortunately hardly ever happened in his last two years in state primary.

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 16:16:57

There seems to be any absence of progress information here OP, just a vague notion that he is getting behind. What type of children are at the state school? How good is the teaching? What progress in reading has he made up until now? How do you know he is top in Maths? Or top 5 in English. I do not know a single state school that would give out this type of information.

What they will know is what progress he has made since he has been at the school. You should ask to see this.

I am amazed a private school utilises PE specialists in Reception! My DD went to a top class prep in the Home Counties and the specialist PE teachers definitely did not teach Reception in a formal way. Lots of children starting reception at 4 cannot have a reading book immediately but some will start being able to read already. Cleary the school will assess who can do what. Can children program at 4 years old? I have yet to see this.

There are always procedures for changing reading books regularly and recording progress in all state schools. OP, did your son not have reading books in Y1 and Reception? He must have done! So why would the policy be different in Y2?

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 16:32:37

Hi bojorojo, DS did get reading books in year R and Y1 and has been on Lime for a while. His Y1 teacher told me the info of his work at the last parents meeting probably because she "knows" me by then and know how I never discuss children's progress with other parents maybe? (I still haven't). I was surprised (pleasantly) that she told me though because it is useful to know. He is not behind now compared to private kids as far as I can tell but I suspect it may happen further up the primary years.

But the main thing is I didn't see excellence in teaching or class organization and I worry that my DS will be put at too much of a disadvantage when applying to secondary (grammar or private). I am looking at moving him at 7 and I agree that at 4 all the extras are not so important but I suspect that they will make a difference starting in KS2.

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 16:43:24

I am a governor of a junior school and I can assure you children are "taught". We would get into big Ofsted trouble if the children did not make expected progress and lots of the children do better than this. What sort of progress do the children make in your school?

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 16:52:34

bojorojo DS is fine he will make expected progress. I just don't think the school will help him to achieve any more than that. I think by writing it down and reading everyone's comment it really help me focus, thanks everyone!

Katelocks Tue 13-Sep-16 16:56:22

I think you are right. He will make the expected level of progress but perhaps not very much beyond that. Sounds like it would be worth exploring, in more detail, the private option.

originalmavis Tue 13-Sep-16 17:00:37

Check out a few schools and find one with a culture that you and your child feel happy with. Some are hothouse exam factories and not suitable for all kids.

smellyboot Tue 13-Sep-16 17:11:16

OP are you sure that you know what methods they teach with at your state school? At all our local schools ( I know people with children in many) the whole of reception is imaginative play based learning. All have big out door classrooms and all learning is fun and via very practical imaginative stuff. They have carpet time for phonics. For us this continued into yr1 with a bit more structure. There is a lot of topic work and exploration of concepts in different ways. There as loads of themed days and weeks and activities. If that's not happening then the state school is the issue.

smellyboot Tue 13-Sep-16 17:12:55

Our state school has specialist music teachers in yr2 and also school and dedicated PE coach

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 17:16:06

smellyboot your school sounds great and if my DS us in one I wouldn't really need to consider paying.

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 17:52:52

I think my problem is the school is ok, not great but ok. Like a school trip will be organised but once the children gets there they will spend of the time learning “free range“ but not directed. Like a choir is there but none of the parents knows about it or how to join. Like the lunchtime clubs that sometimes happens sometimes not. Everything is theoretically there but not really achieving their purpose fully? I feel like the whole thing is a series of wasted opportunities.

Sorry for the moan!

GoblinLittleOwl Tue 13-Sep-16 18:24:08

Your son has done well if you consider him to be top in maths and in the top 5 for English (don't know how you acquired this knowledge as class places are not given in English primary schools) but he seems to have made reasonable progress.
The school has been lax in not giving out information about timetables etc, but specialists for PE and music in Y2?
You do believe in private education, the pressurising aspects of it certainly and the parental control involvement, so stop pretending you want him to meet children from a wider background (really?) and follow your instincts.
Not sure how right it will be for your son, though.

ShouldImovehim Tue 13-Sep-16 18:57:01

Goblin I don't think it's fair to say that I believe in privates and am pretending to want DS to grow up with children from more diverse background. After all he is in a state primary and I would not think about moving him if the teaching and the organisation is better. Also I would not know what DS will be like academically at 4 and even now I am only beginning to get an idea. You can say that I have unrealistic expectation but I do think there are posters who have great provisions in state primary their DC is in. Just that maybe mine are more middle of the road?

smellyboot Tue 13-Sep-16 19:22:27

In our area most of the schools are 3 form with big nurseries so over 700-750 DCs not unusual in a primary. Add in a fair percentage of DC with pupil premium extra cash injected and you get a very different provison than in a small primary in a middle class area. The schools mostly have at least one dedicated PE coach, music teacher, SEN support on site and other provision. Around 300 DC in our primary learn an instrument and the choir is 120 strong. At a friends school in a deprived area there are totally free after school enrichment clubs for every day as a result of pupil premium funding and extra grants. These cover music, crafts and other activities.

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