Those of you who have chosen private school for primary years and onwards...

(52 Posts)
hogspudding Wed 12-Dec-12 12:17:02

particularly those who have perhaps made a lot of sacrifices to find the fees each term....

I'm really interested in your thoughts on how it is going for you? I know private vs. state has been discussed many a time on here, but i would appreciate some kind and honest information. Obviously it goes without saying that all schools and all children are different and my main concern is that we find the best school that suits DD for September next year.

Locally, there are 3 schools we really like. Two are lovely village state primaries and one is a small independent school which is also good. We liked all of them when looking round, though the specific facilities and ethos of the independent school fitted in very much with our own ideas and thoughts about education.

We only have one child and no more are planned. For us, although we could manage the fees (and extra expenses which I know creep up on you) for one child at the independent school, it would be by cutting back. i.e holidays would have to be scaled right down, we have a modest house and we probably wouldn't be able to move for the foreseeable future, less ability to save for the future. If we had more than one child it would not be possible, but that's not in the plan.

So I suppose i'm just interested in the experience of others- for those who found a particular independent school that they loved, and chose to send your child there with sacrifices, did it work out? Do you feel it has been worth it? Have there been any problems with your child maybe not being from a particularly wealthy family/social aspects? Do you see it as an investment for their future?

I do feel very, very lucky that whichever school we pick I shall be happy, just wondering and worrying about it all. Sorry for all the questions.

dixiechick1975 Wed 12-Dec-12 12:53:08

My DD is in private yr 2. The only private school in our small northern town.

Honestly is she had a place at a lovely village state school with great academics then I wouldn't be paying.

These threads always end up pear shaped as whenever posters mention what they see as positives of their child's private school lots of posters chip in and say their state school offers that and more.

All you can do is compare the state school your child has a realistic chance of being allocated v the private one.

eg Class size, facilities, before/aftercare, holidays - some private have longer, holiday care, leavers destinations, curriculum - music, language etc.

If there are any school fairs/concerts coming up maybe go along. You will see other parents and get a feel for the schools.

Butkin Wed 12-Dec-12 13:21:14

I feel DD has benefited from smaller class sizes (than at our state options) and plenty of competitive sport which she loves.

Quite a few children joined her school from the state sector at age 8 and they were of very similar academic ability so don't think they missed out there at all. However some of them, particularly the boys, found the stricter regime tough for a while (but soon got used to it) whilst many were astonished by the sporting options compared to their previous schools.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 12-Dec-12 13:33:22

There is huge variation from area to area. In my area very few state options offer before and after school care and some are actually obstructive to after school care picking up. This was a big issue as a full time worker.
Again in my area there are very few clubs in the state schools and my DD is a joiner she attend 8 clubs at her school a week - all her own choice.
DD's school goes to 18 and this has benefitted a particular group in her year(4) who are very strong in Maths and a senior school teacher is going to teach them Maths.
I am a single mum working full time running a busy business the school I choose was the one that fitted our lives best.

Chandon Wed 12-Dec-12 16:53:33

We tried the local state school, Ofsted " good" for. 3 years and must say that thoigh it is a nice school, we really felt they let DS1, who has mild SEn down. they also let down Ds2 who is ambitious by nature, and found the work too easy.

In the private school we chose, DS1 gets more support for SEN, his teachers somehow seem to care a lot more, and still have high expectations of him ( in the local state school he was pretty much written off after bad SATs and I was told that in every class, someone has to be bottom of the group, and that this was DS) I felt I had nothing to lose by moving him!

After a year and a term, I can say the improvement for Ds1 has been really amazing, they seem to expect more of him, and he rises to the challenge.

And for DS2 it has been great too, he likes to get extra challenges when he finishes his work, which he enjoys.

The kids say they like the sports and music.

At times I feel it is a bit lala-land, when literally ALL kids appear to go skiing twice every year, and people keep asking why we don't. But I can cope wity that, and so can the kids. TBH, most parents seem quite "normal" and not minted or anything.

Still, I would say try the local state primary if you like it, you can always switch if it does not work out.

IndigoBelle Wed 12-Dec-12 16:58:45

I would be looking at it from the other angle.

Sending DC to this private school will cost X a year (£6,000? £10,000)

What would you/DC need to get from this school for X to be worth spending?

You're going to send her there for Y years (7? 13?). So private education will cost X * Y ( £42,000? £130,000?).

What would you/ DC need to get from this school for X * Y to be worth spending?

Would more sports / better grades / ??? be worth X * Y to you?

RiversideMum Wed 12-Dec-12 18:48:16

You need to take a very practical financial approach. What if you are made redundant? What if you have long term illness? What if your relationship breaks down? If any of those things happens, would it mean you would have to change your child's school? What impact would that have on your child? These things have all happened to people I know in the past few years and none of them had a sufficient financial buffer to keep their DCs in private education. They then had to take the state schools where there were spaces left ...

SunflowersSmile Wed 12-Dec-12 19:14:15

IndigoBelle makes a very good point- is it really worth it?
Do a spreadsheet of pros and cons and add financial value to each.
Also as Riversidemum says- can you afford it if things go wrong?
If in doubt go state- a lot of us happily do!!

hogspudding Wed 12-Dec-12 20:54:08

Very very good points. Will be chewing over all of these! I think we are erring towards the two state primaries practically speaking, it would free up money to save or use for extra curricular stuff if dd wanted. We did love the learning ethos in the independent school, but class sizes are tiny and I am not sure how I feel about that either. Fairly small classes I think are great, too small and they may be very restrictive socially.

CURIOUSMIND Wed 12-Dec-12 21:19:39

My children are in a local average state primary school.They both learn instruments.I found in the music ,drama festival, or competition, majority children are from private schools. In the latest competitions, my Ds1 won both final, but his achievement won't have a chance to be mentioned at school( don't know why ).However I found lists of familiar names got congratulations sorts of things on their private school website: Jane was doing exceptionally well, got second place, well done!
You see the difference?

Laura0806 Wed 12-Dec-12 22:47:08

Im am in the process of moving my daughter from private into state at year 2. This is because i truly believe that she is not getting an all round education. It is a small class 13) all girls and it is a very sheltered, unrealistic, over the top environment where the children are treated like princesses by the parents ( not true of all privates I know). Our local state school is good ( not outstanding) but has a reputation for being caring and friendly and my insticnt is that it will provide her with a better start in life. My advice is to try state first, you can always move (harder to move from independent to state in our area as competition for places). I wish I had , would have saved us thousands!

Mutteroo Thu 13-Dec-12 01:47:58

DD had a place at a good infant school but for some reason (I'll blame DH) she went for a scholarship to a very small private school in her reception year. She won the scholarship but we turned it down as thankfully DH realised she was getting a superior education at the state primary. Her a infant class sizes were tiny for a state school (20-24) and the private school had a class size of 8. Our concerns were what if DD fell out with the 2 other girls in the class? Would she feel isolated? Also it felt like a hothouse kind of environment which we knew would make her feel uncomfortable. We eventually moved DD in year 9 when things were not working out in her secondary school. For DCs primary years, they were able to learn instruments, do extracurricular activities & go on residential school trips. Could we afford to do that & pay for primary education? Hell no!

Weigh up those pros & cons - The only real answer here. one thing though, we found some parents in both sectors of education rather snobby & had feelings of superiority. On the whole they were a great bunch and we had no issues with the social side of things. Do what is right for you and your child. If the sacrifice is too great then it really isn't worth it. Good luck OP.

orangeberries Thu 13-Dec-12 09:02:51

We considered private for our children at many stages of their education and nearly signed on the dotted line a couple of times.

For us the difference was a bit like buying a package holiday or "DIY" holiday with a lot more incognito and hiccups along the way. If we'd gone for the privates our life would have been a lot easier; less chasing after levels, absent teachers, ups and downs, lack of homework, no extracurricular so lots of carting around after school.

The upsides for us were the closeness to school, the savings which allowed us to do more as a family and also the real choice of activities (ie being able to choose the best available in the area rather than what's offered by the school).

For secondary I will most definitely be going private as it's been a bit of a rollercoaster and I would like an easier ride. Also I think it will be harder to spur and motivate teenagers to the same degree.

If we had a grammar school or a fantastic I nearby I would consider it, but as we don't I think it will be state primary and private secondary for us. Good luck with your decision!!!

We tried two 'outstanding' village primary schools for dd2 before going private.
It is worth every penny as she is a transformed child who loves school now.
She has mild SEN too and was very badly bullied in the other schools.

The school she is in now has shown such kindness to her and understanding, they also keep a very close eye on all the social interactions.
It is an academic prep school but they care about all of the children's little quirks.

I had the opposite experience to some people, the village school parents were very wealthy in general and much more cliquey. I found the prep school parents more 'normal' and accepting of dd.

It obviously depends where you live and I think our local schools are quite unusual in that respect.

Dd's class has 18 pupils, I wouldn't want fewer because of the friendship issues.

HelpOneAnother Thu 13-Dec-12 09:39:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WineOhWhy Thu 13-Dec-12 09:45:48

My DDs go to private prep. We were lucky to be in a position to be able to afford it without it having too big a lifestyle impact, so were able to take money out the equation and ask ourselves what was the best school for them.

If it had been more of a sacrifice financially (but doable), i think we would still have gone for it (or moved) because it was so much better than the other options available to us. If we lived in another area with excellent state schools nearby, then I think the cost would have been much more of a deciding factor. I dont think anyone else can answer this for you because it is so fact specific.

HelpOneAnother Thu 13-Dec-12 09:46:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MRSJWRTWR Thu 13-Dec-12 10:11:00

We moved DS2 from state to private in September. DS2 was experiencing quite a few difficulties at his big state primary and alot of this has been resolved by smaller class sizes and more individual attention. We also liked the variety of after school clubs and sport on offer. As a working parent, the wrap round care that is available from 8am-6pm included in the fees was also an attraction.

I miss not being involved with a local school which is part of our community but I feel it was the right move for DS2. DS1 managed really well at the big state primary and easily got into the private secondary school (attached to DS2's prep school) and this is what we had planned with DS2, but different schools suit different children.

I suppose we could have looked at some of the small village primary schools in the area but to be honest the logistics of attending one of these probably wouldnt have worked.

Luckily, the fees do not have too big an impact on our lifestyle at the moment but we did have to think long and hard (and put plans in place) with regard to the financial committment for the next 10-12 years.

Chigley1 Thu 13-Dec-12 10:12:29

Both mine started school at an independent, it caters for nursery to 16. We happily live very, very frugally indeed in order to pay fees. We live in an area where there are many failing schools (primary and secondary) and the best are all packed to the rafters and we are well outside catchment for most of them. My children are unaware (so far) that we pay for their schooling.

There are a few very affluent families, but in several years I've yet to come across anyone 'flashy' IYSWIM. The vast majority are very down to earth, and make at least some sacrifices to pay fees.

I am a teacher and chose it for these reasons. Class sizes are small (ish) and the emphasis is very much on the 'whole' child rather than pure academic ability. Being happy at school is absolutely the most important thing to everyone. All the teachers know all the children's names. Older children are encouraged to work with younger and it is very much a family atmosphere. There are relatively few who transfer to grammar at 11, even though that is an option. There is very little 'testing' that the children are aware of, although the assessment process is very sound. In short, it is run exactly the way I feel every school should be. Some are like this, of course, but many are not.

We used to live in a area with very good state schools, and I doubt I would have chosen private in those circumstances. It's just THIS particular school I love, not necessarily independents in general. They are not all the same. One of my children in particular would be very unhappy in a high pressure 'prep for exams' type of school.

If you LOVE the school significantly more than the state primaries I would do it. If there is little to choose between them, I would hold off. Save the money for private secondary.

This has turned into a bit of an essay! I find I spend a lot of time justifying my choices (to myself and others!) especially as we can only just manage financially.

hogspudding Thu 13-Dec-12 10:28:35

Thank you so much for your replies. It means a lot to me just to hear of others experiences as I am by nature a real worrier and I think dp is fed up of hearing about the various ins and outs of different schools whereas it is constantly on my mind at the moment. I know it is a totally individual choice and based on our individual set of circumstances but just want to get it right.

I struggle socially sometimes in that I don't have a wide circle of friends and also tend to feel that on a group of people I always feel that I am always the uninteresting, frumpy one. I do suffer with shyness. We have a very modest and small house and I suppose that although I am anxious first and foremost to get the right school for dd, I also saw it as an opportunity to make a few more friends, become involved in things etc. what I don't want is find ourselves in a situation where I am anxious about having children back to play because I feel inferior- I am not for one second saying that parents at private school are snobbish and unkind, rather that I might feel uncomfortable in myself and also wouldn't want dd to worry about having mates back. I am probably not explaining myself very well...

But there will be lovely people and not so lovely people at any school so I know deep down I should try not to worry so much about that.

hogspudding Thu 13-Dec-12 10:34:40

Chigley1 how far do you travel to the school? It sounds lovely and very much like the independent school we are considering. It would be a 25 minute drive for us which of course is another consideration.

Chigley1 Thu 13-Dec-12 11:19:47

We are lucky it's pretty close to us, about a 10 minute drive. However there are families who live at least 30 minutes away. The one disadvantage is children tend to be very spread out so not many school friends close by to play with!

I would suggest doing the drive a few times at school run times to see what the traffic is like! My DC school starts earlier and finishes later than many local schools so we avoid the real rush.

wordfactory Thu 13-Dec-12 11:31:32

OP I can give you my own thoughts with the benefit of hindsight (my DC are now in secondary).

It looks as if you've checked both state and priavte to see which will suit your DC but it's hard when they're so little to consider what they'll need when they are no longer so tiny. I know we chose prep school because it was close, co-ed, had loads of outdoor space and we liked the cut of the headmaster's jib grin...hardly deep thinking.

In retrospect the following things were well worth paying for (but are not present in all prep schools and are present in some state schools):

Small class sizes.
FT TAs for each class.
Plenty of sports and time spent out doors.
Early introduction of MFL (not a peri coming in for half an hour a week).
Specialist teaching inroduced in year 3.
Proper setting introduced in year 3.
Competitive sports teams with weekly fixture dates.
Excellent dedicated facilities for sports/drama/art/DT/science/ICT.

I also appreciated the longer school day and longer school holidays. It suited me and mine.

I also appreciated the regular homework and early introduction of exams.

Things that were rather nice, but were not necessary, included super grounds and building. Home made lunches (no packed lunches allowed). Formal events (prize giving day etc).

Chandon Thu 13-Dec-12 12:03:13

With proper setting, do you mean top sets and bottom sets?

If so, in our private school, the thing I like is that there are only sets for maths, but nothing else. And even the bottom set at maths is a year ahead of state school curriculum.

I LOVE it that there are no sets for English, they have a minumum level all kids, even dyslexic etc, have to work at. This minimum level is quite high. Children with SEN get between 2 and 5 withdrawal lessons to help then with their English. The fact that they have higher expectations of my dyslexic son than the state school had, has meant that somehow, and miraculously he rises to the challenge! Set the bar higher, and they jump higher. And that is what I love about our school.

Guess private schools vary hugely.

It's interesting that a lot of us went private for additional needs. I do think that it's a bit of a fallacy that the state is always better for that. You hear it said so many times.

I appreciate that we are lucky to have that opportunity though and it shouldn't be so unfair.

hogspudding Thu 13-Dec-12 12:05:48

Thank you, I agree that when DCs are tiny the factors that are important may differ to when they are bigger. Happiness is key throughout though. What dp and I do agree on is that if not private at primary we would do private at secondary ideally if circumstances allowed. This is again down to specific secondary schools in our area. It sounds as though others here have also gone down this route.

What we have disagreed upon is how this might work in practical terms. So dp is very black and white on the matter while I see den potential issues- I see an 11 year old girl with hopefully a group of friends and the excitement of going to visit your new secondary in year six all the chatting/ hype etc. how easy is it really at 11 to say "no you are going to the school that your dad and I want you to?"

Round here going to private at secondary level only is not so common and she would almost certainly be alone or one of very very few
in going to a private school after state primary.

Any experiences of the emotional effect of switching to private at secondary?

It sounds like everyone has chosen lovely schools here though, whatever the sector!

Floralnomad Thu 13-Dec-12 12:13:15

My children both went independent ,DS until 11 when he went to grammar ,DD until yr 5 when we sent her to a local primary . It was her choice and something we should have done years before. Given my time again I would have gone down the state route , our local schools are all good and we've spent over £70,000 and really not benefitted from it IMO. BTW school fees were not an issue for us and had we felt we were going to benefit would have happily left them in independents to 18 .

HelpOneAnother Thu 13-Dec-12 12:17:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chandon Thu 13-Dec-12 12:25:40

Hogs, my sister is facing that exact dilemma with her y6 daughter, and it has led to lots of tears and rows, and now the parents are not sure!

Where I live, n Hampshire, lots of people go from state to private and back, about 40% of DS peers at private primary will go to state secondary, but then state schools here often outperform private secondaries, so you would not move them to private to get better grades.

wordfactory Thu 13-Dec-12 13:08:01

Hogs both my DD at 11 and DS at 13 went to schools where none of their prep friends were going. It really wasn't an issue and was always going to be the case.

Lot sof other DC joined from elsewhere. Even those that did have pals from primary were seperated to ensure mixing took place.

The only schools where that might be an issue, would be secondary schools with preps attached where most of the cohort already know one another. Though even then, the new boys/girls always have the excitement factor on their side.

mrsshackleton Thu 13-Dec-12 13:21:40

I have one in state and one in private. I think if you have a good state option nearby you'd be bonkers not to at least try it out. See how your child does and in a year or two you can reexamine. In many respects our local state was (and is) fabulous, dd1 moved because she won a place at a school that goes all the way up to 18 and we wanted to avoid 11 plus. I'd say she's learning more at the new school but she is not a self-motivator and the private school gave her a needed kick. Ds who is very focused is thriving there and imo doesn't need private frills.

MRSJWRTWR Thu 13-Dec-12 13:34:05

Well as I said previously, DS1 (Y9) went to a private secondary after attending the local state primary school. He was one of only two out of his year (90 children) who went to this particular school although approx 8 others went to various other private schools. As there were entrance exams to pass, the children I knew of all left Y6 with L5 SATs or above.

He has loved it from the word go and although he still sees some of his local primary school friends it took him almost no time at all to make new ones. It is a big school with about 70% of his years intake coming from the prep school, and 30% from surrounding state primary schools.

The only drawbacks I can think of at the moment is that he was a bit behind in French as the prep school started this in Y2 (DS2 has already started learning it) and he hadnt covered much at his primary school. Also, although he isnt particulary sporty the prep school children had all been playing competitive rugby, football, hockey, netball, cricket etc from an early age and the amount of sport he was suddenly expected to be involved in was a bit of a shock.

moonbells Thu 13-Dec-12 14:01:08

DS is now in Reception at a prep close to my work, for a whole pile of practical reasons. I work f/t, work is 30-40mins drive away. DH commutes to London and we can't rely on TfL to be running well enough to let him make any drops or pickups or sometimes even get him to work at all .

For my local state school:
If I was on 8am-4.30pm hours, I'd need to drop off DS at 7am and then get in. I'd have to pick up after 5.15pm. No school near home opens that early and neither do CMs. No go.

If I was 9am-5.30pm hours I'd drop to breakfast club and go into work. I'd need to pickup at 6.15-6.30 (jams are worse at this time!) which wouldn't be possible with teatime clubs and so I'd have to get a CM and DS would have to go home, straight to bath, books and bed. Possible but too long a day and no time spent with DS, so another no go.

So we both leave at 7.15am, drive to the town I work in, chatting/singing or the like, drop DS off at breakfast club and make it to work for 8. I leave at 4.30 and pickup from teatime and we chat about his day on the drive. Have supper at home and playtime before bath, books and bed. Works for us.

Downside - we'll never be able to have a big holiday. Last year was a cottage in Cornwall. Next year will be too, if I can find one we can afford. We have a semi in a not-that-expensive area (hence living miles from work) and we badly could have done with getting one where DS's bedroom was a bit bigger than 7x9', but no use wishing now!

We have taken financial advice and are actively planning how to pay fees tax-efficiently and without recourse to loans, we have no rich relatives and none living close who could otherwise help out.

Other objections I've heard: why don't I give up work. Er. shock I have a pension and an independent income. I'm in a field which moves so fast I'd never get back in again if I took any time off. It's a f/t post and can't be downsized to p/t. DH is a contractor so can't commit to any school runs either. We did actually start thinking about all of this before we started trying for a baby so it was a long term plan. So far, so good.

KTK9 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:06:56

I think choosing a school - if you have a choice, is one of the hardest things we have to do and like you I agonised over it. DH felt he owed a lot to his private education, I did OK with my state one (but could have done better!). We looked at a number of schools and then chose a local 'outstanding' one.

However, almost immediately we had concerns over behaviour in reception, then reading, then dd's attitude to school - she hated it - Ok when there, but didn't want to go, by the end of Yr1 she was switching off to any education and despite being the oldest in the year, was just below average in most things.

We moved her to private in Year 2 and the difference was incredible, she is motivated, enthused, loves going etc. etc. Now in Year 3, is was definately the right thing for her and she is up to the level of her peers (the school did some extra work with her maths for a few weeks during lunchtimes at the start.

However, in Yr 1, there were only 8 girls in a class of 16, not easy to manage if there are fallings out, or a group who exclude a couple of others, so think about that. She is now in a group of 20 girls (boys went off at end of Yr2 to adjoining boys school) and this is much healthier with regards friendships.

Several girls joined in Year 3 and I would say a couple are struggling with the workload, but are getting extra help to bring them up to the level, so bear this in mind if you start state with a view to move later. Personally, dd wouldn't have coped with the Year 3 work, if she had stayed where she was, but of course schools vary and in some cases there will be no difference.

The fees are scary - ours is a quite 'cheap' school at £2,600 per term. I have the bill in front of me now for Spring and that basically is our ski holiday we would have had - no great shakes to lose a holiday, but the same fees will come again at the start of the Summer Term. Earlier this year DH had problems with cash flow in his company, we were facing up to the fact that we may have to take her out of school and I felt physically sick at the thought. I only work 3 days a week, but was preparing to go back full time, anything to avoid pulling her out, can you live with that pressure. We do have funds in place for her secondary education and uni., but can't use that at the moment, so it is down to us (or DH!).

The quality of education is completely different, the structure, the ethos and work ethic, is a world away from her previous school, it is in someways a 'safe' and not really a 'wordly wise' environment, but at the moment I am happy with that as I feel some kids grow up too quickly. We have all the stuff others have mentioned, along with specialist teachers for Science, Music, French etc. etc. They do hockey, swimming, netball and gymnastics in one of three sessions a week, not just the one she used to have. However, I am sure a good state school can provide this.

The parents are very mixed, yes some are loaded - swimming pools, footballers etc. etc., but most are like us, don't live in huge houses, both work hard to keep paying the fees and not all go on fabulous holidays. I have been to a variety of houses, most are semis or detatched, only one was 'wow', so I wouldn't worry about it.

If we had a school locally that could give us the same, we would jump at it, but honestly?, having been through the state system myself and worked a little in state schools, I am genuinely shocked at the differences and if I am honest, cross too that we have to pay to get this in our area. Maybe we are just extremely lucky with our school now I am sure like state schools, privates vary too.

Best of luck, I don't envy you.

moonbells Thu 13-Dec-12 14:53:50

Just realised I sound like by "Independent income" that I have some kind of trust fund. Nope, I just meant I was earning and not relying on my DH!

Dozer Fri 14-Dec-12 14:17:03

Dd1 is in private reception, not sure how it will turn out yet! She is happy, we can afford it for the moment, but am not sure it was the right decision.

Main reasons were class size, we liked the school best of all the local schools, didn't want to get the DC baptised, get a huge mortgage or attend church to get into the "best" state schools, and the one we had a chance of getting into that we liked had a "requires improvement" oftsed rating (altough did like it looking round).

My main worry is that should money become an issue due to life events (another poster has described well!) there are unlikely to be spaces at the more popular local state schools.

Make sure to investigate finances of private schools - there're websites etc where you can get accounts. I would be concerned about v small class sizes. In my local area there are several private primary schools operating at a loss that I wouldn't risk.

SunflowersSmile Fri 14-Dec-12 14:41:37

So sad there appears to be such a difference with private and state in your posts. My children are at a local state school that I would wager would have many of you reaching for your smelling salts. It is a 'good' school though but other local people seem scared they might catch 'poor' or their precious angels won't cope with what they perceive to be 'streetwise' kids or the mums are just too -well not like us....
Wonderful school though- their loss..
Just a rant as bloody infuriating...
As you were...

BabyGiraffes Fri 14-Dec-12 18:22:58

What exactly is your point sunflowers?

SunflowersSmile Fri 14-Dec-12 18:29:05

I wonder sometimes when people talk about 'good' state primaries and 'bad' what they mean. Occasionally snobbery?
Just my recent experience making me tetchy....

Karoleann Fri 14-Dec-12 18:52:52

We did (central london, outstanding) state school for DS1 from reception to year 2, we moved over the summer and now both DS1 and DS2 are in a private pre-prep. The benefits for us are smaller class sizes, on site pool, specalist teachers for PE, music, swimming, art. Lovely grounds - the staff are more dedicated compared to our state school and their are few boys with additional needs that take up the teachers time (such as english as an additional language). They do have provision for moderate learning disabilities such as dyslexia, but they have a team of specialis teachers, so again the majority of teaching is geared to the more able children.

We have plenty of money so the school fees are very affordable for us. A lot of the parents are very wealthy too.

However, we have moved to the country and are 5 minutes away from an outstanding primary - one of the best in the country, we are seriously considering sending our daughter there, as the options for girls pre-prep are not as good as the boys.

Could you try the state primary first and move him if it doesn't work out?

wildirishrose Fri 14-Dec-12 18:53:22

My children have been in private education all their academic life, personally I would save your money and use it for tutoring after school. Look on school websites to see what the independents are doing and follow it at home until your child reaches secondary age. There is really not much difference between the NC and prep school curriculum at that age.

CURIOUSMIND Fri 14-Dec-12 21:12:20

'And even the bottom set at maths is a year ahead of state school curriculum.'------More like many parents are hoping so, but unfortunately it's not.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 14-Dec-12 21:15:41

My DS goes to a private school. We decided that small classes with a calm environment was the best for him. There are twelve children in his reception class with 3 adults (one adult does 1-2-1 support) and he really enjoys it. It was either this school or our local outstanding school, which we liked but the thought of our DS (who has speech and social interaction issues) in a free flow environment with 59 other children was too much. He has his little quirks which are accommodated or gently challenged - it's school that very much looks after and takes care of the individual child. I think its the level of care that makes a significant difference (and I am a supply teacher so I have worked in lots of different state schools). The school also has their own speech therapist. And all the usual facilities found in private schools. TBH, the academic side for me is secondary, which sounds daft given how much we pay. smile

It is a struggle to pay fees and all the other extras but it's totally worth it. And I've found it's a real mixture of parents, working class and middle class, rich and, like us, not rich at all. There is no snobbiness.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 14-Dec-12 21:26:06

They do have provision for moderate learning disabilities such as dyslexia...the majority of teaching is geared to the more able children.

Yes, a lot of private schools in our area (literally, we have dozens) do not cater for SEN. They say they do but when you get down to the nitty gritty, what they mean by SEN is dyslexia. I'm actually appalled by the misrepresentation in t literature and websites, tbh.

IwishyouaMerryChristmas Fri 14-Dec-12 21:26:52

If money will be tight to educate your dd through her primary years of schooling, have you looked at what the fees will be as she gets older?

maybetimeforachange Fri 14-Dec-12 21:39:11

We moved our DD to a private school last year leaving her older brother in the excellent state school. We moved her because she was unhappy and there were no state places which we felt were acceptable. We chose the school because of the outstanding pastoral care which has delivered on every level. The school has a reputation for not being particularly academic but actually we have been blown away by her academic progress. There is a huge emphasis on the core skills, she is getting a very solid foundation in reading, spelling, etc. She is streets ahead of where my v academic DS was at the same age and she is nowhere near as naturally bright as him. It is purely down to better teaching attention to detail and a refusal to accept anything less than the best that child is capable of, all done in a very gentle way.

DS2 starts the state primary next september but it is v likely he will go to DD school sooner rather than later. 2 in a fairly pricey prep school will eat into our standard of living in a small way in that we will probably have to drop a holiday and not replace our perfectly nice car for a couple of years but nothing major. They will cross over for 2-3 years before DD moves to a fantastic state secondary. If we knew before what we knew now we would have moved DS 1 from year 3 but he is in yr5 and the disruption to him would outweigh any benefits so we are tutoring to ensure that he has the solid skills we feel he lacks.

I would always start with a state school, and I am in no doubt that ours is excellent but I have realised that really good prep school is just in a different league to what most primary schools can offer.

moonbells Fri 14-Dec-12 22:12:49

I keep saying this on so many threads, if you want to go private but can't see yourself being able to cope with the fees, do phone up a few independent financial advisors and see what they say. There are several firms who specialise in school fees.

At the very least they'll give you a finances review which may decide the whole issue for you!

Inflation's the biggie: over the past few years fees have been rising substantially above inflation, 6-8%.

This is sort-of how it goes (this is not tongue-in-cheek either)
Get a spreadsheet. Input your first year fees. Multiply by 1.07 to get an idea of year two. Multiply that by another 1.07 for the year after. Keep going to age 11/13 depending whether you have DD or DS.
Add up all of these yearly amounts
Pour yourself a stiff drink and drink it.

Meanwhile start another sheet. Find the (usually much greater) cost of the local secondary independent. Put that in this year. Start the multiplying again, except this time carry on to when they're 18.
Add up all the yearly amounts from the year they're 11 or 13, upto 18
Add that to the first sheet total

Go and faint.

Laugh hysterically and go and drink the rest of the gin bottle

Then think of University fees, give up and go buy several lottery tickets every rollover.

hogspudding Fri 14-Dec-12 22:56:00

I had best stock up on gin... yes, think we may have a chat with financial advisor.

Such a decision to make, and after the terrible news from America today, just want to wrap her in cotton wool.

difficultpickle Fri 14-Dec-12 23:23:20

No intention of going private but CM decided she would not do school run to village school. Looked around and had difficulty finding someone to do the hours I needed and the school I wanted. CM had been happy to do nursery run to same village and later changed her mind about not doing school run. She said her rates would change and a quick calculation made me realise the local private school was cheaper and more flexible on hours.

I'd planned for ds to go to state secondary but he has now changed to a school that finishes at 13 rather than 11 so it is more likely he will stay in private education for secondary too. He got a large scholarship for his new school and would need a similar level scholarship or bursary for senior school.

difficultpickle Fri 14-Dec-12 23:25:11

I'd add that ds is in his fifth year of private school and all of our fee rises have been below inflation and one year was zero increase.

mam29 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:26:04


i recently moved my dd from largish faith state school near home to small village state school.

We were not the only 1s to leave 3left last term summer to nearest independant primary bargain at £1400 a term max class 16 no mixed year groups but the school has no green space and is basically in big house.

it does have entended hours before and after, quite a few clubs

The new school is fab looked at whole child not just academics, has extra currucular, almost independant ethos about it.

but another girl started similar time to mine she had left the independant primary as she and her parents were unhappy.
yet another mum had 1son there an rest at village school as it worked better for that child to be in indepndant so she worked on right school for right child-you dont know until you try.

The 2nd indepndant prep bearest us is £2600 a term.
outstanding ofted
good facilities/grouns
holiday/aftreschool club
baby unit and nursery attached so fab for working parents.

so as shocked when spoke to lady ho pulled both hers ouut and said nearest state primary to me one we dident consider as better than that independant she moved hers to large primary thorugh to secondry.

All I will say is found moving stressful.

so ork out finances

go see as many state and private schools s you can to make good decisions.

good luck.

I agree with building rises in, my three dcs have been in a mixture of private and state schools. Between them ( due to house moves) six in total. Without exception , we have had a yearly increase above inflation to the school fees.
If you are looking at a particular school , it's all freely available information.

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