State for 1 Child, Private for the other - should I consider?

(57 Posts)
ConfusedofCamden Mon 12-Nov-12 22:46:14

So I'm being a little premature here as only one of my children is yet in school and is still in infants BUT never to early to start obsessing thinking about secondary schools eh?

I've got a son and a daughter. My son is currently in the state system but I have at the back of my mind potential move to independent school at 7+ or (preferably) 11+

One dilemma I have is about whether to make the move at 7 or 11, but that's a whole other thread!

Today's dilemma is that my eldest child is a boy. Where we live there aren't really any great options for boys and so I'm definitely veering towards the idea of an independent school for him (at least from 11, if not before, see above!). HOWEVER, my youngest (who is not even at school yet - see, I told you I was being premature!) is a girl. We live close enough to Camden School for Girls that she would (in a typical year) be likely to get it. In many ways, it sounds like my perfect kind of school.

I just worry that it seems really "off" to send one child to private and not the other. It may be that I'm just being shallow and worrying what other people would think (eg that I'm favouring one child - especially as it's a boy/girl thing) or that there is a genuine sense that I would be acting unfairly. Then again, it does seem slightly insane to be shelling out for 2 lots of school fees when we are lucky enough to live so close to CSG.

If I had 2 girls, I doubt I'd be even considering private education (to be honest, it's been DP that's gradually chipped away at me on that front and as time goes on I've been more open to the idea of private education whereas once I'd have baulked totally).

It's probably too early to be dwelling on these things - who knows what needs my children will have or what schools they would fit into, but it's on my mind now particularly as it's all wrapped up in a jigsaw of decisions including whether we stay where we live or move.

Any thoughts much appreciated!

You do what is right for the child (within reason and financial etc constraints) we have ds at state secondary, happy as larry, not even a consideration that he would go private and dd who we are fully intending to send to private next year for year three. they are totally different chidren with very different needs and we will be guided by that!

ConfusedofCamden Mon 12-Nov-12 23:00:30

Thank you - that's interesting. Can I be really nosey and ask - do you mean different needs in an academic sense? I said in my original post that I'd need to take into account what needs my kids have respectively, but to be honest (and maybe it's because they are so young still) I'm not clear on what would be deciding factors in this kind of decision! I guess these will unfold over the next few years!

It might sound really stupid - but my sensitivity as to what others would think would be lessened if it were the other way around, like you, ie with the boy in state and girl in private. I'm just conscious that it could look like we are "investing" more in our son (*shudders at the prospect*) when in fact nothing could be more unlike me at all!

AngelEyes46 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:01:05

I live in the Croydon borough and some families I know have sent their ds's to either Trinity or Whitgift (both independent) and their dds to Coloma. Coloma is regarded as a school on par to independent (and this may very well be the same for Camden school). They felt that the boys schools in the area didn't measure up and were able to send their ds's private. I agree with butisthismyname - you will do what is best for each child and by the time your dd gets to secondary school age, you may feel different again.

AngelEyes46 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:01:06

I live in the Croydon borough and some families I know have sent their ds's to either Trinity or Whitgift (both independent) and their dds to Coloma. Coloma is regarded as a school on par to independent (and this may very well be the same for Camden school). They felt that the boys schools in the area didn't measure up and were able to send their ds's private. I agree with butisthismyname - you will do what is best for each child and by the time your dd gets to secondary school age, you may feel different again.

Viviennemary Mon 12-Nov-12 23:03:44

Everyone must make their own decisions. However, from a personal point of view I think it is usually wrong to privately educate one child and not the other. But I would make an exception in cases of bullying or one child having special needs.

Of course you can ask! It is about their academic abilities to a point, yes, but also dd has a hearing impairment which has made us think more about smaller classes etc. They are completely different characters - ds is a 'plodder' who is bright and sporty but not interested in doing anything above what he needs to get by (!) whereas she is working well above her 'level' at school and is just desperate to learn - we have the opportunity (as long as she doesn't completely blow the entrance test, although she has been pre tested and flown through it!) for her to go to the indy school and she really wants to, whereas he would hate it. everyone who knows us and them would totally agree and we invest (if that's the right word) as much in him in many ways. It's been a bit soul-searching but we have decided to just go with our feelings and the knowledge of our children!

AngelEyes46 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:12:17

I'm not sure if I agree Vivien - if 1 school is the 'right' school for her ds and the other for her dd then I think go for it. My sil is sending one of her DS's to a single sex school (cos she thinks it's right for him ) and the other to a mixed. There is nothing wrong with that and should be no different from choosing a private for one; state for other.

kissmyheathenass Mon 12-Nov-12 23:18:31

I used to teach at CSG. Very happy memories. If I could send my DDS there I would be very happy.

Ds is in a private school, where we live, choices for boys are shockingly bad. He is in yr 8 and has dyslexia, so small classes were a big factor. His sisters both attend state schools. They might move if and when it is possible but all things considered, its ds who has most pressing needs.

auntevil Mon 12-Nov-12 23:19:05

We have potentially a similar situation - but with 3 boys.
DS1 Y5 currently has SN - but is academic. If he doesn't get a selective place - and the schools that have selective places are under represented in SN area - the alternative is not one we want to send our DS to. Therefore private would be our only other option.
DH and I have discussed this, and where I do believe that each child should go to the school that best meets their needs, we do have concerns about fairness.
What is to say that the private school wouldn't meet all of their needs?
There is also only 2 years between each. There would therefore be a time when all 3 would be at school together.
All I know is that in years to come, if we only sent 1 child private, and either of the other 2 felt that they had not achieved as much as they would like and believed that their education was the cause, I would be consumed with guilt.
It's a toughie, I don't envy your position.

weasle Mon 12-Nov-12 23:20:44

I went to a quite rubbish state school, my bro to an indie.

One of us is a doctor, the other works in a factory.

My parents could only afford 1 set of school fees. Doesn't / didn't bother me. Things worked out ok for me. My bro never really felt right at his school, not sure why. He's pretty happy now too I think. We are very different in every way!

I'm the doctor BTW.

lisad123 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:20:54

We currently send dd1 to an private school, she has just started year 5. Dd2 has started reception in local state school.
We have decided private for dd1 as she needed a small class with teachers that understood her needs and could support her strengths.
Dd2 needs a school that can support her behavioural difficulties and help her be with other children.
Both the girls have autism, different difficulties and require different input. We have based our decision on which school is best to support our children.
I know right now private school isn't a choice for dd2 but hope that we could send her in junior school.

I think it's unfair to send one without having the chance to send the other if needed/wanted later in life.
You need to consider your children are very young and may change, and so might the school.
Each child is different and so only YOU can judge.

Theas18 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:27:51

Yup, we would have. Given the local set up with grammars that are excellent but very competitive, and community schools that are on the whole not bad but very BTEC based etc we had inde schools lined up if they didnt prove grammar material- very hard to get top grades in a school that really doesn't cater for a child who should get pretty much straight As at GCSE but isn't at grammar because they want the cohort that get straight A*!

ConfusedofCamden Mon 12-Nov-12 23:52:24

Interesting viewpoints - thanks.

Weasle - I think that the experience of you and your brother illustrates that it's not a case of private school automatically being a door to success!

I guess that it's more that I'm struggling with how it would be perceived though. I need to care less what other people think.

Actually, more than what other people thing, as several posters say, I would feel incredibly guilty if my DD felt aggrieved in future years. I went to a grammar school but my sister didn't (it had switched from being a grammar school when she was at that age, and she was outside the catchment area, whereas by the time I went, it was back to grammar) - and there were some "ishoos" with her comprehensive school. I wonder if she feels that she got the raw deal - and that isn't even a case of my parents having made a different decision.

As to whether we could afford both. We probably could but will need to change our lifestyle significantly (for one set of fees too, come to think of it!) I'm also incredibly lucky in that my parents have said that there is likely to be some money that could come my way (they are trying to be fair to me and my siblings, who they have helped with business start ups) and we could ear-mark that for a few years school fees, so we could possibly meet the cost of 2 sets of fees. My dilemma though is that Camden School so appeals to me, that if I were to send DD to an independent school, I'd almost wholly be doing it to ensure equal treatment.

I love my son to the ends of the earth, but on this issue, gawd, it would have been easier if he were a girl! grin

tiggytape Tue 13-Nov-12 08:25:20

It is very common to do this where I live (London area). In fact until MN, it didn't occur to me that some people would think it a terrible option or that some people who'd experienced it as children would be upset by it.

The reason that it is common near us is that there are excellent single sex grammar schools within commuting distance but these have no sibling criteria. It is perfectly possible (and very common) therefore for one DC to get a place at Grammar and the other DC not to. The state comp alternatives are very hit and miss and the catchments for the good ones are tiny.
If you don't live near one of the good ones, the bad ones are very bad indeed so then you'd have one DC at a grammar that was comparable to an independent and one that was at amongst the very worst schools in the area. So even though they'd both be in state education, they'd have vastly different experiences and opportunities.

Grammars aside, we also have some all girl and all boy schools (and faith schools) which are the ‘best’ schools in terms of facilities, grades, Ofsted and courses offered. So again, whilst you might live near to the girls' school and get DD in, you won't necessarily live close enough to the corresponding boys' school (they have no official link) so you'd have a girl at the best comp in the area and a boy being sent to one of the worst.

It isn’t a boy girl thing at all here – plenty of families have a boy at Grammar or a very popular boys’ comp and a girl at an all girls’ private high school. Obvioulsy private schooling is still quite rare but of all the people I know who do it, every single one of them has at some point had one child in state and one in private. You just do the best for each child at the time with what you've got and with what schools they've been offered.

BanoffeeSplitz Tue 13-Nov-12 10:11:46

Anecdotal only - I was state educated at secondary, my older sister went to private school (the same one I went to until was 11 and the money ran out).
It never bothered me in the slightest - perhaps because I was lot more academic than my sister so did perfectly well & went to a good Uni from a quite ordinary comp.

Maybe it also helped that I'd been to the same school as her for 5 years, so while I knew it was a good school, I wasn't under any illusions that it was some magical place that I'd been deprived of.

On the other hand, I have a friend who went to one of the best girls grammar schools in the country, had a much better academic education than her brother who went to a local private school, did really well for herself and still harbours resentment that they spent money on his education but not hers. So there might be gender factors to bear in mind wink.

Nonnus Tue 13-Nov-12 11:18:59

I know a couple of adults who have been in this situation (as children). It's a tough one. As a parent I would incline to the "do what is right for each child" school of thought, but as a daughter I can see how it could look very poor if you are the state-educated child. As children they may not mind, but when they are adults how will your decision be viewed? If you are going to spend £200,000 educating DS, will you make financial provision in the same order for DD? If not, is that fair? If you do compensate DD as an adult, what if DS takes the view that he never asked to be educated privately and would have preferred the money?

These are difficult issues and can have an effect for years and years. My friends who were the state educated ones are very resentful as adults, even though they are successful.

Another thing to consider is that the benefits afforded by private education are not just about better education. Usually the whole experience is better - a greater range of activities, facilities, trips, etc. DD may get a good education at CSG but still feel that her brother is privileged in a way she is not.

To be honest, the trips, activities and opportunities at ds state school are equally on a par (and just as flipping expensive!) as the ones we would be offered at the indy school!

ConfusedofCamden Tue 13-Nov-12 11:23:30

It's a minefield. I just wouldn't want to create any resentment. I suspect I'd have to find a way to send both to private schools, whilst weeping quietly at the fact that we are so near to Camden School for Girls.

My other problem is whether to move DS from state to independent at 7 or 11. My preference would be 11 but my inclining is that it will be harder for state school pupils to "catch up" and it might be easier to move him at 7.

Nonnus Tue 13-Nov-12 11:29:31

Speaking as a mother who is preparing her state-educated child for 11+ entry to an academic private school, I would go with changing at 7+ if you send him private.

My child is in the top sets for everything at school, had 4bs across the board at end of year 5. However, despite this apparent over-achievement, performance in 11+ practice papers is average at best (65-75% where 85% is the pass mark). The expectation levels in state primaries are a lot lower than in good prep schools, and to my amazement, my child's class teacher actually said as much to me! This is in an "Outstanding" primary school to boot.

I am hoping that we will get through the 11+ but if I had known earlier how different the expectation levels were, I'd have moved before.

beingginger Tue 13-Nov-12 11:33:47

I have twin cousins and they went to different schools.
The boy is not at all academic and fully intends to work on the family farm after agricultural collage so he went to a state school.
His sister is very academic and intends to go to uni she goes to a very good girls grammar school.
They are both happy with this and it works for the family so why not ?

APMF Tue 13-Nov-12 12:05:49

We went private with DS because the schools near us were ok but not brilliant. However, when it came to DD's turn she was allocated a very good girls state school which we seriously considered accepting.

At the end it came down to this. DS in Year 7 went skiing with the school, went on a athletics team tour of Spain and did an orchestral concert at a major London venue. These kind of opportunities wouldn't be available to DD at her state school, at least not in Year 7. We didn't want DD to feel 2nd best to her brother.

Anyway, that is why we chose a private school for DD, even though she was allocated a very academic state school.

APMF Tue 13-Nov-12 12:21:35

@Nonnus - My DC was similar to yours in that he was level 4 at the end of year 5. People, including the teacher were telling us that this was very good since he was at the national average for year 6.

However, our elation came down with a bump when we sat him down with a mock paper during the summer break. He scored 65% when the pass mark for his intended school was about 85%. We quickly realised that good KS levels don't inevitably mean good 11+ results, not without extra effort on our part.

We spent the summer doing 4 hours of 11+ prep daily, 7 days a week which dropped down to 2 hours daily once school resumed. By the time he sat the tests in Jan of Year 6 he was scoring 90% on average. So it is do-able.

ConfusedofCamden Tue 13-Nov-12 13:31:51

Food for thought on the 7 v 11 issue and on the state for one child issue. I wish I wasn't so incapable of making a decision.

From what I hear, it's not necessarily a breeze to get kids into independent schools at 7+ either - so I'm thinking that we will have to give it a go. Not sure if I should tutor at this age. Arrgghhh. He's in Year 1 now and his current state school goes up to the end of Year 2.

APMF Tue 13-Nov-12 16:17:00

At 7+ they look for basic reading and writing skills and of course math skills. Nothing a good primary school and a proactive parent can't handle.

At 11+ they will require skills that aren't typically taught at primary schools. In our case it took 6months of tutoring at home to get our DCs to the level where we were confident of a pass.

The 13+ is completely different ball game. The test requires knowledge of science, maths etc as opposed to skills. Your typical state school/parent will find it hard to prepare a child to the same level as the prep school kid.

So, if money is not an issue and you don't feel that confident about the 11+ then by all means go for the 7+.

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