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!

ConfusedofCamden Sun 18-Nov-12 23:20:42

Horsemadmom - not near Crowndale Road - we are much nearer to CSG than that. Although we are likely to be close enough for CSG that doesn't mean that we'd necessarily be close enough to WE and AB. I have looked at the Camden website and rang them up to get distances going further back than the most recent 2 years that they publish on the website. We'd have qualified for WE and AB this year but not in any of the previous 5 or 6 years (well, we would have one year a few years ago for WE but it doesn't seem to be the norm). Don't worry - I have no illusions about WE and AB - just considering all options! Probably wouldn't be my first choice (I think we will probably try for an independent school at 11) but it would be good to have a state back up - and Haverstock doesn't appeal.

losingtrust - your post sums up why I'm being a bit premature - I don't know what the different strengths/needs of my children will be yet, when they get to that age. I need to let it unfold a bit I think! I think my overthinking of this now is because, as I said at the outset, it's all wrapped up with a jigsaw of decisions including whether we stay where we are or move.

losingtrust Sun 18-Nov-12 17:03:53

Having said that ds only showed up as being a non-struggler in year 6 so hopefully dd may follow

losingtrust Sun 18-Nov-12 16:49:50

I don't see it as an issue and here many send their academic children to the comp which they will do well at in the top stream and their academic strugglers private. My ds currently at state comp in top stream and doing very well and it also caters well for his music. He is not in the least sporty and the indies near me pride themselves on their sport facility which would be a waste in his card with my younger dd who struggles more at school I am keeping a watchful eye as there is a very good girls indie which is non-selective but gets really good results and does a lot more dance and drama which may suit her better so I will wait and see. If I told ds he was going private he would moan as he loves school and doing well so do not want to change that.

horsemadmom Sun 18-Nov-12 16:12:15

CofC- If you are in the swwet spot for CSG, you ARE ALSO in catchment for AB and WE. Look at the Camden website. There aren't any closer boys' options. Unless you are in Crowndale and SCCS is closest- if so, apologies. Do hang around Swains Lane at chucking out time before you throw your lot in with AB and WE, though.

HappyTurquoise Sat 17-Nov-12 23:55:05

My brother went to a (boy's) top private school on a scholarship at 11. I won't deny that it has been very hard to have grown up with such a completely different experience of life, but then there's a huge age gap between us and a huge difference in personality as well, so we are not really like brother & sister. While I'd never want to deprive DB of his great academic achievements, and the wonderful facilities and teachers he had at school and university, I really don't feel we are 'family' with so little in common iyswim. I'd lay my life down for that daft sod, but just have no clue what to talk to him about!

I was sure my DCs would go to the same school, but did not know we would be living in a grammar school region until DC1 was in year 5. So, while DC1 is at a single sex grammar, the younger then sailed into a mixed super selective grammar and after a lot of soul searching, we decided that it was more important that each child went to the right school for them, and giving each the best opportunities they could get, rather than insisting they went to the same school. DC1 is hoping to go to the super selective for A levels (and predicted grades are looking promising).

ConfusedofCamden Sat 17-Nov-12 23:23:16

Ilovegeorgeclooney (and lets face it, who doesn't!) - I agree - it's not about me wanted a private education for my kids above all other considerations - just finding a good school which is right for them. As I say - if I had 2 girls - I wouldn't even be considering private - all being equal and them getting in to somewhere like CSG. It's just that there isn't an option for my son that I feel would be as good. I'd be more relaxed if we were closer to William Ellis and Acland Burghley but we aren't (and if we were, we wouldn't be close enough to CSG so it's swings and roundabouts really!)

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 17-Nov-12 21:45:31

I find the inference that private education equals success odd. Passing the CE is fairly meaningless since it is an exam designed to look at how a child has been educated rather than their ability. My DBs were educated in the private sector and myself and my sisters were educated in the state sector. This was because my parents were deeply religious and there was a very good Catholic state school for girls in the area but the only equivalent boys school was private. The result was that all three of us girls went to either Oxford/Cambridge but only one of my brothers did. My children all went to a bog standard comp and two are currently studying medicine and the third is currently applying to study the same. The fact she comes from a comp with outstanding grades is actually seen to be an advantage. It is more about the child than the school and you need to base any decision on that. BTW all my siblings have happy lives and there is no resentment at all, just a few family jokes about the appalling uniform the boys had to wear.....boaters ffs!!!!

ConfusedofCamden Sat 17-Nov-12 11:48:03

OwedtoAutumn and EmandLu - you both illustrate well how it's about doing what is right for each DC. I may have totally different views of what is right for them as we get older, so I shouldn't fret too much now!

ConfusedofCamden Sat 17-Nov-12 11:45:09

Thanks all

Yes we probably would be close enough to CSG - I've looked at the details of offers for the last 4 or 5 years and we would just about have qualified at any of the bands

Emandlu Sat 17-Nov-12 10:12:33

I have always told my kids that what is fair is not things being the same for both of them, but what is right for each of them. We may soon have our kids in wildly differing forms of education, but they will both (hopefully) be in the system that works for them.

Don't worry what other people think, do what is right for your kids!

OwedToAutumn Sat 17-Nov-12 10:04:28

DS goes to a school which goes from 7 to 18. In year 3, they do the year 4 curriculum, and so on. What is bright for your son's school may just be average for the school you intend to send him to.

With regard to a mix of state and private, it depends on the school and the child. DD1 is at a super selective grammar (so state). If I won the lottery, I would not move her from that school. It suits her perfectly and the opportunities she has had are fabulous.

DD2 is at a private girls' school. She is dyslexic, and suffers from a lack of confidence in her (considerable) abilities. She would be lost at DD1's school, and I did not even enter her for the tests, not because I didn't think she would get in, but because I knew it was the wrong school for her.

Both girls are very happy at their respective schools.

horsemadmom Sat 17-Nov-12 09:51:17

They are the heads of UCS Junior branch and Hgate, respectively. 11+ intake is mostly state primary school boys. CE is the intake from the preps. UCS boys go up to Frognal unless they've committed arson or assault. Hgate rarely advises boys to go elsewhere at 11 but, it can happen. Neither sits the CE paper.
You should go have a look around and ask questions. They are happy to answer. BTW, are you sure you are close enough to CSG? They have a banding system according to ability and some bands extend further than others.

ConfusedofCamden Fri 16-Nov-12 20:35:18

Sorry horsemadmum - I'm being thick - I was wondering why only certain schools would do the CE but, of course, at ones such as Highgate kids go all the way through (unless they are asked to leave that is!)

Who are Kevin Douglas and Mark James?

horsemadmom Fri 16-Nov-12 17:07:09

Ah! Sorry to confuse you.
UCS JB and Highgate have entry at 7+ for which, you will be best advised to tutor(speak to Kevin Douglas and Mark James if you want confirmation). The boys go up to the senior schools automatically unless there is a real problem. Prep schools- St.A, NBH, Lyndhurst, Arnold House and Hereward are not selective per se. They do assess but are looking at teachability and good behaviour. No tutoring needed. The Hall has a main intake at reception and is a bit more selective. The preps do CE at 13 and then feed into UCS, Highgate etc. Does that help? Let me know.

ConfusedofCamden Fri 16-Nov-12 15:21:16

Thanks everyone - really interesting perspectives. I think I'm currently coming round to the view that I could send DS to private secondary but DD to CSG, but if one went to a prep school then both should. If I want to send DS to a prep school from 7 then I'd have to tutor (that seems somewhat insane to me - but I get that it's probably necessary!), and if I go down the 11+ route (more likely) then he'll probably need tutoring for a year first.

horsemadmom- the only bit I didn't understand from your original post was this bit - "As for the 7+, yes, you will have to tutor or consider a prep that does CE. St. Anthony, Lyndhurst, NBH, Hereward. "

why "or" consider a prep that does CE - I would have thought that a) they all do CE and b) they are exactly the type of schools you'd need to tutor for. I might have completely misunderstood.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Fri 16-Nov-12 12:47:29

Sorry about hideously long post, I am always rambling on! grin

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Fri 16-Nov-12 12:46:26

OK, for what it's worth, here is my story.

We were in pretty much exactly your situation two years ago. DD and DS both in academic single sex prep schools, DD in y6 and needing to make the decision for senior schools. Like you, we are lucky to be in the catchment area for an excellent girls comp, great reputation locally, probably similar standing to CSG. Neighbour's girls already there, loved it. Went to see school, blown away by everything, got a really strong feeling that it would suit DD perfectly. But did not get the same feeling from the local boys state secondaries, just not in the same league (not in catchment area for any mixed schools). We were finding the fees a stretch so would have had to make serious economies all round to carry on with 2 sets of fees. Already having some misgivings about DD going on to the attached private senior school, mainly to do with issues over not being in the monied set. So what to do? At the time I felt hugely guilty at the thought of not keeping both private. So what to do?

In the end we decided to send DD to the state school, with plans to keep DS in the private system. What decided us? The gut feeling that this school was just so much more suited to DD. I finally realised that the only doubts I had related to guilt over not giving both the "opportunity" of private education. But the fact was that the state education available was not comparable for DD and DS. I would have sent DS to DDs secondary school like a shot, but it would have involved disguising him in a skirt which he was not up for! grin. An added benefit was that we have enough spare money to pay for DDs many music and dance lessons, which are her passion. Money would have been so tight if we had kept her private that these may have had to be dropped.

How has it worked out now that DD is in year 8? She honestly couldn't be happier. She has a lovely set of local friends, is loving being involved in the many excellent music and sports activities at the school, and she is flying academically. She is in the top stream and the academic standards are at least as high as her private schools, with great inspired teaching. I am so glad we went with the state school and didn't financially cripple the family for no good reason.

This is a recurring issue in areas with single sex secondaries as the standards are just not the same in both available schools.

If you are in the catchment area for a great comprehensive like CSG and you have a gut feeling that it will suit your DD down to the ground, please grab it with both hands!

FarrowAndBollock Fri 16-Nov-12 11:45:43

Generally, I think it is asking for trouble. However, in your case, I think it is feasible. It is the same where we are - even our headmaster has done that.

oops, 10th actually.

The upper school was 15th in the A Level league tables last year - not that I should have to justify which school it is.

I hope you weren't intending to be rude, I'm sure you weren't, but I do know the 'journey' to which you refer as my nephew also undertook this from a state school.

It is extremely academic actually! One of the leading prep schools in the country. They have roughly 80 applications for 30 places.

horsemadmom Fri 16-Nov-12 10:18:10

Ok, Butisthismyname. I'm very familiar with how all this works because I have 3 kids at 3 different schools of this ilk and friends at all the rest. I highly suspect that the school your DD sat a 'pre-test' for is not one of the highly academic ones. This isn't the way they do things. The schools the OP is looking at for 7+ will have 3-4 forms (minus 1 at Hgate for their own pre-prep) and their intake ratio is about 1 in 5. The exam pass is the minimum standard and then there is an interview/ small group activity. They have to have a way of sifting from hundreds. These schools are not in the business of teaching basic arithmatic, reading and grammar. All of that has to be in place. A very good state primary simply won't have taught NVR or have the kids writing stories under timed conditions and most won't be doing times tables or expect neat joined up writing. I'm sorry but you are not even on the start line of a very long journey that a lot of us have navigated successfully.

I would have to disagree. The school we are hoping to send dd to next year deliberately test for potential, as well as ability. She has already had a pre test (coming from a state primary, they advised it) and we were told that it wold be highly unlikely she would fail the entrance test. Of course, we are still 'practising' with her,But not 'lots' and not 'regularly', just every now and then when she asks. Maybe she will mess up on the day, but they accept (via the entrance test) around 30% state school children each year, so clearly 'the basics' would be 'ability' not just what has been taught in pre prep.

horsemadmom Thu 15-Nov-12 13:32:18

Hi- State primary schools simply do not cover what will be tested at 7+. Private pre-preps will have the kids doing times tables up to 12, word problems, writing stories under timed conditions and will have exam practice. You can do Bond 7+ papers at home if you don't want to fork out for a tutor but you have to do lots of them regularly. Look at the school websites as there are usually practice papers. Some schools used to have an 8+ entry (UCS, Hgate) but no longer do. It used to function as a mop-up for boys who just weren't mature enough at 7 (like mine!) and parents who tried from state primaries at 7 and were shocked that their sons didn't know very much on the papers and got them tutored. Prep schools do CE at 13 and some boys do 11+ from them although it is frowned upon by Prep Heads.
This does not mean that you can take a child who lacks aptitude and tutor them into these schools. The interview will suss out who is really bright and who has been drilled. These schools simply can't take a child who doesn't have the basics in place. The competition is too fierce and they have their pick of hundreds.

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