The Big Choice: the State school or the private one - are we thinking with our wallets??

(204 Posts)
scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 13:19:24

Ok, just to add to all the other threads like this today.

DS1 got into the private school he/we liked, but no scholarship. We will also almost certainly have a place at the local state school.

PS is lovely, not super-hot house, but high-achieving. Fees are a lot though & would have an impact on our family life (and we'd really feel it if DC2 went private too). It's about 45 mins, an hour journey each way. He would probably enjoy it there & hopefully it would polish him off a bit. I'm slightly worried that it leans more towards humanities than sciences (not good for DS1) BUT I could be wrong about this as it was just an impression I got on Open Day.

SS is great. Streaming. Latin. It has a very mixed intake but those who do well, do well IYSWIM. It's only been good for 2-3 years though, before that it was awful. If he knuckled down DS1 would do well (that is a big 'if' BTW). I do like the idea of sticking within the local community though, & we could afford tutoring if we felt he needed topping-up.

But are we just being stingy at not taking up the opportunity for the private school? The thought of not having to worry abut school fees is very very tempting...

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 13:21:14

No brainer. Go state.

Blu Fri 01-Mar-13 13:28:53

Echoes Seeker.

Hulababy Fri 01-Mar-13 13:29:35

What's your gut feeling?

We are in Yorkshire so not super selectives and hot house type places here.
DD has had three offers: 2 independent (one selective, girls only. with entrance exam; other non selective, coed, but an assessment/getting to know you day before offer) and the catchment state school (good school, does well, etc)

But DD knew almost immediately after getting the girl's school offer that is where she wanted to go. DH was also very keen. I am happy to go with her choice. So, we accepted place their on our gut feeling rather than the finances, etc. Accepted yesterday, before actually getting state option today.

"SS is great."

So why pay a second time for what you have already paid for in your taxes?

If you had no decent state options, it would be a harder decision. But you have the option of giving your children a good education, without harming the rest of family life struggling to pay for it.

No brainer. Honest! Don't convince yourself you are being stingy, you are being sensible, and keeping that much money back for all the other wonderful things you can do for your family.

whistleahappytune Fri 01-Mar-13 13:37:35

OP, I think an almost two hour journey daily would really make me think again. BTW I have no axe to grind against private education. You should call them or if possible visit again and clarify your impression about leaning towards humanities, which if true may not give the breadth and depth of science and maths that your DS1 needs/wants. On the financial side, do you qualify for a bursary?

On the SS, I wouldn't worry at all about it used to be awful. It's turned around and now is great and it is highly unlikely to fall back again. I think the fact that they offer Latin is an indicator of high aspiration. Presumably, you have checked out their science curriculum and you approve?

Another consideration is extra-curricular. Private almost always has the edge over state on this. But many SS, rather than offering a huge variety of activities, focus on a few (an excellent music department, a purpose built art studio, a great playing field etc.). If their focus matches your DS1's interests, you'd be in luck.

I'm sure you've considered this, but FWIW, if the SS is great, then think about how much you could offer if you don't have to pay school fees. Think of the travelling you could do, as part of his broader education. If he's into science, you could take him to CERN for a weekend, for example, something you'd be hard pressed to do on top of school fees.

Get a little more info, and then go with your gut feeling. I wish you all the best of luck.

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 13:56:24

Thanks.

Those of you who are saying Go State! are kind of echoing what we think deep down. We earn way above bursary level so 1 set of school fees would impact on how many/ what kind of holidays we take rather than take bread from our mouths (2 sets however is another kettle of fish!). If we went Indy, DS1 wanting to go on the school ski trip would make us go Eek! The State school trip wouldn't be a problem at all. So yes, as a family we would have a better quality of life. Plus we could save for university/first home.

My gut feeling says, State. No financial stress, ability to afford great experiences as a family etc etc. I suppose emotionally I yearn a bit for the dreaming spires , flapping gowns sorta thing. Which is daft. Both DH & I went to private schools BTW (I was an 11+ child).

Great thoughts from all of you - thanks again.

jeee Fri 01-Mar-13 14:05:14

I don't think 'thinking with your wallet' is necessarily a problem anyway. School fees will impact on your family (particularly as you have two DC). Looking at the impact of them on other areas in your life is just being realistic - it doesn't turn you into an uncaring parent.

And if it's tight to afford two sets of fees what will happen if your financial situation changes even slightly? Would you still be able to afford private education?

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 14:13:11

Well if DH lost his job I think his family would step in, fees-wise as I think they are secretly appalled that we are planning to send him state. They put a lot of pressure on us to apply for independents - without that we probably wouldn't have bothered.

Blu Fri 01-Mar-13 14:21:25

The distance was a significant factor in my advice - mine wasn't a 'state v private' answer, it was a local v miles away answer, and also, if your local state school is good and will suit your child , why look further?

That DS's school is 10 mins walk away makes a huge contribution to the quality of our lives.

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 14:39:34

Yes, Blu I agree, especially as DS1 would probably do a fair bit of after-school sport. Slogging home then homework... Hmmm...

wordfactory Fri 01-Mar-13 14:51:14

I think given you can't do it comfortably, you'd have to work out what exactly you would be getting for your money.

Only you can decide that. What one values is highly subjective and there is no point someone else sticking their size tens in and saying that x or y or z isn't worth it.

For example, DD's friend's family really push the boat out for private school. I mean, really push it out. It leaves them very little. But for them it is worth every penny as she was hideously bullied at her last school due to unmanaged SEN.

For you, it seems there might not be too much that would make it worth the sacrifices you would have to make?

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 15:05:25

Exactly wordfactory. Although so many people really scrimp & save to send their children to private school it seems churlish to moan about any sacrifices we'd have to make as we'd still be fairly comfortable - we'd just have to think twice about some things, that's all. I don't know how anyone affords to send more than 1 child though, god knows what they earn.

In our case I'm not sure there is ultimately enough difference to justify the expense: it's not like we're talking about Westminster vs Sinksville Arts & Media Academy.

Lancelottie Fri 01-Mar-13 17:12:55

DS would love Sinksville Arts and Media Academy, Scamp!

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Mar-13 17:28:32

Go State
and spend the money you save on all the trips / extra curricular / interesting holidays
that make life really worth living

campion Fri 01-Mar-13 18:54:17

I was chatting today to a sixth former who moved to our ( independent) school after GCSEs from a state school deemed Outstanding by OFSTED and which is also a Teaching School and has an excellent reputation. I was interested to discover her impressions of 'us', as a relative newcomer, and why she moved.

She said that although she did well at the previous school she didn't get the impression that the teachers cared enough about exactly how well she did and whether her potential was being fully realised. There was a lot of emphasis on reaching the gold standard 5 A*-C grades in the school plus maintaining and improving their league table position. There were also issues of 'crowd control'.
She said that she felt she now has teachers who will spend quality time on her, encouraging her to express ideas and showing her how to learn in a way which suits her. Plus she likes the shared sense of academic purpose in the school and the relaxed atmosphere.

I don't actually teach her, and she may have been saying what she thought I would want to hear, but I don't think so.I don't have a downer on state schools being a product of one and having taught mainly in the state system and I like to think I always care about my students, wherever I teach. In the end it comes down to money ( obviously) and what will suit a particular child. No school is perfect for everyone.

CecilyP Fri 01-Mar-13 19:59:32

I think you have answered your own question, really. There doesn't seem to be enough advantage to the private school to justify the expense or the travel time.

You would be thinking with your wallet if you had a suitably sciency private school 5 minutes from your home but decided to send your ds to a state school 45 minutes away in order to save money. As it is, you weighed up the pros and cons and decided that, taking everything into consideration, the state school would be the more sensible option.

Schmedz Fri 01-Mar-13 20:40:32

You are so lucky to have a viable SS option! Grab it with both hands! If you are unhappy at any time along the way, you can always reconsider (as you have a DS, presuming 13+ or 6th form entry could be an option?)
There will be a lot of people very jealous of your situation this evening in particular smile

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Mar-13 21:09:23

remember that even having the funds to consider private schooling puts you and your DH in the top 5% by income in the country.

not a critcism
just something to be aware of

I (and all my 5 siblings) were at private school, the 2 youngest boarded
BUT
with the current relationship between property / incomes / school fees
blocking out those with parental help at some level
private school is only open to less than 1/20

which is neither good for them (reduced competition) nor the rest of us (reduced options)

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 21:40:11

Yes, Talkinpeace I am very aware of that, but this is a section about secondary education, and I'm far from being the only parent on MN who has this option. This isn't a political issue for me right now but a personal one. FWIW, I wish there were no choice, and everyone went to the school nearest them, and said school organised itself as it wished according to its intake. But it's not like that is it, and one wants to do what is best for one's children.

Talked to DS1 over dinner tonight & we are definitely going for the state option. I can order the new sofa to replace our current collapsing one.

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Mar-13 21:43:05

good choice

now book your eater holiday (our villa is on Crete)

scampadoodle Fri 01-Mar-13 21:48:35

Indeedy! Not going away at Easter but have planned/booked really lovely holiday in France in August to celebrate DS1's last primary school summer and to make up for hideous summer last year spent swotting sad

Talkinpeace Sat 02-Mar-13 17:03:52

And a good long holiday, getting him to go and buy the lunch picnic in the shop, order his own meal at a restaurant, try different foods and learn and explore

is what makes the choice the right one
because its the stretching sideways that is the best bit of education.

Kenlee Sat 02-Mar-13 22:23:05

I have chosen private school not because I can afford it. It is because I am afraid of my DD being lost in the system. If ypur child is academic or supremely confident. I dont think it matters.

A private education ensures that your child is given the best oppurtunity to shine.

Smaller class size and more attention.

creamteas Sun 03-Mar-13 14:21:58

Kenlee private education in general does not guarantee anything at all, There are both good and poor private schools just like there are good and poor state schools.

At the state school my DC attend, most GCSE classes have 20-25 pupils in them. In DS3 science class there are only 12 other pupils in his group (as most take double science and he is taking separate sciences). Neither he nor any of his siblings have been lost in the system.

It is an extreme contrast, but there is a private school near me (a Brethren school) does not let students use the internet at all, and only teaches the bits of biology that do not contradict the bible. Not sure that private schools is giving their pupils the chance to shine.....

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