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...

Talkinpeace Sun 03-Mar-13 14:44:06

creamteas
TBH I would never compare a Brethren school with a normal private school - they do not allow Women to take paid jobs either.

But I do agree with your point about Fees being no guarantee of a good education.
The crammer I went to made a fortune out of the failings of top top schools.
My own (fee paying girls) school neglected to tell my parents that I was in the building but not actually attending lessons for weeks on end.

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 16:00:02

"A private education ensures that your child is given the best oppurtunity to shine. "
No it doesn't 't!

creamteas Sun 03-Mar-13 16:15:34

talking I did say it was extreme! But it does illustrate the point that there is a huge range of private schools, and not all of them give a good education.

Most people on MN accept that the state sector varies, but a lot less seem willing to admit that the private sector does as well.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Sun 03-Mar-13 17:19:32

Glad to see you have chosen the excellent state - i really don't think you will regret it.

We did the same for DD and she has never looked back. She is very academic, is at excellent comp, achieving very highly and very, very happy.

racingheart Sun 03-Mar-13 18:24:49

The state school sounds good. TBH, I'm pretty sure that any bright child with supportive parents will get similar results in state or private. But we're going for private for the environment. NOT, as so many MNs assume, to keep away from oiks, but because there's a stronger peer ethos of admiring and cheering on hard work and academic excellence at the private schools we looked at than the state schools we're near. Same results but less alienation for going for them. Won't be true of all schools.

wordfactory Mon 04-Mar-13 07:54:35

Paying fees doesn't guarantee anything. But it does maximise the chances of you getting what you want, precisely becuase it affords you choice.

cory Mon 04-Mar-13 09:48:52

Going private affords more choice on what you get from the school.

Then again, if money is limited, having to spend it all on school fees will afford you less choice on educational activities outside of the school.

I think in this situation it boils down to if you want the school to organise everything educational for your ds, or if you have plenty of your own ideas of doing things for your ds which you want the money for.

Personally, I like the idea of having a bit left over if it turns out that children have unusual gifts which cannot be catered for even at a private school. Or just so that you can do fun and educational things as a family and have those shared memories afterwards.

Farewelltoarms Mon 04-Mar-13 10:59:09

Hello Scampa I've been wondering about you because I remember your message from before (the private and the state begin with same four letters?). I queried your confidence that ds would get into the private since it's so competitive but clearly it was justified!
I do know a lot of families who are opting for that particular state over selective options and they seem really pleased with it. Such a joy to walk to school and have local friends and for us it's been one of the great benefits of going to our local primary.
However, I'm curious as to why you put your boy in for the private? It's a stressful process and not one that can easily be done with no investment (emotional, time, tutoring etc) so there must have been some reason for doing so given that you didn't need a safety net since you were pretty sure you were in catchment?
As for thinking with your wallet, I think parents feel very squeamish about allowing money to be a factor in any choices they make for their children. However, if you think of not as money but things that the money could buy you, it can be clearer. Eg money could buy you ability to work part-time and thus be around more, the freedom from student debt for your children, the time for them to be able to do internships or a longer course like medicine, and as said before the holidays which can be so precious.

scampadoodle Tue 05-Mar-13 13:36:21

Hi farewell thank you for remembering me! A good question, why did we embark on the private thing. Various reasons: 1) Family pressure 2) Bright but lazy child - would he get pushed enough at a state school? 3) needed reassurance re the state option as it's a very recent turnaround in fortunes as you know 4) (pathetic reason) When I went to see the private schools with a couple of them I got sort of sucked into the Bridesheady atmosphere blush But, you know, it's 2013 not 1913, and I like the thought that we'll remain part of the local community and also hopefully DS will in later life be able to get on with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Only time will tell!

I think I remember you saying you had children in yr 5 - what's your thinking at the moment?

NowIncognito Tue 05-Mar-13 17:56:09

Hi Scampa, I know you've already made the decision, but can I ask: did your DS have a strong preference one way or the other? We are in an almost identical dilemma, except the private option is only 25 minutes' drive rather than 45. We feel (after hours of discussing/researching) that overall, the local state option is best for our family as a whole, but having broached that with our daughter, she has expressed a preference for the private option. She can't really give a clear reason. We don't want to ignore her wishes, but we're not sure to what extent a 10 year old understands the longer term implications of the decision!

MTSgroupie Tue 05-Mar-13 18:15:22

What longer term implications are you thinking of apart from the obvious ie fees? (just curious)

NowIncognito Tue 05-Mar-13 18:31:09

Financial implications - less spare money for holidays/clothes/presents etc, but also longer term for helping with university costs/first car/first house etc.
Losing touch with local friends and local community.
Increased travel time eating into spare time/relaxation during the week. Earlier start in the mornings affecting bedtime so less of an evening for various family members.
Decision to send this child affecting the decision on school choice for second child.

scampadoodle Tue 05-Mar-13 18:42:41

NowIncognito No, he wasn't really sure which one he wanted. He was a bit concerned about some of the science facilities at the private school but loved the sports. Unless he's putting a good face on it I think he's fine with the decision. We involved him completely. Were quite honest about the financial implications without, I hope, stressing him out about them.
BTW, it's only a 25 minute journey by car but about 45 by bus. I had no intention of ferrying him there & back twice a day (bit impractical with another, younger, child to consider anyway).

I think you need to gently push your daughter into articulating the reasons for her preference. It could be something as daft as preferring the uniform, or maybe someone she doesn't like is going to be at the state school?

Mintberry Tue 05-Mar-13 19:31:11

Don't forget that he would be mixing with kids from a broader range of backgrounds at SS as well, which is an education you can't pay for.
Also, if he goes state, he can hold his head up high when he's grown up and say he achieved what he has through talent and effort, rather than through his parents money.
You can use the money you save from not sending him to private school on activities, lessons, traveling, etc which will enrich his life.
I am unapologetically pro state in this debate.

MTSgroupie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:10:06

My state school catchment is predominantly white low middle income. Hardly a broad 'range of backgrounds' mint. So I've never really understood this argument.

hardboiled Tue 05-Mar-13 22:21:44

he can hold his head up high when he's grown up and say he achieved what he has through talent and effort, rather than through his parents money.

Of course Mint, because the children who go private don't need to use their talent or effort... It's enough with going to a private school, they never have to study! That's because their parents money pays for GCSEs and A levels results, A* being the most expensive option. hmm They didn't even have to put any effort in getting a secondary place through a ruthless exam against another 800 children - something some state educated children never had to do.

I am not an advocate for private education per se, but your remark is so not serious you pushed me over to the other side.

Talkinpeace Tue 05-Mar-13 22:29:31

One of the advantages of having gone to a non selective state school
- even for a couple of years -
is that it give kids an insight into how the unmotivated, uneducated and unintelligent behave : both parents and children

if more politicians had that insight they might not make so many stupid decisions

MTSgroupie Wed 06-Mar-13 07:46:41

Some of our friends are products of the private system. Now that they are parents themselves they are putting their DCs through the same system.

When I interact with them I don't come don't come away thinking that I have a greater 'insight' on life, the universe and everything because of my WC state school background.

I agree that many of those attending public schools like Eton live in a privileged bubble and are worst off for it. However, its kind of naive to lump all selective educated people in with families whose wealth is beyond the experience of the majority of the population.

The fact that this is how you see Life suggest that your non-selective state school education hasn't exactly imbued you with the insights and experiences that you are holding up to demonstrate the advantages of going to a non selective state school

seeker Wed 06-Mar-13 08:08:10

"One of the advantages of having gone to a non selective state school
- even for a couple of years -
is that it give kids an insight into how the unmotivated, uneducated and unintelligent behave : both parents and children"
Wow. State school as anthropology. Not sure what to make of that. I'll reply when I've dropped off my unmotivated, uneducated and unintelligent children. If I can be bothered, that is.........

I don't see why you would choose private in your case. My kids are at private school because I think the school we send them to is vastly better than their state alternative. Fees aside, it seems like you prefer the state school, so why would you spend all that money when you don't have to?

wordfactory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:21:15

Love the idea that those of us from comps can hold ourhead up high! That we so wonderfully well rounded and empathetic etc But then in the next breath the op is told to spend her wonga on other enriching stuff that will give her dc a leg up.

middleclassonbursary Wed 06-Mar-13 09:37:16

Seeker surely Talkin's got her tongue firmly jammed in her cheek. It is equally insulting to those of who pay to read "Also, if he goes state, he can hold his head up high when he's grown up and say he achieved what he has through talent and effort, rather than through his parents money."

Farewelltoarms Wed 06-Mar-13 09:55:13

Scampa, I think the fact that your state educated at primary got into a pretty competitive school against those who are a) privately educated and b) tutored to the nth, means that what you've/he's done so far has worked. In which case, continuing along the state route with home support (and an extra two hours a day to play with because there's no commute) would seem like an excellent option.
My eldest in y4 and so I'm thinking about the whole secondary thing. I don't think we're in catchment for the one you're opting for but another that is doing alright. I feel mine are doing so well and are so happy in their primary I wonder why I'm even considering private at secondary. But I can't quite let go of the idea because where I live almost everyone in private housing goes private from the age of 3. The stubborn up-yours bit of my personality thinks, sod them, my lot are going to the state school and will whup yours so there. But then the neurotic side of me kicks in.
We don't have any financial reasons not to go private, but whilst we can afford it, I do wonder quite how rich one would have to be to spend best part of 300k (for all of them) for something that doesn't seem so much better. The kids I know from similar backgrounds but in different sectors seem to come out the same - same accents, aspirations, universities, careers...

seeker Wed 06-Mar-13 11:12:48

"Seeker surely Talkin's got her tongue firmly jammed in her cheek. It is equally insulting to those of who pay to read "Also, if he goes state, he can hold his head up high when he's grown up and say he achieved what he has through talent and effort, rather than through his parents money."

Does she? Actually, yes, she must have had, mustn't she? Sorry, sense of humour failure. Her post was a bit too close to day to day mumsnet reality for my early morning irony detector to go off!!! Agree that the head held high comment was daft. Impossible to deny that life is easier at some schools than others, though!

scampadoodle Wed 06-Mar-13 11:52:11

Yes FtA I know EXACTLY what you mean. It is as though it's received wisdom almost: You are of x social class and earn z money therefore it is a given that you will educate privately. When we turned down that private school place it seemed very counter-intuitive. Our children are at different schools (I think - yours are at WT?) but where we live has so many contrasts in lifestyles that I think people are almost scared of stepping outside boundaries. It's a leap of faith almost! Coupled with the fact that until a few years ago the state secondaries here were atrocious - tbh I'm just grateful I don't have to move to Muswell Hill!

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