Moving private to comprehensive(12 Posts)
For largely financial reasons we are thinking of moving DS11 from a very academic independent school to the local excellent comprehensive when he starts year 7.
Does anyone have any experience of moving a child from a structured pushy environment ( with uniform, very high standards) to a more free and easy although academically good comprehensive ?
He's an easy going, mature self starter so once he settles in I think he'd be fine. Unfortunately he doesn't want to move, but then children don't usually opt for change without being unhappy in their current situation , do they ?
IME it is the parents who have trouble adjusting. The children are fine. You may be surprised at how high standards for behaviour in and out of the classroom are - my local comp is a lot stricter than the independent the dcs attend. Remind him that there would be a lot of change even if he stayed put - I assume there will be a reasonable sized intake at 11 or 13.
We have experienced this and the biggest difference is bigger classes and less individual attention - in direct teaching but also broader things such as choosing GCSEs, helping with non-classroom music, sports coaching etc. The core academic teaching may well be similar or indeed better depending on the school but there is just resource (people and money) for everything else. Of course the children adjust and don't really notice the difference but it is more obvious to parents. Depending on the interests of your child you may want to supplement certain things outside of school that perhaps you took for granted at the independent.
Ds2 did it - much happier in the large secondary (boys state grammar). Ds3 is about to do it (to a comprehensive - bit smaller than ds2's school although still over a hundred in each year group vs 12 in his current school). I am expecting him to be fine. Most of the children in his private prep go onto state secondary. The vast majority settle just fine.
Lots do it at my DCs comp. often for the first because they failed to get into the highly competitive private school. Usually after one has moved, they then decide to let younger siblings move as the education is just as good (and the like being middle or top rather than bottom of everything), also a wider range of options are possible.
Can you sell it on subjects he will get a chance to try? Clubs that may be offered? More time for outside school sports.
Don't assume it will be less disciplined or structured.
I am doing this for my DC
After yr6 (prep) they move to local comp.
It has gone well for DS1, he has gained a lot of confidence from being at a bigger school and being in a less pushy environment.
I was worried about it but he is in fact a lot happier than he has ever been at the prep.
My Kids don't seem to thrive under pressure, and do better academically at a comp that doesn't even set for most subjects.
We did this with DD. Moved her from the junior school of a top tier academic private to our local very well regarded comp which is 15 mins walk away. She had a guaranteed place in the private secondary and all the mums of her friends thought I was either mad or bankrupt!
At the time she protested she didn't want to move but looking back I think that was more about leaving friends than anything. I had felt for a while that the extreme competition between the girls was making her very anxious. Just had a gut feel that the comp would be much better for her.
Now she is in yr 11 and predicted all A and A*. She has made a lot of lovely local friends who are much more supportive of each other. The school is great and has an especially strong drama department which is her great passion. She now admits she is much happier where she is now and is much more relaxed.
Happens loads round here
and the other way
and back again
academically the two sectors are very close
in many areas they are pretty close socially as well
horsebox envy on the school bus was quite funny
I can give a student's perspective if it helps, though haven't got my own kids yet to have to make the decision for. I moved around a lot between private and state schools as my parents' financial situation varied.
The hardest thing I found about moving from private to a good state school (and in my experience the biggest difference between them) was feeling teachers trusted you less and if you finished work early/wanted something more challenging/asked to read rather than watch a film on the occasions where you had to stay in at break because it was raining were more likely to treat you as causing trouble rather than welcome your enthusiasm/ability.
On the other hand, as a teenager differences in wealth become more noticable and apparent, so if you think you're going to really struggle financially and "deprive" your DS of trips/holidays/pocket money when other kids at the private school are getting it, then arguments are going to be inevitable. There were students in my year at one of the private schools I attended who gave each other £100s of pounds in Topshop vouchers when it was their birthday, and rather than seeing that as a bit silly, I used to get cross with my parents that I couldn't afford to keep up with the cool kids.
Ultimately, I think you need to balance the possible frustrations of your DS feeling a bit less trusted and challenged at a state school against how seriously you will suffer financially if you have to go on paying school fees.
(Even though I had some miserable times socially at private schools and had to work in bars and restaurants in sixth form, I ended up at Oxford and got a secure job etc so I feel like being a bit jealous of other kids and not having a social life as a teenager was worth it, but it depends just how much financial strain you are going to be under and how you think your DS would cope with that)
Eaton, wow, that's quite a mixed experience for you!
My 13yr old DS is definitely becoming more aware that not everyone is wealthy having moved him from private to state at 11.
He says he much prefers the state sector as people are more "normal" and inclusive.
Ladymuck is right -normally its the parents who have more difficulty adjusting and some become concerned that they are not doing the best by their kids . However, while your DC may not know many people initially compared with e.g. kids from the local primary schools, all the kids I have know who have moved private to state at 11 have been fine and indeed done well as they are normally ahead in some subjects to start with (Latin, French etc). I would be very surprised if their grades (most seem to get all A*s/As etc) had been any different if they had remained in the private sector. Also your DC will be exposed to the real world and people from all backgrounds and there is a hard to describe feeling that many state school parents have that a kid who is happy and achieving in the state sector has the best possible education/upbringing. John Smith's words "I wouldn't dream of denying my children the privilege of a state education." actually have some validity as long as the school itself is good and your DC is happy.
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