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Private Or State School?

(25 Posts)
NearlySpring Sat 28-May-11 01:49:09

We need to apply for secondary schools for my dd next year.

Her current primary school is a state school and is fab! I had not really thought about private education before the last week or so.

The local secondary (state) is also fab! However, we are just outside the catchment area (we are less than 0.5 miles from the school). Over the last 5 years the catchment area has continued to decrease, so it's very very very unlikely that we'd get in. We simply cannot afford to move nearer as the houses right by the school are very large (too large for us anyhow) and very expensive. The only other local secondary that we could send her to is terrible! We checked their GCSE results just now and only 37% of students achieved 5 a-c grade GCSE's last year - that's pretty awful isn't it? There have been lots of bullying and other problems reported there and we often walk past it and cringe at the children outside smoking and swearing.

We are not well off at all. We live in a very modest 2 bed semi in SE London and both work full time. Our joint wage next year will be 65k.

DP currently refuses to discuss the possibility of sending dd to the local private school (which is beautiful, has excellent results and is just great according to a friends dd who used to go there). He said we don't earn enough and thinks dd will be a misfit there amongst all the very rich other children. Neither of us have been privately educated and all bar one of our friends kids attend state schools too. Privately educating her will cost us a lot, I know, and we will have to sacrifice other luxuries (like second holidays, second car etc) but she is our only child and I think it is worth it.

AIBU? sad

MumblingRagDoll Sat 28-May-11 01:51:57

YANBU. BUt the cost is a huge one....fees are only part of what is expected as private schools really do go to town when it comes to weekends and weeks away...skiing trips are common and they cost!

tiptoptally Sat 28-May-11 01:55:36

YANBU - you'd be surprised at the amount of children who AREN'T very rich but go to private schools. I'd say your daughter only has one chance to get the grades she needs to set her up for the rest of her life so it's perfectly understandable you want to give her the best chance possible.

I'd value a good education WAY higher than a second holiday or car....

HorseWhisperer Sat 28-May-11 02:05:21


In your shoes I would be asking what is best for dd? And is it achievable?

And tiptoptally said it well:
I'd value a good education WAY higher than a second holiday or car....

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sat 28-May-11 02:20:59

On the basis that you never know your luck, apply to your nearest excellent secondary school when the time comes.

In the meantime, I would suggest you invest some dosh in hiring a local tutor for your dd NOW as, no matter how good her state primary school is, she will undoubtedly benefit from coaching.

Please note, I'm not suggesting anything more than a couple of hours a week to familiarise her with some of the school's past exam papers, and so that the tutor can give you an independent appraisal of her abilities.

If your daughter excels academically she may be offered a full or part scholarship, and you should also enquire about bursaries although your income may be a slightly too high to qualify for financial help.

No matter what sacrifices you may need to make, a good education is the best investment you will ever make for your only dd - and at least the pain doesn't last indefinitely.

MmeBlueberry Sat 28-May-11 06:17:36

All my kids are privately educated and not one has been on a skiing holiday.

Spamspamspam Sat 28-May-11 07:14:15

My experience was a little different in that my daughter was falling very behind in State and it was affecting her happiness and confidence. She didn't want to go to school in the mornings, was allways complaining of tummy ache. The state school is very good and a lot of my friends' children are thriving there with no complaints but something wasn't working for my daughter. We put her in private 6 months ago and the change in her is amazing, new school think she is dyslexic which is something I had thought since she was about five or six. She now gets learning support and as she is in a class of 11 she gets a lot more help in class. I particularly liked her school because they do different teachers for difference subjects from year three, she is so much happier and confident in herself I can't tell you. Yes there have been the odd meltdown because she is so far behind and she can see it in class but she is getting there and more importantly wants to work and can't hide like she did in State. So far the costs has been the fees with one trip away. School uniform can be horrendous but we buy from the secondhand shop and this cuts the costs right down.

Believe me when I say that not all the parents are rich/posh. Neither my husband nor I were privately educated and whilst I have a good job I am definately not posh but I don't feel out of place at the school gate at all! A lot of people who send their children privately are giving up everything for their childs education and don't get a first holiday let alone a second smile

From my experience I would sacrifice A LOT to keep her in private.

Spamspamspam Sat 28-May-11 07:15:35

"have" different teachers not "do"!

redexpat Sat 28-May-11 11:11:46

Sounds like inverted snobbery on his part. Just because no one you know was privately educated doesn't mean it's not an option! Also might be worth reminding him that parents put their child's needs first.

I would ge tsome hard info from the school and say that it is an option that you are not willing to rule out. Could you get part bursary? I think peace of mind is well worth ascrificing a second holiday.

How about a state boarding school? The education is free and the parents pay for lodging. But there's only 6 in the country (I think - sorry don't know much about this).

belledechocchipcookie Sat 28-May-11 11:26:22

Bullying happens in every school, private ones are not excempt, it's how they deal with it that makes the difference. Only you can make this decision, I'd think very carefully about it as a week is not long enough.

sleepingsowell Sat 28-May-11 11:32:00

on a joint salary of £65k a bursary will certainly not be an option

If it's a case of only having to sacrifice a second car and second holiday then I would do private like a shot. The small class sizes just make it so much easier for the children to learn and acheive nearer their potential.

I think maybe put it to your husband that it would be sheer madness to not even consider this opportunity for your DD on the basis that she might be 'out of place" - what makes those other people better than you or her? More money? Just because an accident of birth (usually) means that people have money behind them does not mean they are more entitled to anything.

Thinking that your kid will be a misfit is the kind of attitude that keeps the rich and privileged where they are and keeps the social status quo - pass me the soapbox!!!!!!!

I think he should grow a pair personally and seize all opportunities for his dd grin

takeonboard Sat 28-May-11 11:37:11

Most people I know make sacrifices to privately educate their kids, you certainly wouldn't be alone in that. We are both working class state educated as are many of our friends however an awful lot of us chose private education as the state options near us are dreadful especially at secondary level.

We are in central London, there are a lot of very rich kids in private schools around here (very rich believe me!), however certain schools attract certain types and the 2 schools my DS has attended have been a mixture of middle class and hard working class parents. At both my DS's schools most of the mums work which is not the case at the schools for the uber-rich. Also you could check out the girls coming out of the school at 18, are they the kind of girl/young woman you want your DD to be? If the answer is yes then she will fit in fine.
Good Luck!

meditrina Sat 28-May-11 11:39:01

I suggest you and DH go and look around all the possible schools: at a minimum the two state and one private that you have mentioned, and possibly speed the net a little wider for comparison, even if others are less realistic possibilities. Then focus your DH into thinking about which would really be best for DD. One or both of you might be surprised at what you conclude.

If you want to follow redexpat's suggestion: here's a link to the State Boarding School Association's website.

Checkmate Sat 28-May-11 11:49:22

Don't take DD to look around the private school if DH is dead set against - if she loved it, it would get very awkward. But if you can persuade him to have an open mind, and show him that you could afford it, then by all means go and look.

I think whether you should go for it depends on your daughters strengths and interests. You'll have to point out to her the things that would need to be sacrificed; fewer holidays etc.. You could tell her that if she went to the state school you'd get her a tutor to help with any GCSE's the school was weak with teaching, and that she could do several out of school activities such as music lessons and sports clubs to meet a wider variety of friends and to broaden her horizons.

NearlySpring Sat 28-May-11 12:13:14

Thank you everyone who as replied!

I do think we need to all go and look around the local schools too.

The awful state school that is the only one she can go to unless we move is about 3 miles from our house- it is also the school I and my younger sister went to. I understand bullying happens everywhere but the fact that this school has metal detectors at the main entrance, school has it's own resident police offier - girls known to be stabbed with cutlery in the canteen etc makes it far worse than your average school.

I feel like Id be setting her up to fail if I sent her there, it's declined even since I was there ten years ago.

I will have to try and convince him how bad it really is. I think the problem is he went to a little country catholic school and doesn't know what London all girls failing schools are like!

Bananamash Sat 28-May-11 12:22:22

sleepingsowell it probably is pushing it, but i would still enquire. Depending on the school fees, obviously secondary is more expensive than state, and where you live in the country, you may just scrape a part bursary IF the school like/want your daughter. They have the final say on whether to award assitance and there is no set limit on parental income.

IME, prep school with fees of 11k have given a bursary to a family living in the Home Counties with a joint income of just shy of 62k.

MumblingRagDoll Sat 28-May-11 13:10:14

I want to reiterate what was said about not all the kids in private schools being from very rich families....they're not. Some have bursaries and some are from families who give up their luxuries.

TidyDancer Sat 28-May-11 13:32:40

The GCSE results wouldn't concern me at the state school. My secondary school had results similar to that, but I thrived there, as did my siblings, and my DP. We had a high number of students with special educational requirements who were never going to get the grades, but thankfully, my school prioritised their welfare about stats. It is wrong to judge on the results alone and I'd be telling you YABU if that was all that has been said in your posts. I also don't think the metal detector or the police officer are things that would trouble me as such, since I'd be pleased to see the school taking those kind of measures to tackle problems (though I suspect I won't be in the majority with that view).

However, if the rumours about the bullying are true, I would want to know that the school have a strict antibullying policy. Don't be fooled, the incident with the cutlery could happen anywhere and paying for education won't prevent it or make it any less likely to happen. You need to be happy with the way the school deals with any issues, more than the issues that have happened.

But DH is BU if he's rejecting private school on the basis of you not being absolutely minted.

Chandon Sat 28-May-11 13:39:37

visit both the awful state school, and the private school WITH your DH. Otherwise the whole thing is just hypothetical to him.

issynoko Sat 28-May-11 13:44:17

My parents had same dilemma. Neither privately educated, both east end working class families of the sort who put education just below laughs and cuddles on their priority list. Dad never did an exam in his life - booted out of school at 14 and worked. But local schools not great for me and my brother - lots of reasons. We got into London private schools and had no car, no foreign holidays, no TV etc. We had bursaries (then called Assisted Places) based on parental income and when Dad lost his job our fees were paid in full for two years.

Lots just like me at the school I went to - never felt 'poor' although some children considerably wealthier but some less well off too. Had a friend whose parents owned an amazing village in Italy (went on holiday with them - very cool!) and another in a council flat in Hackney. And lots in between. Only a couple super rich, most normal with parents doing without to meet fees. I only went on one school trip and the second-hand uniform sales for always buzzing - no shame in that where I went. So dazzling wealth not part of it for the majority but parents with emphasis on decent education very much the norm. My DCs are at a state primary and we are considering private after 11 but we have 3 and one more on the way and couldn't send one if we can't send all so will see how life pans out - at the moment it wouldn't be possible.

You and DH should go and look at both and talk with some more real info to hand.

bidibidi Sat 28-May-11 13:47:43

Are bursaries really easy to get? Every time one of these threads comes up about affording private, bursary gets mentioned...what % of kids in private ed get bursaries? Is it really that high?

Ditto with scholarships -- I assume the child has to have tremendous potential to get awarded that? So Level 5 by the end of yr6 would be totally ordinary, right? Needs to be more like a Level 6-7, I suppose?

issynoko Sat 28-May-11 14:07:36

I'm not sure and different schools have different policies. Have you looked at the website of the private school you have in mind? There will be info there. Also, you are considering buying an expensive education so don't feel intimidated by the institution and ask questions openly. Ask what financial help is available and how to access that, ask about payment arrangements, added expenses (music lessons, uniform, trips, sports gear etc). People who work in private schools aren't always privately educated themselves and if it's a decent school will be keen to welcome you, answer all your questions, invite you to come and visit and receive you politely and with enthusiasm. They are well aware they are in a competitive market themselves and aren't going to raging snobs. If they are, it might not be the right place - are there others near you? See what's on offer and please don't feel inadequate in any way at all - it's very unlikely a child with motivated parents will feel like a misfit unless you give her the impression it's 'not for the likes of us'. I went to City of London school in the Barbican - lots of girls there from all over London so if the local school doesn't feel right look around. Check out the Good Schools Guide and look at the websites - fees and atmospheres really differ ad do be confident - you have as much right to think of private as anyone.

GeorgeEliot Sat 28-May-11 15:22:20

Do not worry about whether or not your dd will fit in to a private school. We have experienced state school in posh London suburb, and private school in struggling rural town and I would say both were almost equally diverse in terms of background of pupils. Your dd will be fine and there will be loads of parents in similar situations to you. Good luck.

chickydoo Mon 06-Jun-11 14:02:30

2 of our 3 go to private school, when no 3 reaches 11 She will go too.
Husband earns 100k half of that is tax and national ins. He takes home 50K
school fees in London are 5.5K a term for each child that is a total of 33k
which leaves us 17k for everything else! Thank God we don't have a mortgage. 17k in London to pay council tax, bills food etc for a family of 5 is nothing. I now work part time to help out. I feel that I am giving my kids a start in life. My eldest has already gone from a D grade student to an A* student since starting the school. Both children are confident, articulate, happy. No we don't go skiing, and we have very old cars, but for us it feels the right thing to do. I think at least 50% of the kids in the private schools mine are at come from homes like ours.

golemmings Mon 06-Jun-11 20:43:10

My folks did this - both were lecturers and not hugely well paid but they had the choice of local crap comp or private. Mum's salary all went on paying my school fees but I was happy there and did well.

I mostly didn't go on the 'posh' school trips like skiing or the french exchange but I did do Duke of Edinburgh's so got to go away with my mates.

Had they had more than one child they would have moved house to a catchment area for a comp with better results or a state school with selective entry policy but with just me it was cheaper to stay.

I had some friends where daddy was a business man and they spent their holidays at disney etc but for the most part it didn't matter. Turns out that most of my mates had their fees paid by their grandparents anyway so their parents weren't hugely well off either!

If you can cover the costs it may well be worth doing if the school suits your child!

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