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to question whether private education is really worth it?

(49 Posts)
Haroldbishop Mon 07-Jan-13 13:31:33

I know some people are wealthy enough to send kids to private school without it having an impact on other aspects of their life, but it seems to me a lot of people put themselves under great financial pressure the send their kids to private school.

My question is, is it really worth it?

I went to my local comprehensive, which was pretty poor (private education was simply not an option for my family), but I came away with excellent GCSE and A Level results, went on to read law at a top university and now have a great job and earn really well. I am not alone as amongst my friends from school there is a doctor, a couple of lawyers (at top City firms) and various others that have done well in their choosen professions. I also know a couple of people from my old school who have played sport at international level.

My parents 'topped up' my comprehensive school education with a few lessons from a private tutor just before my A-Level exams in the one subject where my teacher was exceptionally dreadful, and that did the trick. They also made sure I had lots of hobbies and interests as I know private schools can often be better for sports, drama, music etc so I never missed out as a child and did lots out of school.

On the other hand, some of my parents' friends have kids who went to one of the top private schools in the country, and half of them have not gone on to do much with their lives. Appreciate that could be to do with other factors beyond the school.

I'm not seeking to criticise anyone's choice, but just really interested to hear why private education is so so important to some people that they are willing to make huge sacrifices for it in situations where they are not able to afford it with ease.

Is it the academics, the social aspects, sports etc that is so important to people?

DozyDuck Mon 07-Jan-13 13:32:33

For my auntie it's because the area she lives in has very very poor schools.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 07-Jan-13 13:37:41

My DP was privately educated and maintains that unless a child is particularly academically bright it's a waste of money. He was gifted,but obviously saw boys there who weren't and it was a struggle for them. More so than a normal comprehensive would have been.

Overberries Mon 07-Jan-13 13:38:39

I wish I knew the answer. We are in that position where we could possibly afford it but at the expense of almost everything else - is that any good for kids either? Local schools are pretty poor performing :-(

RayBansWife Mon 07-Jan-13 13:43:49

Overberries can't you go state school then top up with private tutors at GCSE / A Level stage?

Dahlen Mon 07-Jan-13 13:45:59

Most of the research shows that you pay for the added social/extra-curricular opportunities private schooling brings, rather than the academic education. Networking is one of the biggest advantages.

meditrina Mon 07-Jan-13 13:46:16

I suppose a lot would depend on whether you see the purpose of education as getting the grades, or the whole educational journey that gets you there.

Also whether you value achievement in life solely by career and other people's perception of your role.

Lollybrolly Mon 07-Jan-13 13:46:35

Private education is obscenely expensive so not YANBU to question if its worth it.

I dont think education is just about academics personally - its a journey. Kids will have good and crap journeys through their school lives in both sectors.

There is no right or wrong answer every child is different, every school is different every parent wants varying different things or at least rate the importance of certain aspects of school life differently. What I may deem as absolutely paramount the family next door may not consider it important at all and vice versa.

Horse for courses. I am sure there will be people who come out of private schools declaring they could have done just as well at the local school, then there will be those that say it only happend because of the private school. Some from state will say they could have done better if they could have afforded private school and others like the OP will say they did well anyway.

Its different for everyone.

Mu1berryBush Mon 07-Jan-13 13:48:09

My parents sent me to a private school and the school has a good reputation. They put me in the bottom stream though, and the teachers for the bottom stream were terrible. The good teachers taught the pupils who would have excelled anywhere, and those who needed the extra help did not get it. A high percentage of that TOP class got into prestigious universities though, and the bottom class were just written off as thick.

I know that is 20 years ago, but I wish I'd gone to a normal school (iykwim) and then repeated at a cram college.

RayBansWife Mon 07-Jan-13 13:49:05

I know those who did really well at private school then struggled at uni when they no longer had their teachers to babysit them and had to motivate themselves

sue52 Mon 07-Jan-13 13:50:20

It depends on what state provision is like in your area, your income and future needs. For some people it has been the making of their child while for others, their child would have done as well and the family been far better off if they had just gone to the local school. There is no hard and fast rule.

Mosman Mon 07-Jan-13 13:51:01

It's not what you know it's who you know. You pay for the networking opportunities really

sue52 Mon 07-Jan-13 13:53:30

Mosman that might be true of some private schools but most day schools are full of the children of normal middle class parents (though wealthy) rather than Richard Bransons.

Hammy02 Mon 07-Jan-13 13:54:10

I would've thought it is primarily for the networking and the school having the mind-set that you will end up a leader of some sort.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Mon 07-Jan-13 13:56:36

OP it depends on (amongst other things):-

the schools where you live
the quality of the private schools
the child in question
do you need more wrap around care
what are the options for extra curricular activities
does you child have a special interest / skill that would be better accomodated in a particular school
what impact would the financial outlay have on the family as a whole

For example, both of my children are summer born so I think they benefit from being in a smaller class and getting more individual attention as they might have been swamped being the youngest in a bigger class. If your child is a confident October born this wouldn't necessarily be a consideration.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 07-Jan-13 13:56:53

There is no definitive answer as to whether its worth it, it's an individual things nd there are too many variables.

For a family that either have the choice between private or a school that is in special measures, or the school where the child's bullies are going to, then absolutely it's worth it.

If its a choice between a high achieving state school and you have the funds to supplement any gaps and provide extra curricular activities, then it might not be worth it.

But we don't all parent the same, and what is important to some people might not be as important to others.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 07-Jan-13 13:57:43

Not all private schools are Eton,Harrow,Marlborough College etc

The majority of private school pupils parents are paying for smaller classes and therefore a better quality of education.

KoalaTale Mon 07-Jan-13 13:58:34

I went to private school and really benefitted from the smaller class sizes. I was shy and would have been lost in a comprehensive, I'm still very introverted, but have had a successful career, which in my case was as a result of the education I had. Private school really worked for me.

However, my siblings also went to private school but as adults have opted to work in very unstretching jobs, enjoy themselves but have done little that would show their expensive schooling was worth it.

As was said above, certain children will really benefit from private school, others will do as well in the state system. Id use private school if I could afford it.

Fakebook Mon 07-Jan-13 14:00:38

I think it's a waste of money tbh. Children learn outside the school aswell as in school. Most people who send their children to local private schools in our city are people with more money than sense. They're not the well educated type. Their children get to GCSE's and fail spectacularly because the parents haven't given them the encouragement they need to prosper.

I can't afford private school, but even if I did, I'd rather my children go to a state school, and have their education topped up with tutors if needed.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 07-Jan-13 14:01:47

Are networking opportunities really that obvious to a child, or that good? confused

I went to private school and I don't think any of us had parents who did anything you'd 'network' about, and we've gone on to do a pretty ordinary range of jobs.

I'm sure if someone's at Eton there's some networking potential, but that must be a tiny proportion of people.

I wonder how many teenagers are even aware of what 'networking' is.

Librarina Mon 07-Jan-13 14:04:37

DH and I both had burseries to attend private schools as neither of our parents could afford it. The education side of things didn't really work for me - I went from being very bright at Primary school to being distinctly average at Secondary school, however I loved all the extra-curricular activities, joined every club going and my good friends now are the same friends I made when I started school at 11. The problems for me arose when I got to Uni, I wasn't particularly supported in my choice of destination (I chose an ex-poly and wish to this day I'd gone to an established Uni); I had ok A-levels (3 Bs, 1C) but I didn't know how to motivate myself - If I didn't want to go to a lecture I didn't get up!

DH on the other hand loved the academic nature of his Grammar school - he read every language he could get his hands on and excelled at unusual alphabets. Socially though, he struggled with being one of the 'poor' kids who didn't get a new car for their 17th, and that only got worse when he arrived at Oxford.

I think private education is great for some children, but not at the expense of the rest of your social and extracurricular life.

WRT Networking, we were both in the North so that didn't really happen, however for DH's friends from Oxford who attended rather hardcore public schools, networking is a huge contributor to their ongoing success.

OwlLady Mon 07-Jan-13 14:10:12

I suppose people put worth on different things and if someone wants to stretch themselves to pay for something which they will benefit their own child then I don't think it is right or fair to criticise (no matter what my own personal opinions are on the matter smile) In a way the catchment criteria of most good state schools are dictated by money too, housing often being more expensive the better the catchment school. You can't win.

mycatlikestwiglets Mon 07-Jan-13 14:14:45

It's a very interesting question OP. Like you, I went the local (pretty rubbish - it's since closed down) state comp and came out with excellent GCSEs and A-levels, then studied law at a top university and now have a great career at a top City firm. DH similarly went to an underwhelming state comp and has done very well for himself. We're in the very fortunate position of being able to consider private education for our DC, but just can't decide whether to make the investment.

I very much believe that a bright child will do well anywhere provided they have the right support from parents (and teachers, of course). However, working in the city you constantly see how nepotism still works in practice and networking seems to be so much easier for those who come from the more "privileged" private school backgrounds.

Having attended a private school open day recently, we were also amazed at the facilities and opportunities for sports etc which are available to all children. We're also in the position of not being able to ferry our DC around to extra-curricular activities in the way our parents did for us (due to our jobs). Private schooling means we won't need to, because everything is on one site. I'm still on the fence atm though.

OldBeanbagz Mon 07-Jan-13 14:32:21

Well like you OP, i went to my local state school and i hated every single minute of it. I was bored, bullied (due to being mixed race) and came away with only a handful of O levels. There was no inspirational teaching and i drifted into college not really knowing what i wanted to do.

DH and i chose private education for our DCs as our local school was/is even worse than the one i'd attended. And i can honestly say that i have never regretted our decision. The DCs genuinely enjoy every day at school and the teaching is outstanding (and yes i do feel jealous that i didn't have all that).

Now i'm probably a little unusual as i don't particularily expect them to go on to University. I just want them to enjoy their school days and i'll be happy whatever they do. I certainly won't feel it's been a waste of money if they don't get 9-5 jobs as there's much more to life than that.

ReallyTired Mon 07-Jan-13 14:35:48

Life is what you make of it. I went to one of the most bitchest private girls schools possible. The bullying was horrendous and the teachers just didn't give a shit. All that mattered was getting good academic results, anyone who didn't get top grades was considered worthless as a human being.

My son has done well both socially and academically at his state school. Infact his state primary has 23 before/ after school/ lunch time clubs. However they value every child, including those who are academically slow.

I would not send my worse emeny to the private school I went to.

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