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To wonder if private education disadvantages DCs?

(29 Posts)
PleaseHelpWithSchoolChoice Mon 09-Dec-13 10:21:07

DD1 started at a private primary school in September. The quality of education there is amazing and they are great with behaviour and discipline. However we have unexpectedly had a DC2 (I was told I wouldn't be able to conceive again, turned out to be untrue) so the cost factor has become very big. Also all of DD's friends locally are going to the state primary, the private school is a journey away and I feel that as she gets older that may exclude her socially, both from local and school friends.

The local school is ok - OFSTED scores mainly of 2 with couple of 3s, and felt to be improving. DH and I both work in the public sector and my job isn't permanent so we might really struggle with fees, and even if we both work it's a massive chunk of our income. Is private education worth the expenditure? If our DCs go to state school we have the option of working part time or one of us being SAHP so able to pick DCs up, do homework with them etc. I am uncomfortable with private education in principle anyway, and the school has no BME or male teachers, is single sex and religious, which we're not. Minor point but it also has a very distinctive uniform and I feel really uncomfortable going out in our less wealthy area with DD wearing it, it sort of feels ostentatious. I recognise that this is about my discomfort with private education in principle, other parents at the school feel it looks sweet and are proud to walk their DCs to school wearing it.

I am going round in circles trying to decide what is best, please help me to think this through. I feel that if DCs go to private school they will be disadvantaged socially and if they go to state school they could be disadvantaged educationally, the school say that when DCs leave they are about two years ahead. Am I just doomed to feel I've failed them either way?

formerbabe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:26:45

I went to a private school from the age of 4-18. My son goes to a state primary that is fab...I am so happy with it. If money were no object I would have him in a private school but only for the smaller class sizes and superior facilities. I think based on my experiences with both sectors, private school, if you wish to go down that route, is probably more important and beneficial when they are off to senior school. I think whatever you do though, both children need to be treated the same.

SPsWantsCliffInHerStocking Mon 09-Dec-13 10:27:21

You cant win either way. That's parenting for you grin

My friend went to private school then ended up in state high school with me. She doesn't seem worse off than her two siblings who carried on through private school.

My friend still has her private school friends as well as friends she might in the state school. She isn't disadvantaged at all.

I guess its up to you.

Sunnyshores Mon 09-Dec-13 10:36:05

The senior school education is most important. So, do you need them to be in prep school to get into the best senior school in the area? Or are state seniors not that good and you need to pay for a private senior school? Or is circa £30k per year out of the question anyway.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Mon 09-Dec-13 10:36:24

Your post is about whether YOUR child will be disadvantaged socially, but everyone's going to read it as a general question and pile in for the usual bun fight grin

In your particular situation, money is tight. So I'd move to the state school and save for a time when you might want to make a move back to the private system. That should be your concern, not hypothetical social vs educational advantages, because every child and every school is different so it's impossible to say what pros and cons will be in your case.

Ime, one child is at a private school, the state school was failing her - especially in maths. Other child who is more academic is doing very well at the same state school.

EdithWeston Mon 09-Dec-13 10:39:09

If you have that much antipathy about private education in general, and various specific points you actively dislike about the specific school; what led you to choose it in the first place?

Those reasons obviously outweighed the negative factors when you made your school choice before and should not therefore be disregarded now.

Does the state school have any vacancies? I'm assuming you're in England and your DD in YR - if the local school is full, then you'll be allocated the nearest school with a vacancy.

BTW: nearly every private school trots out the "two years ahead" line. Sometimes it's true.

GinAndIt Mon 09-Dec-13 10:40:34

To answer your last question, yes, probably! grin parenting is hard and we all wonder about our choices sometimes.

However, you don't sound terribly sold on your dd's current school anyway, and with another baby on the way and an uncertain employment situation I'd be looking at alternatives. If she's only just started you won't be uprooting her and she'll settle happily, I would think, into a new state school. Maybe then you could reconsider if you still want private at secondary age and your financial situation allows it.

It's hard to say whether she'll be 'disadvantaged' educationally without knowing the schools in question, really. Imo private matters less at primary, but if know others will disagree.

littleredsquirrel Mon 09-Dec-13 10:42:09

Can you afford to send both of your DCs to private school, if not then I would go the state route and save your money for private at secondary school level.

Your children need you more than they need a particular school. If them going to the local primary means they will have more time with you as parents then IMO that is the most important thing (although mine are both at independent primary). They won't be disadvantaged socially though, they will just lose contact with their local friends and you'll spend a lot of time in the car ferrying them about to see their new friends.

Farewelltoarms Mon 09-Dec-13 11:00:20

Yes what do private schools mean when they talk about 'two years ahead'. It's a mantra that they seem to cling to, but it confuses me.

Does it mean all children are two years ahead of all children the same age at state school? Or is it that the general standard is two years ahead of a level 4b by the end of y6?

If it's the latter then there's every chance that your dcs will do as well in a state school. Certainly my (not exceptional) children are more or less at that level.

You sound like an instinctively state school parent. I think you'll love having them at school near by and part of their neighbourhood. It's unbeatable (in my view, others prioritise other aspects of primary schooling).

IsabellaMilborne Mon 09-Dec-13 11:08:05

You sound like you know you can't afford 2 places at private school, and are therefore reverse-engineering several reasons to put both DCs through state education, wanting to make it feel like a valid life choice rather than a retreat.

There are clearly pros and cons for both types of school, but it sounds like the numbers are not going to add up for you as a family with private education, so if I were you I'd embrace the pros of the state sector smile

notanotherusername1 Mon 09-Dec-13 11:14:56

I was you a fair number of years ago. My DS went private for three years until we knew we wanted more children. It was a huge struggle in every way and apart from the financial aspect my son was never included much with the other boys as we did not have the lifestyle the others did. I know that should not come into it but it does for children when other children are sneering because we are not going to Barbados for Christmas.

So to cut a long story short he started at the most wonderful Primary in Year 3 and we never looked back. Huge amount of friends, a wonderful education and happy parents who went on to have two more children because they could afford to.

He achieved 12 GCSE's and 4 A Levels and is now at a top Uni.

We could afford private tuition for any subjects he struggled in as we do for dd.

Private schools can be wonderful if you can comfortably afford them or maybe just struggle a bit. We were not prepared to stick to one child to send ds private. We were lucky in having a brilliant Primary and single sex secondary schools that are great schools.

Good luck. Glad it's almost all over for us now.

PleaseHelpWithSchoolChoice Mon 09-Dec-13 11:15:26

Thank you for your comments. DD is in nursery so would start state school in Reception, we have applied to the local school as back up. She could complete nursery year (it actually costs less than other childcare options) and then move in September.

I know most people think secondary is when it's important to think of private; DH disagrees and thinks that the foundations are set at primary, and if they do start secondary two years ahead then that's a solid basis. We live near some very high achieving state secondaries.

If we are both in work we could just afford both sets of fees, but with very little left. It would mean more pressure on us and less time available to spend with DCs. littleredsquirrel I would like to think you're right about having time with DCs mattering more though I really would like to work part time or even be SAHM for a couple of years so I worry that I am being selfish.

They key reasons for staying with the current school are the quality of education and behaviour. The key factors against are cost, logistics (it's a difficult journey as well as distance, and finishes early) and impact on time to spend with DCs. I'm struggling to decide which outweighs.

NewBlueShoesToo Mon 09-Dec-13 11:17:34

If you are constantly feeling guilty about the choice you have made and feel there is something better round the corner then your children and other people will pick up on it and it won't work.
You either need to have a financial plan in place so that you can afford the private school or embrace the state school option, support your children well and do lots of extra curricular activities.

PleaseHelpWithSchoolChoice Mon 09-Dec-13 11:21:36

Cross posts. farewell yes that's me, an instinctive state schooler! DH less so but to some extent. Isabella we could afford it! as long as we didn't want to afford much else! Which would be gone if that was what we chose, but the initial experience of private makes me wonder if it's worth the sacrifice. It's not totally like notanother says as many parents at the school aren't moneyed, but it does make me wonder if we are marginalising ourselves in an area which is slowly becoming a nice community.

PleaseHelpWithSchoolChoice Mon 09-Dec-13 11:26:18

By the way I am extremely over educated and have worked as a private tutor for many ages in the past. So being able to spend time with DCs has educational benefits too iyswim. It feels a bit counter intuitive to me to be working long hours to pay for school fees and then having private after school care, or a childminder or au pair or whoever else doing the homework, after school care etc. I want to bring my own DCs up.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 09-Dec-13 11:36:29

The 'two years ahead' question is really interesting. How many children in the local state school are two years ahead of expected standards?

The private school must mean 'ahead of expected standards' otherwise they'd have to quote this claim in relation to a particular state school and year group. Both vary quite a lot.

Don't forget that the private school is a business selling a product. Every claim needs to be examined critically in the same way as any other advertising claim.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 09-Dec-13 11:44:48

Personally, I think the two things that determine outcomes most are parental expectations and peer group norms.

Good teaching helps of course, perhaps especially so for children with lower parental expectation. If your expectation is high you can make up any teaching gap with tuition and your own input.

Peer group norms are a huge influence though - and are of course related to parental expectation. If everyone expects to do well in exams and go to university then it's much easier to do that. Not so easy if you have to stand out as odd and be exceptionally self-motivated to do those things.

Peer group is not the same as whole school population. So, who is your dd likely to hang around with? Is the academically motivated group at he state school big enough not to be an oppressed minority?

Melonbreath Mon 09-Dec-13 11:51:49

Depends on the school I suppose. I went to a good state primary but a shitty shitty secondary that put me through 5 years of hell I never got over. I got a weekend job at 16 just to pay for my bus fare to a college after gcses so I could leave. I did and suddenly learning was fun and I had friends.
We have an outstanding state primary here where dd will go but the secondary not so much so I fully intend to use all of my wage to pay for somewhere for her.
But this is purely as I am tainted with a rotten school and don't wish those years on anyone. If it turns out, when the time comes the state secondary is good enough she'll go there.

WhereIsMyHat Mon 09-Dec-13 12:24:57

Agree it depends on the school. We were lucky to have recently got a place at a RC primary and moved our Y1 child. It is comparable to a private school as are the local RC secondary schools. We also have a couple of brilliant grammar schools but you end to sign up with tutors when they're at pre-school to get any sort of chance at a place, yes really, so we've missed the boat there.

We have three young boys so we can't consider private but if we had one I think I would have done after DS coasting for a year in a school that went from 'good' to special measures in his first 6 months and then having to deal with the after effects of that. Lucking as we are RCs and were top of the list in the local RC school we eventually got a place.

Would you be eligible for a bursary?

PleaseHelpWithSchoolChoice Mon 09-Dec-13 13:21:03

lottie good points. The friends who are going to the state school are all motivated and middle class achieves! Whether DD chooses to hang out with the less motivated DCs I suppose will be her choice but she will have a positive attitude to education at home. Melon I went to an awful primary and a fairly standard secondary and I think my experience meant I was a bit blown away by the private primary. I am trying to arrange to visit the state one to see what it seems like inside. whereismyhat no there are no bursaries, and the fees are as low as private school gets. There are outstanding state primaries up the road but you have to live in the salubrious and unaffordable area to get in.

lottie your first post is very interesting. I looked at the state junior school and it actually has higher levels of children ahead of expected standards (achieving level 5) than the outstanding ones up the road - substantially higher. Which suggests that they do very well with able and motivated DCs. Whether it's two years ahead is not something it would be easy to judge, but clearly it's possible to excel there.

OrangePixie Mon 09-Dec-13 14:05:59

I've always thought that its better to be the (comparatively) rich kid in a state school than the poor one in a private school.

bebanjo Mon 09-Dec-13 14:22:41

If you can afforded to be a SAHM you could home educate, thereby giving your children an independent tailored education. And just send them to local clubs to meet all the local kids.

Blu Mon 09-Dec-13 14:33:09

I went to a private primary and a sort of LA scholarship fuelled private secondary. My brother went to state primary and grammar and my sister went to state primary and a comp. We all have the same level of good degrees and my brother has a PhD.

As for children in private primaries being 'two years ahead' - well they would say that, wouldn't they? In SATS terms my DS finished primary two years ahead and that has continued into Yr 8.

If you can't afford private school, you can't afford it. You arenot failing your children by not having the option. It is great to have the choice, if you do have it, but hardly doomed or failing if you take up the educational offer enjoyed by 93% of people in this country!

flatpackhamster Mon 09-Dec-13 14:40:57


I've always thought that its better to be the (comparatively) rich kid in a state school than the poor one in a private school.

IME there's always someone richer than you, wherever you are, so it makes little difference.

notanotherusername1 Mon 09-Dec-13 14:49:06

Being the poor pupil in a Private School is hard on the child. My dd's friend has just been moved to a Private Girls School in a very wealthy area and although they are by no means poor (you can't be paying £10,000 a year for schooling can you) compared to 90% of the class they are. She has not settled and the other girls have been very awkward with her and the bragging is horrible. Private schooling did not used to be like this but sadly it has in a lot of schools. Poor girl hates it.

My son was once 'not' invited to a Sportscar party where Dad had his collection of top of the range cars on show for the boys to play in. shock

Makes me shudder to remember it. I wish it was not like this.

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