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Query for state school parents

(110 Posts)
AeolineReed Thu 22-Sep-11 13:09:56

My children go to private schools. I have been repeatedly got at for this by colleagues/acquaintances/random MNers with children at state schools. We live in a town with decent state schools. Everyone I know cites 'principles' as the reason for choosing the state option, even if they could afford otherwise.

This same 'principle' argument seems to crop up on MN a lot - but I'm just wondering how much of this is based on living in a good catchment area? And if you have 'principles', do they extend to sending your children to a truly dire school if you could afford to go private?

Just wondering, as I am rather fed up with being the unprincipled baddy. grin

Stumbleine Thu 22-Sep-11 13:12:12

I am fortunate enough to live in an area where the state schools (both primary and secondary) are excellent. If I didn't and I could afford to, I wouldn't hesitate to send my dc to a private school.

cookcleanerchaufferetc Thu 22-Sep-11 13:14:26

Just ignore them. We have several good holidays a year and have nice new cars and people make comments, but we have a smallish house and choose to spend our money having fun with the kids etc. People have different priorities and basically if your priorities dont match theirs, they see it as strange. sod what they think. You arent exactly pureeing McDonalds for your kids' breakfast so tell them nicely to fuck off when they judge you next time!

oldraver Thu 22-Sep-11 13:16:34

I would imagine 'principles' do go hand in hand with decent schools. I think its easy to say you use state schools on principle when you dont face the prospect of your DC going to some sink school

I also think there are a lot of people who would love to send their DC's to private school, but prefer to say they don;t on principle rather than they just cant afford too

PuspornInBoots Thu 22-Sep-11 13:18:03

I would go private like a shot if we had the money, although I would worry that my children wouldn't fit in if we changed now. If we say won the lottery or something. DD is 9 and in year 5, and DSs are in year 2 and reception, so they would possibly find it easier, but I would worry about all of them not fitting in socially - possibly my own preconceptions there as I'm sure not all private school kids are "posh" or "middle class" or "different to us" - I would also worry about DD particularly academically, as I would expect privately educated children of her age to be ahead of her with the admittedly pretty crap by comparison state education. That said, again, that could be my own preconception, I just tend to take it for granted that a private education would be better than the state one my DCs are getting. I attempt to narrow the gap by doing things at home, but know that it's not the same.
And as for principles - my principles are "do the best that I possibly can for the kids and bollocks to what anyone else may think, it's none of their business" grin I would kill and cook someone else's kids to feed mine if I had to I read way to much apocalypse fiction I think...

thirtysomething Thu 22-Sep-11 13:20:17

I get the same vibe from people as both my DC go to private schools. One former school-gate chum now blanks me completely, and has done since the day DS left the state school.

In DD's case, she has complex SEN which weren't acknowledged at her state school. When she was assessed by an ed psych, school said they didn't have the resources to offer her any extra support. So we moved to the only school in the are which did offer specialist support, which happens to be private, and she is actually making progress now for the first time in 4 years!

However friends with DC at the state school have been unsympathetic on the whole and seem to think DD should be allowed to sink at the local state academy(v. results focused and notoriously bad at supporting SEN). Theire DC all happen to be academic high-fliers who I'm sure will do v. well there. My DD would not, and I'm sick of people trying to make me feel guilty for doing all I can to help her reach her potential, whatever that may be!

People seem to take these things v. personally. No-one comments if you spend a fortune on a Mercedes, but people think it's their business as a moral choice if you spend your cash on education.

AuntieMonica Thu 22-Sep-11 13:20:49

I read your definition of 'principles' as the view that you should send your child to your local school without predjudice?

I think having 'principles' has gone out of the window with the current system of having to apply for a school place, regardless of your proximity to a school.

It's often reported that pupils are not allocated a place at the nearest school, if a school is over subscribed then it's a bit of a lottery.

AgonyBeetle Thu 22-Sep-11 13:21:02

I don't give a flying turnip where anybody sends their kids to school, as long as they don't subject me to some dull justification which is generally a variant of, "Oh we'd love to have been able to send X to state school, but he's so bright/sensitive/special that we really had no choice." hmm

Implying that we are somehow playing the system or have faked religion because our dc go to state faith schools is also unappreciated. None of our dc's schools are particularly over-subscribed, there are places in most year groups for people of all faiths and none, so do come and join us if you'd really like to.

Other than that, do whatever you think is best for your dc, accept that you're lucky to have the option of choosing to private if that's what you want, and then STFU about it.


Goldberry Thu 22-Sep-11 13:21:07

I teach at a private school (but have taught mostly in state schools) and would send my children to one like a shot if we could afford to, but dh is pretty anti.
We are probably going to move elsewhere in the country before dd starts secondary, partly because the state schools in our catchment area aren't great. I guess in an ideal world I'd send them to a grammar school (I went to one), but the areas where they still exist are either very expensive or not convenient for us.

TeddyBare Thu 22-Sep-11 13:26:09

In principle I would choose state over private, but if the schools near me were bad (wouldn't even need to be terrible, on special measures etc) or were very religious then I would look at private. If I also didn't like the private schools I'd look at boarding or Home Ed. My overriding principle is to give my dc the best I can.

ragged Thu 22-Sep-11 13:30:54

Why are you sending your DC private, OP? I can understand getting grief if it's for openly elitist reasons (not wanting to mix with the RiffRaff, wanting future contacts, ONLY the best will do, etc.).

I suspect that the grief you get has more to do with the type of area you live in and the sort of folk you mix with, rather than the schools.
I have one in private & 2 in state (talk about a flashpoint revelation...). The brightest child (excelling and happy in state) will attend a High School that got a 30% GCSE pass rate few years back, is that dire enough? And I still think it's the right choice for her (should mention that the private school for other DC isn't very good, but still the best choice for the moment for him).

Probably I just don't have very principled friends... then again, maybe they're people I enjoy spending time with because they aren't too quick to judge? Or is it disguised envy... although funny enough some of the people I know who are least judgemental are also those with the least money.

mummytime Thu 22-Sep-11 14:00:02

Mine are at State.
Principles can be code for: "we're left wing", "my kids wouldn't get in", "I know that school is awful (bullying, bad teaching, or whatever, and it does happen in private ones)", "I don't want to tell you how broke we are", "my DH does want them to because....", "we prefer a bigger house/more holidays/ a new car every 2 years", or "I feel threatened".

AeolineReed Thu 22-Sep-11 14:12:46

Ragged - several reasons. A scholarship is one. But even if we didn't have scholarships, I'd turn to prostitution or something. Once you've seen what (good) private schools can offer, you're likely to be hooked. We were.

Probably right about the types of folks I talk to (mostly academics). Friends tend to be people with children at my children's schools, so that obviously isn't an issue.

thirtysomething, your last point is so true.

Pussporn: FWIW, private schools aren't just full of middle class/posh people. There are lots and lots of nice very ordinary people there too.

Malcontentinthemiddle Thu 22-Sep-11 14:16:15

I'd never say to anyone 'it's me principles' (though I've never been asked!). I'd say I wouldn't want to send mine private.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Thu 22-Sep-11 14:21:51

I use our fantastic local state schools, but if they were awful sink schools I don't know what I'd do tbh. The thing is, I don't think we'd be living in a dreadful area if we have the disposable income to put 3 children through private school without having to live on beans, so it's a moot point.

Unfortunately round here there is a tremendous amount of snobbery amongst the parents who choose private, and knowing the characters who have gone down that route I'm absolutely delighted that I don't have any contact with them anymore. My eldest 2 DCs are meeting a massively diverse range of children at their high school and at their after school clubs, and are becoming very aware of how lucky they are and that having money is not the be all and end all.

Just out of interest OP - if your state schools are good, why have you gone private?

AeolineReed Thu 22-Sep-11 14:26:44

Maisie - because the state schools are fine, but the private schools (here, at any rate) are far, far better. I could do without the endless holidays, though. grin

AMumInScotland Thu 22-Sep-11 14:29:35

I don't give a rat's ass where people send their children to school, or why, so long as they don't imply that my choices are less valid than theirs.

DS has been at state primary (catchment), specialist music school (fees but subsidised), home educated, and finally state secondary (out of catchment), all of which seemed to be the best available choice for him at the time.

Cartoonjane Thu 22-Sep-11 14:29:39

Whatever people think about our system of state and private schools I think if parents really knew what the worst state schools were really like theyd take their kids out like a shot. I hear people ask ,"How bad can it be?" Well I have seen some terrible, upsetting, out-of- control schools that I think are worse than most people would imagine they coud be. I wouldnt want my DD to walk past them during the school day let alone attend one.

That said, I do think the public schools we have in Britain have a huge impact on British society, far out of proportion to the number of people who actually attend them. I wish they didnt exist but as they do, yes I woud send my child to one if the local state schools were poor. And I dont judge oter people who do send their kids to private schools. I dont understand people who do- why would you blank someone or holding a different opinion from your own?

AMumInScotland Thu 22-Sep-11 14:38:49

I think one of the issues, on MN and in RL, is that for a lot of people the idea that private schools are full of "very ordinary" people is a bit of a sick joke. They may seem very ordinary to you, but they must by definition have a level of income which a huge number of people can only dream of, to consider private education. Yes there are scholarships, yes there are bursaries. But those don't cover all the costs of having a child at the school.

When you, and pretty much everyone you know, is struggling to put food on the table and pay the electric, the idea that there is a definition of "very ordinary" so far above what you can hope for is insulting, to put it mildly, and only reinforces the idea that there are people who don't know they're born.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Thu 22-Sep-11 14:43:24

Well said AMumInScotland, excellent post

YouWinOrYouDie Thu 22-Sep-11 14:44:07

If you can afford it, fuck 'em all.

My DS has autism and I would love to send him to one of the amazing independent schools I see advertised in the NAS magazine.

DD has a horrific Essex accent, isn't particularly academic but shines at dance and art. She is also coming up to the age where peers are more important than family so flexible boarding would be great for her.

seedlessgrape Thu 22-Sep-11 14:47:30

I'm very lucky to have good state schools where I live and my DD has gone to my choice of Infant, Junior and now Senior School. However, if I could afford it I would definitely have sent her to a private school. This is no reflection on the schools themselves but more to do with my DD needing to be pushed rather than doing the absolute minimum to get by. She, as I'm sure many 12 year olds are, is quite lazy when it comes to education and will only do as much as she feels is necessary.

crazygracieuk Thu 22-Sep-11 14:47:41

I agree with you that many people buy their principles by living in the catchment of excellent schools. I have personally done this and see this as no different as living in an average/inadequate school catchment and opting for private- especially as I was privately educated.

Some people don't realise that private schools vary from non-academic, expensive and full of posh people to academic, down to earth and full of "normal" working parents because they have no experience of that sector- a reverse snobiness about private schools.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 22-Sep-11 14:52:48

I think I'm just an inverted snob. grin I considered a private secondary school for my DS1 in case he didn't get into a decent comp, but I was so relieved when he didn't get the 'sink' school. It's not the money at all, it's the attitude they may get of superiority or priviledge that I just couldn't face. (And some of the the snooty parents!)

Maisiethemorningsidecat Thu 22-Sep-11 14:53:36

'Normal' working parents who just happen to have a large amount of disposable income - far in excess of the average hmm

Really - you think it's simply inverse snobbery?

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