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Am I mad to consider this?

(7 Posts)
2MuchT Wed 19-Sep-12 23:05:10

As we weren't in the catchment for any good state schools that ds had a hope of getting into, we put him down for a number of selective private prep schools. He was offered a place at one that we loved, and although the fees were high, we felt we could just about manage it. Due to his age he was offered a year 1 rather than a reception place so the plan was to keep him at nursery for an extra year. However, a miracle bulge class happened and he got a reception place at a faith based local state school, which, as we are not religious, would not previously have considered him.

Anyway we decided to give it a go at the faith/state school. It has a great reputation, is easy to get too, he is happy and has made some nice friends already. Drawbacks are - it is religious and we are not; parents with children there say friends with kids at private school are learning a year or so ahead. We would definitely like ds to go private at 11 and we are told not many children go on to private from there at 11 - most go to the local state secondary which doesn't have a great rep.

The prep school are holding the year 1 place for ds and we need to decide by Jan (or pay a terms fees). It has a great record of getting boys into some of the best schools at 11+ and 13+. It also has some great opportunities in music, sport and languages that aren't available to the same extent in the local state school. But, life is so easy sending him somewhere local and free, and he is so settled after just a few weeks. Would I be mad to take him out after just one year?

mummytime Thu 20-Sep-12 05:12:53

If he is happy and receiving agood education then I would leave him where he is. Save the money in case you need it later. Schools change, private school fees increase at a very fast rate, you may need to relocate or redundancy may hit, it is a long time to secondary. If you save the money you can pay for some extra tuition at the end of primary if you still want to go private then.

scaevola Thu 20-Sep-12 06:20:40

Go and look round the private school again.

Have a really hard think about what it offers that is different.

Also, why do few children go to the (private) schools you find acceptable from your current school. No one applies? Or they struggle to meet selection criteria? How competitive is entry to the secondary school/s you like? If it's the only one for miles around, it might be pressured. Do people fail to secure places?

MarshmallowFarm Thu 20-Sep-12 14:42:18

Having been through an assortment of private and state with my DC, my advice would be "if it ain't broke, don't fix it...." If the state is suiting your son's needs at the moment, that is the important factor. It may be that at 7 it's time for a change - then you can look again. As for how many go on from there to private at 11, there are loads of factors to consider. I live in a v. middle-class area with outstanding comprehensives and selective independents - at DS' primary only 2 children (him included) went to an independent at 11 as the other parents were v. happy with the state options. He got in to a super selective school with no tutoring, because the state school was a good match for him and taught him more or less what he needed to pass the exam.

With my second child however the state school wasn't a good fit and we found a much more appropriate private option quite early on, when it became obvious the state school was not able to cater for different learning styles etc., so it's very much a case of monitoring progress and making sure the school meets your DS' needs, whatever they may be....

As for music, sport, languages - if you decide to stay where you are can you not do this as out of school activities?

2MuchT Thu 20-Sep-12 20:56:41

Thanks for replying, definitely food for thought. My worry with leaving him where he is because it's suiting his needs 'at the moment' (and it's only been two weeks so really dont know much yet) is that if I decide at 7+ to move him, then the prep school where he has a place and which IMO is the best around, is unlikely to still have a place for him. Plus other private primaries seem to prep for 7+ so i would have to get a tutor to compete with that. Feels like if going down that route i might as well take this 5+ place. So it feels like I either have to move him next year, or wait till he is 11.

Why don't children go to the private secondaries I like from this local school? I can only imagine that they either don't apply as they are pretty expensive, or don't get in as they are highly selective. I also wonder if, given the high numbers from the preps who do get in, that there is some kind of informal agreement in the private sector that the take children who have been to private primaries above those from state??? Only speculating here.

Yes ds could do the language, sport music etc outside of school. However I work full time so hard for me to coordinate lots of out of school activities with childminder etc, but I will try. I am wondering if this feeling I have that I should send him private is partly guilt that as dh and I both work full time, we should be spending that money on the best possible education. But actually, it's possible ds will just be a happier little boy through staying where he is and having lots of very local friends. Feels like such a difficult decision, hoping it will all seem clearer in a couple of months - even writing about it here makes it feel a bit clearer for me - although doubt anyone is still reading this ridiculously long post!

MarshmallowFarm Fri 21-Sep-12 13:25:25

If I have understood correctly, you have this year to decide anyway as he would start at the private school next September? In that case give yourself this year to see how it goes - visit both schools as much as you can; send him to the other one for a "taster" day; go to PTA meetings etc at current school, chat to parents with older children there, and go to Christmas fair etc at the other school, to really get a feel for it and the type of child who seems to thrive there...

Sounds from your last post like it may suit your family life more if he went private from next year, and if you are certain you want him to go to that school from 7 the extra year is probably wise to ensure the place....however most private schools in our area didn't fill all their places this year due to the economy, and lots of people now saving money for University instead, so you may find there are more places than you think....

2MuchT Fri 21-Sep-12 23:12:16

thanks MF, I have till Jan to decide, after which we will have to pay at least the first terms fees, on top of a hefty deposit that we have already laid out.
I will definitely do all those things you mention though, just don't think the time will be enough to know which school is right. And I don't know I would definitely want him to go private at 7, just that if, in a few years time I do decide that, then I would feel I had messed up not to have taken the place at the great school when we had the chance. Although I know some private schools are struggling, this one is always oversubscribed. In fact I think part of the problem is that we feel so lucky to have been offered a place (as we know children who didn't get in) that it is probably affecting our decision making. Feel a little bit silly to be worrying so much about this when I should just be pleased to have two great options!

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