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will a normal child do well anywhere?

(78 Posts)
thepowerofvoodoo Thu 20-Sep-12 13:07:26

What is better about private schools? i've read through lots of threads on here about private schools and know a lot of people "in real life" who send their kids to private schools and wouldn't consider anything different. i suppose i look at it from a different angle as i went to bog standard state schools (many, as my parents moved a lot), a mixed comp and then did a degree at oxford. so i suppose i see it as "it didn't stop me doing well" and that my parents (not that they could have paid) would have just wasted their money. i suppose i also believe a child should want to do well for themselves and motivate themselves rather than be artificially pushed.
i look at the area i live in and ALL the primary schools are OK - there's none in special measures or anything, so will be sending my nearly 4 year old to whichever he gets into.
Is is just a matter of where the parents went (state or private) the children go? Some of my friends haven't even considered state because they didn't go to state school. I suppose I'm the same because I'm not even considering private because I didn't go.
I just don't see the point of paying for something that is available for free (but then I'm a tight arse). What am I missing?

RationalBrain Thu 20-Sep-12 13:13:07

I don't think you're missing anything.

People naturally want to recreate their childhood for their children (assuming it was a happy-ish childhood), so naturally plump for state vs private, country vs city or whatever.

Individual children respond differently to different schools as well, and so it may be that the local state or private doesn't suit your own child, so you move to private or state to meet their need for big/small sporty/academic etc.

Also, some people very much believe in needing to be 'in the club' Ii.e. private) to get on in the world. Which can help, it is true. But is bollocks really.

adeucalione Thu 20-Sep-12 13:15:40

Some people will have thought exactly like you, but then been disappointed by the state sector and jumped ship.

Some people won't have the OK local schools that you enjoy.

Some people won't have self motivated children and will feel that their child needs an extra push, or the benefit of a smaller class size.

Some people will attach great importance to extra curricular opportunities that aren't necessarily available in a state school.

Some people will work long hours and will value the longer hours/free childcare that many independent schools offer (and all of the extra curricular stuff will be done by school, so no taxiing around to clubs in the evening).

Some people will have looked at the OK local schools, and the independent schools, and decided that the independent schools are worth paying for.

Some people will have so much spare cash that they don't need to think about it.

And yes, some people will be making a thoughtless generalisation that private is always better, and will bankrupt themselves to provide that education - and that's a bit daft imo, but then I don't suppose that there will be many of those.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 20-Sep-12 13:19:27

It can also come down to the needs of your life. Our local state school has a head who believes mothers should stay home with children so no breakfast or after school clubs and is fairly obstructive about regular pick ups by non parents. Working full time it is easier and cheaper in this situation to go private with 8 to 6pm included (not that I use it every day) and cover full days in holidays.

RationalBrain Thu 20-Sep-12 13:22:05

Lonecat, I am shocked! What age is he living in? Surely it must be reportable to Ofsted if he is not allowing a pick up from a parentally approved childminder or nanny?

thepowerofvoodoo Thu 20-Sep-12 13:25:52

Thanks. I can see the argument about rubbish local schools and I know I'm lucky in that they all seem satisfactory or above in my area. I suppose I just think that they're all OK and hopefully my DS will take his education seriously - if he doesn't, then I suppose I think "it's his fault"! I know that seems really nasty and maybe if it actually happens to me I'll reconsider. I also have to listen to my other half (he has no qualifications at all as (as he admits) he messed around at school) go on and on about how he didn't know that it would make a difference and he didn't think beyond his 14 year old self and I just think "more fool you". I think I'm maybe a nasty person who believes in the power of self too much.
The working long hours def applies to me - but most of the local schools I've contacted have before and after school clubs that are open longer than our current nursery so I'm actually quite excited about that.

thepowerofvoodoo Thu 20-Sep-12 13:29:15

Lonecat - that is manky. I'm not sure if I live in an expensive area but looking at fees (they seem to be 3-4k a term around here at all private schools), surely a childminder dropping off and picking up would be cheaper? I don't understand how he can prevent non parental pick ups though?

steppemum Thu 20-Sep-12 13:34:04

Mine all go to state primary. I actually think that a good state primary is often better than private primary. Certainly there are a lot of very average private schools out there.

The school I send my kids to is our local school, we did check schools when we were looking for a house. I am a teacher so I know what I am looking for. After we had moved here I discovered that it is in the top 200 schools in country.

But if i lived in some areas, where the local primaries are struggling, where you can't get a place or where the available schools aren't great, then if I could afford it I wouldn't hesitate.

To me it isn't about paying or not, but about the quality of the available schools.

We are just looking at secondary. We have visitied a very good secondary near us, excellent standard, excellent head, very good results. I would be confident my ds would do well. Then we visited a grammar school. About 30 mins away on the train. Boys only. I came away blown away, it was so lovely, it wasn't the academic thing, the boys were just so calm, confident and articulate. I really wanted that for my ds and although it is far away and that leads to some issues (friends etc) I will do my best to get him there.

If I could afford private and the second school was private then I would pay. One thing I like about it being a grammar is that it is not elitist with respect to money, so boys come from all backgrounds.

My brother sends his kids to private. he is very snotty about state and wouldn't even look at their local schools. he is not really interested in the quality of education, he is very interested in the old school tie network.

LeBFG Thu 20-Sep-12 13:37:37

Good kids frequently do well OP wherever they go. I went to a sink comp, my DH to one of the very top selective private schools, we ended up not so different. What I would say though, is I've always felt that private schools, in general (before I'm shot down), have better facilities and teachers and often have much smaller classes, so DCs are stimulated in more ways. I never learnt latin, was never enforced to do community work, school work never stretched me, school trips never went beyond Alton towers and the French exchange year.

JennerOSity Thu 20-Sep-12 13:43:08

Steppemum - great post. I think I am very much in the same vein as you when it comes to choosing schools. That said, I am not a teacher, soooo, what did you look for when you were considering primary schools and you 'knew what you were looking for'? Can you elaborate? <disclaimer - I am not in competition for school places against your children as mine are not quite at primary yet grin >

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 20-Sep-12 13:52:22

The head is female and it has been to educational tribunal and the head won. Believe you me the situation is ludicrous and when you are working full time sometimes it is easier not to fight it and go with a different option.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 20-Sep-12 13:57:51

"And yes, some people will be making a thoughtless generalisation that private is always better, and will bankrupt themselves to provide that education - and that's a bit daft imo, but then I don't suppose that there will be many of those."

Not bankrupt perhaps, but many pay school fees they can't really afford. Some use up savings that would be better kept for helping their DCs through University. Some put themselves in very tight and stressful financial situations. Some take full time jobs they hate and leave their DCs with ancient relatives during the holidays.
Others pass the pressure on to kindly grandparents and even step grandparents and this makes me very uncomfortable indeed.

NightLark Thu 20-Sep-12 14:05:06

Re the non-parent pick ups - our school makes this a nightmare by choosing to communicate with parents via notes stuck to the classroom doors. If you are not the one picking up, you don't get to see the note. Afterschool club workers aren't about to bother passing on all the different bits of info about 20p for the raffle needed by tomorrow, or bring cardboard boxes for modelling etc etc. It sucks. My DS had been kept out of extra (fun) events because I haven't been there to read the damn notesangry

I get a strong feeling our school disapproves of working mothers too.

steppemum Thu 20-Sep-12 14:18:55

Jenner, what I looked for was in some ways what my kids needed, so would vary according to kids. Some are a bit vague, and almost appear to contradict:

atmosphere - lively, interesting, creative, fun, was there art work on the walls (and hanging form the ceiling) was there a buzz
discipline - teachers in charge, dealt with misbehaviour, high expectations in terms of politness etc
differentiation - my kids are bright. I wanted somewhere that showed me how they differentiated the work to accomodate different abilities in the class, what did they have in place for gifted and talented?
acheivement - value academic success, challenge children to aim high, rewards work and effort, what are their sats results?
sport - was there a football club, what other extra curricular activites?
early years - good play based set up, proper outdoor classroom - as opposed to playground - (sand, water, veg plot, outdoor scooters etc)
music - what is on offer can you get individual music lessons (actually not at our school, but their class music is very good)
male teachers? there weren't any but there is a male football coach, and new male teacher just arrived.
multi-cultural and mixed social area - love schools which are a proper mix of real life people.
facilities - school field, hall, places to play etc, nice buildings

I wrote all this down and asked and asked and asked questions, listened to the attitude as well as the answers. Didn't get all of it, but was happy with compromise (eg old building in built up area, but there is a field)

phew, sorry bit long, didn't mean to hijack thread1

JennerOSity Thu 20-Sep-12 14:22:25

Thanks for that Steppemum that will be very helpful to me soon!

As you were... grin

wordfactory Thu 20-Sep-12 14:47:42

OP far more DC are educated privately at secondary level than at primary.

Which means the parents didn't use private on auto pilot.

There are also many families with one in state and another in private, so again no default setting.

People's reasons for using private education are individual and numerous. But many want to put us into a pigeon hole as it's more convenient and less challenging wink

Chandon Thu 20-Sep-12 14:56:49

yes, wordfactory is right.

I moved my kids from state to private...for lots of reasons to do with our individual situation.

One may go to State secondary, and the other to a private school, not decided yet.

It is not about snobbery or anything, but some people have a chip on their shoulder about private schools which is boring to have to deal with.

OP, does it bother you when others send their kids to private school? If so, why?

Chandon Thu 20-Sep-12 14:59:44

actually, this thread so far is decidedly non-chippy! grin, maybe it is me who has a chip on my shoulder about "people who have a chip on their shoulder" (confuses self)

racingheart Thu 20-Sep-12 15:22:58

OP, take a look at the thread in Secondary Education: how do geeks fit in mixed ability classes?

I'm nearly 50 but that post jerked me back to my state secondary with such vividness and I felt a really strong sense of injustice for that lovely girl, so excited at the prospect of her new school, so thwarted by it at the end of day 1. I could have cried for her.

My own experience of state schooling was that I did well on paper, got into Oxford, was celebrated as proof that the (then) new comprehensive system worked. In reality I felt ostracised and shunned by fellow pupils, had to hide my love of learning under a veneer of indifference, got into appallingly lazy work habits, which made a lousy impression on my tutors at Oxford.

I now work in various schools as a visiting tutor and nothing has changed in the last thirty years. This difference is prevalent: in private schools it's cool to succeed. In state schools (grammars aside) it's cool to be mediocre or disruptive.

That sucks. I'm paying. DCs will go to an indie.

scaevola Thu 20-Sep-12 15:27:44

If you are in an area where all likely schools are good, then I see your point.

But if you are in a black hole (as some unlucky London parents are) or if the only school you can be sure of getting a place at is yo-yoing in and out of special measures, then it looks quite different.

So if the assumptions in OP were universally true, then the viewpoint is sensible. As they are not, the picture is far more nuanced.

rabbitstew Thu 20-Sep-12 15:53:30

racingheart - are almost all comprehensives like that? ie places where it is cool to be mediocre or disruptive? Because comments like that worry me - I seldom hear parents whose children actually go to the local comprehensive make comments like that. Are they deluding themselves when they think the school cares for their children and encourages them to work hard and that the children respond to that positively? Or do they have poverty of expectation to such an extent that they are actually glorying in mediocrity without realising it? And do all the children going to good universities from there only do it under a hail of bullying? I could agree that more children who go there could aim for the very top (although some do spectacularly well), maybe because they do not get the level of focused attention and pressure that they would get in private schools and from having different parents, but I get the impression this is a result of lack of confidence/self-belief rather than lack of desire or fear of other children's reactions. How can I tell the difference when I go to look around?

Ormiriathomimus Thu 20-Sep-12 15:56:07

I don't have normal children. Mine are all freaks. But they are doing OK. I think.

rabbitstew Thu 20-Sep-12 16:15:59

grin. State educated freaks or privately educated freaks?

LeBFG Thu 20-Sep-12 16:22:51

My parents were, and still are, under the impression that my secondary school was great. It got me results - they, and I, loved individual teachers, but I have to agree with racingheart. I definately was an oddball and had to put up with a lot of shit. I really hated school and became a geek to avoid/reject reality a bit I think.

For better or worse, I suppose it's also forged my character. I'm determined to succeed when the chips are down, but on the flip side, I am (certainly was in my twenties) terribly insecure about my own abilities and likely to hide behind a bushel (which some people take as being insincere or aloof). I was quiet as a child but I think the school had the effect of enhancing my naturally introverted character. Time has taken the edge off these flaws but it's clear those teenage years play an important role in developing characters we take into adulthood.

webwiz Thu 20-Sep-12 16:23:52

Slightly ridiculous generalisation racingheart it is certainly not cool to be mediocre or disruptive at my DCs school or any of the other excellent state schools in the town that I live in (have friends with high achieving DCs in them).

There are some excellent state schools and some very ropey ones but you can't just lump them all together.

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