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Please help me to choose a school - state v private I'm afraid

(131 Posts)
clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:59:22

I know it's been done to death and I've read loads of old threads, but am still struggling to make a decision and now only have one week before accepting a place at the independent school and paying a hefty deposit.

DS has been offered a place at our local independent school - it seems to be well regarded (top 50) and is academically selective. It has great facilities, great results, lots of extra curricular stuff etc but he would have a longish commute (car journey to neighbouring village where he can catch the school bus, an hour door to door).

This would be an easier decision if our catchment state school wasn't also very well regarded - Ofsted outstanding, top 250, also great facilities, and obviously free.

The reason we looked at the indie is because DD1 and DD2 are at the state school and, despite the pr, there are lots of things that we aren't happy about - having said that, they're both doing well.

We could afford the fees easily, and would not have to sacrifice holidays or anything like that, but obviously don't want to waste money - I have no doubt at all that the indie is better than the state option, but remain unconvinced that it is better enough iyswim.

I'm going round in circles and would welcome any views.

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 11:46:19

clevername678, this is my own perspective - but still.

Something compelled you to get the DS to sit the exam/assessment for the selective school. Something went right with the stars for your DS to get accepted. And lastly, something is still bothering you to the extent that you can't make a decision in a situation of your own making.

Personally I think that you know which option is better - but you get distracted by the "pros" for the state school - such as, it does have outstanding ofsted so that must be worth something, right? Well, don't be distracted. If you sensed that your DS was not achieving in his current school then you were probably right.

I was in a similar situation a few months back - DS in an oustanding-rated state school, offer from an independent school and really bad hesitation on my part as to what the hell do I do now?! Our indie was mostly well regarded but didn't have great facilities so apart from class sizes and the proverbial private school "je ne sais quoi" I couldn't really rationalise moving him from the school he loved and where I believed he was achieving well. Now I regret it bitterly - so bitterly it's doing my head in. He will go private next year but now he will have to sit the actual exam so it will be more difficult to get in.

Anyway, that's just my experience and my musings. Good luck with your choice.

Timetoask Mon 11-Feb-13 11:52:27

You go to school to get an education for the future.
For a minute put to one side the bus journey and money (which luckily is of no impact for you), now ask yourself "where will he get a better education?"

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 11:54:46

Do you plan to move the other two? And how do they feel about it?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:30:01

I know he will get a better education at the private school...but can't stop thinking that he will get a good enough education at the state school, it seems to suit the vast majority of local children just fine.

In all likelihood, he will achieve similar end results wherever he goes, with parental support and tutoring if it becomes necessary.

The state school is the sort that people lie, cheat and move house to get into...I can't believe I am on the brink of giving it up, and paying lots of money for the privilege!

But but but..I left it up to fate and said we'd send him to the indie if he passed, and he has...and it is really great, it's a fantastic opportunity for him [begins another lengthy circuitous argument]

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 12:39:42

One important question to you: if you genuinely think that he will achieve similar end results wherever he goes what made you consider private in the first place?

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 12:39:42

And think of all that lovely money you could spend on all of you!

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 12:55:09

Ah you see I read Brandis's comment and thought 'you're right, I'm not happy with the state school and he can do much better elsewhere...exam results are not the important thing here!' but then I read Seeker's comment and am back to square one.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 11-Feb-13 12:57:13

An hour is nothing. The dc commute 45 mins for prep and we never feel they miss out.

SocietyClowns Mon 11-Feb-13 13:00:23

Please do it. My parents had a similar dilemma and I pushed for my younger brother to go at 11 because it was the right school for him. I made the change at 15 and was 'eaten alive' from 11 to 15.
The bus journey is no problem.

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 13:02:01

If he has a place and you can afford it, it's surely a no-brainer.

I would not settle for 'good enough' if there were a better alternative, especially for a child who would be 'eaten alive' at the local school. I only have experience of private schools (DH and I went to them for our entire school lives, as do our DC) and they are by no means uniformly brilliant - but the overall experience is excellent. If it were just 'good enough', we wouldn't be paying.

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 13:04:12

Ok I know I am biased here - but you do say that you can afford the fees easily. What's money for after all?

On this web-site, I read a very useful advice which I wish I'd come across before: "Don't make yourself decide long-term, take it term by term, year by year. Assess the situation as you go. In the end of DS' first year at the new school ask yourself - how has it been? Has it lived up to expectations? And then you can re-evaluate again, if you have to". But chances are, you will be much more sure either way, after you've tried it. I understand you don't have any experience of private schools for your children? Then the only way you can avoid "what ifs" is to give it a try.

Damn, why wasn't I so clever when it was turn to make this decision! smile

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:06:58

"especially for a child who would be 'eaten alive' at the local school."

He won't be, you know.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:09:00

Now this is more like it...four comments in a row, all urging me to do it!

It's surely wrong that I am placing my child's future happiness and educational attainment in the hands of MN strangers, but somehow it is helping thanks

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:09:34

Gah x-post seeker, whyyy????

brandis Mon 11-Feb-13 13:10:42

Send me DS's school bill if it doesn''t work out for him. ;)

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:12:37

Because you've already said it's an excellent school, his big sisters are there, presumably most of his friends are going there...why on earth should he be "eaten alive" there?

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:13:32

Brilliant, a money-back guarantee from brandis, that's the sort of certainty I need grin

lopsided Mon 11-Feb-13 13:14:09

I commuted for 50 mins as a school child. It was a waste of time. If at all possible I will not inflict that on my kids.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:14:57

No seeker the plaintive 'whyyy????' was me bemoaning the fact that you'd spoiled the run of replies telling me what I wanted to hear, I am not questioning your logic at all.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:17:55


I suppose if I were you my main concern is what happens if your other two throw it in your face that you paid for their brother but not them......

Oh, and all that lovely money to spend on lovely things too.

Thewhingingdefective Mon 11-Feb-13 13:26:13

You have a lovely free school on your doorstep where two of your children are happy and doing well. If there are things you are not entirely happy with, get on the board of governors. There are no guarantees that the fee-paying school comes without its problems too.

BookWormery Mon 11-Feb-13 13:28:12

Two hours travelling a day?! shock

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 13:31:49

Oh, and one thing people don't take into consideration when they think about commuting to school is their social life. My dd goes to school 15 miles away- her best friend lives 20 miles further away from us, and the public transport is ....variable. And incredibly expensive. Ifthey want to see each other at weekends or in the holidays it's logistical nightmare.

JoanByers Mon 11-Feb-13 13:51:54

What are the actual schools you are talking about here?

I think a lot of questions depend on that.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 13:56:17

What do you want to know joan? Thought I'd said enough about the two different schools tbh.

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