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Can anyone answer a few questions about private schooling please?

(95 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 07:17:05

Is it better to school privately from the word go, or if there are decent primary school places available - do those early years make much difference? The school I'm considering is from 4-16 which really appeals to me for DC, seems to me they'd be more settled etc.

How much should I calculate on spending over and above basic fees? I can work out the food and uniform but what else is there to consider?

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 12:45:28

Hardboiled a good prep will offer loads more than even an outstanding highly sort after state primary. My DS was offered a place in yr 3 at one of those but even the exceedingly ambitious head admitted he couldn't compete with an outstanding prep. At prep my DS had specialist teachers in all subjects from yr 3 and specialised classrooms labs, music rooms etc, art room DT dept the so tedious literacy numeracy hour is gone instead a proper time table five lessons of French a week, four of Latin, seperate history with history teacher ditto geog sciences all taught seperately games five afternoons a week setting ( or is it streaming au get confused). Oh and lets bot forget no sats. No primary can compete with this. I'm not actully saying its essential but top preps are in a different league In terms of what they offer to any primary.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 12:57:32

Hardboiled I agree, if you have a good primary great, if you don't, then those early years are really important for a good foundation in how to learn and your view of school in the future.

The wrong school can actually hinder rather than help learning. The difficulty of course is that if it is your first child at school, you don't know about all this stuff and what the school is really like. Outstanding means diddly squat, just that they have ticked all the boxes.

OP. you have to really go with how your gut feel about a school, ideally speak to the parents locally and any you know at the private one.

As others said, there are good and bad both private and state.

Happy, I don't worry anymore, because we have the right school, I do worry for the other kids at her old school, whose parents are worried about progress and behaviour, but haven't got the option that we had sad

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 12:59:56

Personally, I think those primary years are so important.

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 13:38:17

I don't doubt that at a good primary most children can learn all the necessary basics reading writing math etc but at a good prep children receive a much broader education. IMO many boys are turned off education and I believe one of the reasons is the narrowness of education in the UK and the obsession with teaching to the requirements of Sats especially in yr 6. I also think the ability to stream/set/seperate lessons rather than just seperate ability by table is essential even at an early age for the top 1-2 % and of course those who are even more able. Obviously primary schools through no fault of their own cannot do this. I also like the greater emphasis/opportunity to participate n games/ other sports at top prep. None of these things may have a direct influence on results at 18 or which uni your child attends but just provides them with a broader and hopefully more interesting education just for the sake of it. Of course top preps charge accordingly many day preps offering this kind I
of education are now coming in at over £5000 so sadly putting them out of the reach of most people.

rabbitstew Fri 29-Mar-13 14:01:03

But happygardening, you have described lots of academics and sport at your ds's prep - Latin, history, geography, science, French. And mentioned in passing art, DT and music rooms. If the children are doing so much French and Latin, not to mention formal science lessons, when are they fitting in the music, art and DT? Maybe an example timetable of a typical week would be helpful, so that people can understand how it is all structured, how long the days are, how many days a week they are in school, how much is paid for in the fees and how much costs extra?

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 14:13:20

Rabbit school 5 1/2 day a week day children there till at least 5 30 just looked up current day fees £5500 per term.
As I've already said not doable for most people but I dont understand why school has to finish in the majority of cases at 3 30 or why children cant have specialised teachers classrooms and a MFL taught daily (from reception if I ruled the world). If it appeared that I mentioned in passing music art etc it was unintentional. I think rabbit that the depth subjects like geography are studied at many top preps children find very enjoyable also the way science is taught my DS's were using buncen burners and cutting up rats in yr 3 and best of all reinacting history some battle and chemistry; lots of explosion. They used to love it.

Xenia Fri 29-Mar-13 15:37:53

They seem to fit it all in in prep schools reasonably well. The days ends once they are at the upper end of the school around 4pm. Our local comp spews out its pupils (11% of whom obtain 5 good GCSEs) at 3 every day on the dot. Something sporting every day too.

Loads of music. Mine could get 2 grade 7s or 8 by age 12 even and music scholarships. This is important. Why can a prep school sing very difficult music which takes hours of practice in Latin - wonderful wonderful stuff which will be with them for life when the local primaries think the children so thick and useless they can at best hit a drum and sing "wheels on a bus"? There is not cost in imposing high standards.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 16:48:45

DDs timetable

845-9.15. Reading

915-1015. Mon - Swim. Tues/weds/thurs - Maths. Fri - English

1015-1030. Assembly/house assembly

1030-1045 Break

1050-12.15. Mon - Maths. Tues - ICT/Music. Weds - Sci. Thurs - Eng. Fri - French/PE

12.15-1.10. Lunch and lots of clubs - choir, netball, computer,drama

1.15-2.15. Mon - English. Tues - hockey/Eng. Weds - Art/DTThurs - Sports Hall. Fri - Maths

2.15-2.25. Break

2.30-3.30. Mon - History/Geog. Tues - Eng. Weds - Art/form time. Thurs - History/Geog. Fri - RE/PHSE.

So they do an hour of maths everyday. An hour of English four days. Sports of some sort three times a week and it is 'proper sports' netball hockey athletics. They don't do much ICT in Year 3, this and science ups a gear next year, but they do have specialist teachers and a lab to work in for science. They also have a Science Club after school, which most of the juniors go to, so they have four groups.

I am a training to be a TA at a local state school, a very good one, outstanding, with high achievers, but it is a world away from what dd is getting (but I keep quiet about it!)

titchy Fri 29-Mar-13 17:40:59

Good of you to admit 'none of those things may influence their results or university at 18, but will provide a broad education for its own sake'. I'm all in favour of a broad education for its own sake, but quarter of a million is a very high price to pay!!!!

Laura0806 Fri 29-Mar-13 18:17:03

I moved mine out of independent because I though they weren't learning some very important skills such as how to mix with a wide cross section of society and basic values . To me thats far more important than extra PE and Latin! I think it all depends on how you see it but I think the ability to mix with all the different people in life is key and mine certainly weren't getting that in private school, plus ( and it could have been unique to me) the snobbisnish and competitiveness from some parents was just unnecessary. children are children, I am pleased I am now letting them grow up in their communities and be children without cramming in extra this and that. There is a lifetime of that ahead of them. If I were you I wouldstart in a state primary and then see how you go from there

FernandoIsFaster Fri 29-Mar-13 18:40:05

I don't want to put a downer on the thread op and for what it's worth we are not fabulously well off by any means and are considering privately educating our dd.
But, I was one of the poorer children at my private school (I had an assisted place in the days when they existed) and I know that it shouldn't matter but kids can be really cruel. As an adult I would certainly say 'fuck you' to anyone who judged me on the basis of finances, but when you are 11 and constantly aware of being the odd one out and having to say no to some trips, extra lessons etc it can have a negative effect.
On the other hand, it made me bloody determined not to feel like that as an adult and has driven me to have a good career so it can be character building.
Obviously I don't know what your financial situation is and it may be a lovely bunch of kids who wouldn't dream of teasing someone about The size of their house but just be aware that it can happen and your child may need a little bolstering to be able to brush it off.
Good luck in your decision either way, it's a tough one!

Xenia Sat 30-Mar-13 08:21:16

I don';t think all private schools are like F's though. At my twins there is one away school trip a year and it free as they want to make sure everyone goes - presumably the school fees are a little higher than they otherwise might to cover it. I think were ski trips but mine (silly things) chose not to go. I suspect it depends where you live. In busy towns like London you get heaps and heaps of different types of families some pretty working class backgrounds, taxi drivers etcs, lots of Asian families who thnk education is all and pool 5 adults' money to fund one private school place, a few very very bright children on full bursaries, children of teachers working all hours to fund the place and a few like me who fairly easily can afford them but are not kind of ostentatious rich in any sense. The schools tend to be very academically able ( think Manchester grammar) and not really posh particularly at all.

Then you get what tend to be country boarding schools in very wealthy areas with some day places perhaps not quite so good academically, slightly lower exam results, may be slightly thicker children who perhaps due to lower IQs tend to see other children as rich or poor and make a big deal that their parents drive some stupid showy car.

I don't think you can generalise.

Laura's points are interesting as I found the private prep schools very very good at teaching values. I never pay for exam results. I pay for the wider education and the value system, the treating all others whoever they are as you can to be treated and I don't think private schools are any worse and often are better than state schools at the value things. Mixing with many others - well in the private schools here you get more of that as the ethnic mixing is in the private sector. In the state sector there is much less of it - loc C of E primary is almost 100% white, local other state primary almost 100% black. You get the mixing in the private schools as entry is colour blind and based on IQ and IQ crosses all colours and religions.

newgirl Sat 30-Mar-13 08:33:17

Hmm I think financial disparity between families is very noticeable to teens and their parents. In my experience tbe richer families tend to hang out together.

And it's not just about ski trips - there are costs to play away matches for all sports which can really add up - it's easy to say no to skiing but not for swimming, netball etc!

Of course if you don't have a good state schoo then you need to go private but go in w your eyes open

SanityClause Sat 30-Mar-13 08:34:01

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned the timing of getting a child into private school, if they have to sit tests.

In my experience, there is a much better chance of getting into a school in a larger intake, than a smaller one. So, for example, at the school my DDs went to, there was a main intake at 4, (and then again at 11) but a smaller intake at 7. There is more competition for the 8 places at 7 years, than for the 40 at 4 years.

Competition for any casual places is quite fierce.

Obviously, if there is no competition for places at the school you are looking at, this is not a problem. (But I would ask myself why there is no competition.)

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 09:11:47

Laura - My DCs' friends at their primary school was predominantly white lower MC.

At their private secondary their friends are obviously 'comfortable' but they include Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, African, European, English and one American.

I struggle to understand the argument that children get to mix with more different types of people at a state school.

Your complaint seem to be that you aren't that academically pushy and that you or your child didn't therefore fit in. If that is the case then your beef is with selective schools and not with private schools. And it doesn't mean that the OP won't like private schools.

Madsometimes Sat 30-Mar-13 10:03:21

Dd1 went to a state primary and is at an independent secondary, slightly selective, but not hugely so. She is bright and creative, but not very very clever, and her school suits her well.

Some people my family would say that if she doesn't get into Oxbridge, then we have wasted our money. I disagree, we pay for the rounded education, not for exam results.

Dd2 is a different child altogether. She is clever, and will do well where ever she goes. She also doesn't care what other people think. She will probably go to dd1's school, but we will look at a variety of others too (she's in Y5 now).

In terms of extras for dd1, there are very little. Lunches, and about 4 day trips per year to local places for subject enrichment. There was a PGL trip in Y7, and one in Y8, about £200 each. Dd1 will be going to Italy in Y9, which will cost £500. Most people go to the PGL. A lot will go to Italy, but not everyone. There are also ski trips etc, but dd1 is not interested in these - she doesn't like the cold. Most children do not go on these. She was also offered a trip to China and to Iceland, but very few are going to these places.

happygardening Sat 30-Mar-13 10:10:28

Titchy I dont need to "admit" it I've always said it the only thing re: university entry is that some (a small minority) are very very geared up for entrance into the ivy League and if you are seriously considering this them its a factor to consider. But I appreciate that most people aren't.

MoreBeta Sat 30-Mar-13 10:17:50

My children have been at private school all their school lives. However, there are rubbish Prep schools that trade off parents fears and hint that they alone can get your child into the private secondary schools. It isnt true.

My children now go a to a good but not super selective or super expensive private school and they take a very good cohort from local Primary schools at 11+ (Yr 7 entry). I really could not be happier and frankly leaving them in a good Primary (like I was before I went to private boarding school) is not a bad thing at all. You might need to do some additional support at home with reading, writing and maths but as long as you not aiming at the insanely selective private schools in London/South East or need to achieve scholarship level exam results a good well educated Prinary school child will do well at a good private secondary.

Private school is not cheap though and dont imagine there will be bursaries on offer or you child will be scholarship standard. It really is quite unlikely.

For a good quality private secondary day school you should be expecting £5,000 a term for all costs including uniform, meals, trips and other incidentals. For boarding school you can double that fee.

purples Sat 30-Mar-13 11:14:49

I looked at the private option for my 2 children and decided that private does not actually mean the best teaching.
The private schools I looked at did offer the option of better after-school clubs sport clubs (and for instance my children are not so good at tennis). However looking round my area, I was able to get them into a state primary which is rated outstanding by Ofsted. The teaching at this state primary is excellent, both had music lesson there etc. This was considerably cheaper than the private route.
But the big problem was that state schools do not gear the teaching towards 11 plus or entrance exams, they are interested in the SAT exams which are much later in the year and cover a slightly different curriculum. So both my children had 1 hour a week private teaching (first child had 1 year of tuition, second child 18 months tuition). Both passed the 11 plus and have places at super-selective grammar schools.
Had the local state primary not been so good, I would have opted for a private primary and tried at that point for the grammar route. The local secondary private schools are reasonably good, but the academic teaching level is nowhere near the level of the super-selective grammar school.

happygardening Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:12

I never buy into this if you pay your children don't mix with a broad cross section of children. DS1 goes to a high performing acadamy in a exceedingly wealthy rural area 95% are white MC. DS2 at his boarding school comes into contact with boys from so many different countries ok middle class upper middle class aristrocracy and the super rich but still significany broader that DS1 state.
We've been in boarding education for 9 yrs and many parents have been Sunday Times rich listers aristocracy etc etc we've never found it a problem that we are one of the poorest in the school neither has my DS.

Elibean Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:31

I loathe rush and hurry in early years, personally - based on knowledge of child development as well as personal preference - so would avoid that in either sector.

I think it does depend an awful lot on a) the schools available in each sector and b) the child/family, too.

Well supported, reasonably bright children in good state school - absolutely fine! And lots of kids move to private schools at 7+ and 11+ from dds' state primary (London), without masses of extra tuition. Most have a year of tutoring in NV/VR as school doesn't prepare for it, but that's it.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sat 30-Mar-13 11:43:58

I have a dd in year 4 who has been at a local prep school for girls since she was nearly 4 and her younger sister will be starting reception there this year.

Both of my girls have bursaries so that is something to consider asking the bursar about.

The issue I have with state schools is that our local primaries only seem interested in the most clever, advanced children and are quick to write off young, reception aged children as low ability (this is currently happening to my friend's dd who is in an outstanding primary school and is August born), just because they are slower to read or something. My older dd was one of the last to learn to read in her class and could not read ORT in reception, but at her current school she was never written off and they only had positive things to say about her. Now in year 4 she's working at level 4b. She has also really blossomed socially and emotionally and loves doing her speech and drama classes and exams. My younger dd is also a late bloomer and I think she will do much better in a small class.

The teaching is not necessarily better in a private school but because the class sizes are small the teachers have more time for the children and to nurture their individual strengths.

That said, there is one particular private school near me that I wouldn't dream of sending my dds to because I don't think it would suit them.

Xenia Sat 30-Mar-13 12:13:07

On extras it must depend on the school then. I think one of mine was just about the best at most sports certainly by sixth form - she won some sort of cup to that effect so was in loads and loads of sports and I don't remember any costs at all. The school transported the girls to the matches. I would have bought a second hand lacrosse stick and a tennis racket and I suppose a badminton racket but I don't remember huge expenses for sports at all.

Very few go on the exotic trips. I would have loved mine to take all those opportunities and I could have paid for them but they like to ski with their own family, not the school and they never wanted to do to the China type trips. The last one to go on a school sports trip abroad said it was theft of his half term (so not keen).

As someone said above if you can get them into some school at 4 is does take pressure off at 11+ when heaps of state primary school children are competing for places.

Also if as a woman you always work full time then usually you and your other half are paying in the SE about £14k per full time childcare so £25 k - £30 either for 2 or 3 nursery places full time or one nanny at your house. That is about the cost of 2 lots of school fees so when the children turn 4 or 5 and go to full time school the cost is not too noticeable. It is also just about university cost so if like I am they have a full time nanny, then go to day school and then you choose to allow them to graduate debt free the costs are pretty much the same from age 0 - 21 - although that is quite a lot of years of paying of course.

CamillaMacaulay1 Sat 30-Mar-13 12:27:49

The children at our school certainly don't all attend the residential trips. The last one I noticed only half the class went.

titchy Sat 30-Mar-13 12:45:42

State schools have trips abroad too so I don't think you can ever avoid that cost if they want to go!

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