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Private school at primary or secondary - which is the better option?

(370 Posts)
Reastie Mon 01-Jul-13 12:37:25

I live where there's the 11+ in an affluent area where essentially secondary modern/comprehensive schools are mainly people who fail their 11+ and their parents can't afford private education and are generally rough and not very high expectations/behaviour (I work in education in the area at all types of secondary schools so know this).

DD is only tiny but I'm looking at preschools for her and thinking about primary schools (ideally she'd go to the same preschool as primary).

DH and I have accepted that if she fails her 11+ we will pay for her to go to private school. We will be in a better financial position then to pay for it as we will have paid off the mortgage on a second property and have a monthly rental income (we sound better off than we are in that sentence!).

However, talking to people today and looking around various primary/pre schools I'm now wondering whether we aren't better off paying for private school for her primary on the basis they will give her more individualised care and stretch her better so that she will be more likely to pass the 11+ and so go on to grammar school at secondary (and so we spend money now to save money later IYKWIM). There's always the possibility DD still won't pass it but at least we will have done all we can for her to get there and so I'll feel happy that I've done what I can.

I'm not a pushy parent (although realise I probably sound like I am!) I just want the best for DD and want her to flourish as much as possible.

So, are there any thoughts on paying for private primary on the foundations hopefully it will help get DD through the 11+ and give her more of an individualised education? Is this common? It is worthwhile?

poppydoppy Wed 03-Jul-13 13:58:35

Speaking as a private school parent I would keep them in state school, save the money and spend it on tutors then move them at 16 for A levels.

Private schools tell parents what to teach IMO and yes they go to a top prep school.

Reastie Wed 03-Jul-13 14:06:21


Those recommending moving half way through primary - do you think this is disruptive for the child to move school and friends? I would have hated it as a child personally. Also risk not being a place at the school you'd like.

poppy we were thinking of state and then tutors, but then if you're in a class of 12 vs a class of over 30 you're going to achieve so much more at a private school surely?

happygardening Wed 03-Jul-13 14:22:53

Lots move around for a whole variety of reasons, many going to prep that go to 13+ move at yr3/4 if you don't make a big thing out of it neither will your DD.
IME most preps and in fact most senior schools will find a vacancy even the over subscribed London ones. You might have to wait a term but if you put your DD's name down a few terms before you wish her to start Im sure a vacancy will come up in time.

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 14:33:28

If your child is grammar material, she will do fine in a class of 30 and a bit of tutoring for secondary entrance. If she is not grammar material, then you don't want her to go to a grammar school. It's that simple.

A state primary gives a child a realistic view of the society he/she lives in during crucial early years which IMO is as important as exam results. I would keep your money for secondary. That's when extracurriculars become really important.

Reastie Wed 03-Jul-13 14:57:01

Depends on the state primary school though doesn't it split . Our local one the expectation is that you won't pass the 11+ and is going through alot of internal problems. Don't tell me DD going there is just as likely to instil good working ethic with high expectations, confidence and time with teacher/individualised care. I know that in many cases state schools can be great but that's not always the case.

Elibean Wed 03-Jul-13 14:57:12

There are so many generalisations on this tread - always are, on state v private threads - and as usual, I think they are pretty worthless in terms of helping anyone decide what to do.

Individual schools vary hugely, in both sectors. Go and see, OP, and let us know what you discover smile

Chandon Wed 03-Jul-13 16:51:31

Splitbrain, are your children " grammar school material"?

Just wondering as your statement to me is something only parents of kids who got into grammar come out with.

I know kids who were written off by their state schools, then moved pricate or got tutors and were after all able to get into selective secondaries. ( some MNers would say they were tutored beyond their ability)

Some people think intelligence and being academic is set in stone at birth. Me, I believe in education. Good education and make someone of average intelligence do well.

HarumScarum Wed 03-Jul-13 17:07:31

Actually, I think small class sizes are overrated (am the product of a state primary and independent secondary). I think the ideal class size is somewhere between 20 and 25. Smaller is rubbish for friendships and sparking ideas and larger is difficult for the teacher unless they have good support.

I would also save my money and go private at secondary level (or possibly not at all).

splitbrain Wed 03-Jul-13 18:16:18

Yes, I apologise for my post...I am just reacting to the generalised notion that a child has to be in a class of 12 to realise their potential, gain confidence, learn work ethics and develop love of learning. I really think that´s bollocks.

Agree with HarumScarum.

OTOH we were lucky to find a fantastic primary school and I do admit that not all of them are. Apologies again!

Chandon Wed 03-Jul-13 21:28:03

No need to aplogise, you did not say anything bad, I was just wondering.

I moved my oldest DS out of his state school y3 class of 36 (!) to a private school with classes of 20.

If there are state schools with classes of 20-24 kids I'd like to know where! That number is ideal imo, but can't find that in State here

Chandon Wed 03-Jul-13 21:29:38

What I am saying Harum is that a class of 20 IS small,

HarumScarum Wed 03-Jul-13 21:53:48

My daughter goes to a state school in outer London, rated good by Ofsted, is in Y1 and has 23 in her class (recently 24 but one child has moved away).

teacherwith2kids Wed 03-Jul-13 22:07:55

I recently moved from a state school (Good Ofsted) where the largest class was 26 and the smallest 16.

Rural, though. And a somewhat 'exciting' intake, though an increasing number of 'in the know' more mc parents were taking their children out of the 'naice school down the road' (which didn't teach them very much - all transferring children, even those who were said to be 'very bright', were well behind their equivalent classes in my school) to come to ours.

Chandon Wed 03-Jul-13 22:37:29

Is it just country schools that get squeezed then? They mix the years to max the numbers ( including a'ixed year 1,2 and 3). All casses between 30-36

poppydoppy Thu 04-Jul-13 07:05:05

Every single prep school parent I know has a tutor, even in a class of just 12 students. I dont see the point in paying for private and tutors if its a struggle save your money for when their education is important ie 6th form.

bico Thu 04-Jul-13 07:28:28

If you are thinking of private primary rather than prep you need to check whether they actually do prepare for 11+. We are in a grammar school area and some don't prepare for 11+ so you end up paying for tutoring as well as school fees. If you are planning on independent senior school you could choose a prep which traditionally goes to 13 and prepares pupils for common entrance. Ds moved from a private primary to a prep and glad we won't have the bother and stress of preparing for the 11+ which all his old school friends are suffering at the moment. Everyone I know has a tutor booked from the start if year 5 if not earlier and some of those reserved their tutors as long ago as year 2 when they had no real idea whether their dc would be capable of passing.

Dozer Thu 04-Jul-13 07:41:03

No-one has said much about money, but think it's an important factor, if it's going to be tight and secondary modern isn't what you want you might be better saving for secondary, eg in case one of you is off work for some reason or your income is lower than you expect. Fees, longer holidays, uniform etc. All adds up!

My DC are in private primary, we liked the school best and DD2 needs some extra support in the early years, we have a good non selective state secondary nearby. I know a fair few mums with DC doing well in state schools (rated from "outstanding" to "needs improvement") and planning to tutor for the superselectives at 11+.

Reastie Thu 04-Jul-13 08:04:19

bico they say the prepare for 11+ and pride themselves on every student getting their first choice secondary school.

poppy they all have a tutor AS WELL as private school?!!

Dozer if needed we could do private secondary too, although it's preferable to do one and not both! Our financial situation when DD gets into secondary should be much better than it is now.

bico Thu 04-Jul-13 08:39:43

I'd ask how many children in the year on average take the 11+. Saying they all get their first choice secondary is completely meaningless.

happygardening Thu 04-Jul-13 09:35:02

"pride themselves on every student getting their first choice secondary school."
All will say this but this doesn't mean all are entered in for the school you were hoping your DC would go to when you sent them their or even where you hoped they would end up in yr3/4. Most heads will very strongly recommend a future senior school and will actively discourage you from applying to somewhere which is in their view unsuitable and if parents proceed with the application then can be exceedingly unhelpful, outside of the state system references are always required from the head.
A friends prep claims 100% success rate at getting them into St Pauls boys but only the very very best of the best are allowed to go for the pre test your average prep school child quite, bright, cheerful quite sporty, quite musical doesn't even get a look in.
"I'd ask how many children in the year on average take the 11+"
and how many have left before yr 6 although I suspect few will be honest with you about that figure. Alternatively go to the nearest park/playground after school and ask any parent with children already there about the school you'll here mixed things of course but thats a very good way of getting a handle on whats going on.

happygardening Thu 04-Jul-13 09:36:38

"even where you hoped they would end up in yr3/4"
Thats not very clear what i was trying to say will end up at the senior school you were hoping they would go to when they were in yr3/4.

happygardening Thu 04-Jul-13 09:39:28

"Our financial situation when DD gets into secondary should be much better than it is now."
Frankly if you can afford private secondary and prep fees are a push unless you hoping for a scholarship into SPGS or somewhere like that I wouldn't waste my money, employ a tutor nearer the time if necessary.

Reastie Fri 05-Jul-13 15:05:33

OK, so questions to ask them -

What % of pupils are entered into the 11+ on average?
What is the pass rate for all entries on average?
How will DD be settled into nursery? (ie do I go for a session/does she go before the term she starts etc)
Will a place at the nursery lead to a place offered at the primary school?
Are there any additional expected costs to those stated in your literature (e.g. cost of text books etc) and how much should I expect to add to yearly costs?

Is that last one unreasonable/usual to ask?????

happygardening Fri 05-Jul-13 17:09:56

How many leave before yr 6 but I suspect they wont be overly forth coming or truthful coming with that info?
What do those who aren't entered for the Kent test do and and where do they go. Look at the fees schools for "nice children who cant pass the Kent" test don't always come in cheap.
How many scholarships each yr into these schools if its a lot it will be plastered all over their website compare the results with similar near by schools?

goldrunner Fri 05-Jul-13 21:31:10

Primary every time - can't go wrong with a good foundation

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