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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?

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 16:33:57

beatback I absolutely assure you that I am not denigrating certain A-level subjects/courses.

I am simply sharing advice with which I have been provided by my DC's schools. The parents have been provided with lists of subjects not to study if a student wishes to apply to Oxbridge. Those lists are not something that I have conjured up from my own prejudices or anything. The list I posted was published by Cambridge University! Many other highly selective universities have done the same - I think LSE have also published a similar list.

If your child had aspirations to get into a very good university, surely you would want them to have that information before starting their A levels? Why would you want your child to be disadvantaged?

Xenia Thu 18-Jul-13 15:51:45

The advantage for people like mam today is you can go on the websites of the top 20 schools and look at the A levels their children are dong and GCSE and which universities they go to and copy them as long the teaching in the local comp is up to that and offers those subjects which it ought to be. In the old days it was harder to get round what the school said.

mam29 Thu 18-Jul-13 10:45:29

interesting how this thread evolves.

i was woefully advised on gcse and 6th form options.

I wish I had not done gcse geography or business studies.
I loved history, back then had to do one language which was french.

depending on what seniors sets you were you were limited anyways

so only top sets english would sit gcse lit paper.

bottom groups science only did single award.

My school did not offer tripe award scinece

bottom groups others subjects did foundation gcse so highest grade could get was a c or a d.

langauges everyone in year 7 did a language if they did well they got to do 2nd language year 8/9 but dont remmeber anyone in my yar doing to language gcses.

Our career advisor as useless.

my french teacher predicted me a 5 i got a c with private tutoring.

at 6th form really messed up school ssaid gnvq advanced be better option for me than a levels. equivialnt to 2 but it was so boring and so much coursework. combined with part time job groing up single parent family i often felt like it was wrong then i applied for unis.

all i could get on was hnc. offers were distinction which was hard to get and a level offers would have been dd or ee.

so i went fe college and started doing 3 a levels in ayear as well as working. i chose hisotory but that was cancelled due to low numbers tried to teach it myself and sat exam but dident do well think i got a e.

I dis a level sociology and law and enjoyed both and did well and did uni degree bsc in in business and legal studies.

I was uite arty and creative so shame I dident pick art at gcse and a level as would have loved it.

my ex went to private boys school he did fail to get into oxford but did get into russel group.

he did sports on sat, duke endingbough, greek, latin, school trips to greece, triple sciences , adavnced maths paper.

I think private seniors maybe less fixated with league tables and offering gcse equivilants to boost their results however its long way off ad they forever changing things.

so if no good local school nearby that can get into
working parent and private makes life easier why not.

Phineyj Wed 17-Jul-13 21:11:09

Reastie yes it is because each decision you make leads to a load of knock on effects. Our DD isn't even one yet, but I think the situation here will be worse not better in 3 years.

I was really shaken by the tale of the MNetter near us who applied for 6 schools in walking distance and wasn't offered a place at all. We are walking distance from one!

I do agree with the people who say it's good for kids to meet a wide variety of others as they would in the "local" school (realistically though, 5 year old DC aren't going to play much with friends several miles away). On the other hand it's good to think about how to keep options open at 11.

Xenia Wed 17-Jul-13 18:55:31

I don't think anyone is being snobbish. We are just saying for certain universities and careers you need certain A levels. That does not mean that Jimmy who wants to leave school at 16 to work with metal is worse or wrong to concentrate on his metalwork GCSE. Remember 50% of UK children do not pass 5 good GCSEs at C grade or above. Those 50% need fairly easy GCSEs and to feel they can shine at something. The average UK IQ is only 100. Lots of people are below that.

However what I do support is knowledge and ensuring schools and parents realise what you need to achieve XYZ. I often come across cases of students who just did not know that ABC A level is useless for their proposed career or if they go to XYZ ex poly they will not make it in the career they want etc etc Giving that information to people who don't have it is sensible.

On the thread, I was lucky enough to make a career choice which has meant I could pay 5 sets of university and school fees from age 3 to about 21 or 23 for the children. This is a lesson for many women who do not pick careers which means they end up short of money.

Reastie Wed 17-Jul-13 18:31:43

It's a tough decision isn't ir phineyj

Phineyj Wed 17-Jul-13 16:25:00

Also I teach a Russell Group 'facilitating' subject that is related to one on the not so academic list, and there is no comparison between the level of challenge of the subjects. In fact, it makes quite a handy test of school sixth forms to see which they offer!

Phineyj Wed 17-Jul-13 16:22:50

Back to the topic slightly...

OP, thank you for posting this thread as I have been pondering similar issues. I would like my DD to go to a local primary but the increase in the birth rate is so massive here and people are moving into our part of London from other boroughs due to the benefits cap. Realistically, DD has no better than a 50% chance of getting into a local school - more likely to be in a portacabin on the playground of a hastily extended school some miles away. We are not religious, which rules out a number of options.

The only way to be sure of a genuinely local school here is to pay, at the moment. That has got me thinking about the other differences, which include more music and sport, preparation for selective secondaries and wrap around childcare (ironically, as DH and I are both teachers we can't easily drop off and pick up DD and keep our jobs).

The private primary schools round here cost the same as 3 days' nursery on an annual comparison basis.

I would love to have a genuine choice of good state schools we could walk to - who wouldn't? But in reality this does not exist in many places.

As a secondary teacher I think primary and sixth form are the best age ranges to pay for - the first for the reasons I've listed above (if they don't apply, state primary is fine obviously) and sixth form if the subjects on offer, support and encouragement will be greater. Mind you, grammar for sixth form can be a good option - it's somewhat easier to get in at 16 than 11.

rob99 Wed 17-Jul-13 12:45:06

A teacher using the "F" word on a social website.....what have standards come to ?

wordfactory Tue 16-Jul-13 21:54:19

beatback no one is denigrating certain subjects/courses.

We are simply saying that they are not the apporporiate ones if a student wishes to apply to Oxbridge (and indeed many other highly selective universities).

Pretending that aint so serves only to give those students the wrong impression. And quite frankly, that's not fair!

Tasmania Tue 16-Jul-13 19:58:51

It is very sad that some subjects or even variations of the same subject are considered less or more rigorous and more worthy than other subjects. This is the kind of academic snobbery that has made going to university essential for kids today and has made it almost impossible for people who are not graduates to advance in to senior management postions, despite in many cases being far more capable than the graduates.

Blame the Labour government. For some stupidly unknown reason, they wanted to push the youth into uni. Not everyone has the ability to go through rigorous academic study though, and hence, the sudden rise of Mickey Mouse courses at uni (incl. Media Studies).

Before this, easy and useless Mickey Mouse courses did not exist, and hence a smaller amount of people went to university. But because it was a relatively small cohort that did go to uni, those who didn't also had good chances to rise up in a company based on ability.

Nothing against courses in media, etc. - in the US, some Californian universities are terrific in teaching courses in Film, TV, etc. But they also have the background, and better exit opportunities.

beatback Tue 16-Jul-13 16:23:19

It is very sad that some subjects or even variations of the same subject are considered less or more rigorous and more worthy than other subjects. This is the kind of academic snobbery that has made going to university essential for kids today and has made it almost impossible for people who are not graduates to advance in to senior management postions, despite in many cases being far more capable than the graduates. This is one of the reasons many parents make huge sacrifices to send kids to either private schools or grammar schools.If your DC"s future options were not a case of of a 50k debt but chance of a career and a future or no debt but a maximum wage of £300 pw then this would not be a relevant subject. The reality is this is going to get worse within time. I would love people to be able to get to the top with abilty not just academic qualifactions. The future though looks like that will be almost impossible for the 60%to 70% who will not have a degree. that is why i feel that it is the parents responsibilty if possible to do their best in putting their child in to the best education available but please stop denigrating certain subjects.

MaryKatharine Tue 16-Jul-13 15:30:09

Oh FFS, how ridiculous! What on earth has being lady like got to do with anything? You have been rude and nasty about both lawyers and teachers then you criticise me about a post laughing about how DH isn't just a lawyer but gives legal advice to the bank. You have a massive chip on your shoulder which really is petty.

As for the debate, well I think English language is rightly compulsory to GCSE to (try to) ensure a basic standard across the board. Even at GCSE is it lessrigorous than Eng lit so how can it possibly be as rigorous at Alevel?

rob99 Tue 16-Jul-13 14:29:32

If nothing else, some schools are character building. My best subject was art but I could only concentrate in complete peace and quiet. I did all my work at home and submitted it all for the mock exam where my art teacher gave me a B. 3 months later for the exam proper, the same art teacher gave me an E for the same exhibition of work plus another 3 or 4 pieces that I'd added. I'm guessing he thought it wasn't my work but decided to use the exam proper to let me know his thoughts !

My worst subject was English Lit. I consistently achieved the worst marks for homework in the whole class....partly because I couldn't be arsed and partly because it might as well had been in Chinese. I decided to buck the trend and make a real effort in my neatest handwriting.....I didn't get my homework handed back to me. When I asked the teacher where my homework was, she said she had ripped it up and thrown it away because somebody else had obviously written it. Go figure.

The moral of the story is..........teachers pigeon hole pupils and nowt will change their opinion.

Pyrrah Tue 16-Jul-13 14:05:50

Another thing that is worth mentioning is that you don't actually need Art & Design A Level to go to Art College.

I did 4 academic A Levels and put together a portfolio in my spare time - the art teacher was hopping mad when I got a place at a very good college to do Foundation Art in my Gap Year (probably because 3 of his students failed to get a place and the HT had him over his desk because of it) and demanded that I bring in my portfolio in to prove that it was actually my work!

The college said it was nice to have students who hadn't been taught bad habits... whatever that meant!

Pyrrah Tue 16-Jul-13 14:01:10

I wouldn't call Ancient History an easy option A Level at all - or at least it wasn't when I did it many eons ago. There is a Classical Civilisations one that is likely to feature on the Cambridge List.

There also used to be a fantastic A Level called 'Social Biology' which no longer exists. It would probably have been better if it had not had the word Biology in the title as it made it sound like an easier option rather than just being 'different'. I was the last year to take the subject - I would have described it as a cross between Biology/Zoology/Paleontology.

Since I was applying to read Arch & Anth my choices of Latin, Anc. Hist and Soc. Bio were pretty ideal. Certainly none of the universities that offered the subject (including Cambridge) turned their noses up at them.

However, A Levels have changed beyond all recognition so I don't have a clue what they're like now in terms of content.

I have seen kids be very poorly advised in terms of A Level choices, but if you know what you want to study then it's really not very impressive if you fail to look up the matric requirements for the course you want at the type of universities you want.

I think there is a lot of be said for doing something like History at uni and then a Law conversion course rather than law all the way through...

beatback Tue 16-Jul-13 12:43:10

Rob99. I agree with you there seems to be academic snobbery going on here i have only basic vocational qualifacations. This due to being badly let down at school and some posters on here think if you dont have a masters degree you are unable to add anything to a debate. you are looked upon as a bit dim without a university education. I dont think most of the posters repersent real life and i know many people from some of the wealthiest people to people doing basic miniumun pay jobs. the views and perceptions of a lot of posters are totally out of step with the vast majority of even "POSH PEOPLE" within this country.

wordfactory Tue 16-Jul-13 12:23:58

I think there is that mrbuttercat. I think there is also vested interest. The head of Food Technology is unlikely to play it down. And nor is the HT who decided to offer such subjects and employ staff. There is also genuine ignorance. Some teachers are bafflingly underinformed. There is also politicking of course.

rob99 Tue 16-Jul-13 11:08:36

Oh rob99, not only is DH a lawyer but he works for a large bank in the city advising them how 'just' to stay within the lines. What can I say!

I think adults who spend all day long with kids.....invariably start to act and talk like them ! It's not very becoming of a lady and a teacher and a human being to say something like that.

MrButtercat Tue 16-Jul-13 09:34:48

School then looks better on paper.

MrButtercat Tue 16-Jul-13 09:34:23

Hmmm I wonder if it's due to data and Ofsted pressure.

If kids do easier exams you get higher pass rates.

wordfactory Tue 16-Jul-13 06:37:50

Quick example: there is currently a thread about whether English Language A level is considered as rigorous as English Literature.

The short answer is no. It is not.

But you'll see people arguing black is white on that thread. Apparently that is a snobby and elitist thing to say.

Is there any wonder pupils and their parents can get confused?

wordfactory Tue 16-Jul-13 06:32:30

Mrbuttercat you would be shocked just how many bright pupils take the wrong subjects.

You'd also be shocked at how many get no advice on this from their schools. Or indeed, how many teachers there are advising pupils that these guideleines are elitist and old fashioned. That A level Media Studies is perfectly equivalent to, say, physics!

There are some posters (teachers) who argue this all the time on MN.

And yes, an A level in law is not too useful in this context, unless it's a fourth or fifth A level. And then one might ask why they bothered. Why not do somehting more interesting with their time wink.

MrButtercat Mon 15-Jul-13 21:27:36

I don't think people did it instead of anything but as an easy 4th A level if you were already doing Classics.

MaryKatharine Mon 15-Jul-13 21:26:26

Oh rob99, not only is DH a lawyer but he works for a large bank in the city advising them how 'just' to stay within the lines. What can I say! grin

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