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My son hasn't even started private school and I am already a nervous freak

(67 Posts)
PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 11:13:21

This September my DS is moving from state to private. My DD will be sitting 7+ exams next January. As things stand, we can afford two private schools on my salary alone.

Private education for my two children has always been my ultimate goal even though our local state schools are supposedly great and both DS and DD have been happy in their schools. But naturally I want the best for them and can't help wondering if they will achieve better in a private system.

Yet, ever since I wrote that cheque confirming our acceptance of DS's place I seem to be on edge all the time. I have a salaried job and some self-employed income and I am terrified at jinxing my good fortune. I am afraid of screwing up at work and risking my job. I fear that I will make a mistake in my freelance project, lose a client and a chunk of income.

And I will have to make the state vs private choice for my DD next year so the troubling thoughts are likely to get worse.

Has anyone experienced the same? How do you reason with yourselves?

dalek Mon 29-Jul-13 11:18:23

If you feel that this is what you want for your children take a deep breath and tell yourself that you will do it for as long as you can - if your circumstances change (and I hope that they will not) then you may have to take the children out of the private school but until then you will do what you believe is the best for them.

All the best to you and your family

dalek Mon 29-Jul-13 11:19:50

This is what we told ourselves when we moved DD (and still tell ourselves). Sadly there are no guarantees with jobs/work etc - you just have to go with what you have today.

encyclogirl Mon 29-Jul-13 11:24:30

Are you me?

DS starts at a fee paying school in September. It is by far and away the best school in our area and we are just delighted to be able to do this for him.

Since I wrote the first cheque I am really nervous though. Lots of our friends were gobsmacked when they found out where we were sending him. Some were a bit hmm about it.

It makes me so jittery. What if we can't sustain it? What if one or both of us lose our jobs?

We have one other dc. She has SN and goes to a special school which is state funded. So we will only ever have one set of fees to find.

We got his uniform at the weekend. He's so excited about going I am terrified of letting him down.

Relieved to see I'm not the only one!!

Ladymuck Mon 29-Jul-13 11:40:04

It may be helpful to think about both children and break down the different stages of education. At each stage we have thought, for each child, what the minimum time commitment should be. We have always tried to have savings earmarked, so that we're not faced with moving a child at a critical point. So for your ds, if starting in year 7, you would want to be able to keep him there until end of Year 8. Then once he starts year 9 you are committed to end of Year 11, then again once he starts 6th form, it is another 2 year commitment.

If you can't earmark the fees until the next obvious moving point, then it is a trickier position overall. You won't be alone, and usually schools will try every thing they can to hold on to pupils. Children are also more resilient than you might think, and they will manage change, especially as they start being old enough to understand that you are not moving them on a whim.

Dontletthemgetyoudown Mon 29-Jul-13 11:45:02

i'm in the same position, my two middle dc start fee paying schools in September to, dd1 will be yr 3 and ds2 will be yr7. I'm incredibly nervous as we are by no means a well off family, and have been fortunate enough to have inherited a trust und specifically for school fees and associated costs. I am worried that the children might not fit in and won't be as well off as other children attending but hopefully I won't matter.

I could afford to send 1dc on my salary alone, so could not have considered it for 4 dc.

My eldest who has just finished gcses looked at some fee paying 6th forms but has decided that the local college offers the courses that he is interested in, so is going to go there instead.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:26:17

Hi encyclogirl, indeed, our circumstances are very similar!

DS's school is not the best (the best has been oversubscribed forever) but is very well regarded. I decided to move him because he will be sitting 11+ exams next January and there didn't seem to be much preparation going on in his state school. This school is also great for sports and music opportunities as well as academically pushy.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:31:52

Ladymuck, that sounds like a sensible approach.

DS is moving in Year 6 so unless he gets into his first-choice senior school (and maybe even if he does) he will stay in his new school for 3 years.

For DD, we are talking junior school - years 3-6.

I too am inclined to take it one step at a time. I may be wrong but I already wonder if they'd done better had they both been in private since reception - in smaller classes, with more dedicated attention - so decided to give it a try and see how it goes. Wasted money is worse than wasted time.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:35:47

I guess what bothers me, maybe even more than the expense, is that I have taken DS from the school he loves (albeit he would have to move in 1 year's time anyway). And looking to move my DD next year - she is currently in infant school so if she goes private she will be taken away from her many friends who will go on to the linked junior school.

So I am looking to uproot two perfectly happy kids for the sake of supposedly better education and better opportunities.

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 12:47:21

Do you have savings? Income insurance? Helps a long way with those jitters. Always good to have one year worth of fees saved up...

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 12:49:19

PS: kids adjust better than adults. They will have new friends in no time and WILL move on...

Sconset Mon 29-Jul-13 12:52:40

I disagree- wasted time can never be regained, wasted money can be reearned.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 12:52:44

Tasmania, we have savings which would cover at least 2 years of senior school for DS.

How does income insurance work?

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:05:36

Sconset, I actually meant to say the same thing - but as I see I said the opposite!

Tasmania Mon 29-Jul-13 13:09:18

Income insurance / protection (not to be mistaken for the ones offered with mortgages / credit cards)...mine works this way: Should I ever lose my job, I will get 50% of my gross salary a month for up to 6 months (or a year?!? Have to check...). Should be enough to find another job.

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:14:07

I guess what bothers me as well is that we do live in an area of great schools, both private and state. And there is huge competition for places between state school applications (especially secondary, and we are in the right catchment). But at the same time, there is a lot of exam frenzy going on for private schools. So there must be something special about them too?

I am not from the UK originally and not knowing the system inside out is making it even more complicated for me.

I guess if my children were totally brilliant in their state schools I would be happy and content. But they are average in English and above average in Maths.

dinkystinky Mon 29-Jul-13 13:22:32

Prettybelle - I'm the same as you. We are moving ds1and ds2 from the local state school around the corner, where they have been pretty happy on the whole, to independent schools for reception and year 3. It would have been a much easier decision to make if they weren't happy. Ds1 had an amazing teacher this year, after 3 years of nice but not so great teachers (he only started reading and starting to write half way through year 1), which has also made me wonder what it would have been like if he'd had teachers like her from the start. Am really hoping the gamble pays off and they are happy at the new school which will be a pain logistically with drop offs and pick ups and that they wont suffer from not having local friends to play out with in years to come.

musicalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 13:25:04

Hi PrettyBelle,
I am also not from the UK and it is all very overwhelming sometimes. I have been on the verge of signing that cheque too and then pulling out at the last minute. I have done this twice now!!

I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else. I felt a bit panicky. Ultimately though you just have to go with your choice and make the best of it. We have decided to keep the children in state primary for the time being until secondary, and save for then.

What tipped it for us is the music ambitions of my DD, which are very expensive and time consuming at the moment. So I think we should wait and see what happens with that in a couple of years' time.

You never know what would have been either way. Good luck with it!!!

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 13:39:21

Musicalfamily, your words "I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else" are just spot on!

My original plan was to wait until secondary - and for DS that's what's going to happen (although I moved him in year 6 so nearly secondary).

But - I don't know if your family has had this problem - we don't speak English at home and I feel that my children are not quite up there with their English as a result. Over the course of DS's childhood I kept hearing that kids pick up language skills naturally - I suppose they do. But I don't think it happened for DS.

According to his year 5 school report, his reading is above average and his writing is average. Aged 10, he doesn't always understand eveything when he watches a movie or listens to a song and he is not good at comprehension exercises. He is a keen reader but doesn't like "proper" books, he prefers magazines and comic books. I can't be certain of course but I tend to think that being behind in English has hindered his progress overall. So maybe it would have been wiser to send him private for those formative primary years. And that's what I am considering for DD who has exactly the same problem with understanding and vocabularly despite always being considered "very bright".

So the way I see it I may have to pay huge money just for the sake of my children, who were both born here, getting a proper grasp of English.

Please forgive the soul-searching here...

musicalfamily Mon 29-Jul-13 13:59:58

I do strongly believe that being bilingual has its compromises.

Whilst it is wonderful for a child to learn two languages, in my experience some things have to give. For example if you are supporting their reading/writing/maths it is impossible to do it in a different language (very confusing, especially when they are young), also if you are reading a book in your original language you are not doing it in your own.

I struggle with this a lot and unfortunately felt on my own on this subject as people tend to think it is all incredibly easy and don't really understand the challenges one faces on a day to day basis.

I found that my children's original mother tongue has suffered because of this, and I am forever trying to catch up with one at the expense of the other. This summer for example I have decided they will be spending it with my parents in my original country, and they will be reading and writing in that language too. This will mean their English will slip (both reading and writing) but ultimately that's the way it is.

So I don't have an answer but I agree that it is very hard!!

Xihha Mon 29-Jul-13 14:24:39

DD starts at a private prep in September, we are not a well off family either but, like Dontletthemgetyoudown, DD's school fees are coming from a trust fund. I am quite worried about her fitting in as we are a lot less well off than the other parents, also I'm a little worried about the cost of the uniform (especially the £90 blazer with a 4 year old who would lose her own head if it wasn't screwed on)

What I'm more worried about is that dd had a lot of friends at playschool but they are all going to the state primary and all the kids in her new class went to the prep's nursery together so already know each other whilst dd doesn't know anyone.

encyclogirl Mon 29-Jul-13 14:32:02

Agree with this to the nth degree:

I felt the same as you though, from being comfortably off to suddenly feeling worried about my job/future and everything else

If we didn't send ds we would be seriously better off. I would not have to panic about the security of my job for the next 6 years and we could afford an extra holiday while putting a decent chunk of money extra into savings.

On this basis we vacillated for 2 years before we applied to the school, then we told noone, not even ds until he had a place.

Then we got the acceptance letter and we knew, absolutely, we were going to do it. Then we told ds and he cried, bless him. At that point I felt the pressure of making sure we can finance this all the way to the end.

We have the first 3 years fees saved in a fund. Hopefully we can leave that there and pay year on year.

OP, this thread is really helping me, I haven't vocalised this anywhere apart from with dh, so thank you smile

Parmarella Mon 29-Jul-13 14:32:10

Maybe a bit late, but imo only do private if you have one ortwo years of fees sitting in bank to tide over any tough times as freelancer.

britishsummer Mon 29-Jul-13 16:09:46

I agree that being bilingual is a huge advantage and from our experience, children do catch up with English and in fact often English dominates as that is the language of their peers. I would stick to speaking the non-English language at home, sometimes it is the minor faults of a non native speaker that the children unconsciously pick up on and may cause their problems with their English.
You may not want to hear this but unless you are absolutely convinced that the particular private schools are absolutely worth it, IMO it is better to supplement with one to one tuition (I have DC in both sectors but would only pay for a school that was really worth it not just because of the perceived advantages of private). Obviously if your DC had a peer group that dissuaded them from trying their hardest in state or private that would be an reason to change, however happy they are.
I suppose you could always change your DS back to your secondary state if the private school was not living up to expectations

PrettyBelle Mon 29-Jul-13 16:52:50

britishsummer, I tried one to one tutors. Spoke with four, two had lessons with DS over the course of Year 5. I don't knowhow much use they were, to be honest, although both came recommended. Maybe I was just unlucky. Another factor is both I and DH work full-time so finding time for tutors was nearly impossible because we would only get home at 6 pm on a week-day.

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