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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?

PrettyBelle Thu 05-Sep-13 13:48:22

Thank you so much for your insightful posts and your support. I thought I would post an update.

A few days before the start of the school year DS mentioned that he "actually wants to go" to the new school which was a major relief for me because I hadn't touched the subject for the whole of August. Yesterday was his first day and he came back excited and in the best mood. He showed me his diary, timetable, some school books, told me how delicious his lunch was and how he could get on the football team. His form tutor is very lovely.

I know it's early days but the new school is already different from the old one - it has specialist subjects, it has a timetable so I know what my son is doing every day, he will get homework, he has French 4 days a week and brought home his new workbooks for me to see. I hope his enthusiasm won't wane because apart from excitement he is also looking at doing much more work than before.

Anyway. fingers crossed, I think we are off to a good start. smile

fabricmum Fri 02-Aug-13 08:41:11

Definitely agree with Runningchick. Give it the year and see how things go.
Regarding, why i'd like to stick with the private sector, a few reasons, most idealistic, but there's nothing wrong in that. I'm not heartbroken or anything, it's just one of those things.
Secondary school can do weird things with boys, Y8 is a bad year for example, (I have an older boy, now working), so i know where the potential pitfalls are. But my older boy came out of the state sector unscathed so i'm sure it will all work out in the end. If it doesn't we'll have to cross that bridge if it comes and find the 6k a term. Help!!

Runningchick123 Fri 02-Aug-13 06:54:44

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

It does sound like a reasonable plan, but as fabric mum says above; most prep starts before y6 for the majority. If it is just fine tuning that your son needs then a couple of months (exams oct/ nov) might be ok, but best to get down to whsmith and get him some bond reasoning books to start practising now and give him a kick start before school starts.
Most prep schools which go to year 6 dont take new pupils after the start of year 5 because they need more than a few months for exam preparation but if they have assessed your son already then they must have seen potential in him to pass his exams with only a short prep time.
If he isn't ready for senior school next year then he can do the extra couple years at his prep school and be super ready for the 13+. The schools up north don't have a 13+ intake and the prep schools only go up to year 6 so we have to do senior school at the 11+ stage (hence the prep schools stop taking new pupils at year 5).
I'm sure you will be back posting at the end of October telling us how the school move is the best decision you have ever made and your only concern is how to afford it for your daughter as well.

glastocat Fri 02-Aug-13 05:04:51

I would think very carefully about finances before putting my child into private school. My husband won a scholarship to boarding school when he was a child. His parents had a farm, so while not poor, were certainly not rich. My husband was horribly bullied, most of the boys were from very rich families and treated the poorer children like shit. He eventually refused to go back and his entire (expensive) education went up the spout. He isn't bitter about it, but it was pretty disastrous for him. This was an Irish school in the 80s, probably things are better now but it's certainly something to consider.

everlong Fri 02-Aug-13 04:28:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 21:34:56

I guess - sorry, I keep on rambling but it helps to express my thoughts in writing! - what scares me is the unknown. I have been thinking about private education for a few years now and now that this is finally happening I am nervous.

I am not doing it for "elitism" or whatever, the only thing I am after is better education and better opportunities for DS.

So I have decided - I will keep an open mind, we will see how this year goes. DS will resume preparation for 11+ in September which in combination with the prep school should give him the best chance to get into that senior school. If he does, then we will decide whether he wants to join it at 11 or stay in his prep school until 13. If he doesn't - by then I will have visited other senior schools and - again combined with the prep school experience - it will hopefully give me a clearer idea of what I can expect from private education and whether it's worth the expense. After all, we did buy our lovely but overpriced house for the sake of being in the catchment area from one of the best secondary comp schools in the county. So he can always go there and maybe after a year of spending huge money on fees I will feel differently about state education.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 21:23:39

fabricmum, we started preparation for 11+ from the beginning of Year 5 - he has had a tutor and has also been doing practice papers 3-4 times a week. So he had a full year so far. In our area, exams are in January.

For secondary, we are aiming for the only local boys senior school in the area which also happens to be highly popular so the competition will be fierce and DS's new school did point out that they cannot guarantee that they have time to prepare him. Yet, not all their pupils get into that senior school even if they've been there since Reception so there are no guarantees anyway.

At the entrance assessment he got high scores in English and Maths so he is at the level of the other pupils.

Money is not an issue in the sense that we can afford the fees without stretching ourselves. At the same time, we have mortgage so there are of course other ways to spend £12K per year!

Why would you have preferred to stay in the private system?

fabricmum Thu 01-Aug-13 19:47:02

The only thing i can say is, preparation for the 11+ starts much earlier than Y6. Some parents start tutoring (not me!) from Y3 onwards. The 11+ exam is sat in October where I live and the results are given out fairly quickly now.
The school should know whether they consider your son would pass, I would hazard a guess that if he isn't academic enough to pass the 11+ he won't get into the most selective schools either.

I would also add, that I'm a great believer in sticking to your original decision as it's normally the right one, probably made when you were thinking rationally. You've probably just got last minute panics which will pass when you decide to stick to your original choice.
If the money really isn't an issue then i'd certainly give it a go, my son made loads of lovely friends when he attended a private school. These children enriched his life as they were from all over the world.
If we weren't priced out of the system i would've preferred he stayed in the private sector but sadly our circumstances just won't stretch to another 5 years of paying school fees.
Perhaps if finances allow, move your daughter either beginning Y3 or Y4 just as the junior school starts.

britishsummer Thu 01-Aug-13 16:03:30

Pretty, I may have missed it but how does your DS feel about the move? Wondered whether any anxiety about the move on his part is contributing to yours?
All your reasons make a lot of sense, plus moving for year 6 will give him a head start in making friends for the private secondary ( as well as hopefully keeping his old friends from primary)

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 15:15:43

Runningchick123, thanks for sharing your experience. My son's state school was good in a way that staff was always friendly and available, the general mood was great and it was a happy place (I think). The only problem, in my opinion, was with education. They don't stream for English and Maths, don't have homework - something which DS needs and something from which any child would benefit, IMO. DS is behind in English - he has never caught up.

I read so many negative threads here about teachers and schools that it makes me wonder whether his school is actually great. And that if DS is not achieving there he would not achieve elsewhere. I have nothing to compare it with and it's killing me because I have to make this choice for DD next year - does she go to the same state school as DS's? To another state school? To a private school?

I feel like I am missing something very important here and that's why this choice is so difficult.

The funny thing is, I am nearly 100% sure that unless our situation changes dramatically that DS will go private for secondary. So it's really a matter of next year only. Even if his new private prep school would be disappointing he won't have to stay more than 1 year.

Am I really fretting that much just because he won't be in his state school for Year 6??? Why the hell am I killing myself if just a few months ago I was so determined to move him??? If anything, I was worried that he won't get in!

Anyway, nobody here can answer that for me. It just helps to vent. Thank you.

Runningchick123 Thu 01-Aug-13 13:42:44

When my son changed from state school to private I shared all of your concerns mentioned above. I spent 2 months agonising over whether to take the plunge and move him then i signed the enrolment forms and then the next six months waiting for the new school year to arrive (when he was moving) and fretting about it all.
Our sons state school was hopeless - bullying, poor teaching, judgemental management; it was generally an unhappy and uselss place but our son didn't really want to move despite being unhappy as he was anxious about starting afresh and not fitting in.
A week into his new school and i Knew we had made the right decision. Our own was happy, he was learning loads, he was fitting in well with his peer group and he was going to get the teaching that he needed to take selective school exams. We haven't looked back since and our only worry is the school fees and making sure we can afford it on a continuos basis.
The private school has specialist subject teachers, good facilities, good pastoral care, good teaching and is a great environment for children to learn in.
If our son had been at a good state school with good pupil behaviour and good pastoral care then I would have probably got a tutor for the selective school exam prep, but the school was so hopeless that a couple of hours a week with a tutor was never going to be enough.

PrettyBelle Thu 01-Aug-13 11:51:07

Thank you for your views so far.

I am feeling so stressed out I cannot imagine how I am going to last until September at this rate.

It's not just about money. I guess I still can't get over the fact that DS was happy at his old school and it was a very popular school too. With this, I cannot help feeling like an inadequate parent who is imagining problems and has too much spare money which she is itching to spend.

I moved DS for the following reasons:

1) ensure adequate preparation for 11+ exam. His state school does get some boys in too but as far as I understand they are either naturally very gifted or had proper tutoring - and neither would be the case for DS.
2) his state school was rated satisfactory in the recent OFSTED report and I have been unhappy about their way of teaching for quite a while.
3) I want DS to go private for secondary and I wanted him to get used to new sports, to become better in music, to raise his level in specialist subjects (his general knowledge is really low).

All of the above, I hope, will be provided in a private setting.

I don't know why I am still not fully content with my decision. FWIW, I didn't take up a place in private school for DD because I thought that her current infant school was enough for now - and I am still not sure if it was a right decision. Now, for DD I did take up the place - but now worried none the less.

Thanks for reading. Ifanyone has any thoughts I would be really greatful to hear them.

Xihha Wed 31-Jul-13 14:27:53

Why is it a recipe for problems Dozer?

My eldest is at an outstanding state school and daughter was offered a school in special measures, which is why we are sending her to private school, we asked ds if he wanted to go too but he says he doesn't want to change schools, he's happy where he is, the quality of teaching there is excellent, the sports facilities are good (which is important to him) and he is well above average for his age in all his subjects, dd's school is more focused on art/music/drama, which is perfect for dd but ds would hate so I genuinely don't see the point in changing schools for him.

PrettyBelle Wed 31-Jul-13 14:24:12

I did give some thought to the notion that if I were to send DS to a private school it would be fair to do it for DD too. At least for secondary (DS is moving in Year 6, after all). So if worse comes to worse I will at least have 1 set of school fees to deal with at a time (bar some overlap when DS is in his final school years).

But to me, it's not about treating them equally but about offering the best to both of them. After all, DS's school will be much more expensive (boys school generally are) so it's not like I will be spending equal money on them.

OnGoldenPond Wed 31-Jul-13 14:06:28

What if local girls comp is outstanding, but local boys comp is in special measures Dozer?

Dozer Wed 31-Jul-13 10:18:07

Relate to what you're saying about the worries, but in general (exceptional circumstances like SN aside) wouldn't educate one DC privately and not others, recipe for problems IMO.

janji Wed 31-Jul-13 01:46:51

This actually happened to me! I lost my job and our income halved! However, we jiggled finances, I took any (temp) job I could and our dd is still luckily in school. The simple answer is that I've found that even if the worse happens, as a parent you will always find a way!

primroseyellow Wed 31-Jul-13 00:54:54

Years ago a relative got an 'assisted place' so the govt paid the basic fees but parents found there were loads of 'extras' eg cost of school bus, lunches, after school clubs, uniform and endless very specific kit for every sort of sport, need for new shoes because the black ones purchased did not meet the standard required (coloured stitching!), replacement kit for that lost, 'damage' payments, swimming, music etc etc etc. Relative did not rate the teaching and returned to local comp in Y9 and has done extremely well since.

Xihha Wed 31-Jul-13 00:27:53

Their rich friends and parents accepted our poverty. I don't think that it mattered one bit.

Sussexmum, that is so good to know, I hope dd's school friends are the same. I don't know anyone who has gone to private school other than my mum who went 40 years ago so I have no idea what the children and their parents are likely to be like!

OP, I'm so glad you put this up, it has made me far less worried, hope you are feeling better about it all too

britishsummer Tue 30-Jul-13 22:08:06

PrettyB, it sounds as though you think the possible secondary private schools in your area are very much worth an extra push at this stage for at least your DS. He is extremely unlikely to be unhappy at his new school.
Look forward to hearing an update from you. We have experienced excellence in both sectors as well as mediocrity in a private prep (but the DC had a great social time there so it definitely had its benefits!).

fabricmum Tue 30-Jul-13 12:36:08

Our main problem being in the south east is that the senior selective schools are priced okay (4-5k). But the 2 unselective senior schools near us (from y9 onwards) are sooo expensive. We first registered our DS 2 year ago when the fees were £4950 per term so just about affordable, they've now gone up to £6200. So by the time he would start we reckoned they'd be about £6800 per term, which is outrageous amount of money considering it's not even for boarding.
The price of senior schools are just going up and up, and when the money dries up these schools are going to be in trouble although i suppose the wealth in my area means they'll sustain the interest.

encyclogirl Tue 30-Jul-13 11:54:50

My dd has SN and is in a state funded unit attached to a mainstream school. I could not buy a better quality education for her. Her teachers, SNAs and the wider school population have made the experience fantastic, it's a local comp, newly built and the facilities are amazing. We have totally lucked out with the unit coordinator too, and e works like a dog for the students.

It is exactly the right school for her and she is dying to get back in September.

Ds is going private because we have identified this is the exactly the right school for him.

We've had a few raised eyebrows locally because he's not going to be attending dd's school. We have our reasons, mostly because I represent the Special Needs unit on dd's School Board and I know a bit too much about the mainstream section of the school. I would never disseminate any of that information but it's enough for me to know that we are doing the right thing not sending ds there.

Runningchick123 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:22:15

prettybelle yo don't have to justify your choice that private is more crucial for your DS at this stage than it is for your DD. you know your children best and what will suit their personalities and learning style best.
I have one son in state and one son in private and the decision has been based on what suits each of them as an individual, what makes them happiest and what helps them to learn in the way most appropriate to their individual needs. I don't feel guilty for spending more money on one sons education than the other and nor will I feel disappointed if the privately educated son decides not to go to uni.
As long as each of my children reaches their potential at school and is happy then I am happy.

PrettyBelle Tue 30-Jul-13 11:01:12

ElephantsAndMiasmas, because he is older so his education is more complex at the senior stage, so to say... Also he needs more attention and structure - whereas my girl is a keen learner on her own initiative so is likely to do well regardless.

Our state school, although well regarded, is huge. 10 classes per year. I am concerned he will be "lost" there.

These are my thoughts anyway. Am I missing something?

Still, she will be sitting 7+ exams next year so if she gets in her first or second choice school she will probably go private too.

SunnyIntervals Tue 30-Jul-13 10:57:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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