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When to go private?

(279 Posts)
Vijac Mon 21-Oct-13 12:18:13

If money is limited, which stage do you think is most beneficial for a child to have private education? 4-7, 7-11 or secondary? Secondary is obviously where you get all your qualifications etc and where you are most likely to go off the rails and participate in club. But then, if you don't have the best start in education could it set the tone in a child's attitude and would they get into the more academic secondaries? What do people think. Just as an aside, I do know that there are good state schools available too.

Gilbertus Mon 21-Oct-13 13:22:13


JustAnotherUserName Mon 21-Oct-13 13:41:56

secondary for us, but it surely must depend on what the state options are like at each level. State primaries round my way (south London) are brilliant. Wouldn't waste my money on private. I know other parts of the country are not as well-served....

and don't assume (if you are pre-primary) that your child will automatically be suited to an academic school come secondary.

Although I know that most MNers kids are very very bright

Leeds2 Mon 21-Oct-13 14:08:29

Where I live, a number of parents choose private for Years 3 - 6, and choose schools which have good results at getting children into the local state grammar schools.

wineoclocktimeyet Mon 21-Oct-13 14:15:14

It depends on the academic abilities of the child (something that is usually very difficult to determine when they are 4 years old).

If you have a naturally bright(ish) child, going private in primary will increase their chances of getting into a grammar or selective school (assuming you have them locally).

However, if your child is less academic, a private secondary will possibly allow them to achieve their best academic achievements whereas they might 'slip though the gaps' in a state secondary (depending on your local state schools)

Reading that back, not sure how helpful it is smile

Choos123 Mon 21-Oct-13 14:17:05

Secondary but also more expensive then! Most private secondaries round me are much larger than their primary counterparts. I went from prep to v good state secondary and I spent 2 years repeating work, became a bit over confident and idle!

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Mon 21-Oct-13 14:17:32

Not 4-7.

Personally I'd say secondary.

I suppose I can see the logic in 7-11 if you hope that the child will then get into an outstanding grammar, but what if they don't? And it's shit for the school you leave behind in year 2. I know some local schools where I used to live had real issues with 'state til 8'.

musicalfamily Mon 21-Oct-13 15:21:48

My plan was always (outstanding) state primary followed by selective independent at 11+.

However, my DD now in Y4 and we had to change her at this point as:

1 - she was finding the work in class really easy and moaning about it constantly
2 - she started disengaging
3 - she didn't progress last year at all
4 - she deeply resented topping up after school

The jury is still out with the other children. I would agree that 4-7 was really easy to top up and get to L3 for my children, but from Y3 the topping up required was more - but this might just be school-related.

Vijac Mon 21-Oct-13 16:03:54

It is a hard one. The state primary that our son would probably get into is ofsted graded outstanding but is a large school (400 kids) and average results overall for the area. At secondary I will want him to go to a school that suits him obviously. It is possible that that will mean a less academic one but may well also be academic (good results in education in parents and so far loves books). I would like him to start well but do think that his first couple of class teachers are likely to be as important as the school in making that happen.

KiplingBag Mon 21-Oct-13 16:09:53

we opted for secondary with ours.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 16:13:26

What's the point in going private? It's typically very poor value for money. If you want to spend money to improve their education/educational outcomes, there are more efficient, personalised, targeted ways to spend it.

However, if what you want to buy is a certain sort of peer group, then private school is a good way to do that. But you may as well wait until they're old enough to develop significant friendships.

JustAnotherUserName Mon 21-Oct-13 16:49:05

But its never too early to buy yourself a peer group of like-minded parents.

PrettyBelle Mon 21-Oct-13 16:50:35

If you want to spend money to improve their education/educational outcomes, there are more efficient, personalised, targeted ways to spend it.

Such as?

I am not just asking - DD is in year 2 and I am struggling to choose between private or good state junior school for her.

Both DH and I work full-time and also have an older DS so our time for family-run and parent-initiated educational activities (such as regular museum trips) is rather limited.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 18:46:36

Just think of the cost of sending even one child right through private school. If you want to send them somewhere swanky, let's say Eton, that's about 30K a year, before extras, so well over 200K in total. Just for secondary.

Or a nice enough local private school. Near me they start at about 10K a year. A little less for lower years, so from year 3 onwards you are talking about about 100K, before music lessons, uniforms, school trips, all the rest of it.

That's a lot to pay for...say 4As at A-level, if it's educational attainment you're looking at. I don't think that's value for money, especially compared with the baseline of a good state school education.

Spending that 100K on carefully chosen one-to-one private tuition? Led by your - and increasingly your child's - interests and priorities. Especially effective in the areas that almost all schools - including private schools - do badly, such as languages. Or language immersion trips when older. Tutors don't just have to support the school curriculum either, they can develop individual guided study programs with students.

Or speaking of when they are older - bear in mind what higher education might cost once your DC gets to 18. As of now, it will cost a student around 40K to get through a 3 year degree. 80K for students of long courses, like architecture. And as the government are going to sell the student loan book, we can now expect these to be repaid at commercial rates.

In previous decades the time critical periods for young people's career prospects were GCSEs and A-Levels. Increasingly, that's no longer the case, and the most crucial (and financially testing) periods of young people's lives are their years in further/higher education and the post-graduation period.

It may not be that their years in primary and secondary education are the best ones to throw money at. Of course good foundations are incredibly important, but I believe, and most research seems to indicate, that there are established at home, through parent-led example. Personally, if money is a concern, I'd consider setting aside a bit more time for educational activities at home, if you can. Supplementing a decent stateschool education with well targeted tutoring, and thinking about what the hell the higher education will look like ten years from now.

But as I said, if you want to buy a certain peer group, then private school seems to work well for that. That's its entire purpose, as far as I can see.

musicalfamily Mon 21-Oct-13 18:49:36

If you want to spend money to improve their education/educational outcomes, there are more efficient, personalised, targeted ways to spend it

This can work in some cases but by no means not all. It depends on number of children in a family, time available after school, number of out of school interests, personality of the child, etc...

teacher123 Mon 21-Oct-13 18:58:17

I've worked in state primaries, state secondaries (both grammar and comp), public schools and now work in a prep school.

IMHO a good prep school will push your child a long way during their primary school years, small class sizes and specialist teachers for sport, music, drama and languages mean that you get that edge in those areas. (Lots of state schools have very good specialists but it's more luck of the draw) wraparound care is usually very good as well.

For secondary a grammar school is what I would choose if your DC are bright enough to thrive and keep up. If not, an independent school will probably provide more tailored care to get your child better results.

A bright motivated child will probably do well wherever they go.

Reading at home with your child is supposed to be the biggest predictor of academic success.

night1971 Mon 21-Oct-13 19:02:38

If you can afford it, a superb education is one of the best gifts that you can give your child.

Many independent schools can offer your child a huge variety of opportunities and experiences with fully qualified, experienced teachers which can be very hard to find replicated in the state system.

It can set them up for life, no one can take it away from them no matter what life brings.

Some people think that "private school" is about buying peer groups etc and can be quite chippy. It is not simply a case of buying results, it's paying for a happy, stimulating learning and social environment where physical health education is also a major part of the curriulum with sport usually taught daily.

29chapel Mon 21-Oct-13 19:06:43

We have just started DD at our local private school in Y4. She was disengaged at the local primary and had lost all enthusiasm to learn. We figured we need to do something now as we've only got 3 years til senior school and didn't want her floundering around.

She's only done a week in the new school so far but already we are noticing a chance in her attitude - much more positive.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 19:22:55

"Many independent schools can offer your child a huge variety of opportunities and experiences with fully qualified, experienced teachers which can be very hard to find replicated in the state system."

It's worth mentioning that there's no requirement for private schools to employ fully qualified teachers. They can employ whoever they like. State schools, on the other hand, must employ full qualified teachers - bar academies and free schools.

I don't think it's "chippy" to point out that paying for private school can and does involve buying a peer group. That's exactly what many parents want from a private education.

I just don't think private schools are good value for money, compared to the state sector if you're talking about educational attainment come 18, or more pertinently these days, come 21.

night1971 Mon 21-Oct-13 19:38:21

I have never come across unqualified teachers in the independent sector, I think this is a myth from the past and not a reflection of most modern independent schools.

I have rarely, in my vast experience as a parent and educator, met a parent paying for a peer group. They are paying for small classes, experienced subject/class teaching, a more academic environment, sport opportunities, high expectations in all areas (including character development as well as academic achievements), low discipline issues, etc etc.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 19:57:48

I have. I personally know of several graduates who went straight into teaching positions at private schools. They were all very bright, well motivated young people with a genuine flair for their subjects. But they were not qualified teachers. I also know of some local private schools who recruit staff with PhD qualifications and other professional experience. But they are not qualified teachers.

By and large the teachers at private schools will be qualified. But that is hardly a selling point.

And buying a certain kind of classroom environment and character development expectations is buying a peer group. A child's peers are their class mates.

night1971 Mon 21-Oct-13 20:15:03

My experience is limited to many of the top independent schools in the country so maybe that is why I have not experienced unqualified staff.

I wonder whether your friends will be required to apply for and study for Qualified Teacher Status as otherwise they are on a much lower pay scale than fully qualified staff?

I guess the peer group is a bonus then smile

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 21-Oct-13 20:18:29

They're not my friends. They were offered full-time teaching positions and were not taken on as trainees and do not need to gain qualified teacher status.

It's nice that your experience is limited to the top private schools in the country, but there is a broad spectrum of quality in private education (and in state education).

Yes, I think many parents choose private schools specifically for the peer group. There's nothing contentious about that, is there?

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 21-Oct-13 20:20:39

If you can afford it, a superb education is one of the best gifts that you can give your child.
It is not simply a case of buying results, it's paying for a happy, stimulating learning and social environment where physical health education is also a major part of the curriulum with sport usually taught daily.
Completely agree Night1971! People on here seem to be obsessed with A levels, University, ie the outcome rather than the childrens' daily experience and is this that we despaired of in the state sector. You often see posts along the lines of the 4 Yorkshiremen 'I went to a grim comprehensive that was in a hole in the ground, we were stabbed daily - but...I got into Oxbridge' as if exam results are the only point of education.. We wanted our children to have a happy childhood, going to a school where the teachers were inspiring and enthusiastic. The DC are a school where there are indeed 'unqualified teachers' but they are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subject that the DC cannot help but be interested and keen to learn. As a side effect, they get good grades, but that is a side benefit, not the whole reason for being there. I am not saying that qualified teachers are not excellent, just that you do not need to be qualified to inspire children.

Vijac Mon 21-Oct-13 20:28:08

I also know a couple of people who have gone into top independent schools without previous training. They train on the job. I don't have a problem with that. I don't think two years teacher training is necessarily going to make you a better teacher than someone who learns on the job with supervision and is a higher calibre. Private schools just have the freedom to make that decision themselves. Plus parents can choose not to go there if the teaching is bad!

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