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WHY the general assumption that private schools are better?

(454 Posts)
tootsietoo Tue 22-Apr-14 21:48:29

I know this is similar to other recent threads, but slightly different!

I know very little about education - never worked in the sector, don't have many friends working in it, never been interested til children arrived! However, in my limited experience (DDs 6&7 at local primary school) the level of professionalism of the teachers is impressive! There seems to be such a comprehensive structure for planning progression and for assessing children's attainment, whilst the teachers seem to have the freedom to work with the children to inspire them in that they choose topics which interest them and can tailor classes and working groups to match children's abilities.

Yet within my group of friends there seems to be this inbuilt assumption that if you ever can pull enough cash in then off to private school your children will go. I also frequently read on here that the existence of private schools is unfair because it means only a few children will have the best opportunities. Which seems to assume that all private schools offer the best opportunities.

Is this a hangover from the 70s and 80s when we all grew up? Were state schools much worse then? Why is it just assumed that private schools offer the best education? I know private schools have more money therefore usually have the glitzy facilities, but surely it is down to the person standing in front of the children day in day out who is the really important part? I recall that at my small private girls day school I experienced the most inept teaching methods imaginable and I am told that at private schools today there is no requirement for teachers to be qualified! I do appreciate that my children are at a good school (that is, classified by ofsted as "good"), but are they all that unusual?

Mintyy Tue 22-Apr-14 21:50:47

People like the extra facilities that their thousands are paying for. That and the fact that the riff raff don't generally get in. I imagine that most fee paying parents are intelligent enough to get their heads round the results thing.

edamsavestheday Tue 22-Apr-14 22:01:43

People have to put down state schools, otherwise what are they paying for? There are good and bad schools in both sectors.

And contacts, I guess. Being sheltered from the riff raff. Unfair advantage art entry to the most prestigious universities and professions.

edamsavestheday Tue 22-Apr-14 22:02:44

Should be wrt entry, darn autocorrect

tootsietoo Tue 22-Apr-14 22:03:42

As in, the results are just as good, you mean?

Hmm, riff raff? I am wondering exactly who they are trying to avoid? I might start taking it personally!

Mintyy Tue 22-Apr-14 22:09:40

The results thing = private schools get better headline results because they select their intake.

tootsietoo Tue 22-Apr-14 22:16:41

Oh ok, yes.

CQ Tue 22-Apr-14 22:24:03

And the staff at private schools have fewer timetables contact hours so have more time for lesson planning and marking. Therefore able to do more extracurricular stuff like sports, clubs & trips, not to mention cramming/workshop sessions for exams.

CQ Tue 22-Apr-14 22:24:14

And the staff at private schools have fewer timetabled contact hours so have more time for lesson planning and marking. Therefore able to do more extracurricular stuff like sports, clubs & trips, not to mention cramming/workshop sessions for exams.

Taz1212 Tue 22-Apr-14 22:36:01

I don't think all private schools are better than all state schools. I think the private school DS attends is much better than the state school he used to attend.

mercibucket Tue 22-Apr-14 22:42:12

that ten grand difference in funding goes towards amazing sports facilities, for a start

no national curriculum

no ofsted

Mintyy Tue 22-Apr-14 22:55:11

"that ten grand difference in funding goes towards amazing sports facilities, for a start"

you'd hope so!

slowcomputer Tue 22-Apr-14 23:00:45

Smaller classes

Better facilities (IT, sport etc)

More access to teachers - I can email my daughters teacher anytime and will get a reply within a day or so, often sooner

All families are committed to their children's education(before anyone starts, I'm not putting down the majority of parents in state schools but a few who don't care can easily ruin it for the rest of the class)

No disruptive kids

I could go on.......

slowcomputer Tue 22-Apr-14 23:01:24

But it will add over 10 years to our mortgage, no new cars, big holidays etc etc so is a big decision.

happygardening Tue 22-Apr-14 23:18:02

"Not to mention cramming/workshop sessions for exams"
I have one DS in a top independent sector, one in an outstanding state sector their is more cramming/workshop for exams in the state school than the independent school.i don't think either has a monopoly on good teachers, I've over the years met brilliant and crap in both, I've also met thoroughly unpleasant ghastly parents and children or if you prefer "riff raff" in both money does not make you a better person. I can't comment on the number of timetabled contact hours the staff at the independent school have versus those at the state school but I do know that my DS's House master who teaches as well as being in loco parentis and therefore responsible for 60 boys (independent school) frequently emails parents newsletter invites etc at 2 am, that he generally replies to emails within a couple of hours including holidays and will also answer the phone or call me ASAP if I ask him too again even in the holidays. This has not ever been my experience in the state sector.
I accept that there are some rubbish independent schools out there, where the state sector beats them hands down, and some average independent schools again the state sector is often better and even good independent schools where the state sector is at the very least on an equal footing but when you get to the very top of the pile in the independent sector, when compared with the even the vey best in state sector it's just in a completely different league.

Soveryupset Tue 22-Apr-14 23:44:03

With respect, given the age of your children, it's a bit soon to evaluate even the school your children attend...

My experience is that ks2 can be more of a mixed bag as children's educational needs become greater and may or may not be served by what is on offer...

HercShipwright Tue 22-Apr-14 23:51:27

People spending (as they like to tell us) £30K pa on a posh school just can't get their heads round the fact that some state schools are just as good - or better - than even the private schools at the top of the tree. Not many, I grant you. But some are.

HercShipwright Tue 22-Apr-14 23:53:47

Only today, a colleague and friend was telling me (well, boasting) that his DD's school was in the top 5 in the country. He knows the school my Dd goes to. He knows it has been higher in the rankings every year since she started there. But he just can't help himself. Because he is paying a fortune and he can't bear the fact that I am not. I just smile, nod, and change the subject.

clary Tue 22-Apr-14 23:58:21

slowcomputer I teach in a state school (secondary) and I can promise that you could email me if you were a parent and I would reply within the day at the latest.

I guess if parents of all my students (300+) did it on a daily basis tho I might struggle... smile

OP the answer IMO is smaller classes. If I had 15 in a class instead of 33 we would all do a lot better. I do have one class of 15 and even tho they are not the toppest set they have made amazing progress this year.

HercShipwright Wed 23-Apr-14 00:01:07

The facilities definitely can be stunning at private schools (though not at all private schools). But then - I went to Cambridge from a comp, and my form room was a portakabin for most of my time at school. Our facilities were .... Not great. But the standard of education was superb. Fancy buildings cost a lot in fees but add little in terms of educational value.

happygardening Wed 23-Apr-14 07:54:09

Merc I never mentioned fancy buildings, or even facilities although of course most at the top have these but for me that's not what it's all about for me. I'm also not paying for results, because if you select the brightest in either sector then you're going to get fantastic results, although I suspect that my DS's school will be at the very least up there with any state school you care to mention.
Clary do you return emails/phone calls in the holidays? IME experience of trying to contact by phone teachers in the state sector they will only speak to you on the phone during working hours which frankly isn't much cop if you as a parent are not contactable during school hours. I accept that as your not in loco parentis then it's not the same but I find that even subject teachers return calls/emails during holidays/in the evenings not that I'm constantly ringing/emailing them.

basildonbond Wed 23-Apr-14 07:58:21

I suspect that in most cases there's very little difference between the two sectors at key stage 1 - there will probably be a bit more sport and possibly more music but the children will be covering pretty much the same sort if ground, just in smaller classes

Ime the big differences start happening at ks2. Dd has been in private primary since the start of y3 and has had a completely different experience to her brothers in out local primary (ofsted good, leafy suburbia etc).

But I don't think there is a general assumption that private = better - many private schools are better on many measures than many state schools (obviously because they have more money) but that doesn't mean there aren't fantastic state schools and rubbish privates

hm32 Wed 23-Apr-14 08:04:08

A bit like private vs NHS care. The doctors have the same training, and therefore can diagnose and treat the same things, but they have more time for you, better facilities, access to better drugs without argument (because you're paying for them).

In private education, there are smaller class sizes, no disruptive pupils (they get expelled quickly), high class facilities, text books etc.

So in general, you're paying for a nicer environment/facilities, with more access to the people that count.

Sparklingbrook Wed 23-Apr-14 08:07:54

I have no idea. Surely it depends on the schools in the area? I have heard some mixed reviews of both sorts.

Only1scoop Wed 23-Apr-14 08:15:54

The class size difference between the two state and private schools we viewed was the biggest difference in my opinion....

Walking into a huge class of over 30 children. Versus only 8 or 9 Sitting around a small table with a teacher does give you a reassuring sense that your child certainly wouldn't get overlooked or lacking in support.

Pros and cons for both but I stick by my choice for many reasons.

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