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thinking of sending ds to a private school - advise needed please!!!!!

(324 Posts)
jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 14:30:02

my ds is 5 and has been in a state school since reception - we are now thinking to send him to a private prep school - the reasoning being that hopefully he will be able to get into a good grammar school later on . This grammar is heavilky oversubscribed and we feel the only way he would be able to get in is if he gets a lot of support. He is doing well at the state school but with more personal attention at the prep school he should progress well.

My husband and myself went to see the prep school and were surprised and the differences in the schools - the class size was smaller and the sports facilities were great - but the atmosphere felt very disciplined and formal - is this the norm for prep schools - we want our DS to do well but don't want him to lose his personality.

Also the prep school has its own curriculum and also have their own inspection - how do you tell if they are teaching to the right standard. We have no experience of private education and independent schools - so please any advise would be great

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 14:34:08

If you are happy with the school , go for it, if you don't think that your ds will like it, then look some where else. Don't worry about the dicipline taking away his individuality. Dd goes to a small private school where dicipline is good, and she is still her own person!

Independent schools are inspected outside of OFSED, as them for a copy of their last inspection. Although private schools can employ unqualified staff (as can the state system btw) most teachers in the private secor are fully trained, ask to see their staff list.

In the end, as with all school choices it comes down to if you think that the school will suit your child.

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 14:41:01

thanks for that - i am taking ds for his interview on tuesday - i will ask for a copy of the report and staff list. Our dilema is that ds loves his state school so i think any other school will just not be good enough. Another issue is that the prep school is boys only - ideally we would like to send him coed - but this school is easy to get to especially when i am working - has any one got advise about prep schools and also boy only schools - just so much to think about and if we want him to start after easter we will need to make a decision real soon - couldn't sleep last night for worrying if we were making the right decision!

LIZS Thu 25-Mar-04 14:44:37

Whilst a private school may not take the KS1 or 2 exams, chances are that they set their own equivalent, perhaps in a less formal way, and aim for similar standards, especially if it is a feeder to a selective grammar school. Would your ds have to sit an entrance test - could you see a copy of past ones ? Do you know anyone with kids at this school, or do they have any open days or public events where you could observe the general behaviour of the kids. That way you could reassure yourself whether they instill discipline and manners without the expense of character.


roisin Thu 25-Mar-04 14:50:55

Hiya! My kids go to a very formal and disciplined (state) primary school, and there's still loads of room for individuality and personality ... so no worries there.

From your posts you sound very apprehensive about this decision, and I was just left wondering about the apparent unseemly haste. If he's only 5 and is happy and progressing well at his current school, I'm not sure of the reason for the desparate rush. Presumably the school you've been to see is a pre-prep? If he's settled and doing well, why not leave him where he is for another year or so, then move him straight into prep school when he's old enough?

marialuisa Thu 25-Mar-04 14:59:13

We live in a grammar school area and there's a mass market of non-selective prep schools that aim to get kids into the grammars at 11. Our DD's at such a school and one of the first things the head said was "parents who send their children here generally don't expect to keep the children in the private sector post 11+". Ask the school what the pass rate at 11+ is, as I said our school is non-selective but has consistently got between 95-100% of kids into the grammars over the past 5 years (so there's occasionally one child who will not pass the tests, but school says this is usually clear by mid Y5 so parents can look at other senior schools).

Ask if the school is a member of any of the many private school associations e.g. Catholic Independent schools conference, headmasters' Conference, Independent Association of Preparatory Schools. These organisations will often provide the Inspections (otherwise must be done via OFSTED). Personally, I'd be wary of any school that was run without a Board of governors, i.e. a private business owned by the head/head's family.

If you have any particular questions ask away, someone on mumsnet will know!

marialuisa Thu 25-Mar-04 15:03:08

should add that although there are some very good state primary schools the enthusiasm of parents to get the kids into the grammars means that sport/art/music/drama tend to get side-lined as the teachers struggle to meet National curriculum requirements and get kids ready for 11+. The flexibility of the private schools was very appealing. BTW, schools up here call themselves "preps" when they are really private primary schools (only go up to end of Y6) if the school you are looking at is a 2prep2 in the traditional sense it will be more geared up to C.E. at 13 so may not have many kids doing 11+

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 15:04:33

Agree 100% about the need to have Governers etc.

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 15:55:14

marialuisa - what do you mean by CA - the children leave the school either at 11 or 13 - there was something about a common entrance exam - i am unsure what this maens - is this the same as the 11+ or something totally different

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 15:57:14

Different. Common enterence is the examination tha they will need to pass to be accepted in some senior private schools (but not all). 11+ is the examination that children sit if they are to be accepted into the state grammer system.

bundle Thu 25-Mar-04 16:01:34

i think the prep school sounds awful, are you sure you'd want him to go there? what are the alternatives to the grammar and would it be such a disaster if he didn't get in? sorry to speak against the flow, but i think school is about more than tests. have you asked him about how he feels about his school?

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 16:04:52

thanks - are common entrance exams at the same standard as the 11+ - the schools prospectus mentions alot about the common entrance exam but not much about the 11+ - i think i may have to research this further!!!!

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 16:05:02

Disciplined and formal doesn't have to mean awful. The school my two go to is diciplined, and formal in as much as they are expected to be polite and well mannered and wear a school uniform. No different to what you seen in state schools tbh. And there is still lots and lots of time for fingerpainting, running round and all the normal stuff that goes with a Primary school environment. Jinna just needs to ask if her son will be happy there. My two are very happy in their school.

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 16:06:03

Don't know tbh, as the school my 2 go to doesn't do CE. I would think it would he more complicated as the children would be older when they took it. But I could be wrong.

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 16:06:08

marialuisa - which part of the country are you in - we are in the berkshire area

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 16:07:34

also hmb where are you located!!

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 16:08:45

Lincs, so the costs are much lower for us.

bundle Thu 25-Mar-04 16:09:45

sorry, didn't mean to sound dismissive.

hmb Thu 25-Mar-04 16:14:59

TBH for ds disiplined is good as he isn't an 'easy' child. They have lots of play, all play in fact, but it is well organised and he needs to structure to keep him happy.

tallulah Thu 25-Mar-04 17:00:42

DS2 went to a private school for Y3 to Y6 & got into grammar at 11. If your DS is happy where he is, why not wait until Y3?

tallulah Thu 25-Mar-04 17:01:39

Sorry, that should be FROM Y3, the school catered for nursery upwards.

tallulah Thu 25-Mar-04 17:01:53

DS2 went to a private school for Y3 to Y6 & got into grammar at 11. If your DS is happy where he is, why not wait until Y3?

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 17:39:16

tallulah - did the private school tutor for the 11+ or did you have to get extra tuition to cover this
also do grammar schools have a catchment area or can you live out of the area

jinna Thu 25-Mar-04 18:32:26

all info so far has been really useful - any other advise about choosing private over state and also boys only schools - good idea or not?

Coddy Thu 25-Mar-04 18:33:57

I really get hacked off at people using privates as hot houses to then uset he state system later on.

I think I just disagree with all private educ apart form SN kids really though.

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