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Private school v "Outstanding" State School

(70 Posts)
willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 11:19:40


We are in a very fortunate position that my DD has been offered a place at a selective private school. We also currently have a place at the outstanding state school, where the majority of her classmates will go.

DD is around average for most things, she's been having a maths tutor for a few months because she was struggling. DD is also the kind of child that doesn't put herself out there...everything is 'encouraged' by me, but she has benefitted from this & is much better (she can get quite anxious by new situations..will frequently shove her younger sibling forward !).

I feel that the smaller private will be a nurturing environment & the small class sizes, plus extra activities & encouragement will bring the best out of her.

Now she's by no means a little mouse, she's full of preteen attitude, demanding & really quite high maintenance.

The state school is huge, it has a short day with after school clubs etc everyday. They keep a short rein on all the kids & it seems, everything is tightly organised & managed. Dd would struggle immensely with this....but on the otherhand, it might be the making of her.

When I've discussed this with other parents, I hear the same story, that the primary prepares them really well & they get into the swing of it very quickly.

We have 10 days to make a decision...

jeee Sun 15-Jun-14 11:23:23

I would be dubious about sending an 'average' pupil to a selective school.... but if she's got a place presumably they think she has the ability.

I think if I could comfortably afford the fees (and I wouldn't consider private unless this was the case), I'd try to take the issue of private vs. state out of the equation, and simply look at which school was the best match for my child.

jeee Sun 15-Jun-14 11:25:56

Oh, and ignore the 'outstanding' OFSTED - my children's school went from 'outstanding' to 'need improvement' in the space of a couple of years. The quality of education has not changed in any way.

Just look at whether you think the school is right for your DD.

lljkk Sun 15-Jun-14 11:26:53

I would let your DD choose. She has to live it.

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 11:37:01

I don't feel my 10 yr old has the ability to decide what's best for her.

jeee Sun 15-Jun-14 11:39:44

I definitely wouldn't put her in a position where she had to decide - it's far too much pressure to put on a 10 year old. Though I would certainly take her opinion into consideration.

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 11:47:15

jeee whilst the school is selective, it's not super selective.

Parents I've spoken to have told how their average kids are thriving & doing really & the school is renowned for its pastoral care.

I would normally go on gut feeling, but I can see very good outcomes IF she copes at the state, whereas I have no concerns of her coping at the private, due to the nurturing environment, individual attention etc.

Another option might be to see how she goes at the state school & if not great, see if she can join the private in yr 9.

Ref the outstanding school tag, yes I appreciate things change. The school has been outstanding for years, I'm also aware that outstanding schools don't guareentee outstanding kids - as is the case at her primary. I do believe it offers the opportunity to do great, but my DD isn't a 'grabber'.

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 11:53:05

jeee thanks - yes I certainly am. She's a funny one though & only the other day (2 mths after her visit) she told me there was little point in visiting the state school because the private felt 'very comfortable & cost'.

In terms of carrot v stick, she is definitely carrot..but a bit of stick is more 'real' world....

I'm taking myself in & out...

I'm also aware it's a great privilege & very fortunately, fees are reasonable & we will have considerable help - sort of early inheritance.

Jinsei Sun 15-Jun-14 11:53:23

I would base my choice on the specific schools, rather than the sector.

I think kids in the "average" band are the most likely to benefit from smaller class sizes, but having said that, she may struggle at a selective school if she isn't that academic. That could really knock her confidence. How would she cope socially with a new group of peers?

You said that dd would potentially struggle with the tightly managed state school, but that it might be the making of her. What's the atmosphere like at the independent school?

Jinsei Sun 15-Jun-14 11:57:08

Sorry, x post. I'm not generally an advocate of private education, as I don't think it's worth it in most cases. However, from what you've said about your dd - moderately able but not an academic star, not hugely self-motivated - I think she is exactly the kind of child who probably would benefit from what many independent schools offer.

Jinsei Sun 15-Jun-14 11:58:51

Of course, that's not to say that she might not do equally well in the state system...

What about finances? Can you easily afford the indie or would it be quite a stretch? You say she's had a tutor previously - would you still be able to afford that kind of help if she was struggling?

TeenAndTween Sun 15-Jun-14 12:00:44

A few comments on the plus side of the state school:

An outstanding comp should also be providing 'extra activities and encouragement'.
Larger school = wider choice of friends, (though she may take time to find them)
Larger school potentially means wider range of options when it comes to selecting GCSEs
Nothing to stop you continuing to encourage her to 'put herself out there' at the state school
State school is more 'real world'. Which may equip her to manage better later.

(DD1 has a naturally shy friend at a private, nurturing school. It may be what she needs. Or it may mean that she is being allowed to stay well within her comfort zone and to never gain extra social skills)

QuailLegs Sun 15-Jun-14 12:07:53

Really hard question. If you make the wrong decision, is it easier to move from the private school to the state school, or the other way round? (i.e how oversubscribed are both of them?).

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 12:18:33

She is mainly in top of the bottom sets (current school prides itself on being 'above average'). I'm frustrated because it's as though there is a glass ceiling & she can't (won't ?) break through it. Difficulties have arisen with, what I consider, 'the pain' of having to focus.

She does try hard at school & teachers have been surprised when results have been lower than expected. I consider she is flying under their radar & I've been at the school throughout her time, trying to get to the bottom of what's going on. I'm concerned she'll get lost in the big school.

With a little praise she blossoms & the maths tutoring has helped.

Ref friends, the state takes in almost 300 kids. She is friends with pretty much all her current year, but only really has play dates with 1 or 2 friends. I'm supportive of her maintaining this. She currently does several activities, which she enjoys, in my attempt to 'get her out there'. Lots of physical activities as she needs to get her energy out. At one of her clubs, there are kids from both school options.

Yes I think the state school could make or break her....I'm not sure I'm want to take this risk.

MumOfTheMoos Sun 15-Jun-14 12:38:18

Personally, I would go with the private, especially if she struggles to focus - the spammer class sizes will definitely help there.

MumOfTheMoos Sun 15-Jun-14 13:36:55

Obviously, I meant to say smaller class sizes!

Hakluyt Sun 15-Jun-14 13:45:57

How small are the classes?

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 13:46:39

QUAILEGS - I understand the private we could probably join at Year 9 (but have concerns that friendship groups would already be set).

Getting into the state school, if we rejected it now, would be near on impossible.

Hakluyt Sun 15-Jun-14 13:47:03

"Yes I think the state school could make or break her....I'm not sure I'm want to take this risk."

What sort of "break"?

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 14:25:45

The break where she struggles with timetables/organisation/homework etc. As previously mentioned she has what I consider anxiety issues, which effect the rest of the family.
The constant stress of this would have an extremely negative effect on her.

willowisp Sun 15-Jun-14 14:38:22

Sorry. Missed this - private classes are around 12-15, state - 30 +

lljkk Sun 15-Jun-14 16:51:43

I kind of thought that most private schools would have more pressure about homework than state sector secondary.
DS was at a tiny private school which didn't care about homework and everyone had the same classes so he could just follow them around & not really know his way even if it hadn't been so tiny. A t avg size state secondary he still just follows people around to find his classes, I've found.

My experience of private school was that it had many kids like OP's. Our private school was good for pastoral care, but lousy for academics.

NCFTTB Sun 15-Jun-14 17:44:57

In your position from what you have said I would go for the independent one.

choccymoustache Sun 15-Jun-14 18:09:02

Big decision OP. I'm torn between a) advising you to go for the state option and donate the financial saving to charity, or b) to go private and let someone more appreciative have the outstanding state school place.

outtolunchagain Sun 15-Jun-14 18:16:16

Difficult one , the situation sounds familiar ,you aren't in a town begining with a W are you?

My feeling is that average will do better in smaller independent , but thestate can provide a broader breadth maybe

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