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Is private school the ultimate option if you can afford it?

(75 Posts)
Raqueli Thu 07-Aug-14 09:49:58

Hi - hoping for some opinions and advice!

We live in an area with fantastic state primary schools (outstanding on ofsted, high on dfed league tables for key stage 4 achievement, affluent area). And a good state secondary - not as good as private schools or grammars for results and not as good as the faith state schools in the area, but pretty good. So a fortunate situation to be in.

Except dh went to private school and we are debating whether if you can afford to go private (which we just about can) we should, as in terms of results private schools rank higher than our local state schools, and in terms of facilities there is a huge difference. But would mean money was tighter for other things (holidays, home improvement etc) and would mean we would both have to keep working in reasonably senior jobs.

What do people think? If you can afford private school would you still go for the state school and live more comfortably, work less hard? Or do you think if you can afford to go private it's always the best possible investment for your children?

hercules1 Thu 07-Aug-14 09:52:59

Marking my place as in similar situation apart from it being secondary.

motherinferior Thu 07-Aug-14 09:56:59

No, of course it's not 'always the best possible investment'. Depends entirely on what your local schools are, to stat with. Selectives are higher in the results table because there aren't so many kids who're not going to get stellar results overall; doesn't mean there aren't plenty of kids who will get stellar results.

I'd blow the money on gin and racy novels, myself.

Lucked Thu 07-Aug-14 10:04:30

Well lots of people don't agree with it on principle so obviously they don't think so.

I think there are private schools and then there are elite private schools. I don't think I would consider sending my kids to eton/harrow etc not only because I wouldn't want to board them but because I think a lot of people there are not from normal backgrounds.

However a local private day school where I am happy with the ethos and pastoral care then yes. We will have to make sacrifices too but education is more important for us. We won't be on the breadline and we are fine with holidaying every two years.

I do have a concern that my children wouldn't get to know the kids who live in neighbouring streets or have many local friends so I may send them to the local primary and I am going to make sure they join local clubs .

TheWordFactory Thu 07-Aug-14 10:12:51

OP, you need to ask yourself what you want out of an education for your children.

Not what anyone else says is better or best.

Now ask yourself if you can get that in your local state schools or private schools that you can access...

For me, what I wanted for my DC could absolutely not be found in any of my local state schools. Decision made!

tumbletumble Thu 07-Aug-14 10:24:53

We could afford private school, but have chosen to send our DC (age 4, 6 and 8) to the local good primary.

The main reasons are: they are happy and are getting a perfectly good education there, I believe that mixing with a broader socio-economic group can be beneficial in later life, we save money for other things and it makes us feel part of the local community.

However, we will consider going private in future if necessary, eg if they were unhappy or not achieveing well.

I attended a state primary, got a scholarship to an independent secondary and went to Cambridge university, so I am sure that influences my opinion.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 07-Aug-14 10:26:26

Honestly - I think the ultimate option is hand made home education, with hand picked world experts on a rota and endless trips to illustrate every point of interest. (Remembering that Henry VIII started Eton for boys who didn't have that option...)

But that probably isn't what you meant. IMO (and with experience of both) it would seem perverse to go looking for a fee paying primary school if you have outstanding state schools on your doorstep that you and your DC would be happy with.

Take the time to expand their horizons as you see fit; as they mature you'll be able to judge exactly what they're going to need from their senior school(s) and you can choose accordingly.

tumbletumble Thu 07-Aug-14 10:26:36


So much for that amazing education of mine!

Hakluyt Thu 07-Aug-14 10:31:53

"Or do you think if you can afford to go private it's always the best possible investment for your children"

Depends. There are private schools and private schools. I suppose it would be possible to argue that sending a boy to one of the "top" two....oh, ok then, top five... is an investment in their future in terms of networking.

TheWordFactory Thu 07-Aug-14 10:37:28

zero I know it seems perverse not to use outstandning state schools, but that's exactly what a lot of people around here do! The terouble is no matter how gresat the state schools they simply nver have the space or resources to compete with the local prep. And the parents can afford waddya gonna do?

Spanglecrab Thu 07-Aug-14 10:38:15

You say that you can just about afford it. Have you factored in a potential rise in fees? I would say add 10% per year to be on the safe side.

TheWordFactory Thu 07-Aug-14 10:39:47

hak contacts would be the last reason anyone I know would invest in an education (and I know a hell of a lot of parents who pay!)...

Raqueli Thu 07-Aug-14 10:44:05

I'm a bit of a geek so have had a proper look at the numbers - though tbh the fee increase I factored i wasn't quite as high as 10%! We have some savings.
The other thing is we have effectively paid a premium for the house we live in now because of the schools - we live in West Yorkshire and to be honest the state secondaries in general are not great, so there are huge premiums in houses that hit the catchments of the better ones. So we could probably get a similar house for a lower mortgage if we opted for private school.

TheWordFactory Thu 07-Aug-14 10:53:45

Hmmm... Secondary education in west yorkshire aint great OP.

Hakluyt Thu 07-Aug-14 11:03:25

"hak contacts would be the last reason anyone I know would invest in an education (and I know a hell of a lot of parents who pay!)..."

I know. But if you're thinking of it in terms of a long term investment in your child's future..well, your son's future......then the top two might well be worth for the contacts. If you can overcome the little difficulty of not having the contacts already through your familygrin

Hakluyt Thu 07-Aug-14 11:04:20

"Hmmm... Secondary education in west yorkshire aint great OP."


TeenAndTween Thu 07-Aug-14 11:07:53

We could probably afford to educate privately, but we don't.

- Our local secondary and 6th forms are very good.
(Primaries, not so good, but good enough and I can backup at home)
- Socially I prefer that my DDs mix with a wide range of backgrounds
- I am capable of providing extra support if needed, or if needed money saved can be spent on tutors
- I'd rather give my DDs extra experiences out of school with money saved
- Not bothered about better sport
- By not having to work to pay school fees, we have a better quality of life

However, I have no problem with people who weigh up the pros and cons differently.

TheWordFactory Thu 07-Aug-14 11:19:08

huk W Yorkshire has been historically dependent upon mining and education was not particularly valuable. Now with the closing of the pits (another one due to close later this year) there is high deprivation. Add to this yoorkshire's pride in being the backbone of the north and its antipathy to the south and London, and educationally you have the perfect storm...

PancakesAndMapleSyrup Thu 07-Aug-14 11:47:51

I have been educated in both systems, state primary, state secondary until 3rd year where it was stated that i probably wouldnt pass any gcses. Q the shift to secondary private. It fitted me, i passed everythung with good grades in 2 years. DH went private from yr4 to an indie where he coasted, beautiful facilities large well knkwn boardingand day school, his gcses mediocre same for a levels. He admits that this particular indie did not suit himbbut having gone to a state he would have probably done even worse. This was the tyoe of child he was however. Ds 6 1/2 started off in state coped badly he is now flourishing in his 2nd indie, because the first one didnt fit him.
What my point is, is that its not the best school in terms of achievement you need to look at and the beautiful groundsetc its the school that will fit your child the best. Be that state or private. I would however go private everytime but choose the school carefully.

PancakesAndMapleSyrup Thu 07-Aug-14 11:48:29

Bloody tablet!

Johnogroats Thu 07-Aug-14 12:01:46

We are in this position now....

DS1 at great London primary, and we are in the middle of 3 good/ outstanding secondaries. DS is bright so will probably go into the top stream...I think he will do well academically wherever he goes. He is a grafter and pretty serious.

Or we could try to get him into grammar ( long train trip) or somewhere like Dulwich College at about £20k per child. We have 2. I know that he would get an outstanding education there and that the facilities are amazing....but it is soooo much money. DH thinks it would be good for his confidence ( DH went to a poor comp and rates the confidence that kids seem to get from private schools). I ( who went private) think he s already extremely confident and don't want him to become arrogant and entitled.

Difficult one.

knickernicker Thu 07-Aug-14 12:12:52

Talking about social make up of independent schools, DD's is interesting. It's 70% white van man and 30% children from abroad there while parents work on shirt term placements.
The state school DD came from had a broad social class range.

Taz1212 Thu 07-Aug-14 13:12:58

The question is too general to be answered. grin I was supposed to go an elite New England boarding school. I had other ideas and intentionally blew my interview. I had a fantastic state education which I truly believe was almost on a par to the one I knocked back and I had opportunities outside my school which I wouldn't have had at Groton.

When it came to DC, I wanted to replicate my education as much as possible. Unfortunately, the local high school is absolutely dire, not just in terms of results, but also course options and extra curricular activities, and so we have gone private.

For us it is the best possible investment, but if we had lived in a different area with schools along the line of my former school, we would have stayed in the State system.

1805 Thu 07-Aug-14 13:16:27

OP, you have to base your decision on your own personal opinions.
Think about what an ideal education should offer - in your opinion - and chose the school that can offer the closest fit to that. It really doesn't matter if it's state or private. Get the best fit for your child.
We have dc1 at a selective private, but are looking at both state and private options for dc2 senior school. I just want the most suitable environment for each dc.
Dh and I were both educated at rough state schools, and we did ok!!!

TheLateMrsLizCromwell Thu 07-Aug-14 13:40:18

Big difference between primary and secondary. Many who spout a moral obligation to send their DC to state primary and sheepishly change their tune for secondary.

I teach in a state secondary, and for us every penny we spend on the indie school our DC go to is well spent. No because of results, but because for children who want to learn and want to work hard, there is no contest. If you have a 'bright' child, they could coast in our 'outstanding' state school and get the required results, but their learning experience would not be as good, they would not be as well prepared for the real world of work. The level of academic rigour and standard of other students uni is a shock and saddest of all, the 'to school for school' ethic prevails. A recent study showed that 6% of state school students drop out of uni in the first year, compared to 3% from independent. A child who is constantly told they are 'bright' becomes complacent, and assumes A* is the be all and end all.
For us, its the ride, rather than the destination that is important - at the indie there is no coasting, independent thinking is encouraged and facilitated, because working hard, and not coasting is the culture.

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