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Anyone moved to private infant/junior school and regretted it?

(16 Posts)
frostymomma Mon 29-Jun-15 11:29:05

We have a quick decision to make, with one week left until the end of term for the private school that we're interested in, and I'm panicking. Any advice or first hand experience gratefully received.

DD is in Yr3 and DS is in Reception. Both are bright, although DD has some anxieties and a few minor social communication difficulties that we're seeing CAMHS about. As a result of this, she is in the process of being assessed for ASD at the recommendation of the CAMHS lady (although both us as parents and school don't think she will come out as anything above the bottom of the spectrum, if she's even on it at all... but that's another story).

We have always planned for DC to go to private secondary, but are thinking that significantly smaller class sizes might benefit DD now. Also, the transition might be easier now, rather than aged 11, by which time she may (hopefully) have started to form some friendships (at the moment she doesn't have any true friends, and tends to spend a lot of playtime on her own). I would hate for her to be making headway in this, only for me to wrench her out of school in 3 years time.

However, both DC are happy at school (DS in particular, as he has a strong friendship in his class), and it's a good school (not particularly academic) and maybe it would be the wrong thing to move them now.

I'm really torn, and ultimately want to do the right thing for the children.

There's obviously the other considerations, such as the long-term financial commitment (which we think we can manage if the status quo stays the same, but dread to think what would happen if either DH or I were to be made redundant), but I'm sure lots of people have these concerns.

If anyone has any first hand experience of moving children part-way through primary, I'd be really interested to hear about it - good and bad! And anyone who has any advice about children with minor SEN moving to private schools would also be very much appreciated.


lionheart Mon 29-Jun-15 11:53:42

Moved my DS at the end of year 3 instead of at secondary (which was the original plan). He'd recently had a diagnosis of HFA and we thought the best thing for him would be the smaller classes, a smaller school and the slightly more controlled environment he could get in the private sector by virtue of class size.

He is now in year 5 and it was, without a doubt, the best thing we could have done. He is a very different child now, less stressed, happy, and working to a much better standard.

My DC are spaced differently to yours so one thing which did prompt the move was that his older brother was going to the new school. It seemed sensible to keep them together (and less of a logistical problem).

I think children are very much more able to adapt than we give them credit for when it comes to things like this and any worthy school will have decent transition plans for every children, NT or not.

frostymomma Mon 29-Jun-15 12:02:40

Lionheart, your comments make me feel so much better. Thank you. I'm so pleased you found it worked well for you. I definitely think the structure will be a positive thing. Did your DS find it easier to make friends in the new environment or do you think it was about the same as before? How long did it take him to settle in?

colander1 Mon 29-Jun-15 12:55:13

Moved both mine at primary (year 3 / 4 ish) to independent sector and wished I had done it earlier. DD1 has mild ASD, the structure and smaller classes suit her well. DD2 is NT, but needs challenging or she gets bored (not disruptive, just will happily sit there doing nothing!). She wasn't getting that where she was, but is now absolutely flying and loves school. Our plan had always been private for secondary, but we brought it forward a few years and I think it has been one of the best decisions ever. Good luck.

lionheart Mon 29-Jun-15 13:03:01

The school was very good about the transition especially since they had experience with other children on the spectrum. The first couple of months were hard because I think the newness made him tired and emotional but for all that, he was much more content than at the other school. No problem making new friends--and the teachers were more able to keep an eye on what went on in the playground than at the other school.

So, he settled quickly into the day to day routine and liked the boundaries, the routine, the more controlled environment (less noise, fewer bodies and so on).

He really was not on the radar at the other school, partly because of the numbers but to be honest, I don't think the teacher was that bothered about attending to his needs. He was not demanding and not disruptive but often very stressed. This was at an outstanding school. We made the decision to move him quite quickly in the end (probably in the last month or so of the school year).

Have you had a chance to look around the other school? If you talk to them it may well be that they can alleviate some of your concerns about the transition and settling process.

frostymomma Mon 29-Jun-15 13:07:25

Thanks colander. Great to know (Had to google NT, but glad I did - note to self.... need to brush up on acronyms blush).

colander1 Mon 29-Jun-15 13:09:39

Google is always a friend when it comes to acronyms!

frostymomma Mon 29-Jun-15 13:26:20

Lionheart, we went to visit the school on Friday (last minute decision, sounds similar to you). We really liked it, saw lots of happy children and can see what we'd be paying the extra for in terms of breadth of activities, facilities, quality of teaching, achievements of pupils, etc. Only thing that freaked me out a little was when the Head asked a yr 4 class a question and ALL the children put their hands up! Uber-confident, but I guess that's something else you pay for (like it or not).

Both children are booked in on Thursday for a taster day/assessment (a little worried re the 4 tests blush DD will have to do as she's not really had to do anything formal before, but have set expectations of the Head in terms of what she's great at and where she struggles, so fate will decide that one). Have positioned it to the children that it's an opportunity to see Mummy's old school (I went to the senior school) and they seem ok (if a little excited) with that. Am hoping they'll be wowed enough afterwards for me to suggest they could go there... And would put my mind at rest somewhat if they both like it. No idea what I'll do if one or other doesn't approve though - will make the decision even harder. Will cross that bridge when we come to it.

One thing I wasn't sure about was whether to tell the Head about the CAMHS/ASD assessment - I know it shouldn't, but I wondered if it might count against us. On the other hand, they may be able to put my mind at rest. I might just wait until after (and if) we get an offer and then raise it.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences - it's really helpful to hear from people who have been in a similar situation.

lionheart Mon 29-Jun-15 14:13:38

Good luck frostymomma. The tests and the tester should be child-friendly if the school is a good one.

The point about confidence is an interesting one. My DS had really rock bottom confidence at his other school (issues with handwriting, processing speeds). The move has changed this and not because he is in an environment which over praises but because the teachers talk to him about his targets, areas of improvement, strengths and weaknesses and so on. In fact they used the entry tests not only in order to say yea or nay but also to plan his education for that transitional year.

I told the school about the diagnosis beforehand although I did hesitate (like you). They didn't bat an eyelid--it turned out there are three other children in the year group with the same issue.

I am with colander on this--best decision I made.

Millymollymama Mon 29-Jun-15 16:11:27

Can I just say that every decent teacher should talk to children about their targets, areas for improvement, praise strengths and plan how to tackle the weaknesses regardless of being in a state or private school! They should also plan lessons and differentiate for the various children in the class. Often independent schools put children down a year who are struggling to make life easier for them and I have seen little understanding of SEN at some private schools. If it is too complex, they run a mile, because if there are poor results and destinations, parents notice and they can't let standards slip. Other schools truly do educate everyone, state and private.

lionheart Mon 29-Jun-15 16:14:21

Yes, they should and many do.

EeyorePigletAndPoohToo Tue 30-Jun-15 17:51:49

Hello, I hope your children get on well at their taster day on Thursday.

I would definitely tell the Head about your DD's CAMHS/ASD assessment, as this will tell you a great deal about the school's approach to SEN and/or 'quirky' children. We moved from state to private half way through the academic year when DS1 had just started Year 3 and DS2 was in Year 1. DS1 has a full diagnosis of autism plus an interesting selection of added extras (!), and has 1:1 support at school. Many private schools wouldn't have touched him with a barge pole! However the private school we found is absolutely brilliant for both of our sons. DS1 has moved down a year and is now thriving. DS2 is being challenged in a way that never happened at our state school. In fact our experienced is very similar to what MillyMolly says above. I would also ask to speak to the senco at the private school, who will also give you a clear idea of the school's approach to quirky children!

Moving our children has been the best decision we ever made!

Madcats Tue 30-Jun-15 18:51:59

I moved DD at yr 3 (I think there were 3 newbies that joined an established pre-prep class of 15). The kids and parents went out of their way to make us all feel welcome. The new school is a feeder school to secondary so I stressed to DD that friends she made at 7 were still likely to be friends at 18 (whereas children at her old school would be moving to 5 or 6 different secondaries).

It is worth talking about SEN (not least because most schools charge extra for SEN support and I believe it isn't always cheap). They might guess anyway, so it is best to be honest now rather than discover in 6 months' time that a school really isn't set up to help.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

frostymomma Tue 30-Jun-15 21:44:33

Listening to you all, I think I'll definitely talk to the school about the SEN stuff. If they respond in a negative way, maybe that will make the decision for us.

Madcats, good tip re how to position the friends dilemma with DD. Think that would work a treat.

Thanks for all your good wishes. it means a lot.

Cakecrumbsinmybra Wed 08-Jul-15 15:59:56

This might be a bit late for you now, but we moved DD last year from an Outstanding primary to an Outstanding prep school. It was a really hard decision but because she got a scholarship we decided to do it. One year on and I'm hoping there's a place back at her old primary in Sept. I knew right away that private school wasn't for us at this stage, but the primary school is popular and she has been on the waiting list to get back in. She has settled really well in the prep, and I feel bad for moving her back, in some ways, but the fact that we are not in our local community school has had a big impact on us. IMO it is better to save the money for secondary (if this is an issue, it isn't really for us, but I feel the money would be better spent later on) and keep strong ties and local friendships for as long as possible. I don't know if I will feel differently about going private in the future - quite possibly, but for this last year I have felt like I opted out of our community and in way, society, and when I think about the amount we spend on one child, it makes me feel a little ill. That's just me though, and I'm lucky as I have an academically-strong child who is very sociable and happy.

There is no doubt that the sports provisions have been better, the art projects more sophisticated and the children better behaved overall, but I really miss being part of a primary school - had we joined in pre-prep then I am sure I would feel differently. Good luck!

Cakecrumbsinmybra Wed 08-Jul-15 21:11:19

I would also add, as someone on here recommended to me when I was considering it, if you can only do it on current income alone then you should not do it - it's a massive burden on your family.

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