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Private primary - should we do it?

(33 Posts)
Limpetsmum Wed 01-Jul-15 09:23:35

I have three kids under 4years. We've just looked at a private primary which is lovely and high achieving. It's regarded excellent by league tables etc. We can just about afford the costs for three kids + nanny care in the early years until all three are in school.
We do however have very good state primary schools and perhaps the biggest difference with going private is class size and tailored teaching rather than facilities. (Although the state primary we had been thinking off does seem to take advanced kids or struggling kids out of the class for smaller group teachings as well. - is this the case in all primaries? )

We're not sure if we're going to privately educate at secondary level as we have an excellent local comp. it's not as high achieving as some of the private secondaries and I'm sure lacks a lot of the facilities but i was thinking money saved in school fees could be spent on extra curricular activities and we may end up with more down to earth kids.
I was hoping that by giving a good start to our kids in private primary this will hold them well during their secondary education, and some of the traits that come with private education see them through their secondary education.
Has anyone done private primary and state secondary? Did it work out? Were your kids happy switching to state ed? We can commit to private secondary financially if needed.

And lastly, is private primary worth it? I'm just not 100% sure we're making the right decision. We won't have spare cash after fees and Childcare and will be the family with the smallest house and not going on holidays etc. Ie making sacrifices in other areas to afford private ed.
I'd be grateful to hear opinions of those who have privately educated in primary to gauge their thoughts.
It's not just finances that are holding me back - I perhaps have innate prejudices with private ed -having been state ed)

Mrbrowncanmoo Wed 01-Jul-15 11:15:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

iseenodust Wed 01-Jul-15 12:01:38

DS started in state primary & moved to private for yr5. His village primary was excellent & differentiated extremely well. However it was poor on sport (DS is sport mad) & the local secondaries are not great. The independent junior school has been a mixed bag. Excellent sport, great bunch of friends, fab trips but teaching not differentiated to anything like the same extent. Bluntly IMO DS is not where he would be at in his best subjects had he stayed in the state primary. We are in it for the long haul to A levels though and would not change our decision if we went back in time.

In your place, with three DC to fund, I would start in state primary and see how you go on.

fleurdelacourt Wed 01-Jul-15 12:10:40

But you will still need the nanny for evenings and holidays even when all the kids are at school?

I think if you're really that unsure, I'd start at the primary - you can move them later on if you're not happy?

IME it doesn't matter at all what kind of car/house you have at an independent school - no one is bothered, Least of all the children. But several years without family holidays would be pretty tough on you?

Gottodash Wed 01-Jul-15 13:38:16

Absolutely go for the good state primary and save your money for secondary if you need it imo.

mamaslatts Wed 01-Jul-15 13:45:21

Don't forget university fees for 3 kids either, if they all want to go. Your children might thank you more for keeping them out of massive debt than the private primary. You still have private secondary option if you want to. If the private option is really going to impact on your finances to a great degree I would really hold off if there is a good local state primary. I think the country is still in a state of flux finance wise and you might be better off saving your money for now.

Not all indies are created equal either - my friend has just moved her 7 year old out of private due to horrendous bullying that was not dealt with.

prettywhiteguitar Wed 01-Jul-15 13:49:38

It really depends on the school and the fit for your children, we put ds in at primary as he was struggling and the class size meant he wasn't getting the help he needed.

He has thrived but that is as much to do with the fit of the school as the change from state to private

MMmomKK Wed 01-Jul-15 13:57:57

No one can say if private is worth it in general. It's only possible to answer this question for an individual family/child.

If you are happy with the state school than most likely the answer for you is NO, at least not at this point.

You can always start in the state school, see how it goes and move him to private if you change your mind.

Bunbaker Wed 01-Jul-15 14:01:36

From my experience and the number of threads I have read on here, I think the general consensus is to try the state primary first if it is an excellent school as you might like to hang on to your money for private secondary/tutor fees/university. I'm not convinced that going to private primary and state secondary is that beneficial.

Trambuctious Wed 01-Jul-15 14:04:57

From what I've seen, people who go private are very reluctant to put their children back into the state system. I suspect that it's part status driven, part about the nice facilities and that they as parents may be treated better and kept more involved with the private school, in addition to the issue of whether the education is better or not. If you send your children to private, you will be under a lot of pressure to keep them in the private system. A good state primary is fine - far more important to keep your money for secondary and uni.

Limpetsmum Wed 01-Jul-15 23:12:30

We're lucky enough to have investments which will hopefully fund secondary school fees (if needed) and university. So although we don't have spare cash now, we should have investments which will pay off in the future.
The reason for possibly preferring state secondary is that I'm not necessarily keen on some of the personal traits that come with privately educated kids (as I say, I'm aware of my prejudices!) and therefore it's not a choice between affording one or the other. Our years of Educating 3 kids in primary private will be tight and what I'm trying to decide is whether it's worth the sacrifices we'll make in other areas of our lives.

My problem is that I don't have the confidence in my parenting ability to get the best out of my kids as I am quite ambitious in my career and not sure I can dedicate the time that my kids will need to get the best out of them. (I know that comment is going to make some mothers out there angry- sorry). I am therefore thinking that I can pass on some of that responsibility to a private school and hope with that extra help, my kids will achieve their potential. My dilemma comes as I'm not sure I am going to get that. Do kids who are privately educated do better than they would in an outstanding state primary? Have parents noticed a difference and if so what and why?

Trambuctious Thu 02-Jul-15 08:35:34

I've had experience of both, though our private school wasn't "excellent". IME private schools have a far more traditional curriculum, which puts a lot more emphasis on eg grammar and traditional maths, and much less on creativity and the children working independently rather than being spoon-fed. Right from the start they are sat down at individual desks and are working hard on traditional work, whereas in primary there is a lot more of learning through play, sitting on the carpet, etc. They will be further ahead academically at 11, but not in a significant way - children who move to private at 11 catch up very quickly. There may be more after school clubs at private primary, but not necessarily.
Maybe a middle way would be to go state, but get an aupair who can then take the children on to after school activities?
I think that it's at primary that children are most likely to mix happily with people from different backgrounds, so probably a mistake to send private if this is a priority for you.

Theas18 Thu 02-Jul-15 08:42:50

My feeling is/was that actually the social skills developed at primary are possibly better gained in a mixed social environment reserving paying school fees at secondary level for kids who would really benefit from that environment ( and IME that is not the very bright, or SEN but the middling kids who might get lost in a comp).

That is unless you are in a grammar/superselective area. The private prep schools are very much geared up to getting kids into the grammars.

3 very close in age would be financially a big commitment too.... though if the wrap around hours with early starts and prep after school means you don't need additional childcare I can see it would maybe workout.

downgraded Thu 02-Jul-15 08:45:43

I teach in a private primary, which my child also attends.

To be honest if I was paying full whack I think I'd save my money for secondary. The curriculum is pretty much the same, often the facilities are no better (very young children won't necessarily get to use an art room, or a music room, or top notch sports facilities).

I don't think the children are stretched any more than in a good primary, and sometimes the SEN support isn't as good as in state.

Disclaimer - not ALL private schools have the same facilities, some are better, some worse, and I'm comparing to a GOOD or outstanding primary with good support, facilities and pastoral care. As ever, it depends on the two particular choices in your area.

Nolim Thu 02-Jul-15 08:45:53

Watching with interest.
Op i can identify since i also have a demanding career and i wish that my children get a benefit out of it since my oh and i are not going to be able to spend as much time with them as if one of us was sah.

MMmomKK Thu 02-Jul-15 10:59:13

It all depends, doesn't it. It seems that he best way for you to decide is to really understand the schools available to you, their approach to learning and their results. And, of course, talk to the parents and observe the kids.

In our area there are "academic" private schools and "happy" private schools. The kids in the former are pre-selected and move at a faster pace - they take 7,8 or 11+ exams.
The teaching is not old fashioned with desks, etc. In fact, it's rather creative.

State primary schools go slower as there is no exam pressure.

For my kids private works well as our choice of state schools is not great.

hardboiled Thu 02-Jul-15 13:17:17

My feeling is/was that actually the social skills developed at primary are possibly better gained in a mixed social environment

Absolutely agree with Theas18. If you want, as you say, "down to earth" kids, then those primary years are IMO crucial. That's when they become the people they will be, little people, but it's all there.
You mention extracurriculars outside school to support secondary, but secondary school can be very time demanding and the more extras they can fit in their school day the better. Actually the best time to do outside extras is primary, when they have less homework, no exams, finish earlier, etc.

The kids we knew in private primaries had twice or thrice the homewrok that DS had in his outstanding state primary. I am not saying this is the case everywhere, but it was with some of our friends. I saw some stressed 8 year olds sad

In terms of the personal traits of privately educated kids, my DS is attending a private secondary. He has a group of lovely friends who are polite, caring and fun and display no sense of entitlement in any way. They find each other. Also, the school organizes many more charity events and community involvement opportunities for the students than the state school.

I woul definetely go for state primary and private secondary as you can afford it.

Limpetsmum Fri 03-Jul-15 04:18:25

Thanks for your comments. It's a tough decision and one I have to make ASAP as eldest starts in September if going private. (Fees paid and he's signed up).
If league tables are anything to go by, the private primary is in the top 25 Times list. I do very much like the school itself and it has a lovely nurturing atmosphere.
However our state school of choice is rated 'outstanding' by ofsted and although doesn't have the same 'homely' environment has a lot going for it. As a state primary I was very impressed with it and would have been perfectly happy with it had I not explored the private option. It is also a feeder school to a local comp that is in the top 20 comps of the country (although, we should still be able to get into that comp if we go private primary).

I don't want finances to drive my decision on education as we can technically afford private (with the sacrifices we are willing to make). But at the same time I don't want to be 'wasting' my money foolishly just because private is an option.
Any more comments from above or others gratefully received. Thanks again.

ssss123 Fri 03-Jul-15 05:29:48

Dc1 is also starting in September and we had a similar decision to make. Originally we thought we'd only get into a not very good state school so we accepted a place at a well regarded prep. We also have good state secondary schools (selective though) so thought it was worth paying for private primary. Very unexpectedly we got into a good state primary in April which made us reassess. The ethos of the state school is great, parents seem more down to earth, facilities are just as good as the private option plus they get kids into some of the super selective private secondaries each year. Hence, we turned down the private prep place (losing a terms fees in the process). Only time will tell if we have made the right decision.

ssss123 Fri 03-Jul-15 05:32:51

Just to add that the fees wouldn't have been a struggle (only have two kids though) but it seemed stupid to spend money on something when the state alternative was good.

happygardening Fri 03-Jul-15 07:55:29

My DS's did a mixture up until yr 2 when both were moved to a prep school (boarding) that went to 13+. At the prep academically the children were much further ahead, the curriculum was significantly broader, French 4 times a week, Latin 3 times a week, history, separate sciences in the science lab, art twice a week in the art dept twice weekly music in the music dept, etc all with specialist teachers/classrooms, also games four afternoons a week, the curriculum was very much broader than any state school can provide best of all the children were streamed and then further differentiation in the class especially for math. But this is unsurprising they were meant to be preparing children for entrance into some of the countries most selective schools. Having said this if I could do it all over again I think I would look more carefully at my choice of prep.
But DS1 went fairly briefly went to a more "normal" "private primary" before moving to the prep frankly I struggled to see the real difference between this and a one of our local high achieving primaries with mainly ambitious MC parents that friends DC's attended apart from small classes.
I'm not quite sure what "traits" your hoping a private primary will instill but I think if that matters to you then your going to have to pay all the way and I also think you may have to choose your independent secondary rather carefully, some of the traits you might be thinking (not just a sense of entitlement but positive traits as well) of are often associated with big name schools with matching large fees.
In the early years we didn't have many holidays although we were very lucky in that we lived in a falling down twee cottage with a large garden in beautiful area very close to the sea, the sort of place people go to for holidays, but it was very tough especially for my DH who worked long hours and commented a lot somehow staying at home having days out is just the same as going away. Having said this many work hard and can't afford fees or holidays!
You also need to factor in extras, if your budget is very tight do find out what they will be I can imagine that three children could generate a sizeable extras bill especially as they get further up the school.
Personally I think I'd start off doing state primary, many private primaries and preps have intakes at yr 2/3, by then you'll hopefully know more about your individual children's academic strengths and weaknesses, you might also have an independent senior school(s) in mind and will need to have your DC's in a school that regularly sends children to this school.
Finally I also wouldn't take any notice of league tables for primary many big name preps are not included because they don't do the tests required to be in the league table, also you don't know how many have dropped out under the pressure to achieve this is sadly not uncommon I'm afraid.

Bunbaker Fri 03-Jul-15 09:56:49

Our village school is in the top 20 primary schools in England. While there are plenty of children in our village who enjoy private education at secondary school, no-one goes to private primary school because there is no need. The village school has been ofsted outstanding for many, many years and offers a rounded education with plenty of extra curricular activities. It also has an award winning orchestra who have played at the Albert Hall.

I was sad when DD left that school because it was such a wonderful school, and still is.

TheWordFactory Fri 03-Jul-15 11:11:24

My DC attended a fabulous prep.

But, to be frank, that was luck rather than judgement. We chose it because it was around the corner and looked lovely, with lots of green space. And we could afford it smile so why not?

Once there, I began to see the things that made it excellent. And if I were to advise on what makes a prep worth the pretty green, I'd suggest the following (in no particular order).

Small class sizes.
Full time TAs.
French introduced early. And properly (if possible by a native speaker).
Latin introduced early.
Subject specialist teachers from year 3.
Proper setting (so you need a large intake).
Daily sports and teams with regular matches.
Priority placed upon music, art, drama.
Excellent facilities.
Varied extra curricular activities.
Kitchens that cook proper food.

TheWordFactory Fri 03-Jul-15 11:13:43

Should add though, that we went private for secondary too, so can't comment on transition.

happygardening Fri 03-Jul-15 19:42:26

There can be a very big difference between a private primary or a high performing and a top 13+ prep school of the type word describes or I'm familiar with. There's also often a very big difference in fees as well. I suspect there isn't a huge difference between a private primary and a high performing state primary.

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