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Debunking 3 Myths Underpinning The Private V. State School Debate

(55 Posts)
Tabya876 Tue 14-Jul-15 22:29:36

I am writing this contribution because I am passionate about education and believe that some parents may struggle with some of the issues I struggled with. Although titled as this is, it is only my perspective that underpins this posting.

Declaration: I have 2 children. A 6 year old girl at a high achieving and academically selective independent school and a 3 year old son that is about to attend a nationally recognised ad high-achieving state school.

Myth Number One
All Independent Schools Are "Better" Than The Local State School

Definitely not. My daughter attended a so-called prep school in Milton Keynes for a year and a half (starting at age 2) before we moved her to the local state nursery.

Our daughter started speaking clearly at a relatively early age and had a well developed interest in words and numbers by the time we relocated to Milton Keynes and the prep school. There were several areas of disappointment with the prep school but one of the worst was that she regressed significantly during her time there. Colours, shapes, numbers, etc. that she once knew became unfamiliar, and she started babbling like a baby very quickly.

We mentioned this to the school and they advised us that she was a bit advanced of where they like them to be at that age thus, they were trying to hold her back. Hmmmmn!

When at the local state school she did not progress but at least she did not regress. She was also given many opportunities to challenge herself by demonstrating desired behaviour as well as how to do basic math and English

The prep school had been set up by a family that owned a building company with no prior or relevant experience. Their results were average and always had been. Paying for education does not guarantee better outcomes.

Myth Number Two

Children Of The Same Family Should Follow The Same Route (State or Independent)

It depends. The choice should in the main, be about the needs of the child and how a particular school can cater to the needs of that child. This should be irrespective of status.

Given the options close to us we felt that our daughter would benefit from a single sex education. Our son is, we believe, better suited to an academically challenging but co-ed school. There are no such independent schools that we like nearby. Thus, our daughter attends an independent school, and our son attends a state school.

Myth Number Three

Only Wealthy Parents Send Their Children To Independent Schools

The profile of our children's classmates parents are very similar. Mainly middle class or wealthy. Many are like ourselves, 'normal' smile. My wife is a homemaker (never worked in UK) and I am a salesman working in the pharma industry. We are certainly not rich.

We forgo many things that others deem essential, in order to give our children opportunities that we never had. Many of the parents at my daughters school are in a similar situation.

Myth Number Four

Being "ahead" in one school means that your child is super bright.

Children all develop at different rates. I have heard so many refer to their children as 'super bright', 'way ahead', 'academic', etc. What does this actually mean? relative to what? In what context?

My daughter was performing well in most subjects at her state school but is now pretty average in her current school. We never labelled her in any of those ways. All of the children on here appear to be so exceptional academically that surely, no one can be.

Anyway, just my thoughts.

AmazonsForEver Tue 14-Jul-15 22:34:51

You know, if you just wish to opine you could start a blog.
Your opinions hold no sway outside your immediate area, as schools (state and independent ) are all so different that your experience is unlikely to be that experienced by another family.

AmazonsForEver Tue 14-Jul-15 22:35:38

But thanks for the mansplaining.

GiddyOnZackHunt Tue 14-Jul-15 22:37:27

Do they teach counting?

kickassangel Tue 14-Jul-15 22:39:38

Big fives Giddy. Nods sagely atAmazon.

kickassangel Tue 14-Jul-15 22:40:36

HIGH fives. No idea how auto correct managed that. Nearly as bad as being unable to count to 3, no 4.

SanityClause Tue 14-Jul-15 22:43:44

Did you know that anecdote is not the same as data?

GiddyOnZackHunt Tue 14-Jul-15 22:44:03

I assumed you were 'down with the kids' and I didn't understand due to being a duffer grin

AmazonsForEver Tue 14-Jul-15 22:47:19

I have to ask why you paid for such a mediocre school in the first place? You left her there for a year and a half? Not sure I need your advice on education tbh.

kickassangel Tue 14-Jul-15 22:50:15

Me, down with the kids? You made me laugh!

sunshinerunner Tue 14-Jul-15 22:53:28

Which Independent school does your DD attend now? Is she much happier?

howtodrainyourflagon Tue 14-Jul-15 23:03:11

Damn you sanity I wanted to post that smile

Toughasoldboots Tue 14-Jul-15 23:06:43

I can go one further, I have a child at private, one at sec modern and one at superselective grammar.

I don't even know how I ended up in this situation, much less be able to de bunk any myths.

Different schools for different children.

roguedad Wed 15-Jul-15 06:39:33

I had to laugh at the comment on anecdote vs data. Mumsnet's entire existence is founded on anecdotal evidence. Huge piles of data and expert views can be dismissed on the basis of a single misunderstood experience. in fact I agree with the OP on most of those Myths being Myths. Doing the best for every kid does not mean doing the same, and some private schools are worse than some state. I've particularly noticed that in terms of resource allocation, where a lot can go into delivering the holistic tripe, trips and overblown sports that some feel it's worth paying for (not me) whereas a local state can be very good and academically focused. I've also experienced a state school that complained that my young son was too interested in spelling. Picking the school that is the best fit for a particular kid given your geography, finances and other constraints does not lead to fixed rules.

RolyPolierThanThou Wed 15-Jul-15 06:47:14

I fail to see how this is an example of mansplaining. The OP was making
no reference to any women issues, wasn't telling us his man's opinion because he deemed it more valid than a woman's (the infamous 'as a man...' prefix).

Our can ANY man issuing an opinion on ANYTHING be dismissed as mansplaining, now?

Sexism pisses me off. Reverse sexism is no better.

mnistooaddictive Wed 15-Jul-15 06:52:05

Your title says 3 myths but your post has 4. Thanks for your post. I am sure you meant well but it is incredibly patronising as if you think we are all little people with no understanding of the education system. Do you have any education qualifications or training in pedagogy that makes you the expert to explain in this way?

SanityClause Wed 15-Jul-15 07:21:25

roguedad, I have three DC, and experience of 3 nurseries, 3 junior schools (5 if you also count the ones where my DC only attended nursery) and 3 senior schools. These include both state and independent schools.

My experience is far broader than the OPs.

And yet, my experience of schools and schooling relates only to these statistically insignificant children and institutions.

Perhaps it is childish of me, but I do feel annoyed that the OP, with ridiculously limited experience would come on to lecture people about what s/he has learnt.

FWIW, I agree that all independent schools are not better than all state schools. I think you will find this mentioned on every single read where an OP is asking for advice on where to send their DC. So, nothing new.

I also agree that parents should choose the best fit for each of their DC, whether that be state or independent. Being able to afford independent merely increases the options available. Again, often mentioned on threads here.

Which brings me neatly to the third point. No, you don't have to be fabulously wealthy to send your DC to private school. But you do have to be wealthier than many in our society. Okay, many families may be able to afford prep school fees for one child, by giving up a few luxuries. But far more families can't even afford those luxuries in the first place, to allow them to choose to give them up in favour of private schooling.

And, once you have more than one child to consider, private schooling becomes beyond the means of far more families.

As for the fourth "myth" of the three, confused what is that to do with private education, anyway? Obviously ones DC may be at the top of their cohort in any particular school, but would not necessarily be if the cohort was made up of more able children. I don't really understand why the OP thought it necessary to pass that jewel on to us.

Baffledmumtoday Wed 15-Jul-15 07:45:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BabyGanoush Wed 15-Jul-15 07:57:40

But why is your opinion a "fact"?

I don't agree with your points.

Especially about how "normal" and "ordinary" the private school parents are. Just because they are normal and average to you and your social circle, does not mean they are in any way normal (as in "the norm") as the vast majority of people don't have the spare 25k a year needed to send 2 kids private.

Really, very few people have this kind of money shock.

If you mean "normal" as in "they don't all drive hummers, some even drive a 5 year old volvo.....well.

Maybe you just need to go out more and widen your world view.

I am sure there are some rich people (normal people to you) at this "national recognised high achieving state school" of yours as well. But what does that prove?!

But thanks for explaining us all how it really is.

MN164 Wed 15-Jul-15 08:25:03

"Although titled as this is, it is only my perspective that underpins this posting."

At least the OP had the grace to admit this upfront. Many posts on here do not, but are clearly anecdotes.

Anecdotes do not equal data - oh my, that is so so so true it hurts. How many times have I heard "I had a terrible time at a girls school ....."

The accusation of "mansplaining" may or may not be false, but some people rush to this far too quickly and therefore cheapen it's use, much like swearing when you can't defend yourself in any other way. You might think your fighting the feminism cause, but you're not. Your weakening it.

GiddyOnZackHunt Wed 15-Jul-15 08:56:16

I think the accusation of mansplaining comes about because the OP specifically tells us he's a man, uses firm statements rather than equivocal phrases and has neither invited debate nor come back to join in a debate.

Baffledmumtoday Wed 15-Jul-15 09:41:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MN164 Wed 15-Jul-15 11:46:00


There are plenty of posters that do that on MN. Many are women and some are men but don't say. That aren't accused.

Your only distinctive reason for explaining the use of mansplaining is because he's a man. Is that an opinion formed soley on gender......? wink

wheresthebeach Wed 15-Jul-15 12:02:43

Ouch OP - I'm afraid its rather patronising to talk about avoiding things that others consider essentials to afford private education.

The simple fact is that private education is out of the reach of most people even if they cut out holidays etc. You only have to look at average salaries to understand that - about £30k for men, £25k for women.

MN164 Wed 15-Jul-15 13:05:32

Sadly many of the best state schools are also out of reach. Take a look at the correlation between high academic attainment and low FSM intake. Private schools are also out of reach (steers clear of 10% on bursaries point) but private schools are a mere 7% of schools. High house prices and the wrong god account for much more exclusion that private school every have.

Patronising - a word much more often used than mansplaining when cogent arguments are running thin.

I prefer substance over form. If someone is rude but right .... they're still right.

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