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Does anyone else think their DC's private school is rubbish?

(148 Posts)
Mynameismummy Tue 13-Oct-15 10:50:33

Ok...I'm asking for a pasting here, I know - but I'm desperate for some outside opinions. My DCs go to a private (primary) school which is full of the usual promises and blah blah blah. I'm cynical enough to accept that this is part of the territory....but they seem to fail on every score. It's academically so-so, the pastoral care is iffy and everything seems to be aimed at putting on a good show for the parents. Everyone else goes on about how marvellous it is (until you get them one to one when, funnily enough, they all seem to have a story of woe about how their child can't read/is being bullied etc). I wonder how much of it is the psychology of people liking to big themselves up and how much I'm the only one who sees how crap it is. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Buttercup27 Tue 13-Oct-15 10:54:27

A few years ago my mum used to work at a small private prep school as a kitchen assistant. One day the head teacher came into the kitchen and asked the cook if my mum was busy and could she be spared for an hour. When the cook asked why it turns out that the pe teacher was off sick and he thought mum could teach the glass as she once said sh liked watching the country dancing!
I've always been a bit wary of small private schools since!

LisbethSalandersLaptop Tue 13-Oct-15 10:55:22

No offence Mummy but you could have done more research before choosing it. What criteria did you use?
Are there any other schools that you like the look of, state or private?
All parents at all schools will have a tale of woe one to one!!

LisbethSalandersLaptop Tue 13-Oct-15 10:56:09

I know there was a small private primary school where I used to live in Hove, and I know for a fact that the teachers were told to source their own materials from charity shops.

CremeBrulee Tue 13-Oct-15 11:00:23

If I felt that a school I am paying thousands of pounds per term to educate my DC was below par I would be serving notice and moving my DC elsewhere pronto. I would be wasting time congratulating myself for being the only parent smart enough to see through the marketing bullshit. confused

DramaQueen38 Tue 13-Oct-15 11:00:47

My dd went to a private prep school and I was very disappointed with it, for several of the reasons you state. It's hard when you are choosing a school for your pfb, when they are about 2-3 years old and you have no idea what to look for or focus your priorities on. We were thinking of moving anyway so I hastened our move and moved ten miles away and put her and then her db into a different school (which is just marvellous, I'm a huge fan of it.)

Micah Tue 13-Oct-15 11:03:02

I went to see an outstanding, beacon award, everyone desperate to get in school, albeit state.

I got exactly the same feeling, it was all a big show for the parents, box ticking, and parents were buying into the marketing.

I knew a few parents, they all said it was marvellous, but press further and there were many tales of bullying, with the school denying any bullying happened rather than dealing with it. I think the parents had bought so far into the idea of fighting to get into this sought after school, that they didn't want to admit they'd got it wrong, and little johnny would have been far better off in a more effective, less showy school.

I wouldn't have touched it with a barge pole, even with no fees.

Mynameismummy Tue 13-Oct-15 11:05:00

Buttercup - love it! Bit like that at DCs' school tbh...

Lisbeth - no offence taken, but the irony is that we did feel like we did a lot of research! I suppose it's like going for a job - unless you know someone well who works there, it's very hard to get an honest/unbiased perspective. We were new to the area, looked at 4 or 5 schools, went to visit them all read inspection reports, asked anyone we knew who might know (not many). But you're probably right that everyone has a tale. Thus just seems so shockingly bad compared to what they say they do!

PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 13-Oct-15 11:06:54

If I felt that a school I am paying thousands of pounds per term to educate my DC was below par I would be serving notice and moving my DC elsewhere pronto.

this, if you aren't happy get your kids out

Lurkedforever1 Tue 13-Oct-15 11:16:06

Dds only just started y7, however the difference is its not small or new, and there's too much historical evidence to even suspect it's not what it says on the tin iyswim? In your shoes I'd put my money where my mouth is and move.

I don't think it is just an independent thing though. The all singing and dancing outstanding leafy state primary near me I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. Dds council estate, high Fsm, high Sen, below average on overall achievement at one point 'needs improvement' primary was amazing in every way.

lavendersun Tue 13-Oct-15 11:21:41

We did OP, like you we didn't have a clue. Outstanding apparently (but the head was an inspector for schools so we felt she would know how to get an outstanding rating).

To be fair we chose it for the nursery, it was the only place I could get the three days a week I needed to go to work and DD was so happy we stayed on.

20-22 in a class with an unqualified teacher in reception, not that qualifications are everything, but she was pants. Would have been lovely as a nursery supervisor.

So we left, now in a 'good' state school which is fabulous, very very experienced teacher plus full time HLTA in a class of twenty odd - couldn't be happier with the learning experience.

No school is perfect for every child imo but the good bits at ours outweigh any negatives ten fold.

Mynameismummy Tue 13-Oct-15 11:22:25

Thanks all. Obviously we are thinking "out" - just don't want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire! Problem with moving is that once you're private you're generally forced to stay that way unless you get incredibly lucky and a space comes up at one of the good local schools (and some of the ones near us have some problems, which is why we opted to pay in the first place). My DH is now questioning whether all private schools are like that, hence your opinions are really valuable!

lavendersun Tue 13-Oct-15 11:24:46

I know that they aren't all like that OP. Ours was very small, maybe 150 kids, privately owned, no board of Governors, Trustees, whatever they are in a private school.

It was like Mr Owner of Private School Inc.

DramaQueen38 Tue 13-Oct-15 11:26:58

We had the same fears mynameismummy, but for us the second school has been everything we hoped for. Good luck.

insan1tyscartching Tue 13-Oct-15 11:39:25

Dn went to independent secondary, he got very average GCSE's and much worse than average AS levels so could never understand why they suggested that his parents took him to view St Andrews, Durham etc as possible university placements. He got 2 Ds at A2 which wasn't a surprise considering previous levels but was to SIL who had believed the rubbish she had been fed.It's a sore point that 15 years of private ed ended with nothing to show for it tbh.

Nummynums Tue 13-Oct-15 11:54:31

I'm in this position at the moment, my dd is in reception, if you read my other threads you will see my issues and I too am worried about places in state schools. It wasn't an easy decision to send to private, I think on the whole state ed quality is better but the school we got into we didn't feel dd would fit in as high EAL and kids did not make expected level of progress upon leaving year 6 so we reluctantly sent her to the private thinking it would be better. Plus the state school we got into had no after school care, many of the parents were unemployed so there was no demand for it.
I too have noticed the parents being very reassuring on the surface about how good the school is but dig deeper they have concerns but don't want to do anything about it.

TalkinPeece Tue 13-Oct-15 13:28:42

All schools change.

My secondary school (London, selective, private) was great until the head changed and then it went downhill fast.
The new head was forced out, astoundingly got another job and was very publicly forced out of that.
This being the 70's there was no internet or way for my parents to find out what was really going on - so my bad exam results were rather a shock to them not to me though.
The school took years to recover.

The up side of private schools is that, by definition, the families with kids there have the resources to vote with their feet once they find out.
If they do not, more fool them.

SugarMiceInTheRain Tue 13-Oct-15 13:44:10

DS1 (briefly) went to a private prep school nearby. Lots of the very well-off families were sending their children there and when DS1 didn't get offered a place at any of our preferred state schools, we approached the school (on the recommendation of others) and they offered him an 80% bursary due to him being academically advanced. School seemed wonderful, great facilities, beautiful grounds etc etc. Problem was, they couldn't cater for him. They liked the children to be bright, but not too bright, and couldn't handle children who didn't conform to the (very narrow) norm. He was utterly bored there, and started to act up (he has Aspergers) because he wasn't being challenged. In addition, during the short time he went there, he developed a stammer, several nervous tics and started wetting and soiling himself again. The reception teacher was hopeless - every day asking me for strategies to help him, then ignoring all my suggestions and doing things that would set him off. He was asked to leave the school and fortunately we found him a place in a good state school, where he has thrived, and where they were willing to challenge him, teach him at his level etc. Had we not found a state school place, I would have home-schooled him until one became available rather than leave him there.

I too got the impression that most parents wanted to stick their fingers in their ears and ignore any problems rather than address them. A couple of parents quietly expressed their concerns, for example, about the school being biased in favour of girls and streaming them according to how neatly their work was presented. Others didn't seem to care about what went on in the classrooms because the school was 'so wonderful' for sport etc etc. One of DS2's friends recently left the state school my boys attend to move to this prep school. When his mum asked why DS1 left (after gushing about the wonderful grounds and small class sizes) I just said 'it wasn't right for him' and wished her son all the best there. Some people don't want to know they are throwing good money away.

PerspicaciaTick Tue 13-Oct-15 13:55:16

Are parents playing the long game? Overlooking concerns and choosing not to rock the boat in the hope that the school will help their child get a place in a desirable secondary school?

SheGotAllDaMoves Tue 13-Oct-15 15:51:15

Just move your DC!

The absolute best thing about private education is choice. This in itself is worth the fees...

Grazia1984 Tue 13-Oct-15 17:02:40

In our case they have all been good actually. We've been lucky and I'm not just making that up. One North London Collegiate and the juniors and seniors were brilliant (and the results are)

Lamere Tue 13-Oct-15 17:34:43

Hi I've had different experiences for each of my children. Eldest - who would probably thrive in most environments - did well and got into a selective secondary. Second child probably would have performed just as well at a good state primary. Have voted with our feet for the third and is doing well at our local 'good' primary school. If you're not sure, probably best to save your money for tutoring later, universities etc... Wish we did the same for our second.

Hulababy Tue 13-Oct-15 17:36:38

I was very happy with the independent primary that we sent DD too. I am also very happy with the independent secondary DD is at.

If I was not happy, I would move her. I certainly would not have left her at a school I was not happy with for the whole of her primary education.

happygardening Tue 13-Oct-15 20:39:03

I gradually came to he conclusion that DS2's prep school mediocre at best, but the time I fully realised it I was too close to his senior school entrance exam (6 months away) to move him. I wasn't alone in this view when I talked to others about poor teaching in certain areas of the curriculum they seemed surprised I'd only just realised this, many has been supplementing mediocre teaching with private tuition for years. Frankly. I was stunned if I'd found out earlier I would have moved him, but they seemed pretty chilled to paying out very large sums of money for mediocrity.
My experience of state ed. is no better. DS1 spent a three years in one of the countries top comprehensives I and many others I spoke to thought it was bloody awful.

Namehanger Tue 13-Oct-15 22:00:22

Took DS2 out of private secondary in year 7, didn't even finish the spring term. It was so terrible, bullying, mediocre teaching, mediocre sport and endless pointless homework.

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