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tying myself up in knots about state vs private

(37 Posts)
susieb19 Tue 16-Feb-16 20:54:09

I an exhausting myself churning over the options of single sex private vs co Ed state (a v good one). Dds current school is over subscribed Catholic. Pretty good but 34 in the class with one teacher. Am having my head turned by small class sizes on offer at nearby private (where I actually went and loved). Any views appreciated??? Thanks

happygardening Wed 17-Feb-16 02:43:51

We had the choice between a top grammar school (but a ridiculous commute), our local "outstanding high achieving" comprehensive or paying we considered all our options and choose to pay.
I personally am not overly interested in class size but the independent school my DS had a place at offered what we personally wanted from education. No school is perfect and for us paying fees was a significant financial decision but we couldn't get we believe education is all about any where else. So assuming you can afford it what you have to decide is it you want from education and then decide who is in the best position to provide it?
My DS is now in yr 13 we've less than five months to go, I do not regret my decision, when I listen to him talking I am delighted and relieved to see that he has had the sort of education that I wanted him to have.

AStreetcarNamedBob Wed 17-Feb-16 05:48:29

Why are you dithering? Can you afford it? If so then it's a no brainer for me.

Kanga59 Wed 17-Feb-16 07:56:09

I agree with Bob. 34 children and 1 teacher vs private is a no brainer if you can afford it

christmaswreaths Wed 17-Feb-16 08:19:43

No brainer - we did it and saw a transformation in all ours

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 17-Feb-16 09:25:44

I am not so convinced it's a no brainier. Go round the schools and see what you think first hand and use that to decide which you think will provide the education you want. As a pp has said, deciding what you personally want from it all is key.

I see you went to the private school yourself, but it will have changed. Obviously, it's probably a perfectly lovely school still, but generally, a crap school is still crap, even with smaller class sizes.

My dd's class has, at times, hit 34, but she has still had a great education there. We could afford to move her but I see no reason to. It's all down to the school, in the end.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 17-Feb-16 09:26:08


Rightsideofthetracks Wed 17-Feb-16 09:29:40

I agree with happygardening,but for us this meant boarding.This means you can send your child to right school.Some independent schools are awful ,we have a local prep and for the life of me I can't understand how it's still in operation.So just make sure it not too small and children are going to the schools you want for your child.A bad independent can fail your child like no other.

BertrandRussell Wed 17-Feb-16 09:38:13

Too small classes are a disaster. And a private school with tiny classes and vacancies would ring alarm bells for me.

Duckdeamon Wed 17-Feb-16 09:41:33

As well as looking around etc consider the financials.

Can you afford it? Do the sums and factor in fee increases, additional childcare (longer holidays), extras etc.

Is the private school OK financially? If it's a charity you can look at the accounts.

Gruach Wed 17-Feb-16 10:37:33

Not much to add except to say that if you can afford the option of paying fees you cannot afford not to undertake thorough research. Compare and contrast half a dozen other schools that meet your criteria - like as not somewhere else may suit your DD better.

Zampa Wed 17-Feb-16 10:42:12

I've always been very anti-private schools for political reasons. However DSD is currently applying to independent secondaries and I am gobsmacked at the facilities these schools have. I doubt that I'll ever be able to afford a private school education for my DCs but I would seriously consider compromising my ideals if the money were available.

wickedwaterwitch Wed 17-Feb-16 10:45:24

Can you afford it?
Have you looked at both?
What are both schools results like?

We sent both ours to private schools and in both cases it's been great.

willconcern Wed 17-Feb-16 10:46:07

Personally I think it's a "no brainer" to pay to go private when you have a good state option.

BertrandRussell Wed 17-Feb-16 10:50:39

"However DSD is currently applying to independent secondaries and I am gobsmacked at the facilities these schools have"

Why are you gobsmacked? They have lots and lots of money!

Zampa Wed 17-Feb-16 11:16:25

Oh, I know BR but it's just that I've never really thought about it properly! I suppose I was just thinking that they'd have smaller classes!

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 17-Feb-16 11:23:12

It really isn't a no-brainer for a great many people!

I am not a fan of private schools but the thing I hate most about it all are the pat assumptions made that private is just, well, somehow better.

John O Farrell speaks for me great piece!

DeoGratias Wed 17-Feb-16 11:29:54

I have always paid and I went to a private school myself and it's worked out very well for us. Send her to your old private school. It sounds like you liked it there.

Relatively small classes are helpful unless it's a very academic school where all children work at the same level but even then my children have had classes of about 23 or 24 - enough to bounce ideas off each other. If the classes are too small then it can be a bit dull. In one AS my son is one of two at present although that is not going badly at all. Only 2 of us did German A level at my school. I didn't mind that.

howabout Wed 17-Feb-16 12:21:39

Not sure what age your DD is?
I live within easy commute to "the best" state schools. They are all oversubscribed and have class sizes of upwards of 30. They are also full of DC with parents who have actively chosen to pay more for the catchment area and then go on to pay more through external tutoring. It is an extremely competitive environment and one I would not choose.

In contrast I live in a much less desirable area and class sizes are around 25 or less. High achieving DC with interested parents are very much not the norm and so mine have always been able to take advantage of enrichment opportunities without having to compete. Now they are at secondary academic subject choices and streaming lead to small hard working classes but within a school with a much broader perspective than a small selective private school.

I was concerned that my DC would not be stretched enough or would not fit in but that has not been my experience to date. There is always the option to opt in to the private sector for later education but I think it is harder to do the reverse.

In your situation I might be looking for a less sought after state option.

Cookingwine Wed 17-Feb-16 12:58:40

DC1 is academic and sporty and managed an academic scholarship in a top London school so we felt he would make the most of the private education and send him there. DC2 has ASD, refused to work for the 11+, so we have the choice of leaving her at her pretty average private all girls with no provision or knowledge of ASD or sending her to an outstanding co-ed state school that has about 50 kids on the spectrum and lovely support staff. If she gets a place at the state school I would probably send her there. Jury is still out for DC3. She loves the average primary private and would like to stay there for secondary.

reallyhopeitworksout Wed 17-Feb-16 13:25:28


You're in a good position as your DD is already there so you don't need to second guess what the effects of the large classes are. How does your DD find the large classes? Has it had any positive/negative effects as yet? Are the classes streamed, if so the size of the class probably has less impact. Is the class size an issue for you or DD?

I have a DS at a (top 50, so pretty good) private school, with small classes and I see no difference in his attainment than with DD who is in a super selective state school with larger class sizes, but that might be because both of them are working alongside kids who are similar academically. DS school has nicer grounds and tarantulas and snakes in the science block, DDs landscape is urban (but quite cool) and not a reptile in sight. Each school fits them well and they both feel lucky to be there.

susieb19 Wed 17-Feb-16 13:55:04

Fantastic views thank you all SO much.
My girls are 8 and 9. The eldest has 34 in her class - she is breezing through school really. Higher end of average I'd say on most subjects. She is also very calm and stable (gets that from my husband!) and nothing really phases her. She is learning well despite the large class but I feel she is also overlooked and could be brought on a bit more. She tends to get her head down and get on with it. She is also a very happy little character.
My youngest (8) is in a class of 32 with an NQT. Because I have been on at the school over her work, she is doing ok. Not great but ok. She simply does not enjoy school as much and finds it all a bit of a chore. I do a lot of one to one with her and she learns quickly. I think her learning has suffered this year though due to a very large range of ability in a large class. I would whip her out of there tm to be honest.
Private education x2 is not a no brainier for me. We are talking £2.3k a month when they both are in y6+. We can do it - but it's a big financial commitment. The next school for them is an outstanding Catholic secondary. What puts me off this school is that it's city centre, with well over a thousand pupils. Is it wrong of me to want to cosset them (and I accept I am doing that) in a cosy, friendly, small school with 15 in a class instead of 30-40???
The money we spend to give them a
Private education will be what they would inherit when they don't need it so much. I just can't quite put my finger on what is nagging away at me. It might be that I feel I am cheating the system sending them somewhere private ?? Confused and not very lucid (sorry!) xx

susieb19 Wed 17-Feb-16 13:57:30

Sorry I should make it clear - they are currently in a catholic primary that is a feeder school to the outstanding Catholic secondary.

BoyGirlBoy3 Wed 17-Feb-16 14:01:02

A vote here for the comprehensive! Good state has been great for our 3.

HocusCrocus Wed 17-Feb-16 14:04:30

Well, I was coming on to agree with pps that if the state option is good it is not a no brainer, and that very small class sizes are not necessarily a good thing and that if you are thinking about paying fees then definitely look at more than one option before you decide BUT

All that has now gone by the board having read that reallyhope is paying good money for her DS to go to a school with a tarantula in it. For me, ethos, teaching, class sizes, results would come secondary to "no spiders". Either that or they agree to do parents' evenings via Skype grin.

Seriously though, if you have the option I agree with happy , think in the round about what you want for your Dd, visit a few and then see which school fits most of it. If your current state school is very good I am not surprised you are not finding the decision easy (not helpful I know).

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