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Private schools (!!!)

(144 Posts)
Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:05:35

First-off, I'm a dad not a mum. I hope that's allowed.

I have become something of an expert at private schooling in the last 12 months having come to know four local private schools intimately. My kids all attended an excellent school that closed due to financial trouble last year. So many people have said to me "it can't have been that good if it had to close" but trust me it was an outstanding school. In fact its closure was really down to the fact that the school could not find a buyer because it was too expensive to buy as it owned all it's own property without mortgage/lease etc. So it was rather a victim of it's own value. (The prospective buyers instead purchased a hugely indebted school just down the road with a low-cost leasehold at a bargain price - I mean it was cheaper to buy that school than it was to buy my house...)

Anyhows, our school closed and my three kids were all effectively "dumped on the street" looking for new schools. My eldest child (DC1) is year 10 so was a GCSE priority - we immediately put DC1 into a supposedly "outstanding" school. My middle child DC2 in year 8 is dyslexic and my youngest DC3 is a bright year 6.

For DC2 we looked at all options - state and private. DC2 was offered bottom-set classes in a number of state schools though each of those schools warned us that the experience would be far removed from what they were used to. We were permitted to covertly observe the relevant classes in those state schools and identified disruptive, aggressive and disinterested children. So these schools were our last resort "back-up-plan".

We took DC2 to three (purportedly non-selective) independent schools for 'taster days'. The feedback from two of these schools was that DC2 was simply "too weak" (exact words) and, in one case, "simply the most academically challenging child we have ever encountered". Trust me, DC2 isn't that bad!

One independent school offered DC2 a place mainly because they need the numbers. Never a good reason to go to a school but families can take advantage of these schools in the circumstances if they are happy to take the risk of the school going-under.

My youngest DC3 went to a supposedly outstanding independent junior school.

The reason for my post? Frankly it boils down to the cynical and farcical way these independent schools are run. My year 10 DC1 has studied triple science quite satisfactorily for months only to be told they was no longer good enough for that in the new school. I objected and have struck a deal where DC1 might possibly study triple science if they can prove themselves in the year 10 exams and that will require me (dad) teaching and supporting her to coach her through those exams (the school will not do any more than they are doing). DC2 has been told they might not be able to do GCSE maths unless they get extra help from home (me again, dad) to get them up-to-speed. Notably, neither of these schools believe that the children are incapable of these exams, more that they won't support them taking the exams unless their results improve markedly.

Anyhow, my observation is that I pay handsomely for these kids to attend these schools, I hold down a full-time job and I now find myself having to teach them myself! I mean there are teachers whose actual job is to teach these kids to get them up-to-speed - they have the time and training to do it (especially in independent schools) yet it falls to me to do it without teacher training and with much less time.

My point is: I have got to know a lot of independent schools through this process - I mean really got to know them. I know how they think, I know how they work and I know what drives them. If we had our time again I would not use independent schools full stop. This is not an extreme reaction to a school closure, and it is not limited to any particular type of school. We are talking about small intimate schools, a huge independent grammar school, a GDST school and a Cognita school. They are all the same. I am a product of state schooling and I would definitely work hard with even the most speculative of state schools before going through this crock of crap again.

Caprinihahahaha Fri 18-Mar-16 13:08:28

God, you are an expert. How fab that you are here. It's what I personally have been waiting for - someone who knows four schools intimately.
It's simply the best day.
I hope you are ensuring that your children also know that the more exclamation marks the better.

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:10:32

like !!!

Caprinihahahaha Fri 18-Mar-16 13:12:12

That's it !!!!!!

This is just the best day.
<sits down and waits for more expert words>

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:13:42

How weird.

Well just to counterbalance, we couldn't be happier with all of the four private schools our dc have been to.

I am a product of state schooling too <not sure of the relevance> but snap!

Vixxfacee Fri 18-Mar-16 13:14:11

So put your kids in state school then. Problem solved.

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:15:53

Yes we will. If you don't think my experience is useful I can just ask for the thread to be deleted? Thought it might be helpful to someone at least. There are a lot of questions on here about private schools - people looking for experiences.

I think my experience of state schools is very relevant in a thread about private schools. They are, afterall, the only two options.

Caprinihahahaha Fri 18-Mar-16 13:16:30

But do you know them intimately ThroughThickandThin?

Also, you have a shocking lack of !!!!!


Vixxfacee Fri 18-Mar-16 13:17:58

Well most of us have experience of either state, private or grammar school.

SingingSands Fri 18-Mar-16 13:18:33

Sounds as though you have been through a very frustrating process to access the education that your children need. I have zero experience of private schooling, but from what you have described, your children deserve better than what is being offered.
Is state schooling an option? Sorry, not quite sure if that's what you're asking in your post, or just making an observation.
It must be hard having to make these decisions mid-way through an academic year year, I hope your children do well in their new schools smile

Vixxfacee Fri 18-Mar-16 13:18:50

Maybe it's your location? Which part of Surrey are you from?

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:19:18

Yep - and all grammar are either state or private. Anyhows, since I'm only "something of an" expert I don't proclaim to know everything, just sharing my experience. Ignore it and walk on by if you please.

Caprinihahahaha Fri 18-Mar-16 13:19:22

The problem is that you assume that your experience determines the entire spectrum of both state schools and private schools.
It doesn't.
Two of my DC went/go to private schools which are fantastic. The other one goes to an utterly brilliant state school. I went to state school and I wouldn't send a dog there.

Piratepete1 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:20:18

To be fair, I find it hard to believe that the school that closed down was 'outstanding' if your children are doing so poorly in other independent schools. My nieces go to an independent school and, despite one of them not being the brightest, she is still far and away ahead of her state school counterparts. My children will follow into the same independent school. We attended an open day last week and almost all of the Year 6 children were working 2 years ahead and it is a completely non selective school. I would be more angry about the fact that it seems your last school let your children down.

A good independent school should be advising you of the best way forward for your child. Maybe 3 sciences will be too much??

momb Fri 18-Mar-16 13:20:29

Welcome Anthony. You are no longer a fan of the independent education sector then? Can I ask why you haven't moved your children? You seem to be throwing good money after bad?

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:20:48

Thanks SingingSands. Yes we are pursuing state school except for DS1 who is in the midst of GCSE studies so she will stick-it-out. Her results will be amazing - something we find independent schools are good at, but we all know that's not everything.

titchy Fri 18-Mar-16 13:21:02

So this truly exceptional, outstanding school, they used to go to, wasn't financially viable and hasn't taught your two eldest enough for triple science or maths. Gosh - perhaps you should have honed your expertise a few years earlier when you originally chose this school.

I'm sure we're all really grateful you're here though. That's the problem with MN these days, only silly little mummies post and they clearly have no idea about what really happens in private schools, not being daddies and all that.

So thanks smile

Clobbered Fri 18-Mar-16 13:21:04

Were you aware that your DC1 and 2 were struggling this badly with things at their old school? It does seem to suggest that it wasn't as outstanding as you thought. Dyslexic kids aren't always as well served in independent schools as they are in the state sector - it's very variable, as you have discovered. Your DC1 probably needs to stay put, with GCSEs looming, but perhaps you could reconsider for sixth form, and keep looking for a better fit for DC2?

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:23:41

Thanks Caprinihahahaha.

PiratePete1 - it's not so hard to believe. It's just my experience - I'm not fibbing about it. My kids aren't the brightest either and you're right - the results are relatively outstanding at the independent schools - there's no question. They are very selective though, so that explains why they get a lot of the top grades (i.e. seemingly excluding kids from even trying sometimes - not always, just sometimes).

momb - yes we will go for state school for the younger two.. can't do that for DS1 due to GCSEs.

guerre Fri 18-Mar-16 13:26:43

Well, there's home ed, too, actually.
I think you're completely blind to the fact that the original school that closed was in fact far from good.

Quillered Fri 18-Mar-16 13:27:29

A parent who knows a school "intimately" after a few months is, in the schools' parlance, a troublemaker, or "difficult".
Leaving that aside, I get your comments about the school not wanting children they view to be not up to scratch taking certain GCSEs, presumably because that will affect their overall results / league table position.
I think that happens in state schools too, although perhaps less commonly. And it is annoying.
One of my DCs attended a very much non-selective, very small private school. It had a lot of "quirks", but I was impressed at how one of the teachers, when I commented that my DC was struggling at their subject, dedicated many of her lunchtimes to giving DC one to one lessons (no extra charge). Many state schools (and no doubt privates?) have teachers available for extra help during lunch breaks, as drop in sessions. At one of our state schools 6th formers offered weekly lunchtime tuition for children who were behind. Do your schools offer this kind of thing?

Anthony71 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:28:05

I'm sorry titchy but I'm not sure why you assume my kids results weren't good - they were excellent (well, DC1 and DC3 anyway). DC1 is going for a lot of the best grades, just in dual award science not triple (that's not a debate I'm particularly interested in). DC3 is a bit of a smartypants. DC2 has trouble - very different kind of kid, but jumped a few years in one academic year at his previous (now closed) school.

And the school that closed down lost pupil numbers so wasn't bringing in enough fees to pay the staff. That's why it closed. That's partly because people chose to go elsewhere and partly because there was >20% drop-off in private school applicants in the area anyway. Neither of those things detract from the fact that I thought it was a good school. It's subjective though.

Piratepete1 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:28:19

Maybe you liked the original school because they told you what you wanted to hear and did what you wanted them to do, regardless of what was best for the children. Now you are having to face a few home truths you are finding it tough.

EverySecondCounts Fri 18-Mar-16 13:30:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Piratepete1 Fri 18-Mar-16 13:31:03

I'm sorry but no child who 'jumps a few academic years' is then told they are not good enough to sit GCSE maths confused This is a very strange thread.

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