Long boring ramble about which school to send my daughter to...

(25 Posts)
Thirstysomething Mon 06-Jun-16 13:01:05

Hi, I am writing this in an attempt to understand my own inability to make a decision about where to send my children to school. Most of my friends locally will send their children to the state school, so it is difficult to talk about the fact that we are lucky enough to be able to afford other options. Sorry about the ramble, but I would love any advice! I have four kids age 9 down to 2, we live in a very rural area, and until now they have all been very happy in the tiny village primary.
My eldest is a bright, hard working, bossy, slightly arrogant, but complicated, emotional, occasionally insecure little thing, she finds change difficult, will do anything to be liked, is just starting to turn away from simple childhood stuff and is strongly influenced by her peers and surroundings.
The primary puts years 4,5 and 6 in together and she is learning mostly with the year 5s and year 6s, so next year she will be repeating herself and educationally I think she could do with more of a challenge. However that isn't the main reason for wanting to move her, it is more that a) we are thinking of sending her to a boarding senior school and I think she needs a stepping stone and b) she doesn't have great role models and friends in the village school (there are only two other rather bitchy girls in her year) so is changing herself in an attempt to fit in, and is becoming unhappy. I am also not thrilled by the sort of person she is becoming.
It isn't a problem with the school, just that particular year, her younger sister, age 7, has a fantastic year by comparison.
There is a good private day school 40 minutes away, but with three younger children, the commute would be upsettingly time consuming and the bus leaves so early in the morning it would be a crazily long day. However I am prepared to do that and I really like the (all girls) school. I would not want her going to the senior school I don't think though, and nearly every girl in the primary goes on to the senior school there, I don't think they would prepare her for entry to another school. In which case she would probably go there for two years and then move to a boarding prep for years 7 and 8. This is tempting, but I am worried that it is moving too much for her, especially as she doesn't like change very much. However, it would be good in that both my elder girls could go there and the younger one stay for three years before moving.
The other option is for the eldest to go to a boarding prep which is an hour and 15 mins away. It isn't the best prep school in the world, In fact it probably isn't dissimilar to the day school, but it does prepare children to go on to the big senior boarding schools and I really liked it when we went round. Is she too young at year 5 though?! And her sister would probably go in year 4! I burst into tears thinking about it last night. I went to boarding school at 11 and loved it, but there is a big difference between 9 and 11...
Once again sorry for the long post.

BabyGanoush Mon 06-Jun-16 13:10:30

Try to be practical about it instead of emotional.

I would try and avoid too much change. Saying that, when my DS was very unhappy and doing badly at school I did not hesitate to move him to a private school.

I moved his younger brother too, as having them in separate schools is a logistical nightmare (different holidays and different inset days!)

Why don't you write all the feasible options down as option 1, option2, option3 etc.

Then rank them following the most important criteria to you, e.g.:
1.) academia
2.) travel distance/friends living far away
3.) cost

In your shoes I'd move oldest DD to the prep that preps her for the secondary school you want , but as a day pupil. Then let the siblings follow suit (usually people end up moving sibs sooner rather than later as they get fed up with commuting to 2 different schools). You can then let DD go to the senior school at 11 or 13 (I think that is usually possible)

As to the boarding, are you sure that is what would suit your DD best? Times have changed, things are different, lots of good private day schools about as well! Or even comps wink, we ended up sending DS to the local comp for secondary, which he loves (independence of taking the bus, having all his friends local to us, being at home with his family in the evenings, and in terms of academics it's a good school too.) Just mentioning this as your opinion on schools might change over time, mine did grin

Thirstysomething Mon 06-Jun-16 13:43:44

Thanks Babyganoush, I am trying to do a pros and cons list and like your idea of rankings.
Sadly the prep that will prep her for secondary school is over an hour away, so impossible to do as a day school.
We can't move house and the secondary schools we are in the catchment for are not an option sadly. State vs private is not the issue, I am open minded about all schools and would love her to stay at home for many many reasons, but logistically, I think your 'think practically' actually strengthens the boarding school option... Thanks heaps, back to my piece of paper!

mary21 Mon 06-Jun-16 16:06:12

1st question why not the girls day school for seniors? Boardong is less common now.
If using the boarding prep is Monday to Friday or finish Saturday lunchtime and return Sunday evening?
How many 9 yeat old boarders are there? Do ensure the pastoral care is excellent.
I boarded from 13 and enjoyed it. Ds1 boarded from 11. Pastoral care wasnt great and in tretrospect he was too young.
Also it does change your family dynamic

BertrandRussell Mon 06-Jun-16 16:08:40

Does she want to board?

NWgirls Mon 06-Jun-16 16:28:29

Based on this:
" bossy, slightly arrogant, but complicated, emotional, occasionally insecure little thing, she finds change difficult, will do anything to be liked "
I would prioritise finding a place where she will feel happy, and unless she really, really wants to board, to have her live at home. She is bright and hard working, and as you can afford private (and supplementary tutoring if needed), I also think you can afford to think primarily about her happiness (nice peers, good atmosphere, pastoral care) rather than results. Let her look around the alternatives (including other state primaries), and listen carefully to her preferences.

Brokenbiscuit Mon 06-Jun-16 17:04:55

bossy, slightly arrogant, but complicated, emotional, occasionally insecure little thing, she finds change difficult, will do anything to be liked

Personally, I wouldn't send her to boarding school if she is insecure and will do anything to be liked. And especially not at such a young age.

BertrandRussell Mon 06-Jun-16 17:05:57

She sounds completely unsuited to boarding school.........

Thirstysomething Mon 06-Jun-16 19:11:58

Thank you all, I think my description of her was perhaps a little misleading, while she has her insecurities I would say they have come mostly from a particularly tough year at her current school, which is why we are looking to change it. But thank you for your input. I am going round in circles on this one.
But as my mother says, if you can't make a decision it is usually because either one is right, just different.
Of course I am paranoid about boarding and her emotional state of mind - it is never a decision a parent takes lightly (or you hope it isn't!) but I also think that there are some strong arguments for it in our particular personal circumstances.
I have spent the last few hours scouring the forums and think I have confused myself more than I have clarified anything, so thank you again but I think I will go and have a good chat with dh instead and try to simplify the decision!

BabyGanoush Mon 06-Jun-16 20:29:27

You know what would be best

Deep down you know.

If you had to choose right now without thinking, what would you choose? (This works better in real time convo's grin)

annandale Mon 06-Jun-16 20:47:04

The tiny primary does sound difficult and i like that you are prioritising the right atmosphere rather than academics per se.

But a person close to me went to boarding school too young because of logistics and I can't recommend it. Boarding, especially at this age which I do think is too young, should happen imo only as the most positive of positive choices, i.e. the child is dying to board and loves the school or what it offers.

I'm not clear why moving is so out of the question and of course you don't have to tell us, but tbh it does sound as if you are living in the wrong place for the life you want.

pepperpot69 Mon 06-Jun-16 23:19:31

My insecure, frightened, scared of his own shadow DS went full boarding at 8 yrs (for reasons I can't disclose before you all shoot me down in flames) and leaves prep school this term, polite, confident, happy and head of school ready to face the world!!! He can't wait for senior school.
Yes I cried buckets at the time but would I change anything now?...def not! Go for it, you will never regret giving your child the freedom of opportunity.

happygardening Tue 07-Jun-16 11:15:26

My very very bright DS2 was bored rigid at a roses round the door tiny rural primary. When your better at math than your teachers you've got a problem! At yr 2 he moved to a boarding prep he loved it in the beginning, a change of head ethos rather marred his experience towards the end and he like his old primary academically he out grew it. But that's not a reason not to look at a boarding prep. He went onto full board at a senior school despite being given the option to either go day or weekly board.
He has thrived and will emerge in four weeks a quietly confident well adjusted considerate young man.
Boarding does provide stability and you learn excellent social/life skills because you will not enjoy communal living if you don't. Over the years I've seen a few "slightly arrogant insecure children" join boarding schools, st first they are given a chance but if this behaviour persists they are often disliked by their fellow boarders and avoided but this may be the best way to learn and modify your behaviour. My DS had a friend at prep like this, for quite a while his peers tried to like him and then actively avoided him, but over time he changed his behaviour and my DS then became a very good friend with him. They lost contact when he left prep but interestingly he is the only one my DS would like to see again. Many on here will say your DD is to young to board but we know lots who've boarded from a young age and the vast majority are well adjusted happy people with excellent relationships with their parents.

mummytime Tue 07-Jun-16 11:49:17

Sorry but I find it hard to believe that the only schools are: your village one, a private 40 minutes away and a boarding one over 1 hour away. Are there not any other state schools around, closer than 40 minutes, and bigger?
I really would look at all the options in the area.

Your village schools sounds too small in my opinion, as you have already found there is a huge limit in a tiny school on finding the right friends. For example my DC have all done much better going from Primary (90 in a year) to secondary (300 in a year). These may seem like huge numbers, but for very bright, or quirky, or just unusual children the chances of finding a real friend in 300 is far more likely than in 10 or even 30.

I would really worry about sending a child like you have described your DD to boarding school. It is so easy not to really know what is happening with and to your child at boarding school (its pretty easy at day school too - depending on your child).

The reason you can't make a decision is that none of the options you have at present are right

AlbusPercival Tue 07-Jun-16 11:56:43

Toss a coin.
Heads is day school, tails is boarding prep.

Whats your gut feeling when you see the result?

Go with that

uhoh1973 Tue 07-Jun-16 14:12:43

Small rural schools can be very claustrophic. I would consider moving to the girls school and staying there til 18. If she does not like changes why move twice? Visit all the schools you are considering. Personally I wouldn't go for a boarding option (we live a long way from a decent school...). We are also a 40min drive to a prep school and 1 hour from a girls' school. I think currently its too far for us to go but when the children are bigger I would consider it. You could move to the 2 older children and keep the younger 2 closer at home? A friend of mine said there's no point paying for private school before Key stage 2.

pepperpot69 Tue 07-Jun-16 22:34:30

uhoh1973 you are very lucky! Our school is 3 hr drive each way..no other. option!! My DCs are very happy so distance is not an issue and shouldn't be a barrier.

sendsummer Tue 07-Jun-16 23:05:22

will do anything to be liked, is just starting to turn away from simple childhood stuff and is strongly influenced by her peers and surroundings
It sounds as though she needs / craves the security of friendships and belonging but needs kind friendships with discouraging of less pleasant behaviour. She's not getting that from her primary and the group of girls are unlikely to change much in that age group.
I would ask for her to have a trial at the day school and a trial boarding stay at a couple of preps and take it from there. The potential advantage of boarding is that feeling part of a group and forming friendships happens much faster. However you would want to be sure that the boarding pastoral care was experienced and strong enough to deal swiftly with any of the usually inevitable problems between girls of that age.

senua Wed 08-Jun-16 06:59:41

Most of my friends locally will send their children to the state school, so it is difficult to talk about the fact that we are lucky enough to be able to afford other options

It seems that this school got mentioned once and then tossed aside. Is it really not suitable at all? Just because you can afford doesn't mean you have to. Can you not tolerate the Primary for just one more year and then go to the State secondary (and then change at Y9, if you still want).
Your post does seem to smell of pfb-itis. She is one of only three girls in her year so you don't have a lot to compare to. Does she really need all this upheaval and logistics or would you find, when you get to bigger classes in high school, that she's not all that. (sorry: that probably reads really harshly but I hope you understand the concern. She's only doing some Y6 stuff in Y5, it doesn't sound as if she is that advanced).

Everything seems tied up in schools. Can you not get friends and stimulation from other sources - Brownies, pony club, St Johns Ambulance, a tutor, online learning ...
If you have enough money to pay for boarding fees four times over then that is a lot of money. There must be loads of permutations open to you, other than school fees.

Ohtobeskiing Wed 08-Jun-16 17:51:15

The other option is to move house! Your children are still quite young and you could be looking to spend an awful lot of money particularly if you anticipate all of the boarding at some stage. Could you move to an area where there are more suitable state or private day schools?

Redindianqueen Thu 09-Jun-16 18:50:22

Hi, sorry for long absence, we can't move for family reasons that are too long winded to raise here (I was boring enough in the original post!), and yes, we really don't have any other options, she is in year 4, not year 5, there is another state primary locally and her year is very oversubscribed with a waiting list of siblings - I have already been to talk to them. The only other state option is a failing school with too many problems to list. I don't know what pfb-Itis is, so can't confirm if I have it or not! I think we are going with the long daily commute to the girls school for the eldest and leaving the other three where they are and getting some help so that they don't have to do 3 hours in the car twice a day. (Today's decision anyway!)

Redindianqueen Thu 09-Jun-16 18:51:43

PS and yes, she can come back to the local secondary if that is what she wants when she is 11.

Redindianqueen Thu 09-Jun-16 18:52:38

PPS sorry for name change!

Pythonesque Fri 10-Jun-16 23:43:26

My eldest started boarding in year 5, just before she turned 10. There were very good reasons and she's going to continue boarding for senior school. The big thing without which it would not have worked, was that going there was her own personal choice and she really really wanted to do it. I'd be wary of sending your daughter to boarding prep at that age unless she's very very keen. Tricky to establish until you've made up your mind what you are willing to offer her though, I realise! Good luck deciding and sorting out the logistics.

Silvertap Wed 15-Jun-16 06:30:39

Could she not stay at the day school for senior if she gets on well. 3 x day school fees is a lot cheaper than 3 x boarding! I'd do exactly what you're doing for now and then make the next decision as it arises.

For the posters who disbelieve I'm also in the situation of being unable to move and having one local secondary. The next closest is 45 mins away. There are two primaries. Not everyone lives near towns with masses of choice!

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