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Difference between good local and good private primary school?

(18 Posts)
choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 08:41:07

Our son is 3 and we are debating between sending him to a good local primary school down the road (it was inadequate a few years ago and this year it's rated good), and a good private school 15 mins away by public transport.

Both my husband and I work full time. If I was a SAHM I think I'd be happy with (and we probably could only afford!) the local primary school as I'd around to make up for any areas that he's not getting at the school due to lack of resources (eg academically, after school activities).

However when we toured the private school where DS has been offered a place, I wasn't sure how much better that school is compared to local school. At this young age it seems that the kids all roughly learn the same things? Or will the private school give kids more opportunity to excel if that is his temperament/ability.

Is there much difference academically and pastoral care between a good local school (not outstanding) and a good private school? Anyone sent their kids to a private school but decide to go local or vice versa?

We are just not sure whether it's worth paying the private school fees for a "good" private school (if it was rated "excellent" it would probably tip the scales more for us). His little sister will be starting school in a few years so it's double the fees. It's affordable but just about.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 23-Jun-16 08:47:08

There've been gazillions of threads with this dilemma over the years. I had a similarish one way back and sent the dcs to the primary school. My reasoning was you should always try out your local school, , if it works then you gain huge advantages in saving cash, walking to school, a local network. If it doesn't work for whatever reason, you can move your child later. If you're unconvinced by the private school that should be the deciding factor.

melonribena Thu 23-Jun-16 09:03:20

I agree with Margaret. You'll probably find he doesn't miss out on anything and the bonuses of him going to school in the same area as his friends will be lovely as he grows up.

Seeline Thu 23-Jun-16 09:08:56

I think that no-one else's experiences will count that much as they will not involve the same two schools or the same child.
Which school can you see your child thriving in - which style of teaching/ethos will suit Ds best?
decide on that and then you can work out if there are any extras etc required.
You can always reassess at 7 (or earlier if necessary).

teacherwith2kids Thu 23-Jun-16 09:11:28


As a very general rule, if both schools are 'good', then I would suggest that you start with the state primary. You can much more easily move state to private than the other way, and there is very little advantage of private at a very young age - and in some cases a disadvantage, as some [not by any means all] private primaries introduce formal learning (and formal learning styles e.g. subject lessons sitting in desks for long periods of time) rather earlier than equivalent state schools, and this does not suit some children particularly well, even if they are academically able.

The only thing that you may need to take into account is the next step. If your plan is a competitive-entry prep at 7, then the private school will prepare your child formally for such tests in the way that a state school won't. Equally if you are looking for highly-selective state or private schools at 11+, then the private schools are allowed to, and do, make exam preparation part of their curriculum from a very early age, whereas 11+ test preparation is specifically not allowed in state primaries.

I know this all seems a vey long way away at 3, but IME the ONLY thing that a private primary has going for it, especially at a young age, is its specific preparation for a competitve, selective next step if that is your plan.

choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 09:57:51

Thanks so much everyone. Margaret - yes I need to learn to use the search function on the app better & find the posts.

I agree with you and melonribena that it would be great for him to go to school with local kids. It's the case with the nursery he goes to right now.

Teacherwith2kids - yes we would prefer to send him to a private school after 11+ so I am concerned that he won't be prepped sufficiently at the local school as he gets closer to the age. Technically we could prep him after school but I am not sure I like the idea of even more school time after hours (on top of his homework).

teacherwith2kids Thu 23-Jun-16 10:04:12

Choccic, remember though that state primaries generally have shorter school days than private ones, and IME much less homework (which is fine, as primary homework has no measurable impact on children's learning, with the sole exception of daily reading). You may find that the hours needed - probably for 1 - 1.5 years, from mid Y4 onwards - for home prep or from after school tutors - adds up top much less than the extra hours of homework and maybe even school time through the rest of ythe primary years.

However, if the private primary is a known feeder to the private secondary of your choice, then yes, that is a good reason to choose it - it is the 'know how of what is required' that you are buying in that case.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 23-Jun-16 11:29:38

Not meaning to tell you off, just saying it's a common problem! I'd agree if the school is a very well-known feeder it's a possible issue, but I'd also say many, many children go from state primaries to selective privates without too much extra grief and not always extra tutoring, including mine and loads of others I know. There's a lot to be said, in my experience, for doing the transfer from a state primary and avoiding the hysteria and competitiveness that can go on in the prep schools.

Brownfiesta Thu 23-Jun-16 11:45:43

I would do state primary plus tutoring in upper KS2 if you want them to go to a selective indie. Also depending on the indie, it is sometimes less competitive to enter in the equivalent of y5 (form 1 of prep school ) - this is what I did with my DC. They are in late teens now but still have friends in our village from their primary days.

Some people round here do private for primary years because we have super selective grammars in our area and the indie schools prepare them for the tests - obviously it's no guarantee though.

choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 13:12:00

Teacherswith2kids - good point re shorter hours at local schools.

Margaret - not at all, it's def good for me to check back old threads, lots of useful stuff.

Thanks for everyone's feedback - it's so useful to know of you guys experience as most of our friends kids are below age of 3 (we are one of the older ones) so no ones gone through that yet!

redskytonight Thu 23-Jun-16 13:14:25

It's likely that a private school will have more homework and/or longer days than a state primary so state primary+ tutoring might still equal shorter days than the private school!

CruCru Thu 23-Jun-16 13:24:45

I think that if you are paying for private school, you should really feel fired up with enthusiasm for it. They aren't all the same - some private schools seem extraordinary and some seem less remarkable. How did you feel about this private school?

choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 15:54:05

Crucru - I think you've hit the nail on the head. We recently went on a 2nd school tour for the more senior years for the private school (they are in two separate buildings so we'd only seem the junior one) and was not as impressed. It seemed somewhat messy, a bit dark and doesn't have as much open space as our local primary. One teacher appeared to be checking her phone during class and stopped when she realised when there were visitors (!).

In the fog of the weeks after D2 was born we paid a terms fees as deposit - as D1 hasn't been accepted anywhere else and local school was rated inadequate at the time. So we may end up trying D1 out there for two terms (one term to give it a good go, another to give notice).

In the meantime we will keep trying for a place with another private school we really liked. It had good facilities, ethos and we can see D1 thriving there. Fees are also cheaper and kids have gone on to the selective schools of their choice. The downside is that it can only be reached by bus (25 mins) though it is somewhat on the way to work. And we'd miss out on the sense of community.

If he can't get a place there, we will move D1 to our local school assuming it looks good at the school tour later this year (and he gets / place). And assess later at 7+ or year 5 as some of you guys have suggested.

CruCru Thu 23-Jun-16 16:19:02

I think you need to listen to your gut. Private schools are not cheap.

I looked at a whole bunch of schools before and during the assessments. At the time I started a thread which, although focused on schools in my particular area, had a lot of helpful advice on what I should consider.

When I looked round some schools, I came out singing. These were the ones where I loved the head, the energy, the focus of the school. There were others which were nice BUT for some reason they didn't suit us (although I'm sure that they suit lots of other people). And the latter we didn't pursue.

CruCru Thu 23-Jun-16 16:23:11

It's worth bearing in mind that having paid a deposit does not mean you have to take the place or the world ends, even though it is heartbreaking to lose a lot of money. It's silly to carry on with a school that you are not confident with on the grounds that you've already paid your deposit.

Having said that, it would be kind to turn the place down as early as you can. People who run schools work hard and having an empty space that someone else may want is a shame.

CruCru Thu 23-Jun-16 16:25:01

Sorry in the last paragraph, I meant to say * as early as you can if you don't want it*.

choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 18:07:23

Hi crucru thanks I'll take a look at the link - sounds very useful.

It has crossed our minds to keep D1 at his current nursery but unfortunately it costs almost 2/3 the price of a term at his new school. Coming back from a year on maternity leave, we won't be able to afford to give up the terms's fees at his new school. He has already missed the nursery offer cut off at his local primary, and we don't have a confirmed reception place at the local primary till March next year (as he's only going into pre reception this Sep).

However above all (a) we did like the pre-reception/reception otherwise we would not have paid the deposit, just not a fan of year 1 onwards which is on the separate building we recently viewed and (b) we do want to give the school a try and see if it does work out.

choccic Thu 23-Jun-16 18:23:17

Crucru Just realised I have come across your thread these past two years when I've been looking at schools (we are also in Nw). Interesting read and good to hear the update where you guys ended up.

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