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Bridging gap between state & private schools (interested after reading below paying for private threads)

(109 Posts)
user1473882712 Mon 30-Jan-17 23:52:47

Like all parents dh & I want the very best education for our preschool aged dc. We will never be able to afford private school fees & the state schools are fine, we have heard no bad reports. We would like to think that in years to come our dc will be just as well able to fight for uni places & good job & will be able to compete with privately educated & those who have come from outstanding primaries & secondaries.
How can we bridge the gap? What can we do at home to extend their learning etc so they don't feel inferior or not good enough to those who have had thousands spent on their education...?

mumsneedwine Tue 31-Jan-17 07:50:46

I have 1 Oxford graduate, 2 currently there and 1 hopefully off to do medicine. And one who currently would quite like to be a travel blogger (is that a job ?!?). All comprehensive school educated. All I can recommend is to let them be kids while young (mud is good), let them find their passions (so let them try loads of stuff - would have loved one musician but they are all as rubbish as me), and let them fail ( do not do their homework, if it's not done then they will suffer the consequences at school). Let them become their own person, not the one you want them to be (obviously if they are heading for jail then this doesn't apply !!). I work in schools and see so many students show horned into things their parents want & it's bit sad for the poor kids. No extra work done in our house, just homework. State schools are not as inferior as you may be led to believe halo

user1473882712 Tue 31-Jan-17 08:18:35

Thanks mumsneedwine(brilliant nme!!) just what I wanted to hear. DHs nieces & a nephew go to private primary, their confidence is unbelievable, sil puts it down to public speaking in the school. We have no choice than to really believe in our state school & hope for the best. We would like to have the choice of either state/private & pick the one that fits them best, but it's not an option as we simply don't have the money...

mumsneedwine Tue 31-Jan-17 09:37:55

No choice here either (I always love the argument that if we cut back and prioritised education we could afford it - nope). But I've found mine can hold their own with anyone these days. Think what has helped mine is playing sports (so come across many public schools, win some, lose some), taking part in science/maths competitions (& beating the private school kids - who have nearly always been v lovely), going on 6th form things that are jointly run with public schools. Yes they've seen that life is not fair (ponies at one school, golf course at another !), but as their comp lends (charges !) private schools to use their sports facilities (we have a v large 3G, an Astro) they know they are luckier than most. And at Uni no one cares !!!!

picklemepopcorn Tue 31-Jan-17 09:38:25

Offer lots of enrichment activities, if you are able to get them. Speech and drama, what used to be called elocution lessons. There are some simple skills around public speaking which can be easily taught, and children from good independent schools pick them up through observation I think. Are there debating clubs, or drama clubs in your area? It's about speaking and listening in a very active way, rather than just passively, I think.
Eating as a family, talking about interesting news stories, disagreeing politely... All great skills to learn at home, but they will take them a long way! Don't underestimate the difference you can make at home, no posh school needed (I went to an independent school...)

sazzy5 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:19:39

Mine went to state at primary level, we then switched as we didn't like our choice of secondary. Both are just as bright as those that have always been in private. We made sure they did plenty of sport because IMHO that is next to useless at state school (or in our state school). Maybe we were lucky they were naturally fairly bright but I do think if you encourage your child and do all the reading etc that you are expected to do your child will be at the same level as the private school children.

Chapultepec564 Tue 31-Jan-17 10:37:45

Your DC will be absolutely fine in the state system - because they come from a supportive home background with parents who value education. This has always been the case and always will be the case.

What has changed over the years is that many supportive parents who value education would previously have sent their DC to fee paying schools or grammar schools. Since private schools are increasingly pricing themselves out of the "normal family" market and grammar schools are thin on the ground in most places - those parents are now choosing state schools. Their children do well - as a result of the supportive family environment- and go on to Oxbridge/RG Universities and into the good jobs. Same families, same children.

The key determining factor is family support. The schools themselves have a limited influence. Children from less supportive backgrounds - and it is not to do with money - continue to do badly.

senua Tue 31-Jan-17 10:38:26

Don't underestimate the difference you can make at home

This, in a nutshell.
There has been research that indicates parental involvement boosts results by about 15%. Be interested but do not micro-manage. Be caring but not controlling.
Throw loads of opportunities their way and see what sticks. Opportunities do not need to be expensive - libraries, museums. Let them get used to the 'public stage' so it feels natural and they develop self-confidence - team sports, performance music, drama.

happygardening Tue 31-Jan-17 10:39:47

"So they don't feel inferior or not good enough to those who've had thousands spent on their education"
My DS2 has been at boarding school most of his school life (now on a gap year) he doesn't feel superior or better than those who've been state educated. Don't let your children think they are inferior or not as good.
Remember for us and most others parents luck and circumstance enabled us to afford fees not superiority to others.

user1473882712 Tue 31-Jan-17 19:00:22

Great advice on here, it's very interesting to be honest. As I said we would like to have the option of being able to afford private but we just don't have the money. We will be able to afford extra curriculars so will be encouraging them to do drama, sports & music. At the end of the day we just want to help them reach their potential, have oodles of confidence & be well rounded. DHs nieces & nephews attending a well know private school are very young but could hold their own anywhere (& are v polite well mannered kids too) I'm in awe!
We are willing to put in the work to bridge the gap, just trying to figure out what we have to do, thanks for the above posts, very helpful!

Ginmummy1 Wed 01-Feb-17 09:58:13

When my DD was still in nursery I had a conversation with the early years co-ordinator at a private nursery, and the things that she three areas in which she felt the private education system really added the most value were speech/elocution, spellings and times tables.

My DD is in Y1 and I ought to look at some speech/elocution lessons, so thanks for the reminder! Spellings and times tables we ought to be able to cover at home.

We’re a long way off 11+ yet, but I get the impression that state educated children are likely to need a little bit of tutoring for the 11+ area, if the school is not proactive in taking the bright ones ahead of the curriculum.

Other than that, I hope that a supportive and enriching home environment alongside a decent state education will give our DD every opportunity to succeed in her chosen field. It’s pleasing to see how many others say the same!

MelOrSue Wed 01-Feb-17 12:13:10

Elocution lessons shockshockshock. I'd give those a miss personally grin

I also don't think you need to go overboard with extra curriculars. I'd let them choose a few things but I wouldn't pack in too much. My DC didn't do musical instruments but I think it's good for a lot of kids.

Our kids went to a local comprehensive then a local sixth form college - we live in a nice area and the attitude we took was that as long as there wasn't anything preventing them from doing well we would leave them there.
We always told the that their education was their responsibility but that we would help out if needed. I rarely checked homework or nagged about revision but would have happily paid for tutors etc if requested. We could have also switched them to private school if we decided state school wasn't working. I'm not kidding myself by thinking my DC got as high results as they would have done in a private school but I'm confident they were very close. All four got the results they wanted and are happy at RG unis doing stem subjects/ medicine. One is starting a Ph.D. at a mumsnet approved Uni wink

My DC are proud that they have achieved what they have without private schooling -

We were involved and supportive parents but I like to think we avoided micromanaging our kids and having them constantly pushed to become who we wanted them to be rather than who they were Iyswim.

MaryTheCanary Wed 01-Feb-17 12:25:59

I think the no. 1 thing I would say is: at weekends and on holidays, actually DO stuff. Go to planetariums and galleries and historical buildings--and talk about stuff and have lots of reference books around the house, to look things up and learn thing about them. Don't just slump in front of the TV or Xbox for hours on end.

user1473882712 Thu 02-Feb-17 15:27:33

Great points again, we will do our best! We try our best to provide as enriching an environment as possible, the easy confidence thing that our dn's have in the private school is the thing we would most like to emulate for our dc, we are just at a loss at what to do, the tips so far have been great especially the elocution. Mary we try & bring them on as many outings as we can, we visit the library at leaset twice a week

ToohotforaSeptday Thu 02-Feb-17 15:59:36

I can see how one can do it at primary level. For secondary, when the children start to value friends so much more, can the parents still steer them towards enrichment activities if they are not keen or don't see it as cool?

OlennasWimple Thu 02-Feb-17 16:05:48

I think the big difference at secondary level is sport. Not such a big deal for our non-sporty DD, but a big thing for our very sporty DS

TeenAndTween Thu 02-Feb-17 16:37:37

There was a long thread a while back on Cultural Capital, which is something private schools seem to add with ease.
- I definitely agree with encouraging confidence / drama / public speaking
- be interested in their learning
- do interesting trips outside of school that tie in with what they are learning, as they may be too expensive for school to do as trips
- supplement with tutoring in secondary if needed
- encourage interest in current affairs
- encourage them to always 'have a go' you get more out of life by doing, not watching

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 02-Feb-17 18:43:18

Sorry I don't know of any private school that does elocution lessons!

Anyone like to tell me of any that do?

(misses point of thread)

If you are the sort of parent that is worrying enough to start this thread then you are the type of parent that will support your child to be the best version of themselves. Just keep on being you.

user7214743615 Thu 02-Feb-17 18:51:39

Back in the 80s/90s, drama lessons in small groups were often called "elocution". This was a misnomer, as the purpose was to prepare for Lamda exams, i.e. developing "clear speaking voice, positive body language and self-confidence by exploring different uses of spoken English". (Quote from Lamda website.)

Nowadays my DC have what are called "drama" lessons in small groups and do Lamda exams via these lessons. (They also do drama in class.) The content is not much different from my "elocution" lessons in the 80s/90s. The purpose is certainly not "elocution" but developing strong communication skills.

Agree with pp that elocution for a y1 child (whether this means really elocution or drama/Lamda) seems rather over the top.

Kennington Thu 02-Feb-17 19:00:09

I went to a mediocre state and dd is in private.
I would say the way you speak (turn of phrase and confidence rather than accent) are important; watching the news and general good interest in current affairs too. 2nd language as well.
At our prep there are plenty of parents who let their kids get into reality tv, princess tat and iPads. All useless nonsense. The gap isn't so big to bridge, in my opinion.

Fourmantent Thu 02-Feb-17 20:12:07

There was a post I read on Mumsnet ages ago that really hit me... it was from someone who said that private school had probably not made much difference to grades but the contacts made had been invaluable.

happygardening Thu 02-Feb-17 21:11:15

four perhaps you should look at this this thread "connections' or not are being debated.

relaxitllbeok Thu 02-Feb-17 21:21:02

My DC's school has all the children do English Speaking Board exams about every other year, for example ( ). Nothing to do with accent, everything to do with practising different kinds of speaking (poetry to politics), planning to engage an audience, being clear and audible, handling questions... really useful stuff, especially for shy kids. If your school doesn't offer it and you can get it outside I'd recommend it.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-Feb-17 22:27:52

I'm very dubious about the long term value of hauling DC off to libraries and museums and insisting on masses of extra curricular which they don't initiate themselves. Also the xbox really does no harm at all, it's a good way to chill out. Just try to read their school reading books to them until they can read themselves and take a general interest in their education without looking at their classwork books all the time and they should be fine. My DC think my oblique approach did them far more good than the much more intrusive approach of really quite a few parents at their school. I'm struggling to think what I did to 'bridge the gap' and can't come up with anything much. I've three DC who are Oxford graduates and three still currently there so my approach can't be totally wrong. Don't flog educational things too much and as for elocution lessons what a ghastly idea!

goodbyestranger Thu 02-Feb-17 22:30:02

Sorry, I meant try to read their school reading books with them, not to them.

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