Private school from year 7: thoughts?(44 Posts)
DS is coming to the end of his time at primary school; it's neither been a resounding success or an abject failure. He's certainly clever and has been identified as G and T (I take that with a huge pinch of salt) but he has consistently had no trouble academically. His teachers have described him as thoughtful, quiet, mature, sensible. He has been known to 'explode' a bit under pressured situations - it's really unusual but it has been known for him to burst out with something rude/inappropriate if he feels someone is haranguing him.
Friendship wise, he has never really had enemies. Always got on well with everyone, some minor bullying in year 3/4 but soon nipped in the bud. But he doesn't really have a lot of friends either. The other children seem to like him but don't include him - this is problematic as they get older as things like parties become more for a select few than for the whole class. So for example if the children had to choose a partner no one would mind working with him, but no one would choose him either.
Thinking to the future, then, we had initially thought he'd go to the outstanding secondary that is local to us. However, DH is keen to explore the possibility of him going private.
My main hesitation over this is that I'm just not sure what value for money it is: when added up, the total could buy DS a house aged 18! The school we've looked at really is lovely but I do believe bright children will thrive anywhere.
I don't know really, I'm mainly interested in the thoughts of those who choose to educate their children privately, and why?
Is your DS in yr 6? If yes you're a bit late to find a school. If not where approx do you live? What are your independent schools like? Not selective very selective or super selective? If the latter in particular what about entrance exams? Who will prepare him? Not your current school.
We paid for DS from yr 2 he left this year at 18, I've never added up how much we've spent but yes your right it is coming near the cost of another house but I've never regretted. I believe some independent schools can provide a completely different education that nothing in the state sector can offer, basically they have more money per child, but paying doesn't mean it's always better, or even if independent school X is right for one child it doesn't mean your DS will be happier or have more friends or do better academically.
Plenty of children thrive in the state sector and do very well.
Secondly your right bright children can do well anywhere, but I think that super bright children in particular thrive in a super selective environment with other super bright pushing the academic boundaries all the time (others of course will disagree), amongst other things this is one of the reasons we paid for education but you might not want or have that option available to you.
Look carefully and critically at all your choices try and find one that chimes with your ethos on life/education don't be swayed by manicured lawns and posh science. delta they're meaningless it's the ethos and staff that make a school.
Thanks for your reply. DS is in Year 5. The independent schools aren't hugely selective unless you want/need a scholarship.
Quite a lot to think about, it's so much money ()
I think if you have an outstanding secondary near you, you go to it.
Socially, it'll be very much a new start.
My state-educated daughter is now flourishing at a highly competitive university.
Yes, DH himself went to state school and was always fine. I'm not massively convinced there's anything fundamentally different about them - apart from intake.
There is so much variation in individual schools that you can't generalised. It also depends what type of education you are looking for. There can be a massive difference in range of subjects offered beyond the core Maths, English and Science. What languages are offered, what extra curricular clubs etc.
You need to visit all the options. Then no one type of school suits every child.
If you have an outstanding school nearby that you and DS both like then I would use that, as you said private schooling is seriously expensive! Nice to know you have a fallback if things go horrendously wrong though
We have two outstanding secondary schools within walking distance. DS will still go to an independent secondary, because he thrives in the smaller class sizes. He is quite a shy child who struggles in a crowd. He also has some minor learning difficulties which I genuinely think would be made worse by being in a large class.
He is Y6 but will still haven't fixed where he will go, as most of our local independents have a Y8 entry. You may find that this is an option in your area, so you could put him into your outstanding state secondary and re-evaluate how he gets on.
Fundamentally we choose our DCs schools with care - and our best options ended up being private, but ymmv - because we do not agree that bright children thrive anywhere. Indeed I know this; I was a very bright child, whose parents believed something like that, and I didn't thrive in the (state or independent) schools I was at. (I'm happy to say I now do thrive, but I think the best school for me could have got me to this state much more quickly and easily.)
Bright children may, with high probability, get good exam results anywhere, but school is about so much more than that. Especially important for really bright children is that school is where expectations get set about how hard stuff is, how hard you have to work and what that feels like. If working is basically optional - you can meet standard expectations while coasting, and just pull out full effort when some special opportunity comes along, or when something lights your fire - you can be left without the skills to work consistently at something that's actually hard and not intrinsically rewarding all the time. Average children (in whatever the grouping is) get that because lessons are pitched at their level: they're challenged almost every day. Those at the top of the top set often don't (and no, add-on experiences like music lessons can't fully compensate). They may coast, or they may invent their own challenges like always getting 100% without working, but they can't invent proper, daily, subject-appropriate challenge: that takes a teacher with time to do it. You may find that in the state sector, but it's easier in the private sector because classes are smaller and teachers less likely to have nothing left to give the outliers.
Try to consider multiple schools, not just the obvious state and the obvious independent. Ask around, look at the Good Schools Guide, whatever; it really does matter.
Thanks, great posts and a lot to consider before making decisions.
"I'm not massively convinced there's anything fundementally different about them - apart from the intake"
It's so dependent on the schools your comparing. The difference between a £37k+ pa very big name boarding school and even an outstanding state school is massive. On the other hand I visit schools and I agree there is often not a huge difference between an outstanding state and some independent day school apart from class size and intake. It's all about what your options are whether you think it's worth paying for.
Parents in my village (and me) have chosen private over a grammar school. We chose different private schools but the schools did provide much better sport, art, drama and individual care than the grammars. The school we chose had a very different feel to the grammar and although I think my DD would have thrived anywhere, the private boarding school offered a lot more than academics which were on a par with the grammar school. It offered a different way of life, self- confidence, and self-reliance. I do agree that average private schools are just that, average. You need to evaluate what your money is buying. There is always a private 6th form later.
I'm another one who doesn't believe that a bright child will thrive anywhere.
Whether private school is worth it in your case very much depends on the balance between your finances, the school available and your child.
Our kids went to private school until year 6 (as primary school near home was full when we moved to area). It was a lovely school and they did well, we then decided to move them to state for secondary. Again, they are very happy and doing really well and we have no regrets moving them. In fact we are pleased that we did move them as they have friends nearby (whereas we were having to ferry them much longer distances to see their junior school friends). Also, keeping in touch with their junior school lot (who mostly went off to private secondary's), we have heard that they are all going to pretty wild parties at an early age, which ours aren't doing, and they have a lovely group of friends. Also, it is a great relief not having the school fees, and all the extras which mount up, means that we're able to do lots more with them out of school. Agree with previous comments a bright child will do well anywhere, and if a school doesn't suit them you can always move into the private sector.
I would ask you what you hope to gain from paying for private education.
What are the A level results of your state option and what are their destinations.
How many go to do medicine and get places at oxbridge, imperial and ucl. How many go on to study at top tier universities.
What subjects do they go on to study at university.
This is a specific and measurable statistic.
Wrt to my own dc, I thought I was better off not paying, but for us the choice was a super selective grammar vs a top london private school.
the other thing is, going to university is so expensive. We are looking at paying 9250 fees and 8.5k living expenses for each year for a 4 year course. I think you are better off saving your money and paying for this or starting a savings plan for them.
I agree results university destinations numbers studying medicine going to Oxbridge IC etc are measurable and quantifiable but for me this is not the only purpose of education. tropicalfish is right a good super selective grammar can offer all of these but IMO a top independent will offer so much more. We turned down a place at a super selective grammar for a place at a super selective private for this reason.
If a private school with small class sizes, I would say from experience (younger brother - not own DCs) to consider if this will work for your DS.
My brother had social difficulties at primary school, later diagnosed with Asperger's. We sent him to a school with small class sizes thinking it would be a more supportive environment - but it just meant that when the other kids were cruel or there were the usual falling outs or disagreements between teenagers, there was nowhere to hide. No other classes he could be moved into, nowhere to meet new people or mix it up a bit socially. It was claustrophobic.
I went to a state grammar school (lucky to have in local area) with 150 in a year, classes of 30, I was also quiet and sensitive and inevitably got picked on a bit, but I did appreciate a degree of anonymity, and I was able to find a good group of like-minded friends in other forms.
Small class sizes are total bunkum from a scientific point of view -there's no evidence they improve results. In fact there's evidence for the reverse!
I would look at the DFE performance tables for the state school you are looking at - do they get good value added for their high attainers?
I too think the small classes thing might be slightly over played especially on here and shouldn't be someone's sole reason for choosing to pay for education. I suspect that any real quantifiable benefits are very subject/pupil dependent. It stands to reason that someone learning an MFL would benefit from smaller classes because you simple get more opportunities to practice speaking the language, a pupil with serious organisational problems may also benefit a low staff to pupil ration but other subjects may benefit from more pupils because more ideas can be batted around.
I also think sniffle has a point, years ago DS2 was in a tiny primary school 39 children across 7 years, there were 5 boys in his yr no girls, 2 very lively child dominated the whole class, one quiet very well behaved child was totally ignored and my DS who was neither very lively or very quiet struggled to find a friend as he just didn't gel with the remaining child in his class. Ok this is an extreme but I think smaller classes like results are measurable and sellable to prospective parents but are not necessarily always a positive.
OP when looking at any school in either sector look at the bigger picture not just the obvious, watch pupil, staff, ask lots of questions how does the school feel? I visit two schools (both state) one is described as "good" by Ofstead the other "outstanding"it has a very good reputation locally. The schools are completely different I much prefer the former, it just has a great feel about it, the staff are happier, as are the pupils, they all talk highly of it, just the way the staff and pupils go about their everyday lives is great, pupils not measurable in league tables, university destinations etc just something special. Interestingly others I speak to who visit it feel the same. I know which I would choose. Look at everything with an open mind.
It really depends on the schools. There's an enormous difference between St Paul's and St. Custards.
Any secondary school will have a larger pool of children for him to find friends. It comes down to what you'll get by paying over what you'll get by using the state school. It doesn't sound as though the fee-paying school offers much over the state from what you've said.
Is there just DS? Would you consider relocating for secondary school?
The state sector is on the bones of its arse.
The government are starving it if funding, ignoring a teacher recruitment crisis, introducing new exams with very little thought for the process.
If anyone thinks that this state of affairs will result in bright children doing well regardless, they are deluded.
I went to a private school and had a lot more formal testing than most of my state school peers.
High stake tests twice a year, maths challenge etc. etc.
I can't think that tests alone will cause poor performance.
And in the private school I went to class sizes were 25 (smaller than state but still larger than many private schools).
OP needs to investigate the school data that we're lucky to have in England, you can look at progress for low, average & high attainers for all state schools.
Tests alone are not the problem.
It's the funding cuts plus recruitment crisis plus the new exams.
How state schools are meant to provide an appropriate education in such circumstances is beyond me.
And unsurprisingly, despite huge efforts made to widen access, this year has seen an increase in the percentage of privately schooled applicants being offered places on the most competitive courses at the most competitive universities.
Which is what everyone included loved in trying to widen participation predicted!
I would also say that looking at what a school has achieved in the past is not particularly helpful.
The budget, the teachers and the curriculum are all different going forward.
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