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Are we wasting our money?

(235 Posts)
angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 16:29:00

It appears that every year the results gap between state and independent schools narrows and this seems even more defined with 2017 figures. Combined with the incentives that top universities give to state school students I am struggling to find good reasons to carry on paying our hard earned dosh for DC's education.
To give this some perspective I have checked out local independent school results and compared them with some of the state school alternatives and it makes interesting reading. I have said before that we are very lucky to have such a good collection of schools in Shropshire. It has to be said that we can only just afford the less expensive ones such as Wrekin or Shrewsbury High School and I appreciate that like all things you get what you pay for but if you care to cost it out purely on a results v price basis there seems very little point in spending your money.....or am I missing something really important?
Having watched selective schools like the gdst's Shrewsbury High school continue to plummet down the A level league tables for the last 5 years (from 63rd with 61% A*/A in 2014 to 255th and 26% this year) I know that many parents are again asking what their money is being spent on. Especially when non selective schools such as Moreton Hall and Adcote are roaring ahead (Moreton is an all round school monumentally up 118 places to 91st place with 53%, more that twice that of its High School rival. State grammar schools like Newport Girls High, Adams and Thomas Telford score consistently above 50% A*/A and at least four Shrewsbury Sixth form students have achieved Oxbridge places. The Marches sixth form has 22% and William Brooke's 24%. Shrewsbury School and Concord (like the High School selective but far more expensive) have broken their own records. Concord unbelievably managing 84% A*/A with 45% at A*. Shrewsbury School continue to publish detailed exam results and leavers destinations on their very informative website.
Perhaps I'm too caught up in figures but when Shrewsbury High School recently held an Oxbridge conference in an attempt to win an award (sadly I'm told none of their girls have secured offers there since 2015) I can understand why parents are livid. But they now have a new dance school so perhaps girls will be able to waltz their way into Oxbridge??? (sorry, couldn't resist!).
So I am very frustrated about it all and seriously considering cutting my losses. I hate to see our school fees being spent on ridiculous projects when the focus should be on raising standards. With what I would save in fees I could probably buy a small house which may be a far better investment for my children in the long term.........anyone?

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 16:31:36

"Combined with the incentives that top universities give to state school students"
What incentives are you talking about?

BubblesBuddy Thu 05-Oct-17 16:39:51

Your money - do what you want with it. However you are only looking at results and not an all-round education. Personally my DDs loved dance. Perhaps Shrewsbury is not attracting clever girls anymore? What is the value added like?

Also you are deluded if you think state school children get advanced into Oxbridge. Only the very worst performing schools get contextual offers.

You should never pay for results alone. You need to see much more than that for your money. High quality sport, dance, drama and music spring to mind plus inspiring speakers and lots of clubs.

Many of the lesser schools go up and down the league tables like yoyos. If you want consistency you need to aim higher. Wycombe Abbey or CLC wouldn't let you down. Grammars are selective and I guess some of the independent schools you quote are not very selective. We paid top £££ for boarding and my DDs had a very enhanced education which was better than the local grammar.

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 05-Oct-17 16:41:54

The top universities do not offer any blanket incentives to state schools.

There are contextual offers which most state school applicants will not attract.

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 05-Oct-17 16:43:02

But if you can't afford it, you shouldn't pay. Pretty evidently.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 16:43:48

A well supported child will get the same or very similar results whatever school they go to. What private schools should provide is loads of extras. Music, sport, cultural capital......

Fresh8008 Thu 05-Oct-17 16:45:18

If you look at the results then yes you are wasting your money, good state schools give a better academic education. But if you have money to burn and think Independent school buys you some sort of privilege then get your inner pyromaniac on.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 16:47:42

" good state schools give a better academic education."

Really? What are you basing that on?

angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 16:49:23

Incentives like the UNIQ summer school at Oxford (for state school students only) and many others have admission quotas whether we like it or not, especially if students are first in family to attend university. It is certainly not as black and white in terms of offers based on results achieved as it used to be

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 05-Oct-17 16:49:42

Regarding academics, the truth is that with the current brutal budget cuts, and teacher shortages, state schools simply cannot offer the same academic experience.

For example. Many state sixth forms are offering only three A levels from L6.
This is to reduce costs and contact hours. No criticism of the schools. They just don't have the resources.

The impact has been a reduction in the numbers of state schooled students being offered a place at Oxbridge and other top universities.

This is a new trend and a shocking shame. But it will get worse and worse.

HellsBellsnBucketsofBlood Thu 05-Oct-17 16:52:14

Private provides the extras. The opportunities, regular theatre productions, languages, etc.

You are very focussed on the results, which is not the whole picture.

And as mentioned above - only students from the crappest of state schools get special treatment for university applications.

Really, you need to be considering what you want to pay for and how well the school you are paying for matches up to your child's personality/abilities.

annandale Thu 05-Oct-17 16:56:07

It shouldnt really be about results, or at least not only results.

The people I know with kids in private schools are focused on sport, music, low-level disruption and experiencing bullying or poor response to bullying in state schools. I'm a frequent pro-state poster but I would never dream of saying they were wasting their money because I don't think they are. I'm not sure my son's grades will be hugely different from his cousins' but their education simply will be..

Gini99 Thu 05-Oct-17 16:56:17

Incentives like the UNIQ summer school at Oxford (for state school students only) but they're not for all state school students, they target children in disadvantaged areas/those who have been in care/those in areas with low progression to higher ed etc. For the summer school that you mention, a quick google shows "95% meet one or both conditions of being from a disadvantaged socio-economic background (ACORN postcodes 4 and 5) and/or from a neighbourhood with low participation in higher education (POLAR3 postcodes 1 and 2)."

They are absolutely aware that many children who are very advantaged in life go to state schools. So if you want to gain these 'incentives' then you'll not only have to take your child out of independent school but also move to a disadvantaged area and/or put them in a low performing school.

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 05-Oct-17 16:56:32

angel universities have targets not quotas. And yes, they make efforts to widen participation but this does not include routine low offers to state school applicants.

The truth is that these universities accept that state schooled students are currently under represented. They try to do something about it.

But this year the trend went backwards this is absolutely going to continue with things as they currently stand.

Pretending that there is no issue just allows the government to continue with their decimation of state education.

angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 16:58:00

I like the fact that you are talking about 'the extras' but surely if a selective independent girls school doesn't help you get enough A's then extras like dance and drama are not going to get you into top universities, simples...

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 16:58:29

It is vanishingly unlikely that a former private school pupil moving to a state school will be offered any "incentives" by top universities.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 17:00:31

So are you saying that a selective private school is not getting its pupils enough As for university? [hmm[

GetAHaircutCarl Thu 05-Oct-17 17:01:15

If you feel you're not getting VFM, then leave. Of course.

But why try to convince others that a. they're wasting their money and b. Refuse to engage with the current problems in state education.

Kazzyhoward Thu 05-Oct-17 17:03:45

A well supported child will get the same or very similar results whatever school they go to.

Only if they go to a decent state school with good head and a good pastoral care system. They're far more likely to fall by the wayside if they go to a failing state school or one with bullying/drugs problems.

angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 17:03:50

gini99, I know of at least three children (sons and daughters of friends from Shropshire) who are certainly not disadvantaged but do attend a good state sixth form that have taken places on the UNIQ course so I'm afraid your submission is not quite correct. I'm basing my submissions on personal experience and fact

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Oct-17 17:06:22

"I'm basing my submissions on personal experience and fact"

grin I think you'll find there are posters on this thread who are speaking from a position of knowledge rather than anecdotage.

angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 17:10:00

BertrandRussell, I am exactly saying that a selective independent school is not getting its students enough A's, just look at the figures and more importantly the trend, that is why I'm thinking I may be wasting my money and should perhaps move DD to a good state school now. I simply cannot afford the ones that have consistently excellent results

Gini99 Thu 05-Oct-17 17:12:51

I'm basing my submissions on personal experience and fact Well then there are three possibilities, either they must have been in the 5% of children who do not fulfil the disadvantage criteria (about 44 children) or there is information that you don't have on those families or Oxford has its stats wrong...

The general point is that Universities like Oxford are well aware that disadvantage is far more complex that a rough state/private divide and just moving sectors is not going to bring you huge advantage.

That's not to say that you shouldn't move - if you don't see sufficient value for money in your DCs current school then that sounds a sensible thing to consider- but doing it based on some notion that going to the state sector will boost your children's Oxbridge chances is not a good idea.

angelnumber9 Thu 05-Oct-17 17:26:38

I guess I'm more upset with myself for thinking that any old independent school is likely to be better than the state system which is patently not the case. Results are not the be all and end all but they are a major factor when seeking good university places. I know we've made a mistake and should never really have tried, I'm not from that world. But I hope we are in agreement that we all want the best for our children, just seems in my case that it was a little misguided and we should have stayed with state sector

GnomeDePlume Thu 05-Oct-17 17:29:53

Contextual offers are normally about 1 or 2 grades below the standard offer so A*AA may become AAB for a contextual offer.

This reflects the educational context of the school and/or student. An under performing school may not have the experience, time or resources to help a student achieve their full potential. Their university applications may lack polish. The students may not be able to get the relevant experience opportunities to enhance their applications.

Independent schools should be able to do all of that. Is it a case that they aren't doing this or a case that the input isn't as good as previously?

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