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MIL has offered to pay for private school

(52 Posts)
anchovies Mon 09-Jul-07 12:25:15

Don't know what I think really and was looking for some thoughts on private vs state. Our local primary school is literally 2 mins walk away and does pretty well on the league tables and with Ofsted, secondary is further away but is also reasonably good. No idea about private schools locally, have a friend whose dd goes to a local grammar school so will ask her for her thoughts. Probably the only other relevant point is that we are fairly young parents and could never afford to pay for this ourselves. Would this be an issue for our ds's (their parents not being well off?)

DH boarded from age 7 and recently admitted to MIL he didn't like it and wouldn't want his children to board so it is a very delicate subject. When she offered it didn't occur to her that we might not want to take up her (obviously very kind!) offer so I have no idea how we would explain that we don't want to look into this any further. She has ordered prospectuses for all the local schools and has got details of open evenings. I have always said I would never consider private education but am now swaying at the thought of it being free?

oranges Mon 09-Jul-07 12:28:07

has she really offered to pay all costs, the whole time they are in school? That's an incredibly generous offer, and maybe you need to figure out if you really want to accept that from her in the first place, then think about the pros and cons of school. My reaction, if the offer was meant in a generous way, would be to take it, as long as the private schools really are any good. they aren't always.

edam Mon 09-Jul-07 12:30:34

That is a very generous offer, but only if you want to use private schools, otherwise a bit of a waste. Big downside of private is that you are limiting your social circle, esp. if it's further away than state schools, so hard to play after school. If you are happy with the local school, I wouldn't be swayed. Fantastic to have it so close. Think private primary is quite bad for separating kids off - if you do want to go private, IMO look at it for secondary age, not primary.

GreensleevesSusan Mon 09-Jul-07 12:30:48

Is it a no-strings, genuine gift, or will she be buying a stake in your decision-making? My MIL is very generous in this way too, and I am grateful to her, but we do have to be a bit careful that she knows exactly what her money is buying IYSWIM - not a share in our sovereignty over the children/house etc. Also don't be swept off your feet and end up making a decision about schooling too quickly - thisi s a great and very kind offer but you shouldn't allow it to narrow down your options IMO.

EnidJane Mon 09-Jul-07 12:32:39

agree with edam

ruddynorah Mon 09-Jul-07 12:32:44

you have decent schools near you anyway? maybe ask her to put the money away for university? show her how good the local schools are?

fedupwasherwoman Mon 09-Jul-07 12:32:52

Trust me when I say it won't be "free".

If someone in the family is paying there will be emotional strings attached. What do you think her underlying reason for offering is ?

There will also be all the extras to pay for but if your budget can cope that won't be a problem.

A few thoughts...
Are you planning any more children (plus accidents do happen), will MIL also pay for them ? What will happen if MIL dies unexpectedly early, will she make provision for continuing payment of the fees ?. Can she afford it for secondary school too ?

How will it make your own parents feel ?

You could go to visit all the schools including the local state schools and then decide if you feel it is really worth the price.

uberalice Mon 09-Jul-07 12:46:15

Everything fedup said. A very generous offer, but it does smack of control-freakery imho.

EnidJane Mon 09-Jul-07 12:47:01

yes echoing fed ups post too

anchovies Mon 09-Jul-07 12:49:10

Thanks for all your thoughts.

She has offered to pay for them both from 3 to 18 with uniform and equipment. Not sure what else there is though or how much it would cost us. She is genuinely trying to make a kind offer and I am sure she is doing it entirely out of love for her granchildren however I completely take on board your comments about emotional strings. I am not sure whether I would want to be in a situation where we are so indebted to her. I think she could and would afford to pay for any number of children(!) however she knows we are pretty certain that we are stopping at two (obv would need to ask about this point though just in case.) And if she dies all her money goes to dh anyway (so I know this is a terrible thing to say but it is money that we wouldn't inherit.)

I have talked to my mum about it and she is fine with whatever we decide. She thinks it is a very kind offer and seemed like she thought that whatever we decided for our children would be best and that we were lucky to have a choice.

University is a good idea, didn't think about that. Also what Edam said about considering it just for secondary could be good, as well as it being a way we could say no to MIL without upsetting her or sounding ungrateful.

Marina Mon 09-Jul-07 12:49:37

Agree with fedup and the others - this sort of generous offer has to come with strings attached, human nature being what it is.
The already supplying prospectuses etc sounds ominous, tbh.

edam Mon 09-Jul-07 12:52:09

University is a fab idea given how expensive it is these days. Get her to put it in a trust fund or something so it's protected against tax (and the little darlings can't get their hands on the lump sum aged 18 and blow it all on sex, drugs and rock n roll).

electra Mon 09-Jul-07 12:53:02

If my MIL offered me that I would jump at the chance! These days class sizes are too big. People say that if a child is bright they will do well anywhere, but I think generally private schools make it easier for a child to reach their full potential.

NKF Mon 09-Jul-07 12:53:04

Is it string free or will she use it to insist on things?

NKF Mon 09-Jul-07 12:53:52

If she's going to give you the money later (in her will) she might see it as a more tax efficient way of making a bequest.

CountessDracula Mon 09-Jul-07 12:56:30

we have recently had big state vs private dilemma (have chosen state). Money was not really an issue more what was right for dd

My father offered to pay for half of private fees NOT in an attempt to sway our decision making (HAHAHAHA)

It was very kind of him but we have turned him down and gone for state. Had we gone private we would not have accepted his offer either as I don't want anyone else having a say in my dd's education. Believe me it would not be no strings attached. If you have a perfectly good state primary (have you looked round it? do you like the vibe?) then why not use it!

fedupwasherwoman Mon 09-Jul-07 12:58:17

I have seen some posters say that getting into private secondary school (passing the entrance exam) can be hard if you have attended a state primary and some saying that extra coaching/tuition may be required.

I kind of agree regarding having her save her money for University fees etc. as this will let the children graduate without being saddled with large debts and really give them a headstart in being able to start contributing to a pension whilst they are young or perhaps save towards buying a house. Is your MIL likely to live to see her grandchildren reach university age ?

EscapeFrom Mon 09-Jul-07 13:02:47


I know I should be telling you to consider this that and the other, but you know your inlaws - is this control freakery, or generosity?

I think I would send mine to a good stae school and ask for the post 18 education and support instead - as at this point you can't get it anywhere for free!

pooka Mon 09-Jul-07 13:04:41

My PIL offered to pay for our children to go to private school. All the other cousins had the same offer and have taken the money.
We decided that we wanted to at least give the local state primary a go. I don't necessarily believe that private education is better, though I will see how dd gets on when she starts state school in January.
I didn't like the school MIL was pushing, as it was single sex, straight in at barely age 4, full days, not learning through play in Reception.
I think they are confused at our having turned down their offer, but ... in the end it was our joint (DH and mine) decision about what would be best at the moment for our children.
They really really don't udnerstand why we made the decision we've made, and TBH it's a bit of a sore point. Keep having tales told about how brilliantly the cousins are doing, about children carrying knives in state secondary schools and so on.

frogs Mon 09-Jul-07 13:05:02

If she has the money to spare, it does make sense to pass it onto you now, as you'd save inheritance tax, as long as she doesn't keel over within the next seven years. Could you suggest she sets up a trust for each of your children that is ring-fenced for Education?

I had several very lucky friends who had family trusts of that type, and it always struck me what a fab idea it was if you have that quantity of money floating around. That way she gets the tax benefits and the warm fuzzy feeling of passing the money on and supporting her gc future without worrying about them spending it on motorbikes or alcopops, and you will be able to make decisions about your children's education without feeling that your strings are being pulled. If you do decide that state is better (and I wouldn't swap dd1's school for a free place at any private school, however glitzy) then your children will still have the money to support themselves through university, or law school, or a postgraduate degree in theoretical astronomy, or whatever.

Zazette Mon 09-Jul-07 13:11:57

As a university lecturer, I would really endorse the suggestion that if you're happy enough with the local state schools, you should ask her to set up a fund for HE instead of paying for schooling.

We are moving steadily towards a situation where there will be quite starkly separated tiers of HE institutions with widely varying costs. There will be some financial support for children from very poor families, but most of us who aspire to a university education for our kids will need to start long-term planning on the American model.

Zazette Mon 09-Jul-07 13:12:53

that should be 'long-term financial planning'

amidaiwish Mon 09-Jul-07 13:14:18

why don't you ask your local state primary what schools the children go to at 11, that way you will know how likely it will be for your dc's to get into private school at 11.

It will also show MIL you appreciate her offer but think (if you do decide that)that the local primary is best for your children (socially/convenience etc.) but would love to take her offer up at 11 or if you feel it would be better at any other time.

if that makes sense... am rambling today.

sandyballs Mon 09-Jul-07 13:19:25

A generous offer but needs a lot of thought IMO. How would MIL feel if your children didn't do particularly well at private school? Or just "averagely". She may have very high expectations of them.

Two children out of my ante-natal group attend private school and I get the feeling that these parents are really expecting great things for making this financial sacrifice. One mum is already fretting that my DD is a couple of reading levels above hers, simply because she is paying shed loads of money each year and really presumes that this will mean that little Tabitha will end up much brighter with a fantastic career ahead of her. God help her is she ends up as a hairdresser or a shop assistant.

Worth thinking about in your case I think and worth discussing with MIL.

curiouscat Mon 09-Jul-07 13:27:56

To the OP, the thing no one's mentioned is that private schools have shorter terms than state schools. Going private will cost you money in extra childcare costs for those 9 week summers, 2 week half terms etc unless you are FT at home anyway.

This might make your future working life more difficult and complicated than in the state sector.

We've got 1 dc in private primary and 2 dcs in state primary. The private one is great for dc but I'm a bit sick of hearing about his friends' half term holidays in Mauritius etc. Also the fundraising is worse from a private one - parents' socials cost £35 each instead of £8 or so at the state school. Teachers' present kitty is £50 per year etc and they're always asking for extras.

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