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Should I send my ds to a private grammar school.

(33 Posts)
indianajane Tue 08-Jul-08 11:44:51

I am really stressing about this decision. He's in year5 at the moment and live in grammar school country. He's very bright (high GCA)
and dyslexic. Also behaviour is an issue for him, AS traits.

Reasons for a private school:
He wants to go
It is small, about 300 children
They support dyslexic children so would have a good chance of passing entrance exam
Entrance exams to local fee free grammars don't make allowances for dyslexia so may not pass.

Reasons against:
Cost!!! Will be skinted if he goes and but can just about stretch to it. Won't be able to afford to send his younger brother (he's doing really well though and has good chance of passing 11 plus.)
Worries about what would happen if we lost our jobs or became ill.

usuallyelectra Tue 08-Jul-08 11:50:06

Only you can make this decision. I think you'll find opinion very polarised on here WRT the state/private debate. IMO it is important to choose the right school for the right child and I also think it's normal for siblings to attend different schools and actually no bad thing - as they are then seen as individuals. But then I'm coming at this from the angle of having two children with very different needs.

claricebeansmum Tue 08-Jul-08 11:53:02

Think about costs. Independent school fees rise - ask the bursar what the previous % increases have been - 5 -10% per annum. And then there is everything else - uniform, sports kit, trips etc

The local fee free grammar may say that they do not take dyslexia into acount but if it is a school worth going to they will see potential...

indianajane Tue 08-Jul-08 12:27:21

thanks for answering
It's really the cost that is putting me off. If I could comfortably afford it I would send him to the private school with no worries. I have looked round and it is perfect for him. I worry he'll get 'lost' in a big school.

bigTillyMint Tue 08-Jul-08 12:35:50

I think all parents should do what they think is best for their child and their family. If you think you can afford it without compromising life for the rest of you (especially DS2 - you don't want him to feel jealous or hard-done-by), then do it!

However, there may be a state-school near you which would be able to support him well enough, but it might require you to ensure that your DS gets what he needs from them / employing a dyslexia-qualified specialist teacher to tutor him at home to cope better at school.

DOes he have a diagnosis? What is happenning at his current primary school?

Nagapie Tue 08-Jul-08 12:37:58

Cost is always an issue with the private sector, but I suppose the thing to look at is value for money and the child...

My two nieces went to separate schools - the one was very hard working and bright and she thrived in a big, govt funded school, my other niece had a learning disability and the small private school she was sent to helped her enormously and achieved the grades she needed. There wasn't an issue betweeen the two girls as the choices my BIL and his wife made were the right ones under the circumstances.

I personally would sacrifice a bit to make sure my son could go to a place that would cater for his dyslexia ...

avenanap Tue 08-Jul-08 12:39:55

my ds is moving to a private grammar school in September. It's got 300 children, split into Junior and senior. The fees are a real worry, I can just about afford it. ds can be a bit of a loose cannon when he chooses but he's highly gifted and will benefit alot (I hope). The head's even prepared to find a space in the curriculum for philosophy because that's what ds wants to do.

There are companies that offer insurance for school fees if a parent becomes ill or looses their job.

pagwatch Tue 08-Jul-08 12:41:09

can I ask.
How will his AS tendencies be in eaither school.
From what you have written the dyslexia would be the lesser issue to me. Will his behavioural issues get appropriate support/understanding in both schools?
I have always tried to look at findingthe school to meet my childrens needs and then worry about where it is /what type of school etc.
I have ended up with two at independents and one at a specail school.
Will a larger enviroment challenge his beahviours?

seeker Tue 08-Jul-08 12:41:57

Not sure what a private grammar school is. I thought grammars were selective state schools - well, that's what they are round here.

By the way, are you sure that the 11+ doesn't make any allowance for dyslexia? It does in Kent, I think, but I'm not sure what. Worth checking it out, though.

pagwatch Tue 08-Jul-08 12:42:58

My DS is at one the Royal Grammar schools.
Private/fee paying.

avenanap Tue 08-Jul-08 12:43:31

I would look for a state grammar first though. Why pay if there's one availiable. There isn't one where we live sad.

pagwatch Tue 08-Jul-08 12:45:46

Actually that means if its not a grammar school and its not royal and hes not royal - he couldn't be less appropraitely placed.
grin

wtf. he goes there, he learns stuff he's happy.
I don't know

indianajane Tue 08-Jul-08 13:43:32

oooh lots of good advice here.
I got dh to enquire - the fees go up about 5% each year. Had not taken dinners into account which are compulsary and will add on about £100 a month.
I have asked LEA about taking learning difficulties into account for 11 plus, they said the only help available is extra time, but you have to have the exam at a different centre and also need an ed psych letter for that.
Have not contacted the fees free grammar schools yet. They are very large and ds tends to be very scatty.
Behaviour is the biggest issue for us I think. I need somewhere where the teachers can have a more personal relationship with him as he is quite quirky. At the private school I have been told that there are many chn like my ds who just wouldn't cope in a 'large' school. I think he is very likely to meet fellow geeks!

pagwatch Tue 08-Jul-08 13:47:14

I love geeks grin

avenanap Tue 08-Jul-08 13:50:58

I moved ds for the fellow geeks. He's a bit lively and happy though and at the meet the teacher evening last week they were all SOOO QUIET! blush One mum said how she thought ds was great, I told her he's bags of fun but well behaved in class. The school's fab. There are only boys and they have a special area where they can climb trees and dig. ds has problems reading other people and can annoy others very easily.

indianajane Tue 08-Jul-08 14:03:40

LOL he sounds like my ds avenanap!
I have just downloaded a form for the state grammar and filled it in. No harm in trying I suppose!

avenanap Tue 08-Jul-08 19:01:18

smile He's getting alot better. Another mnetter recommended a book and it really seems to have done the trick. He's very popular (with the other children, not the head) at school but the head didn't like him as he has his own mind.

Quattrocento Tue 08-Jul-08 19:09:28

This is something I worry about frequently. What happens if we lose our jobs? How many savings do we have? Not enough to fund the schools all the way through and the universities after. So would I have to pull them out of their schools if push comes to credit crunch?

My suggestion is that you try to weigh up

(i) Any resentments DS2 might feel
(ii) The likelihood of your losing your jobs
(iii) The cost to you as a family of sending your DS there

Against the added value to your DS1. How do you think your son will get on in a mainstream comp? You've mentioned that you don't think he will get into a state grammar, but what about a mainstream comp with a private tutor to support him at home?

Finally, please what is a GCA?

amicissima Tue 08-Jul-08 20:09:20

Does the private school mention bursaries at all? They are very hard to get at entry, but are often used if a current pupil's family get into financial difficulties, to save the child having to move school.

Hard to ask without sounding as if you are planning to get into difficulties, but it might be possible to get a feel.

Heated Tue 08-Jul-08 20:18:59

I teach at a state grammar where 'geeks' and AS pupils thrive but they don't do a lot for dyslexics. If your dc needs small classes then private is the only way he'll get that.

katak Wed 09-Jul-08 12:18:47

I do not want to sound unsympathetic,but:
1) you do not need to make firm decisions yet if he is in year 5 now
2) let him do the 11+ - see what happens
3) if he passes the 11+, then I would say take the place
4) go to the localstate schools: have you been in them? Do you know what the school in your catchment area is like? Go to the open evenings in the Autumn.
5) If you have the money for a private school, then find one that feels right for your child.

From what you have written about your child, it sounds as if your child will face certain difficulties regarding his behaviour WHEREVER you send him in Year 7. I would be more conerned about the behaviour than anything else. And you seem to think that it is the Head who is the problem- you seem to think that your child is fantastically intellligent, yet your child cannot understand how to behave in school and you do not like the fact that has been picked up on as a fault. That is what comes across in your writing.

All private schools will claim that their smaller classes, smaller school etc etc etc will suit your child better- THEY WANT YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!

YOu need to take your child to schools to see what the scale of the site feels like, find out what independent academic ability your child has in practial terms.

I too wonder what you mean by a private "grammar" school. Grammar schools select pupils based on those who are the highest academic achievers for their year group. They are within the state system. An iondependent fee paying school can select how they want: by ability to pay, by academic ability, religion, whatever.
DO not confuse a general entrance test to assess a child's level, with an actual competitive academic selection process, whereby the most intelligent get in.

HonoriaGlossop Wed 09-Jul-08 13:25:05

Just wanted to add that you will most likely find that if your ds needs extra help in the private school, say with the dyslexia, that this will come as an extra cost; so you'd need to factor that in to the fees and the lunches and uniform and also they charge for extra curricular activities and clubs. I think the fees are the tip of an iceberg....also, if his dyslexia or behviour difficulties really start to give him gip at school then if you're in the private sector you would have to pay for any involvement by an Educational Psychologist whereas state sector can call on them at no cost to you.

DH and I have looked into this issue for our ds who like yours would thrive in a small school - and we've found ALOT of extra costs involved!

indianajane Wed 09-Jul-08 14:46:57

katak - I do have to decide soon - applications for grammar have to be in at the start of September this year and I have to list my preferences for the LEA in the Autumn term also. Entrance exams for the state grammars are also in the Autumn term so we do have to make a decision.
Didn't think I'd referred to the Head - certainly don't see the Head as a problem - it's the ethos of the schools I am mainly concerned with.
No I don't think my child is fantasticlly intelligent. I do know he is dyslexic and I also know he has a GCA(general cognitive ability i.e. IQ) on the 97th centile. This was assessed by an ed psych from the LEA.
He actually behaves quite well in school at the moment (according to his teachers) but he does have difficulties as he has been recognised as being at high risk of having AS and needs to be somewhere where this is taken i to account. My own thoughts are that in a large school it is very difficult for teachers to get to know each child they teach and their personal needs and that this is more likely to happen in a smaller school. Which is why I was looking at the private school - 300 ish pupils as opposed to 1500plus.
The school is called a 'grammar school' but it is fee paying. I do know what a grammar school is. (- I am a teacher and I went to one!)

Loshad Wed 09-Jul-08 14:54:21

you don't always have to pay for extra dyslexic help - my four are at a fee paying grammar (katak it means they select on ability - there is generous scholarship/bursary provision, although it would always be good for there to be more) and tow of mine get substantial extra help for their dyslexia, included in the fees.

katak Wed 09-Jul-08 17:17:51

Okay, you feel under pressure to make a decision . But the actual closing dates are NOT YET. That is why secondary schools of all types hold open evenings for Year 6 pupils in the Autumn Term.

SO, you have to make a grammar school application early in the Autumn term- I know this. All that means is filling a basic form. It does not mean any thing else. If you already are considering that, then I assume you also have already startedpreparing your child either via his own current school's programme of work or yourself doingsomepracticewith him. So, again, that is not exactly a big decsion making thing: it is called filling in a form In case you do want him to sit the exam.A grammar school would require consistent effort from any pupil and thre would obviously be a high academic standard: that is what you need to think about, whether your child would thrive and cope in that sort of set up.

The results of state entrance exams usually come out in the Spring Term. Are there any state secondary schools that you know of where you know other children have gone and settled in well?

Unless an independent school is oversubscribed ( and some may pressure people into signing up early claiming that "places are limited" - the school likes to get as many signed up as possible for financial reasons- does not mean they really are full up) you will have virtuallyup until end ofSummer TErm(or even later) make a final decision on the independent school - often this is what parents do, waiting until after the results of all the other entrance exams,which state school they get allocated etc.

I do know what a grammar school is.
I am an experienced teacher.
I know how the English education system is organised. I just didn't feel the need to explain why I feel I am allowed to offer my opinion.

97 on the scale.... why do you feel this worth mentioning exactly?

YOu seem to be concerned about which school is best for your child.

That is why I suggest going into schoools which you could practically send him to - ie do not bother with a school which you really would not be able to afford or physically arrange travel to for example- then if necessary make an appointment with the SEN coordinator to find outexactly how your son would be assessed and catered for.

Regardin gthe concept of a fee-paying grammar school : why not just call it what it is: a selective independent school ?

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