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If you have to scrape together the school fees each term, will your DC fit in?

(44 Posts)
wishingchair Wed 13-Aug-08 14:56:36

We have great primary schools here but average and below average secondaries. DH and I earn a reasonable salary but are not wealthy. We live in a very average house - we're in the south east so 'average' for here would be 'very small' if we were still up in yorkshire. Finding the school fees would be difficult. I don't want to get into a debate about private vs state as I really don't know where I stand on that one right now, but just wondered, if you were a pretty average family that doesn't have a really nice house and lots of money etc, would your child fit in? Mine are both girls and I remember how miserable I was at times about the bitchiness about clothes, shoes etc ... and I went to my local comp!

tab1 Wed 13-Aug-08 15:01:02

my cousin goes to private school and family have to forego hols etc as fees keep rising. Also schooltrips are expensive and most kids go so could lead to feeling left out if you cant afford it.

thelittlestbadger Wed 13-Aug-08 15:04:06

My brothers and i went to private schools and my parents were very hard up - managed it on a combination of no holidays, scholarships and help from family. I don't remember anyone there who paid for it comfortably with holiday homes in Switzerland etc, everyone just managed. You may need to choose the school carefully - i.e. more likely to be a problem at Eton than a former grammer.

Lilymaid Wed 13-Aug-08 15:05:09

Both mine have been at independents at secondary level and we have scraped to send them there - so did many of the other parents. They went on some school trips, but not others - like most of the other pupils. Obviously depends on the school.

youcannotbeserious Wed 13-Aug-08 15:07:05

Well, FWIW, my DH's ex lives in a pretty ordinary house, but we pay the school fees for a very expensive school and the kids fit in just fine.

I think the school is irrelevant... some kids will be bullies and some will be bullied. I'm sure it happens at all schools.

If you think the private school would be better for your child's eduction / development, I'd send them there. If you don't, send them to the local state school.

In either case, talk to them about bullies / being bullied and make sure they have good self esteem.

wishingchair Wed 13-Aug-08 15:09:06

Well yes ... Eton not really in the equation but do take your point. I was looking at some of the local schools' websites and at a stretch could manage the fees, but then the uniform, the extra-curricular activities, the fact the fees will go up more than my salary will ... It's a big commitment ...

zippitippitoes Wed 13-Aug-08 15:12:19

i think the thing to realise is that fees will go up and may go up substantially so if its a stretch at the outset unless you expect to get a good hike in your income you may find it just too difficult

it depends on the school but there is often quite a mix of backgrounds and incomes

many parents will be feeling the pinch especially for example those in construction and with small businesses

AMumInScotland Wed 13-Aug-08 15:15:28

It might be worth contacting the possible schools to get a feel for what the "extras" are really going to come to - some require you to have lunches for example, or have an expectation that of course the children will all go on trips. Their attitude to the question will also give you useful information - if they think you're odd for even asking then they may not be the best for you. On the other hand, many independent schools are very aware how stretched families can be, and will make sure that they keep things as low as they can manage.

youcannotbeserious Wed 13-Aug-08 15:31:15

Wishingchair - The uniform etc., don't worry about it - there is a second hand school and parents all know each other.. My DSDs always have hand-me-downs and it's never a problem. All the kids do it.

equally wouldn't worry about extra activities. We've never felt pressured to HAVE to send the kids on them. We refused to send DSD1 on a ski trip last year and it didn't cause any problems (well, with the school!!)

BUT... big consideration: It would be difficult to move a child during secondary education. That should be a consideration. I can't imagine my DSD1 fitting in at the local comp now, I'm sorry I don't mean to offend anyone, I just don't think she would.

SqueakyPop Wed 13-Aug-08 15:38:36

We are among the poorest families in the DCs' schools, and we've never felt second-class.

We have found that the rich families were incredibly generous (such as hosting sleepovers and end-of-term BBQs for the whole family, etc.) - they never expected us to reciprocate.

For the kids to talk about money and flaunt their wealth, is a very dodgy subject and totally uncool. At school, they are all in the same uniform, so cannot flaunt their overpriced clothes.

youcannotbeserious Wed 13-Aug-08 15:39:24

Second hand shop

CantSleepWontSleep Wed 13-Aug-08 15:41:34

Depends on the school. I went to private secondary, but without the scholarship I earned in the latter years my parents wouldn't have been able to afford it. We sacrificed fancy holidays (caravan in Devon every year did for us) like my friends went on, but otherwise I don't think I felt particularly like the poor relation. I think nowadays there are lots of parents scrimping to meet school fees, in all but the poshest of schools.

Podrick Wed 13-Aug-08 15:42:18

This is completely dependent on which private school you choose. Of course it can happen at state schools too.

wishingchair Wed 13-Aug-08 16:29:51

This is really interesting thank you. As I wasn't privately educated, I know I have my own prejudices. We have an excellent 6th form college here and I know lots of children move from private school to the college for their A Levels. This (assuming no problems like friends not moving etc) would cut out 2 years of fees and also would balance some of the other issues I have with private schooling (single sex, fairly narrow slice of society, and so on).

catweazle Wed 13-Aug-08 18:10:54

My DD went to private secondary. It was a boarding school that took a lot of Forces familes so not uber posh. The car park was full of very elderly rustbucket cars and a lot of the parents were very ordinary and went without holidays to pay the fees.

The first time we picked her up from one friend's house we were envy. Our entire house would have fit in a corner of their deck! They also had acres of land and a private wood, plus a swimming pool. But they were lovely people, very down-to-earth and didn't make us feel like outcasts.

DD's friends all subbed her when they went out, but in a nice way. She never felt she didn't fit in (in fact she had some kudos for having young parents grin )

JudgeNutmeg Wed 13-Aug-08 18:32:59

It's quite possible that there are some uber rich families who use my ds's school but I couldn't point them out. There's a thriving black market in second hand gear and I'm pleased to be passing on a lot of stuff myself this year.

I know that the foreign trips in the upper years are very popular so I have started squirelling for those already (I am hugely motivated by budgets though and have accounts for everything). I have heard that the school has always 'found a way' to make sure that everyone who wants to go on trips goes.

I too have suffered from house envy. grin I've always loved houses though and was the same when my kiddos were at state school too. I'm too lazy to move house though. In relative terms, our house is not posh but it is extremely popular which, on balance, is just how I would wish it to be.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Wed 13-Aug-08 18:53:13

At least with the uniform the children do not have the same scope for designer-trainer syndrome. My son is about to start at a very expensive school. They give lots of bursaries and there is a thriving second hand market in school uniform. Some parents are uber rich, but all the parents we have met so far have been extremly nice. It is a very academic school so idle rich kids are absent. There ARE schools locally which do cater for the idle rich - they are easy to get into, just phenomenally expensive, but can't see the point of those anyway except for those in that category.

marialuisa Wed 13-Aug-08 20:34:41

I think it depends on the school. DD goes to a local private school and the vast majority of families are "average". Most people's holidays are camping or Haven rather than the Maldives. There is one well-known public school near us which does attract a wealthier clientele (more boarders too) and I wouldn't choose to send DD there, but ultimately that's because it doesn't offer anything I want to pay for rather than concerns that our relative lack of money would make DD a target for bullies.

makkapakkamoo Wed 13-Aug-08 20:38:42

no no no no no. don't do it. i WAS that child and it has damaged me for life. groups of girls literally running away from me everyday just to avoid being the poor kid. it haunts me now. i was fine at the state primary and it was simply a case of being poor that made my private secondary school life absolutely hellish. Sorry if it's not what you want to hear but being honest about my experience

ThatBigGermanPrison Wed 13-Aug-08 20:42:33

You are relying far too heavily on the kindness and non-judgementalness of her peers - and secondary school aged girls are not noted for being kind and none-judgemental.

I wouldn't do this, not on your nelly would I do this.

Bluestocking Wed 13-Aug-08 20:51:34

I went to a "good" London private girls' school on scholarship, and spent a lot of time feeling like a poor relation. Obviously I had friends (also poor relations, mostly) but a lot of the other girls, although they weren't nasty, just found it utterly bizarre that my family didn't go abroad every school holiday, that I didn't have my own en-suite bathroom, that I didn't have access to a pony to ride at the weekends, etc etc. I don't think it did me any harm in the long run but it's certainly something to discuss with your daughters and to let them know that it's an open topic - I never dared mention it to my parents because I didn't want to make them feel bad about not being rich!

Flocci Wed 13-Aug-08 20:59:38

I was also one of the poor kids at private school, and I was totally aware of it even at primary. My parents never had a holiday, didn't even have a car, and we were so clearly in a different league, even though it wasn't a terribly posh school. It was never pointed out as such at either school, I was never bullied, and was never made an issue of by my peers or anyone else, but it was an issue which didn't need to be pointed out. It was obvious and awful for me.

Every party, playdate, holiday, talking about our homes and lives etc just brought it up. No surprise that my closest friend was also "poor".

Also, although my parents never mentioned it or made any fuss, again even as quite a long child I understood that they were making massive sacrifices for me and that was also quite an uncomfortable thing for a child to take on board.

We are now in a position where we thought about it and could just about afford to do it, but only just, and I persuaded dh against it because it was not pleasant always feeling different, when lets face it, most children just want to blend in and be like everyone else.

fivecandles Thu 14-Aug-08 10:06:32

Many of the parents at my dcs' school just afford the fees. Most of the mums work and many parents have to work long hours to pay fees. Before and after school club and holiday club (run by school) are always busy. At our school you give your grown out of uniform to the Parents Association who sells it on for a nominal fee which then goes back into the Parents Association to pay for school equipment, Christams parties etc. The kids who have horses, regular expensive holidays are in a minority but I suppose it varies from school to school. One thing to say about the kids whose parents earn the least but have got in on a bursary or scholariship is that they are often the most gifted in the school (have to be in top percentage of kids who pass the exam and bursary means tested) so thy are often the MOST respected.

fivecandles Thu 14-Aug-08 10:08:33

And that's one of the reasons why I chose the school TBH that academic, sporting, dramatic, musical success is encouraged and rewarded over materialism etc.

Jazzicatz Thu 14-Aug-08 10:11:35

Its a huge committment and for us at the moment a struggle - but very very worth it. Ds1 is settling in really well and has made some fab freinds. Sometimes it gets me down when we visit some of his friends and they live in MASSIVE houses - but that is balanced with others who are struggling like us.

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