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State or private from age 4 to 7?

(94 Posts)
chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 02-Oct-08 21:39:56

State or private dilemma.
For the 4 to 7 phase (i.e. the equivalent of pre-prep), we have the choice of a local state primary with a class size of 30 or a non-selective private prep with a class size of 16 at a cost of around £10k per year(both schools say they have one classroom assistant in addition to the main teacher).
We can afford this but of course in the current financial climate there’s always the risk of job losses which would make things more difficult (although we could ride out a short period of unemployment).
The private prep has better facilities but is three miles away, whereas the local primary is a 10 minute walk.
The other consideration is that we would probably look to move him to a private prep at 7+ if he were at the state primary.

seeker Thu 02-Oct-08 21:42:00

Stick to the state primary. Spend the money on fab holidays, music lessons, books, meals out - generally having a nice time.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 02-Oct-08 21:55:52

Anyone else?
Seeker - it probably wouldn't mean he'd miss out on those things.

Hulababy Thu 02-Oct-08 21:57:09

Have you visited both schools? What was your gut reaction?

harpomarx Thu 02-Oct-08 22:02:36

well, I am totally against private education but very tolerant of other's choices wink

so, I think if you are definitely going to move him at 7 you might as well start in the private sector - presumably he will then move to another school with some of his friends?

also, (and please don't take offence) it would be nice to let someone else have the place at the primary school (assuming it is good and therefore popular) if you are only planning to keep him there for a couple of years.

fridayschild Thu 02-Oct-08 22:07:43

State primary. It's lovely being able to walk to school and pick up little pals on the way. Keep his circle of friends (and yours!) as varied as you can for as long as you can. Avoid contributing to the school run traffic jams for another 3 years. Salve your conscience about vanishing into the private sector by contributing generously and anonymously to the school's fund raising efforts.

SqueakyPop Thu 02-Oct-08 22:27:45

Once you are in the independent system, it is hard to get out of it. If you start them really early, you are in for an awful lot of years.

I am a big proponent of independent ages at all stages, but less important in the very early years. If you are borderline affording it, then saving your money for a few years might be enough to make it comfortable in the important years.

I would dearly love to have my Y5 child in the independent sector as I know her school offers very poor value educational value with the ad nauseam focus on KS2 sats. My now Y7 child spent a whole year (well, till May) doing little more than practice papers. I see now that she is in senior school what she missed out on. I teach Y6 Science and it is such a different experience from what my DD had. I am verging on feeling bitter and angry about it.

At the end of the day, we can only do as much as we can afford. It's not the right climate for getting into debt.

stephla Thu 02-Oct-08 22:28:05

Our reasoning for state was:
1) at this age they don't really learn much unless they want to and it is more important to have friends around the corner to play with.
2) it is so much easier to trade up to public than trade down to state
He started 4 weeks ago and he is really happy. His friends from nursery that went to prep school already have homework. He just has fun with his new schoolfriends. I think he'll get into Oxford or Cambridge anyway!

mabanana Thu 02-Oct-08 22:30:46

I agree, if you plan to just use the school for two years, then pay from the start and let someone who is going to be committed to the school and cannot afford 10K a year have the place.

SqueakyPop Thu 02-Oct-08 22:33:05

Well, she is already paying for a state place. There is no need to step aside.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 02-Oct-08 22:40:15

I can see where those who've said 'don't take up someone else's state school place' are coming from but we are paying taxes after all.

I do feel a bit uncomfortable with the idea of going to a school for just three years with a high chance that we won't stay there all the way through but the chances are someone moving into the area will take his place at 7 so it's not like it would be wasted.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 02-Oct-08 22:41:16

In fact, under the logic of this argument, those who can afford to go private should step aside and not take up state school places....not an easily defensible view put like that surely?

MollieO Fri 03-Oct-08 08:57:48

On the basis that those of us who opt for private school are giving up a state place, maybe we should be reimbursed the £5000/pa it costs per pupil in state school?!

We had the same dilemma. I was all for doing primary until 11 and then sending my ds to private school if he was bright enough to get a scholarship or not bright enough to pass the 11+ (our local state comprehensive schools are truly horrible). In the end we opted for private from 4 to 11 on the basis that it would be the best prep for 11+. We neighbour a county with selective education and are in catchment for a good grammar school but our local primaries actively deter parents from allowing their children to sit it and do no 11+ prep.

We decided on the basis of a friend's comment. She said that if they haven't developed a love of learning by the age of 11 it will be a bit late to start with them then. Our local primary school was also in special measures up until this year. My ds is in a class of 13 as opposed to 32 if we had gone state.

MollieO Fri 03-Oct-08 08:58:51

The other excellent thing about private school is no SATs.

dilemma456 Fri 03-Oct-08 09:16:34

Message withdrawn

twentypence Fri 03-Oct-08 09:28:14

We don't start until 5 in NZ. Ds did 3 terms in the school a mile down the road, then a child left the private school (10km away) we had him on the waiting list for (to go to his home country) and he will complete his primary education there (age 5-12 here).

The differences are less marked than yours though as the class size will be identical (18 by law for new entrants).

But we didn't know how long he would be on the waiting list for - it could have been 3 years and I would have been happy for him to stay at the state school for the first 3 years.

If you send him to the state school are your disciplined enough to save up for the private prep for 2-3 years so that if a spell of unemployment happens you have some fees all saved up, or would the money just "disappear"? (in which case you might as well spend it on the private pre prep)

lingle Fri 03-Oct-08 09:29:07

So are the two big advantages of private

- small classes
- greater freedom from National Curriculum?

Have always been prejudiced against private because my mother "aspires" for my children to go private in a completely sickening Hyacinth Bucket kind of way. Am presuming that the disadvantage of private is that you will get more people there who think that you should be judged by the size of your car and the granite-ness of your kitchen worksurfaces. And less of a spread of backgrounds.

But by sheer luck DS1 had a class of 18 last year (we'd had a temporary head for a few years so had been an unpopular school but then got a terrific new head ) and I feel it made a great difference to him.

2 boys = £20K per year then?

teslagirl Fri 03-Oct-08 09:31:17

The old chestnut about how private-selecting parents are doing the rest of us a favour, eh?!

Indeed, dilemma, you are correct.

chipmunkswhereareyou Fri 03-Oct-08 09:35:07

I only said the thing about us not taking up a state place (and suspect Mollie only said it too for this reason) in response to the idea that if you can afford to go private you shouldn't take up a state school place for two or three years.

Anchovy Fri 03-Oct-08 09:38:44

Something I am hugely in favour of is local friends. Almost for that reason alone I would go for the state primary for the first few years and then when you move at 7 you have a good circle of local friends.

thebutlerdidit Fri 03-Oct-08 09:48:27

I would go state as your life will logistically be easier for another 3 years and he will make local friends. You will also be able to use the 30K saved in fees as a safety net in case you become unemployed etc when he is higher up the school. If you are moving him at 7 then you don't have to worry about sats anyway. He is unlikely to be the only new boy at age 7. I could afford private and my dcs all go to state. Technically I'm not taking someone else's place as the school is undersubscribed but if I was it wouldn't occur to me to feel guilty about it. Everyone has the same entitlement to state education.

Will he get into the state school if it is oversubscribed and you live 10 mins away?

anyoneelse Fri 03-Oct-08 09:57:00

As someone who moved school frequently I would not recommend it as a choice. It can be tough for some children to start again age 7 not knowing anyone.
But I know that sometimes it cant be helped.

From what I have seen it doesnt make much difference in Reception, but three children I know who went from state to private ended up doing so after Year 1 although the parents had planned to leave it another year. They could see the "divide" that was opening up, they could see that their child wasnt being sufficiently challenged and they didnt want their child struggling to catch up if they left it till after Year 2. I guess it also gave them a chance to make friends before the move into the next stage of schooling (the private school did go right through from Reception to Year 6).

MollieO Fri 03-Oct-08 10:16:04

dilemma - my tongue in cheek post was in response to mabanana's and harpomarx's ones. I am a firm believer of choice.

I have opted out of our local state primary due to the lack of a head, school just coming out of special measures and a whole host of reasons that I won't bore here. I am lucky to be able to have the choice to go private (the only other choice would have been to move) but it wasn't an easy choice to commit to a spend of over £70k in the next 8 years on one income. In fact quite scary when I think about it. It will mean a huge number of sacrifices but in the end I felt that it was the best choice for my ds.

TheBlonde Fri 03-Oct-08 10:25:14

if you are happy with the local state school then you may be better saving the money for private education later on

janinlondon Fri 03-Oct-08 11:08:30

One other thing you might consider is how hard it is to get into the private option if you don't start in it? Obviously less of a problem if not selective.....but selective testing at 7 is very much different from selective testing at 4.

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