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reasons to go private at reception age??

(138 Posts)
MissChief Tue 22-Mar-05 09:23:35

interested in why people go private - driven to it thro perceived lack of alternative or automatic choice as no faith in state sch system etc etc?
We originally planned to go for state option as automatic choice - since then first choice rejected and having checked out prospectus & ofsted report, not overly impressed with school's quality either. think the area we're in (just moved) seems to be one where people go private where poss. I now think I'd actually prefer to make financial sacrifice of sending ds private in order to ensure he's in class of manageable size with good discipline, good moral ethos, decent food, daily sports etc. Not having been to private school myself though, perhaps I'm just being naive - is it really so much better (or have the various heads I've met done a good sales job on me!)

MissChief Tue 22-Mar-05 09:45:45

bump, anyone?

Azure Tue 22-Mar-05 09:47:05

DS starts reception in September. Where I live there are some good state primary schools (though not quite near enough to our house - we applied to 3 and have been rejected by 2 already and are still waiting to hear from the third). The state secondary schools range from just about ok to shockingly poor. There are some decent ones in the borough if DS were Catholic or a girl, neither of which he is. As a result we would like DS to go to a private prep / secondary school - and the best chance of him getting in there is to go private from the beginning. This situation saddens me - neither DH or I were educated privately and the vast majority of kids are not fortunate enough to have this option.

expatinscotland Tue 22-Mar-05 09:49:45

The reason? My dad offered to pay for it.

Azure Tue 22-Mar-05 09:51:00

I meant to add that the private primary schools definitely did have the edge over the state schools in the ares you mention - small classes, good discipline, etc. - as well as better academic attainment and a wider curriculum, e.g. more music lessons with different instruments, learning French, a wider choice of sports. It is difficult to generalise, of course, and depends on the particular schools in your area.

MissChief Tue 22-Mar-05 09:53:24

IKWYM- can't really afford it, on the other hand, can just about manage it if we make sacrifices elsewhere so to that extent at least we have the choice. Ironic though as moved from area where state provision was excellent to one where seems to be adequate to poor with excellent private schools - guess local market therefore pushes those who can afford it to go private thereby making standard of state schs even worse. So much for my former liberal credentials! My doubts are over whether £6,000 a yr is really worth it? Like you, was educated in state school so little knowledge of how much more to expect from private school

cazzybabs Tue 22-Mar-05 09:55:07

I teach in a private school and I want private for my children - the reasons better resources, more games/drama/music activites, smaller class sizes, less spread of ability...

but there is no guarentee the teaching itself will be any better than in the state system, I don't think special needs provision is better (unless you go to a specific school), snobby parents all trying to out do each other on the party, school play costumes etc, teaching methods may be "old-fashioned", ie they may not teach from the national curruilcumn or the literacy/numeracy statergies.

Marina Tue 22-Mar-05 10:16:38

We did it for the following reasons, despite having two good and two perfectly adequate state primaries within either walking or bus travel distance:

1) because it was the closest school to our house, pretty much across the road - this means that in Year 6 we can prepare ds for travelling solo to secondary school by letting him do the morning journey himself (maybe younger, we'll see)

2) because it was the only one that offered on-site after-school club facilities. We both work full-time outside the home - not long hours, but a commute away

3) ds did not get a place at our number one choice state primary due to a bumper crop of siblings that year - it happens

4) our second choice had a worrying Ofsted report and bad word of mouth when we started checking it out with other parents

5) Active reasons for choosing our school - no SATS and no Literacy and Numeracy Hours; smashing head and long-serving team of Early Years teachers; one-to-one reading guaranteed daily in Early Years (and they have lived up to this 100%); well-developed SEN and pastoral policies - ds doesn't need the former but we wanted a school where SEN is treated positively and sensitively; used the Synthetic Phonics scheme; lovely atmosphere when we visited; food cooked in a proper kitchen by properly paid and resourced kitchen staff (boy has this become a live issue since .

We both went through the state sector, but thirty years ago. I think what we have ended up choosing for our children is not a bells-and-whistles academic powerhouse with swimming pool and rugby pitches, but a small, intimate, mixed ability school where all the children know each other and all the staff, and in fact most of the parents too. Subconsciously I think we have tried to give him all the benefits of our own primary careers...

We expect ds and dd to transfer to the state sector at 11 - there are several good selective and non-selective schools near us.

We know how lucky we are to have the choice.

Stilltrue Tue 22-Mar-05 10:43:39

Dh and I were also 100% state educated, but we've gone private at junior level for ds1,ds2 and dd.
Where we are, the state schools vary a lot; some are well regarded but we wouldn't be in the catchment areas/wouldn't qualify for the religious ones (I think going to church to get a school place is just as "reprehensible" as going private - to those who think the latter is "not a good thing").
As Marina says, private schools vary tremendously in atmosphere and resources; ours is a non selective co-ed with a friendly atmosphere, smallish classes, great sen provision for those who need it, and lots of other attractive features. Also like Marina, no SATS, so none of that ridiculous "teaching to the tests" which seems to cause so much unnecessary stress to children and teachers alike. Some private schools do the SATS though, so check it out.
I would also add that with smaller classes and arguably therefore more individual attention throughout the school, your ds would be likely to leave his private school (if you choose it)with a very good grounding which can only see him in good stead for secondary level, whatever sector or type of school you choose then.

janinlondon Tue 22-Mar-05 10:45:02

1. Lack of secondary places and secondary schools performing poorly, so DD would probably have to go private at 11 and has a better chance if she's in a private prep. Still no guarantee that she'll get into a good secondary of course. Amazed by how many people presume that you can choose to pay at 11 and that will be that. The competition is horrendous.

2. Good local state primary school severely oversubscribed and we were unlikely to get her in.

3. IVF failure means we will not be having a second child, so can just about afford it. (Lucky eh!)

Satine Tue 22-Mar-05 11:17:38

I went to private school, my dh didn't and his niece is a teacher in a 'good' state secondary school and we all feel that private is better, on the whole, because a) teachers spend more time teaching rather than controlling the disruptive members of the class (niece says with the best will in the world the quiet well behaved kids get left alone whilst the Vicky Pollards get all the attention), b) the facilities tend to be better (own swimming pool, for example, or lots of sports pitches) and c) range of subjects taught is wider with dedicated teachers for each area, rather than form teachers. But it's such an awful lot of money. We think it's worth it but boy, I don't know how we're going to do it.

Ameriscot2005 Tue 22-Mar-05 11:21:29

What I like about prep schools:

Daily games
Matches with other schools
High expectations for manners
Small class sizes
Strict, but friendly, rules
Pupil diversity
Social events
Quality productions
Academic competition
Formal exams
French tuition
Specialist teachers at younger age
Supervised prep
Boys stay till 13
Civilised school meals

RTKangaMummy Tue 22-Mar-05 11:21:38

I am rather confused by the comment of no sats tests

Ok I agree they don't all do SATS but what about practising for Common Entrance?

DH teaches in Private school that takes from 11+ and 13+

And the prep schools round here spend ages prepearing the boys for the entrance exam

We chose not to send DS to prep and pre prep because we wanted him to be with girls as well as boys and that was really the main reason.

DS will go to Private school next year. Aged 11 years.

So I am deffo for private schools

Ameriscot2005 Tue 22-Mar-05 11:27:23


My experience of private schools is that exam preparation is a big thing.

DS1 is in his CE year, and they finished the curriculum a few weeks ago and are basically revising for the CE in June.

I don't get what the big deal is about teaching to the test. If the test is well designed, what are the kids missing out on?

RTKangaMummy Tue 22-Mar-05 11:35:32

That is where IMHO prep schools fall down

All this time practising for the entrance paper

I personnally feel it is a waste of their time

If they have learnt the lessons properly they should be able to answer the questions

The PREP schools get a list on the topics that the exam will be set on.

eg. In MATHS there will be questions on fractions BUT not on percentages

So the kids will spend all their time doing fractions and NOT touch percentages.

The whole point in prep schools is to PREP the kids for the exam

If they advertise that they get kids into school X and that they are feeder school for it.

They have to get the kids to pass exam.

BTW at DH school they gave up doing CE and now set their own paper.

Marina Tue 22-Mar-05 11:38:59

No SATS at seven though (I know there is talk of taking them out of the state sector and good thing too - we know a lovely, clever, larky six-year old who was hauled aside by her teacher and told they were counting on her to up the class and school average and it gave her nightmares )
Preps differ. Ours prepares children for the local 11+ for the most part, CE for anyone staying in the independent sector, and gives equal support and time to ensuring all leavers find the right secondary school for them - quite a few are not "academic".
There is going to be pressure at 10-11 wherever you go. I prefer it integrated into school routine rather than added on via holiday cramming or evening tutorials I think.

Ameriscot2005 Tue 22-Mar-05 11:48:03

Since exam prep is a waste of time, IYO, Kanga, what do you think the boys should be doing instead? They are still doing trips, games, the school Play, so it's not all revising.

There is a practical issue of Scholarship exams taking place in February, so it's important to get the main teaching out of the way by then. Without this consideration, you could pace the year differently, but it would give less time to work out problems. They also have to get aquainted with work started 18 months earlier, and I don't think it is reasonable for the child to do this on his own during the Easter Holidays.

DS's prospective Senior School sets its own 13+ exam, but everyone just refers to it as Common Entrance for simplicity. The syllabus is the same as for CE.

RTKangaMummy Tue 22-Mar-05 11:57:14

Sorry what I mean is that the prep schools round here are under alot of pressure to get the boys into the top schools

And so therefore spend alot of time preparing the boys for exams

DH has meetings with them each year because they want to know exactly what will be in the exam so they can revise those topics.

The problem comes when boys who have been prepared so much for the exams get a false positive mark

so they get a score of 93% when in reality their ability should have just given them a score of 80%.

This means that they then get into DH school and then struggle with the other boys whose ability is in the range of 93%.

The prep schools with these boys have not been fair to them they would do better in the long run if they went to a less academic school.

Like I said I am totally in FAVOUR OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS

LIZS Tue 22-Mar-05 12:00:42

Not read the other replies, think it perhaps quiet a personal choice,. Our main reasons are smaller class size (dd is going to be the youngest/smallest in her year), access to a wider range of activitie both during the shcool day and extra curricular, and specialist facilities and teachers on site. We also have ds (who is turning 7) to consider and feel that environment would give him a better chance of developing well and be more similar to what he is used to (he has hitherto been at school abroad)than a state school. It may well suit him to stay there longer than 11 too, especially, since, with our 3 year age gap, dd would still be there.

MissChief Tue 22-Mar-05 12:05:08

reassured by people's comments - though no idea about CE exams etc as ds still so little. I guess I just want him in what I see as a "normal" environment - good behaviour, all kids supported by their parents, strict teachers, good facilities. No longer give a stuff whether this is right on or not (had many an argument with my dear sister over this, who incidentally is childless & heartily against private schools). However, am keen ds not pushed too much or surrounded by rich kids with v pushy parents- don't know signs to look for. Local private schools here seem to be mixture of locals & expats, with parents of varying financial means. Really angsting about this, for some reason, dh thinks I'm mad and that we will decide when we know if we have got a place at the local primary school for which we were rejected but on the waiting list

Ameriscot2005 Tue 22-Mar-05 12:06:27

The senior school should "know" what the various prep schools are like and make allowances.

I've found that the 13+ system around here is that the boys sit a pretest early in Year 7, and are awarded a place in the school, conditional on a satisfactory CE/13+ result (55% for most schools, and marked by the senior school). It's really a formality that they are going to achieve this level (those that are not expected to will have been channeled into a non-selective senior school).

The actual grades in the CE are only really used to set the boys in Y9, and it's unlikely that the senior school will use this as the only deciding factor; nor will they keep them in a set that is unrealistic.

Ameriscot2005 Tue 22-Mar-05 12:16:48


We are probably one of the poorer families at school, but it is not a problem. Everyone is extremely friendly and there is no snobbery that I have noticed. The rich families are very generous with their mansions - hosting sleepovers etc, without the expectation that we will have them back.

We have lots of expatriate families, with company funded places. They help keep the school viable, so good for stability, I think. My kids are American and I am very glad that they have a few American classmates .

RTKangaMummy Tue 22-Mar-05 12:21:03

It is the ones for 11+

That do this as the competition is very very strong


And yes the senior school does know what they are like BUT they are all the same

There are more than 4 X the number who do the exam at 11+ than places.

Please do not think I am against PREP SCHOOLS

Like I said before the only main reason DS has not gone was because we wanted him to go to boys and girls school.

MissChief Tue 22-Mar-05 12:51:07

amersicot - guess we're talking about same type of schools/catchment area anyway, so good to hear you haven't found it snobbish! Yet to see St g's but quite impressed by Upton.

dinosaur Tue 22-Mar-05 12:53:27

Can I ask a really nosey question?

How do people find the money for private education? Just pay it out of your salary, remortgage your house, or get it from grandparents/other family members?

I am always curious because even though I earn a fair whack I don't see how I could ever afford to educate my kids privately. It's not an issue for me, but I would love to know how you all do it?

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