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State or private education for bright child?

(80 Posts)
Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 17:47:04

I've been thinking a lot lately about whether or not we should be thinking about private schools for DD1 (3.4), and would appreciate some advice (please bear in mind we have NO money, so any private education would have to be entirely scholarship/bursary).

She seems to be quite a bright child, and not just through my own rose-tinted glasses. Her playschool 'teachers' have commented on it several times, as has one of her Sunday School leaders (who is a primary school TA and has said that DD can do some things better than some of the children in her class). Having said that though, I am not keen on labelling her this early, or putting any pressure on her - I was a G&T child so I know from experience that it is better to let children find their own level. Personally, I decided I would rather not work hard enough to fulfill my potential, and I am happy with that decision. So I don't want her to be pressurised to perform.

We live in a relatively affluent area (although in a less affluent 'pocket'), so there are no really 'bad' schools locally. That said, there are of course some that are better than others, and unfortunately the closest primary schools to us are not the 'better' ones, and there is no way she would get into the 'good' ones. I'm not massively worried, as I know she is in no danger of leaving primary school unable to read etc (in fact I am pretty sure she will be reading before she starts - she can already recognise letters, understands that they make different sounds, and knows what some of those sounds are, compares similar sounding words and can write her name plus copy other words that I write down for her).

However, I am still wondering if we should be thinking of private schools, and if so then just for secondary or for primary too (have I left it too late for primary? She will be starting reception in Sept 2012). Any thoughts would be appreciated.

catsareevil Fri 20-May-11 17:49:49

Do you know what the private schools near you are like? There is no guarantee that they will be better than the state schools. IMO you need to pick the best individual school, rather than picking state or private.

Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 17:58:11

I have no idea, and to be honest, not sure how to find out. I don't know anyone locally who is thinking of private schooling (most of the other kids at her playschool will be going to one of the two 'good' primaries, either because of address or being Catholic).

Do you think though that I should be worrying about the best school for primary? The school nearest us is the same one I went to (albeit only for 1 year) and is not a bad school at all (satisfactory overall on OFSTED, some issues with latest SATs though apparently).

meditrina Fri 20-May-11 17:59:30

It's not a case of which sector, but of which school (as catsareevil says). You need to look round all the possibles in your area and go for the ones which seem most likely to match your own ideas of what makes up a good education and to suit DD1.

I've never heard of a scholarship being available for reception aged children (and scholarships aren't worth much anyhow).

Bursaries at reception age are incredibly rare - you will need to ask each school whether they offer any support so early.

Bursaries (and scholarships) become more common from year3 onwards. So one scenario you might like to think about as you do your research is going to a state school for R-2, and consider in slower time (and in the light of her actual progress and personal development) whether a move is possible and desirable.

Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 18:08:08

That's a good point meditrina - I do know one school locally does bursaries from nursery, but it is about a 20 min drive away, the closer one I believe does some form of aid from Y3 and more from Y7.

catsareevil Fri 20-May-11 18:09:41

Sorry, I had missed the bit in your OP about the finances - Im not sure if there are any schools that offer an 100% scholarship all the way through school. Even if you got that you would still need to pay for the uniform etc.

Whether its necessary to go for the 'best' school probably depend on what the others are like. And what suits your DD best wont necessarily be the same as what OFSTED think.

Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 18:15:03

As I say, there is definately one which does a means-tested bursary all the way through (although if finances change it will be reassesed), and if you get 100% it does include uniform). But I imagine it would be hard to get that. The problem is that if we don't go private we have very little choice - basically the one closest to us is the only one she would get in to.

That said, a good friend who is an early years professional is considering sending her daughter to this school rather than the Catholic one as she prefers the more informal atmosphere...

belledechocchipcookie Fri 20-May-11 18:17:28

If you have a good state primary then use that and consider an independent secondary as there may be a bursary/scholarship availiable.

Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 18:38:00

That's the problem though, I can't get her in to a good primary school, only an average one.

MrsShrekTheThird Fri 20-May-11 18:42:31

ime state better than private
but they do vary, obv. I was privately educated, with scolarship, and the teaching was not good. Current experience says things haven't altered much in this area. State selective (like grammar schools) far far better imho. Ds2 who is in year 2 and already tagged as G&T will more than likely be going to a selective co-ed school in the city about 10 miles away.

ggirl Fri 20-May-11 18:42:49

tbh she sounds like she'll be fine wherever she goes

belledechocchipcookie Fri 20-May-11 19:03:05

Average is OK, you can do extension work at home during the holidays/after school and you'll be able to enrich her learning in other ways (like music lessons/theatre trips etc). Not every private school is a good one.

vegasmum Fri 20-May-11 19:58:40

Message withdrawn

2emumuk Fri 20-May-11 20:40:22

This was a big decision for us too when our dd1 first started primary school. You may well find that very few private schools really offer scholarships at primary level and in my experience it is very unusual to get one into Reception.

I also don't necessarily think the assumption that private schools cater better for gifted pupils is valid. The class sizes may be smaller but they can also be more traditional in their teaching methods and very focused on everyone achieving results rather than focusing on individual potential.

Have a look around all the available options and trust your instincts. Your local " average" school may be better than you think for your child. Each school has individual characteristics and Ofsted reports are not the end of the story.

The most important thing is that you feel you can work with the school and that they have something worthwhile to say about how they would accommodate your gifted child.

It is a very tough decision and seems so important so I wish you luck in finding the right school for your daughter.

Emu Mummy

Lorelai Fri 20-May-11 20:54:36

Thanks all. I think I feel a bit happier about sending her to the local school. Neither DH or I are totally sold on private anyway, I just wanted to be sure I wasn't going to be holding her back. I think secondary is more important and will take a lot more care over that decision, plus she will be able to have a lot of input in the decision by that age anyway. No selective secondaries here so choice is very much average state or private.

CantThinkOfDecentNameChange Fri 20-May-11 21:03:34

Both my DCs could do what you describe at same age and they are just above average in state primary. Both in 2nd group, not top. I think you are labelling her too young

GnomeDePlume Fri 20-May-11 21:04:55

My DCs went to the worst school in the town (it was in special measures at the time). We had just moved back to the UK so had a Hobson's choice of one. DD1 did one year at that school then moved onto the local special measures secondary (again Hobson's choice). In year 7 DD1 did a GCSE (grade A). In year 9 she did an AS (grade B). In a couple of weeks she will be taking an A2 (year 10).

If your DD is bright enough and you provide the support she will make the best of any opportunity which comes her way.

cory Sat 21-May-11 21:36:33

I would think about whether you like the local primary school. Can you see your dd being happy there? Does it seem to have the kind of atmosphere that might be conducive to learning?

NotaMopsa Sat 21-May-11 21:38:25

you really cannot tell at 3.4
save your money and wait and see

NotaMopsa Sun 22-May-11 20:54:57


higgle Mon 23-May-11 16:18:21

We were of very limited means wen our sons were little and knew we could only afford (with difficulty) to do part of their education in the priivate sector. Having looked at all the schools in our area we decided to do private for primary years and state for secondry, as we have grammar schools in this county.

The main advantage of the prep school was that both my sons learned how to plan work, how to apply themselves and how to get on with homework after school ( done in supervised prep sessions) without messing about. They both remain incredibly disciplined about work, in a way that most of their friends are not. I'd agree a good state secondary school is better than a private/independent one. There were a couple of girls in my eldest son's class who were lauded as the brightest of the bright, but after going to a quite well thought of private secondary school they did not get anything like the grades that are common at the local girls grammar.

Porphyria Mon 23-May-11 18:05:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotaMopsa Mon 23-May-11 20:05:41

i do agree very much with the last two comments - although it can work both ways
my elder sons ahve both gone to a great state grammar from a half decent state primary ( was 'beacon' when the first child went) they are both VERY self motivated . DS 1 did brilliantly and has gone on to a really great university with no fuss at all - barely knew he was doing his gcse and A levels

Ds2 will seemingly be the same

DD is different - NO motivation - we have to DRAG her to exams and virtually do them for her - she is bright but needs a virtual cattle prod. Her state grammar school is the sister shcool to the boys one and has equally motivated girls. the schools attitude is very much 'our gilrs are the best' they believe in self-motivation and university ie pupil led style of education. NOT GOOD for an il motivated child

DD would be better off at a school where if the homework is not done the teacher does not shrug and say ' your education - your choice'

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 11:32:56

Oh, how we would have loved to send our 3 to a state primary! Unfortunately, the one we would have got had no provision for G+T. Barely lip service. DS would have just stared out the window and DD1 had trouble enough at a private mixed ability nursery- only one friend (also bonkers clever) and couldn't relate to the others at all.
If your local school can cope, go for it. Private selective secondary makes more sense. Your kid won't be labeled a 'swot'.

NotaMopsa Tue 24-May-11 23:34:41

how narrow minded

my kids are bright - probably much brighter than yours horsemad but with bright parents too.

state primary is great and g and t does not enter into it in the two GREAT schools my kids are lucky enough to go to

no one lables any of my kids swot - must be a word used in the private sector

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