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private school or state school?

(28 Posts)
artisanroast Sun 31-Jan-16 20:29:37


My husband and I are having an ongoing debate about private school or state school...

We live in quite a good area so the state schools nearby aren't bad, however...

Are the private schools better?

We have 2 good state schools and 2 private schools all roughly within walking distance of where we live. Our daughter is 5 months but if we have any plans to privately educate her we need to start saving lots and lots of pennies now.

We live in Scotland and I was privately educated and had both the primary and secondary school experience. I have a professional job and am generally happy with where I am in life. Although it could be better.

My husband went to a grammar school in NI and supports state school all the way. He is also in a professional job.

Is it what we do with the child at home? Or are there advantages to attending a private school? Are the people you meet there more likely to help you get ahead?

We could potentially spend more on activities and holidays outside school if we didn't need to pay school fees (approx 9000 per year)

If my daughter doesn't want to go to university that's fine too. I just want to feel she has had every opportunity possible to get good exam results (I know life isn't necessarily about exam results but they help).

Thoughts please...

Brokenbiscuit Sun 31-Jan-16 20:46:27

Personally, I'm with your DH on this. I went to a state comprehensive, but many of my friends from Cambridge were privately educated in "top" independent schools. I genuinely don't think they are happier or more successful than I am, nor are they any better educated.

We could comfortably afford to send dd private, and I'd happily do it if I felt it was worthwhile, because I do believe that education is really important. However, when I visited schools and looked at our various options, I decided that it really wasn't worth it. I know some people feel differently, and I guess it depends on the specific schools in your area. However, I do know quite a few people who were privately educated themselves who have just made the assumption that private is better, without really looking at the evidence.

mrspepperpotty Sun 31-Jan-16 20:49:01

We've taken the approach of sending our DC to the good local state primary. This way, we've saved on 7 years of school fees if we want to reconsider for secondary. They're all happy and making good progress.

ScottishProf Sun 31-Jan-16 20:56:02

There are zillions of threads on this, all the same: search. Summary: it depends on your actual local schools, but yes there are on-average differences. The big advantage of having the finances for private school is that you're likely to have a real choice, whereas many people who don't, don't.

Parietal Sun 31-Jan-16 20:59:31

i've sent children to both. teaching was no better in private (sometimes worse) but there were a lot more extras.

NorthEasterlyGale Sun 31-Jan-16 21:00:26

Well, I went to a state (well, church) primary school and private secondary, then university. Think DH was the same although he didn't finish Uni for a number of reasons. We plan to home educate both our boys and have planned that since before they were born. Having said that, when they're older they will be able to go to school if they decide they want to.

For me, I don't think my private university education had much bearing on the job I do now (although they would obviously have shaped the person I am and influenced in that way). Neither did any of the people I met; well, actually, my post-grad tutor had a major influence on me, but it was completely negative so don't think that counts!

Think my parents now agree that I would have done just as well at state secondary as I did at private.

I think the advantage of some private schools is the non-educational opportunities, but most of these you could achieve while they were at state school, using some of the money you would have spent on fees, as you note.

By it's nature, school education is a 'best fit' as it has to cater for everyone, whatever the type of school. If you instil a love of learning, a desire to do their best and healthy confidence in your kids, I think they'll do fine whatever you choose. I think what you do at home does matter, but more from the perspective of instilling a good work ethic, being encouraging and supportive.

uhoh2016 Sun 31-Jan-16 21:03:35

Personally I'd go and look around the schools local to you both state and private. You'll get a good feel for the school that you feel most comfortable in and will suit your family best whether it be one or the other

MadameJosephine Mon 01-Feb-16 08:32:40

Watching with interest. We are currently considering private education for 3 yo DD. We have a couple of very good local schools but even the best of them has class sizes of 25-30 whereas the independent school we are considering has 10 so I believe the 1 to 1 attention may be worth paying for. My DS is 19 and went to state schools (Catholic although we are atheists) and couldn't possibly have done any better (4A* at A level, currently undergrad at Imperial college) but when I discussed it with him he felt very strongly that he would like DD to go private and even offered to help with the fees once he graduates!

SleepyForest Mon 01-Feb-16 09:01:12

We send our children to a private school. We can afford it and they enjoy all the extras.

They do at least one school trip every half term and often have authors/poets/arctic explorers visiting to liven up lessons. The lunches are nice and I get to know what they are up to during the day with regular reports home / email chats with the teachers. Ds is enjoying Ancient Greek and dd loves rowing. They are being stuffed with as much "cultural capital" as possible. Both children are enjoying a life of luxury and privilege.

Whether you think this is actually good for them as individuals or the state of society in general is debatable.

There is no real advantage in terms of exam grades or access to university as far as I know.

uhoh2016 Mon 01-Feb-16 09:11:47

Another point to make if you choose private you'll need to be certain as much as you can in the current climate that you can afford the fees long term and also if you have another child later down the line can you afford it for both children

HooseRice Mon 01-Feb-16 09:17:56

You ask are private schools any better? That's like asking how long is a piece of string. You need to research the schools you are thinking of and decide for yourself.

On top of fees there are uniform costs and trips (trips for my DD1 age 11 are in excess of £850 this year), school lunches, music lessons and clubs.

HooseRice Mon 01-Feb-16 09:27:00

Oh I forgot about their iPads, one off purchase but you have to get a school approved cover, insurance and a top of the range model, over £600 all in.

PurpleWithRed Mon 01-Feb-16 09:29:27

Depends entirely on the quality of the state schools, the quality/type/orientation of your private choices, and your child. Mine both went private: DS would have been better home schooled/internet schooled (hindsight is a wonderful thing); DD would have done OK anywhere and chose state 6th form college but got a lot out of the extras private school offered her.

motherinferior Mon 01-Feb-16 09:34:42

My daughters are being excellently educated at the local comprehensive.

Only1scoop Mon 01-Feb-16 09:42:20

Dd went to a good primary reception however we moved her to begin year one private

The class size and opportunities are fantastic in our case it was a good decision.

However have friends in other areas with DC at fantastic small village schools. Visit them all private and state and weigh up what you think then.

Dd school is non selective I just want her to enjoy school and have all the opportunities she can. We only entered into it though know

Only1scoop Mon 01-Feb-16 09:43:37


Knowing we can keep her there throughout her schooling if she wants to stay.

ClaudoftheRings Mon 01-Feb-16 10:19:31

My DSS is 10 and goes to private school. My husband and I pay for it. It costs around £25,000 a year but of course we need to earn a lot more than that to get the net fees.

DSS is fairly bright but hand on heart, I am really not convinced he has benefitted that much. He still struggles with English and thinks being good at Maths means it doesn't matter. He does as little as possible for homework and exams. He has not stuck with any new extra curricular activities and his social skills have definitely not developed in the way I hoped.

The holidays are all a lot longer so there are also additional childcare costs unless you don't work or have family to help. Plus lots of extras including all the branded uniform and we pay around £1600 a year for school lunches.

Purely based on what I have seen with his particular situation, I'd say that there are better ways to spend £30,000 a year which would also benefit your children.

Ludways Mon 01-Feb-16 10:56:16

The 2 state schools near us are outstanding and good with lots of outstanding grades, so we're lucky. The private school in our town has, this year, opened to take in state school pupils, they were losing money and couldn't hold their position in the private market. Speaking to everyone who visited the school on their open day said they were unimpressed with the facilities and commented they were far below what the state school were offering. The private school had struggled so long that they had faced huge amounts of cost savings and consequently facilities had suffered.

I think a trip around all options is advisable.

Foxedme Mon 01-Feb-16 11:02:08

My daughter is doing her A levels at a good state school, at least 5-6 kids just in her history class have had offers to Ox/Bridge.
Her best friend is at a good public girls school. She doesn't know anyone in her year who has had an Ox/bridge offer....
But when they're little I'd say choose where you think they'll be happiest.

TessDurbeyfield Mon 01-Feb-16 11:13:01

MadameJosephine, if you don't mind saying, why is you DS so keen for your DD to go private if he has done so well with state himself?

OP - there is no one answer to what would be best. Lots go people can give anecdotes about how private school was a waste of money/utterly wonderful for them/their children/ their neighbours or about how the local state is practically a feeder for Oxbridge/the local jail. I could give anecdotes for both arguments myself. The boring truth is that there is no one answer. It all depends on your child's abilities/personality, the school options available to you, your finances, your family set up etc. That is also likely to change over the 14 years she is education. The one thing you do get if you are able to pay is the luxury of greater choice. So why not financially plan for private now and then you have choice when the time comes and can assess the level of 'sacrifice' needed. If you decide the best school is the state option then you have the cash to do other things instead!

Toughasoldboots Mon 01-Feb-16 11:17:15

Agree with Tess, you will just get loads of pointless anecdotes about both sectors, with lots of digs thrown in for good measure.
I have three DC in both sectors and it really is down to what's available in your area, the personality of your child and finances.

eyebrowse Mon 01-Feb-16 11:39:03

I think for most children the small class sizes in secondary school (in primary school I think private school classes might be too small to have a range of friends), better facilities and having families that are willing/able to pay for education will provide a better outcome.

(1) I know of people who expected to send their children private changed their minds because their children turned out very different from what they expected and it was obvious that for their particular child the state school option was more suitable. In one case I think it freed up money to support their child in another way.

(2) If your circumstances change and you can no longer afford private school will your good local schools have space?

(3) If you pay for private school then even though your child will do better the rest of the children in your country will do worse because for children to thrive it needs to be the case that everyone can achieve to their potential and this won't happen if well off parents opt out and go for the private option. It depends what sort of world you want to help create

Buttercup27 Mon 01-Feb-16 11:43:19

I don't necessarily think it's all about the fees, it's the added extras. At our local independent it costs £35 for 2 hours ta support. In a state school a child would receive all interventions needed and get lots of support without the added stress of having to find the money to pay for it.

Toughasoldboots Mon 01-Feb-16 11:47:54

I don't agree, I had my dd2 in two state schools with no support for her ASD , despite IEP. She gets fantastic support at her private school for no extra charge.

MadameJosephine Mon 01-Feb-16 12:47:46

tess he says he feels a private education would have given him more than just good grades. He thinks that he would be more 'well rounded' and have more confidence and that he would have been surrounded by children from families who valued education and that he wouldn't have been singled out so much as the slightly wierd 'swot'. He felt he should have been supported and encouraged more at school and is relishing being at uni as he isn't top of every class anymore. (He'd kill me for saying this but I think he also thinks he would have got an offer for Cambridge if he'd gone private, not because of bias but because he wouldn't have felt so nervous at the interview)

The school I am looking at for DD actually isn't academically selective, they take children of all abilities but I was very impressed with the teachers and the facilities when I visited, especially as all before and after school care is included in the fees. I work full time and would have to find and pay for suitable care if she went to state school.

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