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is private primary always better than state?

(40 Posts)
tiredpooky Tue 07-Jun-11 14:46:00

Hello, am trying to gather info
if u can afford private is it better for your child?
our situation is that in our catchment are 2 faith schools and so DD is excluded as they are oversubscribed, so we have to look outside our catchment, so she wont get into a school seen as being good i think that means. so hard to know what a school is really like, i know there is ofsted and KS2 results, any other ways to know other than visit and get a 'feel' for it
I'm not keen on the costs of private (will need to tighten pursestrings elsewhere) or that DD wont mix with many strata of society.
The other consideration is shes quite bright and I wonder if she will be stretched/stimulated enough in mainstream
grateful for some thoughts on this

Northernlurker Tue 07-Jun-11 14:49:43

The only way to know what a school is like is to actually go and see it.
No private isn't always better - a crap private school is obviously not as good as a good state school.
A good school - private or state - will cater for the needs of all the children they have. Bright and not so bright alike. That said - primary school is as much about learning to get on with other people, operate in a group and follow a structure as it is about the acquisition of knowledge.

Lizcat Tue 07-Jun-11 15:00:49

As Northernlurker said individual schools. DD is a private school and her class of 18 is more culturally and socially diverse than the entire role of 450 at the local outstanding state primary which has a tiny catchment.

crazycarol Tue 07-Jun-11 17:12:29

"is private primary always better than state?"
Simple answer "No". It really does depend on the school. There are excellent and rubbish schools in both sectors, so check them out before parting with your cash.
We are educating dd privately because the local options are just rubbish. When the headteacher (secondary) told us they were celebrating because one child went to university the previous year, I walked out!

diabolo Tue 07-Jun-11 17:50:27

You know this kind of question is bound to start another war! grin

For my DS, yes, his Prep is way ahead of the state primary he was at until Y2, academically, sports-wise, behaviour-wise etc etc.

If he was a more timid boy, less sporty, less academic, then I can't imagine he would find his current school much fun. It's quite competitive, (but he likes that).

Please bear in mind this is just ONE prep school I am specifically comparing to ONE state primary.

Go and visit schools you are interested in, you will get a feeling for what you like and what you don't.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 07-Jun-11 18:05:53

As everyone else says, it depends on the schools available to you.

We were in a similar positioned, ringed all around by faith schools. So we did send DD to a private primary. It had good SATs scores etc, very pleasant feel when we went round it (we visited another private primary which we didn't like the feel of). We'd also heard good things about it from people DH knew, and the inspection reports were good (IIRC independent schools get Ofsted reports for nursery and maybe foundation year, but thereafter its an independent body... can't remember the name but I'm sure the school will tell you the website or give you a copy. If they don't, there's something wrong with them!)

It did turn out to be a very good school for DD. The social mix wasn't vastly different from what she'd have found in our nice village CofE - and more ethnically diverse.

OTOH, my DH had gone to a private school which he reckoned was poor compared to the state schools, never could figure out why his parents did it. This was before league tables so I guess it was easier to sell people a pup then.

emptyshell Tue 07-Jun-11 20:18:38

I worked at a private school once - textbooks that I used when I was at school, policies based on which parent had whined the hardest that week, naff all resources and some of the stupidest ideas with feedback to parents/display etc that have ever seen the light of day.

We're seriously talking a colleague who would never allow anything other than ticks in books - and would spend her breaktime rubbing out the kids' mistakes, rewriting them in forged kid-handwriting and then writing a comment about how fabulous all the work was. Reports were never allowed to include next steps, targets and ways forward - nothing that wouldn't imply perfection, and, until I said how ridiculous it was - preparation for entrance exams consisted of ONE set of sample entrance papers that were written on in pencil, then rubbed out and passed around the entire class.

It was, without a doubt, a shite school - one colleague would regularly refer to some of her class as "little scroats" in the staffroom (she was a nasty bullying bitch to all and sundry anyway) and when the head taught classes in the past she'd been known to leave them with the secretary so she could go into town to get her hair done.

Just mentioning all of this so you realize just how mickey mouse and idiot some of the tiny independents can be.

School has now closed (thank fucking God) - worst career move I ever made taking that job - as my mother would have described it - all furcoat and no knickers (beautfully presented from the outside - utter fucking embarassing shambles from the inside).

Elibean Tue 07-Jun-11 20:25:02

Totally agree it depends on the individual schools.
We looked at 2 state, 2 private, and felt one of the state primaries was far better for us - and a healthier place for dd to spend half her time in.
Do go and see that other school and get a 'feel' for it - that counts for a lot, especially if you get to meet the children, see what they are working on, etc.

sarahfreck Wed 08-Jun-11 12:14:56

As a tutor, I've taught children at both state and independent primaries. I totally agree that it depends on individual schools. There are excellent and terrible schools in each sector.

tiredpooky Thu 09-Jun-11 12:36:03

Thanks ladies / any gents
emptyshell your mum sounds fun!

anthonytrollopesrevenge Thu 09-Jun-11 14:26:51

Friend's child moved from state to private in year 3. He was best in class at maths and science in the private school. (our state school has an ex maths teacher head who takes maths seriously and seems to recruit mathematically able staff, the school is great at maths and science.) Literacy wise he was about average. He is a bright kid but his parents are disappointed that the difference they had hoped for has not actually materialised, yet anyway.

seeker Thu 09-Jun-11 14:28:05


sugartongue Thu 09-Jun-11 20:54:12

The answer is definitely no, in fact if the question is "is it usually better to send your child private than state for primary?" then I think the answer is still no. So much depends on the schools you have available, your own child and what you want from a school - people have very different ideas of an ideal primary education. I moved DS from the state to private sector, but I know if he started in a different state primary he would probably have stayed put, but the one I initally chose turned out to be a disaster and by that time all the others full! If money's an issue then you might decide that sending DC to state school and spending fee cash on music lessons, skiiing holidays etc is a better use of funds!

southofthethames Fri 10-Jun-11 01:45:07

No, not always - it depends on the individual school. I heard of someone's child having an unhappy time (unengaged teaching, not allowed to have much outdoor play) at a private school, then was much happier and thrived when pulled out and placed in a good state primary.

wordfactory Fri 10-Jun-11 07:38:51

The fundemantal best thing about independent school is that you have a choice.
If an independent school is 'all fur an no knickers' there is nothing on God's earth making you stay there.

Choice in the state system however is illusory.

You may love the outstanding primary a mile away but discover you are not in catchment. You may want you LO to attend the school at the end of your raod and then discover it's for catholics. Are you're not.

mummytime Fri 10-Jun-11 10:31:07

Choice is illusory in the independent system too. You precious DC might not be accepted for the private school you want. There might be lots of choice for girls but very few boys schools (true in the private sector around here), so the choice for boys is: be very very bright, state school, board or travel 1 hour or more each way.

No label makes any school better. No school is perfect for every child/family. Go and look. Look at state school entry requirements, don't just assume. Don't choose any school on hear-say. And if you make a mistake, you can move them.

Irksome Fri 10-Jun-11 10:33:27


sue52 Fri 10-Jun-11 10:50:27

No. If cost is an issue, don't even think about private. State schools do have gifted and talented programs to stretch the most able. Unless there are other educational and social problems, all children who leave state primaries learn how to read, write do maths.

chr0nic Fri 10-Jun-11 11:04:52

At least state schools are subject to regular inspection and an ongoing staff training programme. Private schools are not always, and you do not have to have a PGCE/BEd to work in a private school.

Be careful. When you visit, do not just swallow what they tell you. Ask to have free rain to look around the school. Ask to see schemes of work. Ask what woud happen in certain situations. Ask to speak to the teacher in charge of gifted and talented and get details of what they do for these kids (although that is a separate and HUGE debate in itself).

Do not accept things at face value. Remember that private schools are often money-making businesses and therefore the kids' best interests are not always at the forefront of their motivation.

Don't mean to sound cynical!

wheelsonthebus Fri 10-Jun-11 11:54:20

sugartongue - i agree with you. The thing for me about state is that, given you might have a bit of spare cash, you can channel it in the way YOU want -extra curricular French or Spanish, private music lessons, maths or English tuition. This allows you, if you want, to "shadow" a private school syllabus without paying top dollar for all the extras. Tuition can also be "one to one" which is often better than a class of 15/20. However, if I had the cash, and had a very highly regarded private school on my doorstep, I would probably be spending my money that way.

AdelaofBlois Fri 10-Jun-11 12:27:18

Obviously, it depends on the schools, but there are some structural constraints: you will probably be able to find a private school with smaller class sizes, private schools tend to have longer days and holidays-with more extra-curricular activities provided and, critically, private schools have a different dynamic with parents.

But none of those are necessarily 'good' or 'bad': smaller class size does not compensate for better teaching; session times mean more is laid on but you are less flexible about what you might do to meet your child's interests (especially if cash is a problem) and parental involvement can mean 'mob rule' in which the unusual are forced out-parents are paying for a certain sort of education, and the school has greater powers to remove children who don't fit.

It's not entirely a sector thing or even a school thing-DS1 would have been ill-suited to private school (he seems very academic but has difficulty speaking) or, indeed, to the 'outstanding' state school I work at (which has a private school intake, in effect), because he would be unusual and seen as such by staff and parents. DS2, bright, linguistically able, sociable and naughty, would fit in just fine at my school or the private one down the road.

AdelaofBlois Fri 10-Jun-11 12:31:02

But, to respond directly to the OP: KS2 results are not necessarily helpful-you need to know what they will do for your child and that a child of any ability can achieve, not the average; Ofsted ratings can be crap-although the detail is often useful; most 'mainstream' schools challenge bright kids just fine. You want to be asking 'if my child is like this or that, how will they develop at this school', not 'what is this school like for its average child', if that makes sense.

seeker Sat 11-Jun-11 08:27:46

"The fundemantal best thing about independent school is that you have a choice."

Well, yes assuming you can afford it - but so does the school. If you fulfil the admissions criteria of a state school then you get a place. And the school has to have a very good reason for withdrawing that place.

emptyshell Sat 11-Jun-11 14:49:48

Also worth considering - lots of the small independent pre-preps are feeling the strain of numbers. I know in the area where I used to work, the big senior schools are expanding their age groups downwards and it's hitting the pre-prep little guys badly. Just to be aware of the fact - because watching kids get hit by a school closing down like ours did (not to mention the owners vanishing wiht pension contributions but that's another story lol) was a pretty hideous thing to watch. We got them all re-placed at other schools, but it was still disruption and expense of new uniforms, changes in childcare arrangements and what-not.

MigratingCoconuts Sat 11-Jun-11 18:53:40

no, it isn't.

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