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response to private school

(143 Posts)
plumling Tue 14-Jun-11 21:44:50

DS did not get a place at either of our good local schools (live within .5 mile to both) and so after much thought rather than walk 1.5 miles each way to nearest school which I didn't really like(for lots of dull valid reasons) we have decided to go private (5 min walk each way) after much navel gazing and general pissed offness with the state system of catchments etc.
Have been really saddened about friends' reaction in that people at a recent Ds friend's birthday party - got lots of quite intrusive questions challenging this decision (don't know how you can afford it...how will you? etc etc).

Just really curious around the thinking - why is it ok to challenge people going to private school but not when they overtly move into catchment areas? Very difficult to move, my mother lives with us etc so moving wasn't an option but even so going private is a lot cheaper for us than hunting down a house within 0.2 mile etc.

Lonnie Tue 14-Jun-11 22:00:21

It isnt ok but sadly people still do it. Are you happy with the shool you have picked? then simply state calmly that you feel more confident in this school choice and you will do what you feel is best for your son. soon enough he will be in school making friends and you will find it is all worht it smile

plumling Tue 14-Jun-11 22:04:43

Thanks for your response. Yes am happy. Just a bit shocked really at people's reactions. But you are right - mustn't let it bother me....etc

Hulababy Tue 14-Jun-11 22:07:24

Just say that you have chosen the best school for you and your child in the current circumstances, if they mention it, and then change the subject.

Luckily I haven't really had such bad reactions from friends, but have had comments elsewhere. I respond as above and expct them to move on with it.

Sadly some people will always judge whatever you do. Just rise above them and be the better person.

mycarscallednev Wed 15-Jun-11 08:45:24

People think it's ok to pass comment, it can be open season if you don't follow their expectation.
We were lucky enough to get scholorship help for our 11 year old last September and she is now at an amazing private school, and loves it. I was told that she'd be a snob/stuck up/posh/plum-in-her-mouth [I could have said that theirs will end up chavs and looking like they are 18 at 12, but hey, I restrained myself!].

The result after a year, yes, she speaks beautifully, is polite, has lovely friends, enjoys school and can't wait to go, her like for like scores have gone from leaving state school at a level 4/5 to being 7/8. The school love her, and she them. A huge success.
Imagine the comments when the same people meet her now!............also when they found out we hadn't just sent our daughter to private school, but taken our son out of school to Home Educate him..........

Yogagirl17 Wed 15-Jun-11 08:52:45

Went through this last year, everyone thinks its ok to comment & question, often trying to make it sound like they are not judging but at the same time making it perfectly clear that they don't approve of your decision. At first I found myself constantly trying to defend our decision but after a while I realised that as long as DH & I and the kids are happy and comfortable it's not really anybody else's business. Now when I asked I just simply say it was the right thing for our family to do.

hester Wed 15-Jun-11 08:53:02

I have serious problems with private schools, but wouldn't dream of challenging any individual about them doing the best they can for their children - as all of us do. I think the whole education system is a complete mess, and one that perpetuates inequality, but this is the system we are all having to work with for now. I'm one of the hypocrites who moved into a good catchment area, so I'm certainly not going to throw stones at you for the choice you made.

I must say, though, I do get fed up with how some parents who have opted for private education refuse to sensibly discuss any of the political and ethical issues associated with the existence of private schools. But I recognise that that may be partly because they are feeling defensive - another reason why I don't like to criticise individuals.

I agree with Hulababy that the best response is a smile-and-wave, "I've done what I think is best for my daughter, and I'm really happy with how it's working out".

thekidsmom Wed 15-Jun-11 08:55:26

I'm afraid its a typical response when someone breaks out of the 'group' and goes to private school.

We did this with DS at 7 and the number of times I heard 'well state school' is good enough for my kids..' and other such comments. At parties/coffee mornings there would be conversations behind you about 'well you don't need to spend money on private education around here'. By the time did the same with DDs at 11 we were a bit more thick skinned...

Hullygully Wed 15-Jun-11 08:58:30

Because it's hugely divisive. My advice (from experience) is to smile pleasantly, explain your reasons calmly, once to each enquiry, and then NEVER EVER mention it again, and certainly not in terms of how great it is..

hester Wed 15-Jun-11 09:02:21

I think it also makes people feel jittery because, frankly, you are buying your children an advantage that their own children can't or won't have. Even sub-consciously, it's going to make them feel a bit cross or defensive, isn't it?

That's their problem, not yours, but I think it's understandable.

mummytime Wed 15-Jun-11 09:08:18

People do this even if you choose State school B over State school A. Schools are a very emotional choice and people feel threatened over their own choices. I have done it myself, wondered (and still occasionally wonder) if I should have got DD1 to sit a selection test at 4, should I have removed DS at 6 and sent him to the Prep? Would DD2 be better at a local private school?

People also feel angry if they wish they had the choice but can't afford private themselves, and have to "make the best of" State school C.

The best you can do is just say, its the best choice for "Molly" and then move on. Try not to enthuse too much about any special opportunities she has, and do show interest in their kids without passing any judgement.

snailoon Wed 15-Jun-11 09:12:36

I always tell people what's wrong with our private school. That way they can feel smug about their choice of state school.
I think there's plenty wrong with every school, so no lack of material here.

LIZS Wed 15-Jun-11 09:13:11

It plays on others' insecurities - why have you chosen something different to what they felt happy with, is there something you know they don't or have missed etc. Could equally be between choosing state schools, moving area, buying uniform from M & S not Tesco and so on. Also an element of jealousy , conscious or unconscious. I get this from my boss too - who lives in an affluent grammar school area hmm

IwanttobeShirleyValentine Wed 15-Jun-11 09:20:30

Oh yeah - we have been through this. I just dont ever mention schooling anymore unless someone asks and if the conversation is turning onto schools I usually try and change the topic or move away from the situation. Some people really do get a bee in their bonnet and quite frankly end up not much short of verbally attacking our choice.

We have had several schools for our DC due to having to move several times (jobs etc). DC have experience both private and state sectors. Some very good schools on both sides and equally some very dissapointing schools on both sides.

Thing is once you opt for private people just make assumptions about you and your choice. They assume you think private is always better than state. They also assume that you are looking down your nose at their choice and hence get defensive about their own DC and their choices.

Dont worry about it, as long as you and your child are happy then ignore the negative comments and just avoiud conversations about schools in future. Never say how wonderful your childs school is at anything (unless you move DC to a local state school at some point - then this becomes fully acceptable) and also never comment on your childs development, skill or achievements in anything.

Hullygully Wed 15-Jun-11 09:28:23

In fact, it's best to pretend you just don't have children at all...

Pagwatch Wed 15-Jun-11 09:34:38

Don't assume they are jealous though. It is perfectly possible that they are not and assuming it is jealousy is just as sniffy as their assumptions about you.

I actually lost a friend as she would not stop bringing it up and being bloody rude.

Agree with everyone else. Just shrug at their comments and change the subject.

Isitreally Wed 15-Jun-11 09:40:15

It's not always buying an advantage. Friends of ours have moved back in with her parents to afford to send their child to private school. Their child got no state school place at all. The LEA said that a place would eventually be found but it would be in a neighbouring borough, at least 5 miles away with free transport and in a school that still had places left after everyone else had been allocated. When the offer came it was late Summer and was in a truly awful school that would take hours to travel to. They turned it down but the LEA weren't obliged to find them anythign else so they sold the house and went private.

Plenty more people don't even have that option and started home schooling and waiting for a place to come up or went private as soon as they reaised they lived in a house where they didn't stand any hope of getting a local school place ever. There are some parts of the country where there are thousands more children than there are spaces for and going private is something desperate not ambitious parents do.

RedandGreenPlaid Wed 15-Jun-11 10:34:25

I am sorry you have had this experience plumling, but it is very similar to our own.
From the entire post-natal group of 12 mothers and their children, we are now only ever spoken to by 1, and that is infrequent.

I was fed-up of several mothers openly sneering at our choice to go independent rather than use state schools, yet they can afford to live in homes that cost upward of £500k that unsurprisingly are within 300 yards of the best school in our area, a couple of others suddenly started attending church as soon as their eldest turned 2yo, in order to gain entrance to the 2nd best school in the area hmm

DH and I earn c£100k p.a. yet we cannot afford to move within the catchment of the best schools in our LA, in the main because DH is self-employed and his income extremely erratic. With my salary we can get a mortgage of £105k, which would buy a 1 bed flat nowhere near any vaguely decent schools, and difficult to house a family of 4.

Then there is the issue of before and after school care- the waiting list at the school we were allocated (an okay school, but not the best, and being forced to accept an extra bulge class in the year my DD was to start) was 3 years for after-school care! The settling-in period was half a term, with half days, shortened days etc. What are working parents supposed to do?

It costs us less to send our eldest to a very good independent school than it did to send her to private day nursery, that includes lunches, before and after-school care etc.

Sending both of them over 7 years will cost around £150k allowing for fee increases, but adding £150k to our mortgage even if we were allowed to (highly unlikely, and with large fees, rate-penalties etc) would still not allow us to move in catchment for a good school, and I utterly refuse to 'find God' to gain a school place- people who do so are beneath contempt.

That is before you come to any ideological arguments, or examining what is about to happen in the state sector.

dixiechick1975 Wed 15-Jun-11 10:59:40

DD is just finishing reception at a private school.

Wasn't even on our radar at all - she didn't get state place and alternative offered wasn't an option.

I don't go out of my way to broadcast she is at private. If an acquaintance/hairdresser/mums at swimming lesson etc asks I just say she goes to a school near my work.

Will be more obvious she is private from yr 1 as she will be in full kit - blazer etc.

Friends/family - not had any negative comments to my face - they knew we we had no choice.

SocietyClowns Wed 15-Jun-11 12:22:14

We have just made the decicion to send our oldest into reception at a private school this autumn because for a long list of reasons, at this time, for her, it is the better option. I've kept our choice quiet so far and expect to lose at least one friend over our choice... I also don't see why I have to defend myself. I find it hypocritical that someone who bought a vastly overpriced house, taking on a huge mortgage, to be in the right middle class catchment area of a good school, has nasty comments to make about our choice. We can't actually afford to move but the fees will be less than her nursery place...

Dozer Wed 15-Jun-11 12:25:00

Hester said "I must say, though, I do get fed up with how some parents who have opted for private education refuse to sensibly discuss any of the political and ethical issues associated with the existence of private schools. But I recognise that that may be partly because they are feeling defensive - another reason why I don't like to criticise individuals."

Why should anyone, wherever they decide to educate their kids, have to discuss this? Surely the reason people don't want to is to avoid the kind of stuff reported on this thread. Would you expect people who send their kids to faith schools to discuss it, likewise those like you who live in catchment.? Discussion about education is difficult for everyone because surely many people have anxiety about their situation.

Irksome Wed 15-Jun-11 12:27:46

Simply state that you only care about your own child, and that the children of the people who are asking you these questions are not good enough for yours to mix with! You don't care, so don't worry about it!

nowtundercontrol Wed 15-Jun-11 12:41:01

There was a fab article in The Guardian or another broadsheet last year at time we were considering private. It asked the question, "Why is it okay to go state, drive a 4x4 and holiday in Mauritus each year, but not okay to drive a banger and go private?" Okay, I see the over-generalisation made here but it made a good point.

My recommendation would be to follow the Queen's moto of "Never explain, never complain".

Irksome Wed 15-Jun-11 12:47:16

I highly doubt that was the Guardian!
And betcha most people who would say it wasn't ok to go private wouldn't think it was ok to drive a 4x4.

Swedes2 Wed 15-Jun-11 12:51:40

hester - the ethical questions apply equally to those who buy or mobilise themselves to get the best state school places for their children (as you confess to having done): it's simplistic to suggest it's confined to those choosing independent schools.

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