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Everyone who lives near me and can afford it seems to be sending their kids to private schools…

(337 Posts)
sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 21:36:44

That's it really, I guess I've just been really surprised that none of them has even considered the local primary schools. DD will start school next year and I'd just always assumed she would go to one of the decent primary schools nearby (there are several and I'm confident we'll get into one).

Thing is, we could actually afford to go private (it would mean some sacrifices but it's do-able), we've just always wanted her to have local friends, go to a nearby school, mix with a wide variety of people etc so I haven't explored the independent option at all. However, in all honesty, the fact that so many people in a similar financial situation to ours haven't even bothered to look round the state primaries is making me wonder if I'm being hopelessly optimistic. But seriously, is it really worth spending thousands of pounds a term to teach a 4/5/6-year-old? I'm not being sarcastic or judgy, it's a genuine question, I just honestly want to know what can be so terrible about a reasonable state primary school that so many people wouldn't even give it a second look.

I appreciate that my post might raise a few heckles. I know we're very fortunate to be able to afford private education if that is the way we choose to go. I also understand that this is a very contentious/emotive issue but I'd be really grateful for some honest opinions.

lovecheese Thu 16-Jun-11 21:39:55

<<settling in for a good scrap>>.

Seriously though, sanssucre, your approach and rationale seem good to me.

notnowbernard Thu 16-Jun-11 21:42:40

Go with your gut?

Or look at decent cross-section (state and private) then choose?

Try not to be influenced by what other people are doing?

MammyT Thu 16-Jun-11 21:51:09

It's a bit like that here (not as extreme) and among my colleagues, I'm the only person with a child in a state school and they ask really cute questions like 'how much do you pay for books?' We share your thoughts on this subject but may end up private for secondary as it's so competitive where we are.

Btw in those 'good' schools you mention, expect a good number to be tutored at senior school level. I thought the school must have great teaching to do so well. I now realise that parents and tutoring play a part.

sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 21:54:42

<<hands lovecheese the popcorn>>

notnowbernard - yes, that all seems to make v good sense - and I will have a look at some other schools too. But I suppose I'm not really asking for advice about my own situation really, I was just interested in people's views/experiences and in whether it's the same across the UK? (We're in London, which is perhaps something of a different climate schooling-wise...)

Georgimama Thu 16-Jun-11 21:59:11

There may be other considerations; the state primaries around here are as you say perfectly decent, but there isn't the flexible after school care on site that DS's private pre-prep offers. In London I'd suggest (not in London myself) that the thinking is the preps offer feeder into decent private secondary level schools, so are a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.

sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 21:59:16

MammyT - yes, I'm sure you're right about the tutoring. Secondary schools round here don't seem to have a great reputation so a lot of people get extra help to get their kids up to the level required by x, y, z school. I've no idea what we'd do at that stage, one step at a time...

sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 22:01:28

Georgimama - yes I see, so it enables you to keep your options open for later so to speak.

MammyT Thu 16-Jun-11 22:01:37

I am London too.. I never had a bugaboo either but could also have afforded that smile

StillSquiffy Thu 16-Jun-11 22:04:03

If pre-prep parents didn't think it worth it then they wouldn't do it.

Arguments for: lovely facilities. 1:1 teaching when needed, small class sizes (9 in DS's class, 10 in DD's). In our case a school that has all children reading at least a year ahead of age by the end of Yr2 (i know because my DS is dyslexic and the Ed Pysch knows all the schools state and private and we talked about this). No tolerance for bullying.

Arguments against: cost, elitism, snobbery, lack of local integration.

Stuff like good manners, love of learning, and having fun can happen anywhere - private or state - if the school is a good one.

sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 22:09:38

MammyT smile

StillSquiffy - thanks v much, really useful feedback.

Off to have a bath now but will check in again tomorrow. All thoughts much appreciated.

posey Thu 16-Jun-11 22:12:39

Sanssucre - I read your other thread earlier but didn't get chance to respond. But I'm in the same area as you, send my youngest to one of your mentioned schools. Oldest also went there, now at local secondary.
I also wondered why people didn't even bother to look at local schools. I work in a local preschool and a lot of parents there send their children on to private schools. I always ask them if they looked at local primaries. A lot don't. They just don't. They are private educators. They were privately educated. It's what they do. It's funny but they love our preschool because it is local, walkable, have local friends etc, then a year later are doing hour long car trips to private schools in another borough.
I don't get it at all. But I am a big fan of the local community school.
So in answer to your question, I don't know!

cjbartlett Thu 16-Jun-11 22:13:07

I honestly can't see the point of private primary schools unless you need wrap around care or it's your nearest school or maybe religious reasons?

I can totally understand private secondary schools because that's when you want them to get good gcse and a level results

PeppaKew Thu 16-Jun-11 22:15:46

My personal opinion is that children will achieve depending on their drive and motivation unless born into extremely unfortunate circumstances that make this wholly impossible. In your situation I would chose the state school.

I grew up in a similar type of place with 50:50 state and locals. If you compare how the children have turned out now everyone is in their 30s, well the state school children are a fine bunch of lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. The private school kids well, they seem to be drifters, married off to rich men, out of touch with normality or have bought themselves careers - well one in particular after failing every airlines entrance exam was given private pilots training from his grandfather at £70k cost for example in order to get a job (will not be flying on his planes...).

Kids need to learn to fight for what they want and not be given it on a plate.

I would not want my child surrounded by 'toffs' and be unable to relate to others from less privileged backgrounds.

I also remember the 'nutters' in my state school as a brilliant source of hilarity and I do wonder what fun there is in schools where everyone is well behaved.

Can you visit the schools and form some opinions based on how it is inside?

munstersmum Thu 16-Jun-11 22:17:53

Very rare for kids to go private before 7/8 round here. Know 1 family went private & I was amazed to find yr2 class size >30. Yes had a TA but so do almost all state primaries in every class in KS1.

cjbartlett Thu 16-Jun-11 22:26:31

the only one I know of does so for childcare reasons
she's a teacher at the same school, from 3 to 18 years so childcare not a problem because her and her kids are on the same site
when I was at school a lot of my friends went to a religious private primary

Lizcat Thu 16-Jun-11 22:51:39

It can be for very complicated reasons. I choose private pre-prep as :-
1. Catchment school head believes mothers should stay home and look after their children and children of wokring mothers are subtly discriminated againist.
2. Wrap around care at private school 8am to 6pm.
3. I didn't want my DD doing SATS.
4. I did want my DD to start a second and third language before she was six. With fourth and fifth languages before 11.
5. I wanted single sex education.
6. I wanted a multicultural school, there is a greater mix of cultures in DDs class of 18 than there is in the whole 450 pupils at the local top state school.
7. Buying into the catchment of the local top state school over the lifetime of the mortgage would have cost us twice what private school will.

cjbartlett Thu 16-Jun-11 22:54:16

lizcat -they're the sort of reasons I can totally understand
thanks for sharing that smile
can you expand on the first point though? sounds horrendous sad

MrsMipp Thu 16-Jun-11 23:02:25

"I would not want my child surrounded by 'toffs' and be unable to relate to others from less privileged backgrounds."
What a ridiculously stupid reason. If it really worked like that, people might as well say "I don't want my child surrounded by 'chavs' and be unable to relate to others from more privileged backgrounds."

Incidentally, I'm someone who has chosen to state educate her children.

dragonmother Thu 16-Jun-11 23:36:15

Pretty much all of my friends who can afford to go private do. There are many who didn't even look around state schools as they just wouldn't entertain the idea of state. If it weren't for my dh I would have been like that too. We took the fees issue out of the equation (we could have afforded it without any problem to be honest) and still chose the state primary i.e. assuming that the preps were free, which school would we choose.

I think we're a bit of an oddity in some of the 'circles' we move in (City types) because our dcs go state as it's not at all the done thing among them. But I know we're doing the right thing for our dcs and there are no 'right for them' preps near enough to where we live.

ohmyfucksy Thu 16-Jun-11 23:43:27

All lizcat's reasons are valid.

Some people would automatically go for the private option if they could afford it (I am one), often when they've been privately educated themselves.

PollyParanoia Fri 17-Jun-11 09:08:22

I'm in same ish area as you sans, and we could afford private so we looked at three. Oh god they were horrible, no outside space, idiot heads, a long journey. Then we looked at local primary and honestly I'd have chosen it if you had to pay and the others were private. As posey says some people have a culture of private plus there's a strong rumour, propagated by private schools and users, that you can't get into a private secondary unless you go private from age of 2... Not true as far as I can see.
I feel so smug when we set off for school at 8.45 and see friends returning from their hour and a half round trip to hampstead.

CrystalChandelier Fri 17-Jun-11 09:27:20

Agree with Polly. The idea that children can't get into a private senior school if they have attended a state primary is absolute nonsense. My DS went to one of London's largest state primaries (admitedly a sought-after school, but large class sizes). At least half his class of 30 went on to private senior schools, including competitive schools such as Alleyne's and Dulwich College. A further ten or so went on to selective state schools without catchments.

Most state primaries in south London publish leavers' destinations lists - if not, you can always ask.

horsemadmom Fri 17-Jun-11 09:39:37

We were in the same boat. Only one family on our road used the state schools. I had a look round the school we would have been allocated and it was not what I wanted for my children. Decrepit, chaotic, overcrowded, no G+T provision, low expectations. I was shocked. Our borough doesn't have enough places in non faith schools. Result- 24% go private.

grovel Fri 17-Jun-11 09:48:43

I think that people who have been privately educated themselves tend to want to privately educate their children if only because they think they understand what they will be getting and because they are fearful that if things went wrong for their kids in the state sector they would feel guilty that they had not given their kids the same "opportunity" they had. ie, it's not that they necessarily think state provision is inadequate.

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