Advanced search

Private school visit

(102 Posts)
mammanbebe Wed 21-Sep-11 21:38:40

Hi mums..I am new to MN.My DS has just started reception in a local state school and i was planning to consider private options at the end of year 1 or 2. I went to visit a private school today and was surprised to see the kids doing addition in reception!! Its still early days and i thought reception is all about learning through play? Do all private schools start formal learning right from day 1 in reception?
Would like to know what the real difference is between a good state school and a good private school in terms of academics..TIA.

Helenagrace Wed 21-Sep-11 22:13:38

My DD is in year 5 in a private selective school. She didn't do infants there but I have gleaned that they do skip a large part of the play bit in reception (well ours does and so did the three others we looked at).

Most of DD's year reached level 4 SATs levels last year so I'd guess they're one maybe two years ahead of the national average.

Was it "proper" addition or number bonds that they were doing? DS did number bonds early in reception (although he was in a mixed Y1 / Reception class) last year. He's in a fab state infant school - unfortunately the attached junior school is monumentally crap, hence the switch to private.

Oh and a little warning to prepare yourself...private schools aren't entirely popular in mumsnet land. You might get some rather sniffy replies.

Hopefully you'll also get some more useful ones as well.

Mum2be79 Wed 21-Sep-11 22:23:52

Oh and a little warning to prepare yourself...private schools aren't entirely popular in mumsnet land. You might get some rather sniffy replies.

That's a bit sad. I'm sure 'state people' get looked down just as much. Each to their own! I teach in state Primary but I would never ridicule anyone for whatever choices they make for their child's education. Even I would consider Private if it became necessary.

Anyways ....

If you feel happy that your child can manage the structure of a reception class doing 'formal learning' rather than play based, then there is no harm in it. Some children are ready for it. I've seen it in my Reception class even though it is play-based. I teach Y1 and we're play-based learning at the moment (transition) but I find by Christmas some children want to leave 'playing' and move onto more structured and rigid learning patterns. ANY good school will be able to spot this and adapt as they see fit for their class. No child is the same and certainly no class is either.

I've also found in my research (and on chats with private school teachers at educational courses) that many Private schools do actually follow the national curriculum, complete SAT tests etc, etc (very much the 'same' as state schools) The difference is the children are taught in smaller classes (less than 20, sometimes even 10) and being fee paid, their parents are eager for their child to do well. Whereas in a state you get lots of parents who are eager, show an interest etc, etc but not all of them do. sad There are some equally good state schools about, but if you're nowhere near one then it's down to what YOU want for your child.

Lizcat Thu 22-Sep-11 09:05:15

It is very variable. At DD's school reception was spilt up so in the morning it was more formal sat at tables or on the carpet. Then in the afternoon it was learning through structured play with activities that reflected the topics that they had studied in the morning. If it had been addition in the morning an example of an activity would in involve balance scales with weights making different combinations equal each other.
Like all schools there is a range of abilities in the class with different children working at different levels. I choose this school as it did not do SATS and it broadly followed the national curriculum, but also added in extras.

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 09:11:28

I dn't think the are generic differences- individual schools vary so much. But in my experience, privat schools tend to favour old fashioned formal learning very early.

And many of their supporters say that that explains their good results. Forgetting that all private schools are selective, and therefore should get better results than a come one come all catchment based school.

An0therName Thu 22-Sep-11 09:55:49

seeker -plus of course the motivation/background of the parents as above - which is key factor to school success -

MoreBeta Thu 22-Sep-11 10:03:26

mamman - in my very first hand experience a 'bad' private Prep school just copies the average state sector Primary and lets schildren play and do very little serious work right through to Yr 2. On the other hand, a very 'good' private Prep gets them going on reading, writing and maths straight away in Reception.

Hence the net result is that by Year 6 the best pupils at a good Prep school are working 2 years ahead of the national average on reading, writing and arithmetic. That is why you pay for Prep school.

Don't worry about your DS. Kids are like sponges at that age. They learn better the younger they are. Why delay teaching them to read, write and do basic for 3 years when they start school?

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 10:04:57

anothername - that`s what I meant by being selective.

DS2 is in reception at a prep and there is a fair bit of play involved indoors and out. In his class they have 15 children with a teacher and TA so you can probably get a bit more formal learning done (less children to organise / round up etc) and their day is slightly longer. The emphasis on more formal learning started in yr 1 with DS1 so I am expecting the same again.

Seeker my son's school is not academically selective (although I would accept that it is economically selective) and still gets very good results. I think the smaller classes, specialist teachers and high parental expectations all play a part.

An0therName Thu 22-Sep-11 10:11:34

seeker - I thought you meant the school chose the children -ie if they didn't think they were clever enough they wouldn't take them

MoreBeta - state schools do teach reading,writing and numeracy in reception - just because its play based doesn't mean learning doesn't go on.

There is a case for even less formal learning at that stage, and even in Y1 - many countries do far less than the england and wales at that stage - not sure how it works in scotland - and have better results

Seeker x-post

startail Thu 22-Sep-11 10:12:33

Yes at the private school my friends DC went to reception is more formal, but you can choose for your child to stay longer in the kindergarten which isn't and this is what her child did.
Several children round here have started in
The state sector and gone to private school at KS2 (and at the start of secondary), so your DC would almost certainly not be the only one who had not always been there.
Yes, you may get flamed, but not by me. I'm going to get enough flaming in RL for not forcing a cleaver, but unwilling DD to try for grammar school and be sentenced to ridiculously long days and vast amounts of homework.

bamboostalks Thu 22-Sep-11 10:13:01

In fact MoreBeta, why wait till three, get cracking on those 3Rs at 18 months or so, even 12 months bif they are showing readiness? Play is vastly overated imo. All that research into early childhood etc is totally wrong.

bamboostalks Thu 22-Sep-11 10:15:08

I am 37 now and still reading 2 years ahead of my age. I learnt at 2 and it has stood me in good stead.

Pagwatch Thu 22-Sep-11 10:19:05

There is no normal for private schools .
There are good ones and bad ones.

My dds school kept reception all about learning to learn - play based and about listening and communication etc even though it is selective and academic. And they stressed early on that they did not want dc being taught anything formally at home.

So it will depend entirely on the schools philosophy

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 10:20:07

Another name- they do that too!

The other thing to remember that depressingly, the most reliable indiator of a child's academic success or failure is family poverty or lack thereof.

whenIgetto3 Thu 22-Sep-11 10:21:32

Mamma IME the difference is the amount of additional stuff they do, they have trips out every term (not like state schools), they usually have their own swimming pool so children do this in school time (not after school), they have facilities to play sports that they wouldn't necessarily play in a state school. They learn a lot through play at our prep school but they also sit down and learn, the fact that after school activities like swimming, ballet, football are all done during school hours means that you are not running around after school and that the children generally get home, spend time with parents and go to bed early so they are not tired at school from cramming in all the after school activities that most DCs do.

JeanBodel Thu 22-Sep-11 10:24:26

I would just like to clarify that NOT all private schools are selective.

The one to which I'd like to send my kids has no selection criteria. Apart from having huge wheelbarrows of cash, of course, which has proved to be the sticking point.

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 10:25:56

There are loads of different ways of being selective!

MoreBeta Thu 22-Sep-11 10:26:35

I am not saying play is wrong as a route to learning. In my experience though there is room for more formal learning at Reception - Yr2 than most Primary schools do. Children learn quickly at age 5 and holding them back 'to play' instead of formal learning is a waste.

I say this having had experience of both a 'bad' and 'good' Prep school and friends with children at Primary who moved to private because their children were being held back at Primary school.

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 10:29:35

Since when have state schools not run trips, taught swimming or had sports clubs? My ds goes to a very average state primary. He has football, rugby and choir after school in the winter and tennis and cricket inn the summer.wnthe clubs finish at 4.15- which is when most private schools round here finish!

whenIgetto3 Thu 22-Sep-11 10:30:28

Jean ours is not selective and we don't have barrel loads of cash just work hard and go without i other ways to pay for it.

seeker the fact that you are poor does not mean you cannot spend time with your child, and rich kids suffer too. Spending time reading helps so much why can't people take time to do it? I was reading with a Yr 4 at DDs school yesterday and was shocked, this wealthy child could only read at the same level as my DD who is in reception, all the other children who read to me had comments in their reading logs from their parents, this child did not have any. I asked him if his mum or dad read with him he said "no they get in from work and I go to bed, they always work so that we can have all the things we have and go on holiday abroad all the time". This was at the state school my DD is at (she will go to prep at yr 3) and I was shocked, talking to him he was bright and clearly understood things but his reading was appalling as no one spent time with him at home to back it up. I felt so sad for him

whenIgetto3 Thu 22-Sep-11 10:32:55

seeker our lower prep finishes at 3:30 (r-yr2) and they fit all those things into the normal day not after school. Our local state school does no clubs for Yr R and they only go on 1 trip in a year, You must have a good state school, ours is only rated good by ofsted but by far the best in the area.

An0therName Thu 22-Sep-11 10:35:05

sorry but that might be the case for some children - but I know loads of reception age children - and I can only think of 1 where the formal learning suited them better - that was because in my veiw she has some issues with playing.... lovely girl but doesn't make friends easily
a more formal learning enviroment would have been really hard for my 5 yo and he learnt tonnes at reception

seeker Thu 22-Sep-11 10:38:43

Whenigetto3- well, schools can only do what they and theie pqrents can afford- don't forget that you are paying for the extras your school provides!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: