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Those of you who have chosen private school for primary years and onwards...

(52 Posts)
hogspudding Wed 12-Dec-12 12:17:02

particularly those who have perhaps made a lot of sacrifices to find the fees each term....

I'm really interested in your thoughts on how it is going for you? I know private vs. state has been discussed many a time on here, but i would appreciate some kind and honest information. Obviously it goes without saying that all schools and all children are different and my main concern is that we find the best school that suits DD for September next year.

Locally, there are 3 schools we really like. Two are lovely village state primaries and one is a small independent school which is also good. We liked all of them when looking round, though the specific facilities and ethos of the independent school fitted in very much with our own ideas and thoughts about education.

We only have one child and no more are planned. For us, although we could manage the fees (and extra expenses which I know creep up on you) for one child at the independent school, it would be by cutting back. i.e holidays would have to be scaled right down, we have a modest house and we probably wouldn't be able to move for the foreseeable future, less ability to save for the future. If we had more than one child it would not be possible, but that's not in the plan.

So I suppose i'm just interested in the experience of others- for those who found a particular independent school that they loved, and chose to send your child there with sacrifices, did it work out? Do you feel it has been worth it? Have there been any problems with your child maybe not being from a particularly wealthy family/social aspects? Do you see it as an investment for their future?

I do feel very, very lucky that whichever school we pick I shall be happy, just wondering and worrying about it all. Sorry for all the questions.

Toughasoldboots Sat 15-Dec-12 11:28:17

I agree with building rises in, my three dcs have been in a mixture of private and state schools. Between them ( due to house moves) six in total. Without exception , we have had a yearly increase above inflation to the school fees.
If you are looking at a particular school , it's all freely available information.

mam29 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:26:04


i recently moved my dd from largish faith state school near home to small village state school.

We were not the only 1s to leave 3left last term summer to nearest independant primary bargain at £1400 a term max class 16 no mixed year groups but the school has no green space and is basically in big house.

it does have entended hours before and after, quite a few clubs

The new school is fab looked at whole child not just academics, has extra currucular, almost independant ethos about it.

but another girl started similar time to mine she had left the independant primary as she and her parents were unhappy.
yet another mum had 1son there an rest at village school as it worked better for that child to be in indepndant so she worked on right school for right child-you dont know until you try.

The 2nd indepndant prep bearest us is £2600 a term.
outstanding ofted
good facilities/grouns
holiday/aftreschool club
baby unit and nursery attached so fab for working parents.

so as shocked when spoke to lady ho pulled both hers ouut and said nearest state primary to me one we dident consider as better than that independant she moved hers to large primary thorugh to secondry.

All I will say is found moving stressful.

so ork out finances

go see as many state and private schools s you can to make good decisions.

good luck.

difficultpickle Fri 14-Dec-12 23:25:11

I'd add that ds is in his fifth year of private school and all of our fee rises have been below inflation and one year was zero increase.

difficultpickle Fri 14-Dec-12 23:23:20

No intention of going private but CM decided she would not do school run to village school. Looked around and had difficulty finding someone to do the hours I needed and the school I wanted. CM had been happy to do nursery run to same village and later changed her mind about not doing school run. She said her rates would change and a quick calculation made me realise the local private school was cheaper and more flexible on hours.

I'd planned for ds to go to state secondary but he has now changed to a school that finishes at 13 rather than 11 so it is more likely he will stay in private education for secondary too. He got a large scholarship for his new school and would need a similar level scholarship or bursary for senior school.

hogspudding Fri 14-Dec-12 22:56:00

I had best stock up on gin... yes, think we may have a chat with financial advisor.

Such a decision to make, and after the terrible news from America today, just want to wrap her in cotton wool.

moonbells Fri 14-Dec-12 22:12:49

I keep saying this on so many threads, if you want to go private but can't see yourself being able to cope with the fees, do phone up a few independent financial advisors and see what they say. There are several firms who specialise in school fees.

At the very least they'll give you a finances review which may decide the whole issue for you!

Inflation's the biggie: over the past few years fees have been rising substantially above inflation, 6-8%.

This is sort-of how it goes (this is not tongue-in-cheek either)
Get a spreadsheet. Input your first year fees. Multiply by 1.07 to get an idea of year two. Multiply that by another 1.07 for the year after. Keep going to age 11/13 depending whether you have DD or DS.
Add up all of these yearly amounts
Pour yourself a stiff drink and drink it.

Meanwhile start another sheet. Find the (usually much greater) cost of the local secondary independent. Put that in this year. Start the multiplying again, except this time carry on to when they're 18.
Add up all the yearly amounts from the year they're 11 or 13, upto 18
Add that to the first sheet total

Go and faint.

Laugh hysterically and go and drink the rest of the gin bottle

Then think of University fees, give up and go buy several lottery tickets every rollover.

maybetimeforachange Fri 14-Dec-12 21:39:11

We moved our DD to a private school last year leaving her older brother in the excellent state school. We moved her because she was unhappy and there were no state places which we felt were acceptable. We chose the school because of the outstanding pastoral care which has delivered on every level. The school has a reputation for not being particularly academic but actually we have been blown away by her academic progress. There is a huge emphasis on the core skills, she is getting a very solid foundation in reading, spelling, etc. She is streets ahead of where my v academic DS was at the same age and she is nowhere near as naturally bright as him. It is purely down to better teaching attention to detail and a refusal to accept anything less than the best that child is capable of, all done in a very gentle way.

DS2 starts the state primary next september but it is v likely he will go to DD school sooner rather than later. 2 in a fairly pricey prep school will eat into our standard of living in a small way in that we will probably have to drop a holiday and not replace our perfectly nice car for a couple of years but nothing major. They will cross over for 2-3 years before DD moves to a fantastic state secondary. If we knew before what we knew now we would have moved DS 1 from year 3 but he is in yr5 and the disruption to him would outweigh any benefits so we are tutoring to ensure that he has the solid skills we feel he lacks.

I would always start with a state school, and I am in no doubt that ours is excellent but I have realised that really good prep school is just in a different league to what most primary schools can offer.

IwishyouaMerryChristmas Fri 14-Dec-12 21:26:52

If money will be tight to educate your dd through her primary years of schooling, have you looked at what the fees will be as she gets older?

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 14-Dec-12 21:26:06

They do have provision for moderate learning disabilities such as dyslexia...the majority of teaching is geared to the more able children.

Yes, a lot of private schools in our area (literally, we have dozens) do not cater for SEN. They say they do but when you get down to the nitty gritty, what they mean by SEN is dyslexia. I'm actually appalled by the misrepresentation in t literature and websites, tbh.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Fri 14-Dec-12 21:15:41

My DS goes to a private school. We decided that small classes with a calm environment was the best for him. There are twelve children in his reception class with 3 adults (one adult does 1-2-1 support) and he really enjoys it. It was either this school or our local outstanding school, which we liked but the thought of our DS (who has speech and social interaction issues) in a free flow environment with 59 other children was too much. He has his little quirks which are accommodated or gently challenged - it's school that very much looks after and takes care of the individual child. I think its the level of care that makes a significant difference (and I am a supply teacher so I have worked in lots of different state schools). The school also has their own speech therapist. And all the usual facilities found in private schools. TBH, the academic side for me is secondary, which sounds daft given how much we pay. smile

It is a struggle to pay fees and all the other extras but it's totally worth it. And I've found it's a real mixture of parents, working class and middle class, rich and, like us, not rich at all. There is no snobbiness.

CURIOUSMIND Fri 14-Dec-12 21:12:20

'And even the bottom set at maths is a year ahead of state school curriculum.'------More like many parents are hoping so, but unfortunately it's not.

wildirishrose Fri 14-Dec-12 18:53:22

My children have been in private education all their academic life, personally I would save your money and use it for tutoring after school. Look on school websites to see what the independents are doing and follow it at home until your child reaches secondary age. There is really not much difference between the NC and prep school curriculum at that age.

Karoleann Fri 14-Dec-12 18:52:52

We did (central london, outstanding) state school for DS1 from reception to year 2, we moved over the summer and now both DS1 and DS2 are in a private pre-prep. The benefits for us are smaller class sizes, on site pool, specalist teachers for PE, music, swimming, art. Lovely grounds - the staff are more dedicated compared to our state school and their are few boys with additional needs that take up the teachers time (such as english as an additional language). They do have provision for moderate learning disabilities such as dyslexia, but they have a team of specialis teachers, so again the majority of teaching is geared to the more able children.

We have plenty of money so the school fees are very affordable for us. A lot of the parents are very wealthy too.

However, we have moved to the country and are 5 minutes away from an outstanding primary - one of the best in the country, we are seriously considering sending our daughter there, as the options for girls pre-prep are not as good as the boys.

Could you try the state primary first and move him if it doesn't work out?

SunflowersSmile Fri 14-Dec-12 18:29:05

I wonder sometimes when people talk about 'good' state primaries and 'bad' what they mean. Occasionally snobbery?
Just my recent experience making me tetchy....

BabyGiraffes Fri 14-Dec-12 18:22:58

What exactly is your point sunflowers?

SunflowersSmile Fri 14-Dec-12 14:41:37

So sad there appears to be such a difference with private and state in your posts. My children are at a local state school that I would wager would have many of you reaching for your smelling salts. It is a 'good' school though but other local people seem scared they might catch 'poor' or their precious angels won't cope with what they perceive to be 'streetwise' kids or the mums are just too -well not like us....
Wonderful school though- their loss..
Just a rant as bloody infuriating...
As you were...

Dozer Fri 14-Dec-12 14:17:03

Dd1 is in private reception, not sure how it will turn out yet! She is happy, we can afford it for the moment, but am not sure it was the right decision.

Main reasons were class size, we liked the school best of all the local schools, didn't want to get the DC baptised, get a huge mortgage or attend church to get into the "best" state schools, and the one we had a chance of getting into that we liked had a "requires improvement" oftsed rating (altough did like it looking round).

My main worry is that should money become an issue due to life events (another poster has described well!) there are unlikely to be spaces at the more popular local state schools.

Make sure to investigate finances of private schools - there're websites etc where you can get accounts. I would be concerned about v small class sizes. In my local area there are several private primary schools operating at a loss that I wouldn't risk.

moonbells Thu 13-Dec-12 14:53:50

Just realised I sound like by "Independent income" that I have some kind of trust fund. Nope, I just meant I was earning and not relying on my DH!

KTK9 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:06:56

I think choosing a school - if you have a choice, is one of the hardest things we have to do and like you I agonised over it. DH felt he owed a lot to his private education, I did OK with my state one (but could have done better!). We looked at a number of schools and then chose a local 'outstanding' one.

However, almost immediately we had concerns over behaviour in reception, then reading, then dd's attitude to school - she hated it - Ok when there, but didn't want to go, by the end of Yr1 she was switching off to any education and despite being the oldest in the year, was just below average in most things.

We moved her to private in Year 2 and the difference was incredible, she is motivated, enthused, loves going etc. etc. Now in Year 3, is was definately the right thing for her and she is up to the level of her peers (the school did some extra work with her maths for a few weeks during lunchtimes at the start.

However, in Yr 1, there were only 8 girls in a class of 16, not easy to manage if there are fallings out, or a group who exclude a couple of others, so think about that. She is now in a group of 20 girls (boys went off at end of Yr2 to adjoining boys school) and this is much healthier with regards friendships.

Several girls joined in Year 3 and I would say a couple are struggling with the workload, but are getting extra help to bring them up to the level, so bear this in mind if you start state with a view to move later. Personally, dd wouldn't have coped with the Year 3 work, if she had stayed where she was, but of course schools vary and in some cases there will be no difference.

The fees are scary - ours is a quite 'cheap' school at £2,600 per term. I have the bill in front of me now for Spring and that basically is our ski holiday we would have had - no great shakes to lose a holiday, but the same fees will come again at the start of the Summer Term. Earlier this year DH had problems with cash flow in his company, we were facing up to the fact that we may have to take her out of school and I felt physically sick at the thought. I only work 3 days a week, but was preparing to go back full time, anything to avoid pulling her out, can you live with that pressure. We do have funds in place for her secondary education and uni., but can't use that at the moment, so it is down to us (or DH!).

The quality of education is completely different, the structure, the ethos and work ethic, is a world away from her previous school, it is in someways a 'safe' and not really a 'wordly wise' environment, but at the moment I am happy with that as I feel some kids grow up too quickly. We have all the stuff others have mentioned, along with specialist teachers for Science, Music, French etc. etc. They do hockey, swimming, netball and gymnastics in one of three sessions a week, not just the one she used to have. However, I am sure a good state school can provide this.

The parents are very mixed, yes some are loaded - swimming pools, footballers etc. etc., but most are like us, don't live in huge houses, both work hard to keep paying the fees and not all go on fabulous holidays. I have been to a variety of houses, most are semis or detatched, only one was 'wow', so I wouldn't worry about it.

If we had a school locally that could give us the same, we would jump at it, but honestly?, having been through the state system myself and worked a little in state schools, I am genuinely shocked at the differences and if I am honest, cross too that we have to pay to get this in our area. Maybe we are just extremely lucky with our school now I am sure like state schools, privates vary too.

Best of luck, I don't envy you.

moonbells Thu 13-Dec-12 14:01:08

DS is now in Reception at a prep close to my work, for a whole pile of practical reasons. I work f/t, work is 30-40mins drive away. DH commutes to London and we can't rely on TfL to be running well enough to let him make any drops or pickups or sometimes even get him to work at all .

For my local state school:
If I was on 8am-4.30pm hours, I'd need to drop off DS at 7am and then get in. I'd have to pick up after 5.15pm. No school near home opens that early and neither do CMs. No go.

If I was 9am-5.30pm hours I'd drop to breakfast club and go into work. I'd need to pickup at 6.15-6.30 (jams are worse at this time!) which wouldn't be possible with teatime clubs and so I'd have to get a CM and DS would have to go home, straight to bath, books and bed. Possible but too long a day and no time spent with DS, so another no go.

So we both leave at 7.15am, drive to the town I work in, chatting/singing or the like, drop DS off at breakfast club and make it to work for 8. I leave at 4.30 and pickup from teatime and we chat about his day on the drive. Have supper at home and playtime before bath, books and bed. Works for us.

Downside - we'll never be able to have a big holiday. Last year was a cottage in Cornwall. Next year will be too, if I can find one we can afford. We have a semi in a not-that-expensive area (hence living miles from work) and we badly could have done with getting one where DS's bedroom was a bit bigger than 7x9', but no use wishing now!

We have taken financial advice and are actively planning how to pay fees tax-efficiently and without recourse to loans, we have no rich relatives and none living close who could otherwise help out.

Other objections I've heard: why don't I give up work. Er. shock I have a pension and an independent income. I'm in a field which moves so fast I'd never get back in again if I took any time off. It's a f/t post and can't be downsized to p/t. DH is a contractor so can't commit to any school runs either. We did actually start thinking about all of this before we started trying for a baby so it was a long term plan. So far, so good.

MRSJWRTWR Thu 13-Dec-12 13:34:05

Well as I said previously, DS1 (Y9) went to a private secondary after attending the local state primary school. He was one of only two out of his year (90 children) who went to this particular school although approx 8 others went to various other private schools. As there were entrance exams to pass, the children I knew of all left Y6 with L5 SATs or above.

He has loved it from the word go and although he still sees some of his local primary school friends it took him almost no time at all to make new ones. It is a big school with about 70% of his years intake coming from the prep school, and 30% from surrounding state primary schools.

The only drawbacks I can think of at the moment is that he was a bit behind in French as the prep school started this in Y2 (DS2 has already started learning it) and he hadnt covered much at his primary school. Also, although he isnt particulary sporty the prep school children had all been playing competitive rugby, football, hockey, netball, cricket etc from an early age and the amount of sport he was suddenly expected to be involved in was a bit of a shock.

mrsshackleton Thu 13-Dec-12 13:21:40

I have one in state and one in private. I think if you have a good state option nearby you'd be bonkers not to at least try it out. See how your child does and in a year or two you can reexamine. In many respects our local state was (and is) fabulous, dd1 moved because she won a place at a school that goes all the way up to 18 and we wanted to avoid 11 plus. I'd say she's learning more at the new school but she is not a self-motivator and the private school gave her a needed kick. Ds who is very focused is thriving there and imo doesn't need private frills.

wordfactory Thu 13-Dec-12 13:08:01

Hogs both my DD at 11 and DS at 13 went to schools where none of their prep friends were going. It really wasn't an issue and was always going to be the case.

Lot sof other DC joined from elsewhere. Even those that did have pals from primary were seperated to ensure mixing took place.

The only schools where that might be an issue, would be secondary schools with preps attached where most of the cohort already know one another. Though even then, the new boys/girls always have the excitement factor on their side.

Chandon Thu 13-Dec-12 12:25:40

Hogs, my sister is facing that exact dilemma with her y6 daughter, and it has led to lots of tears and rows, and now the parents are not sure!

Where I live, n Hampshire, lots of people go from state to private and back, about 40% of DS peers at private primary will go to state secondary, but then state schools here often outperform private secondaries, so you would not move them to private to get better grades.

HelpOneAnother Thu 13-Dec-12 12:17:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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