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Private primary or secondary?

(45 Posts)
monstergoose Thu 26-Dec-13 01:51:53

We've been thinking about education for our dd recently and are in 2 minds about whether to go private for primary or secondary (or both?) I'd you could choose would you go for private (selective) primary or secondary?

DeckTheHallsWithBoughsOfHorry Thu 26-Dec-13 01:58:14

Secondary, unless the local primaries were utterly dire.

For a start, I'd feel far more capable of making up for deficiencies in a middling primary school than secondary school.

Schmedz Thu 26-Dec-13 11:40:00

Agree with Deckthehalls if you can only afford one. That said, we ended up choosing to go from Reception. Moving the children into a different private school after KS1 we realised they were both a bit behind their peers at the new school (whilst being middle/top achievers in the previous school) so not all private schools are the same!
Private suited us because of the decent before and after school care unavailable to us at the state primary we were allocated, it also meant we could choose a school that fit in with where we worked and could organise getting them to and from school more easily. With all the extra clubs available at their school, they are never bored. We could not possibly organise the range or breadth of activities on offer outside of school!

trinity0097 Thu 26-Dec-13 14:16:17

Although the children who leave the prep school I work at cope fine if they have to go to a state school, they do miss the things like small classes, more family atmosphere that you get in a private school, abundance of sport, and parents often miss the things like being able to stay at school and do Prep (homework) at school and pick up their child later so that they don't get the chore of having to get child to do it at home!

scaevola Thu 26-Dec-13 14:36:52

Some take the approach that the prep years are important, as that lays the attitude to learning. And you have the money now, but your fortunes might reverse later.

Others see grades in public exam years as the main goal, and believe that their local private school outperforms their available state ones. That is of course guesswork against future reputations of schools, and DC's character.

Tailtwister Thu 26-Dec-13 17:11:49

If you have a decent state primary then I would say choose private for secondary only. It's very common for children to start private schools at all stages where we are.

We chose private from primary because the state options were dire (unless we moved house and then the schools are over subscribed with huge class sizes). The after school care is brilliant, with lots of clubs etc to choose from too. They also have supervised Prep from P3 up, which is great as they do get quite a lot of homework.

Timetoask Thu 26-Dec-13 17:15:59

I think every single year of school is important, children cannot repeat years here in the UK, so if you fall behind in your learning, you never really catch up with your peers. If your state options are not good, then private primary is worth considering.
Having said that, it is much easier IMO moving from state from private than the other way around. So I would do everything possible to find a good state alternative before committing to private.

MumOfTheMoos Thu 26-Dec-13 17:21:03

I went to private school until I was about 10 and then went on to state.

On the plus side, the fantastic education I got at my pre prep and prep schools laid the foundation for all my learning (started learning French and Latin at seven - it made English grammar and learning other languages later on a doodle, for example).

On the minus side (and this might be just me) because my prep school placed people in classes according to ability rather than age and I leapfrogged a few years as I was an early developer iq wise once I got to state school I was about 2 years ahead and just coasted - I got very, very bored and never recovered. However, I still coasted a bit in my recent masters and I'm over 40 now!

So, I would say primary first as long as you are aware of the pitfalls - my mum wasn't.

Coconutty Thu 26-Dec-13 17:26:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thants Thu 26-Dec-13 17:31:27


Frikadellen Thu 26-Dec-13 22:35:47

I would go for both if at all possible. If not then if I was living where I am now I would use primary as we have some very good 2ndary schools around. If where we lived before I would have done it the other way (kent nowSurrey before)

MillyMollyMama Thu 26-Dec-13 22:54:31

You need a prep if your choice of independent secondary admits by Common Entrance exam or is very difficult to get into or admits at 13. You can move to independent at 11 if that is what is done in your area or it is a girls' school. Some people go private at primary level due to better sport and then want a grammar school at 11. It really depends what you want and what the schools are like in your area. We know lots of people who were privately educated and would never educate their children in the state system and vice versa due to deeply held beliefs of what is best.

nessus Fri 27-Dec-13 00:22:44

Really depends on what type of private school you are considering...DD went to a state primary and transferred to private secondary at 11+ stage. We looked at four and thankfully found the perfect one for DD and us as a somewhat unconventional family. You will pretty much figure out which private schools are a closed environment for those that have not been grown in the system so to speak. DC might be the smartest, brightest and most confident but you need to make sure they will feel like they belong wherever they are placed and that they have something the school values (ie academic, sports, music etc). Will DC lifestyle or at the very least upbringing be comparable to a fair few if not the majority? What % of children are admitted outside of the prep system? Will they fall short in any subjects due to a lack of this being adequately covered in state school, and what provisions will be put in place to manage this?

Little tip for those doing state primary to private secondary transfers focus on modern European languages over and beyond what the school will provide, with extra tutoring in French and Spanish at a minimum from Yr.3 onwards (maybe tie it in with childcare provisions...)

Personally speaking, I went from private primary education (abroad) to state secondary (UK) and it was hell for me. I could list many reasons but main ones were 1) negative attitude to learning & achieving encountered amongst fellow students (led to bullying) / diminished expectations from teachers 2) coming upon work I had been introduced to and mastered years earlier in the private system.

VworpVworp Fri 27-Dec-13 00:40:23

"Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man"

However, ir truly depends where you live, and the schools available to you. Indeed, in many areas, it may be too late to get your child into certain schools- how old is she?

Danann Fri 27-Dec-13 15:18:48

it depends on what the state schools in your area are like, here the primaries are crap but secondaries are brilliant so we've gone with private primary, if the primaries were any good though we would have saved the money for secondary

Att100 Fri 27-Dec-13 16:11:01

what VworpVworp says....that documentary Seven Up (which you can catch on Youtube) captures that - interviewing seven year olds at prep schools compared to those with deprived backgrounds. Obviously some of it is slanted/edited for effect but still strikes home.

teacherwith2kids Fri 27-Dec-13 16:13:12

Round here, a very common option is private primary, focusing throughout the school on preparation for the superselective 11+, then state grammar.

So, locally, there are 4 variants:
- State primary, then state secondary (superselective grammar or nearly-comp)
- 5-11 private primary, then state grammar.
- Private pre-prep, then prep, then 13-18 private.
- Rarely, state primary, 11-13 at prep, then 13-18 private school. This is also the usual fall-back for pupils from the private 5-11 primaries who fail the 11+

Personally, I did state primaries (many, we moved a lot) then private secobndary. I was over a year ahead having been at the state primaries, so skipped the first year of my - very highly academic - secondary. I would agree with a previous poster that at that time the only handicap in such a course was in MFL - I ended up doing French O-level after just 3 years of learning the subject. Niowadays that would in many areas be less of a problem, as state priaries now do much more MFL work than they did in the past.

monstergoose Fri 27-Dec-13 20:33:23

Thanks for the input everyone. We are in west yorks so as far as I'm aware have a limited number of private schools which are easily accessible to us. Ideally we'd plan on moving to the south Manchester/Cheshire area for private 2ary education but can't afford to do that soon enough for primary age. I'm worried that a state primary won't prepare her for entrance to a good private 2ary so we're just thinking about our options. I went to private primary and 2ary schools in south Manc so have a good idea of the schools there, whereas have no real experience where we live now. I don't want I send her to a private school just for the sake of being on a private school of she'll get just as good a start from the local village school!

DD is just less than a year old though so I know we are thinking about this way in advance!

VworpVworp Fri 27-Dec-13 20:53:01

It's not too far in advance if you have to relocate! smile

Laura0806 Sat 28-Dec-13 11:39:57

well I moved my dd1 from private to state at 7 as I felt that the local village school was better than the private option ( well known girls school). It is very difficult to say as, as everyone says, it all depends on the options you have available to you. At primary, i think the advantages of private are sport, drama and music. State schools can not compete in those areas in my opinion. However, you can provide that out of school. I think academically, if you have a child who is willing to learn there is no difference. If your child is less inclined to listen, the smaller classses in private school can help as its harder for them to hide iyswim. The advantages of state in my opinion are more children for socialising, a better mix of children and parents , and in my case better differentiation as there are more children at different stages/ levels. Good luck with your decisions. I haven't decided re secondary yet but certainly for my oldest it will be state as she will do well anywhere

Blueberrypots Sat 28-Dec-13 12:03:22

Our plan was always local outstanding primary followed by private secondary, we even moved house to be near this amazing primary. Things were great in ks1 for all the children but deteriorated drastically in ks2. There was lirtle differentiation and children in the lower and higher ability set suffered confidence issues. The school then heavily relied on parents tutoring like crazy in years 4 and 5 to achieve the higher level 5s. In the end we decided to pull dd1 and send her to the independent school she was going to go to later on. The difference wad phenomenal but then I felt it was purely because it was so bad where she was. I would say try your local primary as it might work out very well and keep reviewing your options as you go..

roslet Sat 28-Dec-13 16:42:50

Depends on the individual schools available to you! But don't assume that the private primary schools will attract more capable or committed teachers - many top teaching graduates will only consider going into state schools because the pay and professional development opportunities are generally better there.

pyrrah Sat 28-Dec-13 18:28:28

We live in an area of London with fantastic primaries and utterly dire secondary provision.

Plan is to supplement the primary with tutoring and go for the super-selective all-girls private secondary schools.

If we lived in a grammar area, we would have done the most academic prep school we could find and hoped for a grammar school place.

If the local secondary schools are still dire when the time comes and DD doesn't get into the London super-selectives then there is a grammar in Kent that goes from 13+ and we'll send her to a private prep to cram for that.

So, depends entirely on what your local state and private options are at each stage. I wouldn't pay for private just for private - needs to be very distinct pluses.

Having done private prep followed by state, I think I would ideally prefer the other way round.

Buggedoff Sat 28-Dec-13 22:46:20

We did state primary for dd followed by private seniors. The senior school is not super selective, but I was still a little anxious about the entrance test. Then, when she got a place, I was anxious that the prep school children would be way ahead of her.

She was fine. Her primary was not at all posh, but is a good school. It prepared her well for secondary education.

soundevenfruity Sun 29-Dec-13 00:57:20

Q&A in the Times recently mentioned that because there are no nationwide tests at 7 early years education suffered. I wonder if it's true.

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