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Looking for views. Private vs State (class size / benefits / age related)

(8 Posts)
GingerDoodle Tue 07-Jan-14 13:24:54

At what age do you think children benefit from the smaller class sizes and ethos that prep / independent schools (generally) have if you could only utilise it for infants / juniors (prep) or high school?

Both me and DH went state all the way through; I have no real qualms re my education and we both have degrees. That said I did struggle with some things and think we more attention I could have done better, DH agrees particularly in high school. I want to give our DD the best shot and am looking at alternatives as while our local infants is very good, the juniors is not so great and high schools are much of a muchness.

Personally I am torn as

GingerDoodle Tue 07-Jan-14 13:25:38

Personally I am torn to when it would have the most impact (its unlikely we could afford the cost of private school the whole way through)

ReallyTired Tue 07-Jan-14 13:32:42

So much depends what your state options are like. Private education ensures that your child has fewer distruptive classmates. I think private education really comes into its own during juniors when children have specialist subject teachers in private, but one teacher in state primary. In a good secondary (state or private) school children can catch up their private comtempories.

In your position I would use state for infants. If you live in an eleven plus area then prehaps private juniors would increase your child's chances of getting a place at a grammar. If you don't have grammar schools then I would use state for primary and supplement with tutoring and then send the child to private secondary.

MillyMollyMama Tue 07-Jan-14 14:40:22

I think it is difficult to judge. If you have a good infants school, use it. Do not assume that small class sizes in an independent school will ensure good teaching. Small classes will help a good teacher but cannot make a poor teacher good. Some private schools have poor teachers so if you choose a prep school, choose the ones with children that get places at the best senior schools. They cannot afford to let standards drop.

In my area, the state primary schools are more than capable of getting many children into the grammar schools because the 11+ tests are not actually taught in prep or state schools lessons. Therefore all pupils get tutored if parents are desperate. However many of us just work through the types of questions at home so save the money. 11+ success here is due to speed and accuracy. Good literacy and numeracy are needed but these attributes are not linked to the national curriculum in an obvious way.

We went independent for senior school. We also chose boarding. There is much more to choosing a senior school than pure results. Some schools are a way of life and networking opportunities are a consideration too. If you need CE to get to the senior school, then you will need preparation at a prep school. The problem with grammar schools is the secondary moderns that the non grammar school children have to go to. Many are often vastly inferior to the grammar schools in more than just educational attainment. This is why we went independent for both DDs. It is also perfectly possible to go to an independent senior school at 11 (girls) from a state primary and do extremely well and better than many who have had the benefit of a prep school education. My DD was placed in the top set for French after 1 month of teaching. All the prep school girls had been taught French for years. Neither was she behind in Maths or English or unable to do any other subject better than most! I would not spend money on any average school though. Paying for the best is worth it but think about future fee increases and cost of extras such as trips, uniform, music lessons etc and budget carefully as we know several people where the money ran out too soon. Good luck with your planning.

SlightlyTerrified Tue 07-Jan-14 17:10:48

These threads don't always go well!!

Both my DCs are at an independent primary and I there are some significant differences however it really depends on the schools available to you.

The class sizes means that the DCs are taught to their specific abilities and I feel they are happy to stretch the children as far as they possibly can go. They also do a lot more sport, languages and seem to fit it more activities in general. I have noticed a big difference in DS1s confidence as well (DS1 was in state infant, DS2 started at the school from pre-school).

Most of DS1s friends have gone to the local junior school (97% KS2 SATs results and top school in area) they are having lots of issues possibly due to the big classes eg no reading books, erratic homework across classes. Also many of the children achieving excellent KS1 results have slipped back quite a lot. I understand this can be normal but the teachers at the infant school were very good and the assessments were externally moderated so I find this odd.

DS1s state infant school was good and he did well however they were not keen to stretch the children to their full ability, if they were achieving above the expected levels then there was no real interest in them going further. I was generally happy with the school and he is the sort of child that will work hard at any school but DS2 would have struggled, he would mess around given half the chance and with distractions would not have achieved what he has at the independent school.

We have some very good infant schools, ok-ish junior schools and awful secondary schools. We made the decision to send them to private school all the way through but when looking at finances we decided that we would go just for seniors if we could not afford it. I know it is said that the preparation for seniors is the most important part but we felt we could cope with ensuring the boys are on track at that level but thought leading up to GCSEs the less distractions the better IYSWIM.

RiversideMum Tue 07-Jan-14 20:04:59

I have a friend who teaches in a prep school and she is being driven round the twist by the staff she has inherited. Her support staff are either gap year students from Oz or Eastern European to keep costs down. Lovely people, but not qualified to support phonics teaching etc. She is very jealous of my NNEB level TAs. So certainly in early years, private is not necessarily better. Ask lots of questions.

SwimmingMom Mon 20-Jan-14 12:09:30

As Reallytired said - a lot depends on future schooling options.

While prep schools do not teach 'reasoning', which was the norm for 11+ grammar entrance, most grammars are changing to 2-tier entrance from 2015 & will be including English & Maths too. Here prep schools will be able to set up students much better & much sooner than state. Also my DD's prep do get children (& parents!!) practiced on verbal/non verbal reasoning, so it's definitely a plus.
When it comes to independent you also have all-through schools which will offer NO help on 11+ but may have the children already in a better place on Maths & English.

On the other hand if you are keen for independent in secondary (much more expensive than primary), then perhaps saving your money until then is a more practical route - but be prepared to support academically at home or with tutors.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Mon 20-Jan-14 17:58:53

I have one at state, one private, so am in a good position to compare. The private has higher academic/musical/sporting standards and a much more competitive ethos. My child has really blossomed since being there, she's with a group of bright kids, who seem to challenge and stretch each other.

However, the state has better pastoral care and for my second child, who's naturally academic, socially secure and doesn't need so much of a push it works very well indeed. There's more neurosis at the private school, more conspicuous consumption, the state school truly is representative of the area and more grounded. I'd say if your children are bright sparks and the school's good then there's no need to move them to private until secondary (and then, obviously, it depends on the choices available), especially not if money is or may be an issue.

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