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Prep School vs State Primary School -How to decide?

(83 Posts)
SquealyB Tue 11-Feb-14 12:28:30

We are in the very fortunate to be in a position to send our DD to prep. school when the time comes but I am not sure whether we want to.

It is really important to us that DD gets the best possible education (stating the obvious) but we do not want her to become one of "those" spoilt/entitled public school types (which not all privately educated children are of course). If the local state primary is OFSTED good/outstanding would we be better saving on the fees and spending the ££ on fun extra curricular stuff, holiday etc? My family is not based in the UK and DH's family are about as much use as a chocolate tea pot - so keen to hear others thoughts or experiences.

everlong Tue 11-Feb-14 12:32:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redskyatnight Tue 11-Feb-14 12:54:18

One thing that being able to pay for education gives you - is choice.

I would suggest you visit all possible schools - both state and independent. Write down a list of pros and cons from each one (leaving money out of the equation for now).

If the school you like best is independent, then you think about whether spending �� on the school is worth it (something only you can quantify) versus spending the money on other things.

givemeaclue Tue 11-Feb-14 12:55:32

Have you also checked the fees for senior school if you go the independent route

SquealyB Tue 11-Feb-14 13:45:22

As I said we are very lucky to have this choice

everlong - in an ideal world of course it would be down to just parenting but in given the amount of time DCs spend in school, I would have thought the attitude of the school and its pupils are an important influence.

redsky - thanks, that sounds like a great approach and appeals to my nerdy list making nature.

givemeaclue - I was positively shocked by the fees (at primary and secondary) level compared to Ireland (where I am from) but we can cover the secondary level fees (just means less holidays etc.)

newbieman1978 Tue 11-Feb-14 13:53:47

If there are good/outstanding state schools in your area then possibly think about this;

Lets take £10,000 a year as fees (cheap for private, may be much more)
Eductation up to GCSE level 10k x 11 (yrs) = £110,000

Would a reasonable/good state education and a 110k (or more) lump sum as a start in life out weigh a slightly better private education and all the old school tie benefits that come with.

Interesting thought?

maillotjaune Tue 11-Feb-14 14:04:47

You really need to visit the schools. Obviously we are some way off Gove's imaginary world where you will walk into a school and not know if it's state or indie hmm but don't choose it just on buildings. I have 2 friends who have removed children from prep schools and sent them to the local state primary after finding out the hard way that prep does not mean superior whatever the extra sports / music or whatever.

ShoeWhore Tue 11-Feb-14 14:08:44

I think as pps said you will have to go and look at your local choices and see what you think. It's hard to generalise really - so many variables depending on the culture of your local schools and your own values - not to mention what sort of children you have!

My dcs are at our local state school and doing well. It has a lovely caring atmosphere. The Head is incredibly dedicated and talented and the curriculum and teaching methods are up to date and innovative. They are all different but the school has really brought the best out of each of them. In particular, the youngest has SN and I cannot fault his school for the support they have given him.

I have friends with dcs at private school and their facilities are amazing, obviously with small classes they get a lot of teacher attention too. Some of the things they mention seem more old-fashioned to me.

One thing I would say about our local schools is that they are very much part of the local community and that's a big plus for me. (Obviously not true everywhere) There's also a good social mix, which I think is important. (again not true everywhere!) Often with private schools people travel further to get to them so you maybe get less of that community thing?

Murdermysteryreader Tue 11-Feb-14 14:14:28

I think it depends on the Prep school. One thing that some offer are subject specialist - so expert Music, Mfl, It and all subject specialists. Rather than a class generalist - I would look for this if you go the Prep route. I think this can be a benefit as the teachers are real experts in the subjects. Though outstanding state primaries are great too. Look wht resources the private school has some are fab but some are struggling and provision is much less good than State schools.

alicelooksinthelookingglass Tue 11-Feb-14 14:21:14

It is really important to us that DD gets the best possible education (stating the obvious) but we do not want her to become one of "those" spoilt/entitled public school types

I do a lot of work with schools and their pupils as well as having taught in private schools. I'm sorry but your statement above is a stereotype- and completely wrong.

Private schools do not 'spoil' children and give them a sense of 'entitlement'.

IMO there is no point paying good money for private ed if there is a perfectly good /excellent state school on your doorstep. Why would you?

But looking ahead what you need to consider is the next step- most prep school children transfer at 13, and are taught at the right level to cope with a senior school- where the levels are usually higher than in state schools. So a Year 8 child from a state school who transfers to a secondary private school in Year 9 may be quite a way behind their peers.

You need to look longer term.

alicelooksinthelookingglass Tue 11-Feb-14 14:25:03

newbieman- you won't get many 'old school tie' benefits for £10K a year.

Those sort of contacts come at more like £30K a year ( boarding) for pupils at Eton, Harrow, etc.

Most small or minor public schools do not have any long term influence on a child's career prospects via the old school tie network.

everlong Tue 11-Feb-14 14:27:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PrettyBelle Tue 11-Feb-14 14:37:18

I would say - if you can afford it and like the look and feel of a certain private school then go for it. How old is DD? If you are really unsure maybe send her to a good state infant school (there can't be THAT much difference, at least not in academics, between state and private in reception and years 1 and 2) and then move DD to prep for Year 3 onwards? However, be prepared that she might not get in into the preferred one at 7+ (happened to us when we did the above).

What I would advise is not to look at the DD's education as one big chunk of spending where you either commit to all 12 years (is it 12???) or don't go into it at all. There are a few standard entry points where children can switch schools - 4+, 7+, 11+, 16+. So if you go private now you can always switch back to state should want or have to. It happens all the time.

Good luck with your decision!

newbieman1978 Tue 11-Feb-14 14:48:13

I was just using 10k for easier maths! Obviously private schools come in various shapes and forms with various price tags.

My point was, would saving the money to give your child a start in life out weigh the gains of private education.

It's a question only a parent can answer, though I have friends who don't have my standard of education and have done significantly worse career wise even though they had a private education. Hence to my mind their parents money was wasted.

I'm very much pro choice and understand that many private schools offer superior eductation.

ChoudeBruxelles Tue 11-Feb-14 14:51:37

I think you need to consider as well whether you want your dc to be close to school friends when they are young. Ive friends who send their Dcs to prep school and are forever ferrying their children about. One of their children is quite jealous of our ds having friends from school living close by who he can play with easily.

wordfactory Tue 11-Feb-14 15:02:07

If your only concern is about entitlement, OP, then don't worry.

I come from a disadvantaged background and it was and still is very important to me that my DC remain grounded and hard working.

In fact my biggest worry is that they'll become lazy fuckers who expect the moon on a stick.

No sign of that happening yet. And they're teenagers. They've gone to private school all the way through. They mix a lot with state schooled kids and I only ever get compliments about them from other parents. Even my family have to admit they're completely 'normal' and 'not up themselves' grin.

Your home environment will be most important here, not school.

diabolo Tue 11-Feb-14 15:08:43

I chose a prep over the local ofsted outstanding school because I liked it much better, more sport, more independence, more fun. Worked for us.

I would hate anyone to think DS was spoilt or entitled simply because of where he goes to school. You wouldn't assume that all children at a "failing" school on a housing estate were trouble- makers would you? Totally down to parenting.

mootime Tue 11-Feb-14 15:08:46

I went to a private school from age 8. DH from 7, we would struggle to send all of ours from 4, but if I went back to work ft we could do it. However for us it is really important that our children get to learn to interact with people from all backgrounds and with different abilities and gain some perspective about the society and area they live in.

Neither DH or I had school friends beyond infant who lived near us, and both regret that.

I hope to be able to send them privately for secondary and we are conscious that we may end up paying a lot for tutoring to achieve that, however we feel that a state primary education could help them become more well rounded. We are lucky that the local schools are good or outstanding and our favourite is single form entry.

If at any point we feel that they would be doing better in a private school we may have to reasses.

It's a totally personal choice though.

alicelooksinthelookingglass Tue 11-Feb-14 15:10:19


You've missed out 13+ as a key stage to change schools.

In the private sector, the biggest transfer is at 13 from yr 8 to yr 9.
This is for prep schools where there is no senior school on the site.

This is a real consideration because a child from a state school transferring at 13 to a private school may well be 2 years behind their peers.

TallulahMcFey Tue 11-Feb-14 16:31:12

My daughter is at a Russell group uni with a high percentage of private school educated kids. The majority, in her experience, are very "spoilt and entitled" so I think it is a very fair comment.

diabolo Tue 11-Feb-14 16:38:38

In your daughter's experience, Tallulah. Other people have different opinions.

My DN is from oop North and is at Uni on the south coast. In his experience most southerners are spoilt and entitled. And a few other choice words.

I'm quite sure that can't be applied to all Southerners. wink

Gatorade Tue 11-Feb-14 16:45:37

I think you should look at the schools and pick the best one for your DD and you as a family. Look at wrap around childcare (if needed), facilities, extra curricula activities, the feel of the place and one will feel 'right'. You may find that you don't like your local independent offerings, equally one of them may stand out as the ideal place for your child.

Don't worry about attitude etc, that comes largely from you and your DH not the school.

alicelooksinthelookingglass Tue 11-Feb-14 17:04:46

Tallullah- I think that's a bit unfair to tar them all with the same brush. Both my DCs went to top 10 RG unis and none of them found what you describe.

My DD used to refer to a certain kind of student ( from very wealthy homes) as the 'Yahs'.

But there are ALL kinds of parents who send their children to private schools- those who live in tiny houses and never go on hols so they can afford the fees, as well as the landed gentry and hoorah henrys.

SquealyB Tue 11-Feb-14 17:15:37

Some really great points on here - thanks. I think the best way to make a decision will be to go for a visit and then see how we feel and base it on our DDs personality.

Just to clarify - in my OP I did say of course not all privately educated children are spoilt or entitled just that this was one of my fear re a private education (this is due to coming across some very spoilt/entitled privately educated juniors in my line of work who think that the world owes them something!). But this could, of course be entirely down to parenting.

everlong Tue 11-Feb-14 17:18:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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