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whether to move DCs from local state primary to private

(51 Posts)
whoneedssleepanyway Tue 04-Mar-14 14:47:56

I have 2 DDs at the local state primary in Reception and Year 2.

The school is OK, ranked good by Ofsted, there are definitely areas it could be better (e.g. maths not strong and was commented on by Ofsted, other issue is that whilst the teachers they have had so far have been great, there are some much weaker teachers in other years which I know from friends at the school have almost resulted in what they say was a wasted year for their DCs). When DD1 started it was our local school and the only one she would get a place in, in the area (v small catchment areas in London), private wasn't an option for us at the time, although we have always hoped we could do private secondary and have been saving. Since she has started she has loved it, we have met some really nice families and DD2 started in September and enjoys it too.

Our financial situation has now changed and we have some money for the DDs but it can only be used on their education, it would be enough to pay for private primary, secondary and university.

I am really torn as to what to do. On the one hand I want to give them the best education we can and I have worried from the start that by not going private at primary it will be harder to get a secondary place at a private school and I don't want them to have missed out on this opportunity. From everything I read it really seems as though you are at a huge disadvantage in getting a place at a private secondary school at 11 if you are coming from the state sector and we would need to tutor.

But they love the school, we have met some really nice families and I would be very sad if they moved somewhere else. The school has a lovely community feel to it and everyone knows everyone. I asked DD what she would think about going to a different school and she looked shocked and said absolutely not, but I am sure she would settle fine if she was moved.

The other thing I am not sure about is how easy it would even be to get a place somewhere now given we missed 7 plus for DD1 so we would be dependent on someone leaving and I am imagining there are waiting lists for most private schools.

Sorry this all probably sounds a bit vague but not really sure how to go about making this decision.

stealthsquiggle Tue 04-Mar-14 14:54:34

I would look at the independent schools IIWY (probably without the DC at this point as it will only worry them), but only consider moving your DCs when/if you find a school which you know would suit them and in which they would be happy. If you don't find anything which is dramatically better than where they are, then leave them be. A school is definitely not better because it is fee paying.

(that said, I know nothing except what I see on MN of uber-competitive oversubscribed London schools as we live in the middle of nowhere and my DC are at an independent school which just happens to be closer to us than any state primary)

ThisSummerBetterBeDarnGood Tue 04-Mar-14 15:12:12

Look at private and see what feel they have to them also.

Vijac Tue 04-Mar-14 15:13:08

In london there are quite often occasional places as people move around so much, lots of people from abroad Etc. I would probably move them in your position, where we live, as long as you find a good private school with a space. Better to move earlier rather than later. Have your children made good academic progress whilst at their current school? It is hard moving as I guess the risk is you move them from somewhere they are happy to somewhere that they are not but I guess you just have to judge the schools and where they will be given the most opportunity to thrive.

MerryMarigold Tue 04-Mar-14 15:19:27

I would maybe give it another year to see how your younger dd is faring.

Imo, private schools are best for middle of the road kids. Clever kids will do well wherever they go (though it may be harder for them to fit into the Oxbridge world). For kids with some learning probs (eg. dyslexia/ dyspraxia/ add etc.) private schools can put pressure on them. I don't think I'd like my eldest ds in private school for this reason. He has some mild learning probs, and I think he'd feel even more inadequate with the culture of pushing and attainment. There is also often poor special needs provision. And some schools do a cull after GCSE's etc. All things to look out for if you think it will affect your DC self confidence.

On the other hand, if you're DC are bright or even ok, private school will give them a lot of confidence and will give the less average child an edge in the future.

Also to think about are whether your lifestyle could match up to the other kids or will Mum be rocking up in a bashed up Ford whilst other kids all have Mercs and Audis. And there's a lot of other costs such as school hols, uniforms, extra curricular stuff which can add to several thousand yearly etc.

whoneedssleepanyway Tue 04-Mar-14 15:19:41

Thanks everyone. Sorry to drip feed but the other thing is that the local school is so convenient, 10 minute walk. The nearest private would be more than double that and it is pretty competitive to get in to, the next one would be a bus ride away. I work and having them on the doorstep is very convenient.

Vijac - opportunity to thirve is exactly what I want, all the different things they can try at independent schools. They have done ok so far although we have definitely been having to top DD1 up at home with her maths to get her to progress. She is bright but not the brightest in the class, and she seems to be slightly off the radar with the teacher who is v over-stretched with 30 children and seems to spend time with the ones at the bottom and the ones at the top.

MerryMarigold Tue 04-Mar-14 15:20:30

I meant give the average child an edge in the future. Didn't mean to contradict myself.

whoneedssleepanyway Tue 04-Mar-14 15:25:26

Merry - that is another thing I worry about, it isn't like we would be going on yearly ski-ing trips and trips to the Bahamas etc

bluewisteria Tue 04-Mar-14 15:43:33

Um, if I could afford it, I would fight tooth and nail to get my two daughters into a local private school, and I am in the process of trying to do this.
This is because my local state schools (in London) are not great. Even if they were pretty good, I have visited a lot of private schools recently and the difference on what they can offer has been pretty extreme to me...

I would go and look at the private schools, without your children. And see what you think. Then see what the next move is... you may think they can't offer anything. You may decide to talk to your children about it and visit with them.

Just because your children are happy where they are, doesn't mean they can't enjoy a new place/stay in touch with old friends. I understand it might be socially awkward for you to tell family friends/school etc that you think your children could do better somewhere somewhere else, or for your to move your children and then regret it. But to be honest, just looking at these schools would help you a lot?

I can see you want the best for your children. I would go and look at the other schools so you an ascertain what the best is for them.

bluewisteria Tue 04-Mar-14 15:46:35

I dont think this thread is about private schools vs state schools.
This is about the best interest for the OP's children.... None of us can generalise what private schools/state schools are best for and what kind of children. Every child is an individual and every school is different, the only way to explore a good fit is to look at all possible schools, which now includes private.

MillyMollyMama Tue 04-Mar-14 15:59:13

It is not a good use of the money to pay the university fees up front. All the financial advice is not to do this, so use the money earlier. Prep and senior would be my advice.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 04-Mar-14 16:05:13

I wouldn't move happy children from a school you can walk to in 10 mins. Can I ask (if it's not too personal a question) what happens to the money if it doesn't get spent on the children's education? Does it go got to them as adults?

whoneedssleepanyway Tue 04-Mar-14 16:21:26

Ghoul I am not sure (ought to check this) but at the moment it can only be accessed for education.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Tue 04-Mar-14 16:25:38

It would be interesting to know. If you don't spend it and the children can access it later then that would be another factor in favour of not moving them, at least for now.

Theas18 Tue 04-Mar-14 16:53:13

If there are funds to see the kids through prep secondary and uni that must be a biiiig fund. Lucky kids!

from what you say you aren't keen on prep. Certainly a good state primary gives a good grounding and I'd like to think the social skill to mix widely (might not be true in an all white commuter village though!).

Yes to private secondary though I reckon and then uni ( but agree don't pay fees up front let them take the debt and maybe settle it later or, if the terms of the money allow use it for a house deposit and pay the uni loan off ... eventually..)

stealthsquiggle Tue 04-Mar-14 17:12:23

I don't subscribe to the "if you can't afford the matching lifestyle your DC will suffer" argument at all. My DBs and I went through independent schools which my parents could only just afford with a lot of help from GPs (and scholarships back when they were worth something). I was never once made to feel bad for not being able to afford the ski trip etc etc and I don't believe DBs were either. My DC are, in turn, at a school where there are plenty of mega-rich families, but there are also plenty who, whilst comfortable, definitely don't have the means to fund endless extras.

I am sure there are schools where such things matter, but I wouldn't want my DC in one.

Similarly uniform, TBH. At DC's school secondhand uniform is the norm, with a shop run by the school at their cost, and as a result I suspect that I spend less on uniform than many state school parents.

bluewisteria Tue 04-Mar-14 17:37:00

Completely agree with you stealthsquiggle, well said.

MerryMarigold Wed 05-Mar-14 10:32:01

stealth, I bet your kids wear Fat Face!

stealthsquiggle Wed 05-Mar-14 11:29:29

confused, Marigold - what makes you say that? Actually I don't think either of them owns anything from Fat Face at the moment, although they have had the occasional thing for Christmas/Birthday in the past.

But, genuinely confused - what are you trying to say?

Nocomet Wed 05-Mar-14 11:41:51

I don't know how big your education fund is, but check how much fees go up between infants, preprep, senior and sixth form and allow for way more than normal inflation.

Several DFs looked into private primary (having DCs in the private schools nursery), did their sums and decided the local state primary was good enough.

Local friends, finishing time for Brownies, money for music and ballet lessons, there are advantages to state.

slowcomputer Wed 05-Mar-14 11:46:14

Also to think about are whether your lifestyle could match up to the other kids or will Mum be rocking up in a bashed up Ford whilst other kids all have Mercs and Audis. And there's a lot of other costs such as school hols, uniforms, extra curricular stuff which can add to several thousand yearly etc.

My kids are at private school and the expense of it means we certainly won't be buying flash cars or going on big holidays. And we aren't the only ones in that position. So don't let that stop you - I'd definitely go for it, these schools are generally pretty competitive to get into and the competition only gets worse as the children get older.

Nocomet Wed 05-Mar-14 12:03:31

Certainly here when the above DCs go from state primary to private secondary they are not well off.

DDs best friends class contains loads of very well off boarders. She says all they get on together just fine. If anything bitching is between the girls who can only just afford it themselves .

MerryMarigold Wed 05-Mar-14 13:00:43

stealth, am just making the point that you do need to have more than 'average' cash to fit in. I think it's probably harder now (and more expensive) than when you were a kid. My friends have privately educated kids (not any big, posh school, but it's pretty good), and whilst they are very frugal, they are also fairly wealthy and do cave into the demands of Fat Face and Gilly Hicks. My friend even says she hates doing it, because it's such a ridiculous amount of money, but that she feels the pressure (and believe me, she is a very confident woman). Not that this is exclusive to private schools, but I think it is more so as I know kids at both types of schools.

I think it's a bit naive to say the family lifestyle doesn't matter. Of course, if you are willing and strong enough (and to some extent clever enough), then you can MAKE it not matter. But it will set you apart a bit. This family are saying the money has become available, so I have no idea of how much 'extra' they can fund, but I still think it is a consideration.

ThisSummerBetterBeDarnGood Wed 05-Mar-14 13:12:28

I don't subscribe to the "if you can't afford the matching lifestyle your DC will suffer" argument at all

Totally agree. There will always be a richest person in class and poorest wherever you go to school, no one cared where other people went in my school or what car they came to school in, we had the old banger and no hols till 12, no one gave two monkeys!

YY to second hand major expensive school trips either.

stealthsquiggle Wed 05-Mar-14 13:39:23

Oh, Ok Merry, I get it.

Does it answer your question if I tell you that I have no idea who/what Gilly Hicks is? smile

On all seriousness, I see less brand awareness amongst my DC's peer group than among some state educated DC. Possibly because they are country mice, but even then.. One of DS's friends who moved to the local comp for Y7 was telling my DS how he is saving to get the "must have" branded school bag. DS uses a bag which I made him and several of his classmates use pencil cases which I made for their birthdays.

(disclaimer: I don't have teenagers yet. However, I hardly think brand awareness is limited to independent schools when it comes to teenagers)

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