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Is a Fee paying school worth it in the end?

(44 Posts)
Rose1Thornton Wed 05-Mar-14 23:04:34

I'm a single mother who has spent the past seven years scrimping and saving to ensure that I could send my son to a wonderful school, I've recently found out that after all the interviews and exams and stress that my son has been accepted to attend Colet Court, in the 7 plus class, I was hoping for some assistance with the fees but have sadly been turned down, I have a little over 50 grand saved up, however the fees alone for a year are about 10 & a half grand and the extra activities will push up that price.

After crunching up the numbers, I've concluded that as long as I keep going at this rate, I'll be able to keep up with the fees until my son turns 18, however the dilemma I am having is that I'm not sure it's all worth it, the schools in my catchment area are quite horrendous, however I could use the money to provide tutoring and then try and get him into a Grammar School when he turns 11, although that's a risk I'm not too comfortable taking.

With mortgage payments, bills, bills & more bills, I'm living on a tight rope, Colet Court is a brilliant school and is associated with St Pauls, meaning that his secondary school placement is all but guaranteed, but is spending all that money, really, truly, worth it in the end?

PavlovtheCat Wed 05-Mar-14 23:05:47


noramum Wed 05-Mar-14 23:12:36

I didn't consider public schools for DD, we decided we better move into an area with good state schools.

Would moving be an option for you?

Dinosaursareextinct Wed 05-Mar-14 23:15:06

Are ALL the possible state primary schools horrendous? That seems unlikely.

singersgirl Wed 05-Mar-14 23:15:17

If this is genuine, I'm surprised you haven't checked the fees properly. Your calculations will be way out .

Quinteszilla Wed 05-Mar-14 23:19:26

There are three terms in a school year not two, so you will be looking at more than 15k per year, more for St Pauls. Can you defer his place to 11+?

TheCrimsonQueen Wed 05-Mar-14 23:22:04

Yes for St Pauls it most certainly is. Great school. I just wish I could afford to send my boys there but that's completely unrealistic. Good luck whichever way you go.

meditrina Wed 05-Mar-14 23:26:17

Colet Court current fees £5,557 per term. St Paul's £6,951.

School fee inflation is usually higher than other indices.

But congratulations to your DS. It's a highly selective school. Have you considered any others? Or would it be easier on your finances if you started him at Colet Court later (year 5 or year 7)?

chattychattyboomba Wed 05-Mar-14 23:27:08

Firstly, Rose you sound like a wonderful, selfless mum.

Secondly, my DH and I were discussing this today. We both attended fee paying schools although he left after age 12 to attend a large state school. He soon discovered that he had a different level of independence and was quickly lost in the system. He blames this on his own personality (very outgoing, adventurous...a little bit naughty- liked to skip class because no one noticed) and fell behind very quickly. He was achieving very high grades at the smaller fee paying school.

That lead us to believe that it very much depends on the child. Some children thrive in these environments, others are more suited to more tailored and individualised systems which fee paying schools seem to be better known for.

chattychattyboomba Wed 05-Mar-14 23:29:30

By the way he turned out fine. director of his own company. Awesome wife...wink hehe

Jinsei Wed 05-Mar-14 23:44:55

In my view, no, it's very rarely worth it. I'd be inclined to move instead.

whycantIchangemyusername Thu 06-Mar-14 09:07:34

I agree with chatty, for some children it really IS worth it, while other children would do just as well in a state school.

Would it be an option to send him to Colet Court and still go for the grammar school option at 11, so that you are only paying fees for the next 4 years? Many people choose the private then grammar option, although it might be worth checking out what percentage of Colet Court pupils (if any) tend to do this.

Dancingdreamer Thu 06-Mar-14 09:23:19

There are a few considerations here. Firstly is your income likely to go up significantly in the next few years? (promotion opportunities or through qualifications etc)

Are you likely to receive any further money to help you financially eg any bequests from relatives?

Is there anyone else who will willingly help with fees if you need assistance eg GPs?

If the answer to these are no, I would not invest all your savings into school fees. What happens if you need a new car or lose your job and need to draw on savings?

I would send to the best local school you can find and then heavily tutor for grammar school. Suggest you start now and also take up kumon maths and English as in my experience kids who have done this seem to do well in the grammar exams (at least in my area). If don't get grammar place then can reconsider option of private or moving.

Quinteszilla Thu 06-Mar-14 09:31:40

Will going to Colet Court first help your ds gaining a place at the grammar?

Most of the primaries in the vicinity of Colet Court is ofsted outstanding and with a very good level of education, towards the top of the league tables in the borough. It could be worth saving your money for secondary, and see if you could get a primary place locally? (Unless you already are in one of these schools, in which case I would not worry too much and just go for the 11+ option with perhaps some tutoring during Y5 and Y6 to help him gain entry)

cory Thu 06-Mar-14 09:34:56

OP, I don't think it's ever going to be about fee-paying schools in general and state schools in general: it's always going to be about each and every individual school, weighed against the educational experience you might be able to offer at home with that money

have you visited all the local state school? in what respect are they all dire? are they all dire in the same way?

also, chatty, I don't think your dh's experiences of being able to play truant in his state school of yesteryear is at all relevant: if he did that today, his parents would have the EWO round their door very quickly- schools tend to be very strict about monitoring attendance these days

Quinteszilla Thu 06-Mar-14 09:40:59

"the schools in my catchment area are quite horrendous"

You must live quite far from Colet Court based on this. How are you planning the journey into school?

I would really check out East Sheen Primary and Barnes Primary, and some of the local faith schools if you are Catholic.

Dinosaursareextinct Thu 06-Mar-14 09:50:07

Funny how people who've already set their heart on private find that their local state primaries are terrible. Had to pull up a friend's DH on this. He was telling his friends that he believed in state education but was sending 4 year old DD to private because what could you do when your local primaries were so terrible? Their catchment area school (short walk) had an amazing reputation and was all round Ofsted outstanding, and several other nearby schools were almost as good.

SavoyCabbage Thu 06-Mar-14 09:58:34

Why don't you move?

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 06-Mar-14 11:28:44

So what's the possibility of his being awarded a bursary when he moves to the senior school?

I appreciate you may be feeling slightly panicky at the moment - after all the stress, but I would be disinclined to deprive a child of the reward they have worked for. It's not the sort of thing one forgets....

You don't mention having any other children so it's not really surprising that - given your current assets and no other dependants - you didn't meet the means-test criteria. Given the determination you've shown so far, I'm sure you can get him through the prep stage of school - topping up with your ongoing earnings.

Your Ds is obviously very bright - there's no reason to think he might not go on to excel at Colet Court. Given time you will be able to judge what to do next - and what the possibilities are.

wordfactory Thu 06-Mar-14 11:53:16

OP, whether something is worth the cost is too subjective for strangers to help with.

Only you can answer that.

Obviously, it goes without saying that CC and StP are fabulous schools which will provide a wonderful education. However, what your family can accommodate to make that happen is personal.

Will it leave you very skint? Would you feel stressed by the resonsibilty? Or would you be pragmatic about the cost?

bettykt Thu 06-Mar-14 14:42:12

Without sounding too flippant it's the same question as how long is a piece of string. My dc go to state school, it's not outstanding but they like it there, would they do better at a fee paying school - probably, would they be happier there - unsure.
If you can afford it comfortably for the foreseeable future go for it. To find out whether it's worth it in the end then to answer that question you would need a crystal ball grin fwiw I'm all for fee paying schools, just can't afford it!

Josuk Thu 06-Mar-14 15:29:34

As the others pointed out - if you want to go the grammar route, it may be possible to do it via CC at first, and your boy will have a better time this way.
If your he ends up in a bad state school and you'll be tutoring him for the grammar school for four years - just think of the life he'll have. One one hand, he'll may have issues at school with kids that are not as interested in learning as he seems to be. He may even lose interest himself, if studying is "not cool" anymore. On the other hand, a lot of his free time will be taken up by tutoring and home work, just to catch up with the kids that are in private/or other good schools.

BambooBear13 Thu 06-Mar-14 17:24:57

Have you actually had a really good look round all the state schools? Don't believe all the rumours you may hear. Three people I know have told me in the last fortnight that one of our local schools has gone into special measures. It's utter rubbish and untrue. I went, I looked and liked. They had not even checked their facts.

BambooBear13 Thu 06-Mar-14 17:26:13

Oh and no I wouldn't at this age. I would spend the money on great educational adventures, hobbies etc!

LadyRabbit Thu 06-Mar-14 18:52:13

OP congratulations for your DS. I would be over the moon if my DS got into Colet Court. Yes. It's worth it. It's one of the best prep schools in London and even if you can only send him there for a few years it will be worth it. Do not discount that if he's bright he will be able to apply for scholarships or bursaries to St Paul's or Westminster. Also, if he is bright and thriving but you are struggling financially a lot of private schools do their utmost to help families keep their DC in their school. Be positive about your future financially and your DS's academic future. This isn't some run of the mill prep he's got into - it's one of the best in the country. All the best.

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