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Being a black child in a private school

(121 Posts)
harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 00:37:36

Hi, I hope this doesn't come across in any way prejudice or wrong. DH and I have recently been looking at schools and trying to choose whether to send our DS into a really good state school or a pre-prep. The main concern we had was that most of the pre-preps we visited had mainly blonde haired/blue eyed children. Our son is very confident, able and sociable but I feel that if he is in a school were he is in the minority that this may effect his self-esteem and development in some way.

I also found that a lot of these schools the children tend to "stick together". As in, all the white children were in a group and the ethnic minorities such as Asians, Chinese etc also stuck together.

So, now were are thinking whether it would just be better to send him to a really good state school (West Dulwich) where he can have a mixture of social backgrounds and be able to connect with other people that "look like him".

Does anyone have any experience of sending their child to a predominantly white school? If so, what's your thoughts?

p.s I went to a predominantly white school until I was 9 but this was not the same social class, as most of the kids came from working class backgrounds so the parents were we could say less "stuck up". I might also mention that this was in Kiev, Ukraine back in the 80's.

Fram Mon 16-Jun-14 00:42:08

This is not our experience. My children attend schools where around 60% are BME, 40% white (though white UK, White-Euro mixed). All the children play with one another, there are no groupings or cliques based on ethnicity/first language groups.

harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 00:46:35

Fram: But the private schools we visited it was more a case of 85% White and 15% BME. So this was our main concern with the social aspect.

Fram Mon 16-Jun-14 01:16:43

Well, my youngest is the only white boy in his class, and he has had no esteem or socialisation problems whatsoever- he's fairly popular, his best friends are Pakistani (from Pakistan, not UK), Indian (UK-Indian) and British-Caribbean.
Really- the children do not form cliques of their own ethnicities.

I appreciate this is the opposite way round to your family and the schools available to you, but it is essentially the same situation- can a child throve when they are in a minority ethnically? Yes, they can!

Fram Mon 16-Jun-14 01:17:19


Lioninthesun Mon 16-Jun-14 01:17:28

I went to an indie from 6yrs and my longest standing friends (me being white British) are from that age - one Chinese and one Nigerian. There was very little issue at my school. Trying to remember how many non-white British were in our class (around 23 pupils at age 6). I'm counting 3 Africans, 1 Indian, 2 Chinese... so perhaps a slightly higher % than the school you are looking at? IME the children growing up together from that age won't have an issue (I remember my Nigerian friend calling me "white as our summer socks" once when we had a playground spat but that was as bad as it got and we laugh about it now!) but I do know what you mean about the cliques. I would say though that this happened in Senior school (mainly groups of Chinese girls who had little English) and not juniors at all in my school. It seemed to be the older children who started later found it harder to integrate. I hope that helps!

Lioninthesun Mon 16-Jun-14 01:18:07

2 Indians, sorry!

CorusKate Mon 16-Jun-14 01:29:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toomuchicecream Mon 16-Jun-14 06:44:40

I teach in a small rural predominantly white middle class school. The black girl in my class doesn't have any friendship issues and her parents are obviously a full part of the parent circle. The same goes for the two Asian heritage children.

deepbluetr Mon 16-Jun-14 06:55:43

My childrens' primary school ( 180 pupils) had no races other than caucasian.
At their secondary school ( state 1400 pupils) there are no children of Afro Carribean descent, although a handful ( no more than 7 or 8) of Asian.
THe Asian children seem to have problems , my kids are close friends with one or two of them and we have spoken about potetential for negativity towards them, but my kids assure me it doesn't happen.

meditrina Mon 16-Jun-14 07:15:25

There are loads of racially diverse preps in London - it strikes me as unusal that you have found a selection to view where none are.

Are you able to do a school run into London itself, or are you looking in particular outer suburbs?

Have you visited Dulwich College? I don't know the Junior School so well, but the College itself is obviously diverse.

NynaevesSister Mon 16-Jun-14 08:24:10

In West Dulwich you've an amazing choice of really good state schools. Do you really need to go private? Dulwich Infants, Rosendale, Elm Wood, Kingswood are all outstanding schools with fabulous environments. You'll find more diversity at the last two. A friend whose child started at Roesendale was only black child in class initially (although not the case now). However it hasn't impacted negatively that they've said. Hear lots of positive things about Dulwich Wood under the new head (used to be called Langbourne).

That said friends who aren't white have had no issues on that score at Dulwich College. They've done the whole way through starting with DUCks. Eldest is doing GCSE, youngest is at Dulwich Prep.

Oak field Prep always seemed very diverse to me with a wide range of nationalities.

Theas18 Mon 16-Jun-14 08:35:18

Depends where you live I guess!

Certainly I have experience of a very diverse prep (white minority) , white majority primary and 2 grammars that are very diverse (My DD commented after a geog lesson " we are really a very boring family aren't we" as she was one of about 2 in the class where there was no family migration!) and none have the " ethnic cliques " you seem to fear.

harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 08:36:10

Thank you all for your replies. I suppose of course depending on the area, I find that state schools are more socially diverse and a better representation of different cultures . The pre preps we looked at (Eaton House Schools, Eaton Square School and Newton Prep) were all predominantly White children and the first two I mentioned there was hardly any BME's in the classes.

Although private schools can be a sure and good academic start in life but we are just so concerned that it is not socially and/or damaging in any way to our DS. Being already a black (mixed) boy in a society that tends to already put/dumb them down, we don't want him to have low self-esteem or put in any social setting that may hinder his personal growth. I'm thankful for your responses coming from a White person in a more BME, but I would love to hear more from BME's who have sent their kids to private schools.

As I mentioned I went to a private school until the age of 9 and although there was mild racism coming from both kids and parents (not allowing their kids to play with me, not attending my birthday invitations etc) I still found that on a whole it was an ok experience because the parents weren't upper middle class therefore not so stuck up. When we moved to the UK and I had to go to a state school (Bermondsey) which again was predominantly White I'm afraid to say that there were clique formations all the Blacks, Whites and Asians in separate groups. This was in a way ok because you didn't feel as the odd one out. You could look around and see other students that you could share views and experiences with.

Senior schools on the other hand are a good mix. Such as Dulwich college but it's years until he reaches that age and hopefully by then he will be more assured in himself and as a young man.

meditrina Mon 16-Jun-14 08:38:50

I think you need to take another look at Newton Prep - that's a very diverse school (both non-white and white non-British).

harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 08:41:13

NynaevesSister You are very right about the primary state schools in West Dulwich and we are very much considering applying there for next year. We had applied at Oakfield which was socially diverse, but hoping to hear back from them for next year entry.

Is it also an easy transition in London to go from state school into a really good private Senior school such as Dulwich College?

MarshaBrady Mon 16-Jun-14 08:43:12

You are very close to mixed private in West Dulwich. Are you not keen on Oakfield Prep?

SE London are probably more mixed that SW.

MarshaBrady Mon 16-Jun-14 08:44:54

X post. If you like Oakfield, it is more mixed than other private primaries.

NynaevesSister Mon 16-Jun-14 08:48:42

To be honest I really don't know. You might be better off asking that on the Secondary School forum.

I do know quite a few parents who have chosen state for primary over private just because the option is so good. But I can only speak from experience for Rosendale, Elm Wood and Kingswood as I don't actually know anyone with children at the other two schools.

Littleoaktree Mon 16-Jun-14 08:49:47

Have you looked at st dunstans in catford? It's reasonably diverse and all the children mix well, the white children are also from culturally diverse backgrounds so not just 'white middle England' if that makes sense. Not that far from you either

harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 08:50:36

MarshaBrady We had an open day and have registered it seemed to tick all the boxes and would be out first choice over the state schools.

However, the more and more I speak to other mums in the area they all seem to say nice things about the state schools in the area. So those were mainly the ones we are comparing against private schools.

harunsmummy Mon 16-Jun-14 08:52:11

Littleoaktree Thank you. I had never actually heard of the school but I will look them up and see whether we can arrange a visit smile

NynaevesSister Mon 16-Jun-14 08:54:26

Also Rosemead Prep might be worth looking at. I'd re consider Dulwich Prep as I know so many positive things about it. If I was looking at private I'd go for that one.

But yes I am a white parent. I will ask non-white friends if they'd mind popping in here to offer their opinions. Or message you.

Littleoaktree Mon 16-Jun-14 09:05:27

Yes definitely go and have a look, it's a lovely inclusive school and I know several families who have chosen it because of the greater diversity than at other private schools in the area.

MarshaBrady Mon 16-Jun-14 09:10:16

Ds is at a SE London private, I'd say about 10 to 15% BME. But I couldn't be happier with the social element. There is no separation, everyone is friends with the children in the class they like. We're white but I see ds' little friends and everyone just gets on together, in a really nice way.

So maybe just check you don't have to dismiss certain schools. Obviously the make up might be different, but perhaps the social element will be fine. Ill pm you the school. It has been mentioned here, but since ds is still there I'll pm.

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