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Outstanding State Primary or Outstanding Private from Reception?

(100 Posts)
qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 09:41:17

Hi! I have difficulty in choosing between an outstanding state primary and an outstanding private all through for DD into Reception! If money is not an issue, which one would you pick?

Academically, the state primary was ranked the 26th of all schools in England last year, achived 67% Level 5 in combined English and Maths, 30% Level 6 in Maths. The private school (4-18) has an even better result, ranked top 10 of all schools by SATs results (though many private schools don't do SATs), with 90% achived level 5, 20% achived level 6 English or Math; and GCSE ranked 50 out of 4000 schools.

The state school has 30 children per class (60 in a year), laptops on trolley, no music room, 1 PE lesson per week, only spanish from year 2, etc; whilst the private school has only 12 pupil per class (23 in a year), music room, PC room, sports hall, 3 PE lessons per week, Spanish/French from Reception, range of enrichment clubs. According to her nursery teacher's comment, DD is a bit quite in a large group, but quite active if in a small group. So a smaller class may be very beneficial to her?

BUT, the state school is only 5 minute drive from home, in a wealthy town, with a large outdoor playground. The private school is in the city centre, 20-30mins drive each way depending on traffic, has smaller outdoor area, and is GIRLS only. DD prefers state because of a bigger play field and a bigger slide (-_-).

Overall, I slightly prefer the private just for a piece of mind as I am afraid of regretting if anything goes wrong with the state later. But What worries me a lot is that I am not sure if it is a good idea to send her straight to a girls-only school at 4, and spend all her rest of school life in a single-sex environment? Or would it be better to stay in a mixed state school until 7+ or 11+, to gain some experience of socializing with boys??

In terms of academic performance, both school are doing well enough to me. Private school provides more enrichment programmes but I doubt how much DD will benefit from it in early years, and many enrichment classes can also availabe in my town too. SO is it worth of sending DD to girls-only school now, depriving her opportunity to explore the opposite sex?

BUT I also worried if it will become more difficult for her to gain a place at the private school at a later stage, as there will be more competetions and fewer places, especially at 11+. Would it be better to secure the place at Reception now to avoid not getting a place later? Another way to avoid 11+ exams is to start DD's private education at 7+, which means she will be in state school for only 3 years, and then comes the question if it is worth the hassle of moving DD around, or better just settle her into the private sector from Reception and all through to 6th form??

Ps: we are not in the highly competitive London area, but are thinking of moving into in a few years. If we move, we are keen to send DD to one of the highly selective privates there. If this counts another factor, would private Reception a better choice for now?

Hairylegs007 Thu 09-Jul-15 10:37:08

My DC went through a very academic excellent state primary and achieved beyond their expected levels in all areas.

Go to the state school, she will make local friends and play dates will be much more practical.

You can support her at home with reading and spellings. It's easy at that level.

My friend drives her child to a school 30 minutes away and that's 2 hours a day in the car for her. 1 hour a day for her child. So 40 hours a month driving for the mother, 20 for her child. Really the little one should be playing in the park with friends after school.

I really wouldn't worry about jumping into private education from an excellent state school. 1/2 or 1/3 of the children at my DS's state school go on to grammar or have the ability to go on to grammar. The more average ones tend to go private because they need it.

Hersetta427 Thu 09-Jul-15 12:30:20

Have you already been offered a place at the state school or are you sure you will? In our area a 5 minute drive would put you outside the catchment area of the highly sought after schools.

If not there may be no decision for you to make at all.

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:01:01

Hi Heraetta427. We have the offer of both schools. We were on the waiting list of the state initially and that's why we accepted the private. Then last week we surprisingly received the offer letter from the state primary so started to struggle which one to pick. Sometimes having options is a problem too.

dietcokeandwine Thu 09-Jul-15 13:16:44

OP just re your comment about taking a private school place now 'to avoid 11+ and because she might not get a place later'

If your dd goes to the private school now there is, in all likelihood, no guarantee of her progressing to their senior school unless she is meeting their academic standards. No independent school near us guarantees progression from junior to senior; some will get their own junior school candidates to sit the same assessments as external candidates. In many if not all cases, and certainly if a school is immensely academic, if a child doesn't meet 11+ standards they will be asked to leave anyway.

Just another thing for you to think about.

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:17:48

Hi Hairylegs007. You are quite right about the commute time for me, 2 hours a day seems a lot.

We are not native English speakers so I am a bit worried about my ability of tutoring DD's English at home, especially speaking and writing. The way we speak and write is indeed quite different from the native.

One of DD's classmates lives in the same town, even closer to the state school than our house. So they would have no doubts of getting a place from the state school. I am not sure if they ever applied or turned the offer down but quite interested in their reasons of doing that.

MMmomKK Thu 09-Jul-15 13:20:15

If money in not the decisive factor - then I'd find it difficult to choose a larger class size and all the other bells and whistles that come with private schools. Especially if you might move to the London area and have your eye on the top private schools there.

20-30 min is not a very long commute. And, while a larger playground is nice, it shouldn't be a decisive factor.

Dd1 was also rather quiet in her nursery. A private girls only school with a small class really did wonders for her confidence. I have no doubt that she would have been lost in a large class with boisterous boys around. Teacher just would not have had enough time to give her a chance to gain enough confidence to speak up.

Dd2 on the other hand, could have been Ok in co-ed. But the class size and great enrichment program in our school is hard to beat.

As to the boys - it does take effort to see them. We make sure we socialise with friends children and do extra activities. From what I've seen, primary school boys/girls don't mix that much in any case - they play separately.

MMmomKK Thu 09-Jul-15 13:21:15

...choose the large size and GIVE UP bells and whistles...

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:29:05

Hi dietcokeandwine. I won't worry about DD's ability of meeting the standards of transferring to senior school internally as most of girls will do. DD is bright and I think she will be at least average in her class, especially if she has a good start in the private school from Reception.

But if she goes to the state, situation is different. I am worried if she falls in the middle range, not much attention will be given by the teacher due to the class size, and she may not be stretched enough to achieve her full potential. Competition at 11+ with other top performing children from all other schools will be much tougher at that time.

softhedgehog Thu 09-Jul-15 13:29:34

No independent school near us guarantees progression from junior to senior

yes, but in schools that go from 4-18 the vast majority go through at 11 (95+%) and those that are unlikely to are warned from about year 4. My kids are in private from primary partly to avoid the bunfight at 11. But I moved my daughter from a school with similar class sizes to the one you mention - it all sounded great but was actually a bit too small regarding friendship groups etc.

Wouldn't worry about single sex , just make sure she interacts with boys outside school! for example my daughter does Beavers, not Brownies etc

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:34:36

Hi MMmomKK. It seems you are suggesting the private school in the first post, but in the later you said to choose the state. Did I misunderstand something?

LibrariesGaveUsPower Thu 09-Jul-15 13:39:37

Her second post was correcting a typo, not changing the answer.smile

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:47:57

Why isn't there an editing function in this forum? I have to check very carefully every time before posting out.

LibrariesGaveUsPower Thu 09-Jul-15 13:50:48

Because conversations can quite quickly become incoherent if people edit what they've said. Particularly if they are pulled up on bollocks in a more contentious thread. smile

MMmomKK Thu 09-Jul-15 14:02:49

Yes - I was correcting, lol!

Choosing a right school is hard, but keep in mind that none of these choices are permanent. People change their minds, kids change, etc. There is a lot of movement between schools.

You can always give state school a chance and move to the private one later. It is not impossible, and works well for many. Or it can be a struggle to prepare for 11+. No one can predict how it would work out for your specific child.

We were lucky enough not to have money as a decisive factor, so chose the best school that we thought would fit our daughters. For us it meant private - we live near a couple of "academic" girls schools with great results. And our choice of state schools is really limited.

mandy214 Thu 09-Jul-15 14:20:53

Most prep (private schools) have an intake at reception and at Year 3 (what is effectively the end of "infants" and the start of "juniors"). In your situation, I would be tempted to go to the local state school for Reception, Year 1 and 2 - where learning is really all about play, developing a love of learning, focusing on being a social, confident child, and then switch to Private at Year 3 for the smaller class sizes.

FWIW, my children are at an outstanding state primary, it was 2nd in the league tables for the whole country last year and I don't think the "middle" children slip under the radar. I think, actually, they probably get more attention then some of the other children and they are motivated to press on to catch the more able pupils. Certainly my children have been streamed into same-ability groups since Reception. There is lots of opportunity for progression (i.e. if you get spellings right for X consecutive weeks, you move up a group) so its just a question of visiting each school and seeing which you feel comfortable with. There are obvious differences (such as class size) but its not necessarily as easy to differentiate.

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 14:22:28

Does the performance of a state school tend to fluctuate more than a long established private school? I see a few previous outstanding state schools goes down rapidly after change of head teacher. Will private school tend to be more stable in such situation due to more stronger governance and support from the wider organisation they are in, e.g. Girls's day school trust. As I find the private school do change heads once a few years but the performance seems quite stable, whilst the state school grew rapidly in the recent 3 years due to a very good head teacher being appointed.

fiercebadrabbit Thu 09-Jul-15 14:27:15

Go for state, co-ed, closer, nicer playground. All very important factors in early years. It's an excellent school, her academics will be fine. She will also meet a broader range of children and, from my own experience, that's very important as the range of children at private schools is becoming narrower and narrower

LibrariesGaveUsPower Thu 09-Jul-15 14:40:22

Have you been to visit the schools OP. How did you feel about them?

TBH, being a top ranked, outstanding, brilliant SATs school doesn't tell you all that much. The school like that round by me is a very unhappy place.

You do need the broader picture.

MMmomKK Thu 09-Jul-15 14:41:27

Some state schools do tend to switch ranking, and I wonder if it is also a function of how Ofsted measures them.

My sister in law is a teacher at a state scho and, according to her, Ofstead is really heavy on the amount of paperwork teachers need to constantly fill out. If they slip up - rating may suffer.

Private school teachers don't have to deal with it. Their reputation can also change, but in my experience it takes longer. They do appear more stable on that dimension. And if yours is part of GDST - then it's even better, especially if you move to London and pick another GDST school there - I think there are some cross-over benefits?

Last note - maybe at a state school playing is the main focus on YR-Y1&2, it is certainly not the case in private sector, certainly not in academic school beyond Reception.

And even then - this year in YR, Dd2 had no-weekly extension sessions with a reading specialist to work on her comprehension as she is reading at Y2 level. They also worked with 2-3 kids on their math - adding double digit numbers and simple multiplication/division. And they also did play.

MMmomKK Thu 09-Jul-15 14:42:23

"Private school's reputation"...may change

LibrariesGaveUsPower Thu 09-Jul-15 15:41:41

Yes. ofsted is heavy on the paperwork. A good school can easily be ''better ' in the main ways that matter than an outstanding one. Likewise some schools with great sats focus on the marginal kids and teach to the test.

I would definitely try and find out why your friends ruled out that state school.

MyOneandYoni Thu 09-Jul-15 15:50:21

Go state.
Save the money and the time.
Spend spare cash on music lessons and Mandarin.

qiuyifan2000 Thu 09-Jul-15 16:21:43

I did visited both schools more than once, and they are both lovely but in different aspects.

Private school has better facilities: nice junior library, indoor sports hall, music room, beautiful dining hall. As it attaches to the senior school, children may have access to more facilities there but I am not sure to what extent. The only downside is the school is very compact and lack of out door play field. They have dedicated playground for Reception, shared small playground for year 1-3, and another one for year 4-6. To be honest, that's not too bad, as another smaller private schools in my area has only 1 small hard-play for the whole school. But in comparison with the state primary, it lacks of a large green play field, that's it. The state school just feels more airy throughout. But the state school has no library, no music room, no PC room ( laptop on trolley), one Hall hosting all PE lessons, lunch, performance etc.

In terms if curriculum, private school has more emphasis on sports and music, like most of other private schools do. It has 3 PE lessons each week ( 1 per week at state), music lessons not sure how often, but twice a week use of library to read plus weekly reading books to take home, which doesn't seem to be as structured in state school. And a rotation of Spanish and French taught each term. Specialist teachers from senior school regularly come to junior school, in contrast, ONE teacher doing all subject through the whole 7-year education at state primary. But as mentioned before, the state school still delivers an impressive SATs results, especially being no-selective whilst the private one is a selective school. So I am quite confused how well a SATs result can really tell a student's academic ability?

Then come down to people. Children at state school seems happy and polite, will say hello to the head teacher whenever see him. Teachers look very happy, nice and helpful. Majority pupils are white British and it's a Church of England school.

Girls in the private school are also very well behaved and the whole school is very quite during school days. Teachers are polite but feels not as down to earth as those in state primary. Percentage of white pupil is between 50-70% with majority of the rest from Middle East. DD will be the only Asian in her class while there are 3 in the state this year. Parents may feel easier to get close to in the private school, maybe because we are all ethic minorities, or more parents are professionally educated?

LibrariesGaveUsPower Thu 09-Jul-15 16:26:57

Just a random point, but schools often intentionality have no computer room and think a computer room old fashioned. The idea is that laptops allow ict to be more integrated rather than stand alone.smile

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