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Can you help us decide between two Outstanding local schools

(63 Posts)
jewelinthecrown14 Fri 22-Apr-16 09:03:53

Dear Fellow Mumsnetters,

This is my first posting. Please can you help chose between the two excellent choices for our confident, bright and chatty little boy (only child):

Thank you reading this long post, but felt right to share as much information as we can.

School A:
1. Outstanding private co-ed from 4 to 11
2. 20 pupil intake, nurturing and almost bespoke education
3. Under 10 min walk from home
4. Sends to top preps at 11+, but welcomes a full range of abilities

1. Very limited outside space
2. Cost
3. Girl top heavy in latter years

Other points
1. He "won" a place in assessment (300+ applicants for 20 seats)
2. Our target schools are v. selective preps at 11+ (or possibly even 8+)

School B:
1. Outstanding CoFE primary, top 3 in an affluent London borough
2. Free
3. 30 pupil intake, but regarded as a small village school (in London)
4. About a 10 min walk from home
5. Lovely open facilities
6. Sends 30% to 50% to independent preps at 11
7. Strong music, french and good extracurriculars for a state school

1. Does not appear to send to very selective preps at 11, mainly Tier 2/3
3. Understandably, only does "lip service" to the 11+
4. Prior parents said their artistic child was not stretched (etc etc)

Other points
1. We got the place in the non-Faith / Open category
2. Education no.1 priority for us, vs holidays, large house etc
3. We are not native British, but have been in the local area for 20+ years

tobysmum77 Fri 22-Apr-16 09:19:37

My personal opinion is that targetting a 4 year old towards 11+ is just odd. I get that your child seems bright but that doesn't mean that an academically pushy environment is right for them either now or in the future. I would choose school B as a result and let the child develop at their own rate.

I think though that if you think I'm wrong you should go with your own gut feeling which something tells me is school A.

ChessieFL Fri 22-Apr-16 09:21:42

What tobysmum said.

newmummycwharf1 Fri 22-Apr-16 09:29:17

Those are great options to have and we hope to be in the exact position next year. End of day, I think it would depend on the fit for your child now. In my view, it is fair to aspire and plan for your child and as you say Option A would provide a bespoke education, that may be a better option. Such that if he was academically able and enabled by his school and home environment, he would attain places at the top schools you desire. If you feel Option B would provide the same, then I would go with that instead. At the end of the day, I believe our job as parents is to provide the most enabling environment for our kids - private or state. May I ask what area you are in? We currently live in canary wharf but are looking to move to an area in London that affords us great state and private options

Gazelda Fri 22-Apr-16 09:30:16

Bearing your priorities in mind, choice A seems to reflect your educational aspirations better.

Personally, I'd choose B as it still offers An outstanding education, coupled with less pressure and more open play spAce.

newmummycwharf1 Fri 22-Apr-16 09:34:46

Also, if it turns out your kid is not very academic then it sounds like both schools will serve your child well. What we have heard from speaking to parents is the difficulties that can occur when your child is more in the middle. So I would always go for a setting where they are given as much individualised teaching as is practical.

marmaladegranny Fri 22-Apr-16 09:46:19

My advice is always to go with your gut feeling and, from your post that sounds like A, although in your place I would opt for B to allow your son more opportunity to develop into his own person.

It is very easy for parents to load all the aspirations on to the shoulders of an only child. This can become almost an unbearable burden on an only child as they can feel the need to achieve at everything to please their parents. If there are siblings those aspirations can be shared. I speak as an only child who was expected to achieve.....

Chewbecca Fri 22-Apr-16 09:52:05

A with a view to moving to the preferred prep at 8+ (or 10+?).

Your presentation of the pros/cons shows a clear preference to school A & it is a better fit with your aspirations.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Apr-16 10:26:59

I feel that there is a point in school choice where 'fits with our values' ends up being a deciding factor, rather than the 'quality' of the school per se - and in your case, you have reached that point.

Like marmaladegranny, I would always go with School B, or very possibly a School C that isn't on your list, because my personal and family values would make school B a better fit for me.

However, it is clear from your description that your values fit better with school A. Thus I suspect if you DID go for school B, you would always be questioning exactly what it is doing, how it is extending your child, is it doing enough - not because the school WOULDN'T be doing enough, but because the school doesn't suit quite comfortably with your values and thus you would be much less trusting of it.

(In our area we have a great comprehensive, and rather second rate private schools. However, there are a variety of families who actively choose the private schools simply because they fit their values, experience and expectations of 'what school is like' better - and while i don't follow their example, I can see why for particular families that IS an over-riding factor)

ReallyTired Fri 22-Apr-16 10:30:37

I think that school B topped up with a tutor in later years would achieve your aims and provide a happier childhood.

jewelinthecrown14 Fri 22-Apr-16 10:54:16

Thanks for all your answers.
I personally don't want to pressurise my son but the environment in London seems very competitive and I want him to be able to achieve his best (rather than compete with others) At the same time I don't want to have any regrets later for not giving him the opportunity to achieve his best.
My gut feeling is that he will enjoy the open spaces of the state school and as he grows I feel the limited open spaces of the private school might make him frustrated. And as ReallyTired says I could top up School B with a tutor. I've heard that even with a private school, children still need to be tutored for the secondary entrance exams.
Hoping to decide by today, so please keep the posts coming....

mummytime Fri 22-Apr-16 10:57:07

I'd go for school B - see how your child develops. Then top up with tutors, extra sport etc. as he gets older. Are you thinking of Boarding Prep at 11+/8+?

It does sound like a lot of boys from A move on, maybe to better Preps, and maybe because of the lack of outdoor space. You may well have to "top up" sport here anyway.

State schools have a huge advantage in that they teach you to get on with a cross section of society - which is something you will have to do as an adult anyway.

Crouchendmumoftwo Fri 22-Apr-16 12:46:17

Just putting my penny in here as the mother of a bright 7 year old boy. I'd really go for open spaces and extra clubs. My son though very bright has so much energy and is very sporty and the thing he loves most about his school is playing football and other games during break times! Also sports clubs after school. Playing is extreemly important and it is over these games that he bonds with other boys and forms friendships. You cannot underestimate how important that is in terms of socialisation and becoming a fully rounded happy young man.

mummytime Fri 22-Apr-16 15:23:18

Oh one thing - I am surprised that school B sends so many pupils to "Prep" schools. You are using Prep in the English meaning - that is a school which prepares for private (maybe Public) school - normally 7-13 (can be 3,4 or 5 to 11). Not the US meaning of preparing for college so normally 13-18?

I wouldn't be surprised at a state school sending a high percentage to Independent secondary schools, but just to Prep schools I would be - if only because most girls schools start at 11, and most Prep schools only have the odd place at 11.

wangxiaosara Sat 23-Apr-16 07:51:07

Personally I would choose school A if money is not a issue.

ReallyTired Sat 23-Apr-16 08:07:36

Wang why us private automatically better? Surely if you have lots of money then it's possible to get a good education and lots of space. London state schools are some of the best in country and this one is on the top three.

Itsjansoon Sat 23-Apr-16 09:46:12

Jewelincrown....I have private messaged you please check.

LIZS Sat 23-Apr-16 09:49:52

B with a view to moving at 7/8/11+ . You've no idea at 4/5 what will suit later on. Go for what suits him best as he is now.

blearynweary Sat 23-Apr-16 10:44:45

Definitely B. Open spaces and free. Get a tutor.

If I had a ds the fact that it is top heavy with girls would put me off school A.

SquirmOfEels Sat 23-Apr-16 10:54:35

Start at the state school, and consider moving to the private one at either 7+ or 8+ depending on how it goes.

As the private school you like at the moment is girl heavy towards the top, they'd probably welcome a boy joining. But by the time your DS is 7ish you'll have a clearer idea of what sort of school might suit in the longer run and might find your plans change again.

teacherwith2kids Sat 23-Apr-16 11:30:20

Coming back to this to say that I think it depends on the main intake points of the 'next step' school you are looking at.

If the 'next step' school has its main intake at 11+, then School A would 'match' that, as it is the normal exit point [and cynically, they won't miss out on any fees], and one that they will gear e.g. their curriculum, test preparation etc towards.

If on the other hand, the main intake of your preferred 'next step' school is at 7 or 8, it is possible that School A might be less 'unequivocally helpful and ambitious' in preparing for it, as you are taking a child away from them mid-career. In such a case, School B + tutoring might be a better way forward.

Some relatives had this experience they entered a child into a 'to 11' private school, intending to transfer to a 'big name' prep at 7+. as the school didn't particularly WANT children leaving at 7+, the amount of support in 7+ choice / preparation was very limited, and the child failed. Roll forward to 11+, the school threw everything at exam prep for several terms, and the child managed to get into the same prep as an 11+ entrant, because there is a significant intake then. Had the 7+ intake been the 'main entry point', with 11+ only being minor and for exceptional / state educated children, I suspect that this child would have failed then again.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Sat 23-Apr-16 16:33:57

Have you visited both schools and got a feel for which would best suit your child? I think that's he crucial factor in deciding on a school.

Galena Sat 23-Apr-16 17:14:38

Go for A. That frees up a space in an Outstanding school for a child who can't afford private education.

coffeecakemum Sat 23-Apr-16 22:32:16


Have you made a decision? We are in a almost similar situation in West London. Have got a place in a good state school and also offered a place in private school (with assessments) Both 10 mins away. We have to decide by tomorrow. Good luck!

Karoleann Sat 23-Apr-16 23:34:52

Def A if you can afford it and then move at 7+. Boys need space (which is probably why its girl heavy at later years).
We did state school for DS reception and year 1 and then moved to independent in the 'burbs' which is less academic by far than London, but we could still see where our money had been spent.

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