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Private school vs 'hippy*' cheaper school from reception

(113 Posts)
mrstina Fri 05-Aug-16 08:27:01

*used to convey meaning on a public forum rather than any form of disrespect, I consider myself to have some of these elements in certain aspects of my life

OK, we are unsure of what to do with our child's (now 2 1/2) education from next year.

The options are as above, but if the latter option to move him to that private school prior to 11+, as we have good selective state schools here. Obviously I understand all children are different, not all private schools are good etc. etc.

Is the education at reception really education, or just fun playtime which could be done equally well at the 'hippy' school? Will moving schools be problematic (I moved school aged 7 and it didn't affect me at all).

i.e. is it worth spending lots of money for a prolonged playtime, or does structured stuff give long term benefits?

I'm happy to name schools if allowed and no threat of retaliation etc.

Many thanks for any advice.

BertrandRussell Fri 05-Aug-16 08:29:49

If by "hippy" you mean Steiner, then tread carefully. They are much less hippy than they appear on the surface.

EnquiringMingeWantsToKnow Fri 05-Aug-16 08:34:32

Yes investigate carefully with "alternative" schools - including their finances and size. Mates of mine put their child into a hippy school because they couldn't afford a prep and were scared of state and it folded under them leaving them having to find a new school at very short notice. And what's so bad about state schools? If you don't have money to throw around then most state primaries are absolutely fine. The tutoring you'd do for 11+ would mostly be test specific and done outside school hours anyway.

mrstina Sat 06-Aug-16 08:58:54

Thanks for the responses.

The hippy school is one that seems to be a mixture between a Montessori and Steiner. It uses something called the 'Alexander technique' which is some sort of postural, physiotherapy sort of thing.

The school has been growing.

With regards to a state school, I am concerned my child would fall behind versus the private school in the 'one size fits all'. Both my partner and I work full time.

I'm going to name the schools now so as to avoid these hypothetical discussions: Homefield prep and Educare (Sutton and Kingston respectively).

We know a child from Educare and she seems very intelligent. However, I am beginning to think that perhaps she is an outlier because the mother is part time, very hands on etc.

I got concerned when speaking to the father that this school doesn't really push the children to any significant degree and it seems to be rather self directed (which is perhaps OK for old teenagers IMO, but not little children). He is very much against the 11+ as well unless the child expresses an active wish which amazed me to be honest as I thought she was more than able to get into a selective grammar. He was also of the opinion that it is one school or the other because Educare doesn't fit in well to the mainstream system. Furthermore, the leaving destinations of Educare aren't particularly impressive which again surprised me because I sort of assumed their parents would be thinking much like me.

I was all for Steiner and Montessori based on some academic papers I had read about them being superior to state education (American data), but when I looked at a Steiner in the area that taught up to 18 and looked at the destinations of the students and the cost of the school, I was shocked that parents would pay so much for such poor outcomes.

I guess this response is a bit muddles, but I am thinking aloud here. I appreciate any advice etc.

SisterViktorine Sat 06-Aug-16 09:28:26

I would go for the Prep personally- but getting the right school depends very much on your child.

I chose a very purist Montessori Primary School for my DS at nursery level. I thought it was wonderful (and I'm sure it is for the right child) but it was awful for my DS. He found the expectation to be self directed very stressful. He couldn't naturally 'absorb' the boundaries which he was expected to learn independently, so he constantly over-stepped them. He was biting his fingers so much they bled due to anxiety and they were staring to tell me he had behavioural difficulties. sad

He then went to a very different Prep because we moved house. He had a very 'black and white' Reception teacher who made the boundaries absolutely clear and was not afraid to put him on a sticker chart and tell him off when he got it wrong and he thrived. That teacher had him sorted out in a term and there has never, ever been another mention of ANY sort of behavioural issue. He just really needed the structure.

Your DS may be very different to mine though!

BertrandRussell Sat 06-Aug-16 09:53:39

The Alexandrr Texhnique is a wonderful thing for the right people. But it is not something you build an education round.
But you rather lost me at the state education being "one size fits all" sound bite.

mummytime Sat 06-Aug-16 10:01:53

Actually I think often Private Preps are more "one size fits all" and if it doesn't fit then go somewhere else. I have seen an awful lot of very different children thrive in the state system (and even children transfer into state from Preps).

SocksRock Sat 06-Aug-16 10:02:14

My experience of state education is that is absolutely is not one size fits all. The teachers are expected to differentiate appropriately and show progress for every child, no matter what ability.

HufflepuffsAreCool Sat 06-Aug-16 10:11:04

My 9 year old was in a hippy school until age 7 when she transferred to Prep, she thrived there, but she's always been very independent, kids are expected to just naturally understand things, boundaries aren't very clear but they give the child space to develop and go at their own pace, only reason we moved DD was because the Prep we preferred takes entry at 7 and not any younger, so we knew the hippy school wasn't a long term thing, just a step stoning, we were very happy as they focused on character building and developing well rounded children who questioned the world, music and art were given priority, a top class education wasn't their main goal and that was made clear to us from the start.

sirfredfredgeorge Sat 06-Aug-16 11:53:13

My impression of educare for reception and other early age is that it was mostly used by people who didn't get their kids into the "right" school, rather than people choosing the school as a positive choice.

mrstina Sat 06-Aug-16 20:40:55

'Private schools' are a one size fits one and 'state schools' are a one size fits all.

If you take people from varying backgrounds, abilities, commitment etc., it is a one size fits all approach.

I'm not saying all private schools are good, or all state schools are bad, please be aware of this.

Growingpeopleme Sun 07-Aug-16 09:58:42

Disagree with sirfred, many families now 'choosing' Educare. Our dc was extremely happy at Educare, now at outstanding state and thriving. Educare is amazing at installing deep seated self confidence and curiosity in children and can be more flexible with ability as it is small and child centred. We loved it. Depends what you what the outcome to be iyswim.

sirfredfredgeorge Sun 07-Aug-16 11:06:12

growingpeopleme I can only talk about the five or six kids I know at the Educare mentioned by the OP, all of them were there because they didn't get into the school they wanted locally, either because it wasn't "acceptable" to the parent, or because childcare made it pretty much impossible. Three have already left after getting into other schools via the waiting lists, and they were mostly talking about bullying rather than self confidence and curiosity.

But of course, as I said, my experience is very limited, but I just wanted to give the OP knowledge that at least some of the Kingston educare people were not there through active positive choice.

mrstina Sun 07-Aug-16 12:05:55


Outcome: the potential to get into a state grammar - I accept that tuition is needed (and the child's needs, but note the use of the term potential), but obviously there is a background for which the school is in part responsible.

I guess I want to know will sending child to educare for a few years harm him in this goal. Will he drop behind students from a private prep in academic ability?

teacherwith2kids Sun 07-Aug-16 13:00:46

I think it will depend what the prep school's 'normal' point of transfer is.

A 'traditional' prep school will have a 'normal' point of exit at 13+. This will mean that preparation for the 11+ can be poor, because some such schools actively don't want to lose 2 years' worth of fees from children who leave at 11.

However, some 'private primaries' specialise in 11+ entry, and teach specifically to it from the age of 4 - though individual 11+ coaching is also the norm for their pupils.

I live in a 'partial 11+' area.

There are 'traditional prep' schools, mostly tied to specific senior schools, that cater for the 13+ market. they offer no advantage for the 11+ - in fact, one of their main intakes is at 11, from children who do not pass the 11+ and so will go on to the attached senior school (less academic than the grammars).

There are 'private primaries', who teach to the 11+, and sell themselves on their 11+ success. They actively weed out any pupils who will spoil their success rate - any children with SEN are asked to leave.

there are also good state schools, from which many children pass the 11+ after c. 12 months of specialised 11+ coaching at home or by tutors.

In terms of 'progress in secondary', anecdotally the children from the state schools make the best progress at grammar.

teacherwith2kids Sun 07-Aug-16 13:05:25

It sounds to me as if decent state primary followed by transfer to the prep at 7+ would be fine for you, as tbh the difference between a decent state and many preps is very minor at KS1 (preps are often more formal in their initial approach, but the outcome by 7 is very similar).

The Educare option sounds to me as if it would only be a fallback position if your local state option was exceptionally poor - or perhaps if you needed longer hours of childcare, as some private primaries do have longer hours - state schools may have attached after school clubs, but they are not a 'given'

mrstina Sun 07-Aug-16 13:39:43

The prep school I'm considering caters for state grammars and they lose 25% to them.

mrstina Sun 07-Aug-16 13:49:13

How are you measuring outcomes because I haven't found anyway of measuring outcomes between private and state primaries.

Looking at my local state primaries (and they seem to only have a catchment areas of about 500 metres), I am concerned about the high levels of children who do not have English as a primary language.

NobodyInParticular Sun 07-Aug-16 14:07:01

I don't know these specific schools, but I think if you want to do 11+ then pick the Prep school which caters for 11+, not the hippy one. I don't think you can expect the 'hippy' school to give the same level of Prep for 11+. I guess if you might want to change from to the Prep school at 7+ you'll have to think a lot abut availability and competition of places, and if Your area is like other bits of SW London then I think it will be hard especially with a really solid academic grounding as some other kids will have.

Also, I'm very suspicious of the Steiner philosophy, though it sounds as though the 'hippy' school is not very Steiner.

plimsolls Sun 07-Aug-16 14:13:48

Children who do not have English as a "primary language" are not necessarily a problem! Bilingual children are very skilled. Don't conflate children who have a home language plus English with children who can't speak English.

I work v extensively with children in schools (psychologist) and very rarely see any issues arising from multilingualism, and particularly not for the other children in the class!

Also, in my experience, state schools tend to be less "one size fits all" than prep schools. But varies from school to school, obviously.

plimsolls Sun 07-Aug-16 14:16:08

Sorry: badly worded. Children who don't have English as a primary language are usually fluent/nearly fluent in English as well as their home language(s).

Even the minority of children who start school not having much English pick it up quickly enough. It should not be anything for you to be concerned about.

teacherwith2kids Sun 07-Aug-16 14:31:49

%EAL, as a single indicator, is not useful in judging a school - partly because it is actually White British boys who are a (relatively) underperforming group in state schools, rather than those from other ethnic groups.

There is also, IME, a significant difference between schools where there is a very high % of a single EAL group, where that group's language may become the 'language of the playground' and those where the % of EAL may be very high but the countries and languages of origin are highly varied.

The only time where I would consider EAL a factor is where a large number of children arrive with no English at e.g. Year 5 or Year 6. A high % EAL where most start in Reception and then pass through the whole school is likely to be, on balance, an advantage (because of the aforesaid comment about which ethnic groups underperform, as well as the fact that in many cultures, education is in fact much more highly valued than it is in White British families) rather than a disadvantage.

teacherwith2kids Sun 07-Aug-16 14:39:58

Plisolls, i would also absolutely agree with the 'one size fits all' mentaility of prep schools.

Of course, in mrstina's case, it may be that the 'one size' is not a problem, because it is that 'one size' - formal academic education with specific coaching towards a highly selective exam - that she wishes to purchase.

However in state schools, that particular 'size' is not the only one that they need to cater for - SEN, very bright, EAL, gifted in creative arts, dyslexic, dyscalculic, neglected, very rich, very poor, refugee, physically abused, middle of the academic road, very practically minded, ASD, sporty - and thus IME the education provided is much more flexible / adaptive to the individual, because it has to be. For the OP, who wants a particular size, the state school may seem to be less suitable because it does not devote all its resources to the particular size she is interested in, and she cannot see that its very flexibility and inclusivity might actually give her child a better start

teacherwith2kids Sun 07-Aug-16 14:41:41

Sorry, posted too soon - and of course it might not give her child a better start simply because of its wider remit.

i would say, however, that my own children, at 2.5, where not as they turned out to be at 11, and the peaks and troughs in between did require a significant level of flexibility!

TortoiseVTurtle Sun 07-Aug-16 14:45:54

Has anyone who makes these sweeping generalisations ever used both sectors?

I have, three DC, seven different schools between them. It depends on the school, not whether it's private or state.

My youngest has quite severe ASD, we tried three state primary schools, she was bullied and not looked after by the teachers, she was often told to stand against the wall at her last school.
It was the private sector who turned things around and catered to her needs.

I am sure that the reverse could be said for other situations, all schools are so different.

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