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Private primary schools - advice for admissions

(44 Posts)
PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 13:15:36

We're booked to go looking round our local private primary for DD who'll start in September 2017. I understand she'll have to take a test to gain admission. Has anyone had experience of this, or sending their child to private school in general? I'm in two minds as our area has excellent primary schools and I'm torn between saving money and just sending her for secondary school, and thinking it may actually be worth the money as she'll stay with friends from early on? Is there a real difference in the education they receive?

AdaLovelacesCat Sat 24-Sep-16 13:22:06

" Is there a real difference in the education they receive?"
probably the state school is better at this stage, but at private at least they wont have to mix with poor people or those with learning difficulties, eh?
I think that is the point of the fee and the entrance test isnt it?
Waht if your dd turns out to be dsylexic?

PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 13:26:10

Well I did wonder how long it would be before I got flamed. 1 post, yay hmm

If she was dyslexic they would support her I imagine, like any school would.

I was more looking for people who had experience of sending their kids to both at some point and if there was any discernible (sp?) difference in the quality of education, rather than sneery attitudes and assumptions i don't want her mixing with 'poor people'. But thanks anyway for that wild generalisation 👍🏽

DragonitesRule Sat 24-Sep-16 13:26:40

I think there's no need for that Ada...

I think that if your local primary schools are excellent then I'd go with an open mind and view all the schools and plump for the one you feel is the best fit for your daughter.

My children have all gone to our good (though not yet outstanding) local primary and are enjoying their time there, which is the main thing. My daughter just went up to senior school with all her friends...there is a lot to be said for going to your local school and having local friends and no commute IMO

AdaLovelacesCat Sat 24-Sep-16 13:28:03

I apologise for that, I probably have a chip on my shoulder.

OP just choose the one with the best atmosphere when you visit, state or private.

DragonitesRule Sat 24-Sep-16 13:28:35

And we did look at private schools but felt that their school was the best fit for them. We did the same for secondary schools, but are fortunate to live in catchment of a local outstanding high school

HeadDreamer Sat 24-Sep-16 13:31:04

Where I live it has outstanding primaries and a outstanding comprehensive. I still know plenty who send their children private. Some has moved from state to private in primary and they say private is better. Mainly citing the support and attention they get from a smaller class. Why not visit them and see?

Biscuitsneeded Sat 24-Sep-16 13:31:42

Ada, that's a bit aggressive! I wouldn't send mine private either, for my own reasons, but I wouldn't be so narrow-minded as to assume that everybody who did was doing it to avoid their child mixing with poor people!
OP, I think you have already answered your own question - "our area has excellent primary schools". Why pay if you don't need to? What your DD would get at private school that she might not at state schools might just be a greater choice of extra-curricular activities like sport, music, drama etc. If you have the money for school fees you can just pay for extra-curricular alongside state primary. It's cheaper and your DD won't be disadvantaged.

HeadDreamer Sat 24-Sep-16 13:32:07

Mine went state btw as we can't afford private. I didn't even go and visit the local private primary.

MistyMeena Sat 24-Sep-16 13:32:52

I am a teacher in state primary and my child goes to private primary. However the only reason for that is because we have very few school that are even good, let alone outstanding in our area. The school I went for is the best one for my child because it is the only good school near me that doesn't prize academic excellence above all else, there is lots of variety to the curriculum. But it depends what you're looking for in an education, of course.

If there is an entrance test for a primary then it's likely that it's quite pushy academically and not all children can cope with that. Private aren't very often great at supporting special needs.

If there's a good state locally I'd go with that, but keep options open and save your money for secondary.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 24-Sep-16 13:34:44

What is it you are looking for?
I choose private as I wanted specialist language teaching early - French from year R and then mandarin as a second language from year 1. Nothing in the state sector could offer this.

PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 13:35:03

Dragon we also are looking round our catchment school and one opposite the nursery she currently attends (but I think her chances are slim as they only admit 13 pupils a year, as it's in a small village). This would be our preferred non-private choice as DC2 will be going to said nursery when they're one.

Her catchment school is near a few new housing developments (900 new houses one one plot) and so is being expanded but won't be completed until 2018, so classes are gonna be a squash for the first year or so. Other than that it's received 'good' Fromm ofsted.

The moving up with friends is what I don't want her to miss out which is making me think of the private school (which is also closer to us than her catchment one funnily enough!) would be a good option. I know come age 11 I won't want her to go anywhere where she knows no one sad but the secondary schools round here are notoriously crap. Gah it's so hard!

Biscuitsneeded Sat 24-Sep-16 13:37:53

BTW I have 2 children in state schools and teach in a private school. It's true the private school has smaller classes. There's also a lovely family atmosphere and lots of opportunities for extra-curricular. But I think my DC benefit more from living in the same catchment as all their friends and being properly part of the community, and I actually prefer larger classes for social reasons. They are getting a good education and have friends of all backgrounds.

BizzyFizzy Sat 24-Sep-16 13:38:26

There's a huge difference between state primary and prep. Massive.

A good state primary will deliver on the National Curriculum for sure, but at prep school there are so many enriching experiences - music with a qualified music teacher, art with an art teacher, sport with qualified specialists. Also a big emphasis on developing social skills.

However, if money is tight, then save it for senior school.

PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 13:40:43

Lone we're fortunate enough to be able to afford private and I guess what we're looking for is that higher quality of education and a good range of extracurricular activities. Hence us looking round a few as they local states may well offer what private can.

What's pushing me is the thought that come age 11 she'll likely want to move up with friends to secondary. Which I she's in private she'd just go to private secondary, but sadly out of about 6 sTate secondaries in our area, 3 I think are in special measures with longstanding issues and the other have only just been rated 'good' by Ofsted. I know there's 8 years for this to change though it it is off putting when all I read in local news is about how bad the schools are confused

Kennington Sat 24-Sep-16 13:42:48

For me the biggest difference is the class size. Content seems pretty much the same.
At our prep they are a stickler for rules but I assume the same is the case at most state schools anyway.
The thing I noticed the most was that v few mums work FT so I do feel bad for that difference. My kid does notice she has to go to after school club with a handful of others for her and other years.

biscuitkumquat Sat 24-Sep-16 13:46:03

My DS has been at private school since he was 4 (in Scotland), and just started Senior School.

Local Senior schools where I live really aren't great, so I made the decision to send him from P1, so he would go all the way through his schooling at the same school.

The entrance test is simply to see if there are any glaring difficulties that they may need to be aware of before they start, and also if the age dictates that they may be able to defer for a year, whether that would be appropriate.

I don't have any experience of local primary schools, but DS flourished, in P1, there was only 12 in his class, and because his school goes all the way up to age 18, they were able to access teachers from Senior School for specialist subjects. There was so many extra-curricular activities & he found a few that he absolutely loved.

Our NDN is the same age as my DS & goes to the local primary school, and he & his friends seem to be less mature than my DS & his friends from school, and he had a really hard time transitioning up to Senior school, however my DS found it really easy as there was really no change at all (same building, same uniform, same friends, same timetabled subjects)

There is a huge mixture of children, because by law, they have to offer scholarships.

In DS's class there was one dyslexic girl, and one boy with autism, because of the small class sizes & availability of teaching staff, essentially had one on one teaching for the first 4 years.

However, all of the "extras" really do add up. Uniform is very specific & not cheap (£25 for shorts/trousers, £60 for a tracksuit), and they have to have specific kit for different sports (rugby, hocket, cricket), plus stationery & books.

I wouldn't change the decision I made, but I may have made a different decision if the local Senior School was better.

whatsagoodusername Sat 24-Sep-16 13:52:27

If you're worried about carrying on with friends at secondary school, ask the private school where their children go on to.

My DC are at a (non-selective) prep school. Over the last few years, a third go to private secondary, a third to grammar schools, a third to local comprehensives. So there may be an option to stay with friends and not have to go private later.

BizzyFizzy Sat 24-Sep-16 13:53:50

You are absolutely right to take a long-term view. It sounds like you are leaning towards a senior independent school for your DD.

The vast majority of senior schools have a substantial intake from the state sector, especially if they don't have their own junior school. They are well aware of the type of education children have had in their feeder schools.

My attitude to choosing schools is that we (mostly) all have some kind of choice. If you have more money, you simply have more choices.

Visit your realistic choices on the Open Days, and get a personal tour from the head teacher on a normal day to see the schools in action.

I have had my children in state and independent primaries, and I have no doubt that independent is by far the better place to be, and this has nothing to do with mixing or class. It's all to do with personalised learning and enrichment.

PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 13:53:58

That's exactly is Biscuit re the transition to secondary, with the local private it's all the same building and uniform etc. Although if I'm being entirely honest with myself I'm possibly projecting a little. When I went from primary to secondary I only knew 1 person there and had an extremely difficult couple of years transtitioning, come third year I was fine but I knocked my confidence for six!

PinkyOfPie Sat 24-Sep-16 14:01:14

Visit your realistic choices on the Open Days, and get a personal tour from the head teacher on a normal day to see the schools in action.

To add a little light relief to the thread im a tad worried about this as the private school deputy head lives across the road (didn't realise who he was until someone told me the other day) and it wasn't long ago that I shouted at him about parking his caravan on my front lawn then put in a complaint to the developer people, who made him move it confused hope he isn't showing us round! If he is - should I opt for a black wig or brunette wig?! grin

BizzyFizzy Sat 24-Sep-16 14:02:00

In an all-through school th transition from junior to senior will be very gradual.

They will get used to moving around school for specialist subjects, eg Science, Music and Art.

They will probably take part in house activities.

They will have some assemblies together.

Senior girls will help out at playtime and prep.

They may be able to get involved in senior activities after school.

biscuitkumquat Sat 24-Sep-16 14:04:40

It's difficult to know at 4 years old whether your children will have a difficult move into Senior School.

I was the same as you Pinky and had a really hard couple of years, and I really didn't want DS to go through that. As it is, he is full of confidence, and probably wouldn't have had a problem. But, he knows the way the school works, having already been there for 7 years, so he is very aware of what is acceptable & what's not. They are very, very strict, but he doesn't know any different & just assumes that's the way all schools work. There also hasn't been the inevitable jockeying for position that usually happens when children move into Senior school, because friendship groups & pecking orders have already been established.

The other thing to be aware of is that, in DS' case, his school is the only independent school locally, so sometimes sleepovers & spending time with classmates can involve an hour long journey there & back.

I was very wary of DS not knowing any of the local children, so DS plays football & rugby for the local team.

BizzyFizzy Sat 24-Sep-16 14:25:02

The vast majority of children make a smooth transition to senior school. They are more than ready for it. I think this is a worry you leave until Year 6.

In primary schools, where the majority of children go to one, or perhaps two, secondary schools, they will have some kind of induction programme. In prep schools, where children head in all sorts of directions, they will also know what they are getting into (the job of the prep school is to prepare them for their next school).

For example, when my boys moved from prep to senior, the policy of the senior school was to put those from the same prep school in 2s and 3s in their new forms. Singles were matched up with other singles. This was a school that was five forms from Y7 and seven forms once the CE students were added in. All the Y7/8 students were mixed up for Y9 so there was an element of newness for everyone.

Prep/Primary and Senior/Secondary are really tuned in to the pastoral needs of their students as they transition. Moving up is usually a celebration.

The other place where they can keep local friends is in outside groups. I know when I moved from state to independent in primary, I still went to Brownies and then Guides. I still have those friends, albeit on Facebook. My DS played football in a local team until he went to Uni. All my DCs have friends in their church groups.

Within prep schools, children do make friends and keep them. It is not only primary school children that have friends.

GrumpusLumpus Sat 24-Sep-16 15:54:10

I think if you intend to go private at secondary and the private prep is good (not all are!) then go for it. Private at primary in broad terms offers smaller classes and more individualised attention. It can do away with the invisible middle kid issue. We have experienced both state and private and the huge bonus of small classes is that every kid gets far more chances to star in a play/play on team/public speaking etc. In the prep the teacher/TA listens to them read nearly every day whereas in state it was weekly. The other upside of going private is the lack of SATS and not having to deal with all the joys that come with adhering to the current governments ideas of standards. The best part of state for us was being a part of the community and having friends be very close. But you can still stay involved it just takes more effort.

The assessments vary quite a bit from top London school assessments for which parents have been known to tutor for the 3/4+ to those which are simply looking for early signs of SEN that the school isn't equipped to handle or extreme behaviour problems. That said some privates can cope quite well with more mild SEN. Our son is in a prep and has HFA. They have done brilliantly for him.

I wouldn't choose a prep that's too small that it might have financial problems or that the class size is under 12 personally.

Our local state secondary schools are fanstastic and we will look again when it comes time to transfer. I'd pick the right school for your child now rather than trying to project forward what they will need in 8 years.

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