Different private schools for two brothers

(27 Posts)
KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 16:15:21

Hi. I have two boys one year apart ( R and Y1) - one is very focused and the other struggles with his attention, always taking an easy route and pretending to be a clown. The first of got an offer from Stephen Perse in Cambridge and the other did not pass their test. The school offers us to bring him in again for a second assessment. I was working with my less academically gifted son for a several months now doing math and reading and perhaps he can past a test (not 100% thought). Here is my dilemma - on one hand I can have both brothers in one school who can support each other in a new environment and will foster further their close relationship. It will also make my life much easier with all the school runs, teachers meetings, other parents, parties etc. On the other hand one will fit well in academically competitive school while the other most likely will be at the bottom of the class. This can shatter his confidence but may be they will put him above what he will be achieving in a regular school.Any thoughts? Similar stories to share of a differently gifted siblings?

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MMmomDD Mon 04-Mar-19 16:26:55

Look - they are still very young kids. And it’s great that one is obviously academic at an early age.
Don’t write off the younger one just yet. He may mature later. He may be just as smart, but is a different personality. Often first kids are more obidient and focused on rules, while next ones use ‘clowning up’ as a way to differentiate and get attention.

You lose nothing by sitting the entrance test. If he passes - why not try and see how it goes. At that early age - bottom of the class isn’t really a thing. There is a lot of growing up between today and the end of primary. Kids change so so much.

KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 16:33:52

Thank you, so much! This is a very valid point of view. It is actually the middle one ( 6 y.o.) who is using all technics available to avoid doing any work that requires effort (math, reading). He is just saying that it is boring. He can "shape up" if I insist but his attention span is fairly short. While the 4 y.o. is weird - he like learning and enjoys mental challenge.
A year ago the older one wanted to be a dinosaur and the younger to become a doctor. Here you go... Just to be fair to the older one he has very impressive vocabulary and imagination.You are right things may change...

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MollyHuaCha Mon 04-Mar-19 16:35:46

At one point I had three DCs at different independent schools.

It worked out fine almost all of the time and gave each a chance just to be themselves, not somebody else's sibling.

Go for it.

Neolara Mon 04-Mar-19 16:40:15

Don't The Perse kick out kids who are struggling? I wouldn't want to put any child of mine through that. Also, how focused or academic a kid is at aged 4 or 5 can bear absolutely no relation to how how well they do later on in their school career. My Dc1 was the doziest kid imaginable in reception / year 1. In the bottom groups for everything. She didn't learn to read until year 2. Now she's in Year 10 and is doing spectacularly well academically (academic prizes, selected for academic competitions, national prize for something, predicted all top gcse grades etc). She would totally have been rejected by all the private schools at age 4.

KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 16:54:28

Thank you for that. My daughter was rejected by one of the selective and academically driven schools and now at 14 she is in another top school doing very well.
The problem is that while our boys' current school (private as well) has low ratio of kids per teacher and very friendly, kids focused environment it lags behind on math compare to all more academically selective schools. I do math and reading with both of my sons nearly every day just to keep them at the reasonable level. So while the environment in their current school is good they will not learn much where they are now. Also since the school is not selective there is a large proportion of lovely but academically challenged kids. So my choices are - move one "smart" kid to a more selective school and keep the other where he can play and get crazy. Or I can move them both to the same school that will probably be a challenge to the less academic boy.

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KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 17:00:18

MollyHuaCha, thank you for your message! I am leaning towards the decision of letting them be in the environment each of them will thrive the best according to their talents. Was it a struggle to be at two different sports day, nativity plays etc?
It is a separate discussion but I find that schools expect quite a lot from parents who are often both working.

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QuietlyQuaffing Mon 04-Mar-19 20:36:48

Being able to select the best fit for your child is surely one of the upsides of private school.

The tricky bit is figuring out what "best" means for that child. It's not at all obvious to me that the best school for my children is the most academic one I can find. But lots of people - perhaps especially people who send their children to academic, selective private schools - will be of the view that these schools are the best for their children.

dairymilkmonster Mon 04-Mar-19 21:06:23

DS has several boys in his class at other (I.e more selective) local prep schools.

dietcokemegafan Mon 04-Mar-19 21:14:33

Very common in private selective schools to have kids at lots of schools - I know a couple of families with 4 at 4 schools (the logistics are mind boggling.....)

KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 22:33:18

What is your strategy for differently gifted siblings at home? does their current school helps them and how?

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MollyHuaCha Mon 04-Mar-19 23:16:18

We never had a clash of events we couldn't cope with. But there were often different school holidays.

KatherineCam Mon 04-Mar-19 23:30:24

good point about holidays but my daughter is already in a different school and at summer they break a week apart

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Josuk Tue 05-Mar-19 22:53:08

OP - you sound like you pigeonholed your boys already, at the age of 4&6. And decide their academic future based on their performance now.
Not sure it’s quite fair. Or right in any case.

It’s great that the little one is so focused and well performing.
But the middle boy has never been in the environment where learning was structured differently.
If - given your additional tuition at home - he actually passes the entrance test - wouldn’t it be an indication that he has what it takes intellectually, but just isn’t in the right environment to achieve his full potential?

I’d even argue that the clearly academic boy would do well regardless of the environment and the school - as he’ll naturally push himself. And the one who is more easily distracted by the ‘happy school’ and all the playing - will not get the encouragement to really apply himself and get to his full potential.

So - why not let him take the test and then talk to the school again. They’ll see his level, and his personality and can better advise then on how he could get on there.

I just hope you don’t write him off at the age of 6 as a less able and less academic.
So many boys mature into their studies later. But - if he a left behind as the ‘less able’ - that’ll become his identity and self fulfilling prophesy too.

whywhywhy6 Wed 06-Mar-19 02:14:48

They are still babies but pick the school that is right for both of them and send them together. If the "brighter" child is that bright, he will do well anywhere and you can split them for high school, if it is necessary then.

KatherineCam Wed 06-Mar-19 10:34:54

It looks like the opinions here are as polarised as ours. Some say - boys will benefit from being in the same school and only time will tell where their talents are. The others - it is ok to put them into different schools and let them be their "own man".

Josuk, whywhywhy6, I appreciate your time and effort to reply. Just to clarify - my middle son was born less then a month after my father has passed away from cancer. I haven't had a chance to say good-buy as I could no longer fly. My son did not speak until he was 3 y.o. Not a word, even no "mama" or "papa". He was diagnosed with developmental delay of about 1.5 y. We were able to defer him from school by a year. He started Reception at 5.

Since then he improved tremendously and is now reading and doing math in line with Y1 expectations (while being a year older then his peers). He has problems with concentration and being still. He seeks sensory stimuli and likes throwing himself on the ground or rubbing his face against rough sofa fabric. When he plays he likes physical contact (not in the aggressive way). His problems are not bad enough to get him SEN support (last year he was taken off some "early start" support scheme) but he definitely not at the same level of abilities then his younger brother. By ability I am talking about your classic focused and hard working student that every school will love to have on board. The younger son is a pleasure to teach and have no issues with his behaviour (for most of the time). They bothers may well be having the same IQ score but it is no secret that those who can focus for longer and enjoy working hard get ahead in school. Hence my struggle with choosing schools.

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KatherineCam Wed 06-Mar-19 10:46:53

Also, Josuk, while I agree that more "academic" school in theory should provide a more structured environment for my struggling son to learn and therefor increases his chances of success. However I equally worry that since it takes an effort to make him focus on the task he eventually will fall behind his more studious or "brighter" peers.

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HoustonBess Wed 06-Mar-19 10:52:26

Private schools are morally wrong

MollyHuaCha Wed 06-Mar-19 11:09:54

If private schools are morally wrong, then you could say the same about anything else parents pay for to help boost their children: musical instruments and lessons, football coaching, dance classes, swim school, sports equipment, tutoring, healthy diets, nice clothes and of course, buying/renting a home in a catchment area for a good state school or grammar.

Many private schools are businesses (despite the myth, not all have charitable status) and the children who attend are freeing up state school places for other children and not costing the tax payers money.

If all privately educated children were suddenly obliged to enter state schools, the state system could not cope.

KatherineCam Wed 06-Mar-19 11:31:13

I agree with MollyHuaCha. Also, while my two other kids will probably be Ok in the state system my struggling middle son will not. I had numerous visits to our local "very good" state school and talked to teachers and SEN specialist. The reality is that to get any form of extra support for my son he has to "qualify" by having developmental delay of 2 years. So at 5 he suppose to be at the level of 3 y.o. In my opinion these level of delay warrants special needs school and not just a part time support teacher.
However with a delay that is less than 2 years my son would not get help from SEN or support teacher. He would be placed in 30 kids class and if he chooses to stare out of the window it will be his problem. I was told by that school that 25 % of their kids do not reach National Curriculum level but just get moved to the next year nevertheless.

We choose to pay and place our son in a 12 kids classroom where teacher offers him a bean bag to sit on so he has "hugging" feeling to help him with his sensory issues. They have time (not because they are tremendously better that the state teachers) to help him to focus, to stay out of trouble and foster his confidence.

There is no way someone can say that my choice of private school for my son is morally wrong. Me and my husband don't come from money. We both studied really hard, starter working while at university and will make sacrifices to allow our children to get good education. Thus we don't have a car and own a small 15 y.old TV with a cracked screen (thanks to kids).

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Josuk Wed 06-Mar-19 11:38:56

OP - you recent post makes it a very different choice.
Now that you mention previous developmental delay and school year deferral, and other near SEN issues - it’s a different picture.
And in that case - i’d also not be moving him from a school where he is settled.

KatherineCam Wed 06-Mar-19 11:42:38

Btw our taxes go towards state schools but we are not taking up places. If anything we contribute to economy by paying towards private school staff salaries and covering state school expenses.

I am not even sure why I have to explain myself and my life choices that doesn't interfere with anybody else's. The question was only how to deal with differently talented siblings.

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MMmomDD Wed 06-Mar-19 11:56:15


You don’t need to explain your choice of schooling and your use of your money.
I find that people are quite happy to shout - private schools are wrong, etc., while forgetting that they too live quite a privileged life, that we all got by sheer luck of being born in a developed country.

If moral judgements are in - let’s think of morality of us living here, with access (and waste of) nice food, and water, and meds - and think of others who don’t.
Talking about being morally wrong needs to start from looking at yourself. And examining our glass houses.

KatherineCam Wed 06-Mar-19 11:58:12

Thank you, Josuk! We found no cause for my son to have speech and behavioural delay so doctors said that he may well catch up with his peers or may get even further delay. This was a few years back. Now I can see that he is definitely not falling behind and has all the chances to make further progress. We just need to keep supporting him and find the right educational environment for him. At the moment I decided to let him to sit at the exam with slightly more academic school (very slightly) then his current one but with a lot of focus and facilities on art and sport. Even if his lack of focus will limit his academic abilities he will have a chance to express himself through other outlets. However if he will catch up I can always put him in a more academically challenging school from Y7. We also accepted a place at a properly academic school for a younger sibling.
And yes, I feel blessed to be able to have a choice.

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anniehm Wed 06-Mar-19 12:04:00

They are way too young for anyone to say if they are academically gifted - it's ridiculous they are tested not much more that toddlers. However it's perfectly reasonable to have different schools for them if more suitable but be aware of the issues of drop off/pick up, clashes with performances, school hols differences and also different opportunities that may trouble you. Do consider what's best holistically, a normal mixed academically school until at least the end of year 2 allows them to be kids.

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