Moving State to private in Y1

(31 Posts)
Frozen682669 Thu 11-Apr-19 00:59:22

Hi there, have name changed for this. Looking for some thoughts on our current situation.

DS is currently in Reception in an Outstanding State school. School is lovely, close by and has a great community feel. School generally does very well academically although it has suffered from cuts in funding recently which has made itself felt. Despite this, I think the school will still do very well. My point is, I think it's a great school that does really well with what it has.

However, we've recently been exploring moving our DS to a private school also nearby. Main reason is that we don't feel he's reaching his full potential at school. We think this is down to him being in a class of 30 and they simply can't give him the attention he needs. He's behind where he should be but not enough for him to need any additional support or attention in class. Instead, I've been asked to provide more support at home with reading and numeracy etc. E.g. he only gets a few minutes each week to read with a TA and his reading record usually tells me he's read one or two pages max, which isn't much! At home, he's fine to read Level 3 phonic books with me but they won't move him beyond Level 1 at school (I have asked) so there also seems to be a disconnect between what I know he's capable of and what they know of him. Our DS is bright but slightly lazy if I'm being honest. I know that DS also struggles to sit down and focus for the period of time that they expect of him in class. He's young though but I also get that the class needs to run like this as they're trying to teach 30 kids all of whom have mixed abilities.

The private school means he'll be in a class of 12-15 boys so will benefit from more individual attention. They also make sure the boys aren't sat down for long periods of time which appeals to us. I suppose they can do this due to the smaller class size and still cover the same ground as a class of 30. It's not an academically selective school but the results are good which suggests they are getting the best out of the children. What we are concerned about is that because DS is a little behind where he should be, he isn't enjoying learning as much as we'd like him to (though he does enjoy school itself). He's only in Reception so we know it's still a lot of play but we really want him to enjoy learning and have fun with it which we're not seeing right now.

So we have the option of moving to this school for Year 1. DS is settled and loves his current school but then Year 1 is still very early on and lots of time to make new friends.

Other option is to keep him where he is and try to supplement/support more at home (to the detriment of our home life and quality time together?) and hope that things get easier as he gets older and matures given that he's still so little? Thing is, if this doesn't work out, private won't be an option at all because it will then be 7+ entry and we don't want to go down this route with DS. So it's either move in Year 1 or not at all.

I'm wondering if anyone here can share experiences of small, single sex class sizes and if they feel this has worked for them? I don't have experiences of private schools as I was State all the way. We can afford the private fees if we choose this option. It won't be without sacrifices but they are not massive sacrifices and we are okay to make if it means making the right choice of school for our DS.

Sorry for the rambling post! Would welcome any thoughts on the matter!

OP’s posts: |
Helix1244 Thu 11-Apr-19 08:47:15

I agree it seems with state you may end up doing a lot of support at home. They just dont read with them enough at school to become fluent.
The not moving beyond l1 may be because they haven't covered all sounds yet, or want them to make more progress later

sirfredfredgeorge Thu 11-Apr-19 08:48:44

You seem overly concerned about the narrow "academic" requirements of the reception curriculum, and that he is somehow not achieving them - despite the fact your description is that he probably is if he can confidently read level 3 phonics books?

The majority of the curriculum is not reading and numeracy, personally I don't think you remotely have the evidence to suggest he's not going to do well in the school he's in, certainly not enough to spend thousands of pounds on it.

Your description of a reception kid as lazy and needing pushing is also rather strange, he's 5, he's unlikely to have yet developed much intrinsic motivation for academic subjects - not least because the EYFS curriculum doesn't encourage that (it encourages interest in lots of things, not really doing reading and numbers "homework").

Friedspamfritters Thu 11-Apr-19 09:20:16

I think it all depends on the particular private school, but from the sounds of it the school you have in mind is a good fit for your DS so personally I'd go for it. Obviously private does not always mean better but it does mean they have more flexibility for things like outside play, forest school, music etc. My DC's are at a prep and read 4/5 days a week (only a few pages). In reality with reading the work you do at home will always be vital as it's just a case of putting the time in.

The extra attention is very useful. For example my eldest is 4 years ahead in maths but behind in handwriting - he gets extra attention in both. The teachers all know him well and he's very much treated as an individual. I think this is an advantage if a smaller environment.

I think for us the advantage for private aren't just academic (we could support at home anyway) but just my DC's attitude to learning and the family feel of the school, they're just so happy there. I don't think this would be true at any private school though this school is just a great fit.

Friedspamfritters Thu 11-Apr-19 09:23:28

I should also mention in terms of the disadvantages that the catchment for the private is much wider so its harder to pop round to see friends. The demographic is also much narrower - the parents can be quite cliquey (always a risk at a small school). Lots of the parents are competitive especially with regards to sport. People seem to be akways away skiing etc during the holidays. There are other expenses Eg ski trips which everyone goes on, school fees also tend to increase so be prepared for that.

MarthasGinYard Thu 11-Apr-19 09:28:45

We moved Dc private at year one for some of the reasons you state.

The class of 32 and further cuts losing TA's etc.

Wasn't too worried about the academic side at that age though. Co Ed though.

Is single sex setting something you are keen on at this early age?

BubblesBuddy Fri 12-Apr-19 00:09:46

Don’t assume small classes are always best. If they were every private school DC in the land would outperform DC at state school. They don’t. The national curriculum should not be taught so any child is 4 years ahead unless they are genius level. 4 years ahead of what or whom?

My younger DD went to private in y4. Just as much work is done at home except it turns into homework. They have shorter terms. You really won’t get more family time. In fact, probably less when sports fixtures and homework kicks in. I think you are deluded in that.

Also a useless teacher teaching 15 is no advantage whatsoever. A great state teacher with 30 is better! So be careful about what you are actually getting for your money. There is little evidence that smaller classes are particularly great for boosting attainment if the teacher isn’t great. An excellent teacher will set additional tasks and push the ones who need it. Not in YR though!


underneaththeash Fri 12-Apr-19 08:57:18

My three have done both state and private in several schools. The smaller class sizes, more sport and an understanding of the way boys learn compared to girls have been significantly better in the private schools.

BottleOfJameson Fri 12-Apr-19 09:15:24


Of course you can be 4 years ahead. My DC go to private school and my nieces and nephews go to state both sets of kids do work outside of the national curriculum for their age group. They just use resources designed for children in different year groups - this is normal in all types of schools - if a child knows the maths curriculum for a few years ahead (which isn't that unusual) or is gifted in literacy you wouldn't force them to sit through worksheets that are massively inappropriate.

Also in private schools you are not restricted to the national curriculum. Of course they tend to make sure all kids have covered the maths and literacy components but in subjects like history there is flexibility to cover topics that happen to be of particular interest to the class.

BottleOfJameson Fri 12-Apr-19 09:19:09

I do agree though that while small class sizes are almost always better than larger class sizes in terms of teaching the quality of the teacher of course makes a huge amount of difference and you can't assume the teaching staff are better in private than state. The issue with small class sizes also is that there is a smaller choice of friends. If you have a year group with mainly sporty children and your child isn't for example they can be left out a bit.

SingleMumFighting Fri 12-Apr-19 09:30:58

In my experience with state primaries, you need to do more work with them at home. They do not have the time and resources to concentrate on everyones individual needs. My boy was in private school before moving to Year 1 in the state system. I am so glad he had a chance to build a good foundation in the mixed private sector. He is well ahead on his reading because of it. I have heard that boys attain better results in a mixed school environment.

BubblesBuddy Fri 12-Apr-19 12:02:06

The NC isn’t designed to be taught 4 years ahead. It is designed to be taught in greater depth. I accept this challenges some teachers so they just teach for the next years books. Wrongly for many children who could embed topics in greater depth instead of racing ahead with breadth - parents love the 4 years ahead but though! It’s as if no bright child exists in the state system where they categorically do not teach y1 children work from y5. The genius child that might need this is fairly rare! Also many independent schools don’t have a monopoly on the brightest DC, so being 4 years ahead would be an anomaly there too. The only DC I knew who truly were 4 years ahead both went to Cambridge to do Maths. Another normal DC I know who followed the National curriculum went to Warwick to do Maths. For the majority this is perfectly acceptable with great teaching and not having teachers who push on becayse they don’t know how to teach in greater depth.

MrPickles73 Fri 12-Apr-19 12:48:07

R u in england? Tbh I would be concerned if midway through yr 1 my child were on book band 1 or 3. This would be OK for reception but not year 1. Is this the 1st time this has been raised? DS2 is in year 1 and very young for his year and on book band 7 and not considered any kind of genius.
So I would go and ask the school what is happening.
We had a similar situation with DS1 and moved him in year 3 from state to private but we had a number of significant issues with the school including safeguarding and HT lying to us. It's a big commitment for your family.
We did try increasing work at home but this was difficult as our child knew other kids weren't doing extra work and this turned into a battle. I got a primary teacher to tutor him in the end for a year. Much cheaper than private school fees and more challenging work for him. We did ask the school if he could have a half a day off a week to be tutored but they said no despite 3 other kids in the class bring part-time...

harajukubabe Fri 12-Apr-19 13:17:46

Where I am, private schools are lower ranked than the state school. Why pay?

My kids were in private until year 1 secondary and grade 2.

We moved them as we moved area. I see no issues with class of 30.

Helix1244 Fri 12-Apr-19 15:10:46

I think the kid is currently in yr r.
Some state schools are still going to higher years rather than greater depth. I dont think 4 years ahead in maths would be that much especially if they were old in the year. In some ways i think the column add/sub etc is easier than all this repartitioning etc.
A couple of years probably focus on times tables but some kids would learn these easily.

Applesbananaspears Fri 12-Apr-19 15:46:03

In history there is flexibility to cover topics that happen to be of particular interest to the class.

Not my experience at all. I’ve had 3 in 3 different schools, 1 state primary, 2 in different preps. I’ve done fire of London, Rosa parks, the Egyptian room of the British Museum, teeth in the science museum, tudors and a Victorian school house 3 times.

I’ve also had biff chip and bloody kipper 3 times, the same maths sheets and spelling lists 3 times....

The main difference in curriculum before 11+ prep set in when it was comprehension and story writing 10 times a week, was that the private schools only do a tiny fraction of the ridiculous SPAG of the state schools.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 12-Apr-19 15:59:10

The only thing that rings alarm bells for me is He's behind where he should be.

I would be asking very careful questions of the private school about the trajectory of lower ability pupils, and their destinations. In particular, I would ask whether any pupils - especially children with this profile - left the school before Y6 for any reasons other than moving house.

I work in a state school close to a couple of private schools taking the 5-11 age range, and see a slow but consistent trickle of pupils from the private to the state sector, all of whom are lower ability or have SEN.

All of these have been 'managed out', either quite blatantly by parents being asked to pay the full cost of all SEN-related assessment and support (Ed psych, speech therapy, interventions, even in 1 case the full cost of a 1:1 support worker), or through a gradual drip of 'this isn't quite the school for X', 'we think the state sector will be better because they will be more average there' [this is never the case, and parents are often very upset to find that their child equally struggles in a state school class], 'we don't think that your child is likely to get into the schools we generally feed into, so perhaps you might want to consider something different'....

If possible, ask to be put in touch with parents of boys with similar initial profiles to your DS, and speak to them candidly about their experience of the private school you are considering.

I am not saying that all private primaries do not serve those children who struggle academically well. However, some are definitely subtly selective at points other than entry.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 12-Apr-19 16:04:40

(I would also check the finances of the private school very carefully - is it part of a larger school? Are there multiple classes per year group? A worryingly large number of small private primaries have been closing recently)

BeardyButton Fri 12-Apr-19 16:14:03

This makes me so sad. I have no contribution on whether you should move to private... But the focus on attainment at what age 4-5?!
1. Within reason, the later a kid starts 'formal' education, the better. The research is clear on this. In the nordic countries, the kids may start reading later, but they catch up very quickly.
2. The poster who mentioned depth has it! Are you checking comprehension? Inference? Etc. I explained this one to parents by saying that both parents and kids both watch the simpsons, but parents understand much more than the children do as they have a frame of reference that the children dont. Be careful of pushing children onto books that are not age appropriate. Your child may have the word recognition for charlotte's web, but the not the comprehension and inference skills to get anything out of it. Might put them off reading.
3. One of the biggest indicators of future educational success (attainment at second and third level) for primary age kids is reading for pleasure. It sounds like you both enjoy reading together.
If it were me, and i had the means, i would be thinking 'which school has the ethos i like, the extra curriculars, the pastoral care'. Within reason, the attainment side wouldnt be a reason for me to move a 4-5 yr old.

MySecondBestBroomstick Fri 12-Apr-19 16:43:45

I think the main pitfalls are:
- single sex schooling. 5 is ever so young to start this. This is fine for some boys but can be disastrous for others. My son's 10 and 80% of his friends are girls.
- 12-15 is a small pool of friends. I've been in a class of 13 girls and we all paired up. It was pretty horrid for the 13th girl socially, I imagine.
- you talk about attitude to learning but there's also an attitude to others to consider. The inclusivity of state school and mixing with children with additional needs, for example, fundamentally give children a chance to learn to treat everyone with respect and value everyone's contribution. I think there is real power to this. It equips children well for later life, and fosters self esteem.
- significantly more homework at many private schools compared with state primaries, though of course this does depend on the school. This might not trouble you in Y1 but by the time they are Y5 or so, the homework load could be very different. If you are baulking at doing most of his reading at home with him now, are you going to be prepared to support a heavier homework load later in his school life? Do you think this will be in his interests or unnecessarily adding to the pressure on him? Of course it depends on the individual schools' policies. Ask for specifics. Schools' definition of "a moderate amount of homework" can be staggeringly different.

Your son sounds to me like friends' children who weren't quite ready for school in YR but settled down in Y1/Y2. It's a little early to be branding him lazy. But if you really want to push the academic side then moving him will likely give you that increase in expectations on him.

Eastie77 Fri 12-Apr-19 17:56:32

No experience with private schools but would agree with a PP regarding the difference between reading ability vs comprehension. DD is 5, loves books and according to her teacher is in the top set for reading. I had no idea they even had sets in Y1 so that was news to me. Anyway, she can read chapter books pretty fluently and says the books she brings home from school are too easy so I was going to ask her teacher to set more challenging ones.

However I've come to realise that although she may be able to whizz through chapters of her favourites like the Worst Witch and Paddington Bear she doesn't always fully understand what she is reading. I'll ask her questions about what happened in the chapter she just read or why character x did such and such and around 50% of the time she can't explain it to me. So whilst it's good that she has the ability to read more difficult books I've decided that the easier books she gets at school - and fully understands - are also appropriate.

Hollowvictory Fri 12-Apr-19 18:00:40

I'd check what the exam results are for the lower ability pupils, rather than just the overall results. But perhaps a smaller class size would help.

BeardyButton Fri 12-Apr-19 18:35:37

@Eastie77 so impressed with your attitude. Thats exactly how a teacher would think about these issues. I think parents focus so much on phonics and word recognition that they forget to ask questions sometimed. Questions like - how do you think the character feels? What do you think happens next etc etc. Its these questions that gets the child to engage with the text rather than viewing it as a word recognition exercise. It also helps them imagine the text, which helps them develop reading for pleasure attitude. If you are intetested you can find resoyrces to help you come up w the questions. Google blooms taxonomy questions reading and you should find some good resources.

Frozen682669 Mon 15-Apr-19 09:04:48

Hi everyone, sorry for the delay in posting a response. The responses above have given us lots to think about. So, thank you. It's all really helpful.

To clarify a few things mentioned above.

When I used the word lazy, I didn't mean this in an unkind or harsh way. I mean that if he can get away with not doing something - whether it be suddenly need a long toilet break to avoid tidying up his toys in the hope that I'll forget about it or looking at the pictures in the book so that he ends up only reading 5 words before his time with the TA runs out - he will. I just know my DS will try it on if he thinks he can get away with it. He's a lovely boy though!

I am very pro state but also understand that families have reasons for going into private and I have no moral objections to anyone doing this. I don't want to turn this into a state v private debate as I know this has been discussed many times on Mumsnet. I posted this thread to get feedback on others experiences with smaller class sizes and the responses have been really useful. Some stuff I haven't thought about as well which will help with decision making.

Re the reading, I totally agree that it's all about comprehension and inference. Otherwise, it's just decoding without actually understanding what they've read. DS doesn't have SEN.

To clarify, I'm not wanting to push my child. It's very early days as some of you have pointed out. I am simply wondering if a smaller class size may suit my DS better. Unfortunately, we don't live anywhere where class sizes are smaller (they're all 30 where we are). If we didn't live in the UK, I'd be very happy to keep them at home with me until 7 or at least until I felt he was ready to go to school. I do think kids start formal learning very young in the UK but it's where we live.

MySecondBestBroomStick all very valid points so thanks for raising. I've always preferred mixed schools but I'm open to the benefits of a class teaching in a way that best works for a gender. We have a wide and varied circle of family/friends in terms of socio-economic background, ethnicities, religion, race etc and, even if we move, we'll still be friends with the school friends we've made at our existing school (which itself is very diverse). I totally agree with what you say though about diversity and why it's important.

Again, thanks to everyone who took the time to post a response and share their experiences and suggestions. Really useful in helping us think about what will be the right decision for DS and us.

OP’s posts: |
WimbledonMumof3 Mon 15-Apr-19 21:23:35

This sounds similar to our position in 2011. DS was in a good state primary which was lovely - 5 minute walk from our house, inspiring HT etc but he was just coasting along near the average / bottom of the class. It broke my heart a bit because he had a stammer and it transpired at parents' evening that his teacher hadn't realised - and it dawned on me that she probably didn't speak to him in class because he was a quiet boy who didn't create any drama, so he was just left to get on with it.

We moved him at the start of year 2 to a boys' prep school and it absolutely turned things around for him. Obviously I don't know what would have happened if he had stayed where he was - but I do know that in a class of 15 opposed to a class of 30 he got a lot more attention in class, and every aspect of his work picked up. We never regretted the decision.

Go with your gut instinct.

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