This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Parents of children at prep schools in Altrincham area(34 Posts)
We are thinking of sending our DS to a prep school in Altrincham for next September.
Neither my husband and myself have a background in private, independent education and although we wouldn't struggle to afford the fees, we don't consider ourselves wealthy. We just want the best quality education for our child.
If there's anybody out there whose children are currently in an Independent Primary School, please can you share your honest opinion of what life is like. Are there any snobbiness emanated into the school environment?
We didn't send ours to prep school, but a friend who did reported they felt somewhat looked down on as a working mum, both by the school ("What do you mean you can't come in tomorrow afternoon?") and the non-working mums at the one they used.
It's also worth considering what your end goal is...infants and primary fees are not too bad (especially if you've been coping with a day care nursery fees anyway), but the senior school fees for independents can be eye-watering, and prep school is no guarantee (any more!) of getting into one of the local grammars. If the aim is not to mix with the hoi-polloi make sure that you've got the money to take them through to 18.
A lot of the 'state' primaries in Altrincham have excellent results, by the way...it's worth visiting them along with the prep schools and seeing which ones you bond with.
Thank you for your input. Yes we are aware that Altrincham have some of the best state primary schools, however, it just so happens we live in the catchment area of one of the less popular ones in Altrincham and we can see why. From our experience, the kids who attend the nearby local school don’t seem very polite and we have witnessed some as young as 6 or 7 stealing from the local Post Office and also some family members have had racism directed at them very recently by a bunch of young girls.
Since every other ‘better’ state school out there is usually oversubscribed we anticipate the chances of getting one outside our catchment area very slim.
We have toyed with the idea of selling up and moving closer to an excellent state primary but time is not on our side and we really like our house, hence going down the private route.
We would like our DS to mix with kids from backgrounds where certain principles and morals are instilled. Of course, as with most parents we also wish for him to succeed academically and since these Prep schools seem to advertise preparation for the 11+ exams, this adds another favourable factor as it would be great if DS could get into the local grammar schools.
I am ready to face any snobbiness from fellow parents in the school, but I’m worried it will affect our child in some way.
Questions in my mind: will he compare himself to kids from the wealthier parents? Will there be subtle discrimination amongst the kids themselves? Could there still be bullying in these type of schools?
Kids, especially those who are infants don't value material things or notice house size. But the attitude of parents will rub off on them. If you attend the open days and decide the parents are nice, then go for it.
There will be some very wealthy kids at the preps, and they will make (innocent) statements/observations about things like only having one car/small house/not having holiday home/designer clothes etc. How much this affects your DC is very much an individual thing. Every school has the potential for bullying, and most kids will experience some at some point.
Birthday parties can get stupidly competitive and expensive, I understand!
DS1 is at secondary with a number of ex prep school kids - some are lovely, some are v. spoilt, none seem to have much concept of the value of money (and the need to earn it), but the same can be said of many non-prep school kids too, of course.
Re: catchment areas, I would recommend looking at the secondary school catchments actually...make sure that you're comfortably close enough for your 'non grammar' fallback option - this will be more important than primary school. Your DC will take their principles and moral guidance from you and your DP up until secondary school or thereabouts, and from then on their peers will have more of an influence.
I'm sorry OP but you sound like you're at high risk of inferiority complex/chip on the shoulder.
Just have a look around the schools and maybe try to focus on the provision and the ethos of the school.
@JoJoSM2 what makes you make this assumption about me? I find it unbelievable that you can say I’m at high risk of having ‘inferiority complex’ because I’m worrying about my child and truth be told, Yes maybe I am overthinking the whole situation.
I have high confidence my child will turn out to be a great person with our loving guidance and wisdom at the end of the day.
You shouldn’t go dishing out labels on someone you barely know.
OP, you started off by saying you didn't go to independent schools yourselves and asked about snobbiness. Then you say 'I'm ready to face any snobbiness from fellow parents', you worry about your child comparing himself to wealthier people, discrimination etc And then you get massively defensive...
It does come across as a feeling of inferiority and worry about fitting in. You never mention the ethos, academics, extra curricular activities etc It's all your preoccupation with fitting in.
This is because I have high confidence that the prep school will provide my child with all of the above things you mentioned and the only thing that you cannot be certain with is the behaviour of human beings which here is a great example seeing as you jumped to conclusion to label somebody first rather than giving good advice.
Jumped to the conclusion that I’m just preoccupied with ‘fitting in’ rather than the prep schools ethos and academics. These are well advertised on their websites and they obviously have a reputation already.
It’s well known that prep schools can be full of snobby parents (as well as down to earth ones) and it’s only natural for me to worry about whether it will rub off onto my kid and make him feel inferior.
Like @GoodJobSteve has made some good points about how at primary school level the innocence of infants compared to when they go secondary school.
So please if you don’t have anything good to say then don’t say anything at all. Telling someone they have a chip on their shoulder is both rude and unhelpful.
Thank you @GoodJobSteve you’ve made some good reassuring points.
Actually we do still plan on moving as you say as we need a fallback plan in case he doesn’t get into a grammar school we would like for him to attend a good state secondary school.
It’s just a shame we left primary school too late to move now without it being tremendously stressful.
Sometimes I feel as a parent we want to protect our kids as much as possible and I realise some things you cannot shield them from.
Primary school: Altrincham Prep or Forest School
I had a horrific experience of being bullied by mums at Forest School, only because they thought we were not wealthy enough (we prefer not to spend much on material things). The lengths they went to to make me and DC uncomfortable were mind-blowing. The school itself is great, but beware of the queen bee mum and her cronies ...
Oh no! So sorry to hear that. But glad you shared it as I suspected this might be something that can happen. Please can you share whether this affected your DC making friends and thriving at the school academically?
It did affect friendships, but DC is a very positive character and had friends outside the school through activities. Did very well academically, I can’t fault the school. My other DC are at different private schools, the atmosphere is so different, it’s just this one bad apple spoiling it for others. If I had to choose, I’d go with the Alty prep. The forest school is nicer, but Alty prep parents are a bit friendlier.
The kids actually told DC that they can’t play together because they’ll get in trouble at home if they do. They could not explain what is wrong with DC or why they are not allowed.
When was this experience at Forest please?
I’d rather not say, it would be too outing..
As a 'normal' person (!) I can't say I'd relish sending my DS to an Altrincham prep school. My DH is from there and there are so many ultra rich people in Alti/Hale/Bowdon, I'd dread the school gates as a working parent. You've only got to wander around Hale village to get a feels of some of the people.
There is a more normal prep school in Urmston, Abbotsford, where many parents work, but could be too far for you.
Am surprised really there are unpopular primaries in Altrincham? Are any really that bad?
If I lived there, I'd primarily be looking to see if I was well within catchment for Wellington School secondary, so you're not reliant on grammar schools as the competition is fierce. If you're in a black spot, you may have a bigger reason to look at moving and could do so sooner rather than later.
@Exforestoarent oh dear I can’t believe how some people can be like that, but glad to hear your DC had a strong head on them!
DH is a bit unsure about all boys school.
@ritzbiscuits yes Urmston would be too far to commute. Agree with the atmosphere in Hale haha but to be fair I do know some well off mummies sending their daughters to private school and they are the friendliest, warm and welcoming people. I just don’t know any fellow mummies with sons going to private!
Actually almost all primary schools in Altrincham are really good, but the one we are in catchment for is Broomwood and when we mention it, people say if they could, they wouldn’t let their DC go there and we can kind of see why (as mentioned in previous post).
@doremifaso Mmmh, wondered if it was Broomwood. It's the only place I could think of that might be your DS catchment school.
I'd at least suggest you call the council. They were very helpful when I was considering an out of catchment choice, they emailed me detailed for the last 5 years and what the last criteria/distance was. They may be able to advise you if you have any chance of other schools, your next nearest catchment?
The birth rate in Trafford has been a bit lower and there have been some spaces left. My son is in a class of 29 and the last place is yet to fill. Though I do appreciate everything is a bit more competitive in Alti.
Are any religious schools an option?
Yes, it’s unfortunate we didn’t research the area properly when we were buying a house and pre-kids!
Thank you @ritzbiscuits I have just sent the LEA an email and will see what they come back with. Of course it would be amazing if we could get him into another school outside the catchment area. I think we will still put DS name down on private just in case though and just cross our fingers!
I’d look at the faith schools...don’t know what your principles are about it but the majority only go to church to get the children in...so it’s all a bit of a game and if you decide to play it it you would be no worse than any others...
I know some lovely people who send their children to the prep schools. They would not be snobbish in the slightest. They are also people I would consider from a ‘posher’ background (or possibly more accurately described as more educated/affluent). I’d suggest the ‘snobbish’ are actually the nouveau riche brigade...who will also have no previous experience of Independent schools...but have just shagged their way into getting their children there 😂 - rash generalisation I know but it’s Saturday and I’ve had a drink 😁
I strongly suspect you’ll have intellectual superiority over them anyway
But seriously...definitely apply to the state options and go on waiting lists as things really move between offers day and September.
Monkeymonstermum, you are so right about the nouveau riche bit...
The DH isn’t sure about faith schools although I have no problem with it as I went to one and didn’t come out a devout catholic! Also, the principles they instil at catholic schools are aligned with our own in some way. We had considered this option but not sure if it’s too late for that either as someone told us we should’ve started attending church as soon as DS was born. Might still explore at avenue though!
Thanks for everyone’s input it’s given me a glimmer of hope and optimism.