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How to know whether state or private is best for DD(38 Posts)
Help! This may be a non - issue after assessments, but we've applied to 2 private primary schools for our DD (reception 2020). Both are small (single class intake, buildings are converted houses) in NW London. Both excellent academically and seem caring, but resources not visibly vastly better than our local state school. Our local state school (prob in catchment) is 3 form entry, Ofsted outstanding with v.good results (though not as good as the private schools). DH and I were raised solidly working class but are now in a position where we could make private work, with sacrifices. Our DD is fairly sensitive+ I think will be studious; she's bright but I wouldn't claim she's a genius. Please chip in with factors we should weigh up when deciding where to choose, if we're lucky enough to be in that position. Thank you
I would start with state and move to private later if you need to. Few state schools can replicate private school results but private schools have few, if any, very low achieving children with learning difficulties. State schools have a broader intake for obvious reasons. I would take a close look at the state school and evaluate everything. Not just results.
We switched from.state to private at the end of year 1. There were many reasons, but as I see it the massive difference is in class size and therefore the ability of the teacher to notice how your child is actually doing and spend time with them. You cannot do this with a class of 30 in increasingly difficult budget circumstances.
I've generally been anti-private for years, but we've not looked back and DS is thriving.
Sorry. I meant to say: I would save your money up for later. Look at how DC are settled into the state school. What do they do in YR and how do DC move towards more formal work in class. Private schools can do this quite quickly. I would also evaluate what is available beyond the curriculum. My DDs loved doing music and PE. They also liked assemblies in front of parents and Christmas plays. If DD was to stay at the schools, what is y5 snd y6 like? Is it a lot more “grown up”? Do DC become more mature?
Small schools with few DC for friends bothers me! If DC fall out there’s nowhere else to go. It’s a risk. Bigger schools often have more going on and teachers with a variety of expertise. Very small schools often don’t have this.
So see where you fit in. Think about what scrimping really means for your family. What will you give up? Could the fees be put more usefully to holidays and experiences which improve learning for DD? Are you having another DC? Can you pay for them?
Only you can answer these questions. Have you left your WC credentials behind? Will you truly fit into the private school parent ethos? You want to feel comfortable at the school.
Our DD has just started reception this time. We visited a number of state and private schools. She goes to a private school, but my second choice was actually a state school.
I would just go and visit and see what you get a feel for. It was mostly to do with class sizes for us. One of the local state school had 40 kids in one class and another had 30 but split across 3 year groups. DD only has 13 in her class. The school she goes to is not amazing in terms of facilities but it is 3-18 so has big sports fields, tennis courts etc (no pool but they take them swimming). They have loads of music, sports etc. Etc. Going on. The actual infant school is new and has lovely big, bright rooms. All the state schools were run down and looked like they needed a good few grand spending on them. We just felt the private school was better in a lot of ways. DD is quite shy so we were worried how she would cope but she's been absolutely fantastic and loves it!! I mean she could have loved state school too - we will never know. But happy with our decision.
In London switching later into competitive schools may not be so easy - really rounds which schools we are talking about - check that out first before planning a possible shift.
Just be aware that you don't just have to find the fees. There is the uniform, more trips etc. Also the fees tend to go up every year.
Unless your gut is really telling you that the Independent school is better than the State school for your individual DD (not just generally), I wouldn't bother. You need to feel that YOU know that you are spending your money wisely and have clear reasons in your mind about the benefits to your own DD. I wouldn't fork out 15-25k a year for something I wasn't really sure was better for your individual DD than the general provision.
My DS goes to a prep. We also have an excellent state school near-by. I feel strongly that he's benefiting from the prep because:
He needs the small class size to keep him focused (not all DC do).
He is active and likes the much longer break times with freedom of the big, rural site and to play team sports every day (not all DC would).
He loves swimming and likes that he can go twice/ three time a week with school (might not interest some DC).
He is benefiting from putting on a couple of big plays a year and regular 'play in a day' and debating opportunities because he is not a natural public speaker (some DC are drama queens already ).
He, unexpectedly to us, love the opportunity to occasional board so he can arrange sleepovers with his friends at school (some DC might never
beg for choose this option).
Obviously we had no idea about the last one when he was 4, but we had a pretty clear idea already about the others.
I also like the following:
The days are long so I can work without him feeling like he's always in childcare.
Prep is all done at school, little to nothing comes home.
He can stay until the end of Y8 which, for him, will be a much better transition point.
I don't give two hoots about 'results'. I want him to have a rich education which puts an emphasis on him having time to be a child and develop away from his desk- the rest follows.
I would take the state/private part out of the equation, and consider what school suits your child best.
Go around both schools, and see what feels right.
I think that if you choose a private school, you should be filled with enthusiasm for it. Don’t go private just for the sake of it.
Having said that, people on here often say to start in state and then switch to private if you aren’t happy. This isn’t automatically easy in London - I remember a headmaster once saying that “if you can’t fill a prep school in Hampstead, you really should be strung up”. Depending on the schools and the area, once they fill up, they won’t be an option any more.
There are schools that have a 7+ entry point but these are becoming rarer.
I'd be wary of a single class intake (and if this is private, presumably it's smaller than a standard state school class of 30) school. It can be incredibly limiting socially.
Thanks, all, lots of valid points for us to consider. I hadn't even thought about smaller intakes being socially limiting etc, so this is definitely helpful. And @CruCru, I think your point about enthusiasm is probably right...
In your position, I'd do the old "state until 8" trick - state for R, 1 and 2 then into Prep for Y3. Let's you save for a few years.
As PP have said, it can't be a 'thing' in the areas of London where it is a bun fight for every school place.
@reefedsail, yes, I need to look into that more. I know entry is competitive, but I have no idea of the likelihood of places becoming available at 8+. Its worth me at least checking out...
IMO, small schools in cnverted houses are a joke so I wouldn't bother. We've going down the independent route and in addition to small classes, also want to see acres of grounds with fab sports opportunities, great music as art facilities and generally a marked difference between the free and fee-paying option.
Also, in my teaching and tutoring experience, children from very good state schools have no problems securing places at top senior independent schools. They just need to do some tuition on the side as state schools do not prepare for 11+.
DC1 was in state then started at private school after 7+. The state school was outstanding and only 10 minutes walking away. Private school is 30 minutes away on public transport. When DC1 was younger a closer school was much more important.
Also agree with pp about social aspects. I'm really glad DC1 got to mix with a wide range of children from diverse backgrounds. Make her so much more down to earth and appreciative of her opportunities. Her new school is not as mixed racially and culturally and certainly not mixed in terms of socio-economic backgrounds.
We are doing the same for DC2
reefedsail: unfortunately when push comes to shove in Y8 you will care about where your DS ends up! It’s inevitable. My DD2 went to an outstanding prep and parents are competitive for their DC. They cannot help themselves. All their high minded values go out of the window when DC isn’t in the scholarship stream or playing for the first team or doesn’t get that coveted role in the school play!
Having said that, if you can stay relaxed amongst all of this, then well done you! I knew what senior school my DD2 was aiming for as her sister was already there - from a state school. I’m not in Lindon though and I am grad about that. A few miles out of London is less of a frenzy!
My DDs prep offered just about everything a child could want. It was more expensive than other local preps (the ones in converted houses) but worth it. The local school her sister had gone to was struggling and had made poor recruitment choices.
I wouldn’t look at tiny preps with not much more on offer than state schools. Schools with sports centres, playing fields, music and drama facilities, art studios and after school clubs which cater for all sorts of interests is what I wanted on top of academics. Others just want a small class and a safe haven so tiny preps exist.
Only you can really know where your DD will flourish and what route you want for later. However bright DC do get into decent schools!
To be fair, quite a few private schools are in converted houses. Some of the houses in Hampstead are very grand indeed.
This one is in Golders Green and is huge.
This school is also in a converted house.
CruCru, that probably seems huge in zone 2 but the school grounds don't seem bigger than my garden in zone 5. In outer London or outside London, there are many preps with their own pools, acres of grounds with own tennis courts, football, rugby and cricket pitches, forests to use for forest school, adventure playgrounds. Some preps even come with a 9-hole golf course. Buildings are large, classrooms spacious with lots of extra halls and rooms for specialist teaching or a dedicated Lego room etc.
Personally, I can see what I'm paying for (on top of small classes and fab curriculum). I just really struggle to impressed by zone 1-2 schools.
@BubblesBuddy I already know where my DS will be going. However, even if I didn't, I wouldn't want him to go somewhere that was out of his reach without tarnishing his childhood.
Also I live in Dorset where more people think like I do than not.