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Private schools: is it time now to move DC back to local primary and cristalise our losses or keep investing into DC’s place at private school(41 Posts)
We have a DC in a private school and we struggle with fees even in good years. Now our income is under threat (definitely no bonuses, benefits are cut, possible redundancies if things continue like this for longer). Our savings are about a year worth of school fees, we can deep into them and continue paying potentially. But not sure it’s really worth it.
The school gave 10% discount to all parents for the current term. Their remote learning has been really poor, no new learning just testing/revision of what was learned earlier. If the same or similar approach continues next academic year (i.e. partly remote learning, no or very restricted music, art, sports, science lessons) it will be a waste of money for us. With all the restrictions children can’t really use the facilities of private schools and these schools then not any better than public ones. And what if having spent all our savings on school fees now we will find ourselves around next Easter with no money even for food if the uk economy really struggles and will have no options but to withdraw DC just later once we really run out of money.
Having spoken to the school bursary we were told to give notice (the school can wave one term fee that we contractually have to pay if giving notice now).
The school is very popular with up to 10 kids per place sitting entrance exams. If withdrawing our DC now we are risking the place. But at the same time the school has been really unhelpful and we could end up giving them our last money and will then have to withdraw DC any way.
What are your thoughts on how we can logically approach this? It probably depends on how long the crisis goes on for. If we talk about schools back to normal in November (which is very doubtful), then it’s not really worth the hassle. But what if schools are not back to normal (in terms of social distancing, remote learning, use of facilities) for another year or so, then it would probably make sense to cut losses now and not waste any more money and in a year time see what happens.
Have a look what the state provisions in schools around you are. Our local schools are doing absolutely nothing (“treat this as an extended holiday”). Kids will be a year behind at the end of this (they won’t open until September the earliest).
But your school doesn’t provide a lot, so maybe look what other private schools are offering? Ours is providing a full online curriculum (zoom based), school fees have never been more worth it.
You haven't mentioned how old your kids are?
Yes, how old, which year group and are they happy and settled at the private school?
Age of child
Any particular reason why you chose that school in the first place
Whether there is acceptable alternative - is there space at the state school you would be looking to go to?
You sound unlucky with your private school. The two I know of are both offering the full timetable of live lessons, taught remotely.
If your financial situation is as you describe, it sounds best to withdraw your children. Will you be able to get a place at a local state school though? Have you checked?
Given that the "wave one term fee" option will not remain, it seems like a very opportune moment to escape. With such unsure finances in the future, expensive luxuries should be reigned back, especially ones that are a commitment and difficult to escape.
Non school sport/art etc. activities are likely to be back before school ones (due to the optional nature of them, the single risk assessment rather than every schools different view etc.) so you can then invest the money and time in those to add the value rather than rely on the school.
If the likelihood is high that you'll need to leave the school - and it sounds like it is - then having the money will enable you to smooth the transition for your kids much more than if they are out of the old school exactly at the same time as your income is under real stress with redundancy.
Yes your experience with home provision seems quite different to what all the peeps are doing around here. Ours has been brilliant. And although our income is also under threat, (no savings in the pot other than our pensions!) and in the beginning we were toying with the idea of taking up the state grammar place we had for September, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and hope things will be ok. The digital learning provision for the independent secondary has also been brilliant, and other than the odd social media post from the grammar, telling kids how much they were being missed..or pushing various pc anecdotes, there has been very little else, and all the kids we know who are pupils, are on one long extended holiday. So if anything, it’s swayed us the other way!
It would largely depend on the age of your children and what curriculum the private school follows and how close your children are to exams.
I went to a private school for 2 exam years in my teen years, and they followed a different curriculum to local state schools, and I would imagine someone who was in year 9 up would have found the move in curriculum almost impossible into state school due to differences in subject content (eg humanities, languages, etc).
Theres also a horrible possibility that unless your children are the popular type who make friends incredibly easily they may be bullied for coming from private school (but that will largely depend on the state school, whether its reasonably affluent or in a impoverished area)
If you're struggling with the fees it sounds like a good time to pull DC out now. You can always plan to get DC back into private school at 11+ depending on how things look then.
Fees at secondary are much higher than primary so if you are struggling now, it's only going to get worse. I'd pull him out now.
@sweepthehalls actually, secondary fees aren’t always worse. For us it will actually be quite a bit cheaper as no wrap around care and holiday clubs necessary
State schools are utterly shit at the moment. If you are lucky enough to have private as an option, keep it.
It depends on what the alternative is. If it suits your DC go for it. You can add music lessons or whatever after school. I'd start looking into it now - you won't be the only people in this position.
If you're going to have to pull them eventually anyway and the school hasn't been great during lockdown. I'd pull them ASAP so you have more of a rainy day find left and can make the transition to state school smoother.
If you're unable to afford private education indefinitely and you don't feel your DS is benefiting from the online provision, give notice now. Just be aware that no-one knows what September will look like and there's nothing to say that lots of other fee-paying parents won't also pull their children from independent schools and need a place at your local primary.
At the moment, a number of LAs have suspended in-year admissions apart from in very specific situations. If your area is one of these, it is unlikely that your DS would know about his new school any time soon. It may also be the case that by the time applications open again, other children will be further up the admissions criteria than him so he may not be offered a place at the school you would like to move him to.
In the interests of sticking up for state schools, I have a DD in a state secondary and one in state primary. The provision at secondary has been fabulous, right down to individual feedback on every single piece of work that's been submitted. Primary DD's school has had a very approach to providing learning but it's been appropriate, well-organised, very flexible and thoughtful. Both DDs have received a much better, more personalised curriculum than many of their friends who are at fee-paying schools. I appreciate that's not the case for every school but when I hear of independent schools emailing generic Twinkl sheets and White Rose plans to parents i.e. free resources whilst paying thousands per term, I am even more grateful to my DDs' teachers for the fabulous job they're doing.
Our prep has just given a guarantee that they will be open full time for all pupils in September whereas state schools may well not be (who knows).
If you need to work full time you may want to factor this scenario in.
@SE13Mummy our experience has been like yours. State primary has put up well thought out asynchronous learning and State secondary has done a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning using Microsoft teams and it has been flawless. Mixture of sport challenges, house competitions, assemblies, support from tutor groups have helped instil a continuing sense of community. Interestingly the latest research commissioned to look at the effectiveness of the last three months (have a look at teachertapp) says that well thought out asynchronous learning is more powerful than dodgy zoom lessons. My neighbour's son is doing his zoom lessons in bed whilst watching netflix on his phone or gaming (and she is paying £6k for this for a term). She has to work so puts up with it, but far from ideal according to her. As ever, this debate is about individual schools not about sector v sector. The teachers at both our local schools have been incredible and I will not have them tarred by generic criticism.
How disappointing. This is just the moment when your school should be justifying the fees by providing really outstanding virtual learning.
Also - I'm afraid if they're suggesting you give your term's notice it suggests they're not desperately interested in keeping your child there.
Nothing crucial is happening at eight years old. Unless your local schools are truly appalling this would be a good time to move. At this stage you should be able to top up his curricular and extra-curricular activities from home. Then reconsider for senior school if finances permit.
If there only 8yo then I would pull them out now. Better to do it now so they have time to adjust and make friends prior to high school and before curriculum diverged
One thing to consider is if the state primary to private secondary route actually works where you are.
Looking at the admissions from the good private secondary around us, state school kids almost never make it through the entrance exam. State doesn’t cover exam techniques, but are also far (as in about 1 -1.5 years) behind in terms of curriculum.
that can be covered with tons of tutoring, but the is very time consuming (and will make kids unpopular with the too cool for school crowd).
If you have a good state secondary, things are different
If finding the fees is difficult already and your future financial position is uncertain then in your situation yes, I would move them to state. Most private schools increase massively in fees from year 9 upwards and this also needs to be a consideration for you
Totally disagree @myself2020 - our DC got into one of the top private schools in the country from an average state primary.
Simply not true to say it's really hard for a good secondary. I know LOADS of children at St Paul's, Wycombe Abbey, Westminster and others who got there from state primaries.
OP if I were you I'd pull him out.
@Growingboys I explicitly said the op should check what is the case where they are. Not all if ys live near st pauls or westminster