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Parents with children in private schools - tell be honestly - (namechange if necessary!) - do you wonder if you should have 'gone state' after all?

(88 Posts)
whippet Wed 07-Jan-09 13:41:16

Because 18 months into private education I do sad.

The school is excellent. Mostly the children are lovely. Results superb. My children seem happy and are doing well...

BUT

I can just never quite convince myself that I can really see the £3K a term's worth of value over and above our local state school.

Although DH & I agreed together to move the kids into this school, he was much more keen that I was (he went to private, I went to state...).
And of course I now look at the £18K a year going out and think what else that money could be used for...

I can't imagine changing the DSs school again though, and we definitely want to go private for secondary, as the state schools at that level are abysmal.

I just wonder if many people are feeling the same right now, but are too proud to admit it?

mummyofboys Wed 07-Jan-09 13:51:08

I never regretted taking my son out in year 3 and moving him to an all-boys private school. He was typical lad, lively and lacking concentration. To cut a long story short, his school was to have 36 in each class from yr 4 and that rang very loud alarm bells for myself and dh.

Within 3 months he had come on leaps and bounds. He loved it and thrived in the environment (he had 10 in his class for maths and literacy). He took his 11+ last year and has continued on to a higher independent school for boys - again he is loving it and thriving. I know in my heart this would not have happened left in a class of 36. And you know what, as much of a financial sacrifice it was, we tried not to think about it as it can get a bit stressful.

LadyMuck Wed 07-Jan-09 13:53:01

I'm not sure that I would know quite how to quantify £3k's worth of value when it comes to a school!

Being able and willing to pay gave me more choice, so I'm happy that of the schools available to me, the one I chose was best suited to ds1 (not as convinced that it suits ds2 as well, but as most other schools - both private and state - are oversubscribed we have less choice there at present). I doubt that he is getting £3k more in value per term. But then it isn't as if I can say pay for "£5k's worth" of education or "£2k's worth" say. You pay or you don't.

I guess for some people the choice is more stark - either a failing state school to be avoided at any cost or wraparound care which allows both parents to work easily and hence absorb the cost.

MillyR Wed 07-Jan-09 13:57:39

Whippet, if your children are going to sit entrance exams for private or state secondary, then there is a big advantage over state primary, as most private prep/primary prepare the children for the entrance exam. It can be difficult for state school kids as they have not been taught the required topics.

Mine are in state primary and I have been wondering if I made the right decision, as am awaiting the 11plus result and a lot of the other entrants were from private preps.

weblette Wed 07-Jan-09 13:58:12

No regrets whatsoever. Having a happy, confident child in her current prep compared to the shy little invisible one we saw after two years at the local school? Can't place a value on that.

scarletlilybug Wed 07-Jan-09 14:00:08

DD1 now attends a private school and as far as I'm concerned, it's been worth every penny.

Her old school was good/outstanding (according to Ofsted) - yet the difference in educational standards and expectations and behaviour between that school and her new one has been absolutely jaw-dropping.

As a result, we'll be sending our younger ones to private schools when the time comes.

I really hadn't anticipated feeling like this a year ago.

scarletlilybug Wed 07-Jan-09 14:02:26

Weblette - that's excatly how we feel.

(that and the massive improvement in schoolwork in general).

Having said all that, I still believe in "horses for courses" - and what is a great school for one child might not necessarily suit another child.

whippet Wed 07-Jan-09 14:13:54

Thanks for these comments.

Last year we had really good teachers for both boys and I felt that I could spot a real difference.

This year DS1 has a more 'iffy' teacher. She is older, more traditional, and frankly not very inspiring in her teaching methods. There are also a couple of 'lively characters' in his class who I think she has difficulty in controlling.
I think he is not being challenged in the way I would have expected.

(In fact, I'm about to go and have a chat with the Head about my concerns in about 30 mins, which is why this is top of mind!)

LadyMuck Wed 07-Jan-09 14:20:18

Definitely worth raising your concerns imo, especially if you have recent experience at a local state. Alas opting for private doesn't get you out of the odd iffy teacher (however defiend/assessed!).

CrushWithEyeliner Wed 07-Jan-09 14:22:56

It is SO worth it - believe me

Elk Wed 07-Jan-09 14:24:23

Yes I do wonder if we are doing the right thing. Particularly now dd2 is starting the nursery class. It would be lovely to spend the money on a holiday to the Canaries instead.

However, it is a lovely little school (110 children aged 3-11). dd1 would never have coped in the local large primary as she hates crowds and loud noise. They really focus on the children putting in the effort themselves, developing confidence and manners.
DD1's confidence in large groups is increasing all the time, she even got an award at Speech Day for her 'effort and improvement' in Reception.This is the girl that hid on my lap at every toddler group we went to.

LIZS Wed 07-Jan-09 14:30:45

You've hit the nail on the head - primary schools around us are ok but secondary can be dire and the smallest intake is 250 at 11+. I do have qualms from time to time , most often when we write the big fat cheque and over ds' SN. In the state system he could qualify for free help and get referrals more easily but then he would n't have small class sizes (his maths group is 10), the opportunity to opt out of team sports to do climbing and sailing which suit him better and are therapeutic and is more "visible" than he might otherwise have been. We haven't applied to the state schools for secondary (which if the financial world collapses we may live to regret) and intend to move him at 13+, only an option in the private system, by which time he will be more ready having benefitted from another 2 years of nurturing.

marialuisa Wed 07-Jan-09 15:46:19

I feel guilty that she's not at our parish school for social/religious reasons but in terms of the education and general "fit" for DD, have no doubts that we're doing the right thing. Our parish school is ok but I'm spending quite a lot of time there at the moment and with parents from that School and I can definitely see what we're paying for, although I accept that some people would regard the things I value as being a bit precious.

pagwatch Wed 07-Jan-09 15:47:36

No
I don't. ever.

But if you are questioning then you should look at it again.

JaneLumley Wed 07-Jan-09 15:54:20

I totally see where you are coming from. When ds comes home and tells me about the DVDs he's seen because it's last week of term, I think why not just rip up the money and chuck it in the road? Also the rage for new sports halls etc leaves me cold. I don't like the social atmosphere especially. Howeve, it's poitless to carp all the time and I think you have to support yoru school in any sector.

Ds is terribly bright and fanatical about classical languages and hard sciences, so I don't think we have much choice. I wish we did because we can't really afford two lots of schoolfees.

I suppose I could pull dd from the indy world, because the above doesn't apply to her, but I'm scared she'll then reasonably think her education is less important to us than ds's.

Our local state schools are ok socially - and actually I had no thoguhts on class etc when I made the choice - but academically they are very ordinary.

Hulababy Wed 07-Jan-09 16:05:56

No regrets in the slightest. e did our research beforehand and chose the school we felt was best for our DD, and so far (she is now in PP3/Y2) everything is perfect. She adores her school, is proud of her school and we have no complaints whatsoever. I just feel lucky that the school we chose for DD has worked out so well.

gaussgirl Wed 07-Jan-09 16:10:07

I'm state but I DO have a good friend who has been honest enough to admit that HER DSs chosen prep, at 11k each per DS isn't really worth it when she sees what's available to say MY DCs. She was frankly shocked to discover state juniors might learn French, for instance! Her take on her discomfort IS putting a price on it. She says the 'extras' only kick in beyond the 4,800 per year the local education authority says it spends per child in the state sector AND she is beginning to resent the Olympic pool that only the expert swimmers have use of, acres of rolling lawns the boys are not allowed to sully, sports arenas only the gifted runners get to run in, and auditoriums that only the grade 8 musicians get to perform in!

She says she feels the prep is excellent for clever but precious children who would sink in a 'take it or leave it' state primary. Many of her DSs contemporaries are very bright but odd (her words, not mine!). She's also a bit concerned about the social/cultural mix as every new year group has more and more far- eastern nationals and fewer 'local boys' so her DSs' friendship group isn't as big as she'd hoped. (She says playdates are never reciprocated and the DSs concerned have Kumon, chess and violin every evening after homework thus don't do 'playing'). Admittedly, the school has begun aggressively advertising in China.

Anyway, the upshot is she thinks that unless she could guarantee being able to afford the upgoing fees til both DSs are 16, she's seriously looking at the local comprehensive for her elder one.

Katiestar Wed 07-Jan-09 16:38:05

I think it depends what the state school is like.
When we moved house (and took on a much bigger mortgage) we had to take our son out of a private school to put him in a village school. He was put in a class of 13 children (although it was mixed year).The academic standardswere at least as good as the private school and there were loads of FREE yes FREE after school clubs and best of all the parents were more laid back.Also you can be sure that all the teachers have QTS status which isn't always the case in the independasnt schools
We are lucky that we live in a nice area with a lovely school ,but I am so mad that we wasted so much monet on school fees for nothing

slummymummy36 Mon 16-Feb-09 15:23:50

I have felt like this is in the past. My dh is in the Forces so we move house ALOT. Between my 2 dds they have attended 3 state and 5 independent schools. 2 of those 5 independent schools have left me feeling unsatisfied. The first time I stuck it out the extra term as I knew we were posted on soon. But one of the independent schools left me/us so dissatidfied that we actually moved our DD out halfway through a posting. My problem with the school was that is was no better than a previous state school my girls had attended. I also felt a big chunk of the fees were being used to maintain (only just) the very very run down listed buildings. I later discoverd that some of the building were so derelict in condition I had never been shown them on my 3 school tours we had before making the mistake choosing this school. Add this with what imo was the mediocre education and the anal (sterotypical pushy snobby private school parents) I just could not leave DD there for the full length of that posting. The only good thing I felt it had was small class sizes. We moved DD to a state school which on the whole we were happy with. Both dds now board at an independent prep and I am over the moon with the school I think it is worth every penny.
I think some schools are worth the money and some certainly are not. It like some people assume private schools means better schools - eer no!! Not imo. It depends on the schools you are comparing. We have had good and bad of both state and private.

ABetaDad Mon 16-Feb-09 17:15:41

whippet - no I am not too proud to admit it and said it on another thread today but thought it relevant here. I ask almost daily if it is worth it to send my kids to private Prep school.

I went to a village primary school in the state sector with 2 years in each classroom and that meant 30 kids to a classroom.

The Head and Headmistress were man and wife in early 60s so very very old school. There were only two other teachers in the school. We had a tarmac playground, no uniform, and the next door farmers field to play games on and it was always full of fresh liquid cow pats.

The intake was extremely mixed both socially and intellectually but they did me proud and I look back on it with affection. Discipline was strict but not cruel and everyone came out reading and writing and able to do their times tables. Old school but very effective.

Its what I wanted for my kids and the only way we coudl get it was to pay. I do not want Eton. I just want my kids to do as well as their intellect will allow them to in an environment where learning is valued and enjoyed.

Why do I have to pay for such a simople thing. If I could get it in the state sector without paying an arm and a leg to buy a house in a catchement area or pretend to be religious and go to to church for 3 years I would.

Pawslikepaddington Mon 16-Feb-09 17:33:23

Abetadad-my dd is in the kind of village school you described-they play on a field in play time, there are two year groups to a class, and dd is very happy there. She is doing y1 maths (she is in reception), but her reading and writing is absolutely appalling. She knew more at nursery under the phonics scheme. I am worried that I cannot afford to send her to a private school, but am also thinking that by 7 or 8 she will be so far behind that she would not be admitted to an independent school at 11 as I had hoped. The school she is at has a reputation for children learning to read in year 4 (which I was not aware of when looking around, as the pastoral care is amazing, and so they rightly focused on that.)

I would rather (if funds were available) dd went to an independent school earlier simply in order for her to learn something as basic as reading and writing, but instead I have to teach her myself over breakfast (am desperately trying to find funding options though!)

Pawslikepaddington Mon 16-Feb-09 17:34:34

And therefore even if you are not feeling like you are getting your money's worth, you are still getting something for it IYSWIM!

ABetaDad Mon 16-Feb-09 17:42:51

Pawslikepaddington - on the reading issue for your daughter. Do not ever beleive that a private Prep school teaches your kids to read. What they do is just send a book home every day from the Oxford Reading Tree and other schemes and just drive them through at break neck speed.

You can do thid as wel. Indeed, my kids Prep listen to them only 5 minutes each day and then expect parents to do the leg work of listening to hours of reading at home. You can teach your daughter to read - just get the books the private schools have and take her through it. Do not wait or expect the school to do it for you.

Agree with the rest of your post by the way.

What is IYSWIM?

Pawslikepaddington Mon 16-Feb-09 17:52:48

IYSWIM-If you see what I mean, sorry!

Thanks Abetadad-you have made me feel a lot better. My worries come from all her non-school friends attending pre-preps. One mum, who had her dd down for the school we attend, but didn't get in so went down the private route, said she "would not dream of sending her dd's to state school, as look at the difference ALREADY in their literacy", and so has now sent her 3 y/o too. I felt dreadful! Will go and attack borders now, I want ORT books coming out of dd's ears!!

Besides that the school is divine-huge mix of children, the year 6's mix quite happily with the reception children and vice versa (and throughout all the age groups), they all eat together in the (tiny) hall, it is great. Especially as there is no rush to be at your year's speed-if you are struggling you do the lower year's work, if you are not you do the year above's work-it is made so much easier having the year groups mixed up.

charitygirl Mon 16-Feb-09 18:02:20

I just cannot see the point of going private for primary I'm afraid, unless children are very socially vulnerable, or not terribly able.

I went to a shockingly unacademic state primary, a very good independent secondary, and Oxford.

Obviously you shouldn't move your kids, but what's the thinking behind not waiting until 11 to go private?

(not saying thay you HAVE to go private at 11 OF COURSE)

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