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is private REALLY better?

(655 Posts)
ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 22:48:25

just out of interest, i would appreciate some OPINIONS on this area as i am seriously considering the move to private from state. The main reason being is we are now financially able to do so.

So, is it better and why?


UnquietDad Thu 23-Jul-09 22:50:29


I refer the honourable poster to the mahoosive thread on this a few weeks ago. It's all there. Seriously.

Niecie Thu 23-Jul-09 22:53:18

Depends on the school surely.

We live next door to an excellent state primary and I doubt money could buy anything much better. The only local independent school, which we have looked at for secondary for DS1, seemed OK. Since we have been to visit it, all sorts of people have actually said it isn't much good and are taking their children out and sending them to the secondary that we don't want to send DS1 to.

So, in our case, no independent is not better than state but doubt that is always the case.

ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 22:56:38

niecie, 100% agree depends on the school but just interested in views thats all. Thanks for comments

Lilymaid Thu 23-Jul-09 22:58:48

If you are happy with your local state primary, I would save my money and use it for independent education at secondary level (which is generally far more expensive than at primary level). But you will almost certainly get smaller classes in a private prep/pre-prep.

saadia Thu 23-Jul-09 22:59:15

I would think that private schools can offer smaller class sizes therefore more attention to each child which in most cases would equal better.

wonderingwondering Thu 23-Jul-09 23:02:39

Also depends on the child. My DS is quite keen on learning so he's going to state Reception. He was in a Montessori nursery. He'd have stayed there if I thought he'd benefit significantly from the smaller classes. But I actually thought he'd be better off in the larger, perhaps more boisterous environment of our (very good) local state school.

We may move at age 7 to prep school. But unless you are unhappy with your current school, why move? Is a big financial commitment.

ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 23:03:27

saadia - this is what ive heard, this appeals to us as current state school has 30 plus per class.

ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 23:07:08

wonderingwondering, yeah, we are not too happy with current school. Financially we can do it thanks to a recent development in out lives.

KembleTwins Thu 23-Jul-09 23:08:31

I firmly believe that you don't get a better level of teaching at a private school - teachers are not necessarily better qualified, in fact private schools are able (though obviously not all do) to employ teachers who haven't had specific teacher training if they wish. BUT I think it is almost indisputable that private schools can offer far better facilities, as well as the smaller class sizes mentioned here. So I suppose it depends on how you feel about an individual school. IMO, I think state school is fine, and use the money saved for extra weekend excursions, interesting holidays, and, if DC is interested, extra curricular activities. A lot of private schools are in the position to be able to offer a large variety of extra curricular activities, but that means that DC mixes with a smaller number of other children overall as everything is done at school. That said, I have to confess one of DC's friends is switching to private next year, and we could afford it if we wanted to, so I have avoided looking at the prospectus as I don't want to be seduced wink

wonderingwondering Thu 23-Jul-09 23:18:22

Have you looked at other state schools, too? Maybe you could move closer to another school? School fees are often equal to a bigger mortgage. Private is not the only option if you are unhappy with the current school.

I ask because I looked at various private and state options, and for pre-prep, preferred a particular state school.

ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 23:43:46

there is a lovely alternative state school but very over subscribed unfortunately. Have looked into several options and am leaning towards a very nice private school near dh work.

MollieO Thu 23-Jul-09 23:48:18

Smaller class sizes (but not always), better/more facilities (but not always), more choice re wraparound care and after school activities (but not always). Ds's private school has all of those but then so does his friend's state school (we aren't in the same county/catchment).

I would choose a school within striking distance of home or else you will spend your weekends driving - playdates, birthdays, school activities etc.

snorkle Fri 24-Jul-09 00:12:48

Is this for your dd? As she's completed year 6 it's not really primary education you're looking at as generally primary age is considered to be up to the end of year 6. Most private prep schools that go to 13 are quite academic as they work towards common entrance and scholarship papers (which approach GCSE level in some subjects I'm told), so maybe good for an academic child, but possibly not so good socially if at the end of year 8 everyone goes off to different schools. If you are considering private for secondary then I think it's worth starting at the same age as the majority (ie in year 7, if that's when the school starts or year 9 if it runs from 13) etc. You'd have to move fast to secure a place for September, if that's what you want, but especially in the current economic climate it might be doable (though perhaps not for the more popular schools).

If you have another child & really are looking at private primary, then I'd consider really carefully if that's fair on the older child & whether it might cause resentment.

ChuppaChups Fri 24-Jul-09 09:17:49

snorkle thank you for your comments although not all entirely valid. Can assure you financially its viable. smile

Hulababy Fri 24-Jul-09 09:22:46

Good luck with this thread! There are lots of very heated threads on the topic on MN, lol! Not sure I'd bother reading mnay of them though as they get very heated and long with lots of stereo typing and prejudices on both sides IME.

It is impossible to answer TBH. There are good and bad schools and good and bad teachers in both sectors. Instead you are better to take every school on its own merits and make your decisions based on what you see and feel after visiting them.

We chose an independent prep school for DD after visiting 3 independent schools and 2 state schools. Both state schools were very good schools in terms of reputation and results, as were the three independent schools.

However it was very clear when we visitied the schools which one we liked most and which one we felt would best suit the needs of us and our DD at that time. Three years later we are still sure that we made the right decision for us and DD is thriving in her school.

LIZS Fri 24-Jul-09 09:24:19

"better" is a very subjective term ..... what are you hoping to get out of it that you can't already ?

bigstripeytiger Fri 24-Jul-09 09:25:24

I agree it depends on the school. The primary school that I am in the catchment for is better than the local private school (and for some years has smaller class sizes).
So for my DDs the better option is the state school.

Hulababy Fri 24-Jul-09 09:25:31

BTW - the whole "private school teachers don't have to be fully qualified" comment - this is also true for state schools. There is a special salary scale for non qualified state school teachers. It is very misleading. And you will find, anyway, that almost all schools in both sectors do use fully qualified teachers for class eachers and key subject teachers, whereas the ones without QTS tend to be specialist teachers such as for sport or music, where their expertise is considered more important. This happens IME in both sectors.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Fri 24-Jul-09 09:33:07

We've had experience of both, ds moved from a private to the local state primary and he's moving back into a private school (once we know if he has a place). The whole learning ethos is different in the schools, in the private there was alot of emphasis on the academic side, all the children (and parents) knew this and it was expected. Behaviour is generally alot better in a private school (not all though I'm sure), there are alot more trips/after school activities, standards are (generally) very high. Do remember that private schools are not all good schools, some are dire. We once had a head that suggested I pack ds off to a 'religious boarding school with a strong male housemaster'. Ds has aspergers so doesn't behave in the 'normal' way.hmm There are alot of schools that are just after money so be wary, others overuse gap year students to make up staff numbers.

Quattrocento Fri 24-Jul-09 09:50:17

You presumably mean that you are considering moving from state to private.

Well, whether or not it's "better" will depend upon the relative merits of the schools you are considering, and also upon the aptitudes etc of your child/children.

Mine have both gone to academic prep schools because variously:

1. The academic standards are way higher than the local state options - there are simply more brighter pupils creating a bit of healthy academic competition
2. Smaller class sizes (18-20 compared with 30+)
3. Lots of sports - every day - with lots of different sporting options
4. Lots of music - two choirs, an orchestra, guitar, string, woodwind groups
5. Better racial mix

I haven't regretted it. The challenge for these sorts of schools is at secondary level though. If the children can gallop along quite happily to SATS-equivalent level 6 at the end of primary, then where do they go at secondary if the schools are tied (as the DCs are) to the GCSE/A level system?

ScummyMummy Fri 24-Jul-09 09:53:12

It depends what you want from a school and an education system.

BonsoirAnna Fri 24-Jul-09 09:54:32

"If the children can gallop along quite happily to SATS-equivalent level 6 at the end of primary, then where do they go at secondary if the schools are tied (as the DCs are) to the GCSE/A level system?"

This is critical issue in all our Western so-called developed countries which are suffering from lowering academic standards in the name of widening participation : we had dinner the night before last with other French parents and we were all lamenting the low standards expected of our offspring durin the collège years (11-15).

There are ways and means of creating higher learning objectives for your offspring than those offered by school, but they require hard work and financial investment by parents.

charitygirl Fri 24-Jul-09 09:56:03

Its pointless for primary

stuffitlllama Fri 24-Jul-09 09:56:29

Very good extra curricular. Smaller class sizes. Sometimes accelerated curricula.

Not nec better than grammars academically.

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