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Small prep school v's 3-18 ???

(23 Posts)
in2minds Tue 28-Jul-09 17:06:56

We've decided our children are going to private school as of September, so we can easily afford the prep school but the larger school would be a stretch and if god forbid anything went wrong we'd be quickly out of our depth.
So
For the prep school
a) small classes, both an advantage and disadvantage in some ways.
b) affordable no matter what
c) has fantastic results for the selective senior schools which is utimatly where we want to end up.
d) has published SAT results.

Against
a) It's Catholic and we are very lapsed, actually DH isn't at all.
b) Am worried the children go to so many different schools from the prep chances of them being with their friends are virtually zilch.

For the larger school
a) facilities are out of this world
b) teaching staff all very highly qualified and lots of specialist teachers even at KS1
c) 2 classes of 20 so plenty of children to play with

Against
a) There is no real way of measuring success as most children go into the senior school and then produce the same results as the selective grammar schools.
b) the grandparents are paying for at least 25% of the fees and I feel a bit guilty
c) I'm worried they will want to stay beyond 11

WWYD ?

LadyHooHa Tue 28-Jul-09 17:14:13

Small preps are lovely! Warm, friendly and highly personal in our experience. That said, DD is starting at a junior department of a 3-18 school - but it's relatively small and is absolutely delightful. On the whole, gut feeling is best. Which school did you like the 'feel' of? I think that matters more than facilities and leavers' destinations.

marialuisa Tue 28-Jul-09 19:22:14

you're not on the wirral are you? We had a similar choice and went with the prep as we were happy with grammar at 11+. Have since moved again though and are facing fees until 18! How RC is the school? I'm a regular and DH is an atheist but the "amount" of religion in RC schools varies enormously IME.

in2minds Tue 28-Jul-09 19:32:24

Maybe ;-) where did you end up then ?
And which grammar didn't you like ?
Should we just go with the red and black uniform ?

usernametaken Tue 28-Jul-09 20:22:57

DD has been at both. She is far far happier at the tiny small prep school. She is one of a handful of kids rather than one of 500+ kids. It suits her personality more and we couldn't be happier. You can always transfer to the bigger school at 11.

ABetaDad Tue 28-Jul-09 20:27:03

Our DSs are at a very small Prep. It is lovely however one downside you have not mentioned is financial viability.

Small schools are under a lot of financial pressure. If a few children leave they struggle.

northyorksmoors Wed 29-Jul-09 00:45:32

If you go on the charities website and search the school you can get a very good idea of the state of the school's financial viability. http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/

marialuisa Wed 29-Jul-09 08:54:00

Black and red didn't take girls at that point so was the RC or the girls school. We went with the RC, but as I said we took the view that the grammar would be fine (moved away before we got to that point). We now pay double the RC's fees in another part of the country, I looked at the website a while ago to check that I hadn't dreamed the low fees!

It's a very nice school, a bit more "state" in terms of NC stuff, because almost all the kids go into state at 11 I guess but they do very well with sport and music side. I wouldn't say it was particularly religious, despite the cross in the playground (is it still there?). The RC factor for the grammars just used to be a baptism certificate so no need to do competitive church attendance. We'd send DD back there if we ended up back in that part of the world. Are you sure the classes are that different in size? DD's year group was 2 classes of 18, although I know it varies throughout the school and they were thinking of trying to go to one class of 20 .

Parents were a really mixed bag which was good, no need to feel uncomfortable about money (or lack of).

If you really want to go grammar at 11+ I think it would make more sense to go for the RC as they will be better prepared. Once they're in the 3-18 school it would be hard to move them out I think?

SueW Wed 29-Jul-09 09:27:19

Another small prep near us is closing soon.

islandofsodor Wed 29-Jul-09 09:33:16

We had a similar choice and went for the 3-18 school as it s senior school was the one we have an eye on. Also I felt the lack of SATS at the 3-18 was a huge advantage. I had been planning on withdrawing the dc for SATS year.

The Catholic Prep near us has a sort of attached state grammar (used to be private until the 80's) but only about 50% of the prep kids get in as the main criteria is being Catholic which we are not and kids apply from miles around. You have to go to church every single week to get in!

The 3-18 school has the advantages of the facilites of the senior school but is esentially self contained.

islandofsodor Wed 29-Jul-09 09:34:37

There is also another nearby very small prep which is closing at Christmas.

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 09:55:55

Island Do they use the facilities of the larger school much ? That was my concern that we'd be paying for all fantastic facilities but not getting to use them.

Maria thank you, am still torn lol

islandofsodor Wed 29-Jul-09 10:51:16

At dd's school in pre-prep they use the swimming pool and the stage for concerts/plays. The senior school swimming teacher teaches them swimming.

The prep children get to sing in occasional senior school choir concerts, in year 6 some of the specialist teachers teach and they share sports facilities too.

marialuisa Wed 29-Jul-09 13:29:47

Do your kids have a preference? If the money really isn't a huge worry, I'd be tempted to go with their preference! I have found DD to have excellent instincts in all my agonising over schools.

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 13:33:49

They haven't seen the prep school, I looked around it a few years ago and I couldn't have been blown away because I decided to give state a go instead.
I wouldn't go so far as to say money isn't an issue, I can educate 3 at the prep for the price of 1 at the 3-18 so it's a massive difference in lifestyle etc.

marialuisa Wed 29-Jul-09 15:34:22

Tough call. The prep definitely does feel much more like a "good state" in lots of ways. I don't remember it having the gloss, IYSWIM. DH used to say that in some ways it felt like a protection racket.... Good luck with it all.

LIZS Wed 29-Jul-09 15:45:48

Not read all the replies but ime prep schools with a senior school tend to assume that the normal path will be to progress through to 16 or 18, so teach to their own criteria and long term objectives. Therefore they may focus less on providing information as to how the child is progressing and whether they are best served by that school or alternatives, whereas stand alone prep schools have to prepare pupils for a broader competitive entry at 11 or 13.

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 15:54:07

Arghhhhh am thinking I might just get a Maths tutor instead and put my feet up blush

Littlefish Wed 29-Jul-09 21:13:10

I attended a 3 - 18 private school all the way through. I would absolutely not send my dd to a school where she would stay for the whole of her school life. I was bored rigid by the time I reached the top of the school. I was bored of the teachers, the building, the assemblies, the children etc. I felt completely smothered by the fact that everyone knew me and everything about me.

I think it's really important for children to face transitions at various points in their lives, and have the opportunity to "re-invent" themselves if they wish to.

LadyHooHa Wed 29-Jul-09 22:15:15

Nice point, Littlefish. I also attended a 3-18 private school, and hated it by the end. I didn't re-invent myself at university, but I did enjoy the fact that nobody had known me when I was 6 or 16. In retrospect, I should have moved schools at sixth-form (I was offered the chance, and said no as I was too scared to do it. I think this was a shame now).

That said, some of my former school-mates loved it and are still in touch with one another now!

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 22:21:29

But this is the thing, there's no way they will be staying until they are 18 unless we win the lottery or something, they'd be moving at 11 no matter what so it's just a case I guess of are the fee's worth paying at the 3-18 flashy school v's the basic prep ?
Sorry should have said that in the first place blush

marialuisa Thu 30-Jul-09 08:09:25

If they have to leave at 11 then I really think you need to look at the one of the preps (even if not the RC). Other school is not going to prepare them for 11+ in the same way and the last thing you'll need is to have to pay for tutors as well as fees! Have you looked at any of the other preps? There were loads of them when we lived up there.

marialuisa Thu 30-Jul-09 08:11:36

And if the kids have to move at 11, doesn't that rather nullify your worry about the range of senior schools the prep kids go to? They'll leave friends behind whatever. IIRC the RC mainly feeds into the RC grammars anyway.

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