Public Schools when neither parent has been through this system(13 Posts)
Dh and I are considering this route for our ds who is nearly six. Both of us were state grammar educated and so have no experience of this system (our dd is in a selective indie girl's school but not a public school). Clearly there is an old boys network with public schools and we're a bit worried that with no "history" behind us we might get dismissed by some schools.
What schools should we look at for ds - prep and beyond? He is a very active boy, has just started playing rugby which he loves and seems bright. He is very confident and socialises well. We would plan to move near to a prep school so he could be a day boy and then probably board him from 13.
Has anyone any experience of this sort of school when they haven't been public-school educated themselves? Are we just going to get laughed at?
The schools will not care at all about your background. They just want to educate motivated children. The other kids won't give a stuff about where your DS's parents went to school. 99% of the other parents won't care either (there are a few, very few, snobs still at large in society). Just don't worry.
I think the first issue is sexism. Ensure the girl and boy have similar education and look at why he might board and why she might not and the consequences for the family of that.
Loads of parents are "first time buyers" at day and boarding schools. It won't be a problem at all (although I am anti boarding but that's a separate debate).
I'm sink comp educated and OH is state grammar. One is at a top Public School and the other will hopefully go to Eton but has a place at Radley. The less selective Public Schools tend to be filled with more old aristos. Radley worries me because it is basically all white, upper-middle class parents - the pushy, competitive, snooty sort who are not as bonkers as the upper class. I would opt for selective if you are worried or a school that has a specialism as it will attract a mix of parents.
It isn't sexism. My dd has dyslexia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia so I would imagine that a public school environment wouldn't suit her. The issue of her being here while he boards will hopefully not be a problem as (hopefully) she'll be off to university at the time when he starts boarding. We have a five year age gap.
I'm not overly keen on boarding myself but suspect that schools like those we're considering don't have many day boys. I gather weekly boarding isn't widely available.
Lots and lots of first time buyers at my DC's prep school, and many more going on to independent secondary school.
That said, the families who choose to send on to termly boarding often did so themselves (though this is only my anecdotal experience and the reality in general may be entirely different).
I don't know of any schools who will dismiss people because they have no "history". I did attend a talk a few years ago by the registrar at Eton and he said that if all other things were equal then if you father was an Old Etonian then that would sway their decsion but you've gone long way down their admission process by then. I know of plenty of son's of old Etoniams who haven't got in and plenty of boys of state ed. parents who have got in. The bottom line for many of them (not Eton but many others) is can you afford to pay the school fees (currently £30 000 PA for full boarding and bursaries are available although not always easy to get) and 2.do you meet their academic criteria although looking at some my friends children's CE results last year for many schools money seems to be ultimatley the deciding factor.
My DS has dyslexia and dyspraxia and ADHD, and is flourishing in a very well known school, so you perhaps shouldn't dismiss it out of hand for your DD....
The ability of your son to 'fit in' (sociability, interest in sports, academic bent, etc) matters quite a bit. Your own background matters not a jot. Our school is probably 20% 'prestigious', 30% - 50% newishly wealthy (a few of the parents here will have been privately educated, but rarely both husband and wife), and 30% - 50% who make large sacrifices and are not what you would call typically wealthy (although of course they earn far more than average). More of these have a private background than the wealthy.
One of the big pluses of the better preps is that your headmaster will guide your DS to a senior school best appropriate for him when the time comes, and that's where all the secret squirrel knowledge is of huge importance - but you personally don't need to have this knowledge yourself.
Me - local comp
DH - boarding school, but not one most people have heard of
DC1 - boarding prep, feeder for most of the major public schools, now at public school
DC2 - at DC1's boarding prep. Likely to go to a different public school.
Because there is no history, it makes it easier to choose the right school for each DC, rather than sending them to the traditional family school whether they suit one another or not. I know 2 brothers who went to the same boarding school, as that was where all the boys in their family went. One loved it, the other ran away on a regular basis and went through a really rough patch in his late teens/early 20's.
There are cliques of people who know one another at both DCs' schools (Old Boys' Network/local parents/London parents/army parents/parents of older children who have previously been through the school) but not to the point where I have ever felt excluded. As an overseas parent I'm only there at the start and end of term.
You won't get laughed at. You need to visit, with and without your DC, ask lots of questions, meet the matrons and look beyond the academic results.
Me and DH both comp educated, DS in prep school. We can just about afford it and live in a small (3 bed semi, ex-council) house.
Although DS is having the time of his life at school, I still feel "less" than the rich parents there. This is not because they make me feel like that, but because of my own insecurities about fitting in. Depends how you feel about yourself.
One other, often overlooked option is a State Boarding School. I was Public School, my wife was educated in Australia in all sorts of different establishments, though mainly state (or a different sort of "Public" as they would call it. Both our boys (20 & 18) have weekly boarded at Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge, one of 37 such establisments.
The fees are around £10k p.a. for full/weekly boarding (and about half that for a day boarder). Although there are a few parents who have been privately educated, most have not been. The only admission criteria for boarding is that the child is likely to cope with boarding. The day entrants are the only ones who sit an exam, so for a boarder it is a State Comprehensive (must help counter political interference when aiming for Oxbridge). Many of the benefits of a public school at a fraction of the price, and no snobbery. .....And the rugby is great!
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