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Private schools - what are the long term benefits?

(109 Posts)
lme30005 Wed 06-Jul-11 14:34:17

Hoping someone who has been through private schools or their DC's, can give me some insight.
I am thinking of putting my DS's name down for a private school to start in year 7, and he would be followed by his siblings. I'm trying to justify the huge costs incurred by putting them all through private education. Obviously the main benefits will be smaller class sizes, better facilities, better results hopefully. But what would the long term benefits be? Would they actually do better after school, in jobs etc? And would there be any negative things about them going private? I'm a little worried that they may not be much better off long term than going to the local very average comp.

Pagwatch Wed 06-Jul-11 14:38:41

It depends absoloutely entirely and completely upon the individual school.

Your question is like "is eating out worth it?". Depends where you eat.

I am not being rude. But your question is impossible to answer. All private schools are not the same. Sone are good, some are shit. And all points in-between.

In fact. If anyone can give you a 'yes it is worth it' or ' no it is not' I would strongly suggest that you ignore them

lme30005 Wed 06-Jul-11 14:52:01

Thanks. Does that mean it would be a big risk to put them in a private school? Or should I be more confident if I choose a school with good results/reputation? Surely most people putting their kids in private schools assume they would be better off and would never take the risk if they thought it wouldn't work out?

Amaretti Wed 06-Jul-11 14:53:46

No. Some people assume private must be better and send their ids private cone he'll or high water. You have to look at the individual schools.

Amaretti Wed 06-Jul-11 14:54:45

Sorry - kids private come hell or high water

<can only blame auto-correct for the he'll>

belledechocchipcookie Wed 06-Jul-11 14:56:18

It depends on the child. You can't buy a good future for them, they have to put the work in. I wouldn't send a child to a private school if I was just looking at any long term 'gains' as it's too much of a gamble. Not all private schools are good schools so you may be wasting your money if this is your priority.

Pagwatch Wed 06-Jul-11 15:01:52


I don't really understand your point.
I put two of my children in private schools because having investigated, visited, asked about, toured and researched all the schools available to them, they were the best ones.
I had a clear idea of what I wanted the schooled for my dcs to provide, the atmosphere I hoped for and sensible answers to the questions I had about certain issues that mattered to me. I also wanted my dcs to like the school.

It is about resarching the schools available and choosing the one that feels the best fit for your child. Not taking a punt because it's private so....

lme30005 Wed 06-Jul-11 15:11:04

I absolutely agree that it's about finding the best school for your child. I have visited a few private schools and found them to differ quite a lot. I feel private would be good for my first DC because he's quite bright, gets bored, and needs stretching to keep him interested. My second DC is quite lazy and needs a lot of motivation and smaller class sizes may suit him better.
The point I am trying to make is, after the good schooling which they will hopefully enjoy, will they get other benefits out of going private ie more opportunities to go places/experience different things which will then carry them on to the next stage in their lives, whatever that may be?

Pagwatch Wed 06-Jul-11 15:42:14

What sort of things?

A decent school will discuss with you a full range of extra curricula activities that broaden a childs interests and can lead them into other things outside school. A school that has extensive sporting and musical tuition is an obvious one.
A good school will also advertise it's leavers destinations which is useful.

Is that what you mean?

singersgirl Wed 06-Jul-11 15:52:22

Well, it depends on the school and what you're comparing it to, doesn't it?

What opportunities they get will depend on so many variables - what the school offers (which you can check for any school - trips, music, Edinburgh Festival productions, DofE awards, CCF, sport etc), what they decide to do with their time and what interests they pursue outside (if they're great at sport they might get the chance to go abroad on a sports tour, ditto with music), and what friends they make (DS1 is off on holiday in a country he's never been to before because his friend's mum comes from there). Those things can happen at private and state schools.

Or do you mean if your child goes to Eton will he make connections with future generations of political and business leaders? Again, that's down to the child. I was at school with a couple of people who've become quite famous in their fields but we weren't friends and I haven't had any particular 'experiences' as a result of having shared a classroom with them at the age of 16.

To be honest I don't know how you could quantify most of this.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 06-Jul-11 16:22:51

There are a number of professions which have historically be dominated by people who have been to private schools (or where privately educated people are disproportionately over represented) e.g. the judiciary. However, given that most people don't enter the judiciary until they are in their 50's that is a snapshot of the education system 30+ years ago. How the figures would stack up now I don't know.

The most academic public schools do send a disproportionate number of children to Oxbridge etc. It should be noted that the most academic public schools are academically selective and not all private schools perform as well.

So why am I sending my children to private schools (currently at prep and will go private for senior)?
Facilities for sport, music and the arts.
Classroom facilities / labs etc
Smaller classes
Specialist teachers from a younger age (e.g. my son's prep has 2 full time music teachers plus the instrument specific teachers - my state secondary had one music teacher)
High expectations
Good range of extra curricular etc

I know there are state schools that will supply most of the above, some may provide all of the above but I don't live near any that do!

The main reason I am sending them is that I think they will get a more rounded education to a higher standard than is available from the state schools where we live. What they go on to do with that education is down to them!

lme30005 Wed 06-Jul-11 16:55:34

Thanks ChazsBrilliantAttitude, that helps a lot. And you're right, we can do all we can to help them along, but it's up to them in the end what they do with their education afterwards. I would hope that private education will give them more opportunities to try new things, whether it be academic, arts or sports.

Helenagrace Wed 06-Jul-11 17:42:40

One long term benefit we spotted was confidence. We've looked at 6 private schools and all of the children were far more confident than the children at the three state schools we looked at.

Connections are another advantage. We offer work experience placements to sixth formers at dd's (private) school, so do other parents. Old girls come and give talks and help current pupils. Not saying state schools don't do this but dd's school probably has more lawyers / doctors / accountants / architects etc to call on.

Extra-curricular activities are much broader in the private sector.

One downside is that some universities are very anti private schools. Bristol is notorious for this. I hope it changes as my dd really wants to go there.

wolfbrother Wed 06-Jul-11 18:59:44

Odd you should say that Helenagrace; friend of mine at Bristol University at the moment says majority is from the PRIVATE sector, but that the government is not ahppy about it...

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Wed 06-Jul-11 19:18:03

The uni/anti-indie is an urban myth, but would not choose any school on the basi of the uni you wna tto get inot - who can second guess at 11 whatteh child's decison will be @ 18? As oterhs have said - all you can do choose the school you think will best suit your child and make them happiest from any sector - haivng a happy childhood ought ot be the best basis for setting them up for a happy and fulfilled life.

happygardening Thu 07-Jul-11 14:23:53

I've got two teenage boys one in private ed one in state both were in private ed till 13yrs old. There is undoubtedly a difference but this will vary with the schools both private and state.
In my extensive experience private schools are more pushy the bottom line is examination results, university placements because ultimately that is what most people are paying for. Also more extra curricular activities better facilities although many parents will state that their children do not have access to them as much as they thought they would, smaller classes not to be confused with better teachers there are good and bad in both sectors, probably better behaved children, in many cases smart (some would say in some cases ridiculous) uniforms, yes better work placements and often an "old boys network." Maybe more confident children but is this because they come from middle class homes? There are confident children at my sons state school most come from middle class homes.
But the downside financialy crippling, especially boarding, unless you're very wealthy and this will impact on many parts of your life; home/work balance, holidays, mortgage, car ownership and extras. Also and as importantly most private schools are more rigid in their outlook and have a "box" that your child has to fit and if they dont they are not going to be happy at that school. The problem is trying to find out what that box is.
I dont actually care about exam results universities etc and infact believe that my younger son could probabaly have acheived the same thing in the state sector but I believe in the idea of the "renaissance man" and felt that my younger son was more likely to become one if he attended a private school. But he is already established on this road and thus would benefit from what his school has to offer. But this was probably started at home and from an early age and was easy to develop in him because he's intersted in everything.
State ed is free and if your children has any special needs e.g dyslexia this is also free no ed psych reports to pay for, extra help ect. Ok bigger classes and good and bad teachers maybe more disruption. I have found the ethos to be less rigid and thus no box to fit. No books going back to the 13th century or collections of ancient Greek vases but if by not paying fees and you have time to take your child to see these things at museums etc does it matter. Less facilites but maybe you have access to them locally, less extra curricular activites but again if you dont have to work so much then you will have more time to take you child to clubs etc outside of school e.g. many towns and cities have local CCF's etc. We have found the teachers in our state school to be as equally commited as there private sector equivalents, they know the children and seem as ambitious for good exam results university placements. In fact my older son is now doing better in the state school than he ever did in private ed. and is happier. Ok on paper the exam results at my older sons school are not as good as the exam results of my younger son but the state school is completely non selective. Finally one small point if you are interested in American Ivy League universities I dont think the the state school is geared up for this but lets face it most people aren't intersted in this.
Go and look at both ask lots of difficult questions talk to other parents dont be blinded by prospectuses and fancy websites, carefully do the math and remember that if you choose private ed. the state will always be there if you change your mind!

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Thu 07-Jul-11 19:38:40

HappyGardening - an extremely interesting post! One other thing I would add is that the more thime you have to interface with the school, maye the less need you have for the indies. We leave education (in the academic sense) to the school, other stuff we consider our responsibility as parents. It seemed that the indies were more serious about academia, so we could relax on that front and concentrate our input on the fun stuff. If we were more into the academia ourselves, perhaps we would have considered state, but the school does that better than we could, so (in line with Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage) best that we spend our money on experts to do the stuff we do less well, and use our time on what the school can't provide...

ShirlOckholmes Fri 08-Jul-11 10:49:59

Unless the school is absolutely the only choice for your kids and money is no object, then I would say a private education is probably not worth it.

My DS has just finished yr 11 at an Independent School, but will not be staying there for 6th form.
During the 5 years he was at the school, we slowly came to the realisation that the education he was getting was good, but not £9,000 a year good!!
Six weeks before the start of study leave, he was predicted poor grades in English and Maths. I decided to sit with him going through past papers and identifying and rectifying his week points. The teachers commented to me that he had come on very well and should gain one grade higher than predicted. So I'm left wondering why the school (who had him for 5 years) could not do what I did in 6 weeks!!angry
The money we spent could have been better used by moving in to the catchment area of a better state secondary and paying for tutors if necessary.
I also regret that my DS has had a rather scewed peer group. I now think it would have been better for him socially and us financially if he hadn't gone to an Independent school.
The most important thing is parental support.

propatria Fri 08-Jul-11 11:48:27

What did you think a £9000 a year school was going to do? The price should have told you not to expect much..

altmum Fri 08-Jul-11 12:15:06

Is it true that when it comes to applying to university courses, having come from a private school may count against you? A kind of positive discrimination kind of thing to help those seen as less privileged?

Helenagrace Fri 08-Jul-11 12:26:17

Anecdotal evidence from two friends who are involved with admissions at a Russell Group university would suggest that admissions tutors are having to defend offers made to applicants from private schools. Offers to state school applicants are nodded through.

Only one university though. No idea what the others are like.

Amaretti Fri 08-Jul-11 12:47:21

Manchester Grammar is about £9k a year. It's not generally regarded as crap.

propatria Fri 08-Jul-11 12:57:46

True,always exceptions to every rule,so lets try a new guideline 99.999% of senior private schools that charge £9000 a year wont be worth attending.

LovetheHarp Fri 08-Jul-11 12:58:42

Propatria, a lot of selective independent schools in the North of England have fees between 9k and 11k per annum. Some of them, including Manchester Grammar, are very high in the league tables.

Ishani Fri 08-Jul-11 13:35:37

Blimey my £8500 a year school is number 152 in the country for A Level results is jumping up perhaps 20 places worth another £10,000 er no.

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