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Small private school or large state school?

(14 Posts)
lexcat Fri 07-Oct-11 17:41:11

Dd at a lovely primary school with roughly 150 children. The feeder school seems a great school, but there are due to be 1500 children in the next year. Dd one if those children who behaviour good, cruises and one of the more able children and pretty quite in class. The kind of child that will easier go unnoticed. I can't see how she will not just become lost in the crowd in such a big school. I doesn't think it help as I did, my mother remembered a teacher didn't even know which child I was at a parents evening after my first year of secondary (had he twice a week sat at the back and I just got on with my work).

I'm really not sure what to do for secondary as their is a possibility of her going to a very good private school with only 600 children but then I take her away from her peer group and friends and it going be a bit of a financial juggle even with grandparent help.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 07-Oct-11 17:58:25

Both my kids went from a single form entry (200 kids) primary
to a 1600 pupil comp.
And the answer to your question is : it depends

at our school the kids are in a tutor group with a tutor who stays with them the whole 5 years, as does the head of year
Some lessons are in tutor group, others in sets
there is a Deputy Head whose sole job is pastoral
the head may not know the names of the middling well behaved kids, but the head of year sure as heck does
monitoring comes out termly
annual meeting with pastoral tutor
annual meetings with subject tutors
the ONLY time you realise how HUGE the school is, is at 3.25 outside the gate
and I avoid that tidal wave of teens if I possibly can

flack Fri 07-Oct-11 18:01:18

At what age, OP, will your DD be able to cope with being one of many and running the risk of getting "lost"?
How much does she need a solid friendship circle to be confident? (my DD needs it a lot).

StopRainingPlease Fri 07-Oct-11 18:08:41

Personally I think 1500 is too big for a school, and 600 is a good number. On the other hand, that isn't the only consideration is it? If the schools were comparable, I wouldn't fork out for private just to get the smaller school, I'd have to believe it was a better school in other ways.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 07-Oct-11 18:14:55

For the record :
Eton has around 1300 pupils : Harrow around 800 : Charterhouse 800 : Oundle 1100 : Marlborough 875 : Millfield 1260

the number of pupils is not as important as the ethos
my local school has 450 - but that is because it is failing!

LynetteScavo Fri 07-Oct-11 18:20:11

It's not just the size of the school, it's the way the school is organized.

Worse things can happen to DC at school than going un-noticed. I went to a high school of 400. It was hideous.

DS goes to a high school of 1000 +. It is lovely. (Although it did take one teacher 30 seconds to place the name with the child he taught twice a week when I went to parents evening)

lexcat Fri 07-Oct-11 19:31:29

Both schools are great in there own ways. The private one I think is the better of the two but so it should be given you are paying fees.

Really the smaller classes and smaller size school is the icing on the cake with the private school. Then I think yes it's lovely but would I be wasting my money as dd could do just as well at the local state school.

sparklerach Fri 07-Oct-11 22:34:32

I faced exactly this dilema- but in our case our DC had already moved from a very small independent (montessori) school into 2 form entry Juniors Y4 and struggled to adjust, so we knew a larger school was not likely to be a good idea. However we still looked at everything on offer, including the 9 form entry single sex ofsted rated 'outstanding' local school, and other mixed local secondaries and larger private schools. How your child manages socially is a big factor- if they struggle to make friends a small school is a smaller pool of potential friendships, so without being funny the type of children there may be more important. (eg: if they're all super posh and you're not or super bohemian or whatever) We did chose small private in the end but were careful not to swim out of our comfort zone too much in terms of peers if that makes sense..

crazycarol Sat 08-Oct-11 12:24:55

When I saw your title I really thought the small school will be about 200, not 600! A school of 600 is not really a small school, yes it is smaller than 1500 but it is still big enough to get "lost". We looked at a small school option for dd (private) and it was only 150. We ended up not considering it because with a school that size it offered limited subject choices for exams wheras the larger school (750!) offerred a much better choice.

I would suggest not looking at numbers, but looking at the school, eg ethos, pastoral care, facilities, subject choices, results, what the journey will be like.

100lilgreen Sun 09-Oct-11 13:56:51

Depends on the comparable quality of education at both schools. Is the state one very academic and gets good results and going to the private will not result in that much change in her performance or will the private most certainly give her better results ..?

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Oct-11 14:27:23

The tricky thing with many state schools is sorting the results to see how they will impact on your DCs
my kids are at a true comp
absolutely no selection - other than living within catchment or a mile from the edge of it - which includes a massive mind numbingly deprived council estate
SO
there are kids on roll who do not attend school, are not supported in any type of working, have never seen a book in a home
AND the school only goes to year 11
on the other hand, 5 of their alumni (out of 280) made it to oxbridge this year
and I know of kids every year for the past 5 years getting 12+ straight A* at GCSE
SO - the 70% average GCSE hides the fact that some kids get zilch and others truly excel
judged on their ability, not daddy's cheque book

nametapes Tue 11-Oct-11 09:09:09

Instinctively i just feel a private school rather than a large secondary school would be my choice.

Theas18 Tue 11-Oct-11 09:38:27

hmm 1500 is a largish school but not at all unusual as probably the size to allow a wide curriculum and out of school activities. Have you visited- what is your gut feeling and how does your DD feel?

Part of me says if you can go private do it, but as a massive juggle financially- not sure- it's not just the fees it's the extras and the "keeping up with the psmiths" that might have ponies etc (mind you one of DD1s best mates at state school has serious horses and no one ever minded her being loaded and Dd not!).

As long as the private school isn't massively oversubscribed though you do have the try state and move if needed option at yr8 or even mid yr...

bunny3 Tue 11-Oct-11 09:48:21

We chose a small(ish) Independent secondary school for ds partly because of school size and class size (there were other elements we considered but school size was definately an important deciding factor). Financially its a struggle for us but as ds is thriving, absolutely loving it, we will do what we can to keep him there.

Its a tough decision because the long-term financial commitment is collossal but we have no regrets (so far!).

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