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2ndary schools - private vs grammar: Challoner/QE/Tiffin or MTS/Habs/Latymer Upper

(30 Posts)
tumpa Sat 14-Jan-12 23:33:52

Hello all
Couldn't find any thread on indie vs grammar school topic and besides I have a specific choice question as mentioned above. Would appreciate individual views from all in terms of what you may have done in . Appreciate individual priorities/preferences will be unique and may be different from mine.

Here's my situation. have 2 DS currently going to prep sch, soon to be in secondary. We can possibly push and go private for both (hoping that we are giving them the best) by sacrificing other things including many holidays! My older DS is bright, creative ,at top half of his class in prep but needs individual attention. The younger DS is more bright and more shy!
My dillemma is: are the Grammar schools (e.g.Dr Challoner, QE) as good as the good indies like Merchant Taylors?
If my options become Challoner and MTS - which one to go for?
If it is Challoner or QE and Habs- which one to go for?

I guess one way of asking could be are the good Indies like MTS, Habs, Latymer Upper worth spending the 20K per child per yr. Or are you equally well off in good grammar schools assuming you land up in good universities in your chosen subjects in the end?

I would be grateful if you can answer all the questions above.
Thanks in advance,

PushyDad Sun 15-Jan-12 00:23:34

£20k per child per year?? Habs is £14. I'm guessing others you've mentioned is in same ball park.

We don't have any grammar schools in our area. If we did then we would have gone that route and used money saved on weekend tutoring.

RiversideMum Sun 15-Jan-12 07:13:56

What do you mean by "good"? The grammar schools are very academic with very good results but will have pupils from a wide socio-economic group compared to a private school. Dr Challoners has large numbers of boys going to Oxbridge and Russell Group unis and has always provided excellent opportunities for sport and the arts. You need to get a steer from your prep school about the boys' grammar school chances - presumably they have a good feel for that if you live in Challoners' catchment.

Mrsrobertduvall Sun 15-Jan-12 07:37:21

I have no experience of private schools but know that Tiffin is super selective, about 1500 children applying.
My friend's sons are there, love it, but say friendships out if school difficult as many boys live a long way from Kingston.

Needmoresleep Sun 15-Jan-12 16:38:35

I'm not sure that these private schools will have a very different demographic than some of the Grammars mentioned. In practice they will take a number of pupils who would have gone to Grammar had they been offered a place. Also if add in bursaries and if you factor in the additional post tax income that you have if you are not paying fees Grammar parents wont necessarily poorer.

Its an economic decision. Do you have so much money that the fees don't mean much? Is your child mad keen on something: music; art; or sport, that the Grammar does not offer to the same extent.

If not, don't pay if you have the choice. All the schools you mention are really good and many many people would be delighted to get a place.

Craparinha Sun 15-Jan-12 16:43:19

QE Boys is exceptionally pushy. Boys arent cosseted as in some private schools, though. It si quite an old fashioned school but turns out excellent results. Probably more competition for places than the beat privates, though.

Good for very driven, naturally gifted kids.

crystalglasses Sun 15-Jan-12 16:47:01

In my experience, schools like Habs don't cosset their pupils. These children are naturally driven and most need little individual attention, hence the large class sizes.

tumpa Sun 15-Jan-12 23:14:28

Thanks Needmoresleep, Pushydad and others for your views. It is very useful to know what others' views are.
@Needmoresleep: based on what you are saying, if money does matter (which it does to a certain extent!), and if in this context I had by some magic option for say both Challoner and MTS, your suggestion would be Challoner and save the cash for later years education?

The only question I would still have is (this is partly based on a very informative Sutton trust report I have read) - is it in anyway possible to stablish for sure the views such as: - the private school kids in general come out more confident,smarter than their grammar (or comprehensive) counterparts?
Is it true that if you look at an Oxbridge hit rate it seems that for the same kid from Grammar they have to on average get at least one A more than their similar counterpart in private?
Also with Academies staus, will the grammar schools act more independently and competitively or will they be forced to turn more democratic/open to cover less priviledged kids (even if that means dropping standards)?

tumpa Sun 15-Jan-12 23:26:07

@riversidemum: We will get a steer from school in feb parent teacher discussion.
A good school would be for me balanced academic, extra-curricular activities where teachers give attention to individual needs.Where there is lesser chance of straying down to the usual (bad) attractions. From what i have heard Challoners, QE, Latymer would fit this bill..
Hence the dillemma of choosing b/w DCGS and MTS...

Needmoresleep Mon 16-Jan-12 07:16:33

My experience is in part based on holidays in the same place each year. We rent, other families seem to have felt able to make the commitment to buying once they were sure they have free schooling through secondary courtesy of Kent Grammars.

There is no difference between the boys. They are all quite nerdy and enjoy each others company. They all enjoy education and will end up with good results. They will all also end up at similar universities, indeed his Grammar counterparts have their eyes more firmly set on Oxbridge than my son. If money did not come into it, I would expect that they might have all chosen my son's school. It really is a fantastic place for an academic child who loves education. But money does come into it.

DS failed Tiffin, not unknown at his school. DD did as well. It would have been a pretty awful journey, which would have been another thing to factor in. One of his Prep friends got in and is really thriving.

What I dont fully understand is despite not making the cut for Grammar they will both, based on where they are within their cohort at their current schools, probably get better results than the average at Tiffin. They may also have done more extra curricular, had more staff attention and so on. However they would have done well at Tiffin and I dont think the difference is worth £15-£20,000.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Mon 16-Jan-12 09:14:41

Interesting point about Tiffin, Needmoresleep.

I agree, given the extreme selection going on there (lots of Dcs accepted at THE top academic indy secondaries fail the Tiffin entry) the exam results are not really up to the mark. Why do their GCSE and A level results not beat all the top indies? Perhaps some complacency creeping in due to the fact that their superbright intake would perform well wherever they were schooled?

happygardening Mon 16-Jan-12 10:46:30

tumpa if you look on the thread; Is it worth paying for prep school? there is a mother writing about her experience of sending her DS to grammar instead of choosing independent.
My DS had a place at one of the countries top grammar schools; consistently in the top 10. The travelling was going to be a significant issue but putting that to one side I just felt that the education he was going to receive at the two top independent boys schools who offered him a place was always going to be better. Ok we've no less money but I don't regret it.

sue52 Mon 16-Jan-12 12:05:20

If you have concerns about fees and you have the option of a grammar school, you could always just opt for a private school for the 6th form.

Greythorne Mon 16-Jan-12 12:37:57

If it came to the point of having a place at Challoner's and a place at a v good indie, I would go for Challoner's (or other grammar) and save the cash for an easier home life, more holidays, more educational opportunities (including coaching if required).

I think grammar schools give an excellent education and if you are in the catchment area and get a place, that is fantastic.

I would only pay if the alternative was a poor or average school or a school which I felt was not a good fit for my my child.

tessofthedurbeville Mon 16-Jan-12 21:00:25

Although I do not have specific experience of the grammar/independent schools mentioned in your post I do have experience of both buckinghamshire grammar v independent. Most of the posts have covered the academics - which are hugely important but I think pastoral and extra-curricular matter as well. In my experience there are sporting chances for the very best at the grammar schools - but if you don't make the 1st team then the chances are far more limited. In independent there are stronger 2nd teams and more chances. Pastorally there is more attention paid in the smaller environment of the independent sector. If everything goes well in the grammar schools then all is fine - but they are not so good when the child struggles, loses focus or just loses their way academically. However I do have to say that many thrive in the grammar system and are confident, articulate and charming boys.

gobuddy Tue 17-Jan-12 09:31:09

We looked at Tiffin Boys and the contrast with the fee paying schools like Latymer was enormous. Tiffin was grubby, graffiti'd, had fewer resources, no support for dyslexia, dyspraxia etc and the kids had a very different (more smug / agressive) attitude.
I think that it's a result of simply having "academic" selection. Fee paying schools also interview and I know a lot of kids that passed the exams for indies (possibly through through tutoring, being plain bright etc.) but weren't offered places - I think that it's because they really weren't interesting, rounded individuals and lacked any kind of spark).
If it's just Russell group entry then a state grammar + tutoring is best and cheapest. I think that what you get with a good fee paying school is that they produce produce more interesting adults.
It's probably worth looking at the alumni from each school. That will give you a hint about what they hope to achieve with your child. If you want a Prime Minister then choose Eton, a "great and good with an MBE" then Harrow. A banker, doctor/lawyer ... well - you see what I mean.
Of course this is all a wild generalisation. There will be counterexamples for each situation but I do think that the Alumni give a good hint about the general attitude of the school.

Happygardening Tue 17-Jan-12 16:41:35

gobuddy those sort of comments as true as they are could bring the wrath of the anti independent lobby down on your head!

tumpa Tue 17-Jan-12 20:35:21

Thanks Everyone for your valuable viewpoints. It is definitely reassuring. however I am no less unsure than before. I guess the pastoral care and individual attention is something that keeps me wondering.
@Happygardening: Woud e great if you can point me to the link for the other post on Is it worth paying for prep school?
@Needmoresleep, gobuddy, tessofthedurbeville: I agree to all your individual views and as a result I guess I am contradicting myself!! Overall I think I will struggle for sometime to make up my mind and I almost wish i don't have to make a choice next year, one way or another!!
I am moving to Bucks (somewhere near Amersham) just to be in the catchment list for Challoners. having said that I can see from m son's new prep school that he has grown in confidence considerably even in one term than his earlier 'outstanding' state primary. Given my DS's nature he would probably benefit from extra pastoral care ....but then is it really worth the difference of almost 20 K (before tax!) in say MTS compared to Challoner's?

Happygardening Tue 17-Jan-12 20:42:50

What year are your DS in and does your prep go to 13 if your DS's are yr 5 or lower and your prep goes to 13 you could consider Eton or Winchester both offer bursaries fantastic pastoral care and jaw dropping facilities combined with amazing results.

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Jan-12 23:47:56

tumpa, only you can answer!

£20,000 x 2 x 7. Over quarter a million in post tax income in seven years. They had better look after me in my old age.

Our choice was easier in that local state provision is very inner city and DC failed to impress Tiffin or indeed the other selectives they tried. They are very happy, and I assume I get more from this than if I had the money to fritter away....

The real bore is that with the hike in University fees the burden now lasts another three years.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 18-Jan-12 11:38:26

Just to clarify my earlier post, grammars can indeed offer e very good rounded education, it depends on the individual school. I just feel that in the particular case of the Tiffin schools the intense competition caused by having no catchment area has resulted in them losing their way as the intake have become weighted heavily towards the heavily tutored kids under intense pressure from their parents to achieve academically at the expense of everything else. The narrow selection process used does not seem to be taking in the truly brightest, certainly their exam results do not appear to reflect a super-academic elite.

A good, rounded grammar without such hysterical competition for places would be a much better bet.

As would an excellent comprehensive which effectively streams and thus gives the brightest the chance to work together.

IMO private education is only necessary if local state provision is poor. Otherwise it is a nice lifestyle choice for those with the spare cash, but an unnecessary expense for the rest of us.

RiversideMum Wed 18-Jan-12 18:26:42

Dr Challoner's isn't superselective, it's a catchment school for Amersham and the surrounding areas. I'd go for lots of holidays and paying off the mortgage any day over private education. Especially if you've got an outstanding grammar school on your doorstep.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 18-Jan-12 18:44:57

Dr Challoners sounds ideal. OP, if your DC gets a place and you like the look of it from visiting, go for it and put school fees worries behind you.

tumpa Sun 22-Jan-12 23:17:51

Happygardening, my prep goes upto Yr 6 only. Also i am not very clear on how the bursaries work. Can anyone enlighten me how one qualifies for bursaries? Is there a cap on yearly earning? Does it help if mother is homemaker/not working?
Needmoresleep, others..we are actually not buying house (settling down) yet, just because of school. Point is: if we move out further into bucks now (renting say for another 1.5 yrs) , hoping that DS gets through the qualifying mark in Challoner and then for some reason we have change of heart (in the interest of 'best' possible education) and decide for Merchant Taylors (subject to getting a place of course). We may then ponder why on earth did we move in 1st place, adding 20 mins to already high journey time to work and 30 mins more to school for 1.5 years?? On the other hand, if we don't, we may rue the missed chance of easier education/lifestyle balance (quarter of a million is a lot!).
it's a double edged sword and I have to move (if I decide so) by March!!

RiversideMum Mon 23-Jan-12 07:04:41

You need to speak to the schools. Bursaries differ from place to place.

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