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What would you choose? Top private school or superselective grammar?

(174 Posts)
goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 10:33:04

Here is my dilema:
My very academic 10 year old DD (my eldest of 3) has just gone through the horror of 11+ and sailed through.
Back in September she got top marks in a super-selective grammar school so it is highly possible that she will get an offer from that school on 1st March.
Last week she sat a top academic girls private school and has been offered an academic scholarship (a reduction of the fees by 10%).
DH and I are both professionals working in the public sector,so although we are by no means struggling it would be quite difficult to send all 3 of our children to private secondary schools.
My DD is extremely hard workind and she would be fine in both schools. She is also very sporty and a good musician and both schools cater for these. However, the private school is a 10 minute bike ride from home whereas the grammar school would be a 45 minute journey.This worries me slightly as she is generally very busy in the evenings with her competitive sports club. What would you do?

OP’s posts: |
ninedragons Thu 19-Jan-12 10:38:36

Do you think you could squeeze the private school for a bigger scholarship? 10% doesn't sound like very much. Obviously it was years ago but I think my brother got 25% for playing the cello.

I think it is important to give all three DCs an equal start. I know this is wildly unpopular on Mumsnet, but would the grandparents consider contributing towards school fees?

IUseTooMuchKitchenRoll Thu 19-Jan-12 10:43:30

I think I would use the Grammar school if they could both offer the same opportunities and were both as suitable. If they offer good sports provision, her sports activities could end up being more based at the school so she would still be able to do them.

I would want to ensure that I could pay for my younger dc to go private if needs be, and it looks better on UCAS application forms if students have come from a state school, even if it is a GS.

goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 10:46:33

thanks for the advice ninedragons. I totally agree with you and I would like to give all 3 DCs the same opportunities. We will ask for a bigger scholarship, but they are usually means tested and we don't qualify for a bursary. If we only had 1 child school fees would not be an issue but with 3 of them we would find it difficult.
My DH and I did not grow up in the UK and we are very unfamiliar with the school system. Would a top private school offer a huge advantage to our DD (for example chance of getting a top Uni place) over a grammar school?

OP’s posts: |
IUseTooMuchKitchenRoll Thu 19-Jan-12 10:47:49

No, it would be the opposite Goldie.

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Thu 19-Jan-12 10:48:58

Grammar would be my choice as everyone there will be of the same ability and most probably keen and enthusiastic to learn.

Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 10:51:47

Tbh KitchenRoll, that thing about UCAS is marginal, at best.

There is a social argument of course, if OP is this undecided: going private creates a space at the grammar which might potentially be filled by a less well off child who doesn't have a good alternative option.

Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 10:53:24

The odds are likely to be the same with regard to 'top unis' OP.

Colleger Thu 19-Jan-12 10:59:22

I have friends with children at super selective grammar schools who are very, very bored and not stretched with the work. They all won scholarships to very selective schools - Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham Ladies, NLCS, Westminster. The children that I know who are at these schools and won scholarships and gained entry to grammar school are finding it challenging and are being stretched.

But it depends on the school really, and the grammar school. I've heard the Essex ones don't stretch the very able.

Matsikula Thu 19-Jan-12 11:01:37

It depends on the school, but one school might offer different advantages in terms of careers advice, work experience and aspirations, particularly if they are in very different areas.

For example, one school might be stuffed with actors, bankers and lawyers' children, the other might be a bit more down- to - earth. It's up to you and your daughter to decide what the rigt atmosphere iw.

Personally, my political opinions would colour my choice, but my advice would be to check out leavers' destinations, read the school magazines and see if there are any events you can attend while you are trying to decide.

Also, would the school offer sibling discounts if the other kids were to get into the same school?

Hullygully Thu 19-Jan-12 11:06:26

What colleger said.

But, school fees are truly hideous. Absolutely don't start down that road unless you can comfortably managge it for all three.

goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 11:08:25

thank you very much for all the replies. It is very reassuring to hear that the odds are the same for top unis. I loved the grammar school, it was full of lovely, motivated children from a huge variety of backgrounds. Although the private school is also quite socially diverse, the majority of children are from well off families.

As IUse has said, if I now chose to sent my eldest DD to the private school, it may not be possible to do the same for my younger DCs who at the moment don't seem to be as academic as my eldest, so less likely to get a place in a grammar school. However, would that be unfair to my eldest DD? (she loves both schools and wouldn't mind either way)

Yellow I do see your point about freeing a space to a less well off child in the grammar school. But, we are by no means rich and if money was not an issue I would not hesitate to give up a grammar placee

OP’s posts: |
thereonthestair Thu 19-Jan-12 11:13:12

My Husband does admissions at one of the top unis (well the tope one I would say) and the grammar school would probably get a slight advantage in admissions over the private school, but only if all other things are equal, which of course they never actualy are.

Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 11:13:56

Wow Colleger, that's a bit sweeping! So each of these children won a scholarship to Wycombe, Cheltenham, North London or Westminster but rejected those offers and each and every one of them is now 'bored'. Conversely, you know children at those four schools who also won grammar places but opted to take up their indie places and each and every one of those is stretched and fulfilled hmm. That's neat smile

Please, please offer up your money and name the super selectives in question - potentially eight.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Thu 19-Jan-12 11:14:31

State school only and advantage in UCAS application if it is a dire sink school.

Grammar school pupils would be judged in exactly the same way as private pupils.

If it would be a bit of a stretch financially, and especially if you can't afford it for all 3, choose the grammar. As long as you are happy with the school in itself. A 45 min journey isn't that bad, would it be a complicated journey with lots of changes or simply a matter of sitting on the same train or bus? If the journey is relatively straightforward the time can be used for catching up with homework.

You might find you need to save your money to pay for private for one of your other DCs if they are not grammar material and the other state options are not good.

goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 11:17:26

Colleger, that is interesting. My DD needs to be constantly challenged and it would be a disaster for her if school was not challenging enough. She thrives when motivated.

Matsikula, thanks for the advice. I'll check out the schools leaver's destinations, magazines, etc.

Hully, I know, we would never comfortably manage with all three (we are not bankers or lawyers), but with sacrifices we could probably just about manage

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CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Thu 19-Jan-12 11:17:51

Just saw your last post, goldie.

So, you love the grammar, your DD loves both schools. Grammar has a good broad intake.

It's a no-brainer isn't it?

Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 11:18:51

But the advantage is incredibly marginal thereonthestair, almost not there.

goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 11:20:27

carrots, the journey is straightforward, a ten minute walk to train station, 25 min on train and then another 10 min walk at the other end

OP’s posts: |
Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 11:23:29

goldie I've had to put up with a superselective for seven of my DC and they are all suitably challenged, as are their even cleverer peers.

That's direct experience over many years.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Thu 19-Jan-12 11:24:01

The journey to school would be an issue for me. Of course, some children don't find it a problem at all, but my DD2 is at a selective school 45 minutes from home and has struggled enormously with the journey. She finds it exhausting, the 1.5 hours of travel each day (often longer if there are delays) and has had to give up almost all her extra-curricular activities as she is too tired to do those and her homework. Given the choice, I would go for the school closer to home, as would DD2 if she had her time again. (We have asked if she'd like to move but she likes the school and her friends and feels that a move after 3 years would be difficult, which I also appreciate.)

goldieandthreebears Thu 19-Jan-12 11:25:30

I really appreciate all the advice, it is really making me realise that the grammar would probably be the best option for our family. Also, another concern I have is that my DD is socially rather shy and tends to feel more comfortable around quiet, hard working children. I think the grammar school may suit her personality more.

OP’s posts: |
CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Thu 19-Jan-12 11:26:11

That sounds a fairly stress free journey, goldie - your DD could get a lot done during the journey so makes it less of a factor.

Not sure i would put a lot of store in Colleger's comments re getting bored. She will be surrounded by lots of bright girls and will get lots of opportunities to stretch herself. She just needs to grab those opportunities. She will not have to contend with classroom disruption so it will be up to her what she makes of the opportunities she will have. The grammar sounds lovel to me, your DD is lucky to have access to such a good school and it's free! smile

As my DM always says, only boring people get bored.

Yellowstone Thu 19-Jan-12 11:26:25

Lots of noisy ones at these grammars too goldie, be careful not to stereotype.

themightyfandango Thu 19-Jan-12 11:27:46

I sympathise with your situation OP. I have just moved my eldest DS to a lovely non selective indie because he was having a bit of a meltdown at his state school (dyslexic and suspected ASD). It was absolutely the right thing to do for him I have first hand experience of this school I am feeling v guilty about not being able to offer DS2 the same opportunity. We can probably afford to send DS3 as there is six years between him and the eldest but I can't see at the moment how we could stretch to having 2 there at one time.
Luckily DS2 is quite bright despite having some SEN so I am thinking I might be able to get him through the 11plus which might ease some of the guilt although it doesn't make up for the extra curricular experiences which imo make the indie so good.
It's a tough call, if you can't afford three and you think she will do well at the grammar I would go for that tbh and save yourself the guilt and financial hardship.

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