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State for 1 Child, Private for the other - should I consider?

(57 Posts)
ConfusedofCamden Mon 12-Nov-12 22:46:14

So I'm being a little premature here as only one of my children is yet in school and is still in infants BUT never to early to start obsessing thinking about secondary schools eh?

I've got a son and a daughter. My son is currently in the state system but I have at the back of my mind potential move to independent school at 7+ or (preferably) 11+

One dilemma I have is about whether to make the move at 7 or 11, but that's a whole other thread!

Today's dilemma is that my eldest child is a boy. Where we live there aren't really any great options for boys and so I'm definitely veering towards the idea of an independent school for him (at least from 11, if not before, see above!). HOWEVER, my youngest (who is not even at school yet - see, I told you I was being premature!) is a girl. We live close enough to Camden School for Girls that she would (in a typical year) be likely to get it. In many ways, it sounds like my perfect kind of school.

I just worry that it seems really "off" to send one child to private and not the other. It may be that I'm just being shallow and worrying what other people would think (eg that I'm favouring one child - especially as it's a boy/girl thing) or that there is a genuine sense that I would be acting unfairly. Then again, it does seem slightly insane to be shelling out for 2 lots of school fees when we are lucky enough to live so close to CSG.

If I had 2 girls, I doubt I'd be even considering private education (to be honest, it's been DP that's gradually chipped away at me on that front and as time goes on I've been more open to the idea of private education whereas once I'd have baulked totally).

It's probably too early to be dwelling on these things - who knows what needs my children will have or what schools they would fit into, but it's on my mind now particularly as it's all wrapped up in a jigsaw of decisions including whether we stay where we live or move.

Any thoughts much appreciated!

Nonnus Tue 13-Nov-12 17:22:04

Goodness APMF, we have not achieved anything like as much preparation as you managed. On our summer holiday we dis 2 hours a day, but I work full time and don't get home till about 7pm so since then it's been half an hour in the evenings and more at weekends. I found a maths tutor so we're having 2 sessions a week of that as well but I have to say I am horrified at DS' levels in English and Maths (he's good at VR). The school he's going for does take a lot of kids from state schools so I am just really hoping the test is more straightforward than some of the very complicated question types I've seen in other schools' practice papers (this school doesn't make any available).

Farewelltoarms Tue 13-Nov-12 18:18:48

Normally I'm very against one in private and one in state especially when less is spent on a girls' education on account of my parents sending me to local primary and then onto shitty girls' school with untrained teachers (and bro to Eton). However, it's completely different when you're in catchment of Camden Girls. It's a flipping fantastic school. I wouldn't hesitate to send my girls there. I met a recent old girl and she said it was interesting how all her Camden mates were doing worthwhile zingy jobs and projects, while her public-school educated friends from Oxford were all tutoring. I think you'd be mad to send your girl private just for the sake of it. I don't think you'd be unusual either, we've got friends who are planning something similar.
However, I think if you suddenly start sending your boy somewhere private at 7 then you are making too big a distinction. Don't believe the scare stories - the head of City Boys said the success rates at 10 and 11 for applicants from state and private schools were the same. Yes you'll have to tutor for a year or so, but that's a lot less of financial and emotional commitment than four years of private school.

maybetimeforachange Tue 13-Nov-12 21:12:00

I have one in a prep school and one in a state primary. We moved to private because DD was desperately unhappy but we left our eldest as he was happy, settled and doing well. He would have been very unhappy to move and we had always been satisfied with the school. He will most likely go on to one of the top comprehensives in the country, a totally non selective school with nearly 90% A-C including English and maths at GCSE, an ebacc of nearly 60% and approx 20 a year going to Oxbridge. It also has outstanding facilities, trips and enrichment. Quite frankly, I would be mad to pay for him just for the sake of fairness. It is a very big school and I am not sure DD will cope with the size in which case she will stay private.

I am with the poster who said that it is utterly common where she is, it is here too and is a complete non issue as far as I am concerned. I remember a poster talking about going to Oxford and being surrounded by students from x,y,z private schools and actually included this particular school on her list. However, I am talking about good independent day school vs outstanding comp and I do not think that there is a debate to even be had, however, top public boarding school vs average comp is a different matter.

ConfusedofCamden Tue 13-Nov-12 22:42:01

Thanks everyone. So much to think about! Farewelltoarms - I agree, I wouldn't want to send my son to private at 7 but not my daughter. If I do send him to a private school at 7 then I've already picked my route, as it were. Maybe I could send them both to private at 7 but then send my daughter to Camden School for Girls at 11? Slightly insane perhaps!

Having said that, judging by my current bank balance, I'm not sure I'm being realistic in thinking we can afford private from 7 anyway.

We have lots of decisions to make.....

boomting Wed 14-Nov-12 12:33:49

It's not as though state = bad outcome, private = good outcome at all.

I know one family who did this. A few years on, the boy (state educated) has graduated from a Russell Group university and is doing very well. The girl (privately educated) has dropped out of university after getting pregnant and having the baby, and is in a relationship with a tradesman named Kyle.

horsemadmom Wed 14-Nov-12 18:34:56

Hi. Go have a look around CSG and see what you think. It is excellent but not everyone's cup of tea. I know a family who sent all of their girls to Camden and their son to Westminster. The girls were opposite ends of the academic scale and both did well. No resentment at all. Another family did the same but the son was at UCS and then opted for CSG for 6th form. As for the 7+, yes, you will have to tutor or consider a prep that does CE. St. Anthony, Lyndhurst, NBH, Hereward. I know some very, very bright boys who didn't have a prayer at 7+ but had tutoring and sailed in at 8+. Not an option anymore, though.

ConfusedofCamden Thu 15-Nov-12 13:16:18

horsemadmom - why do you say that you will have to tutor at 7+ or consider a prep that does CE? Why would there be less need to tutor for those, and actually don't all preps do Common Entrance anyway? Also, I'm not clear what you mean about 8+ not being an option - do you mean that there aren't regular places at that age? Sorry to bombard with questions!

horsemadmom Thu 15-Nov-12 13:32:18

Hi- State primary schools simply do not cover what will be tested at 7+. Private pre-preps will have the kids doing times tables up to 12, word problems, writing stories under timed conditions and will have exam practice. You can do Bond 7+ papers at home if you don't want to fork out for a tutor but you have to do lots of them regularly. Look at the school websites as there are usually practice papers. Some schools used to have an 8+ entry (UCS, Hgate) but no longer do. It used to function as a mop-up for boys who just weren't mature enough at 7 (like mine!) and parents who tried from state primaries at 7 and were shocked that their sons didn't know very much on the papers and got them tutored. Prep schools do CE at 13 and some boys do 11+ from them although it is frowned upon by Prep Heads.
This does not mean that you can take a child who lacks aptitude and tutor them into these schools. The interview will suss out who is really bright and who has been drilled. These schools simply can't take a child who doesn't have the basics in place. The competition is too fierce and they have their pick of hundreds.

butisthismyname Thu 15-Nov-12 13:37:37

I would have to disagree. The school we are hoping to send dd to next year deliberately test for potential, as well as ability. She has already had a pre test (coming from a state primary, they advised it) and we were told that it wold be highly unlikely she would fail the entrance test. Of course, we are still 'practising' with her,But not 'lots' and not 'regularly', just every now and then when she asks. Maybe she will mess up on the day, but they accept (via the entrance test) around 30% state school children each year, so clearly 'the basics' would be 'ability' not just what has been taught in pre prep.

horsemadmom Fri 16-Nov-12 10:18:10

Ok, Butisthismyname. I'm very familiar with how all this works because I have 3 kids at 3 different schools of this ilk and friends at all the rest. I highly suspect that the school your DD sat a 'pre-test' for is not one of the highly academic ones. This isn't the way they do things. The schools the OP is looking at for 7+ will have 3-4 forms (minus 1 at Hgate for their own pre-prep) and their intake ratio is about 1 in 5. The exam pass is the minimum standard and then there is an interview/ small group activity. They have to have a way of sifting from hundreds. These schools are not in the business of teaching basic arithmatic, reading and grammar. All of that has to be in place. A very good state primary simply won't have taught NVR or have the kids writing stories under timed conditions and most won't be doing times tables or expect neat joined up writing. I'm sorry but you are not even on the start line of a very long journey that a lot of us have navigated successfully.

butisthismyname Fri 16-Nov-12 11:25:39

It is extremely academic actually! One of the leading prep schools in the country. They have roughly 80 applications for 30 places.

butisthismyname Fri 16-Nov-12 11:26:44

I hope you weren't intending to be rude, I'm sure you weren't, but I do know the 'journey' to which you refer as my nephew also undertook this from a state school.

butisthismyname Fri 16-Nov-12 11:40:13

The upper school was 15th in the A Level league tables last year - not that I should have to justify which school it is.

butisthismyname Fri 16-Nov-12 11:42:12

oops, 10th actually.

FarrowAndBollock Fri 16-Nov-12 11:45:43

Generally, I think it is asking for trouble. However, in your case, I think it is feasible. It is the same where we are - even our headmaster has done that.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Fri 16-Nov-12 12:46:26

OK, for what it's worth, here is my story.

We were in pretty much exactly your situation two years ago. DD and DS both in academic single sex prep schools, DD in y6 and needing to make the decision for senior schools. Like you, we are lucky to be in the catchment area for an excellent girls comp, great reputation locally, probably similar standing to CSG. Neighbour's girls already there, loved it. Went to see school, blown away by everything, got a really strong feeling that it would suit DD perfectly. But did not get the same feeling from the local boys state secondaries, just not in the same league (not in catchment area for any mixed schools). We were finding the fees a stretch so would have had to make serious economies all round to carry on with 2 sets of fees. Already having some misgivings about DD going on to the attached private senior school, mainly to do with issues over not being in the monied set. So what to do? At the time I felt hugely guilty at the thought of not keeping both private. So what to do?

In the end we decided to send DD to the state school, with plans to keep DS in the private system. What decided us? The gut feeling that this school was just so much more suited to DD. I finally realised that the only doubts I had related to guilt over not giving both the "opportunity" of private education. But the fact was that the state education available was not comparable for DD and DS. I would have sent DS to DDs secondary school like a shot, but it would have involved disguising him in a skirt which he was not up for! grin. An added benefit was that we have enough spare money to pay for DDs many music and dance lessons, which are her passion. Money would have been so tight if we had kept her private that these may have had to be dropped.

How has it worked out now that DD is in year 8? She honestly couldn't be happier. She has a lovely set of local friends, is loving being involved in the many excellent music and sports activities at the school, and she is flying academically. She is in the top stream and the academic standards are at least as high as her private schools, with great inspired teaching. I am so glad we went with the state school and didn't financially cripple the family for no good reason.

This is a recurring issue in areas with single sex secondaries as the standards are just not the same in both available schools.

If you are in the catchment area for a great comprehensive like CSG and you have a gut feeling that it will suit your DD down to the ground, please grab it with both hands!

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Fri 16-Nov-12 12:47:29

Sorry about hideously long post, I am always rambling on! grin

ConfusedofCamden Fri 16-Nov-12 15:21:16

Thanks everyone - really interesting perspectives. I think I'm currently coming round to the view that I could send DS to private secondary but DD to CSG, but if one went to a prep school then both should. If I want to send DS to a prep school from 7 then I'd have to tutor (that seems somewhat insane to me - but I get that it's probably necessary!), and if I go down the 11+ route (more likely) then he'll probably need tutoring for a year first.

horsemadmom- the only bit I didn't understand from your original post was this bit - "As for the 7+, yes, you will have to tutor or consider a prep that does CE. St. Anthony, Lyndhurst, NBH, Hereward. "

why "or" consider a prep that does CE - I would have thought that a) they all do CE and b) they are exactly the type of schools you'd need to tutor for. I might have completely misunderstood.

horsemadmom Fri 16-Nov-12 17:07:09

Ah! Sorry to confuse you.
UCS JB and Highgate have entry at 7+ for which, you will be best advised to tutor(speak to Kevin Douglas and Mark James if you want confirmation). The boys go up to the senior schools automatically unless there is a real problem. Prep schools- St.A, NBH, Lyndhurst, Arnold House and Hereward are not selective per se. They do assess but are looking at teachability and good behaviour. No tutoring needed. The Hall has a main intake at reception and is a bit more selective. The preps do CE at 13 and then feed into UCS, Highgate etc. Does that help? Let me know.

ConfusedofCamden Fri 16-Nov-12 20:35:18

Sorry horsemadmum - I'm being thick - I was wondering why only certain schools would do the CE but, of course, at ones such as Highgate kids go all the way through (unless they are asked to leave that is!)

Who are Kevin Douglas and Mark James?

horsemadmom Sat 17-Nov-12 09:51:17

They are the heads of UCS Junior branch and Hgate, respectively. 11+ intake is mostly state primary school boys. CE is the intake from the preps. UCS boys go up to Frognal unless they've committed arson or assault. Hgate rarely advises boys to go elsewhere at 11 but, it can happen. Neither sits the CE paper.
You should go have a look around and ask questions. They are happy to answer. BTW, are you sure you are close enough to CSG? They have a banding system according to ability and some bands extend further than others.

OwedToAutumn Sat 17-Nov-12 10:04:28

DS goes to a school which goes from 7 to 18. In year 3, they do the year 4 curriculum, and so on. What is bright for your son's school may just be average for the school you intend to send him to.

With regard to a mix of state and private, it depends on the school and the child. DD1 is at a super selective grammar (so state). If I won the lottery, I would not move her from that school. It suits her perfectly and the opportunities she has had are fabulous.

DD2 is at a private girls' school. She is dyslexic, and suffers from a lack of confidence in her (considerable) abilities. She would be lost at DD1's school, and I did not even enter her for the tests, not because I didn't think she would get in, but because I knew it was the wrong school for her.

Both girls are very happy at their respective schools.

Emandlu Sat 17-Nov-12 10:12:33

I have always told my kids that what is fair is not things being the same for both of them, but what is right for each of them. We may soon have our kids in wildly differing forms of education, but they will both (hopefully) be in the system that works for them.

Don't worry what other people think, do what is right for your kids!

ConfusedofCamden Sat 17-Nov-12 11:45:09

Thanks all

Yes we probably would be close enough to CSG - I've looked at the details of offers for the last 4 or 5 years and we would just about have qualified at any of the bands

ConfusedofCamden Sat 17-Nov-12 11:48:03

OwedtoAutumn and EmandLu - you both illustrate well how it's about doing what is right for each DC. I may have totally different views of what is right for them as we get older, so I shouldn't fret too much now!

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