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Worried about Private school

(165 Posts)
CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 13:23:57

My DC has passed the entrance exams, and been offered a scholarship, for a very good private secondary. What worries me is that the head has expressed concerns that 'we' night not fit in to their environment.

DC is in year six and predicted a strong level six in Maths and Literacy. Wide ranging extra curricular interests with friends also planning to attend the school. Local state Primary has always said DC has strong personality but well behaved, polite and a wonderful pupil etc.

I can only guess at the subtext behind the heads comments, single parent, working class, don't socialist within the local wealthy cliques, can't afford skiing holidays, asking awkward questions at the information events, challenging the schools opinion, DC having extra needs etc etc.

So the place we are offered is conditional on us accepting their ideology of being seen and not heard, that we don't rock the boat and DC's personality being supplanted by the tried and tested Stepford children conditioning (I paraphrase the heads words).

I want the best education for my DC but is it worth sacrificing his amazing individual personality, and possibly extinguish what I think makes him heads and shoulders above his peers? The alternative is a strong state school, good social inclusion, will meet DC's extra needs, good academic record, well regarded locally but maybe not so established nationally so might not look as good on his CV as a private school.

Ten years ago I always dreamt of a private school and have remortgaged in-case DC didn't get a scholarship, but not the time has come to decide. Am I mad to pass up the chance of sending my DC to a private school because its full of stuck up snobs?

BIWI Sat 02-Feb-13 13:27:08

Bleurgh. How awful. And how horrible that your DC would start school with this kind of context/these kind of people looking down at him like this.

Send him to the state school and save your money.

Toughasoldboots Sat 02-Feb-13 13:29:37

Have you joined just to post this? My dcs have been at a variety of private schools and none have been full of stuck up snobs.
I don't believe that the head said that to you. The private schools are full of single parents and all parents challenge the schools because they are paying for it. Indeed, many children are moved to the private sector precisely because they are a bit 'different' or a square peg in a round hole.

olivo Sat 02-Feb-13 13:34:15

Hmmm, two things spring to mind. What are you hoping that he gets from the private school that he can't get at the local state secondary? And just because the head coms across as a snob, are you sure all the parents and children are?

My DD goes to a fee paying school but, while there are some snobs, many of the parents are just like us, working bloody hard so they can afford the fees, and putting all their finances the school way, rather than posh cars, big TVs and luxurious holidays. I was worried we would be looked down on but not at all.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Sat 02-Feb-13 13:34:25

Good God, the head actually said this???

I have never heard of a head of a private secondary coming out with stuff like this. Most would be be bending over backwards to get bright kids from ordinary backgrounds into the school. At the vast majority of schools the parents don't care how much money your family has and the DCs care even less.

In your place I would not let mey DCs near a school with a head like this. Much better to go with your excellent local state school where he will get a great education by the sound of it.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Sat 02-Feb-13 13:35:07

Vast majority of private schools, that is.

GirlsTimesThree Sat 02-Feb-13 13:40:41

My girls are at an independent school, but I wouldn't want them to be anywhere with that kind of ethos! I wouldn't want them to think they (or we) weren't worthy of a place, or that they had to keep quiet about who they are or where they come from. It sickens me to think that some people think they're better than others simply because they earn more money, or is it the fact that you're a single parent? That's a very outdated idea which would make me wonder about the rest of the attitudes of the school.
If the local school is good I think I'd be tempted to go there where he'll be valued for he is rather than his family income or set up.
Or you can stick two fingers up to the head and send him anyway. His personality will be shaped more by you and his home life than school. Where do you think he'll be happier?

BCBG Sat 02-Feb-13 13:43:07


AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 13:44:47

I cannot square a comment about "not fitting in" with the offer of a scholarship. Either they really want her (against all the stiff competition for scholarships), or they don't think she's a good fit (and would therefore not make an offer).

It does not sound as if you are happy with choosing this particular school, so you should decline the offer on Monday.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 13:52:26

I have it in writing from the head that we would probably not fit in, that the offer was conditional on DC's personality conforming to fit the schools tried and tested methods of producing leaders. That participating in all (very expensive) overseas trips would be expected as part of conditioning DC. That they couldn't change any of their activities/lessons for one child's extra needs and they would have to fit in as best they can. And more comments in person from several other members of staff. I don't mean to infer they were even aware of their narrow mindedness, but they were just very blinkered.

The other parents are probably nice, I am mainly talking about the attitude from the top of the school.

AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 13:55:52

Never heard of a school with that approach. Run fast, run far.

happygardening Sat 02-Feb-13 13:58:52

Well look on the brightside at least he's being honest with you although I'm surprised your DC was offered a scholarship if he was genuinely this concerned. Many independent schools rightly or wrongly want a type of child/family although few are as up front about it as this. If you feel you won't or can't fit this ideal or as importantly will always feel unconfortable in this school tell him to forget it and try find somewhere more suitable. Just to add as a fellow boat rocker we are sadly not welcomed in so many areas of life. I w

Muminwestlondon Sat 02-Feb-13 14:02:12

If your DS has an attractive personality he will do well. A colleague with a son on a scholarship found parents queuing up for their sons to be friends with him - he is half Nigerian and lives on a rough council estate which she thought was part of the attraction - he is a very lively and friendly boy.

Sometimes other parents appreciate people like you who rock the boat a bit. Not sure if it is a good idea to let everyone know you are on a bursary or scholarship - we found a great deal of bitching and jealously from other parents.

I currently know a teenage girl at a well known school on a scholarship who does find it extremely hard because the girls cannot comprehend what it is to have no money, she has quite poor social skills which don't help. This is the sort of school where Russian oligarchs send their kids.

Both my kids previously attended private schools and made friends with kids much richer than us. Parents generally very nice and not snobby, generous in paying for things and not expecting much in return.

My younger DD's best friend at her state primary suddenly became rich overnight when her Mum started going out with a really rich guy - she was treated to sleepovers in Hamleys, trips on private jets and yachts etc. They are still friends and I do feel a bit guilty sometimes at the amounts spent on DD, but the kids are friends and that is the most valuable thing to all parties obviously.

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 02-Feb-13 14:02:57

Why do you want to educate your child at an establishment that is entirely at odds with your own values and ethics?

If you were questioning things even at the information eve stage, why go through with the application?

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 14:04:32

I was hoping to get the best opportunities for my DC's future, and a top private school opens more doors that a 'bog standard' state education.

I am friends with several of the other parents that will be going to the school, but they are happy dropping their kids off and expecting a perfectly well behaved 'clone' with lots of qualifications to come back after 7 years. Having got to learn more about this type of 'conditioning' it is worrying me. Just look at the Eton elites that are out of touch with reality and run our country.

I am not condemning private schools, I have been a fan of them, just not this one and its probably to late to get a scholarship into a different one.

If I did stick my two fingers up at the head and went there anyway, can they withdraw the scholarship or ask DC to leave if we cant afford the school trips or don't conform to their methods?

happygardening Sat 02-Feb-13 14:05:48

Just to add we don't have that much to do with the parents at my DS's school (admittedly boarding) I know a few parents by the first names and occassionally meet for coffee/lunch and smile and pass pleasantries with others at the odd school function but that's where it end. Most are very very wealthy and I'm sure have significantly more than us but it doesn't bother my DC the school staff or us parents .

AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 14:10:01

If DC breaches the terms of the scholarship, then yes it can be withdrawn.

But I've never before seen one that requires more than maintaining satisfactory effort and behaviour. I have heard of some that require certain levels of academic performance, or participation (for sports/art scholarships),

This one seems so unusually intrusive that I wouldn't go for it.

Presumably you applied to more than one school: I'd go for your next choice.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 14:12:33

ohfunnyhoneyface - I was questioning things right from the start to get answers about various aspects of the school. Just like I did at every school we looked at, what is wrong with that?. The various answers didn't really worry me until I got a letter from the head spelling out in black and white her view was and of course all the comments coalesced around that.

Maybe other parents expect this type of view from a private school but I don't mix in circles of many privatly educated people. I was expecting when you pay for school that it would be more caring, more focused on individual needs, not this.

GirlsTimesThree Sat 02-Feb-13 14:14:12

I'm sure they could find an excuse to 'get rid' of you, but I wouldn't be happy sending my DDs to a school with that attitude in the first place.
We did look at somewhere like that when we were first looking at schools and were told by the head of the junior school that we were definitely the 'type' of family they were looking for. It was that one sentence that put us right off the place immediately.

AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 14:16:12

That's why you need to pick one of the other schools you applied to.

You can't lump all schools together in terms of either ethos or achievement because of their financing. This one sounds off-the-scale atypical strange. You don't sound remotely happy with the prospect. So better off elsewhere.

MrsHelsBels74 Sat 02-Feb-13 14:18:45

I'd be interested to read exactly what the head teacher wrote rather than your paraphrasing.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 14:22:16

Muminwestlondon - They do sleepovers in Hamleys?

LIZS Sat 02-Feb-13 14:22:18

It is normal to put certain conditions on a scholarship , however they need to be SMART and that as you describe it isn't. Maybe he is more concerned about your continued affordability of the fees and potential commitments? tbh it isn't really for him to offer but then suggest you decline hmm is this school really worth the effort ?

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 14:25:06

MrsHelsBels74 - I did paraphrase in the OP but then went on to say what the head said in subsequent post.

givemeaclue Sat 02-Feb-13 14:27:28

Tell up more about your sons amazing personality and how it makes him head and shoulders above his peers

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