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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?

annh Sat 02-Feb-13 17:07:58

The school doesn't want your money if they are in an exclusive area of a large city with generations of the same family going there so don't kid yourself on that! Particularly as they could fill the space with a full fee-paying child if your child does not go there. It makes no sense for them to offer you a scholarship and then tell you you wouldn't fit in.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 17:09:49

My second choice of private is more socially inclusive and I regret brushing it off because it was single sex. Always listen to gut feelings lol.

I could have misunderstood comments from the head and teachers, but even if I have it is still indicative of the gulf between me and the schools way of explaining things.

MrsHelsBels74 Sat 02-Feb-13 17:10:36

If your DS is on a scholarship then they won't be getting your money will they?

This tale is getting odder & odder.

annh Sat 02-Feb-13 17:11:12

So were these "comments" from the Head or actual written text in which he said your ds would not fit in?

DreamsTurnToGoldDust Sat 02-Feb-13 17:23:28

No, somethings not right here, the HT of this very exclusive wealthy area in a big city feels that even though your ds has been offered a scholarship in an all white private school he wont fit in, and now you think they just want your money?

Which city would this be? London?

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 02-Feb-13 17:28:01

How can the head want your money if you're on a scholarship?

As I asked before- what do you want this school to provide that a state won't?

Why do you want to send your child to a school at odds with your own world view? i.e. you think they want him to be a unquestioning robot, you want him to continue to challenge and enquire?

AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 17:33:21

OP hasn't said the value of the scholarship, if any. Many are now purely titular and full fees remain payable. Most of those which have cash value are in the range 10-20% off fees; there are still some that are a third off, but very rare to be worth more than that.

OP: Where does DC want to go?

dorapeppageorgenoddy Sat 02-Feb-13 17:49:39

OP i am sure you know but there is a difference between a scholarship place and a bursary - bursaries are means tested and some children can end up on 100% bursary (I know 3 boys on this as very talented at football so independent school pay full fees for them) scholarships are linked to academic so you can have a scholar on a small bursary or a scholar on a large bursary - OP what offer have you been given? Is it till 18? 16?

Maybe re look at the exact wording of the letter as I stated earlier maybe its saying

'here is a good offer, but just cause we are giving you a scholarship for fees there will be lots of hidden extras that you should be aware of that don't fall into the scholarship reduction'

Independent schools are strictly audited so some academic scholarships can not then give money for trips or uniform but you can often apply for bursaries for these-

Is the school charitable trust - if it has governors it usually is charitable, most schools that are charitable will have a good bursary scheme you can apply for if needed?

But I'm not sure if your gripe with the school is about money, your child or your own story?


MrsHelsBels74 Sat 02-Feb-13 17:58:06

I stand corrected I'd assumed scholarships were 100% fees in all cases.

I still think it comes down to exact wording, you paraphrased the head had said 'you probably won't fit in' then said they'd actually said 'they were concerned you might not fit in', IMO these say slightly different things.

dorapeppageorgenoddy Sat 02-Feb-13 18:06:01

Hels bels -sorry if my post was bossy I did nt mean to correct you and in this case it may be different to what is normal...

Lots of schools still offer scholarships that are substantial but bursaries are more about means tested help with fees once the pupils is in the school - a scholarship is (in my experience) based on a strong academic candidate and still can be 75% of fees but as the OP mentioned fees I presume it is less -

Anyway I am not sure if the OP is concerned about fees or fitting in or something else??

I could be wrong about this school as I still can't think of a school that is 100% white in a city? That actively links with primary schools to sit entrance exams to offer places for academic children?

TotallyBS Sat 02-Feb-13 18:09:03

grin it gets better and better. I mean you actually lectured the school on its inclusion policy?

The mystery deepens as to why the HM thinks you and your DC may not fit in.

MrsHelsBels74 Sat 02-Feb-13 18:09:51

No honestly that wasn't a sarky 'I stand corrected' it was a genuine comment.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 18:14:50

yes its only 25% off the fees. And I agree its odd, hence my initial post, that they would offer DC a place and then make comments that would put me off accepting it. Had this not happened I would not have posted on here. But even if I have read more into the letter than was meant it has caused me to consider the elitist attitude of the school more closely.

My grip isn't isn't about money, unless you consider it a value for money issue. Its about what I consider the best way to raise a child and (in reference to this school alone) bringing a child up in social exclusion is not what I think is right.

blueemerald Sat 02-Feb-13 18:15:35

Whilst I'm not entirely sure of the OP's version of events please don't think that Headteachers don't ever put stupid things in writing.

My mother has the letter from my brother's special school headteacher stating that it was 'unheard of' for any child to get extra time or a laptop in public exams.

Tribunal had a riot with that one.

dorapeppageorgenoddy Sat 02-Feb-13 18:17:55

Looked up a few bursaries and scholarships examples from a few schools and they state things such as must maintain excellence in the area, must be cooperative member of the school - OP does the letter read like the 3rd example here? Or is it more direct?

Harrow; A Scholarship is a financial award for excellence. A bursary is a means-tested award for parents who could not otherwise afford the fees, whose sons have been awarded a Scholarship by Harrow. Most Scholarships and bursaries are awarded in the months before a boy enters Harrow. Honorary Scholarships are sometimes given to boys after they have started at Harrow but there is no fee reduction.

Brighton College seeks to reward children of exceptional ability with Scholarships and Exhibitions to the College. All awards are offered as monetary amounts per annum, and will normally remain with the pupil until they leave the College, or as otherwise defined below... However, the overall value of a combined scholarship is limited to a maximum of £8,000 per annum.
Our Scholarship and Bursary programme aims to encourage excellence across our Schools, while making the education we offer as accessible as possible.

Greshams -
Scholarships are offered to talented and dedicated students who show outstanding potential academically or in the fields of Art, Drama, Music or Sport. Scholarships are normally rewarded for the duration of a pupil’s career at the School on the condition that the pupil remains a positive and co-operative member of our community, and continues to contribute to the School's academic or extra-curricular life. Bursary funding is also available, both to scholarship holders and to children who do not win a scholarship but are likely to benefit substantially from a Gresham's education. Bursaries are offered in situations of individual need, and are considered on a case-by-case basis.

dorapeppageorgenoddy Sat 02-Feb-13 18:24:19

OP missed your update - after reading your last post I think you probably have already agreed to decline - it is about value for money and it is about you being happy with the schools ethos and values if you are already made to feel challenged by them then it is probably the wrong school -

How do you know it is still made up of 2nd/3rd generation families? It sounds an outdated stat?

Have you look the school up on the good schools guide? As it will give you current stats on ethnicity/gender split/uni destinations etc

I can't imagine what town is feeding 100% white small senior school that is surviving-

Still would love to know - anyway thanks for the update it sounds more balanced - hope second choice schools suit your son more? What are your state school options like? If he is bright I am sure he will do well?

exexpat Sat 02-Feb-13 19:00:10

I do not believe that any independent school in the UK is 100% white, or even close to it. I live in a big city, my DCs go to two of the independent schools here and I have visited every one of the six others, and I would say even the very whitest one has at least 5-10% ethnic minorities, and the poshest one would be more like 30%. The OP's story is sounding more and more unlikely to me - it sounds more like someone's prejudiced idea of what private schools are like.

CountingClouds Sat 02-Feb-13 19:13:12

dorapeppageorgenoddy - at a stretch it could be like "maintaining excellence in the area", if you interpret that as to be excellence in the area of that population demographic. Which might be a valid clause but what I would say is social discrimination.

I had a few further thoughts, could they be offering the place because they are legally obliged to under some rule related to his test results, but really don't want me to accept it. Or do they want to be able to say they have offered so many scholarships to less wealthy families but again don't want us to accept?

I know the school was filled with 2nd/3rd gen families because the head always started presentations with, "I am so pleased to see so many parents here that attended the school and are now sending their children here..." In the video presentations it had (grand)parents who had been at the school talking about how great the school was and how happy they were to see their (grand)children going. The videos themselves were very like stereotypical political broadcasts. And I talked to many of the parents there and they told me, they were nice enough and I have no complaints, just not on my level so I probably wouldn't mix well with them even if I wanted to.

The school used to be single sex but was going under financially so converted to mixed sex in recent years.

Our state school options used to be awful which is why I had saved up for private but in past 2/3 years (and possibly decided to early), since converting to academy one local school has become good enough that I know me and DC would be happy there. I suppose I am being 'snobbish' worrying what school would look best on a CV in ten years time, or the doors such a school would open...

Muminwestlondon Sat 02-Feb-13 19:19:13

Counting Clouds - the thread has moved on a bit but yes they do sleepovers in Hamleys - assume they still do - this was I think 3 years ago although she still has the rich friend. They were pranching around in the windows while the store was closed during the night much to the amusement of passers by. She came back with hundreds of pounds worth of stuff, carrier bags full.

seeker Sat 02-Feb-13 19:19:44

"I suppose I am being 'snobbish' worrying what school would look best on a CV in ten years time, or the doors such a school would open..."

I wouldn't worry- he's obviously going to breeze into Oxbridge - so all necessary doors will be opened to him.

TheFallenNinja Sat 02-Feb-13 19:21:02

This is nonsense. Did you decide it was full of snobs after you dreamt of sending your child to one.

Whether we like it or not, people from private schools largely go into occupations and positions such as bankers, politicians and lawyers that we then resent as its seen as a position of privilege, what did you expect?

No CC - "maintaining excellence in the area" means say you get a music scholarship you need to continue going up the grades with your instrument(s) and participating in the school orchestra etc.

And no I don't think you're being snobby looking ahead for your son ten years ... secondary school is very important .... it generally has an effect on important exam results and is a place many people make some good friendships.

seeker Sat 02-Feb-13 19:31:45

Is it just me finds this "good friendships" and "opening doors" stuff rather yucky?

I was just saying that most of us care about which secondary school (and primary, and nursery) they go to. And it's lovely to see my DD making friendships as she becomes a teenager - she's just gone to a party tonight.
As it happens it's not a private school, but it is a good one that I'm very happy with.

So the "good friendships" from me weren't part of any "opening doors" thing.

exexpat Sat 02-Feb-13 19:42:03

Yucky, but also not true, except perhaps for a handful of the 'top' private schools (Eton, Westminster etc). I went to private secondary & 6th form and can honestly say that my 'contacts' from school have not been in the slightest bit useful to me in later life, and although I lost touch with just about everyone from school, the ones I have reconnected with via Facebook etc or heard of via other people are certainly not in super-high-flying, 'door-opening' jobs.

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