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State or private at secondary?

(12 Posts)
AuntieUrsula Tue 26-Nov-13 13:19:34

With oldest DC in Year 5 we are thinking about where to send them next and finding it really hard! The state secondaries near us are all average at best but we live close to an independent school that we could just about afford if we double our mortgage.

There is a really good state secondary a few miles away that many kids go to from their current school and they all seem to love it, and the GCSE results are almost as good as the private school's, but we would have to move house into the catchment area to have a chance of going there. Of course lots of parents do exactly that so property prices are pretty steep and we'd probably have to double our mortgage again to afford a house anything like the one we currently have.

We've been round both schools and they both seem great, so we're still going round the endless debate - the stress and hassle of moving versus the huge financial commitment of private school (and that is assuming DC will pass the entrance exam!). Is the experience at private school really so much better that it justifies the £15k per year cost? Or would they actually be fine at mediocre local school?

FrancesHB Tue 26-Nov-13 13:27:14

We're in exactly the same position. At the moment we've decided we really can't afford private so it's stay put and make the best of the v average state comp (11-16) or buy a smaller more expensive house in catchment of excellent comp (11-18). A dilemma.

Ladymuck Tue 26-Nov-13 14:03:12

If you are looking at doubling your mortgage, then surely that is itself a huge financial commitment? I guess the assumption you are making is that the school will continue to be good and sought after, but a change in head, or a dodgy set of results (which may just reflect the intake not the school) could lead to a drop in popularity (and therefore possibly house prices).

RiversideMum Tue 26-Nov-13 18:11:09

Interest rates are likely to go up over the next 5 years. School fees increase at above inflation. Don't go to a place that will leave you in a dodgy financial situation.

Lottiedoubtie Tue 26-Nov-13 18:14:33

Honestly? Doesn't sound like you can afford either school. So i'd advise average school and tutors/extracurricular activities in abundance.

It's shit, but it's the position more than 59% of parents/kids face. And plenty of good, decent, successful people went to average schools.

CaroBeaner Tue 26-Nov-13 18:58:57

I would either move to a more modest house in the other catchment , or trust to your kids ability in the local school. You might get In to the school you want from the waiting list, anyway. But unless you are extremely well cushioned financially I Don't think this is the time to double a mortgage.

Have you looked at the detailed Dept of Ed profile of the school to see how many children in your DC ability band reach target and what the value added score is? GCSE Results aren't everything.

Thants Tue 26-Nov-13 19:06:41

Send them to your local state school.

Talkinpeace Tue 26-Nov-13 20:28:18

if the State school gets results similar to the private school it is doing better - because state schools generally do not select and so have very low ability kids to skew their results

go state
and do lots of fun extra curricular

HRHLadyG Tue 26-Nov-13 20:31:50

Private x

Janacek Thu 28-Nov-13 18:50:18

State and tutors. I wouldn't advise private unless you can easily afford it.

CareersDragon Fri 29-Nov-13 21:53:50

So hard to decide!

There are pros & cons to all routes. Which school does your DC prefer & where will his/her friends be going? Did you have a gut instinct about any of the schools, positive/ negative? It's so important to feel "right" in the school - whether it's the environment, ethos, or whatever.

Do you have a sense whether your DC might excel in any area academically/ sporting/ music & do any of the schools have strengths in these areas?
The private schools all have scholarships/bursaries that your DC could apply for maybe?

In terms of prospects after school, the "best" universities are keen to accept applications from "bog standard state schools", often making lower offers to compensate for the so-called perceived advantage of private schools. Some private school parents think about putting their kids in the local 6th form to get this advantage!

We went private & I'm still not sure if we did the right thing. The fees rose enormously over the 7 years, such that university fees seemed cheap! We could have put a substantial down-payment on a house for her, with the money we spent. The other thing to bear in mind is all the "extras": expensive school uniforms, school trips, etc. Also it can lead to having a slightly warped view of society and what is "normal". Doesn't everyone have a pony, a housekeeper and a new car for their 18th Birthday?

Don't know if that helps?

MillyMollyMama Fri 29-Nov-13 23:05:15

Only some "bog standard schools" get the lower offers. They have to be on the published list. See the one published by the University of Bristol as a starting point to see if the local school is bad enough to qualify. However an "average" independent school is not worth the money and the extras you will pay will be huge. Also consider if your child will be disadvantaged there because you will, it appears, always be struggling to pay the fees and the uniform definitely will not come from M and S!

Personally I would look for a stonkingly good independent, assuming you can get in, or have lots of informative and brilliant holidays as a family if you stay at the local school. If you pay, do at least get value for money. Why pay for something that does not seem to be any better than a comprehensive? It probably will not be too difficult to get into though.

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