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Help - grammar or independent

(15 Posts)
navoie Mon 05-Jan-15 16:07:36

I am driving myself to distraction trying to decide what is right for DS next school year. He is currently at a prep school with smallish classes and lots of attention. His younger sibling is there too.

DS is super smart but also slightly SEN.

He got a place a top grammar school - big smiley faces from prep school teachers, friends family etc. But both DH and I are secretly not so sure. Results are absolutely brilliant but then this a highly highly selective grammar so they would be. Kids all go on to Oxbridge and similar. Classes are big, facilities not great - a bit careworn, sports opportunities for non sporty sorts are very limited. Head of SEN didn't seem v interested (really a biology teacher).

The alternative is an ex grammar school now independent with smaller classes, more modern facilities, more sports inclusivity but less good results (it is selective but not excessively so). Have an independent Head of SEN. If it didn't cost money I'd choose this one. The best thing is younger sibling would be able to get in too.

I realise if we choose private that we are going to have to make big financial sacrifices including not pay off our mortgage possibly. Last few years have been a real struggle with both at independent schools. It's so tempting to say 'yay - free education'.Does anyone have any insight?

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Mon 05-Jan-15 16:12:53

If it were me, I'd see how things go in the Grammar and move him if necessary (spend the money you save on extra curricular activities if you wish). You can have one child in a private school and one child in a state school, there's no problem with this. You find the right school for each child, what's right for one may not be right for another.

TheFirstOfHerName Mon 05-Jan-15 16:18:00

DS2 has ASD/ADHD but is also highly able (think top 0.1%). He is in Y8 at a partially selective state school (like a grammar in every way). His experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Comparing with friends' experiences, I would say that mainstream state schools have the edge over mainstream independent schools when it comes to providing support for children with SEN.

navoie Mon 05-Jan-15 16:20:15

Thanks ladysybil. I should have said that the two schools are miles apart. So if we choose one (which we are going to move nearer to) short of moving house we won't be able to shift to the others. So I don't feel I have the luxury of really trying it out IYKWIM. sad((((

My youngest really really wants to be in the same school as DS. DS isn't so concerned LOL.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Mon 05-Jan-15 16:30:55

Ah, I see sad

Ds is dyspraxic, hypermobile and has social skills delay, very bright though, and he's at a private school. They are wonderful with him but some of his teachers are more understanding then others. Sports wise, he doesn't get involved as he can't run/jump etc, and he finds it tough to get along with the other boys so doesn't do a great deal of clubs. It's a selective school, top 20 in the UK but there isn't a grammar school here so it was here or the local state school which has major behaviour and bullying issues. They would have eaten him alive and I wasn't prepared to put him through this.

Have you approached the private school about a bursary?

SpikeStoker Mon 05-Jan-15 16:36:59

If you can make the finances work you should trust your gut instinct, which from your original post seems to be that, other then fees, you'd prefer the independent school.

Getting the right school for the child is important, good luck with your choice.

TeenAndTween Mon 05-Jan-15 16:46:17

You may have already ruled it out for a good reason, but:

What are the other state options like that aren't the grammar?

If it is a good 'nearly-comp' it may still do fantastic things with the high achievers, and may do well with SEN too. Yes its results on paper won't be so good as the top will be being creamed off, but what does it do with the top ones it has?

Quitethewoodsman Tue 06-Jan-15 06:24:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

happygardening Tue 06-Jan-15 09:54:04

"A good comp will have SEN really licked"
I can't say that's my experience but them it's not my general experience of the independent sector either!
Do you know if your independent schools SEN dept is any good?
Plenty have independent dept heads but it's whether or not it's be filtered down to all the other staff and that they are taking it on board that actually counts.
You say he's "slightly SEN" DS2 is mildly dyslexic and he's been fine in the independent sector, his needs have been very well met and he's received excellent support and I'm sure he would have been fine in the state sector. DS1 is "moderately dyslexic but it not does not present in an obvious way he's was let down very badly by both his very well regarded prep (with a dedicated SEN dept/staff) and his "outstanding" comp.
I would go and talk to both schools and try and get a true feel for what's going on. But it is all down to the individual teachers, DS1 has a significant processing disorder bottom 3% but his old math teacher couldn't see how that would effect his math! Some just won't or can't be bothered to read information provided by SEN depts, some schools are fundamentally uninterested in SEN (what ever their websites say) and will make very little effort to accommodate children's needs.

navoie Sun 18-Jan-15 14:39:21

Thanks all. Sorry I've been away for a few days. I have been v impressed with the SEN support and interest at the independent and v unimpressed with the grammar which seems to take a view that - your child is smart so what's the issue!

TalkinPeace Sun 18-Jan-15 17:29:40

Move away from the pockets of the country that have the poison of grammars and relax?

portico Sun 18-Jan-15 20:52:21

That is a harsh thing to say about grammars, TalkinPeace. Remember, students have had to study hard and smartly to gain entry into these fine institutions.

To the op, if you can afford it comfortably go to the independent school, otherwise choose the grammar school.

opalfire Thu 22-Jan-15 11:53:36

OP. I'd be interested to find out what you decided in the end.

In your shoes I'd probably choose the Independent. I wouldn't really want to start moving DS about once friendship groups have been initiated. Not impossible but an added problem. You want your DS to be happy and it sounds like the Independent would give him the best chance. In the mean time DS2 might want to be with DS1 at the moment but might change his mind! Lots of people have children in different schools - each best for their own needs. Good luck

navoie Tue 27-Jan-15 21:38:40

Well we visited the independent with the children again and my youngest is SO keen to go and I do love it. But DS wants to go to the grammar with his friend (he is scared because he knows no one in the independent). Must make our minds up in 4 weeks so will let you know opalfire.

Draylon Tue 27-Jan-15 22:04:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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