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Do you think private schools give your children a advantage in life ?

(404 Posts)
mistybear Sun 15-Feb-15 09:05:47

I am thinking of going back to work full time so I can send my dd to a private secondary school. My husband and I keep going around in circles of whether or not there is any advantage to a private education. We are not rich hence having to work full time to afford it and this is one of the questions, will having parents that are not that well off be a massive problem being at private school, we are not in London and the area we live in is not massively affluent. One of the reasons I keep thinking about it is that the people I have as friends and some of my family that have been privately educated are doing well and more importantly doing a job they wanted to do. My dd is hardworking and has already achieved her leaving school targets even though she is in year five, the state secondary schools around us are not the best but a couple are not too bad educational wise but all of them do not have clubs and sports that the private school has. She loves her violin, science and space also her ponies and she loves her warhammer !! she is also a only child x

AuntieStella Sun 15-Feb-15 09:18:40

It depends what you mean by 'advantage'

If the school is both good and exactly right for your DD, then the education she receives will stand her in good stead for whatever life throws at her. That's an advantage.

If you mean something narrower, like grades achieved, the difference will probably be slight. But the journey to get them could be quite different: what actually matters to you/her in a school?

If you mean networking, then possibly. That's harder to predict as it does depend on who is in her year group and whether those children end up wanting a similar path in life. But the peer group you meet at university may well be as, or more, influential.

TeenAndTween Sun 15-Feb-15 09:44:23

I think by definition, almost anyone who educates private must feel that it gives their kids an 'advantage' over their own local state options, otherwise they wouldn't do it.

The only reason for educating privately without advantage that I can see would be childcare. Even going for specialist learning support such as dyslexia implies that support cannot be obtained through the state system.

My DDs go to state, though we could afford private. I think the (good) state schools round us will support them best, and they will continue to mix with a wide range of people. Plus money saved can go on 'extras' such as more adventurous holidays, all school trips, deposit for house later in life.

happygardening Sun 15-Feb-15 09:47:27

My DH went to a famous school he would tell you that in terms of networking it's not made a scrap of difference. It's family/friends connections that are likely to have the biggest impact.
But he would also tell you that the sort of. person he is has also been significantly influenced by his school. Even now (he's middle aged) he can recognise someone from his school of what ever age because of there mannerisms general demeanour etc. The last time I saw a bunch of them together quite a few commented on how alike they were. Note I'm not saying these character traits are necessarily all positive grin.
My DH is exceedingly cultured and knowledgable this was also very much part of his education although not all we've known over the years from his school are this cultured and knowledgable but they are certainly much more cultured and knowledgable than many friends of similar ages who haven't had the luck to be educated at his school and others of it's ilk. DS2 is privately educated DS1 is at a state school he's significantly more cultured and knowledgable that DS1 because his education places a lot of emphasis on cultural education. I like this but obviously not every is bothered, DS2 also loves this side of school like he's got friends at the same school who aren't so interested and are less knowledgable. A lot comes down to the individual.
We do not have a massive income (relatively speaking in comparison to many of DS2's peers) it's never made any difference.
Finally there are private schools and private schools, paying doesn't necessarily make it better. Many parents pay for better results than they believe their DC would have got in the state sector, private schools can be very exam orientated whatever their websites say.

NimpyWWindowmash Sun 15-Feb-15 09:49:21

Depends on the school

Not all private schools are great.

Where I live the state comp outperforms the private secondary in gcse results!

Inasimilarboat Sun 15-Feb-15 09:53:28

If there is a good state school nearby then send your child there and use the money you would save to spend more time with tor child and provide enrichment activities. Maybe have some home tuition as well if needed.

Private schools get better results- because the child who went there in the first place generally are brighter to begin with. However they are extremely competitive environments and the financial commitment could out strain on your family.

If your child is highly motivated, well supported by family and a well rounded individual they will do well wherever they go.

EachandEveryone Sun 15-Feb-15 09:53:57

My cousin did this and it's the best money she's ever spent. Daughter is equally at home with her working class roots and yet mixes well with people she meets through private school. She also talks nicer than the rest of us!

She's had much better support through her exams. They have loads of after school clubs and just more individualised learning. It's not a pushy school to an extreme and the pupils are from all walks of life. Her work placements have been much more professional than my poor nieces who had the choice of sweeping up at a hairdressers or working in a shop. It's just a different experience.

ZeroFunDame Sun 15-Feb-15 10:11:08

Unless you are a Russian oligarch or Bill Gates I would say it is virtually impossible to replicate, at home, the breadth of high level learning and extracurricular opportunities that are available at a very, very few "top" public schools.

Most of the people who would dispute that have no current experience of such a school.

But attendance at such a school guarantees neither a smooth path to Harvard or Oxbridge nor a happy and fulfilled adulthood.

As regards all the independent schools outside that gilded group it's very much a question of suiting yourself. If there's something at a particular school that you think would make life definitively lovely for your particular child while they are at school then it's a reasonable choice to make.

OP "a private school" (as in "any old school as long as we pay) is not specific enough. Too many people end up disappointed if they don't know exactly what they are paying for.

Figmentofmyimagination Sun 15-Feb-15 10:39:06

Alan Bennett puts it best:

www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n12/alan-bennett/fair-play

If you get to the end of an independent education without appreciating that you have been afforded a huge advantage (and that the system is fundamentally unfair) then you haven't had a very effective education.

I am a hypocrite however as both my DDs go to a midrange provincial independent.

It has been a huge financial struggle - at times much worse than I was expecting. Just about everything, apart from the house and car, was being thrown on the school fees bonfire at one point.

I would counsel against setting off down this route if you plan to fund most of the fees from monthly income!

SomewhereIBelong Sun 15-Feb-15 10:54:56

Round here people send their kids through a private education to keep away from the elephant in the room - "rough" people.

Those with money and education living on one side of town, pay to tutor for grammar or send to public school rather than send their kids to their local catchment state secondary in the middle of the council estate. I have 3 friends who have done this. They would not countenance for one second that their child would end up at THAT school.

I live on the other side of town in the catchment of 3 secondary schools where the intake is much more mixed... and had no difficult choices to make.

Rascalls3 Sun 15-Feb-15 11:10:44

My very bright, hard working 21 year old DD was state educated. She achieved all As/A*s at GCSE and A level. She is consistently top of year at her RG uni. On target for a comfortable First (4th year/ Masters) and has just bagged one of two highly sort after funded PHD places.
However.... she failed to get past the interview stage at her Oxford undergraduate interview. Almost certainly partly due to a lack of interview preparation/ Oxbridge entry preparation of any kind. If she had gone to a good private school I am confidant she would have had a much better chance and would have definitely been better prepared.
Would this have been worth the thousands of pounds of school fees and would she have been happier and more fulfilled? I really don't think so.

Rascalls3 Sun 15-Feb-15 11:17:07

Apologies for the massive stealth boast. I do try and keep quiet in RLsmile

Muskey Sun 15-Feb-15 11:35:14

We made the decision to move dd at the beginning of year five from state to private. Our reason for moving her was that she was beng very badly bullied which still is effecting her self confidence two years on and that the teaching in her old school was very hit and miss particularly in computers and science. We were going to send her private at the beginning of year seven anyway. The fact that the school is very nurturing has helped her no end. Is the education better than what she was receiving absolutely. Do I care that most people at the school are very wealthy,not in the slightest does it make a difference the way my child is treated,not that I have noticed. Did I send my child to a private school so that she would mix with "naice children" no because rich or poor children behave badly or well as a result of their home life not because of the school they attend.Is my child happier at her new school than her old school, so much so that I hardly recognise my child some days because she is just happy going into the school. Would I do the same thing again in similar circumstances absolutely. I guess what I am saying is pick the school that will be the best environment for your child regardless of its status.

Ummymumski Sun 15-Feb-15 12:15:50

Alan Bennett's "Fair Play" podcast an absolute revelation. Thank you for link Figmentofmyimagination. It and has reminded me to be true to my core beliefs and, as Alan Bennett talked about so well, not go into "old-person right-wing panic mode".

caringdad66 Sun 15-Feb-15 12:16:53

I have three boys....29 yrs,24yrs,and 11 yrs.
My eldest boy won an assisted place to a top private school.
He flourished,got great results and MOST IMPORTANTLY,MADE MANY FRIENDS AND CONTACTS FROM WEALTHY BUSINESS FAMILIES.
He still networks with his private school friends,and it has helped him greatly in business.
Son number two,unfortunately,not as bright as number one,went to an inner city comp,and never stood a chance.He has served time in a youth offenders institute,and is now unemployable.
Son number three is the brightest of the lot,he attends a well regarded ,state faith school because I can't afford to send him private.
He is disruptive in school,and is coasting along.He finds the work too easy and is falling in with the so called "cool kids".
I am not a Tory voter,but my experiences have taught me that if you can afford it,the best thing you can ever do for your children is to educate them privately. It's just a better ,all round learning environment unfortunately.

ZeroFunDame Sun 15-Feb-15 12:48:01

mumski There are several fairly recent threads discussing what Alan Bennet has to say on private schools: eg this one.

In fact it's astonishing how often his name comes up on MN.

happygardening Sun 15-Feb-15 13:52:55

"Unless you are a Russian oligarch or Bill Gates I would say it is virtually impossible to replicate, at home, the breadth of high level learning and extracurricular opportunities that are available at a very, very few "top" public schools.
Most of the people who would dispute that have no current experience of such a school.
But attendance at such a school guarantees neither a smooth path to Harvard or Oxbridge nor a happy and fulfilled adulthood."
Basically this IMO sums up the whole argument beautifully.

happygardening Sun 15-Feb-15 13:59:20

Am I the only one to be offended by Alan Bennett's description of public school boys at "louts" if my DS stated that those who he meets from the state schools were chavs and proles many would be justifiable jumping up and down. Of course accept that some an small number of public school children are louts but there children small number from the state sector who are louts. Shame on you Alan Bennett for an educated man your just showing your inbuilt irrational prejudices.

Miggsie Sun 15-Feb-15 14:00:53

Round our way the secondaries go from "ok" to "really rubbish" and getting into any of them is a lottery anyway.

We decided to go private as the state sector couldn't provide even half what DD needed.
I did see some private schools that I wouldn't have given my money to under any circumstances.

If there was a good state secondary (like the one I went to) round here and we knew we could get DD in, I wouldn't be paying for private education. But there isn't, so we are.

Now DD is so far ahead for her year group that going back into state would be a disaster - so we consider we are getting more than we could get at state. But that's our particular area.

We know people who only consider "top" private schools - because these must automatically be best - but they are not a panacea and can be disastrous if the child is not well suited to them. I also don't subscribe to the obsession with exam results - as long as you get the right A levels to go to the university you want anything else is wasted effort.

TheWordFactory Sun 15-Feb-15 14:37:58

Yes I do think it gives children an advantage.

But you can only do what you can do in life. If the fees will leave you very short, that advantage may be outweighed by the disadvantage of having no money.

You have to do the math.

Feellikescrooge Sun 15-Feb-15 14:42:34

I work at a very good state school and recently took a small group of our g and t Y9s to a top, possibly the top academically, public school for the day. The opportunities offered there were astounding however the boys we met were lovely and grounded. Although they clearly had opportunities beyond the experience of my pupils, within the joint project we did both groups were able to equally participate. On the minibus home my pupils all said how much they would like to attend this school.

Equally near to where I work is a private school that gets significantly worse results to us. Over the past couple of years we have had quite a few transfer to us and a lot of the parents on our last open evening sent older siblings to the private school but felt it was a waste of money if they could get a better education with better sporting facilities for free a mile down the road.

As others have said it very much depends on the school. It is only good value if it adds something special to your child's life and whilst many do some don't.

ZeroFunDame Sun 15-Feb-15 14:50:50

Also OP you need to remember that most children at private schools will already have the advantage of rich (therefore probably well connected) parents. Those childrens lives post-school may be most influenced by their family background. Internships, postgraduate study, extended foreign travel, a trust fund to buy a first flat, etc might be available to them regardless of where they went to school. Those advantages really matter now and it's not schools that provide them.

For the small proportion of children on bursaries at an independent school this is the stage where they might suddenly find themselves disadvantaged compared to their schoolmates. Particularly if they have imbibed the idea that their lives should be thoughtlessly easy because they went to X school.

ZeroFunDame Sun 15-Feb-15 14:56:42

scrooge That's an interesting comparison. Would you be able to say which aspects of the "top" school would be impossible to replicate at your school and which could be attempted/mimicked, whatever with a little extra money and some goodwill?

And if you could replicate would these things be useful/welcome for the majority of your pupils?

FozzieMK Sun 15-Feb-15 14:59:17

My eldest DD has gone from private school to local college. She is now in her second year and seems to be the only one with any work ethic and good attendance record. She didn't do amazingly well at private school because she isn't amazingly academically gifted, but at college she is top of the class. She is constantly amazed by the attitude of the others around her who watch youtube in lessons, go to the toilet and don't come back for an hour and can't be bothered to turn up half of the time.

I would say private school has given her a good work and punctuality ethic. She is also resilient and couldn't care less what the others are doing, so the ability to keep your head down has also been learnt imho.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 15-Feb-15 15:02:19

I think it depends on the school in question.
If it fits your child then it is going to be better than any alternative irrespective of the sector.
I don't think you can take state, private, public or h.ed and generalise about which is better, because all children are different.
I know for sure that although public schools from an educational pov are renowned for being the best, none of my dc would have fit in or benefited from the education, however good it is.
I think it can give children a huge advantage and this is what we have found in the school dd is to attend from sept.
However, another private school down the road wouldn't.

If you find the best fit and it is private then go for it OP.

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