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Which do you think would get best out of DD - SW private or state?

(19 Posts)
Thickenham Tue 17-Nov-15 10:09:50

Hi there. Newbie here so apologies if this a repeat of old threads. My DD is in Yr 6 of a decent state primary and we are doing the painful secondary school "selection".

I had a question re what people thought would likely get the best of my DD. She's top half of class, generally academically solid but def not the high flyer, good at music and sports, fairly confident in class but has the odd wobble in terms of self-belief.

What I am struggling with is whether a girl like that would benefit more from a state school or if there is something extra that some of the private schools can offer (I am state educated so have no idea). For context the state school is Waldegrave - we are right in the catchment area and it's a great school - and we would probably look at the likes of Surbiton High, St Catherine's, Kew House and Putney High. I don't think LEH or SPGS would at all suit her temperament.

I guess my question is would a steady decent performer but not a rock star (someone who is a "confidence player" - flies high when she confident but prone sometimes to self doubt when she compares herself to her smarter classmates) would thrive better in a state school where she might be closer to the top of the academic pack than in somewhere like Putney where she may be in the bottom half academically but where the overall year group is maybe pushed harder/inspired more/taught better or whatever a good private school adds to the equation.

I want to set aside issues like cost, ideology, travel time and sports facilities as I think I can make a call on those. Thanks in advance.

TeenAndTween Tue 17-Nov-15 10:18:06

You have actually applied to State already though, haven't you?
Applications closed at the end of October.

(Just checking, I've no knowledge even of whether the schools you listed are state or private so can't comment further).

Thickenham Tue 17-Nov-15 10:36:06

Yes. Thanks - all taken care off on the applications for state and the private schools mentioned. It's bit of a theoretical discussion at the moment as DD obviously hasn't even sat the private school exams or got offers but I'm trying to piece together as much as a can in terms of issues to consider, given my general ignorance of private education.

fleurdelacourt Tue 17-Nov-15 10:40:16

there is a theory that kids do better when they are a 'big fish in a small pond' - ie where they are near the top of the intake and so therefore feel more confident in their abilities and get more attention. But as a parent that can be a hard line to swallow as you don't want to sell your dc short.

FWIW we're in the same place - dc lacks self belief despite being generally a high achiever. We're casting our net wide and will make the decision in March when we have all the results in.

One thing to note - the deadline for registration for independent schools is wither very close or has passed. So if you are interested in those independent schools, you need to get on with applying?

Thickenham Tue 17-Nov-15 10:52:32

Thanks for that. My op was a bit poorly worded. By "probably look at" I mean we have registered and visited open days and would think about them seriously as options should my DD be lucky enough to have several choices. We have also put her in for Godolphin and Latymer but I don't think she is necessarily in that league academically - she loved the school and wanted to apply, so we are going to let her do that.

It's the big fish in a small pool concept that I am struggling with. Would she be better being a confident, close to top of the class girl who ends up with a mix of, say As and Bs at a good comp or a the middle of pack at best at a decent private school but ends up with straight As because they are pushed harder, taught better, pulled along by more motivated class mates or whatever.

I've never really been able to assess of the same girl will get the same grades regardless of school (provided both schools are fairly decent).

lenibose Tue 17-Nov-15 11:13:44

I suspect you live not too far from me if that's your catchment school. Personally it depends on the school. I would pick Waldegrave over Kew House for sure, and maybe even St. Catherine's. Neither have a reputation for being academically strong, especially the former. And if you are moving for academic rather than social/pastoral reasons then I would assume that's a consideration. Presumably you don't think she stands a chance at Tiffin? I have heard good things about Putney High from mums of state school kids, but I don't know much about Surbiton. I think it might also come down to the question of money- would independent school be a financial stretch? How much would you have for extracurriculars? Putney High is offering a trip to China this year and it costs £1300! Not saying you should spend that on a school trip but just trying to give you a sense of the extras. If those are not a concern, then I would wait for her results and perhaps consider Putney/Surbiton. You might find that she's not academically middle/bottom but is in fact doing much better in a more stimulating environment.

MsMargaretHale Tue 17-Nov-15 11:30:40

I think if you are offered a place at an outstanding state school, you have to be barking mad to fork out for private unless your DC has special needs.....and even then it depends on what that need is. If you want to supplement the state offering you can do that with paid for extra curricular. Use the £70,000 plus you will save to pay Universityfees/deposit on flat.

I think the big problem with private schools is that your DC grow up in a kind of bubble. This means many leave school with little or no social range and can struggle both at University and in the work place because their life experience is so limited.

lenibose Tue 17-Nov-15 12:41:01

I suspect the catchment at Waldegrave is not dissimilar to that of pretty much any of the other independent schools on that list. So the bubble issue is not that relevant per se. Personally, I would sacrifice a lot to pay for excellent education (as long as that was demonstrably better than the state offering)- but that may be the immigrant in me. To me the deposit on a flat isn't so important but I am willing to admit that others might have different priorities.

The grades question is not irrelevant. Niece went from state primary to top independent. 12A*s at GCSE and 2A*s and an A at A levels. Her primary school classmates who were at a similar stage to her academically (and better) and didn't go to private schools, didn't do as well. Some got 6-7A*s which is great, but a lot of them got a mix of As and Bs and then applied to weaker Universities. Most of the parents of those girls couldn't have afforded private school and it does show up how unfair the system is. It also shows that private schools can be an exam factory. And my niece is struggling with the self directed study aspect at University as I predicted she would because they are spoon fed a lot at private school. However, anecdotally, it does suggest to me that at least from the perspective of grades (and those then determining choice of Uni), independent schools may have the edge, certainly in London.

TeddTess Tue 17-Nov-15 12:54:58

if you're just looking at academics then waldegrave plus tutoring (which is the norm there) makes more sense

you have to look broader than the academics though. what extra curricular does she do? do any of the schools cater for a talent she has? is she sporty? would she like to be more involved in sport (private schools have WAY more coaching, depth of teams etc.. than the state sector ime).

you could always do waldegrave to GCSE then switch for A levels

Thickenham Tue 17-Nov-15 13:20:54

Thanks for all the thoughtful answers. I am very much aware there are a lot of non-exam result issues that I need to think about - it's clearly not all about results but that's the specific subject I am obsessing on at the moment. I am trying to deal with the other ones as well and think I can assess those better than this one.

Lenibose, that is useful colour. It's part of my nagging doubt on the exam results. It's hard to do a controlled experiment though so it relies on anecdotal comparisons and I don't know that many kids who have gone through the system in private and state but were broadly similar at year 6. Plus there are so many other factors that impact development along the way.

Thickenham Tue 17-Nov-15 13:24:15

Tedd. She is very sporty - plays for the school netball and football team, as well as being in swim club and gymnastics club out of school. I can definitely see the advantage of many private schools over the state in those. Even in primary school her teams are run by well intentioned teachers with no real training while her prep school friends have properly trained coaches.

That's a big tick in the public school box for me. There are others on the side of state.

Autumnsky Tue 17-Nov-15 13:28:52

If finance is not a problem, then it would depend on the school choice and the child. It is not about state or private, it is which school would be suitable for her.

Some child's personality is more resilient, if she is in a compitive enviroment, she will work harder and get a better grade overall and have a good work attitude. But some child may be lost if you put her on this kind of enviroment, she may not work so hard , think she is not the able one anyway.

If the catchment school is quite good, you DD still need to work hard to be in the top, then I would say this would be a good choice.

TeddTess Tue 17-Nov-15 13:35:48

looking at waldegrave specifically vs the local privates, she will be home by 3pm most days.

for many that is a good thing (lots of time for homework, extra curricular etc..) but for others that is a disaster (too much time hanging around in twickenham/richmond or on the xbox).

nowirehangers Tue 17-Nov-15 14:58:43

It's a tough decision, but ignore the "they'll grow up in a bubble and struggle" argument. Yes, they will grow up in a bubble but they won't struggle if you, or they, have any sense. FWIW my bright but not genius dd absolutely flourished, not only academically, but socially and extra-curricularly, when moved from the state to private sector, not least because of her bright, motivated peer group, but someone'll come on and say that the dcs in their dc's state peer group are super-bright and motivated and on and on the argument will go.

Elibean Tue 17-Nov-15 16:12:39

Tough one indeed.

I do think 'bubbles' exist and can matter, but perhaps more at primary than secondary - when social and ethical values and impressions are already grounded and academic development takes over centre stage. All a bit subjective and vague, really, but we went for state primary for that reason (no regrets).

Our dd actually chose Kew House over and above KGC, Emanuel and the local state school (which was her second choice) - and as she is thriving, academically as well as generally, her gut feeling was clearly well placed. Our second dd may well make different choices: they are both quite academic, but have different tastes.

I think so much depends on your priorities, and on the individual child....personally, I believe a happy well supported child is the most likely to do well in terms of academics and personal development, especially in the long term. And where a child will be happy and well supported does depend on the child as well as the school - the 'fit', if you will.

Good luck wherever you choose!

mary21 Tue 17-Nov-15 16:24:47

Hi Waldegrave is a very good school. Compared to the other local ComPS their pupils do better irrespective of whether they are high middle or low acheivers. However they do seem to work their pupils harder than Orleans or Teddington. As reported by parents with DS at one and DD at the other. One mum described Waldegrave as a machine!
However I have known a lot of girls who have had problems with bullying especially if they are not girls girls. I know a few who miss the presence of boys and it is reported to suffer bitchiness. This is a girls school thing though.
Waldegrave likes its sports but like all big schools there is less chance of making a team when there is a big year group.
Depends what you want. If its a more personal approach, smaller classes go Indie. If is results Waldegrave is good.
Waldegrave does get girls with behaviour al problems

NWgirls Tue 17-Nov-15 18:16:26

I would personally find it very hard to reject an excellent and local state secondary. But it is definitely worth getting to know several independent schools, and then, at the very end of the process (when your view of them will be clearer, and you see which schools come through as offers or waiting lists worth waiting on - then you make the choice - as it appears you are doing/planning.

In our case (2 years ago) the choice was easier - it was between a very mediocre state school and an independent we believed was a great fit for our DD. That fit appeared quite clear (at the end of the long process) not only because it was at the right academic level (academic without being scarily so) and especially after seeing her smile every time she went to that school (open day, test, interview etc).

DD had been coasting and hiding (keeping her head down) in an OK state primary - with little homework, so-so teaching and some low level disruption. The state secondary appeared to have a somewhat similar culture to her primary, and knowing DD, she would have taken the same approach as at primary, and keeping many of the same friends. We wanted a friendly, supportive and academic school where she would be comfortable and hopefully gradually grow in confidence and be encouraged ("pulled") to work and achieve more than she did at primary.

She was similar academically to what your DD sounds like, OP. BTW DD also loved G&L, but that was always a (too) long shot.

Now (in year 8) she is thriving, working hard at her homework (without any pushing), with good new friends who are a really positive and friendly peer group - and really excellent teachers. She is proud of her school and keen to keep up. Occasional positive reinforcements (merits for a good test / homework piece, or a good comment in class) really works a treat with her. She is noticed (but still keeps a modest profile, as is her personality) and also likes (almost) all her teachers and also the SLT, who seem very approachable and warm - so we appear to have achieved what we had been hoping for.

Whether your DD would respond similarly positively at independent X (relative to W) is of course a key question.

Grade speculation/expectations are tricky and might come back and bite me in a few years, but in my DD's case, If you force me to bet today, I would say she is likely to get mostly As with perhaps a couple of Bs and/or stars - as is typical GCSEs at this school. I would expect mostly Bs (or less?) if she had gone to the local state school. (Well, they will be numbers with the new system, but you know what I mean). So in my DD's case I think academics will be clearly better - because of better enjoyment, more effort (going with the flow of keen peers + higher expectations) and higher quality teaching. This I feel is worrh paying for. If we had a great state option it would be more finely balanced.

TeddTess Tue 17-Nov-15 18:28:00

I turned down waldegrave.
I just thought dd would be happier in the school we chose. no regrets so far. i don't actually think she will necessarily get better GCSEs but i think her journey to the end result will be better, fuller, more enjoyable. i could be a mug.

MLP Wed 18-Nov-15 15:20:55

We did Waldegrave over PHS although that was in large part driven by cost. We could afford private but it would have meant cutting back on a lot of other things.

DD is happy but there will always be a nagging part of me that wonders what if she had gone to PHS

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