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Secondary School - move or go private - what would you do?

(15 Posts)
Thomasina76 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:06:01

Having a massive dilemma about school, albeit a bit prematurely. DH is in year 4 at an outstanding state primary. Our local comprehensive is rated good but the results are not good and seems very rough. Most people do seem to move or go private for secondary although some people are starting to stay and send their kids to the local school so there is a chance it will improve, although maybe not in time for DS. There are two outstanding state secondary schools in an area which is a 15 minute drive from here we live and I would be delighted if DSs went to either. One in particular seems fantastic. The catchment, of course, is tiny (0.5). So the question is whether we move into the catchment area or go private.

In terms of money, most houses in catchment are around 1.2 million so we will be paying around 67k in stamp duty say plus £35k in estate agents fees plus other moving costs. The houses, in general, seem not as nice as our current house (different style, lots of new builds etc) and the area is not nearly as nice. So, the cost of moving would basically be the same price as school fees for one child over 5 years, maybe a bit less, but he would be going to an amazing school and DS2 should get a place. The main reason I don't want to move is that I love our house and the area we live in and don't want the whole disruption of moving to what will probably be a slightly worse house in an area that is not nearly as nice. Just wondering if it's worth it.

As for private school, we can afford it but it will mean sacrifices and constant pressure, not to mention having to tutor DSs to get them into these schools. Most of the schools DS1 stands a chance of getting into would mean getting a bus to another part of London around 30 minutes each way which isn't horrendous but I would much prefer that they could walk to school or only had a short bus ride (wouldn't everyone?).

Just wondering what others would decide in this position.

Riversiderunner Fri 07-Oct-16 14:09:12

Would you definitely get him in to the school if you moved?

If there's any question mark over it, I would stay put.

TeenAndTween Fri 07-Oct-16 14:35:16

Our local comprehensive is rated good but the results are not good and seems very rough.

Have you
- visited the school yourself?
- drilled down the results below the headline 5A*-C figures? Have you looked at their added value figures, and the figures for children coming in with the (expected) profile of your child?
- clarified what 'seems very rough' means. e.g. are there knife fights every over week or are the pupils a bit scruffy and loud out of school?

I think you should make sure you do the above before taking action which will cost ££££

redskytonight Fri 07-Oct-16 14:38:24

Have you actually seen your local comprehensive or are you just basing your opinion on heresay?

I wouldn't move to a less nice house on the vagaries of getting into a school (which might go downhill in the next 2 years, or turn out not to suit your child so well).
It sounds like private would be a financial struggle and more pressure than you want.

So unless the local comprehensive was truly awful (which your post is not shouting is the case) I'd be looking at sending DC there and using my cash to supplement with tutoring/extra curricular if necessary.

100greenbottles Fri 07-Oct-16 14:42:32

If you can afford both options, taking into account fee increases, I would visit the private schools now and see if you see your child there.
Fwiw we had this issue and stayed. The state options are now all reasonable, though with their improvement has come decreased catchments. Still worry we are not doing the right thing, but haven't seen a private that would trump having a local school.

Thomasina76 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:45:06

I have been to events in the grounds of the local comp many times and am going to an open evening there next week. It's a mix of kids' behaviour not being great around local area, reports of bullying/fights in and outside of school, teaching not being amazing and results not that impressive. I am clearly not alone in having reservations. I haven't ruled it out but, like all parent, I want the best possible education for them. I tried to stress that private is possible for us and there would no better use of money than to spend it on education.

It's obviously not guaranteed that we would get into the outstanding school (or any school) but if we move within 0.5 miles we should be ok.

flupcake Fri 07-Oct-16 14:49:02

Yes what does 'seems very rough' mean? If it means you don't like the look of the kids coming out at the end of the school day, you'll probably find that other schools are just the same. A friend of mine was shocked at the behaviour of the boys coming out of the grammar school she visited. When you have a year 4 child, I think a group of teenagers from most schools can look intimidating.

On the other hand if you are aware that the school has crime, fighting, bullying then that's a different matter.

Also I wouldn't just look at the results and Ofsted reports. I have visited a lot of schools recently, and I didn't actually like the atmosphere of the one with the best results. It didn't seem as caring and nurturing as the one with slightly lower results. Also, you do need to drill down - for example do the schools with the best results 'select' their pupils in any way (through tests, music scholarships etc) because if they do, the results will of course be better.

iseenodust Fri 07-Oct-16 14:55:02

I would go private. Any school can change for better or worse in three years. If the local school gets better then brilliant. If the state secondary requiring a move gets worse or even just doesn't turn out great for your child then you've spent your money and don't like where you live.

Thomasina76 Fri 07-Oct-16 15:59:37

Flupcake, I just get that from what other people have told me about the school. People who have friends with kids at the school. One child was beaten up, reports of bullying etc. The school has a high percentage of kids on free meals. I think it might be ok, just, but I don't think it's the sort of school with inspiring teaching where kids do brilliantly.

Agree about not just looking at Ofsted reports. Some outstanding schools don't get good results and good results don't necessarily mean a good atmosphere/mix of kids.

Thomasina76 Fri 07-Oct-16 16:09:44

Thanks I seennodust. I tend to agree. One of the state secondaries in question, however, has been excellent for years, gets included in lists of top secondary schools in the country. People who live in catchment tend not to go private. Would you still not move?

mary21 Fri 07-Oct-16 16:20:41

I would probably stay put. But do visit all the potential schools. Not all outstanding schools stay outstanding. Check out how all the schools do by the disadvantaged pupils. If they do well teaching is probably good. If not the non disadvantaged may be doing well from influences out of school such as tutoring.
If lots go private in your area your local school may have bigger numbers of poorer pupils than the outstanding school.
Check out the private schools too. Do you really like them. Do you see your ds there .if so go for it. If a bit meh it's a lot of money.

redskytonight Fri 07-Oct-16 17:31:06

Ah OP -so your information is from "people who have friends with children at the school". In other words, second hand hearsay. Really, go and see the school yourself - or at least talk to a parent who actually has a child there!
I suspect because "most people move or go private" you are actually worried that the intake will be from "people who are not like us". Do look at the drill down of the results (available on gov.uk website) - it might be that the school is poor, like you say or equally that the teachers do very well with a less supported/less able intake.

Thomasina76 Fri 07-Oct-16 17:44:52

I have spoken to a couple of friends with kids at the school but they haven't been there that long so don't have that much to say. I'm not if it makes much of a different as to why it is not a high performing school - it just isn't! At the moment, I am trying to decide between moving or going private rather than focussing on whether the local school is good enough. I am going to see it next week but I don't expect my view will change massively. I would be delighted if it did!

Dixiechickonhols Fri 07-Oct-16 21:23:42

Visit the schools. The open nights are now, you may have missed some for this year. No one asks how old DC is. Visit the private schools too. We moved yr 3 for many reasons but one was to get into a better secondary schooling area. I don't think you are early. If any choices are selective then you will be needing to prep DC yr 5 for tests at start of yr 6. The only way to tell is to see for yourself. Our catchment catholic school is ofsted outstanding, great results, people speak positively about it but having visited twice now at open evenings know it is definitely not for DD.

Witchend Fri 07-Oct-16 22:41:43

Speak to people who have a child at the school, not find out the general reputation.
We have three schools locally.
School A. Outstanding by Ofsted (although it was the dodgiest one I've ever come across) Reputation is excellent.
School B: Good with outstanding Features. Okay reputation.
School C: Just pulling back from really failing Ofsted. Sort of school people say "anything but"/"Wouldn't touch with a bargepole."

Speak to current parents:
School A: Huge bullying issue which isn't ever address (head of school says "we have no bullying"). Results last 2-3 years have been the worst of the three (according to the school this is "because exams are being meanly marked"-strange because they use the same exam boards as the others). Lots of unhappy parents. A couple of years ago I knew over half a dozen children who were moved in year 7 because of big issues that no one addressed. Almost impossible to get any communication with them.
School B: Generally parents happy. A few complaints. Best results locally and going up. Communication between school and parents (with questions or complaints) excellent.
School C: Medium results, but the worst intake so value added really good. Haven't hears a parent with a child there have anything to say against the school, even though they've often been given it against their wishes.

SO don't rely on "Friend of someone with children there".

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