Turning down grammar place(47 Posts)
This is a first time post so please forgive any mistakes!
My daughter is currently privately educated at junior school, though she did attend a state infant school. We've got an offer to go to an independent school which is very well suited to her but yesterday we received an offer for a highly performing grammar school in our local area. I've been um-ing and ah-ing for over 12 hours, very little sleep!!
Is it worth accepting a grammar place and freeing up funds for university? We don't have an educational trust fund, just pay out of income. What would you do?
Take the grammar place, enrich with lovely holidays, music, etc, and save for uni!
It depends on so many things: Do you like the grammar school and is it suited to her? Can you easily afford to pay fees without any real possibility of difficulty in the future or would it be better for the family and future finances not to have that outgoing? What would your DD prefer to do? Do you have other children that you'd wish to sent to a private school too? Can what the independent school offers be replicated by paying for clubs and / or future tutoring if required or is it vastly different to the grammar?
I think many people given the choice of two fairly comparable schools would choose the free one unless the money really had no impact on their family life at all. But that assumes they are comparable.
To be honest they're hard to compare. The independent is a top 10 school while the grammar is ranked 55th in state schools. My DD has already made it clear she would prefer the independent but we've worked hard to manage her expectations that it would be one of the other and that she has to wait for our decision.
She'd also be the only person in her prep school going independent, there's a cottage industry in my London borough around the grammar school of tuition and to some extent the private preps.
Financially we could afford the independent and still contribute to university; she's an only child which balances the need for a trust fund I guess.
I'm really struggling but I have to decide this weekend as the independent want to know by Monday!
I wouldn't advocate holding onto both offers for months and months - partly because it increases the uncertainty for DD and partly because some poor person on a waiting list somewhere will be desperate for the place you reject I'm sure.
However I also think you don't necessarily have to decide right now. Can you go to see the grammar school again for example? They might let you have a tour on the basis that you hold an offer there. Can you accept the independent offer just to secure it with a view to rejecting it before the first term's fees become payable if you need to? Unless you are definitely rejecting the grammar school offer, you will also need to accept that. It just gives you a coupe of weeks to think it over and explore each option a bit more.
What's the downside of the independent for your family, OP? You haven't mentioned one.
It's more the cost. For a full secondary education it'll cost over £100k, which would go a long way to paying for university. Is it worth paying a lot more to get the right fit school?
I'd take the indie. As she is your only child you won't have the pressure of doing it again to be fair. It's difficult to advise without knowing the actual school but I'm assuming a top London day school with a very well known reputation and v tough to get in if too 10? I think the opportunities and facilities will be incomparable. Although bright girls do well anywhere - I'd take it over the 55th state school. League tables aren't everything but that is a massive difference.
Are you able to name the schools? If it is a top 10 indie that might be hard to look past but it probably depends on your DC. I agree with nightswimming re the league tables.
Based on what you have said, I think the indie could be a good investment in terms of what your daughter can get. Presumably it has excellent extra curricular opportunities as well?
It's not just university. Think how far some of that 100k could go towards getting your DD on the housing ladder.
How much better do you honestly think her results will be from the independent? Are the extra opportunities there really worth 100k?
Top 10 of a small pool vs 55th of a much larger pool.
Mine will be going independent, paid out of income, because we are not in a grammar area. If we were, I would go grammar and save for house deposit, holidays, other enrichment and still be able to back off the pace of my manic life.
What are the schools? We can provide a better answer that way.
Take the money out of your thought process and look at the schools and which is the best fit for your child. Choose that school. We have done the same with a grammar offer and indi offer. One school I feel is a better fit for her, that is the one we have chosen.
It's a personal choice.
We chose between private and top state school, and chose private. With current budgets even top state schools can't offer the range of subjects and opportunities that the private can. If you only care about grades, then maybe state grammar is fine. If you want your DC to be taught beyond the curriculum, and to have a bigger choice of subjects, then private may be the better choice. And if money is an issue then state may be your best option. For us, 100k is well worth it given what our specific private school offers relative to the state option.
On the basis that both schools are 'good',I would value the greater diversity of the state school.
Essentially that's a political perspective - though I realise that affluent parents use coaching to 'buy' places, so the grammar school's intake is not going to be wholly representative of the area where you live.
I would not get hung up about minute differences of position on different kinds o league tables. And 10/11 is also very young for a child to be making a significant decision, as for children it is very much a question of the friendships that they'll go on to make. (But of course, it is always hard for them to visualise being friends with children they haven't met yet.)
On the basis that the Gov are reducing funding to Education, cost cutting seem deep and widespread and lets face it, the Tories are going to be in for a while. Your dd will have more opportunities to study what she likes at an independent school (many state schools are needing to limit choice of exam subjects to save money - grammar schools are not exempt from cost cutting), indies have the financial clout to employ a sufficient number of science/maths/technology teachers resulting in an excellent student staff ratio.
We sent our dcs to an Outstanding Comp, but I have witnessed the effect of cost cutting and their struggle to employ teachers, resulting in our kids being taught by TAs and the school shrugs...there is nothing they can do. As parents we employ tutors to fill the gaps.
As the parent of a child at a Grammar school I would say go for the independent if you feel it is better suited for her.
If our Grammar is anything to go by they are completely results driven in order to look good in the tables.
The pastoral care at my dd's school is shocking, we are at the point of withdrawal.
Please don't try and save money if you think you have found a school where your child will be happy.
I suppose an interesting question is what sort of pressures are brought to bear on independent schools and what is the future like in independent education.
I imagine issues like 'churn' where teachers may opt to teach in less expensive locations, so they can buy houses, affect both locations.
And Brexit is likely to hit many of the rich - not just the poor.
I think all schools are to an extent driven by either what the Government wants and/or what parents want. So many independents will also be results driven - more so if parents want a return for their financial investment. (Certainly independents don't seem to be a zone, where there are no mental health problems for students.)
Also if there is a situation where decreased funding means that good state schools aren't able to help students as well as they used to - and the gap between results in the private and publlic sector widens - universities will need to respond to it. So, quite reasonably, those who are independently educated will have to get A*s - while those who study elsewhere will be admitted to heir chosen courses with slightly lower grades.
user - but that is YOUR grammar school.
I have 2 at grammars, 2 different schools, both have excellent pastoral care, very nurturing environment.
I agree about cost cutting in the pipeline. I do disagree about subject choices etc. That really is so different from school to school, and, if you dd is set on eg medicine, then those wonderful extra subjects on offer at A level are irrelevant, they should be doing 3 sciences.
I am a firm believer in finding the school that fits your child. So I would go back to the grammar and look again and then decide.
Our outstanding, over-subscribed state school does not offer triple science to most high achievers. This is not exactly the best preparation for subjects such as medicine. So it's not just niche subjects such as Latin (which nonetheless is very important to my own DC) but core subjects that are not being offered because of costs.
So, quite reasonably, those who are independently educated will have to get A*s - while those who study elsewhere will be admitted to heir chosen courses with slightly lower grades.
Universities' contextual offers are very rarely more than one grade lower than non-contextual offers. I would be absolutely astonished if universities started offering contextual offers to high achieving grammar schools. (And I work for a university.) Contextuals don't work on a state v private basis - Bristol, for example, uses the overall results and offers contextual offers to those in the bottom half nationally (private or state).
If you only have one child and the fees aren't an issue, I agree with poster who says to take fees out of the equation. What will suit her best. She will most likely get the same results at either school. Where will she be happy, where will she have a nice peer group, and where will she most likely get involved in things. I have 3 DC so my options are different. We just turned down top privates with scholarships and music scholarships for a top grammar. All the schools were fantastic. DS would be happy at any of them, but he wanted the grammar and now we can afford to send him on all the trips the school has to offer. We wouldn't be able to do that at the privates. It would have been a struggle even with generous scholarships. And I have another DC in year 8 now who is at another top state. Again she turned down a private ranked 3rd in the country, but she is happy and doing brilliantly at the state school. If I only had one child I might have done things differently, but so far so good. Good Luck. She's done very well and you are in an enviable position.
steppemum - but that is YOUR grammar school.
As I also said to OP, go for best fit.
What is the OFSTED report for the grammar in question? They should give some input about pastoral care etc. But TBH, that grammar school sounds pretty average, and if you can afford the fees, I would go for a top indie, and even against a top grammar I would choose the indie I think. Naming the schools would be more useful as others have said.
All grammars and highly-selective independent schools massage their performance tables figures, by not entering/ managing out those that would not perform highly. Do not kid yourself on that point!
Join the discussion
Please login first.