Private school demand(21 Posts)
I went to an open morning recently to private school in Oxfordshire and the registrar was saying they are now experiencing more demand than in recent years (4 applications per place). Are people getting wealthier because I was a bit at how people can afford the fees. For me it's a real stretch but now discovering it'll not be easy to get in!!
I think it's because people are applying to more schools per child, rather than the demand increasing per se.
it's like this waterfall. At the top of the tree, you'll get the hugely over-subscribed like the London day schools (Westminster, St Paul's, NLCS) which many put first. But instead of having just 1-2 back-ups, they feel obliged to chase 3-4 just in case.
I don't know anyone who applied to three or under private schools, unless they have a grammar as well.
Some of this is spin, I think. No registrar is going to stand up at one of these events and say, "Actually applications have been a bit thin recently..."
Also there's an increasing trend of people applying to multiple schools, even though ultimately each child only needs one school place. So saying they have four applicants for each place means nothing if each of those applicants have actually applied for five or six schools each, and the school you're looking at may be most applicants' second or third choice.
There has always been such a high demand for private schools, it's nothing new. We applied for 6 schools and we was very very surprised when we were given our first choice.
We only applied to three with no grammar back-up. In London too, selective boys' schools. We strongly believed that we didn't want to apply to schools we didn't feel were worth paying for or too far away. And that only left three to choose from but at least it meant we would have been very happy with only one offer.
Mind you, it was a bit nerve wracking. It helped that we were content to go state (not grammar or sought after) and also the head of the school he ended up at asked how many we'd applied for when we were chatting at interview stage and he definitely brightened when we said three, to the extent that we felt we had a place in the bag.
Stop the madness - three lots of exams, interviews, the open days post offers... it was exhausting.
Also there has been a bit of a baby boom in some areas that the LA have not kept up with.
Where we are lots of kids went to private primary as there was not enough state places, or the places that were offered were miles away, or the parents did not like the school. So you have had people go private who would normally have gone state and they are now reaching secondary age so they may continue in private
It depends where it is in Oxfordshire really! Henley is pretty wealthy. Oxford is wealthy. People will apply to several schools. Do you not have a decent local school? Do you need to pay if it is a stretch? What are you gaining? I live close to Oxfordshire and peope I know are happy with the schools. If you can barely afford prep fees, how will you afford senior school fees? Oxfordshire does not have grammar schools I believe.
Do parents not have to pay for each application to a private school? It would cost a lot of money to apply to a few of them. Also, for those hoping for a grammar school place but applying for private schools as a back up, surely you have to pay a hefty deposit if you accept a private school place.
I realise this is a secondary phase application. Choose the school carefully. Not all schools will be oversubscribed. How far are you prepared to travel?
@Etaina Yes I had to send a fee and with the application forms, some higher than others, then we had to pay a registration fee when DS was accepted.
Personally I think more than three is excessive. We applied to two schools, both selective and both oversubscribed, with no grammar back up. Didn't want to waste our money or stress the children out with multiple exams. Perhaps it's necessary to apply to more in London but surely that's the exception?
@Fifthtimelucky in our situation I wouldn't class it as excessive because we never had any back up schools, that's we we applied for as many as we could, we live in London and all 6 schools we applied for were in the SW postcode, which is an hour away drive from where we live, luckily DS now used to the journey.
Many parents who would have sent DCs boarding are opting for cheaper day schools. My DCs' London schools noticed a big bump in applications for this reason from 2009.
The Progress 8 scores for some of the comprehensive schools in Oxfordshire may have been an unpleasant surprise for some parents (plus a recent 'requires improvement' Ofsted report for one popular school) - perhaps middle class parents are making different decisions about how they spend their money?
I think *Clavinoa' hits it on the spot for me. I know Progress 8 isn't everything but for me - it's about high standards, high aspirations and good work ethic. I am not sure I want to spend an extra £200K+ on property to live in an equivalent house in Bucks grammar county or move to Reading/Slough as I like where I live in South Oxfordshire. I feel that 'base line' education in Oxfordshire OK bordering average/good - just not outstanding for the top end of high achiever camp which both my dcs are in and which private schools in Oxfordshire seems to cater better for.
I've really not made up my mind yet. Just don't know whether to risk sending my ds to our local boys comp (NEGATIVE figures btw for progress 8), if he could really achieve his potential there vs if I was to send him to a selective private school. I mean, there are some big believers of comp education on this forum and big believers in mixed ability teaching. I just don't know if a teacher can trully differentiate in a class of 30+ where they need to teach from the untutorables to those who should be aiming for grade 8s/grade 9s. I am not sure even sure if that is a reasonable ask.
You are presumably not near Thame. Lord Williams is outstanding and a good Progress 8.
Surely you can apply for Grammar schools in Bucks whether or not you live there. My sister lives in Bucks and I get the impression that many children at the grammar schools come from outside the county (Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes etc).
Assuming near Didcot if you are looking at a boys only state school, what about the new one on the GWP estate? You'd be taking a chance on a new school but the facilities are superb, I did a visit there a couple of weeks ago.
What about Wallingford school? Or do you want boys only?
Guessed right folks! Didcot! Unfortunately - I'm outside catchment for Bucks and although some grammars offer places to non-catchment, it's then based on distance and I'm too far out. Wallingford may be a good alternative but again, would need to do a house move and buying in Wallingford adds an extra £100K to buy a house of my equivalent.
I do like the new school in Didcot - I'm just not seeing the language used in branding, website etc that reveals its intention of being an outstanding school and its too early to tell.
Bright shiny new facilities don't sway me and the new school website is littered with words like 'mindfullness, art therapy, growth mindset, yoga, well being, inclusiveness' on their prospectus. Their motto: 'nurturing hearts and minds'...screams they've designed to model the local town and possibly the perceived challenges in its future pupil intake. That's my personal opinion and I think it is logical but it just isn't aspirational.
I'm sure they've done their studies based on data from other schools and given the town is lower on the social wealth scale and what they think would work for the majority so to me - it doesn't leave me with much confidence.
I'd much rather see words like 'outstanding, driven, ambition, academic excellence, prepare, celebration, equipped, flourish as well as inclusiveness etc....'. These words sets the bar high. Maybe I've the wrong expectations of what a new state school in a poor town should offer but IMO I am not easily swayed.....
Waves at OP.
Are you in the catchment for Reading Boys? Some local postcodes are. Depends whereabout in or around Didcot you are.
Join the discussion
Please login first.