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Would a quiet, shy, bright girl do better at a private school or in the local state secondary with her friends? Where was your quiet child happy?

(103 Posts)
SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 12:24:14

DD is only just 9 so I have a bit of time, but need to start getting my head around this. DD is very quiet and shy. She doesn't play with everyone is her class but is fiercely loyal to her one best friend, who has been her best friend from day 1 of reception. DD is pretty bright and in the top set at her lovely state primary.

We had planned to send DD to the large (1300 pupils) state secondary very nearby. When last year's Ofsted downgraded the school to Requires Improvement, the grandparents kindly offered to pay for DD to go private at secondary. Their offer is not just for fees but for everything - uniforms, books, school trips, sports equipment etc. We are grateful for the generous offer but have lots of doubts, some ideological, some practical, mostly we are unsure where a child like this will thrive.

I guess the advice I am looking for is, where will DD be happiest? At the large state secondary, will the teachers even notice her? She will be with her best friend and many other children she knows. She will probably be in the top set academically, if primary is anything to go by. At a private school DD will have to make new friends, which she doesn't do easily. And perhaps she will be in the middle, academically. But with smaller class sizes, the teachers will have the time to discover what's under her quiet exterior.

I'd love to hear where your child thrived.

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SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 12:25:39

Just a couple of other details. Another concern is whether DD will feel like a poor relation at a private school. DH and I both work in the third sector. We live in a much-loved but not flash suburban semi. Holidays are usually camping with the odd cheap week in France or Italy every year or every other year. Will DD feel left out at a private school where people go on ski-ing holidays and students have material goods she will not have? Of course the education itself is the key thing, but teenaged girls like to fit in. We are trying to consider what's best for her both academically and socially.

Finally, the state secondary is a 10 minute walk from our house, whereas the private schools in the area are a bus or train ride away. The state secondary is girls & boys. The private schools locally will be girls only. Apologies for the essay and thanks for any advice.

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Sillydoggy Mon 30-Sep-19 12:46:05

My quiet daughter is thriving in an all girls school and has really come out of her shell. All girls gives you a chance to become involved in a wide variety of activities/subjects- nothing is off limits because it is dominated by boys. You do need to check the ethos of the school as they all have a different focus and approach but ours is very much about enabling girls to be whatever they want to be. Go and look around the schools, get a feel for them and you may well find your decision is made for you.
The money issue depends on the individual school. Whether it is state or private your child will be in with a wide range of incomes, don’t imagine that all private school kids a from wealthy families. Many have grandparents paying, many have both parents working to afford it. Your child will not be the only one who doesn’t have all the material things.
Mine started in state and moved across and the difference for a quiet girl was that she had a chance to speak up and be listened to, a chance to work with other children who wanted to work and a quiet, disciplined environment. Just a personal view but my daughter is very happy with our choice.

Seeline Mon 30-Sep-19 13:05:20

I don't think in this instance it is really whether private school would be better for a quiet child, but which school that you have the option for your DD to attend would best meet her needs.

Visit all available schools, more than once if possible, and get a feel for the ethos, teaching style etc.

I agree with a PP, my DDs all girls school definitely has the view that girls can do anything, and is very empowering. That approach may help your DD. But I don't know whether that would be the approach of all single sex schools.

Both my DCs are at private and there are a range of financial backgrounds. Nearly half of all pupils at DSs school receive some form of scholarship or bursary. Again it will vary from school to school.

Also, your DD still has plenty of time to come out of her shell before secondary, so keep all options open.

TeenPlusTwenties Mon 30-Sep-19 13:30:59

At the private school there will surely be many children on bursaries or who have grandparents paying fees, or who are spending all disposable money on fees.

What set she might be in at the private will depend on how academically selective it is.

She'll probably need to make new friends wherever she goes as primary friendships often don't survive y7 as kids branch out more.

I'd look at all your options, including other state schools.

Larger schools have their advantages. More choice of people to make friends with, potentially more flexibility of options at GCSE, wider range of extra curricular activities.

Also, you'll need to be 100% certain the grandparents understand the costs for 7 years private. They might be under estimating.

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 13:34:18

Thanks sillydoggy That's a great point about a quiet & disciplined environment. DD wouldn't (at this stage) shout over a loud group to get her opinion heard.

Also reassuring to hear a mix of incomes present at your child's school.

I am glad your daughter was happy with her move.

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SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 13:38:28

Thanks for that seeline, visits to get a sense of the ethos and values of the school would be helpful. And yes, its not a clear cut state vs private, but more about the right environment... I just want her to be happy and flourish.

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bengalcat Mon 30-Sep-19 13:39:10

Quiet shy and academic I’d go private .

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 13:49:16

Lots to think about, TeenPlusTwenties thanks for this.

Yes, DD will have to make new friends wherever she goes - she may not even be in the same class as the bestie if she goes state.

Yes, agree that larger schools have the advantages you've listed. Our state primary is large (4 classes per year) and we are happy there and as you say there is a wide pool of potential friends etc.

That is really good advice about the actual costs of grandparents' contribution - in this case they are retired financial whizzes who have costed it all up already, but its still an excellent point.

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SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 13:51:13

Thanks bengalcat

"Also, your DD still has plenty of time to come out of her shell before secondary, so keep all options open."

Absolutely. I was incredibly shy as a kid and now I'll talk to anyone.

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Seeline Mon 30-Sep-19 13:53:42

Also Indies aren't necessarily that small. DSs has between 120-140 a year. Easily over 1000 including 6th form. Lots of research needed!

RhymesWithOrange Mon 30-Sep-19 13:54:46

I had an almost identical situation. My advice would be to wait for as long as possible to make the decision. My DD really came out of her shell at 10/11 and my perspective on how she would do at the local secondary really changed on that time.

She did end up in a private school but there were some specific reasons for that.

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 13:56:03

OK, but I thought the class sizes are smaller, fewer than 30 kids?

Yes I need to start a spreadsheet!

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Bookishandblondish Mon 30-Sep-19 14:01:20

To add the counter argument ( and continue your dilemma) I was the shy bright girl who got sent to private school at 11. I came out at 16 with incredibly poor self esteem about everything having gone to two private schools - and poor grades. One resulted in my loosing confidence in my academic ability: the second all girls small school resulted in being badly bullied. To be honest, I’d look at both schools and try the state first.
Not all large schools are bad -;one advantage is there are many tribes so less dependent on being popular. Not all small schools are bad, but I don’t agree the assumption small always works for shy. It does when nurturing, it doesn’t when it is ridden through with bullying as there is nowhere to hide.

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 14:04:00

RhymesWithOrange very interested to hear this. Thanks for the input.

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ForeverbyJudyBlume Mon 30-Sep-19 14:04:55

I think the main thing is the nearby school is marked Requires Improvement. I know Ofsted doesn't mean everything but for that reason alone I'd go for private.

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 14:06:31

Bookishandblondish I am sorry to hear you had such a rough time. I went to an all girls' school and it was good academically but I had a bad time socially. I wasn't actively bullied but didn't make any good friends. I loved the teachers and got good results but it would also have been nice to have a best mate.

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Hoppinggreen Mon 30-Sep-19 14:06:33

As a parent of an academic but quiet daughter I would say probably Private.
Dd used to get a bit of stick for being a “swot” at Primary but has never had any at her Private school. Achieving highly there is something to be proud of not laughed at.
To be fair though I am only comparing schools I know so you need to look at the schools you are considering specifically. Might also be worth looking into a scholarship, DD gets 25%
Lastly if you pick the right school you will fit in fine, not all families at DDs school are mega rich but we are in Yorkshire so no Oligarchs or Bankers!!

SkaterGrrrrl Mon 30-Sep-19 14:07:56

Thanks, ForeverbyJudyBlume

(oh what a dog eared copy of that book was passed around my school!)

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pepsirolla Mon 30-Sep-19 14:18:10

Don't base decision purely on Ofsted report as it is just a snapshot. Read full report to find out what the issues were. Plus the school will have money and extra help etc thrown at it to help it improve. Conversely a good or outstanding rating doesn't mean the school is still that. Go to open days speak to other parents let her and you get a "feel" of the place. maybe help her with her confidence, in my Ds case football helped him & my shy DD joined a kids theatre group and really came out of her shell.

MrsZippyLake Mon 30-Sep-19 14:30:12

In your position, I would focus all my efforts on finding a very nurturing and caring private school. Such schools often have a mix of backgrounds so all her peers won’t be filthy rich and many will have bursaries (you can check the number of these with the school). She will be a different person by age 16 and might thrive at a state sixth form so it may only be five years of fees.

BroomstickOfLove Mon 30-Sep-19 14:42:00

DD is an academic introvert in Y8 at a very large, very academically successful comprehensive school, and she is far happier there, as a small fish in a big pond, than she was at her smaller, more obviously nurturing primary school where it was impossible to get a break from the other pupils.

DD had been part of a group of popular girls at primary school and found it very stressful. She spent Y7 hanging out in the library with a small group of geeky girls, and not socialising much because she needed a break. This year, she's joined the choir, auditioned for the school play, meets up with a group of nice kids to walk to school and is probably the happiest I've seen her, which isn't generally the case with a just-turned 13 year old.

DontCallMeDarling Mon 30-Sep-19 16:25:48

This is tricky one and I am in a similar position with my dd2 who has started year 9, she is less extroverted than her friends and is feeling more and more lost at a very large mixed school. She is doing well academically but just not thriving. I am beginning to feel that she would be better off at a smaller, less competitive more nurturing and quiet secondary school. Of course the problem is that you just don't know. Moving could schools could be no better. I am trying not to panic and make a knee jerk decision.

My advice to you is to take your time, visit schools, talk with your dd about what she wants and then keep an eye on things. Not all private schools are the same so talk to the teachers and current students. Also remember she may not end up in the same class as her best friend. Good luck.

MollyButton Mon 30-Sep-19 16:35:34

You need to look at the schools available. Different schools offer different things and have different atmospheres. Some Girls schools are "hot houses" (read Victoria Coren Mitchell's book about Poker to see how "odd one out" you can feel at a great Girl's school). My DC thrived at a 2000+ State school (and so did the quietest girl I know).

I would also just check that there isn't anything else going on other than being quiet and having one good friend.

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 30-Sep-19 16:45:45

I actually think if she is shy and quiet she would be best going to a school with people she knows.

I was sent to an all girls academic school for secondary.

I was told I would make new friends.

I didn’t

I don’t think where you live or what you do matters but I agree with SkaterGrrrrl I wanted to go to the secondary modern with my friends.
Instead I spent the next 5 years floundering and left with not a single qualification.

I don’t think this is about spread sheets and which school offers A B C as opposed to another offering X Y Z.
It is about where your dd feels comfortable

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