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Independent v state v home ed for my daughter

(13 Posts)
musicposy Sun 20-Sep-09 21:26:50

Hi there, I am sure there will be wildly differing opinions on this, which is partly why I've put it here!

Both my girls are home educated and very happy. Eldest is Y9 and youngest is Y6. Youngest being Y6, I feel we ought to at least give her the option of secondary school next year - she's very academic and although she's doing really well at home (as is my eldest who takes 4 GCSEs this summer in only Y9) a tiny part of me worries that sending her to a really good school would be doing her more favours. I could be wrong! She's not sure at all one way or the other, BTW.

My family reckon a good state school. They say top unis favour states nowadays, plus it's free and they know lots of happy, balanced individuals from the local state. But I think she will be eaten alive at a state secondary. She's pretty geeky in that she absolutely loves work, can't be stretched enough, loves adult company, is not at all streetwise or trendy in any way. She went to a state primary until she was 8 and it never suited her, she was a bad fit there from start to finish and stood out like a sore thumb. They couldn't cope with her either socially or academically and she was miserable. I have a different child now to the one I had 2 years ago, she's just so happy now. It's not just the school because my eldest was quite happy there.

If anyone has a very academic/ boffiny child at a state secondary, I'd like your thoughts, good or bad.

Second option is a private school. She would have to get a scholarship ( we couldn't even pay a tenth of the fees), but looking at the entrance exam one school sent us, I think she will have a fair chance. She is way above the maths level and I think the English should be OK. The verbal/ non verbal reasoning she's naturally good at. The interview, well she will talk to adults until the cows come home, so I think we'd be in with a chance, at least. Having said that, many scholarships are for children in state schools which is a bit of a teeth gnash for me because we are only home educating because it was home or state (we're quite a low income) and state couldn't cope with her. Plus the schools seem to want like a £50 registration fee which I think will exclude half the people who would benefit from a scholarship!

Does anyone know if we had a scholarship if that would tie us into the school for a long time? I'm worried what I would do if I sent her and she hated it.

Also, I just don't know if she would be happier in a private than she was in state. Is there less bullying? Is it more acceptable to be very bright? Would she really have lots more opportunities there?

I'm looking round all sorts of schools in the next few weeks but I would really welcome opinions as I have no idea what we should do.

Sorry if this is a bit jumbled!

Cosette Sun 20-Sep-09 21:41:23

Many private schools do a "taster day" or similar, where your DD would spend a day at school in the company of others who would be joining at the same time. If the schools you are looking at do this, then this might give you a better idea. Bursaries are usually decided on family income/savings etc, so the fact you are current home educating shouldn't disadvantage you.

The best thing to do is go and look round your local schools, both private and state, and draw up a short list of the ones you think you like and take it from there..

AMumInScotland Sun 20-Sep-09 21:47:11

I would think the scholarships wouldn't rule you out because of the home ed - they just don't want to give themn to children transferring in from other private schools. AFAIK, a scholarship doesn't particularly tie you in to the school - but the usual policy is that you have to give a full term's notice, so if you decided to leave halfway through a term, you'd still have to pay for the whole of the next term as well.

I don't think you can really generalise between what state schools ar elike and what private schools are like - you could find one which suits your dd in either sector. Personally, I'd avoid private if you have to struggle to meet the fees (even with help) as there are so many other costs as well, which can add up.

musicposy Sun 20-Sep-09 22:06:14

Yes, I did wonder about that. I know a few children who go to the particular independent school we are looking at and they have residential trips, day trips etc that would be waaay beyond our means sad

I think the advice to look at both is sound. because I've only ever known state schools (having been to one, taught in lots and sent my children to them), I always assumed independent were a completely different world - but maybe I need to just look at the schools and not the headings they come under.

It may well be that we continue with the home ed - we have no real reason to change it - just that don't want her to feel there were opportunities closed off to her in life!

Quattrocento Sun 20-Sep-09 22:16:13

On the private school option - you really need to check what sort of private school it is. Private schools come in all shapes and sizes and cater for different ranges of abilities.

It sounds as though you want an academically selective private school rather than a mixed ability type of school. Those definitely cater for the very academically able and of course in those sorts of schools, it is not just acceptable to be bright but desirable too. Most will also try to do the whole child thing and have far more in the way of activities - sports and music and drama and stuff. I think she would have lots and lots of opportunities there - and would broaden her range considerably.

A scholarship will not tie you to the school in the sense of oblige you to stay there forever.

Barrelofloves Sun 20-Sep-09 22:36:31

Schools aren't just about academic results, the social, musical and sporty sides are also important. My dd is academic (SATS Level 5)sporty too.

We chose a state secondary with an outstanding OFSTED (out of catchment)and she is loving every moment. Her new friends are lovely and bright too, some more boffiny/nerdy but they are all kind. The school made a conscience effort to put like minded children in the same form group.

TBH if you have such a school near you go for it, but if not I probably wouldn't bother.( Our catchment school would not have been suitable at all.

I would choose an excellent state school over a mediocre independent school but even state schools have residential trips, excursions etc which you are obliged to pay for.

cory Mon 21-Sep-09 07:37:10

I have a very academic child at a state secondary: dd (Yr 8) spends her spare time reading the great classics and watching Shakespeare, but has a great time socially at school.

I don't think it's the academic outlook that is usually the problem per se; the key to dd's success seems to be a combination of her own social skills and the school itself. They are a tolerant, pleasant bunch who wouldn't be mean to someone just because they are a bit different(and dd is pleasant and tolerant too, so doesn't just get on with people on the same intellectual level, but with all sorts of people). Bullying is not allowed and they know it.

But really, you need to look at the individual schools. Some state schools are full of bullies, some are not, some private schools are full of bullies, some are not.

annh Mon 21-Sep-09 09:54:52

I didn't see that anyone else had mentioned this but if you say you would struggle to pay even 1/10 of the fees at private school, then a scholarship may not provide enough help for you. Scholarships usually range from 10% to 50% reduction on fees so you still have to find quite an amount of money. However, you may also qualify for a bursary as well which would help further. Even saying all that, there will be still be additional costs for trips etc which, if you want to daughter to fit in, will be important to participate in. On the state school front you can't assume that your daughter will not fit in because she is clever and "geeky". DS1 is at a state school which encourages being clever and celebrates success. There, it is the children who don't bother, who are looked down on.

I think you need to look around both state and private in your area to get an idea of what might be available. If your daughter is in Yr6 now you will need to do this pretty quickly because secondary applications need to be in soon.

FlamingoDuBeke Mon 21-Sep-09 10:00:03

Why don't you want to continue home educating her?

campion Mon 21-Sep-09 11:41:04

I think you need to consider why her first experience of school didn't work out. Was it the type of school or was it something unusual about her? ' Loves adult compamy, not streetwise or trendy, geeky and loves work' together with social difficulties just raise my ASD antennae a bit. This is not a criticism or cod diagnosis, just a thought.I've experienced this both as a parent and as a teacher and , personally, I've found that independent schools have been more flexible about difference and meeting the child where they are / trying to get the best out of them.

As annh says,there are few full fees scholarships these days - though there are some - and don't forget that many schools now have a bursary system ( which is much fairer) meaing that some people pay zero. My own school does this so that we can get the best pupils no matter what their circumstances, and we staff haven't a clue who receives financial help ( ie v. confidential). I'd say that was the way to go if you're considering independent.

FlamingoDuBeke Mon 21-Sep-09 16:29:44

"It may well be that we continue with the home ed - we have no real reason to change it - just that don't want her to feel there were opportunities closed off to her in life! "

you say this, and yet there are also a whole load of opportunities closed off to her if she went to school.

musicposy Mon 21-Sep-09 19:39:26

Yes, I guess so. I never thought of it that way, but I've been thinking about all the stuff we do in the day which she couldn't do and she'd certainly miss a lot. She also has loads of friends in our home ed circles (something she never had at school. I guess it's just my insecurity at looking at my eldest and thinking she could have got 10 A* GCSEs at school, and she probably won't get that at home. Maybe that doesn't matter.

I just thought I should let her choose, but she doesn't really know, she hasn't been in school for so long now.

Runnerbean Wed 23-Sep-09 08:52:02

musicposy,
I'm in a similar situation, my dd (10) so would be y6, has been out of school for 3 years now. She too is very academic, loves independent study, has lots of fab home ed friends, being in SE london we are lucky to have a thriving HE community, with a plethora of exiting things going on.
BUT
This week she is sitting the 11+.
Why?
Because I too am worried that they could offer her something I can't. Even though we are looking at starting IGCSE's in biology and english next year.

The state secondaries locally I wouldn't even consider, but the grammars.... I just don't know.
It will be her choice ultimately, and of course she has to pass the 11+, but I really am very torn.

Just very very glad that I do at least have HE, it must be awful for parents who are hanging everything on the hope of their kids passing these selection tests.

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