Can anyone answer a few questions about private schooling please?

(95 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 07:17:05

Is it better to school privately from the word go, or if there are decent primary school places available - do those early years make much difference? The school I'm considering is from 4-16 which really appeals to me for DC, seems to me they'd be more settled etc.

How much should I calculate on spending over and above basic fees? I can work out the food and uniform but what else is there to consider?

Technoprisoners Thu 28-Mar-13 08:02:44

You will get a multitude of different opinions on this. We took DS2 out of state primary after having spent R and Y1 there, for various reasons. Now in Y2, his private school say he is very behind and yes, we wish we had started him at private school from the beginning. He is catching up, but the early years are very formative.

You'll need to factor in trips, things like music/dance lessons, any extra lessons that DC might need (check this carefully, the costs can mount up). Currently spending a good few hundred on these extras per term on top of fees, lunches and uniform. I think extras tend to get more expensive as they get older as they have residential trips etc.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 28-Mar-13 08:11:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Thu 28-Mar-13 08:17:40

It is going to vary . Check how many they take in at other entry points 4,7 and 11+ are typical but often places come up in between. One thing to bear in mind is that it can be quite difficult to stay as enthusiastic in one place for that length of time and you may find what suits one child doesn't another, but awkward to say so and change path.

As to fees , it will depends on what is included - lunches, after school clubs and care, curriculum trips etc - and what is not - dance , music, drama lessons, learning support for example. We paid between 10-15% for extras plus fees always increase annually well above inflation. Uniform also depends on how much is school specific/chain store , sports kit , shoes/trainers - allow between £200 and £500 new , to which you will need to add /upgrade as they move up.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 08:18:33

We couldn't afford to go private all the way so we did extra stuff with the kids doing their primary school days. For example I would set daily maths and English homework for them. We also sent them to a Spanish teacher and a Cantonese teacher at weekends. Then there were the various after school clubs like ceramics and art.

We basically chose the DIY route. I reckon we spent about £4k per child pa which is still a saving considering that prep would have cost an extra £5k per child pa.

Now that they are at private school we spend the following per child.

£250 on trips which support their lessons. £1500 on trips which are 'fun' trips like to skiing or netball team tour. These are optional in the sense that only about 20% go so if you can't afford it there is no peer group pressure to go. School coach is another big cost. We live 20min away so that's £400 per term. That is about it.

Shanghaidiva Thu 28-Mar-13 08:28:55

my children are in an international school, so slightly different, but extras are as follows:
school bus
uniform - summer, winter, and sports kit for summer and winter
music lessons
school trips - DS gets back from Borneo tonight
school clubs - some quite expensive (e.g fencing) others run in house and therefore cheap or free - e.g film making, baking, rugby, badminton.

mumsneedwine Thu 28-Mar-13 08:46:48

I know this is probably not helpful but I have had 3 through state education, paying nothing. Produced 1 Doctor & 2 Oxbridge students. Still have 2 to go and both doing well. One wants to be a vet and the other a criminal psychiatrist (bit worrying !!)No extra studying at home & have a variety of interests from horses to guitar (rock played very loud). There are great state schools out there & education is not a race. Kids take their exams in year 10 & 11 so if they can do calculus at 9 it really doesn't make much difference. My son was very 'behind' in maths in KS1 &2 but is now doing a maths degree at Oxford. There are good private schools and good state so look at them all and see what your kids like. I never had the choice of private as we are broke but would it have made any difference ?

vertex Thu 28-Mar-13 09:03:06

Our 5 year old is in Reception and loving it. In addition to the fees, we pay for after school clubs which for 3 nights per week adds approximately £100 per term to the bill.

On the flipside the school offer a 10% discount if you pay a terms fees two weeks in advancee of school starting which more than covers the cost of extras (we just save like mad each month to make sure we have monies ready for the following term). We had to pay a £100 fee to reserver a place and another joining fee.

However as mumsneedswine points out with the right frame of mind and attitude on part of child and parent state education can work; my three siblings and I went to a school that was classed as the most violent in the North of England (by the Sun newspaper and LEA !) and yet we have one Doctor , one Senior Army Officer , one Architect and a Senior Civil Servant (common thread was a really strong single mother kicking all of us up backside lol). However, my Mother as well as being a force majeur is also unique and no way either of us could replicate here efforts and so we went private.

In current political climate, if you have the funds and there is no decent state school nearby then I would advocate private.

IcouldstillbeJoseph Thu 28-Mar-13 09:16:21

It would be a struggle to manage financially and a few sacrifices (to put it mildly) but I feel I really benefitted from a grammar school education but this is not an option where I live. I obviously just want to do the best by DC.
The local primary is outstanding but I'm worried about getting DC into private school of choice at 8.
Also, do you think that DC would suffer from being from a smaller house, not expensive area etc compared to classmates?

vertex Thu 28-Mar-13 09:39:11

OP, of all the things you could worry about I would NOT give any thought to your house or the area, it is a cliche but people who judge you on such things are not worth worrying about and the teaching staff are not going to factor it into their approach or dealings with your child.

As for when your DC turns 8, speaking for the local private schools DC would have to sit a couple of exams to gain entry rather than simply moving up between years but if primary is outstanding then good chance will have the skills and ability to pass.

This is not a decision anyone can make for you but I suspect you will get lots of advice but at the end of the day you know your mind and circumstances better than any of us.

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 09:50:03

If finances are tight, and you have a decent primary, then maybe go private for the secondary. We did a mix thorughout the years with our 3. All started state primary, then moved over to private at times which suited the pocket and the child.

Extras, they can go on forever! I allow £1,000 per term for the 2 in private at the moment, which would include trips (international as well as local) plus all the other bits and pieces.

completelybonkers Thu 28-Mar-13 10:28:30

I would suggest that if finances are tight stick with the state primary and, as others have suggested, "top up" with private tutoring as and when required. I could tell you a lot about our personal experience of private schooling: DS1 attended one school all the way through from age 4 to 18; for DS2, it's a long story (including a year in an "outstanding" state) but if you want the details feel free to PM me! Let's just say I seriously question the value of some private schools, especially in the early years.

diabolo Thu 28-Mar-13 10:49:56

DS is in his final year of Prep and will be starting at an independent senior school in September, he's been privately educated since the start of Year 3, having been at a state primary until then.

Extras per year for us are about £700 or so, this includes 2 residential trips, (one in the UK, one usually in Normandy), uniform (which is not terribly expensive and the blazers etc are usually sourced from the excellent second hand shop by most parents). Lunch is included in the fees and will continue to be at the senior school. Other trips, educational visits etc. are no more expensive than anywhere else.

He got Level 3's in his KS1 SATs, but even then was only average when he joined the Prep but he is in the top 5 students in his year now. They other children had been studying French since Kindergarten, so he had a lot to catch up on there.

We are not rich compared to many other parents, and we never ever try to compete with some of the lifestyles we see, we are simply us and it has never affected DS's friendships. As someone said above, the odd snobby cow you encounter really isn't worth worrying about and these type do tend to be in the minority and stick together anyway. Many of the other Mum's work.

I really do think it is worth it from an early age, but that opinion is based purely on my personal experience. The trouble is that, once you find good independent schools, it's hard to imagine changing back to the maintained sector. I work in a state school and have done for many years so it's difficult not to compare the two experiences.

Timetoask Thu 28-Mar-13 11:09:54

My ds goes to pre-prep and we are very happy with it.
Personally, I think that if you have decent primaries available, then I would use state education and only move to private if you really are unhappy.
From the perspective of the child, I think it is probably much more difficult (emotionally) moving from private to state than viceversa.
It is very expensive. Also, like it or not, there is definitely some snobbery amongst parents. If you have FANTASTIC social skills and are the type that fits in easily with any type of person, then it probably won't matter, if you are the type of person that finds it hard to mix and fit in, then it will be hard.
Having said that, there will always be people you will like and that will like you.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 11:50:16

We live in a modest detached and drive a 10 year old Honda. DD's best friends live in £million plus houses and drive Mercs and BMWs. We are spending Easter at home. They are flying off to Italy and Hong Kong. The difference in income or lifestyle hasn't been a problem to date.

I think such problems are greatly exaggerated. Going by threads about school gate politics and bullying, state schools aren't exactly problem free. So I wouldn't obsess about whether your child would fit in.

As for anecdotes of state school kids going on to be doctors and vets, no one is saying that doesn't happen but it's like saying that Usain Bolt didn't have to train from childhood to be that fast so neither should your child. Some kids are naturally bright and self motivated but for the majority they need the push to achieve their full potential.

MTSgroupie Thu 28-Mar-13 11:56:58

Time - Judging from past threads, problems with children that find it hard to fit in aren't unique to private schools.

If I were to stick my head out I would say that private schools are more likely to accept kids that find it hard to fit in. At our school there is this kid who is rubbish at sports and is socially awkward. But he regularly scores 95%-100% in everything. To the boys it's as if he was some sports jock.

mumsneedwine Thu 28-Mar-13 18:46:04

All I meant was just check your options. No point paying lots of money for something that is free ! If state isn't good then def go private if you have the chance - no brainer. But I was just trying to say that sometimes it's not necessary, so always worth checking. Bright kids can't get an education without good teaching and that's what matters - the quality and dedication of the staff. Good luck with your decision - it's much easier when there isn't the option of private !!

cleangreens Thu 28-Mar-13 19:55:39

I have twin boys and they moved to fee paying school in year 5 from an adequate to good state primary. I would definitely say that this was a good route for us as they have some fantastic local friends from their state school time and have now made some great new friends at the prep school.

I haven't encountered any snobbery whatsoever at the private school, it was much more suffocating before if I'm honest as the cohort was so much smaller.

Money can be an issue, we are comfortable but mix with some very wealthy families. I can't lie, it is tricky when they go off to Barbados for half term but I just tell the DC's that is life - there will always be people better off than you but far far more people in the world worse off.

Costs aren't massive apart from uniform and the odd trip. There was a ski trip this year but definitely the minority of children that went, I didn't feel at all awkward with mine not going.

My reasons for moving across were dreadful secondary options as we are in a grammar area and mine too dim to pass the 11+ and only other decent option is an excellent church school which I would have to lie through my teeth to get into and I'm just not that hypocritical hmm.

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 08:48:50

Dd has been in an independent since yr2 and is yr3 now, she had a lot of catching up to do last year from her outstanding primary and is probably about the middle of her class now, but not a week goes by without me wondering what she would have been like if she had been there from Reception. I feel her primary school let her down, reception was treated as a nursery school, no reading or starting to write and yr1 was teaching them to sit still and listen - which they couldn't do, as never had in reception.

However, I do know that there will be primary schools that give the education that she is now getting, unfortunately just not in our area, so consider that first, as we did save £11,000 in those first two years, but I am glad we moved in yr2 , as I am not sure she would have got in at the yr3 exam.

Think about the fees seriously, we have just had a bill for summer term, £2,500. This includes lunches, but I still shudder when I see it and think what could that be spent on and we can afford it!

Extras are uniform, but really that is the start up, a blazer can last two years - dd still has the same one, which will be ok for this summer and there are usually second hand uniform sales - which even the wealthier parents attend, I also give things to other mums I know further down in the school. Funnily enough there is less kudos about this than in her state school!

School trips, one a term through primary, around £15 each time, so not a huge cost. They do a residential later, which is £100.

Extra lessons i.e. music/ singing - we don't do these, but are expensive through school.

After school club - around £8 per session up to two hours same for breakfast club. This is added to your bill if you want.

As they progress though the school to juniors, the fees increase slightly and again when she goes to seniors. I haven't even thought of 6th form yet!

As for other parents, there really are a mix, we have gone to play at houses I could only dream of (and the parents themselves don't take things for granted and appreciate how lucky they are IYSWIM) and semis and city terraces. So far I have not encountered any snobbery. Everyone (nearly everyone) works hard to afford it.

There are a few wannabe WAGS and some real ones, but really not the norm, so don't worry about that side of things. We haven't got into the 'where are you going on holiday?' thing yet, but will cross that one when we come to it. We would normally be skiing this week, but because of other things happening it isn't possible, but I am glad, because that basically is the fees sorted, I don't give a toss damn what anyone else is doing!

titchy Fri 29-Mar-13 09:57:11

You need to look around both schools then decide what's best for your family as a whole. Don't automatically assume private = better simply cos you're paying for it. You actually need to visit and see for yourself.

newpup Fri 29-Mar-13 10:15:54

DD1 went to local village state primary for all her primary education and then passed the entrance exam to a selective private girls school. We moved DD2 to the private Junior school in Year 5 as we were unhappy with the local school. I wish we had sent them both from Year 3! The quality of education, the provision, resources, extra-curricular and pastoral care are way way above the local school. Of course this is what we pay for and perhaps there are state schools that provide the same levels of care and education but not where we live and this primary was a good one. I wish we had done it sooner. Although I also am sure there are private schools that are not very good too. As long as you are satisfied that you are getting value for money and it is the right school for your child go for it. we have found that extras at Junior level are not too bad, uniform, music lessons and the odd trip. It does get more expensive at senior level though, trips are more adventurous!

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 29-Mar-13 10:18:07

My daughter started at age three- we have found it to be worth it. Although it doesn't matter in the long term, they do a lot of academic work even at nursery- most are writing their names and many numbers and letters in nursery and they have the use of amazing facilities and the secondary school teaching staff as well as Norland nannies in the nursery. The parents are all comfortably off, but there is no obvious snobbishness and many are fairly frugal! No WAGs though, mostly doctors, lawyers and lots of bankers!

happygardening Fri 29-Mar-13 10:49:09

"Dd has been in an independent since yr2 and is yr3 now, she had a lot of catching up to do last year from her outstanding primary and is probably about the middle of her class now, but not a week goes by without me wondering what she would have been like if she had been there from Reception."
Paddling I wouldn't worry my DS didn't even start any formal education thus couldn't read/write etc till he was five going on six and because we're completely crap slack non pushy parents he'd never seen a flash card or heard a times table to music CD. By the end of year 1 at his state primary he was top of year three and after one term of yr 3 just before moving to his prep top of year 5 At 11 he was offered places at two super selectives one with 900 applicants for 75 places and at thirteen he did exceedingly well in one of the independent school sectors toughest entrance exams. He has up until joining his senior school had in both sectors primarily mediocre teaching all the way.
OP it is a difficult decision I've got DS's in both. There are good and bad teachers in both sectors and good and bad schools in both sectors. When the push comes to the shove top senior independent schools will always offer more extra curricular stuff than any state school ever can but 1.you have to able to afford it and 2. just becasue its there doesn't mean that your DC will take advantage of it. My DS1 "high achieving" academy will send an above average number off to Oxbridge study medicine etc but that still did not make it the right place for DS2. On the other hand DS1would have hated DS2's school. We as parents need to try and work out which school will provide the best environment for our individual children.

Xenia Fri 29-Mar-13 12:01:46

We had the same plan as you. The girls got into North London Collegiate and Haberdashers through primary level and stayed on to A levels and are now doing pretty well in professional careers in their 20s. It worked well.

On costs it really just depends if you think you can afford it. I always worked full time and took no maternity leaves and I am sure that was why I could afford to pay 5 lots of school fees and my career choice. I certainly feel it was money worth spending (two are still at school). However if you don't have the money then as said above plenty of children do fine at state schools.

Look at the A level results (look at FT secondary schools league tables) to see if the school you propose is better than others. It may be private but it may get bad results. Check.

At our girls' schools loads of parents scoured the second hand uniform sale. I don't think ours had any new uniform at all for years and no one minds. As to what extras there might be there aren't that many at most schools. Most children don't choose to go on the school ski trips.Three of ours won music scholarships but even for those we pay/ paid for music lessons as they all did a lot of music but not all children choose to learn an instrument. Sports was free although I suppose they might need a second hand tennis racket at some point. Our older ones took a private school coach to school (which enabled us both to work full time so I'd see that as a financial plus rather than a financial loss although we paid for the coach fees). In many schools the additional costs are not very many - just lunches and the occasional school trip. Ours had one to the theatre last term.

Go for it.

hardboiled Fri 29-Mar-13 12:18:03

Early years are about more than getting to read, write and speak french as soon as possible. I don't get the rush and hurry. The social aspect is as if not more important. So is gaining independence and confidence. So is becoming a moral and good citizen, undertanding our mixed society. A good primary school will teach your child all that. Then you can change to private for secondary. DS has been at an outstanding primary and his education has been as good as a friend's DS attending a well regarded prep. The only difference is we were paying nothing and they were paying 14000 a year. DS got a place at a superselective grammar and several private schools, theirs failed to secure a place at several top schools and has stayed at the prep till 13. I know this is anecdotal, but it shows there are no rules.

AFAIK it's a no brainer. Just choose the right primary school.

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