What advantages does private school bring you?

(183 Posts)

Genuine question which, I'm sure, has been done to death. Dd has a small chance of a place at a fee-paying secondary, which is something we'd never previously considered, but now it's sort of cropped up, I feel duty-bound to give it some proper thought.

I know the classes are smaller, they are selective (I am uneasy about that) and they often provide more opportunities to engage in sport and music. Anything else I should consider?

For background, dd is bright, bit of an all-rounder, conscientious, friendly, well-liked without being in the 'in-crowd', resilient, eager, funny...all qualities that I think will help her to thrive in any setting. Oh yeah, and she'll already know kids at either of the two state secondaries we're considering, or the fee-paying secondary and she gets on with all of them - seeks out their company and they hers, etc.

I think I have tremendous guilt about even considering private. Please feel free to tell me I either should/shouldn't or to simply get over myself. Thank you.

motherinferior Fri 19-Jul-13 13:07:15

An overdraft.

grin Good point, motherinferior. It's bursary or nothing, I'm afraid. Not yet sure if school is talking scholarship or bursary. Will find out in due course. Not staking my hopes on anything, just mulling it all over.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Jul-13 13:40:49

It really depends on the school. What extracurricular opportunities are there would she benefit from the.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 13:45:33

It depends on the school.

But start with your DD. Is there a need that is not being met at her current school? Is she anxious for new challenges, broader horizons etc? What kind of school would do most to help her achieve her full potential?

You don't make clear whether you have already chosen a particular school. If you haven't - do masses of research. Arrive at a short list. Call. Visit. There should be at least one that she can hardly bare to leave. Hopefully that will be the one that thinks she is exactly the right fit.

If you have not gone through this process carefully you could easily find that the school provides no advantage whatsoever....

The important thing is that the school brings a visible improvement in the quality if her day to day life now. Have you found a school that will do that?

corlan Fri 19-Jul-13 13:54:41

The main difference for me is a result of DD's school being selective, rather than being private.It's that every child is expected to do well. It is expected that most students will get an A or an A* at GCSE.

I work in a pretty average comprehensive and we just don't have high enough expectations of our students. It's almost as if they get 5 A-C GCSE's that's enough.

lljkk Fri 19-Jul-13 14:01:11

Agree totally it depends on the schools.
The private I considered for DD doesn't offer the right sports & was too far a commute for me to stomach. I think she'll have more opportunities at a large state secondary nearer to home.

Pyrrah Fri 19-Jul-13 14:11:59

Totally depends on the school.

I went to a private prep and looking at their prospectus today they have:

- purpose built theatre
- indoor swimming pool
- pottery department with visiting professional potter.
- golf course
- indoor rifle range
- vast numbers of sports pitches, tennis courts, squash courts - and games every afternoon and inter-school matches on Saturdays.
- huge grounds
- specialist subject teachers from Y3 onwards, each with at least a BA in their chosen subject.
- fabulous results in terms of getting students into the secondary school of their choice.
- orchestra, choir, string quartet etc
- specialist science block
- huge library
- max class sizes of 15
- offer Greek, Latin and Mandarin.

Then there are other private schools that have no better facilities than many state schools.

Personally I wouldn't pay just for any old private school and if there is a decent state primary on the doorstep, then I would opt for that and use the £££ to pay for extras and for tutoring for a super-selective at 11 and stump up the fees for secondary.

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your comments. We've got a shortlist of three (two state, 1 fee paying). Dd is bound to love all three (she's just like that!) but hopefully will love one more than the others. I'm only going to tell her about the fee paying one if it looks like a serious option.

It's got International School status and dd is especially good at and loves languages. That's its main draw, really. It's also good for music, but so is one of the state schools we're looking at.

Corlan that is a really good point. My state secondary had low expectations. I did OK, but even as a pupil there I knew I could do better. My efforts to do so were met with bemusement by my teachers and scorn by my peers, so I settled for 'OK'.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 15:14:00

Hmmm...

OP As you haven't yet decided, I would strongly suggest that you investigate at least half a dozen fee paying schools (that meet your criteria) across the country. Read their websites, check out threads on them here, and ask yourself if the one on your short list measures up or surpasses what you see.

I'm sure you've already looked up the first one (here) - is it local to you?

Thanks, Something. It's local. There are two others: one I don't like at all, the other looks fabulous but we could never afford it, then there's this one, which is small, friendly, well-thought of and seems like it would serve dd well.

When I say local, it is, but we'd need to go in the car. The two state secondaries have bus routes - I am keen on the idea of the bus.

Somethingyesterday Fri 19-Jul-13 15:37:02

And you are, or will be applying for a bursary? You've said your DD is bright so I guess it is a selective school and she'll have to excel at the entrance exam?

If you're hoping for funding there's no reason why you should not apply to both schools. Have you investigated bursary possibilities at the "fabulous" school as well?

And have you considered boarding? Quite substantial bursaries can be available for the right child. Then you would be less restricted by location. (If you have not - have a look before saying "never"...) smile

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 15:46:21

Look for the one that suits your child rather than what they have. Ds went to one with a tennis court, instrument galore and looked very swish but they wanted children who were little square pegs and I have a little square peg. Some only want children who will give them an easy time (won't ask questions, don't need any SN support, will produce good sats results). Another had no facilities (no kitchen so needed a packed lunch, no sports facilities and a run down building) but the most caring, nurturing staff we've ever met. Don't let the 'advantages' steer your decision.

No, not boarding - the mere thought makes me want to cry. Really excited about dd's teenage years. I'm sure she'll run us ragged, but I want a ringside seat. Absolutely not judging another's decision to board, I just don't want to consider it for us.

I'll look into the other one too. Local legend has it that you'll never get a bursary there, but I'll investigate. She'll know girls there too, come to think of it. And the journey is less onerous. The other one's near, but involves heavy traffic.

I think, for most places, we'll be in the 'too poor for fees, not poor enough for a bursary' bracket, but none of us'll come to any harm by trying, I guess.

MorningHasBroken Fri 19-Jul-13 16:26:54

My independent school had small classes so enough teacher focus to draw me (fairly quiet at the beginning) out and give me more confidence. They had high expectations of all of us - academic and other, but also gave us the opportunities to fulfil those expectations.

It also got me 2 jobs (old school tie network kicked in I'm afraid).

senua Fri 19-Jul-13 20:22:20

You have only talked about your DD but your username is "Mumto5". Does this decision impact on other DC?

cantdoalgebra Fri 19-Jul-13 20:43:25

Not all private schools are the same - check carefully.
Some schools also operate school buses. Think about ALL the costs. The fees are only part. There will be extra activities to be paid for, as well as exam fees in many schools. Uniforms can be extremely expensive.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 20:46:44

Ds's prep charged for everything! £10 a ticket to go and see the school play!! shock Do your research.

crazycarol Fri 19-Jul-13 21:14:05

It has to be the right school for the child in my opinion, state / private is not really the deciding factor. For my dd it went like this:

DD- very shy, quiet, hard working but needs to be pushed, reasonably academic but not straight A student. Loves music.

School 1 - very big, lots of kids from deprived backgrounds, police patrol the corridors during breaks. Music - well, we were at a joint concert and frankly it was diabolical (and embarassing!).

School 2 - smaller, academically selective and high expectations of students, a very good reputation for music.

We also considered 2 other schools. DD was offered a place at school 2, school 1 was our local catchment school. 5 years in and we know we chose the right school for dd. She loves it and has done very well (up to now - exams results next month!).

You need to look at what the different schools offer and what is the best 'fit' for your child.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 19-Jul-13 21:19:19

Is there an aaaaah moment coming up here, *carol, where it turns out that school 1 was the private school and school 2 was the state school?

AlienAttack Fri 19-Jul-13 21:23:26

"Police patrol the corridors during break"? Are you in the UK? I'm surprised that didn't hit the newspapers since it seems unusual...

dapplegrey Fri 19-Jul-13 21:25:39

You say you are feeling guilty about considering a private school. If your dd does go to the independent school how long do you think these guilt feelings will last?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 19-Jul-13 21:27:51

Yeah... It's not about private vs state, just sometimes you want a school without any deprived children, which is academically selective and Has naice music concerts. And sometimes, y'know, that just randomly happens to be a private school! hmm

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 21:35:07

We live in a small market town with a selective private school and a state secondary school that takes everyone including deprived kids <outrageous>

Sister and I both went to the state school. DH and BIL both went to the (hugely expensive) private school. Sister and I both have far better A level and degrees than the boys.

Fee paying ain't always better. You need to consider the school and the individual.

AmandaCooper Fri 19-Jul-13 21:38:50

An entry level job in a competitive field; I happened to have gone to the same school as one of the senior managers. Apparently that's what tipped it for me.

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