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.

musicalfamily Fri 19-Jul-13 21:52:10

AmandaCooper, that's just luck though isn't it. I went to an interview for my current job and the guy interviewing happened to be someone I knew at university. It also tipped it for me, but that has nothing to do with private schools, just knowing someone, no?

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 22:08:35

Also, AmandaCooper, that is assuming that all managers/recruiters went to fee-paying schools, which is ridiculous! I am a senior manager and I went to a state school.

Thank you, everyone. I looked up the other fee paying school. To get a full bursary there, we would need to be Catholic, which we're not. So that leaves me three schools, if the original private school wants to offer a bursary, and two state schools if it doesn't. On reading all your advice, which has helped to clear my mind, I will try and judge each school on its merits and suitability for dd. Put like that, it is rather obvious, but my thinking had got all muddled. grin

My username stems from a daft thread I once started, where I pretended to be Mrs Bennett (of Pride & Prejudice fame). I really have 2 dc and, yes, you're right, I'd have to do it all again for him and he's a boy, so it would mean different schools, and I think he'd be better off in a co-ed school anyway. He is, however, ridiculously bright, so I'd have to consider for him what I consider for dd.

In answer to, 'How long would it take for the feelings of guilt to subside?' Five years, probably, until dd joined state sixth form. I know that is unnecessary guilt, but the vast majority of her classmates won't go private, none of our neighbours go private, none of my family have ever gone private. I think I'd have a fair bit of cultural dissonance to overcome.

I've very much appreciated your input. I'll let you know what I think of the school and what they think of us.

PearlyWhites Fri 19-Jul-13 22:37:41

Confidence and contacts

My post above made it sound as though I think ds should only be considered for the same opportunities as dd because he is bright. Sorry - that is not what I meant. He should be considered because he is her sibling. I meant that if I went through all this for dd and not ds, family would think I had lost my marbles. To be honest, I think I was making a rather irrelevant point!

Good points. Confidence we can give her, contacts we can't. Depends what she wants to do ultimately, I guess.

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 22:58:55

Advantages : Larger cohort of like-minded peers.(selective school)
Sports activities on tap
Music groups on tap
New activities/clubs to try out and join
Higher expectations for discipline and academics
Passionate Specialist subject teachers
more language lessons

Disadvantages : Further to travel / fuel costs
Earlier wake-up time
Friends further afield
Cost

So basically, compared to our local village primary, for our dc they can have a much more varied school experience.

Depends on the school though obviously, and what your dc are into.

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 23:02:59

Sorry Petruska, are you saying that state school teachers aren't passionate? I know quite a few including my DH and have to say they are - they devote enormous amounts of their own time (and cash!) to ensuring that kids learn.

And I'd also like to point out that fee-paying school teacher don't have to have the same level of qualifications and experience as state schools, so your DCs could be being taught by people who are not qualified teachers.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 19-Jul-13 23:08:47

Advantages:
Small classes (child with sensory processing disorder so it really helps)
Lots of male teachers (single parent to a boy who doesn't see his father so this helps too)
Personal tutor who stays the same throughout his time at the school (social communication disorder so helps to have someone who knows and understands him)
Lots of extra curricular activities
Work is catered to his ability
Wide choice of subjects (he loves languages so these are catered for)
Wide choice of musical instruments to learn
Longer school day so no need for after-school care
Decent standard of behaviour
Strict bullying policy
Academically selective so there are more boys 'like him'
Very able teachers
Lots of trips
Swimming pool/climbing wall/cricket pitches etc.

Disadvantages:
costs a bloody fortune
Friends live miles away so he can't see them in the holidays
Forced to attend a founders day ceremony which is as dull as... erm... yes... once a year.
People assume I'm a snob/have money to burn (I don't, it's the best place for him).
Lots of homework.

I don't really care about the contacts to be honest, I just wanted an environment where he is safe, where he can learn and where he is accepted. It's not perfect but it's the best I can get for him.

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 23:34:51

giddy - I can only comment on my own experience. The advantages I listed were OUR advantages, not sweeping statements about the whole profession. I myself am a teacher (eek - officially an "unqualified" one).

The teachers at our old school showed little enthusiasm for subjects other than maths and english. Again - I am talking about one school. What I was trying to say is that my dc now get taught geography by a 'geography nut', history by a passionate historian, music by a musician, science by a mad scientist, drama by an actor etc etc

Whether a teacher is officially qualified or not is not the most important thing to me. As I said, I teach, but do not have QTS. DOes that make me a poor teacher?? I think not. Can a QTS teacher be poor? Of course!

The OP asked what advantages private school brings TO ME. And that is what I said. Lucky you if your dc can access a stimulating school environment without having to pay for it.

giddywithglee Fri 19-Jul-13 23:37:59

Petruska, I have to say you're right - we happen to be lucky enough to live in an area where the 5 state primaries are all Ofsted 'good' or 'Oustanding' and the state school is also 'good'

Petruska Fri 19-Jul-13 23:45:34

I personally think we were unlucky and chose badly when house buying. But back then I only had a 6month old baby and thought "how lovely to be able to walk to the local village school, then the bus up to the secondary". HA HA HA. Being fairly rural, our state choices are limited.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 19-Jul-13 23:53:51

DD1 is going to an international school in Surrey. I am quite sure they don't give any help with fees, as they don't need to - they have a ready pool of expats (mostly Americans) who can pay quite happily. Thankfully, we get very substantial help with the fees, otherwise she wouldn't have been going there at all. DD's current school (well, the one she has just left), also an international school, gives a tiny discount on fees - I think something like 5% to parents who have to pay the fees themselves. So worth asking what, if anything, is on offer.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 19-Jul-13 23:55:59

And you get crap teachers both in private and in state schools. The only difference is that they are easier to get rid of in private schools. DD2's teacher last year was "told" to retire by the school. She was utterly crap, and once she knew she was going, only came in to school when she felt like it. In the end they told her not to bother and she had a supply teacher for most of the last term.

Sconset Sat 20-Jul-13 00:05:23

Off topic, but Georgian- I always assumed you had 5 DC! And lived in Bath, hence the Georgian bit grin

I personally believe it depends entirely on the school (state or independent) and the child. There's no definitive answer.

RiversideMum Sat 20-Jul-13 08:16:13

Going down Lady Mary's list, our local comp offers most of that. OK, so the swimming pool and climbing wall are not there - it's not selective and there is not an extended day to provide "free child care". Average class size is 25 - which (as a teacher) I think is optimal. I do get tired of state education being portrayed as an exercise in crowd control. In my experience, bright children do very well in state education.

AmandaCooper Sat 20-Jul-13 08:33:41

musicalfamily I didn't know her at all; we were at the school at different times. They told me afterwards it was because of the school and frankly I was gutted to hear it; I had thought it was entirely on merit. It turned out they were buying my contacts list. Tbf whenever I check out my former classmates on LinkedIn I can see their point.

[sconset] (grin). 2 dc in Surrey. 5 dc in Bath sounds nice, if hectic. I should have kept up the pretence - I could have spoken like a mum of two and sounded marvellously serene and in control. grin

Sorry - 'like a mum of five but marvellously serene and in control'.

tiredaftertwo Sat 20-Jul-13 09:37:03

Do you mean she couldn't get to this school on public transport - that she would always need a lift?

Unless the other schools were terrible, that would be a deal breaker to me. Teenagers need to develop independence, organisational skills - part of that involves getting themselves backwards and forwards at silly times with ludicrous amounts of kit. Socialising, friends coming over, will all be much harder especially as they get older and do not want their dps involved in their every arrangement.

Sharpkat Sat 20-Jul-13 09:52:09

Are you planning to move DD to a state school for A Levels?

Think it would be a difficult move for her and negate the benefits of 5 years at private school. Very difficult to fit in then.

I went to an independent school from 11-18 and it was the best thing my parents ever did for me and I had the best time ever but would have found it really difficult to leave for A Levels.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Jul-13 10:39:59

Riversidemum the school ds was allocated doesn't have all of this. They were aiming for a 26% GCSE pass rate last year and the children had told the Ofsted inspectors that they didn't feel safe at school sad and the inspectors witnessed fights in the canteen. Languages were basic and very few stayed on to do A Levels. Not all state schools are great (not all private schools are great either). If I had a good state school close by I wouldn't hesitate but I don't.

ReallyTired Sat 20-Jul-13 10:49:11

Advantages of private school

Small classes
Distruptive (or sometimes academically slow!) kids are kicked out
No need to follow the national curriuclum
No SATs
Choice of single sex or mixed in some areas of the country
Children swear a little less and speak better
Some schools have better wrap around care
Smarter uniform
higher expectations
Better teaching of foreign languages.

However not all private schools are good. Paying for education doesn't necessarily mean better.

Advantages of state schools

There are far fewer unqualified teachers
State schools tend to be more up to date with teaching methods
Better social and ethnic mix
cost
Good links with NHS if a child has special needs.

Schmedz Sat 20-Jul-13 11:02:02

Best advantage of private school is at it gives you the choice of the school at which your child is educated not the random lottery of state school allocations.
Like Petrushka, I am also an 'unqualified' teacher in this country, simply by means if gaining my degrees abroad. The majority of my teaching experience has been in the UK, I am now Head of a thriving department with outstanding results. When I worked in a super selective state grammar school they didn't seem to mind that I was 'Unqualified' and went out of their way to ensure I received the same salary as if I held QTS (the unqualified teacher pay scale is substantially less than the QTS one).
Thinking that having QTS guarantees quality is like thinking that SATS test results actually reflect the all-round ability of the child...

The essential difference is not really about private vs state - in many cases, especially with SEN provision it is a disadvantage to children to be in a private school because they are unable to easily access LEA support. Schools vary in quality and suitability for different DC. If you are fortunate to have a super suitable state school to which your child can go, you are fortunate indeed (but will often have paid for by a premium on your house price!) For many people, independent school fees are less than the cost of moving house!

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 11:02:27

ReallyTired Better social and ethnic mix

I refer you to just about any one of the hundreds of private school threads here! In fact I'm willing to bet substantial sums of imaginary ££ that a major public school will encompass a far wider range of parental incomes and ethnic backgrounds that your nearest secondary school.

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