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.

apatchylass Sun 28-Jul-13 20:10:51

Obviously it depends on the school. A school isn't better because it's private and there are some round here I'd not choose over the local state schools even if they were free.

But for us, private school means academically selective, so surrounded by bright children who want to learn and take pride in hard work and will bring each other on. Having been at state schools myself and worked in state schools, I know that however brilliant the teaching, classes get bogged down by the pupils who disrupt for whatever reasons, and teachers also have to teach to the class average, not to the brighter children, who then get bored.

Also, our private school has smaller classes, far wider curricular and extra-curricular choices, excellent facilities and a warm, gentle atmosphere. Local state schools feel like trying to swim upstream.

IME children in state schools don't always learn to be self motivated, but can swiftly become demotivated because it's not cool to learn, or because doing the minimum, if you're bright, is perfectly acceptable, as you are on target for average class grades. Whereas at private school, children are expected to produce high level standards of work and hand in homework daily. More report cards, more feedback from staff creates an overall greater sense of responsibility to the work they are given.

There's a danger of narrowing the social mix, but that can be sorted out outside school. MY DC go to three different clubs outside school which have members from all walks of life, and they mix with those children. Cliques form in comps too - the haves and the have-nots at one local comp are pretty blatantly segregated from each other by the end of yr 7.

JavaDad Sun 28-Jul-13 20:02:28

Private schools are also mostly motivated only to get good grades for their students. State schools seems to focus more on the development of whole person. It depends what you think education is for.

JavaDad Sun 28-Jul-13 19:59:16

I was educated in private schools but have worked in state schools. My experience has been that the teaching is infinitely better in state schools. Teachers there seem to care a lot more.

It seems to me that private schools simply take your child away from an inclusive experience of society. Children in state schools also learn to be self-motivated, not just motivated to please an authority figure. This ends up showing itself in the evidence that state school students do much better at university than their private school peers with equivalent grades.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Sat 27-Jul-13 16:30:11

You need to look at the specifics of the schools. I have spent a lot of time in state schools, both teaching and observing, and there is no 'cookie-cutter' school - they vary enormously. I have DC in one of the best independent schools in the country, but I do not claim that 'indies are best' - again - they vary!
Look at your child, or better still, get a trusted friend to look at your child, as objectively as they can, and tell you what your child needs, and then do a gap analysis with the schools. Because no school is perfect, its just what the best fit is. And, hey, its not irrevocable - you can change if it turns out to be ghastly mistake...
As a general rule, my advice would be...
If your child is exceptional (rare) they will do well anywhere, but if you can afford it, and if you have one in the locality - send to an outstanding local indie where they will be with children who are curious and exceptional.
If your child is mediocre/normal, send them to a local solid indie.
If your child is struggling, keep on the case. Send to local school but insist on detailed info on their progress so you can supplement as needed. Give them a home environment where they are loved, supported, and given a calm quiet space to do their homework. Encourage extra-curricular activities (Scouts?) where qualities other than academic prowess are valued. them a pet to look after. Listen to them when they want to speak, and don't over-question them. Cook with them. And they will exceed your expectations grin

grin Oh yes! <dim>

Somethingyesterday Thu 25-Jul-13 14:41:21

Doh.. Jane Austen? ... (I thought it was a good omen for a Georgian mother......)

poppydoppy Thu 25-Jul-13 13:37:55

Private schools are not what they used to be........state schools are catching up especially in the suburbs

cory Thu 25-Jul-13 12:03:33

What you need from after school care and how much ferrying around you need to do to out of school activities will depend on the age of the child and where you live.

Since the thread is about secondary school age, I would have thought the thing about needing to ferry them around would only apply if you live somewhere very rural. My secondary school age ds is perfectly capable of taking himself to after school activities either on foot or by public transport. But obviously this only works if public transport is there.

Good point, Fairdene. My next plan of action is (after the hols) to scout about and see who offers what. I'm slightly disappointed, but undaunted. It's not so much a barrier as a sign that I need to look elsewhere.

SomethingYesterday, you're not being pushy, don't worry. grin I think boarding is about rarely seeing my child during the week and sometimes not at weekends either. I think it's about my son not having his sister around to talk to/annoy/chill out with. One day she and he will grow up and leave home, but I need them to do the growing up part first, or some of it, anyway. I accept that there are loads of great things about boarding, including adventure, forging strong friendships, opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on, but I'm also confident that there are loads of great things about being in our family and those are the things I want to focus on.

I'll have look at your link now. I've been busy reading that excellent 'how to choose a secondary school' site. How useful is that?! Thank you, whoever posted that.

What's Jane Austen got to do with it? Other than it's always good to bring her into any conversation, I mean.

Fairdene Wed 24-Jul-13 23:06:16

OP you visited a private school which told you it offered certain things, or showed you evidence that that is what it does, but that visit can't confirm that the state sector can't offer those very same things. The state sector isn't always constrained, the private sector is constrained too and neither sector has a monopoly of any one virtue or vice.

peteneras Wed 24-Jul-13 20:09:18

It works the other way round too!

Snog Wed 24-Jul-13 19:42:37

Don't forget that private schools also deliver disadvantages eg there is a lot of prejudice against people who went to private schools from people who didn't....

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 19:36:56

smile Not surprised you're enthusiastic about boarding! Although there are other good schools in the area....

Tasmania Wed 24-Jul-13 19:29:34

Somethingyesterday - that's our "local" private school... lol.

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 18:30:32

Here:

www.dragonschool.org/flippingbooks/dragonstoday_summer2012/#/6/

Please have a look, even though I am being a horrible nuisance. Purely for info....

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 15:47:25

Woo....

Jane Austen has just been named as the new face of the £10 banknote.

Surely this is significant?wink

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 15:18:24

Evageorge I don't question your own experience - but I would be astonished if a single parent at any of the independent schools that I have attended or been involved with has sent their child there for contacts.

Evageorge Wed 24-Jul-13 15:10:24

I am somebody who is completely committed to state education, but when it comes to your own child, you should do what meets your child's needs, and not feel guilty about it. Private schools are selective, and have smaller classes. However, they are not per se better than state schools. You should have a look at their progress measures compared to the state schools you are considering. The most important thing that private schools give you are contacts. Your child will have good contacts for when they are grown up. The open evenings will give you a feeling for what suits your child best. I find www.how-to-choose-a-school.org/ helps with choosing a state secondary school. It is not for profit, and tries to be impartial.

derektheladyhamster Wed 24-Jul-13 14:44:34

Maybe talk to a financial adviser about the best way to release some funds? Or maybe an interest free loan from a member of the family? And look at your outgoings seriously. It's not fun being on a bursery, you literally have no spare cash. In our case it's worth it, but it won't be everyone's choice

Somethingyesterday Wed 24-Jul-13 14:19:59

it's that far away from what I want out of life.......

Ok. Before I say anything - I dare you to say what you currently understand about boarding.

Because lots of otherwise sensible people that I know well think it involves depositing one's child at the beginning of September and then welcoming back a stranger at Christmas...

(I am only being so insistent because I suspect you do not want to let the idea drop but have decided to be realistic. I completely understand that it might look as if I am being pushy.)

Our mortgage is small too. Just what are we doing with our money?!?

I can't think about them, Tasmania. All power to those who do, but it's like asking to think about removing my own arms - it's that far away from what I want out of life.

I have no qualms at all about other people choosing boarding. It's not that I am fundamentally against boarding (I have no strong views on it, as a concept) it's simply that it is a long, long way from anything I want for us.

You're right, it is a shame.

Tasmania Wed 24-Jul-13 13:27:26

GeorgianMum - do think about boarding schools again. As the poster above indicates, they do have better bursaries, and you will have less food costs during term-time.

For what it's worth - it's a pity that there is such a difference between private and state.

derektheladyhamster Wed 24-Jul-13 13:15:24

We pay a similar amount on a bursery, and have a similar set up re jobs. We are very lucky that we bought our house in '97 and therefore have a very small mortgage. We have extended the mortgage to help pay the fees which is costing us about £250/month more.

Our is boarding though, which means we only have the expense of feeding our teen boy during the holidays :D

Right, I've been to visit. My gosh, it was nice! I don't mean it looked nice (though it did) but the head teacher met all my ideals for a school.

A bursary, should we be offered one, will still mean we have to pay almost £2000 per term. We can't do that, sadly. We especially won't be able to do it for two children (Ds is three years younger). You're going to ask me why I didn't research that first. I did, but the information wasn't available online.

I now completely 'get' what a private school offers, over and above a state school: it offers a more holistic approach to education (this one does, anyway) because it is free of some of the restrictions placed on state schools. It can also offer, and be more certain of achieving, an environment where learning is seen as 'cool'. Perhaps I saw those benefits there because they represent the things I value, but I saw them and I earnestly desired them!

I will very carefully go over our finances, but in truth I know that it is beyond our reach. Realistically, I think my next steps will be to take a very careful look at the state schools, find my best match and think very carefully about our home culture and how we can best supply the 'value added' things, by which I mean the learning ethos.

Dh has hit his earnings potential, a while back. I work part-time and earn so little that I am below the tax threshold. My earning potential is restricted by ill-health. We already holiday cheaply in this country, the kids wear hand-me downs and I'm dressed by Sainsbury's, George and, if I'm feeling flush, Matalan. Our food bill is costly, because three of us have food intolerances and these things do not come cheaply. I already cook from scratch. I have no childcare bills. Our main expenses are food and kids activities (ballet, swimming, gym, violin) and what are they, if not adding value? We are not poor and we live well, within our means. Like many others, really.

My mind was not made up from the start. I've really enjoyed thinking about this. I'm glad I looked into it. I'm sad that this is out of our reach, but it's onwards and upwards for us. You do what you can and you do it well, eh? It has helped me to focus right down on what really matters to me, for Dd. That wasn't the object of the exercise, but it's not an altogether bad outcome.

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