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Re: Difference between private and state

by betsyboop » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:19 am

Hi everyone,

I have been following this thread with a lot of interest as we are about to make a decision on secondary schools in the next couple of weeks or so.

the decision may be between one of the indies in south west London, (we have offer in 4 schools amongst Emanuel, Alleyn, and the two boys indies in croydon) and, subject to offer on D day, potentially one of the grammars.

First, we're not British.

From our perspective, it seems that if we went for the grammar option, the main difference would be facilities, background of the kids attending and the class size. but generally the outcome in terms of grades/degrees would be the same, which is our end game.
The language side of things in private would probably not be as good in the grammar option, but our kids are already bilingual so we don't see that as a major hurdle.

I just wondered what were people thoughts on this private schools/grammars ? what would justify the expense if we have a grammar/ selective state option in hand.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Re: Difference between private and state

by Hedger » Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:45 pm

My thoughts as someone who went to pretty poor state schools/colleges and went on to Oxford:

1. From the outset I was a big fish in a small pond - always in the top couple of pupils with the result that I always had a quiet conviction that I was some kind of genius :lol: Of course I wasn't and if I had gone to a private school I'm sure that I would never have had that confidence and ultimately not have done so well. A previous poster refers to research which supports this theory. A bright pupil can do very well at state school - it's really the more middling pupils who benefit the most from private school.

2. Most Oxbridge colleges will go out of their way to give a place to a state school student rather than one from private school. When I look back at my interview, I cringe at how gauche I was but my tutors went out of their way to look for potential in state school pupils rather than give places to private school pupils who often had been coached within an inch of their lives. There's now a real push in the City to favour candidates who were educated in the state sector (what some might call reverse discrimination); numbers are often monitored just as they are for disabled candidates and those from ethnic minorities, etc.

3. I'm very glad I mixed with people from all walks of life in my school. I think it makes children much more grounded, broad-minded and empathetic.

Re: Difference between private and state

by actuallyadad » Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:23 pm

erm I think you're generalizing a bit too..but least my friend's observation is based on his first hand experience over several years!

Re: Difference between private and state

by livegreen » Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:11 pm

Confidence is not a direct result of the school you attend!

Think of it another way - all pupils from Private schools come from wealthy families and are likely to have educated and confident parents. Equally these parents are likely to care and be competitive about the outcomes of their children. As a result a lot, but not all, of these children will be confident.

The children from wealthy, educated families who go to state schools are just as likely to be confident as those who attended a private school.

The lecturer at law is generalising, and could easily have said children of wealthy parents tend to be more confident in academic situations than those from a less wealthy background.

Most outcomes are to do with family background rather than schooling.

Re: Difference between private and state

by MGMidget » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:21 am

Dohnia, you are very lucky if you feel confident conversing with people from all walks of life. However, I doubt that is a result purely of your state education. You had well educated middle class parents and then went to Cambridge, where, no doubt, you mixed with lots of privately educated students as well as state educated. Hence you have been fortunate enough to experience, through your childhood and student years, opportunities to converse with people from all walks of life!

I was state school educated and found it quite a shock when I went to university to study a subject which was dominated by students from the top public schools. I felt like a fish out of water for a while but then I was also from a working class family and probably didn't have some of the experiences you had. Fortunately the experience at university helped prepare me for my work environment where a lot of clients and colleagues have been educated in top public schools. Hence, I now think I can converse well with people from many walks of life, whether its a plumber or CEO, thanks to variety of people I have had plenty of contact with over the years.

As someone pointed out, one of the big differences in the confidence shown by those educated in some of the top public schools. It helps them a lot in environments where being able to speak well and get your point across eloquently is useful. That often applies in senior level jobs! I found I really had to work on that from university onwards and realised how different the education had been at my state school where teachers often just handed out worksheets for pupils to occupy themselves with in class. Times might have changed of course, but it is interesting that a poster has noted a lecturer has observed the difference in confidence between the state and private educated pupils recently, suggesting times haven't changed that much!

Re: Difference between private and state

by Scottov » Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:52 am

dohnia wrote:I was state-school educated and then went on to Cambridge. I am now a primary school teacher in a state school.
If you find outstanding state schools (from reception through to a-level) then I am of the opinion that private school is unnecessary.
With regard to university, children who receive the same grades have a better chance of achieving a first than their private school counterparts. My partner went to the same state school as me and then went on to Oxford. This was possible because we both have well-educated middle class parents who took an interest in our education. We were surrounded by books, experiences and stimulating conversation.
State schools do have less staff so there is not the same 1:1 attention but this means children are better equipped for independent learning later in life.
Universities and companies know that state-educated children are a better reflection of their natural ability then those who are privately educated (although social-class and parental education levels play a significant part).
The social benefits to mixing with a wider socio-economic peer group are huge but I know this is not top of everyone's priorities. I have friends in all walks of life and feel comfortable conversing with people from different backgrounds and going in different directions.
Behaviour management in an outstanding state school should be outstanding.
I can say with certainty that at my state school we have high expectations. We do not have the same resources (or pay) of our private counterparts but if you are able to arrange extra-curricular activities and a loving and supportive home then state is still a very good (in my opinion the best) option!
is there a source for your many claims that I can take a look at, or is it just a theory based on your experience?

Re: Difference between private and state

by actuallyadad » Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:20 pm

A friend of mine is a law lecturer at Kings College London and teaches undergraduates. He tells me that in written work, you cannot tell apart the students from the state or private systems ie they are academically the same at that stage.

BUT that in seminars and lectures the difference is remarkable - it's the private school kids who put up their hands to answer questions and engage in debate.

Interesting I thought. All about confidence perhaps?

Re: Difference between private and state

by Bluebunny » Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:07 pm

I've been following this thread with interest and wanted to add my two pence, especially in response to schoolgatesmum's "theroadtonowhere" post.

I have been educated in a ordinary state school abroad and moved to UK to do my undergrad at Cambridge, having had no tutoring or even really fully understanding what Cambridge University represents here. I have gone on to work in banking for 10 years, get several postgraduate qualifications and am now starting my own company.

My son who is 3 will go to Preschool at Newton Prep in September--we have made this decision simply because we liked the school atmosphere, enthusiastic teachers and small class sizes, although our son currently goes to Henry Cavendish and really likes it too. Also, at least for now we can afford it and might as well spend money on education--my husband and I are not big spenders otherwise.

So, here is my personal view on state versus private:

*I think it makes no difference in the long term whether the child goes to state or private

*Most UK jobs, even very skilled, require only basic levels of numeracy and literacy. Most people don't even put their school on their CV.

*The best predictor of the child's success in life is the example their parents set them. Enthusiasm for books, continuous learning, curiosity about the world, the ethic of working hard, not giving up in the face of challenges and respect towards others are key.

*Motivation to do the important things in life can only come from within.

*By the time our children's generation grows up, most of them will likely be self employed rather than working for big companies. In these circumstances, emotional intelligence and ability to relate to a wide range of people will be crucial.

I also think as parents we have an important job to prevent the ever-increasing anxiety among young people and to put things into perspective. By all means, tutoring and preparation for exams are fine, but education is not be all and end all.

Re: Difference between private and state

by dohnia » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:51 pm

I was state-school educated and then went on to Cambridge. I am now a primary school teacher in a state school.
If you find outstanding state schools (from reception through to a-level) then I am of the opinion that private school is unnecessary.
With regard to university, children who receive the same grades have a better chance of achieving a first than their private school counterparts. My partner went to the same state school as me and then went on to Oxford. This was possible because we both have well-educated middle class parents who took an interest in our education. We were surrounded by books, experiences and stimulating conversation.
State schools do have less staff so there is not the same 1:1 attention but this means children are better equipped for independent learning later in life.
Universities and companies know that state-educated children are a better reflection of their natural ability then those who are privately educated (although social-class and parental education levels play a significant part).
The social benefits to mixing with a wider socio-economic peer group are huge but I know this is not top of everyone's priorities. I have friends in all walks of life and feel comfortable conversing with people from different backgrounds and going in different directions.
Behaviour management in an outstanding state school should be outstanding.
I can say with certainty that at my state school we have high expectations. We do not have the same resources (or pay) of our private counterparts but if you are able to arrange extra-curricular activities and a loving and supportive home then state is still a very good (in my opinion the best) option!

Re: Difference between private and state

by MGMidget » Tue Nov 19, 2013 4:26 pm

All these different threads about state and private schools at the moment are making me dizzy!

@schoolgatesmum, I just wanted to add that I didn't say those things you mention aren't available in state schools. Its just that you get a bit more, a bit better in our school. And I have researched and indeed experienced one of the local outstanding primaries. Of course they offer extra help, some individual attention, extra-curricular etc. If you are getting all you would like or need from your current school then these additional differences mentioned (in addition to points made by the BalhamworkingmumFT and Northcote Luvvie) obviously wouldn't matter to you or be worth paying for.

Re: Difference between private and state

by SaharaD » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:56 pm

Based on my own experience I am worried about going the private route. I loved it at primary level but got in with a bad crowd at private secondary (one of the top london girls day schools mentioned in this thread) and met a lot of troubled very wealthy teenagers. There was no involvement or concern from the school and I know my parents were't called when I was absent and my grades started falling. School got the cheque and the rest was up to us as 'independent minded young ladies'. That's fair enough I suppose and I take full responsibility for my bad choices and my plummeting self esteem after going from the top grades in my primary to very average in all subjects in the highly competitive senior school. Obviously there are more of the statistical success stories than us screw ups graduating or they wouldn't still have the amazing reputation that they do. But there was also a large contingent of children of the very wealthy / celebrity and very little supervision from school or parents with access to empty houses, cars and enough money to cover up mistakes. Underage drinking and sex eating disorders and crack ups were not uncommon. Unless things have changed (and they hadn't for my much younger half brothers and sisters except perhaps the nationalities of the super wealthy have changed) I am put off the whole thing.

I'm sure that there are similarly messed up kids in state school but I'm hoping less money less trouble you can get into?! Probably not one of the differences between private and state school that usually makes the list of considerations! My daugher will have a very different upbringing to me as I will be present most of the time. But I still think I will chose state school. As I know from personal experience that while private school can be brilliant it isn't always. And if it isn't always then I can't bear to spend all of our money on it.

Re: Difference between private and state

by MGMidget » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:51 pm

Good for you then! No need to look elsewhere.

Re: Difference between private and state

by schoolgatesmum » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:37 pm

@MGMidget - the way you describe how private schools differ from state could actually be a description of my children's state school: extra-curricular, individual attention, specialist teachers, strong on 3Rs, extra help. Yep, we've got all of those!

Re: Difference between private and state

by MGMidget » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:32 pm

ladyofacertainage and BalhamworkingmumFT, I am encouraged by your comments as we hope not to have to tutor either. As I see it a private school should be preparing children for the next school so tutoring should be the exception not the rule. I hope it stays that way and that we don't feel forced to tutor simply to have a level playing field with everyone else! For state schools though I think it may be more necessary if you are hoping to move your child from state to private school simply to have familiarity with the type of exams they have to sit.

Re differences I have observed (and we have some experience of local outstanding state as well as private):

As BalhammumworkingFT and Northcote Luvvie says plus the following (in our school):

More opportunities to discover/develop talents early (singing, acting, sport, languages etc) as the curriculum and extra-curricular activities on offer tend to be wider and available from a young age. This means standards can get very high in later years with some children getting picked out for national competition.
More individual attention - can work well at both ends of the spectrum (e.g. help on weak areas and extension for the gifted/talented). Obviously this is available in state schools too but I would say there's more of it on offer in our son's private school.
Lots of subjects taught by specialist teachers - which means high standards from what I've seen so far.
Very strong on the basic 3Rs from an early age. Lot of effort put into this means progress seems to be very good. Extra help available (included in the fees) for any areas of weakness identified.
High expectations - all children encouraged to do their best all the time. All schools would say they do this but its extent to which it is noticed and rewarded in our school that stands out for me.
There is more encouragement and acceptance of competition from an early age.

Many of these things can be supplemented by parents outside of school in the infant or primary years if you have the time to devote to it. That is why many people chose to go to state school but aim for private school in later years. It does take a lot of time and running around though if you hope to provide the equivalent to the private school curriculum/extra-curricular.

Homework is NOT necessarily that onerous in the infant years. Year one - a reading book each school night, once a week some spellings and a bit of written homework is typical in our school.

Re: Difference between private and state

by LMC1 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:32 pm

Just to add my "two pennies worth" on tutoring, although I guess we will not know whether this has been "worth it" until next March (eldest is currently in year 6). Here was our thinking. She is in a local state primary school, where they do not (and I am glad they do not - I want her doing much more interesting and useful things at school) spend any time on preparation for either the state school tests (we live near Graveney, but not near enough!) or the private school ones. Our daughter is pretty bright, but we did not want to send her into the exams without some preparation as to what to expect and how to deal with the questions etc. I know that the VR and NVR are supposed to test ability, but IMHO you need someone to explain to you how they work (I cannot do lots of the NVR ones, and if you are judging by acadameic achievement I am supposed to be pretty bright). On the private school exams, by way of example, she needed guidance on how to answer comprehension questions - use a full sentence, repeat back the question etc. We have therefore had a weekly tutor since the Easter of Year 5 (so it will be 9-10 months in total) and so far have been pleased with how it is going - as I say, the real test is next Spring!

One slightly throw away comment on private versus state primaries, one thing which we did not consider at the time but in hindsight has, I think, been important for us, is the amount of homework. Our Yr 1 daughter has some reading, 6 words to practise spelling and one piece of "homework" (this week it was draw a picture of your birthday party!) per week. This to me is enough at 5 years old (in fact I would prefer less) - she is in school 6 hours a day, 5 days a week to learn this stuff. Friends with children in private schools (alhtough I am sure this varies a bit) have had to struggle with forcing youngsters to do homework on a daily basis after a long day at school from the age of 4.

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