State versus private - which provides best education?

65 posts
NorthcoteLuvvie
Posts: 202
Joined: Sep 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby NorthcoteLuvvie » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:47 pm

Well this will certainly get a few comments but let me wade in. Last time I got some brickbats and an apology (!) so fingers crossed for this time.

We've had a lot of discussions about this topic and I am biased but these are the benefits as I see them.

1. you get a different education at a private school. By different I mean smaller class sizes, more access to sport, music and drama. The environment will be more up to date, freshly painted with state of the art IT (some local prep schools are now using iPads) and more "support" staff e.g. care takers etc.

2. the academic results of the independent schools will be different in that more of their children will get into selective secondaries

3. the atmosphere is different. Almost everyone is paying to be there and so there is almost total respect for teachers (those who don't are asked to leave) and there is total agreement of the benefit of education.

4. there is very little cultural and economic diversity. Many (not all but many) of the mums are "yummy mummys" who don't need to work and so embark on competitive parenting. This is intimidating if you take it too seriously or just pathetic if you don't. Very very few ethnic minorities, no-one is poor and if you are earning less than 200k as a household by year 3 you're in the bottom quartile for salary. People will scoff at this but its true. This can also be very intimidating if you're "just" making private school work financially.

I have one friend who went "state" and when she toured a local well known prep school she cried. She was in tears because it was all "perfect" and she wanted her kids to have the daily sport, the evening homework classes, the amazing science and art facilities and the days out taking part in rugby and hockey competitions. However once she'd had a bit of a snuffle she realised that they didn't "fit in" with the 4x4 owning, three holidays per year law firm partner families and it'd be a nightmare for them. There is nothing worse than a family that go private and can't afford it and send their child to an amazing school but against a family back drop of screaming financial insecurity.

I strongly believe that you get a "better" education in a private school but that's really only a result of the small class sizes and the sport. SW London can supply all that at weekends with Spencer/Ironsides so with a bit of tutoring thrown in you've negated a lot of the benefit.

Almost everything else is marketing fluff for the parents and if you care about it you'll really want your kids to go there but if you have doubts you'll probably be irritated by it.

Lastly, it costs about £100k to send a child to prep school. That is a LOT of holidays, tutors and other things.

Hope this helps!
Post Reply
klw
Posts: 117
Joined: Mar 2011
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby klw » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:07 pm

I had a similar dilemma last year when faced with finding a reception place for my very young daughter (end of August birthday, but also emotionally quite 'young')

As it happens, we missed out on belleville and honeywell, which was a little unexpected as we live so close to belleville. We were offered a state primary place at a school quite a distance from our home, which we were not happy with.

In one sense our decision was made for us and she started at Eaton House Girls in September. I have been so pleased with her start to school life, the teachers are very nurturing and kind and the small, intimate environment has made it much easier for her to settle in. She gets reading every night, but we have managed to make this 'fun' and if she's too tired it's never a problem to give it a miss. The school is all about treating others with kindness and I love some of the messages of inclusiveness that are coming home.

Since we ended up opting for the private route, ( but with with reservations) I couldn't be happier with where we've ended up. I still have occasional guilt that she is not really experiencing the 'real' world but I have concluded that it's up to us as parents to ensure that she has fundamental values of openness and kindness and that we avoid bringing up a little princess with a sense of entitlement.

Good luck, I found the whole process pretty stressful. Please feel free to pm me if you have any questions about Eaton House.
Post Reply
BFW
Posts: 228
Joined: Sep 2012
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby BFW » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:41 pm

Hi there thank you for reviving this thread which I had missed and is indeed very interesting! I would have found it very helpful a few years ago. I am not British therefore was a little overwhelmed about the whole school business in this country ! I won’t be able to contribute much to the state v private debate as I have not really experienced the state system in this country. We ended up going privately (to Eaton House – and we don’t have single sex schools in my country so another thing I was not used to !).

I have not found it too pushy (and I have now been at the school for over 4 years) and don’t think the kids work really hard from early age. In KG they get a little book every night and from Year 1 a little homework 2 days a week… one of the homework my daughter got in Year 1 was to measure things around the house using a…. shoe ! So not exactly hard or high tech ! In my country we don’t start school until 6 so I would not have been too happy with my children doing lots of homework from an early age. Sure now that we are higher up there is a little more homework but my children don't seem to mind that much.

I am now also completely converted to single sex education which I have to admit made me nervous to start with. The girls (and boys) are allowed to go at their own pace in the first few years where in my opinion the difference between boys and girls is bigger. They all go on a school trip together and some of the clubs are mixed so they do get to mix socially.

By the way apart from the blazer which is a little expensive (but lasts quite a few years if you buy it big!!!) the uniform is not that bad. You can get it most from Peter Jones and its ok - I think at Parkgate you the uniform is from Harrods !!!

I also wanted to add one last thing following NorthcoteLuvvie’s post – in 4 years I have never felt out of place because I don’t fit in. I do not own a 4x4, very sadly I do not go on amazing holidays every year and I am not a partner at a law firm. I have had to go back to work to send my children privately – we are comfortable but certainly don’t have the lifestyle you have described. So I really don’t think all schools are like that.

Hope this helps a little – best of luck.
Post Reply
sw11_
Posts: 344
Joined: Oct 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby sw11_ » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:55 pm

Such helpful posts. Thank you. I guess it would be interesting to hear from a Belleville (or other state school) parent to balance out the debate too.
Post Reply
sw11_
Posts: 344
Joined: Oct 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby sw11_ » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:24 pm

that's really interesting. would you mind expanding on why you are moving your children?
Post Reply
supergirl
Posts: 1241
Joined: May 2011
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby supergirl » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:18 pm

With a bit of experience now that my kids have finished their first term in reception i will say the following.

Some state schools are absolutely amazing and generally come in london with tiny catchment so if you can afford to buy or rent there you should go for it. But yes you need to know that either you ll change your kids age 7-8 or you tutor from Y5. But i still believe that take Belleville and the mix is NOT as wide as a school like Firecroft, Aldenbrook and HighView ie. there are a lot of very priviledge kids in BV english or french whom parents are very involved.

Some private schools are not good in that kids with "poorer" background get ostracised, i know some private schools in wandsworth have bullying problems so it is not because you re paying that it is necessarily better. You still need to check and voice your concerns if you have any.

BUT

If you find a truly amazing private school (and there are lots in Wandsworth we are so lucky) then it is just very different. Everything from the good morning shaking hands to the good afternoon shaking hands throughout the nurturing, one to one, learning, tailored education, sports, music, dance, drama, etc. and not necessarily homework (i know some have but a lot dont apart from reading which you would do state or private anyway).

So do the maths. In private schools you need to factor at least 10% per kids on top of fees. If you can do it do it but if you have an smazing state school near you do consider it because the e perience will be smazing too. As someone said what matter at this age is what happen at home.

Goid luck. In this country it is indeed very stressfull.
Post Reply
jafina
Posts: 130
Joined: Apr 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby jafina » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:21 pm

We chose private education for a few key reasons:

- smaller class sizes
- specialist teachers
- lots of parent/teacher communication
- variety of extra-curricular subjects
- breadth of education (music, sport, art, drama etc..)
- a "cool to be bright" culture (which I never had in my state school)
- a cosy, happy start to school

I am very pleased we chose private, and I think it's very sad that every child can't have the same quality of education regardless of their economic circumstances or catchment area!
Post Reply
LauraBrown
Posts: 136
Joined: Dec 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby LauraBrown » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:54 pm

We chose state school because we believe our kids will get a better education for the following reasons:

- it is a myth that teaching is always better in private schools
- it is a myth that facilities are always better: All state schools round here have many ipads etc in the classroom - technology is in no way lacking; our school has a field, ball court and swimming pool on site and playgrounds fitted out with fantastic equipment - many local private schools have appallingly small grounds; I would accept that the walls are painted less frequently...
- in my view, private schools are oriented towards impressing parents paying high fees rather than the needs of small children (eg over-engineered xmas shows for very small children)
- there is various research backing up my view that children from motivated, well-educated families can achieve at the highest levels in state school
- we didn't want to limit our children's horizons to the miniscule strata of society they could meet at a Wandsworth private school
- we dislike the narrow definition of success we observe within private schools and the parents of children there (eg success at primary means getting into the right senior school; success at senior school means getting into Oxbridge; success at Oxbridge means getting into the right highly-paid career)

Good luck deciding!
Laura
Post Reply
ready2pop
Posts: 224
Joined: Sep 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby ready2pop » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:07 am

Yikes northcutluvvie do you know me?

4x4 tick, city law firm partner husband tick, not working myself tick, holidays tick...

In all seriousness, I think there is a huge difference.

I'm state educated myself and didn't want that to be the case but with two in private prep now I can see it is. Small class sizes and more cash for facilities and equipment makes a huge difference. We are too early on in the process to have academic results to prove it yet but our kids have far more opportunities than I did and a very personally tailored approach to their education.

If you can afford it then go for it - your kids will thank you.
Post Reply
NorthcoteLuvvie
Posts: 202
Joined: Sep 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby NorthcoteLuvvie » Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:38 am

Some interesting comments.

When I originally wrote this post I deliberately did not use the word "better" for private education, I used the word "different".

I personally, and I can only speak personally, believe smaller class sizes, more teachers (one prep school I know has a teacher AND one full time assistant AND another part-time assistants per reception class of 20 kids) etc will give a better education.

However that is my opinion.

I think it's important that both sides are as objective as possible.

Yes a private education gives a narrow view of the world, in terms of diversity and role models.

But lets be honest, most private school timetables put most state school times tables to shame with the the variety of sport, drama, music, trips etc.

This is not a critisicm but something I've observed and its driven because the indy schools just have more money.

But I want to be objective so there are some real caveats.

What REALLY worries me (and I am becoming increasingly disturbed by this) is that if you have a daughter the grown up role models they are presented with are quite disturbing.

And by that I mean other mums.

Almost none of the mothers work ( I know some do but lets keep it to generalizations)

90% of the mothers a female pupil will meet as she goes about her day aren't working.

They ferry children to and from school, go to the gym and generally "keep house" (which I am not saying is not hard work. It is no mean feat when houses are probably plural and holidays need booking, side returns extended and tutors and music classes organised) however it does seem a step back from the world some of our own mothers "fought for" in the seventies and a world away from the "Lean In" mantra of the current workplace.

If I am honest I look at that and it makes me feel uneasy.

And as a child goes "higher" up the school in their school career the percentage of working mums falls off a cliff.

At playdates on a Friday my daughter sees almost every mother cook and keep house. (not actually clean, that's outsourced! :-) ) and then hubby comes home from work.

She does not hear other mothers talk about their job, or what she's doing at work or the challenges she's had to face in the workplace.

A hard working hubby then comes home from the City, puts his feet up and generally unloads about how hard he is working.

Does that mean we are rearing girls who expect to be "kept" as many of the local mums are? The daughter of a friend asked (in all seriousness) why did she have to work so hard at school as "mummy didn't use her education".

Mummy btw went to a TOP US university and prides herself on being "equal" to any man in the workplace it's just she hasn't been in one for ten years.

So that is what really worries me.

And it worries me more the older my children get.
Post Reply
Wheresmyschool?
Posts: 266
Joined: Dec 2011
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby Wheresmyschool? » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:01 am

I've often met mums who went Ivy League or Oxbridge but are now SAHMs and I am in no way diminishing their day to day achievements in the kitchen/PTA/touch line but a part of me does wonder if its a waste of expensive education?
Post Reply
NorthcoteLuvvie
Posts: 202
Joined: Sep 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby NorthcoteLuvvie » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:03 am

I'm not saying that, its a choice and people are free to make any choice they want/can.

However what I am concerned about is if we are raising girls who expect a hubby to earn 200k plus a year and "keep them" whilst they don't work?

That is a lot of baggage to give a daughter bearing in mind we live in a bubble.
Post Reply
LauraBrown
Posts: 136
Joined: Dec 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby LauraBrown » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:17 am

That is a very interesting point NL and not necessarily only a private school phenomenon I guess. I am surprised the trend of women at home continues or (if I understood your post correctly), actually gets more extreme as the children get older. I'd always expected that people would start to return to their careers as the children get beyond preschool stage - although I can see that if the partner has a job with high pressure and long hours, it could be hard for both to be working (if there is a choice).

Looking at people I know, I feel this reflects the fact that even early on in their careers, women make choices taking into account that they might want flexibility one day. This does not seem to be on the horizon of most young men. Combine this with the fact that women statistically tend to marry slightly older men and it means that when the kids come, it is obvious who earns less, is less senior and can most easily take a step back from work for a while... This is sad for those men and women who therefore can't (or feel they can't£ make a any other choice.

One thought on solutions is that an all girls secondary school (in my experience) can go further than a mixed school in embedding the necessary message (when set against the influence of society as a whole) that girls can not only do as well as boys, but they can do better!

Mentoring by senior women is often cited as a mechanism to help more women get into senior positions in the city. I think a more informal, fun version of this for girls could help them see the opportunities that are out there. My sister in law ran careers advice sessions in primary school where they made sure they had a female firefighter, plumber and banker and a male nurse, cupcake maker etc to try to breakdown the male/female stereotypes which I thought was a fab idea!!

And our boys benefit from all that too. Actually I think it is men's attitude and not least, society's attitude to men taking on a truly fair share of parenting where both parents work that probably needs to change most. It is amazing the shame that exists in, for example, banks, if a man wants to go even slightly part time.

What does everyone else think? Such a difficult area...
Post Reply
jafina
Posts: 130
Joined: Apr 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby jafina » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:22 am

Northcote luvvie - I am confused by your post. Are you implying that SAHMs only have children that go to private school? Totally untrue in my experience. You also seem to imply that all private school mums are SAHMs, again completely untrue in my experience. Both state and private schools have mums who are SAHMS, who work full time and many many who work part time. There are also quite a few Dads who work from home or who are house husbands in both sectors.

Who are these women you know who act like trophy wives? I don't know any of them and my children are privately educated.

My 3 children know numerous mothers who work and quite a few Dads who are around in the day. Your stereotypes are just that, stereotypes.

I am a SAHM and my children know all about my previous work experience, and the fact that I will probably go back to work in a few years time. My mother worked full time when I was a child and one of the reasons I am a SAHM is because I hated not having a parent around more (note that I said parent and not mother).

When my daughter goes on playdates she is often looked after by the child's nanny or father or grandparent, not always by a SAHM.

You are describing a very different world to the one I live in.
Post Reply
NorthcoteLuvvie
Posts: 202
Joined: Sep 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: State versus private - which provides best education?

Postby NorthcoteLuvvie » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:41 am

Hi
One of the problems with this sort of discussion is that we all have our own (naturally different) views on the situation.

That is only to be expected as we're all in different situations.

1. of course I am not saying that only SAHM have children that go to private school. that would be silly

2. I am saying that I am concerned that we are creating female role models for children whereby the majority of mothers don't work and are "kept". I know that word is emotive but if you're not paying the bills someone else is and that's "kept" in my book.

I am looking at my class list and 75% of the mums are either full time SAHM or SAHMs who have paused their career.

I think that if that pause is for anything longer than five years its probably "stopped" waiting to be "restarted" as opposed to paused but maybe thats semantics.

My point is that when I went to school around 50% to 60% of the mums worked and we all viewed that figure as too low and there was real effort to get more women in the workplace.

Around here many of the women get educated and then leave the workplace.

At my friends state school lots of the mums worked.

Finally Jafina when you write "Who are these women you know who act like trophy wives? I don't know any of them and my children are privately educated." I find that really hard to believe.

The problem with this sort of discussion is that we tend not to be objective. State school parents will swear blind that big class sizes and lack of resources don't affect a childs education (we know they do) and if private school parents are saying there aren't any trophy wives at their school I would have to raise my eyebrows and say "really?".

Anyway its a worry I have, I don't want to raise a daughter who thinks that a husband that can't "keep her" and earn over £200k a year is a failure and increasingly I think that some of our local prep schools do just that
Post Reply