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messageState vs independent - mental health
Posted by EastdulwichNewbie February 24, 08:50PM

I was wondering whether people had views on whether sending your children to independent schools can be bad for their mental health?

By way of background I have a very young little boy and am really torn. Aside from the fact he may not get in anyway / we may not be able to afford, I love the rounded education that independent schools offer, the facilities they have & class sizes. However Iím concerned about the pressure placed on children and its potential impact on mental health. Am I overthinking this? Is there pressure everywhere or is it worse at independent schools?

I would love to hear peopleís views on this.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by Pugwash February 25, 07:03PM

It may not apply to many people but my husband had several types of schooling when he was younger. A village school in Sussex from age 5 - 7 where he was diagnosed as above average intelligence, a catholic primary school for boys, and again diagnosed as very high IQ. Was offered free place at Dulwich College and Alleyns, but parents paid for St Joseph's College as wanted catholic education. Was later placed into a private boarding school in mid teens and then private tutorial college.

Consistent changes in education for a sensitive child and the continual pressure from both his parents and private school/college lead to him having a breakdown and being placed in Maudsley at 17 for several months. He is now in his 60s but still has poor mental health.

Since the 1960/70s there has been more awareness of child mental health and there have been considerable changes is way schools operate. More and more schools are aware of the impact of peer/parent/exam pressure and seek to rectify this. It is important that whatever school your son goes to, that they are aware that not all pupils are academically inclined and seek to provide education which is holistic and person centred.

Although we looked at an independent school for our youngest daughter as she was fairly shy and we thought smaller classes would support her, - she decided that this was not for her. She went to Sydenham Girls - at the time there were around 1000 girls attending, and this was the making of her. University followed and she is now an associate lecturer in a Sussex college.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by EastdulwichNewbie February 26, 09:46PM

Pugwash, thank you so much for your message. I totally agree about a whole person approach to education. I really just want my son to do what he can without unnecessary pressure and find his areas of interest!

Iím sorry to hear about your husbandís ongoing mental health. I do hope that things improve. It must have been so tough for him and you too.

It is wonderful to hear about your daughterís success. How fantastic to look back on your choice and see the end result

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by Jules-and-Boo February 28, 01:57PM

I don't think you can cover either state/ independent as having a blanket standard approach to mental health.
You should check each school and see if you think it is a fit for your child and then apply accordingly.
you can see what they do in the school to promote mental health and which other organisations / schemes they work with.

I would seriously check the school's stance on bullying before looking at academic pressure - children thrive differently under pressure anyway, but bullying is a totally different beast.

I chose a supposedly fab school for my daughter, who was subsequently bullied. I raised it with the school, they ignore me and it escalated to violence toward her. She retaliated and she was moved. Now doing brilliantly.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by motorbird83 February 29, 12:27PM

I don't think its an independent versus state issue either. Children's mental health is an issue across the board, one that's exacerbated by social media and other pressures that didn't exist for previous generations.

I think its just about finding the right fit for your child. Some schools (independent or state) have better pastoral care than others. Also, what one child might feel as pressure, another child will thrive in as the appropriate amount of challenge. I'd say not forcing your child into a school that's too academic for them and also thinking about their individual temperament is all part of the process of selecting any school in either sector.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by Pugwash March 01, 04:56PM

I found when we were visiting schools (secondary) for both of our daughters, we got a feeling/intuition that one particular school was the right one for our girls. We had visited several other schools and did not feel comfortable in them. I would seek a tour of whatever school you were thinking of for your son and ask questions.

My eldest daughter was keen to get her child into a local primary school which had a very good reputation and OFSTED report, when she was shown around the school and asked questions she was not happy at the answers or the atmosphere in the school. My grand daughter eventually went to a school further way, which was listed as 3rd best, it had a happier atmosphere and all questions were answered.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by EastdulwichNewbie March 02, 07:27PM

Thanks Jules-and-boo, really good point about bullying. This is a concern for me too especially with social media bringing bullying into the home environment

Thanks also motorbird & pugwash. Good advice about the fit.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by WorkingMummy March 02, 07:43PM

I went to state school in the 80s. My three are now all at state.
The quality of pastoral care at our local community primary school is outstanding. Far surpasses anything I had. The teachers are all very creative, clever people and their approach to mental health is well informed and sensitive.
I personally would not opt into private education. I put my eldest child into a small friendly pre-prep.
All very lovely. Until the run up to 7+ (which I never even knew existed) started and then I found that the chat at the school gates (between parents, about tutors and outcomes and hopes for university etc) became bad for my mental health.
I believe children at a decent state school can find their own natural level - where they perform academically. I think the pressure of expectation and the ever earlier process of selection is...not fun for kids.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by Pugwash March 05, 05:41PM

With an independent school, children will come from differing areas of London and making friends who live locally may be problematic. A friend sent her daughter to an independent school and found that most of her friends lived in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich with only a couple in Dulwich.

messageRe: State vs independent - mental health
Posted by nina_maniana March 09, 10:14AM

Depends on the school i guess. Good thing about private i guess is you have a bit more control, like if you really arenít into the pressure thing you can choose steiner or montessouri

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