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Hi,

I have young children and am starting to think about longer term plans for education. Our location isn?t brilliant for secondary schools (I have primary age children).


If I could get my wish list I?d look for a school that nurtures my children, gives them opportunities to pursue their interests and gives them confidence (whatever their ability). I would obviously love them to do well academically but Oxbridge isn?t something I yearn for for them.


As mentioned our location isn?t brilliant and I?m wondering whether we will go private (I acknowledge that at the moment we think we can manage this financially). However, I wonder whether given my hopes for them a private education might actually not be the best place for them.


I would love to hear from anyone who has wrestled with this and perhaps has older children now. Do we move, just go to whatever is offered or seek out the right fee paying school (assuming this is open to us at the time).


Many thanks!

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Hubby had Private Education from the age of 6, initially at independent fee paying Catholic schools in SE London (primary and secondary). Won a scholarship to Alleyns, also a place at Dulwich College which his family would not let him take up as they were not Catholic schools. Was then sent to a private boarding school, and then to a private 'crammer' for A levels. He has always stated that although he liked aspects of his education, he felt that in hindsight he would have had a better education in a good state school.


Admittedly this was in the 50s/60s/70s and there is less segregation now in the private education system.- One school he went to the A stream were white English boys, B stream were white Irish boys, C stream were 'others' including Polish/Caribbean/Mixed Heritage etc - hubby was in C stream.


I have friends who sent their children to private schools - one went to St Dunstans from the age of 5 - 18 and did very well going on to University etc. My other friend had a gifted daughter who went to Oakfield, but their younger daughter who had Downs Syndrome went to her local primary. My daughter's friend went to Alleyns and enjoyed her time there but was not an academic person.


I think it really depends on the child'd nature/temperament a shy child may do better in the smaller class sizes of a private school. A sporting child may be best suited to secondary private education where a variety of sports are the norm (not as an after school activity).

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My children went to non-leafy comprehensive schools in Lewisham and are doing fine. What do you think private education gives to children other than a sense of superiority (which can be problematic)? Bullying, sexist abuse, drug use - all still apply in private schools.
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Thanks for your responses.


Tomskip - I suppose the things that appeal are the smaller classes, facilities (& being properly funded), potential exposure to sports /activities that would be of interest, a commitment to educational achievement & hopefully teaching staff who have capacity to speak to parents if needed (my sister is a teacher at a grammar and is run off her feet). I hate the superiority thing. My husband and I both went through the state system - his a very crappy school and mine didn?t really support me to achieve, asking ?why do you want As??. It?s tricky - I suppose I have an idea of what an independent school might offer without having gone to one and a not brilliant experience of the state system which might not be representative!

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We have just spent a couple of years handling this same dilemma for our child who starts secondary school in September. We were both privately educated but not sure if it was the right way to go. We may find out soon that we made the wrong decision but we have gone for a state school. Watch some of the online open day videos and get a sense of the ethos of the school. Of course state schools can?t compete with the facilities of the private schools but it felt to us that the level of aspiration was very high in some state schools we saw. Also, bear in mind the level of competition for private school places means exam prep needs to start early.


What is essential is to be honest about the likelihood of getting into your preferred state schools and planning early, if you might need to move.

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We just made the move to private for secondary, mainly as our daughter had been so unhappy in her very big primary school. We thought we needed to try something else. So far, so very good.


For me it wasn?t about the facilities, it was more about the size of the school, level of noise, small class sizes... it?s perhaps unusual but thought I?d share my experience.

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This is an interesting topic. It depends on the child. Private definitely for secondary if you can afford it and if your child is academic or sporty or a good all rounder. Think of the opportunities they would get there that just do not exist in state schools. On the down side you have to be careful regarding the amount of pressure that will be put on your child to achieve and the effect on their mental health.
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In the private secondary schools, the cost of school trips are astronomical - some being over ?1000 (they did give a friend 18 months warning to save up). Uniform is usually very expensive and at certain shops. It is the little things like this add up to thousands over the years in addition to termly fees from around ?5- ?10 K
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We looked round all the private schools when we were choosing secondaries. I was a bit baffled as to what you were paying for, to be honest, other than the fancy buildings. If you have a really sporty kid or one who's into drama or music your child can always pursue those interests out of school if they're not catered for in school (though Kingsdale - where my older daughter goes - is actually very good in those areas anyway). Yes, smaller class sizes would be nice and my kids have occasionally suffered dodgy teachers in their state schools but I don't believe that the private system is completely devoid of bad teaching either. I've never had a problem contacting teachers.


I honestly believe that if you are engaged parents and you have a kid who's happy to learn then chances are they will be just fine within the state system, and the huge sums of money you save could be spent on extra-curricular activities if needed and even a tutor if you have bad luck with a particular subject. You really have to look around all the options and get a 'feel' for what seems right for your child. No school is perfect and I've got friends whose kids have had problems with bullying at private schools as well as another friend who moved her child from state to private because they weren't making progress with a particular learning disability. So it's horses for courses.


My husband and I also went through the state system ourselves with mixed results (!). But I do think that London comprehensives have come on a long way since then. Definitely not perfect but both my kids have been really happy at their schools and are doing well. Plus I do think that ability to mix with everyone from all backgrounds is a really important thing to learn early on in life. Good luck with your decision!

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Quite a lot of people we know, including ourselves, have taken advantage of the superb primaries in the area and then gone private for the transition to secondary. There are good private schools that are not pressure cookers. St Dunstan's and Sydenham High both get good results but are by no means exam factories and offer lots of choice to nurture interests both academically and non-academically. Some of the local state secondaries are fabulous, but of no use to you if you know you won't get into them from where you live.


We hoped for state secondary, were aware that we might not get anything we wanted, made a back up plan for private secondary, and in the end our daughter liked the school (Sydenham High) so much that we decided it was the right place for her anyway, regardless of the state offer outcome.


If you have more than one, bear in mind you'll very likely want them to go to the same place. It just makes life logistically less challenging. You'll also get a discount after first kid. Nevertheless 2 kids in private school is a lot of money. And for your kids' long term outcomes, you may be better off investing that money into shares for them in a trust fund for when they reach adulthood.


Much will depend on how much of an 'absolutely not' your likely state secondaries are.


Finally - it's easy to argue from the extremes on this. We all know of kids who've been private all through and come out of it unable to hold a fork and a conversation at the same time. And equally kids who went to failing schools in sink estates where every lesson was disrupted by trouble, and who nevertheless went on to excel academically. But on the whole, private schools get better results, have better facilities, offer more choice to support kids' interests, and are better able to get the best outcomes for kids - exactly because they have better facilities, smaller classes, and less in-class disruption to have to deal with which makes more time and space for teaching and the bit that really makes the difference, discussion about what's been taught.


Good luck, whatever you decide.

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Whoeveritis Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> Please, what local state secondaries, that you

> speak of are fabulous?

> State secondaries fail our sons


Re 'state secondaries fail our sons' - is this your opinion about all of them or are you particularly talking about your sons?


HP

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I went to a private school but we have decided that our sons will go to state schools. I'm sure things are different now, and mine was a language based one also, but I feel I would have been better off in a state school for my needs. We've opted to put some money aside each month for the kids instead, and they do plenty of activities outside of school as it is now (football, swimming, martial arts and drama).


Whilst I suspect this is different for the private secondaries locally, my school had kids from all over London so most of your friends lived on the other side of town. I want my kids to have a good based of local friends which we have for primary and has been great, so I want that for secondary if we can. For us Kingsdale looked excellent and will be 1 or 2 on our list, but we have not seen it in the flesh yet which might make a difference as everyone says it's huge.


If I was you, I would forget private vs state, work out what sort of school would suit your kids and then see what there is in both sectors, draw up your shortlist and see what is left. The Headteachers wold appear to make a massive difference so worth listening to them and their ethos.


Good luck!

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I went to a comprehensive and bloody hated it. As an academic kid in an inner city school i was bullied horribly and miserable every day. It was only when i went to uni and met people who had been to private schools that i realised not every child?s experience is the same.


The thing about a forum like this is people are generally pretty happy with how they educate their kids, it?s something they think hard about and stand behind their choices, so i don?t think you?ll get much balance on here - you?ll get people who chose private and think that?s best, and people who chose comp and think that?s the best.


What i will add to the mix is this: as an adult if i split my mates / colleagues / acquaintances etc into 2 camps, those who liked and those who hated school, there is a much bigger contingent who liked / loved school who went to private. We could talk about why that may be, but it?s certainly the case amongst the people i?ve encountered in my life. Not 100%, and definitely not a total correlation with academic achievement. But a definite trend.

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Ps: i?ve also found that there are horrible, rude, obnoxious people in all walks of life - comp and private. Raise your kids well and they?ll (probably) turn into decent humans. Your choice of school won?t make the difference either way.
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Come to think of it , I don?t know anyone who enjoyed their state secondary.Private is about opportunities, doors opening, and money, but to be surrounded by snobbery, privilege and unfairness every day would be enough to send a sane person off to the raving socialist party
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I do wish people who want to have this sort of conversation would try and find a specialist corner of the internet where they can garner the opinions of people who can actually make such a choice. 80% at least (yes, even in ED) of parents would not be able to give an informed opinion, more like 93% nationally apparently.


It's like coming on and saying "?500,000 house or ?1 million house, which shall I buy?". Quite crass.

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Tomskip - I totally understand your point of view here. Like everyone else I?m just trying to do the best for my children and being in a secondary school dead zone makes things a bit more tricky. I know that other parents in East Dulwich will have thought about this subject a lot so wanted to ask this corner of the internet. I?ve contributed to other topics on here at times about things that other people wouldn?t have experience of or the stomach for to be helpful and I?m pleased that people have taken the time to respond.
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At the of the day, what matters is the child and what he/she wants in life. I went to a state primary (Grove Vale) and then to Friern Girls. Hubby went to private primary and secondary and private 'crammer college'.


He came out with 2 A levels, and 1 A level for me. However, family finances meant that I could not follow a college/university course, so went directly to work. Hubby went on to do mainly manual and menial jobs.


I returned to education in my late 30's (day release from work to Birkbeck College for a Diploma) then 3 years degree including a term abroad, and then a Post Grad professional qualification. In the months leading upto my retirement, I took a Practice Teaching qualification at Greenwich University.


Both hubby and I had a good basic education which. in my case, served me to become a graduate. The impact of family pressure to do well and to a certain extent, the discrimiantion within his private school. meant that hubby felt a failure.

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Whoeveritis Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> Come to think of it , I don?t know anyone who

> enjoyed their state secondary.Private is about

> opportunities, doors opening, and money, but to be

> surrounded by snobbery, privilege and unfairness

> every day would be enough to send a sane person

> off to the raving socialist party


I really enjoyed my state secondary (Leicester) way back in the day. Reckon amongst my friends it was probably half and half (enjoy/ not).


HP


HP

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Hi EDN


When you say you live in a secondary school dead zone, do you mean you're not in the Charter schools catchment areas? Just interested, as there are other very good state schools in the area as well. I think the best thing to do is visit as many schools as possible schools with your children (when restrictions are lifted). You might be pleasantly surprised by some of the other local state schools.


But yes, if you can afford private and you think your children would be more suited to that environment, then go for it. Keep all your options open. We're lucky to have an abundance of brilliant schools, both private and state.

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I think is is a little simple - it?s not about fancy buildings. How can you compare class sizes of 20 vs 30, endless facilities including early teaching of languages, music and actual competitive sport with a state school? And given the majority of parents are working, ferrying kids to extra curricular activities during the week is impossible - a private school offers all the on site. You can only cram so many clubs in on the weekend...


redjam Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> We looked round all the private schools when we

> were choosing secondaries. I was a bit baffled as

> to what you were paying for, to be honest, other

> than the fancy buildings. If you have a really

> sporty kid or one who's into drama or music your

> child can always pursue those interests out of

> school if they're not catered for in school

> (though Kingsdale - where my older daughter goes -

> is actually very good in those areas anyway). Yes,

> smaller class sizes would be nice and my kids have

> occasionally suffered dodgy teachers in their

> state schools but I don't believe that the private

> system is completely devoid of bad teaching

> either. I've never had a problem contacting

> teachers.

>

> I honestly believe that if you are engaged parents

> and you have a kid who's happy to learn then

> chances are they will be just fine within the

> state system, and the huge sums of money you save

> could be spent on extra-curricular activities if

> needed and even a tutor if you have bad luck with

> a particular subject. You really have to look

> around all the options and get a 'feel' for what

> seems right for your child. No school is perfect

> and I've got friends whose kids have had problems

> with bullying at private schools as well as

> another friend who moved her child from state to

> private because they weren't making progress with

> a particular learning disability. So it's horses

> for courses.

>

> My husband and I also went through the state

> system ourselves with mixed results (!). But I do

> think that London comprehensives have come on a

> long way since then. Definitely not perfect but

> both my kids have been really happy at their

> schools and are doing well. Plus I do think that

> ability to mix with everyone from all backgrounds

> is a really important thing to learn early on in

> life. Good luck with your decision!

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tomskip Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> I do wish people who want to have this sort of

> conversation would try and find a specialist

> corner of the internet where they can garner the

> opinions of people who can actually make such a

> choice. 80% at least (yes, even in ED) of parents

> would not be able to give an informed opinion,

> more like 93% nationally apparently.

>

> It's like coming on and saying "?500,000 house or

> ?1 million house, which shall I buy?". Quite

> crass.




Well, as this is the East Dulwich Forum and there are a number of top private schools in East Dulwich, this is a perfectly legitimate place to ask such questions. My son is at one of these schools and 95% of his classmates and peers in his year group live in Dulwich, so there are a lot of local families who would be able to contribute as they are likely to have had the same discussion, as I know we did. If the subject of ?private schools? could be viewed as a trigger then the poster has helpfully included it in the subject so people can avoid the thread if they wish to/feel private school kids have a sense of superiority.

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