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Private school: I Owe it to my Daughter

We’re not rich, and we’re both state educated, but my husband and I decided to send our daughter to a private school. In this blog post, I explain why and give you some information on independent school options in the Worthing area.

When Munchkin – as I call her on my blog – was three, my husband and I started considering her schooling. Up until this point, I had assumed she would go to the local primary, but this wasn’t really what we wanted for her, so we started looking into other options.

If I were making the decision today, the current funding issues in state schools would have made my choice even easier.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with my local school, but the vast majority of state primaries have classes with thirty plus pupils, and I was uncomfortable with the school’s mission statement. I wanted a school whose mission was to develop its pupils as confident, well rounded individuals rather than encouraging them to follow a particular religion.

I made my decision before the advent of the Save Our Schools campaign. If I were making the decision today, the current funding issues in state schools would have made my choice even easier.

As an only child, I promised myself I would never have just one child, then broke that promise. I felt I owed it to Munchkin to put her in an environment where she could learn to interact with her peers in the way I didn’t, and build confidence. I was sometimes overlooked for opportunities at school because I was shy. I was also bullied, and my school handled it badly. I didn’t want this for my shy child.

Private schools tend to have a maximum class size of around twenty – actual class sizes can be even smaller. In the seven months that she has been at school, Munchkin has changed from being clingy, to a little girl who makes friends wherever she goes and tells me to go home because she doesn’t need me.

I had assumed that independent schools were out of my league. It turned out that the fees for many schools were comparable to the fees for sending a baby to nursery. I worked out that in theory it would cost more to have a second child, than send an only child to private school. At this point, I should add that I can only afford to privately educate one child. If Munchkin had a sibling, they would both be at state school, irritating mission statement and all!

There are three independent schools for primary age children in the Worthing area: Sompting Abbotts, Our Lady of Sion and Lancing College Prep. Editor Kat would probably tell me off for giving away free advertising if I shamelessly plugged my daughter’s school. Instead, I’ll tell you what I was looking for in a school. Only one school meets all of these criteria:

  • Moderate fees
  • A good balance of academic achievement, sporting achievement and opportunities in the arts
  • Lots of open space, and emphasis on outdoor education
  • The opportunity to choose where and how my daughter completes her senior education, rather than staying at the same school until she is 16 or 18
  • I know it’s only a minor thing, but given the choice, I’d prefer her to have a hot meal at lunch time

I want my daughter to grow up to be a happy, confident individual and be the best she can be. I feel that my choice of school will give her this.

private school

Simone is from West Sussex and currently lives in a village near Worthing with her husband and young daughter. She blogs as Dog Days and Delights – Tales of a mummy who writes, a little girl known as “Munchkin” and a well loved cuddly dog…

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Simone, I privately educated my eldest daughter, she attended a prep school in Chichester and then secured a scholarship to Lancing College. My two younger children are at a state primary. So, I have experience of both…

    I think my eldest daughter was very lucky to have the opportunities that a private education gave her, she is very confident and self assured and I see a lot of kids leaving the private sector with similar attributes. When it came to teaching quality, honestly, I thought there were some lazy teachers in the private sector looking for an easy ride. Also Sophie, despite being awarded a scholarship and having earns her place at Lancing was treated as a second class citizen because she was in receipt of a bursary, there is real segregation between the borders and the scholarship kids.

    The smaller class sizes are great, and teaching languages from very young is also preferable to the state sector that doesn’t seem to value stretching the kids, and seems to ‘dumb them all down to the same level’ – this is my big issue currently with my daughter’s state primary. She is very bright and wants to move on yet I am constantly being told that they have to pitch the lessons at the majority and the resources and time seems to go on helping those who are struggling to catch up, which is fine and obviously needs attention but I resent the lack of encouragement and energy out into stretching the brighter kids.

  2. Hi Jules, It’s interesting to see your views from both sides. I don’t think your opinion of Sophie’s senior school is unusual, though I don’t think all independent schools are like this – some have moved with the times more than others and one size definitely doesn’t fit all. I also think you get good and not so good teachers in both sectors. It’s probably easier to bluff your way with a class of 10 than a class of 32 though!

    It’s such a shame that your younger daughter isn’t being given extra work if she needs it. This happened to me at a state primary but I thought things had moved on since the 1980s – sadly this doesn’t seem to be the case. I hope you find ways to give her opportunities to move on.

  3. This is a great post with your reasons set out clearly – I was fortunate in that there was an excellent infant and primary school locally. However my luck ran out when they reached secondary school – they were both very bright and not only was my daughter badly bullied, but even some teachers targeted them in the classroom, singling them out and taunting them for being so clever… My son was sworn at by teachers. Twice. Of course I didn’t get to hear much about this at the time, but it has left scars with both of them. And if I had my time again, I would have done things very differently.

  4. Pleased to hear that your children attended a good primary school. Their experience at secondary school sounds awful. My secondary school was good academically but there was an occasion when I felt bullied by a particular teacher who had no understanding of shyness (and a poor understanding of interpersonal skills generally).

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