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Private to public: should my son change schools?

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#26 CallMeFeral

Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:10 AM

There's a lot of chance in these things. What group they get in with, how they are perceived and labelled, the associations formed. Sadly, I think once formed, these can be really hard to change (although it's good to hear about the girl where change was managed!).
I can see your concerns as you wouldn't want to just hop schools every time something goes wrong. BUT... there's something to be said for a fresh start. I remember hating my (secondary) school despite it being an amazing world class institution with phenomenal facilities and wonderful teachers. The kids were brats and I was an outsider for 2 years. I don't think it would have improved. On moving to Australia I went to the local public school with limited facilities, patchy teaching, but a really down to earth, diverse student population, and I thrived. It could easily have gone the other way - it wasn't about which school was better - the first one was in every objective measure, better. But it didn't suit me as much as the other did, which is harder to measure, and largely depends on fluke things early on. But I think it was also largely the opportunity for a fresh start.

Edited by callmeal, 14 January 2010 - 10:12 AM.

#27 Kaldek

Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:28 AM

I just cannot understand the obsession with private schools.  They operate on the assumption that more money = better result.  This is not the case with most things in life, so why is it so with schools?

AFAIK, my kids will learn 90% about being successful and happy in life from me and my wife.  The remaining 10% they get from school.  So, when you're talking ten percent, what's the reason to spend thousands of dollars??

Only people who have extremely specialised careers need a greater percentage of their learning to come from school - and even then it's going to be a University where this knowledge is acquired, not from primary and high school.  The rest of us need people skills, plain and simple.  

If you can work with people, you can be successful in anything - and this includes being caring and considerate of others.    Tell me, what class in private school teaches that??

#28 daviesjv

Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:35 PM

Quite simply, your son is unlikely to get a good education if he is unhappy, doesn't matter what sort of school it is.
Well said. There's a lot more to successful schooling than the academic curriculum.

#29 libbylu

Posted 15 January 2010 - 09:06 PM

I think primary school is not so much about 'education' but more about social learning. I think the differences between most state and private primary schools (except for an elite few) in quality of education would be marginal and not worth worrying about. (tho this is not the case for high schools)
I think the most important question is: what in particular is it that is causing your son to be miserable? A bad experience with a teacher, bullying etc? Or is it a general problem with social adjustment? If you think your son would have the same problems at any school, then it is probably not worth changing.  If there is something about this particular school he doesn't like, then let him go to the state school, as it is far more important that he is happy. He won't learn anything if he is stressed and miserable, and he will be put off learning before the important stuff really starts.

#30 Guest_alwayslearningmum_*

Posted 20 January 2010 - 07:34 AM

We had the same problem with our young son - who until he started school was the most happy-go-lucky kid you could imagine. We eventually took him out of his first school (we live in Mosman, Sydney) and enrolled him in another and the problem persisted. We then found out that the main issue seemed to be he was really struggling with the reading workload at school. So we looked around for a literacy tutor, and after trying some bigger franchises we found a really fantastic tutor who made the whole process really fun and fast (I'm sure the small, personal classes helped - the class was a maximum of six) . It changed his life totally. Now he is the strongest reader in his class and is always helping the other kids, and he finds school a breeze. Perhaps that's what you might need? Good luck, worried mum!

#31 HRH Countrymel

Posted 20 January 2010 - 07:50 AM

As a former teacher who has taught across the boards in ALL kinds of schools my answer is; private schooling is in my opinion an utter waste of money in the primary years, and, unless you live in the catchment for the worst school ever not much use in secondary. The only observation I can make is that girls tend to do better academically in secondary school in a single sex environment - unless of course the bullying/clique rubbish takes over and they collapse in an over stressed heap.

As a person who experienced both as a student I can honestly say the standard of teaching was MUCH higher in the state schools I attended.
My parents actually moved me out of the private school I attended to the state school my elder sister had attended half way through high school as they were so dissatisfied.

If you want the cudos with your friends by all means keep him at the private school. If you want a happy well rounded child (and the money to take enjoyable, educational family holidays) then go with the state option.

#32 Armagnac Daddy

Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:16 AM

I think the fact that your son still has friends who are local speaks volumes. He's very unlikely to have Aspberger's or some similar social problem, rather, his social problem is with, or within, the school.

I'd lean towards moving him back pretty quick while he's still friends with the kids at the local.

There's probably value in working a bit more on getting to the bottom of it. He may just hate the forced institution that is school, period. In which case I suppose the move wouldn't make much difference.

Free/Creative/Intellectually Curious Spirit + School = 12 years of frustration, boredom, & anger. That's the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

#33 Just Joey

Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:31 PM

why not arrange a play date with some of his mates from his school before school starts?  get him into his local cricket/soccer club, he can play with his friends from local neighbourhood there?  then have contact with friends from both? worth a try before making a big change if you are otherwise happy with the school and can afford the fees.  My daughter has just finished Kindergarten and it is a big year of adjustment for them, maybe tell him that Year 1 will be much easier as he can read alot more now! and knows the routine.   My kids are at the local public school which has a great reputation but not everyone is so fortunate.  Best of luck! original.gif

#34 Just Joey

Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:15 AM

there are some good articles on EB under Back to School but one standout re starting high school might be helpful (applicable to infants school too!) - you never know, bullying could be an issue which he hasn't mentioned if that upset about his school:

The key, he says, is to keep communication lines open and to become a good listener.

“Remember that your child might not want to talk when it suits you,” he says. “It's up to parents to be there, with full attention, when their child is in the mood to talk.

Irvine follows the line long-espoused by author Steve Biddulph – the importance of fathers.

“For far too long this has been underestimated,” he says. “I don't know of a boy before the courts who gets along with his father or stepfather.”


When it comes to bullying, both experts agree, it's important to help your child take action and not to hesitate to go to the school if there is a problem.

“I find it useful to talk to kids about the two types of friends they will find – true friends and fair-weather friends,” Fuller says. “Often kids will say they are being bullied or left out when they are up against someone who is a fair-weather friend and not a true friend. There is a difference.

“It's useful to try to get them to broaden their bunch of friends. Go through the names of the kids and ask them to tell you who they feel is on their side, who is neutral and who hates them. The next step is to work out how they can befriend some of the kids on the neutral list.”


Don't go it alone. Parents need to meet other parents at the school so they have a reference group to check things with.

Take an active interest in your child's school work and activities. Attending school events is critical and getting to know the teachers can only help your child – and you.

Build resilience. Help your child learn how to deal with problems such as bullying, isolation and time management. If there is a problem you and your child can't sort out, don't hesitate to go to the school to discuss it.

#35 Janet Woodlock

Posted 21 January 2010 - 08:12 AM

I used to teach at a private school (secondary), and found that some students moved unhappily from a state school and thrived, and some moved from my school to a state school and were much happier. Go figure.

I've come to the belief that different types of schools suit different types of students, and that (within reason) parents have some kind of responsibility to pick the kind of school that will be a good fit for their child... and that their child's feelings about this really matter.

M Scott Peck in his book "the Different Drum" writes about sinking into a deep depression because the elite private school his parents wanted him to attend simply didn't "fit"... while he thrived when sent to a smaller Quaker day-school. The book is a wonderful read about parenting and community (it doesn't go into how his parents decided he was mentally ill and sent him to a psychiatric hospital for 5 weeks for the "oddness" of wanting to go to a different school to the highly academic school he attended... a bit extreme eh?)

As for the uniform and the fees... big deal... you'd still be miles ahead financially if you send him to the state school. I do understand how agonising the decision can be, but I'd advise at the very least having a chat with the principal of your local state school, and frankly discussing the possibilities of entry at the start of (or later in) the school year. The principal does tend to set the tone of a school, so your impressions of him/her count for a bit. You've nothing to lose but time (and perhaps sleep as you agonise over this).

Best wishes... with two loving parents, I'm sure your boy will turn out well in the long run whatever works out for you school-wise!

#36 Janet Woodlock

Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:00 AM

I should add M Scott Peck was 15 when he finally put his foot down that he wasn't going back to his highly academic school... so there are differences (you obviously have to make a lot more decisions for younger children). I do think the principle that children have unique souls and fit better (thus flourish more) in some settings than others does apply.

#37 BrianC

Posted 21 January 2010 - 10:50 AM

It's a hard decision.

I went to a small (but expensive) private school, the school was good, the teaching was good but I hated every minute of it and don't have a single good memory of my 6 years there.

I hated school so much I couldn't bring myself to study as it reminded me of school.
I passed my exams off nothing but remembering the classroom teaching. 14 years on I still have a great memory for remembering what I hear (pity I can't study or read).

I scored in the bottom 16% of students for my HSC, but completed an Economics degree when I enjoyed studing.

Dig deep into why your son hates school and decide if a different school will alleviate the problem as it will impact him academically if it is as bad as you say.

#38 Guest_adamant_*

Posted 22 January 2010 - 04:01 PM

Mychildren both went to non government schools. I hate the word private school. My grandaughter is about to commence year 2. She started at the same non government school her mother went to and was very unhappy, Went from being a bright gregerious child to being very fearful and introverted. Last year my daughter changed her to the local state school and she hasn't looked back. Class teacher to child ratio is much smaller. She is given much more recognition and responsibility than she ever was at non government school. Within weeks of starting her new school her teacher recognized her as talented and gifted even though she wasn't finishing her work and spent a lot of time staring out of the window. At first I had a sneaking suspicion that she was more advanced in spelling and reading because of the good grounding she had in prep at non government school. It wasn't the case. Her brother is starting at the same school this year.

#39 hilo

Posted 23 January 2010 - 08:19 AM

The fundamental differences between private and government schools are....

1. Fees

2. You get a higher proportion of kids from families who value education at private schools. This leads to students with better attitudes, but it's not absolute.

3. Private schools can expel the trouble makers. Government schools can't, and even when they do, have to accept the kids expelled from other schools.

The teachers aren't any better at private schools.

Kids get their moral and educational attitudes from their parents.

Go govt for now and maybe private for secondary.

#40 Jebediah

Posted 23 January 2010 - 04:25 PM

"Is it worth persevering with the private school that I really like –but which he doesn’t"


But full disclosure - In my opinion the benefits/lessons of a public education are greater than anything a private school can ever provide. Most of these can't be quantified, whereas prestige has a dollar amount. Still, inclusiveness is much nicer than exclusiveness.

#41 Guinevere

Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:47 PM

I'm sorry you are having this dilemma. Before my own children went to school I thought that that the best school would be a private primary school and I would not have considered public schools. Fortunately, I listened to he wise counsel of a colleague who stated that he "could not have bought a better education" than the education his children received at his local state school. I now have two teenagers who went to the local primary school and have done superbly well, both socially and academically. I firmly believe that the best school for little children is your local school. Children who go to the local school become part of the local community: they will make nearby friends and a whole host of other advantages. Children need the security of community much more than spending hours a week driving to some distant "better" school. Save your pennies for high school! original.gif

#42 wormie

Posted 24 January 2010 - 07:19 AM

I too had this dilemma when one of my boys started high school. He didn't want to go to the private school he was booked into, but the local high school his older brother was at.
I had the feeling he would get lost in a large comprehensive high school, and he was not as academically inclined as his older brother.
I made a deal with him that if he was unhappy with the school at Easter, then we would talk to the headmaster and reassess the situation. I felt this gave him an "out".
I would have changed schools. I believe school years should be happy years
We were fortunate that it did work out at the school and he ended up with 6 great years there, but it was very emotionally challenging in the lead up to the start of the academic year. original.gif

#43 Madalina

Posted 24 January 2010 - 09:10 AM

ohmy.gif  Firstly, "congratulations" to your son for his discernment and for toughing it out for a year already just to please his parents.  I think he is far too young to be put through another year (or more) of this torture.  Primary school should be a happy time for children where they make lots of happy friends and memories to see them through things later in life with unconscious feelings and images to enrich them.  It should not be an alienating and soul destroying experience.

Secondly, your son does not have a problem - it seems he just wants to be with his bosum buddies, his real friends.  He has priorities and aspirations too and they differ from yours on this issue - that's all.  If he is suffering panic attacks, then it's because you are not listening or hearing him and he sees his whole life panning out the same way i.e. will he ever have any control or say in his life ever again?

Thirdly a lot of children go to public primary school and then to private schools but don't forget that a lot of public secondary students go on to bigger and better things just like some of the private school students do.  Also, think about how much is actually learnt at primary school - not much - it is more of a socialising device and your son wants to choose the environment where he does that.

Fourthly, a lot of the "stuff" that private schools and their students and families go on with are redundant in society now and will be more so in the future - maybe your son senses the irrelevance of the private school culture - at least to him. I've had the dubious pleasure of working with some of the less successful graduates of private schools and they have tremendous attitude problems and unattainable aspirations, so much so that they are often regarded as a joke. Maybe your son sees through the system at play at the private school in some untellable psychic way.

This story has put a knot in my abdomen, I feel for your son.  Don't persist with your program, let him have the life he wants and needs.  A friend of mine was shunted and shoved through the private school program and I think it was the root of the problem that lead to his wayward life and early demise.  Be careful with your son's psyche!!!  sad.gif

#44 alphawife

Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:08 AM

To be honest I think public school is perfectly fine.... and I think if your son is happy then he will put his energy into learning rather than spending all his time worrying. Kids can get depressed too - imagine how you would feel having to go to work everyday in a place where no one would talk to you. It would be awful. Ongoing stress causes raised cortisol levels which arent good for anyone but are especially bad for children whose brains are rapidly developing. I would respect his input and let him try the public school.

#45 Armagnac Daddy

Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:12 AM


"I went to a small (but expensive) private school, the school was good, the teaching was good but I hated every minute of it and don't have a single good memory of my 6 years there.

I hated school so much I couldn't bring myself to study as it reminded me of school.
I passed my exams off nothing but remembering the classroom teaching. 14 years on I still have a great memory for remembering what I hear (pity I can't study or read).

I scored in the bottom 16% of students for my HSC, but completed an Economics degree when I enjoyed studing."

Almost to a tee my experience with being trundled off to Tony Abbott's alma mater for my final 2 years. Absolutely awful experience, went from As to Ds, failed year 12. Once I was out of there and my father had stopped banging on about his wasted fees and calling me a loser, I was able to go and find what I wanted from study and get back into it. 20 years later I'm coming up to my 4th degree, I wish school had taught me the joy you can get from real learning and intellectual inquiry...

#46 citymousegoescountry

Posted 25 January 2010 - 03:53 PM

Dear Worried Mum;

We experienced a similar issue with our daughter at a private primary school. She was being bullied by one particular student in her first year (prep.) We thought that grade 1 would start afresh and it would all be behind us. Lo and behold it started up again in at the beginning of the new year. By the end of February we'd moved her to a public school.

The whole thing was an emotional roller coaster. We thought that she was going to stay at her first school until the end of grade 6. It really was upsetting but I can tell you that it was the best decision we've ever made. Like some of the other members have said, she has really flourished. What's more, she has advanced significantly. It is a smaller public school, but it absolutely wonderful. We are really blessed now.

They say moving is a last resort. Well, we knew when it was time. Maybe you will too.

#47 RODF

Posted 26 January 2010 - 07:31 AM

Your son will be fine by morning tea time on his first morning.
Regardless of whether it is going to be a public or a private school as your son is not going know the difference between the 2 at his age don't make a big deal about going to school and always make positive remarks about what a good time he will have.
A good idea is perhaps go to the school on the weekend or even early that first morning and let him play on the school equipment so he feels familiar. When it comes time to leave him don't make a big deal about it as your emotion will be a big part of how he reacts. Just do a quick "see you soon" type goodbye as though you done it a million times and if you must view him playing and interacting from a distance without him seeing you.
Generally speaking the private school will provide a much better education for your son than entrusting the education of your child to the public system which revolves around bureaucracy, collectivism and mediocrity.

An education for your kids is something worth paying for.

#48 netter

Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:22 AM

It is a myth that a child gets a better education at a private school - perpetuated by parents who have to justify the money they spend in private school fees. There are good and bad schools and good and bad teachers in both systems. The teachers are trained in the same institutions. In most cases private school teachers have to be an active member of a church community. This means many excellent teachers can't teach in private schools. If it is a priority to you that your child's teacher goes to church, then you had better persist with the private school. If not, then put your child in a school where they are happy - that is the most important thing.

If your child has friends at the local state school, and their parents are happy with it, then why not send him with his friends? Don't waste your money on private school fees. Put it towards the mortgage, family holidays and cultural activities, and out of school experiences such as sport and music - what ever interests your children. When they are in Year 6 you can re-assess which is the best school / system for them to go into, as high school is a whole different ball game.

The most important factor for success at school is home life. If you spend quality time with your children, give them lots of support, love and experiences, help them with their homework and read to and with them, they will be successful regardless of the school.

Edited by netter, 26 January 2010 - 12:44 PM.

#49 rosyrose

Posted 27 January 2010 - 12:59 PM

There's no correlation between price and quality when it comes to education (in metro Sydney). I was like your son, crying, age 4 - we finally moved to the local state primary school and I got a great education grades 1-6.

Unfortunately my high school years were a nightmare of private and catholic schools. I just wanted to stay with my friends, go local, and would have had a great outcome if I had! As well as 2 hours more every day not wasted on the bus...everyone I know agrees the same. Private schools, what a waste. Some catholic schools border on dangerous in terms of their lack of regard for the students' human rights.

Parents, save your dollars and give your kid $10,000 when they finish school to travel, and/or pay for HECs and/or invest/put a deposit on a flat.

#50 PreciousOlive

Posted 26 February 2010 - 10:40 PM

Does the training of a public school teacher differ to that of a private school teacher?
They both can go to the same Uni, do the exact same course, come out with the same grades and just apply for different jobs.
Private school is great if you'd like your developing child exposed to religion (if not already at home).
Private school is great for bringing up "snobs" and raising ladies and gentlemen.
However, they also tend be more spoilt little brats, with more prejudices, if you don't fit the mould so to speak you are out they will never like you.
If your mum doesn't dress and act like a private school mum you're out.
Public schooling: depending on the socio-economic status of the parents of the students... can be just as good if not better than the private school, it could also be worse - if you send a child to a government school in a low socio economic area he will be associating with low class citizens, people who recycle and reuse, people who may be frugal, people who may work harder (physically) have both parents working or parents split up, more likely to be exposed to people of "indigenous descent", your child may be bullied or picked on but it can happen anywhere.
I have always been pro-private school, however the parents i have met at my daughters public school have been more "real" than any of the kids / families that i went to private school with.
It doesn't make any difference to the resume, you go to Uni and then get a career (your grades are what count), can your child be an upstanding citizen and "play ladies" at the right times for the right events, and behave accordingly for different crowds? That is all that counts - your child is only a child once, do what you think is best for his childhood and longterm education.

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