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Save the money on private school & buy my kids a house instead?


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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 15 March 2012 - 01:55 PM

Four children attending a private high school over six years would set us back close to half a million dollars. And that’s fees alone. If we factored in recurring costs such as building levies, IT equipment, additional subject costs for music/language/sports, school camps and excursions, uniforms, books, fundraising support and other random levies, we could potentially double that figure.

“It’s an investment” they spruik. So is a house.

Many parents who choose to send their children to private school say, “Our children’s education is a priority to us”. Just as it is to my husband and me, and most parents I know.

Education as a priority is about mindset and expectations – not just from the school but equally importantly, the home environment. There are additional influences from their friendship circle, the wider community, sports teams and other groupings, as well as society in general.

Education is an emotive topic, as it should be. It is the key to so many facets of life. Without basic literacy, we cannot effectively communicate. Without basic numeracy, functioning daily can be challenging (just ask me, I am numerically void). Schools are required to meet basic standards of education and for the most part, they do.

But for a child to truly excel, they need to be pushed – either from their own personal drive, their parents, their friends, their experiences and/or their school. I find it intriguing that parents choose the school, more often than not, to be the single most influential push, and therefore invest thousands of dollars into privately educating their children so they can be propelled in the “right” direction. In reality, it is a combination of elements that carve out our education.

A school can confirm or negate our values, but I believe if children are raised by parents who prioritise education, and place importance on academic work, as part of a greater whole, then the school they attend is not the most important factor.

With this in mind, I challenge the idea that private school automatically equals better education and have contemplated the idea that if we did have half a million dollars to spend on our children’s future, how would we spend it? What skills and values would we want our children to acquire to educate and equip them for their future?

The reality is we don’t have that kind of money so this is purely ideological. Humour me and play along.

Assuming you only had the cash to scrape by with private school fees, no extras for holidays and luxuries (which is actually the case for many families) would you consider an alternative?

  • Would a public school education plus an overseas family trip once a year teach your children more about the world through life experience? Would a month living in a third world country, witnessing poverty firsthand and experiencing the inequities of the world have a greater impact on our children than learning about it from a text book? Of course. Would seeing it in the flesh inspire them to do something about it? Potentially. At least it would give them an empathetic edge to world suffering – something that is difficult to amass from text alone.
  • A public school education plus a tutor to give one-on-one attention and time to a child struggling in certain areas? Even small class sizes can’t promise extended individual attention.
  • Would two parents working part-time who were able and available to volunteer at school and in the community, to be physically present in the tumultuous teen years, be of greater consequence to a child’s commitment and overall contribution to society? Not necessarily but it may be nicer for all involved not to lose their parents to a 60+ hour working week to pay school fees.
  • Would a public school education with a car when each of your children turned 18 be of more value because it would allow them freedom and independence?
  • Perhaps a deposit on a house to help set them up in life without the noose of an astronomical mortgage constantly around their necks?

These are all posed as questions, because I don’t have the answers. I won’t know until we’ve tried some options and seen what works for each of our individual children and I’m not ruling out independent school as a possibility. I’m also not saying private schooling is not worth the money, but for the cost, I’d want some damn good guarantees. Guarantees they can’t give.

Ultimately, we all want the same for our children: to learn industriousness, humanity, and wisdom; to foster resourcefulness, curiosity, and passion. There are many ways these can be achieved through their education, not simply by paying more.

It is a very personal decision, choosing a school for your child. One that depends on so many factors – money, options, opportunities, family beliefs and values, schools available and so on. I just wonder if $500,000 changes any of our fundamental worries for our children?

I leave the final thoughts to my very wise father who responded to my question below:

Your mother and I, and our friends and acquaintances had the usual arguments right across the spectrum from public to private. We had friends doing everything from kids going to overseas boarding schools, to second and third jobs supporting 'exclusive private schools', to active involvement in the kids' state school/college, religious decision making, ideological decisions, home schooling and on and on.

I don't remember anyone reporting a forever-happy child.  The topics of discussion and of most concern were the struggles children had at times with forming friendships, fitting in (or being outcast, or worse bullied), adjusting to new teachers and/or schools, moving from primary to secondary, and finding some context or purpose to keep going when it all got too confusing and boring.

All these issues tended to knock kids around emotionally, and the choice of school didn't seem to make any difference to either the issues or the kids' responses.

If I could choose again I would choose to prepare myself to help your mum be the self esteem back up for our kids. That would mean being there physically, mentally and emotionally.

If you set yourselves up to have the time to be there, notice, think and do something I feel sure that most of the transitions will go pretty well. And when the struggle is more than that you can help, find the resources that will make the last bit of difference. That could be trekking in Nepal, but it might also be finding someone to help the kid deal with difficult friends or just going camping for the weekend.  So I would go for the state system, be diligent, and save your resources for self esteem gaps.


What do you think?
What would you do (or have you done) with that kind of money in terms of educating your children?

Kylie


#2 3_for_me

Posted 15 March 2012 - 02:10 PM

If I had that kind of money to invest in my kids I would put it away until they were old enough to know what they wanted to do and make an assessment at that time, one thing that comes to mind would be money to help start a business or to attend field studies(something that was hard for me to find $$ for when I was at uni).

My brother and his fiance had a house bought for them by her parents and it hasn't done anything to make them better people.

#3 TwiceTheWoman

Posted 15 March 2012 - 02:58 PM

Q. Assuming you only had the cash to scrape by with private school fees, no extras for holidays and luxuries (which is actually the case for many families) would you consider an alternative?

A. Yes

Reason - because the most important thing for a child's self esteem and educational acceleration is the attitude from the home.
If a child has good self esteem and the home places value on acquiring a sound education to back the child's personal drive and skills this is a great spring board to life.
Many people also send their children to private schools for the added value of post-schooling network available to them.
Some private schools provide good value for money in that they are cheaper than the known exclusive schools, but still provide great educational support and facilities.

DH & I were both privately educated.  DH went to a 'cream" institution but came from a dysfunctional family so IMO he didn't excel as far as he could've/would've if he had from a loving family instead of one that was totally screwed up; so it cost his parents gazillions for x 4 children, resulting in no-so-remarkable outcomes and DH their only well functioning, emotionally stable, child.  DH was lucky at these schools in that he was very middle ground in terms of family background & lifestyle, He was academically brilliant and excelled at sports, so wasn't snubbed, but the others who were boarders from farms etc., very often didn't fit in to the upper echelon background and way of life.

My 11 siblings and I attended private school from prep to year 12 and we were all happy as lamb chops.  Several of us received scholarships and we were middle of the range in terms of family background.  It worked well for us but we were from a loving and secure background.

IMO, no matter where you send your child to school, the family attitude matters and the child needs to have a sense that they "fit in".

Due to travelling our children mostly home schooled and were happy vegemites.  
On return to Australia, it was a massive decision for me to send them to a public school; neither of us were familiar with the public system or just how hard it is for teachers in the public system.  Public schooling provided our four children (+one foster) with a strong sense of understanding of how other people have it very tough in life and that developing a strong personal compass is critical for life beyond the years of the school gate.

Scraping by just for school fees etc., doesn't provide a supportive social environment as full participation both at school and out of hours, is required.  Private schools are always a lot more money than fees, books and uniforms.

We were committed to providing a balanced lifestyle with holidays and extra curricular activities; we didn't want to be out of our minds with financial and resultant marital stress as a corollary, while trying to raise 4+1 healthy children through to adulthood.

Having said all that, if providing our children with a private education did not place a significant financial burden on our family, we most  definitely would have gone private for that extra investment in their education.

Viva la democracy!

Edited by TwiceTheWoman, 15 March 2012 - 02:59 PM.


#4 LifesGood

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:11 PM

I think DH and I have decided that, despite being able to afford private school for our children, that we will seek a less expensive option so as to be able to not work full-time demanding jobs during their schooling years. This way we will have time to spend with our children and to assist them with their learning paths. We will spend surplus income on interesting and frequent holidays and travel experiences, and putting money towards our retirement which won't be that far away by the time they finish school!

#5 CountryFeral

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:20 PM

My partner has a close friend who went to one of Sydney's most exclusive (ie: expensive) schools - his parents were not wealthy and they both worked two jobs each 7 days a week to fund this.

DP's friend spent hours a day travelling across the city to get to and fro school.

He now has a great well paid career and I'm sure his parents think their exhaustion was worth it..

The thing is, he doesn't owe his career to 'the old boys network' - the 'old boys' new right away he wasn't 'one of them'.. he owes his great well paid career to the degree he chose to take as an undergraduate, to the hard work he put in, to the good career decisions he made in his twenties.

His crippling shyness, his social anxieties, his heartbreaking love life - well - we can put them firmly in the "6 years of being made to feel second class at school and not having available parents to discuss it with"... camp.

He would never advise parents to do what his parents did.
As a teacher I concur.

The MOST important thing you can do to help your child succeed in their schooling, to feel good about themselves, to succeed in life - is give them TIME. Give them attention. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing.

Among my group of friends and acquaintances I can honestly say the biggest stuff ups at life, went to the most expensive schools - the greatest successes, all thanks to public education.

Enjoy your children - if you don't like the school in your area then use that money to move to an area where you DO like the school...

Build a home and a family that your children want to come home to - don't handball your child into the sole care of an expensive school because 'If I spend more money then it MUST be better' - trust yourself.

#6 Ianthe

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:28 PM

Not all private schools are created equal. There is a big difference between $26000 a year which someone I know pays for Year 10 for their son and the $6000 a year we pay for our Year 10 son.

We didn't send him to private school for any other reason than the fact that it is smaller and more nurturing than the local public school. Kids spend 30 hours a week at school, I want them to be happy and encouraged while they are there. The fact that my very difficult son has blossomed at high school and is reaching his potential is worth every penny.



#7 baddmammajamma

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:30 PM

We feel that, at least for the time being, private school is a necessity for our daughter. And not just any private school but the private school she is attending.

I was public school educated through high school and had a wondeful experience. My husband & I are huge supporters of public eduation. We live in a catchment with excellent public schools.

However, we have a daughter with a very unusual profile -- ASD and highly gifted+. The best school for her happens to be private -- with very small classes, amazing pastoral care, dedicated G&T resources, and experience with and the right mindset toward Twice Exceptional kids. The local state schools in our area just can't offer the same degree of "high touch" support and access to teachers, even though they are great schools overall.

We aren't rich people, but through some careful budgeting and both of us working (me in evenings/night so I can be involved on campus), we can afford to go private. I would do almost anything to keep her at her current school -- it is that good for her. Our son, who doesn't have an unusual profile, is also there and thriving.

So yes, in our case, I would make enormous financial sacrifices and work/life balance sacrificing to come up with the fees needed to keep our kids in their current school.



#8 Ianthe

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:31 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 15/03/2012, 04:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Enjoy your children - if you don't like the school in your area then use that money to move to an area where you DO like the school...


There are people I know that are considering doing this so their children don't go to the local public high school. For us though that isn't an option. I love our public primary school. It has an awesome school culture and a group of fantastic, passionate teachers. I wouldn't want to move my younger kids from that school. So moving isn't such an easy option.

#9 red in oz

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:34 PM

QUOTE
Ultimately, we all want the same for our children: to learn industriousness, humanity, and wisdom; to foster resourcefulness, curiosity, and passion. There are many ways these can be achieved through their education, not simply by paying more.


I take issue with this, I don't think we do all want the same things for our children.

My DH and I are planning to move into an area with good public schools so that private school is an option rather than a necessity for our children, depending on what suits them all as individuals. We would rather have more time with them, be able to provide extra curricular activities and holidays, and save any extra money we do have for their tertiary education and to support them in their choices post school.

#10 Ianthe

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:36 PM

QUOTE (baddmammajamma @ 15/03/2012, 04:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would do almost anything to keep her at her current school -- it is that good for her. Our son, who doesn't have an unusual profile, is also there and thriving.

So yes, in our case, I would make enormous financial sacrifices and work/life balance sacrificing to come up with the fees needed to keep our kids in their current school.


And this. Because my son has thrived so much and he is the one that is the most "quirky" of my kids, I think that it can only benefit my other kids as well.

I don't know if it will be possible now. I am a sole parent now. I will be back at work within 12 months so I am hoping finances can stretch to put them all through.

#11 BetteBoop

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:41 PM

I would go for an appreciating asset like a house. There are tax deductions for you right now if you use it as an investment. Plus, houses generally double in value every 7-10 years.

In 20 years, your kids will thank you for guaranteeing them some financial stability.

Private education does not come with any guarantees.

#12 I'm Batman

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:43 PM

We only can afford a private school in the long term because we've bought.

However we've taken a huge financial hit and a reduction of lifestyle for this to happen. If we are still in this boat when we are facing highschool costs we will reconsider it. Missing on all extra circulars, holidays, losing family time.

Not worth it.

#13 Guest_Cathode_*

Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:52 PM

QUOTE
A public school education plus a tutor to give one-on-one attention and time to a child struggling in certain areas? Even small class sizes can’t promise extended individual attention.

This is what we have decided to do.
Originally we were going to send to a co-ed private school (not the ss one in our area). Having been to a ss private school, there is no way in hell I am putting my kids through that. I also don't believe that all private school are better than all public schools.
Stats wise there is negligible difference between our local primary/high school and the 2 local private schools.
So, we decided to 'save' our money and use tutors to supplement their learning.

But then, we are 'lucky' and live in an area with good schools all round.

#14 SarDonik

Posted 15 March 2012 - 04:07 PM

It really depends on the public school you intend on sending them too. If it's average to poor then I'd opt for sending them to private school. I went to a rough public school, the school itself was great, good facilities, good teachers, good sports program etc what brought the school down was the kids. Lots of bad kids not wanting to learn and encouraging other kids to do the same.  I worked as a teacher in both the public & private system. There were some fantastic teachers in both sectors, but the public schools I worked in discipline was lax, it was very hard to permanently exclude students and subsequently we had some seriously dysfunctional students in our classrooms. In the private schools, the teachers and facilities weren't necessarily better, but the students behaviour was incomparable. Continual delinquent behaviour usually resulted in exclusion. I would opt private most of the time, unless there was a decent public school - and they do exist. They are just very uncommon. If your kids show any signs that they be 'educationally inclined' then send them to private school.


Edited by SarDonik, 15 March 2012 - 04:28 PM.


#15 red_squirrel

Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:57 PM

Definately the house.

My kids have several areas of hardship and attend public school. None of the private schools I visited (most on Sydney's North Shore) would be able to provide anywhere near the assistance they get. You would have to pay to bring your own people in.

For the cost of the private school we could have holidays - tutoring - tonnes of home resources, car, house etc.

I would only send them to private schools IF I could also afford the house, car etc. That is, was seriously wealthy.

#16 katniss

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:06 PM

I'm definitely in the spending more time with my kids & sending them to public school.

For the foreseeable future, we would only be able to send our kids to private school if we both work long hours & I'm just not interested in us working ourselves to the bone & foregoing time with them to send them to private school. I'm also not keen on the religious aspect of most schools so even if we could afford it, it would have to be a non-religious one which I'm not sure even exists.

Both DH & I are from lower socio economic areas & have both had success in our lives. We aren't rich but we have enjoyed our jobs & DH now earns enough for us to be comfortable while I'm a SAHM for a couple of years. Lots of people I went to school with have had success aswell. So I definitely don't prescribe to the theory that the type of school alone means a successful student. There are so many factors.

You have to do what is right for your family & child.

Edited by BubbleWitch, 15 March 2012 - 06:07 PM.


#17 katniss

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:12 PM

QUOTE (SarDonik @ 15/03/2012, 02:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would opt private most of the time, unless there was a decent public school - and they do exist. They are just very uncommon. If your kids show any signs that they be 'educationally inclined' then send them to private school.


Really? Decent public schools are uncommon?

#18 libbylu

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:21 PM

What about local high school for years 7-9 and private school for years 10-12, or even 9-12?  This is what we are considering.  That way you won't have too many school fees to pay at the same time.  They will get the benefits of getting to know some shakers and movers, careful attention for their year 12, and you can escape the full cost.

#19 CafeCat

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:55 PM



If the system focused on equity and equality we wouldn't even need to be having these discussions. Our system is based on competition and with the politicians pushing for performance pay for teachers it will only deteriorate further. The proposed devolution of the education system will see the gap between the haves VS have-nots widen.  An ingredient which makes public schools great is the support of the community. When those 'most able to implement change' in the community shun and make disparaging comments about the local public school in favour of the 'private greener grass' it becomes a downward spiral for those who are left. The quote below is the very attitude I am referring to...

I would opt private most of the time, unless there was a decent public school - and they do exist. They are just very uncommon. If your kids show any signs that they be 'educationally inclined' then send them to private school.







#20 Guest_Cathode_*

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:57 PM

QUOTE (libbylu @ 15/03/2012, 04:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What about local high school for years 7-9 and private school for years 10-12, or even 9-12?  This is what we are considering.  That way you won't have too many school fees to pay at the same time.  They will get the benefits of getting to know some shakers and movers, careful attention for their year 12, and you can escape the full cost.

Having schooled with girls that were transferred into our private all girls school from public system - majority came in year 10, but we had some start in yr 11 or yr 12 - they had a really hard time adjusting. It can be a huge culture shock for a teen. So, I would not recommend doing it.

Edited by Cathode, 15 March 2012 - 06:57 PM.


#21 I'm Batman

Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:01 PM

Ignore Sardonik.

Troll.

#22 Kylie Orr

Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:06 PM

QUOTE
QUOTE
Ultimately, we all want the same for our children: to learn industriousness, humanity, and wisdom; to foster resourcefulness, curiosity, and passion. There are many ways these can be achieved through their education, not simply by paying more.

I take issue with this, I don't think we do all want the same things for our children.


You don't want these things for your children? They are fairly broad categories with a lot of room for interpretation - a passionate child can be many things across many areas - a child who is enthusiastic about whatever they do - you don't want this for your child?

QUOTE
What about local high school for years 7-9 and private school for years 10-12, or even 9-12? This is what we are considering. That way you won't have too many school fees to pay at the same time. They will get the benefits of getting to know some shakers and movers, careful attention for their year 12, and you can escape the full cost.


If I was viewing this from a purely practical standpoint, this would be a very sensible suggestion to limit the impact of high fees whilst still gaining the benefits of private schooling.

My problem with it, is more a clash in values, or perhaps just a different focus on what I think is important.

I see that private school is a great resource to mingle in the "right" circles, if that is seen as an imperative milestone in a child's growth and education. Perhaps it is the step in the door they need to the corporate job they are after. Where I take issue with it, is that networking can be done anywhere, not simply in a private school environment.

I am a public school graduate, my husband is a private school boy, and I seem to have a much broader network of "movers and shakers" as you put it. This could be attributed to my sociable nature versus his quieter personality.

Not to mention, friendships are important to me and if my children are happy in a public school with 4 years of solid friendships with a great bunch of kids, I'd be pretty reluctant to move them so they could have a private school on their resume.... back to personal choice and what works for each family and each child. biggrin.gif


#23 Mrs Dinosaurus

Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:16 PM

I think it depends on a lot of factors, not least being the school and the child.

I have a friend with 6 kids whom one goes private as he is academically gifted and it is the best place for him. The other kids...not so much biggrin.gif

I went to a t
Public school and turned out OK, but not because of the school experience which had me believing I was stupid and put me back 10 years before I got the guts to even attempt uni, still convinced I would fail. It took me a long time to accept that I'm not that stupid person I was repeatedly told I was. Some days I still think that.

DH was very, very poor and went to a very exclusive English boarding school. Yes there were insanely rich kids around him, but his success he puts down wholly to his scholarship opportunity, despite wearing second hand uniforms, living on residence and never, ever doing any activity outside of school because he had no money.

As a result of our combined experiences our kids are enrolled in a local private school. I won't hesitate to change this if it doesn't turn out to be the best thing for them, but after a lot of shopping around we both think this money is better spent on them now than given to them in the form of a house (although there are only two kids so it would have to be a small apartment or bedsit).

We may be wrong, but like all parents we won't know for a while yet.

I would blame myself, not the school, if they turned out to be miserable - I would sincerely hope to be more involved in my kids lives than not noticing they weren't happy and doing something about it.

#24 =R2=

Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:21 PM

QUOTE (SarDonik @ 15/03/2012, 04:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would opt private most of the time, unless there was a decent public school - and they do exist. They are just very uncommon. If your kids show any signs that they be 'educationally inclined' then send them to private school.

Are you sure you live in Australia?  

We bought a house in our suburb knowing that it had great public primary and high schools. It's not unusual for families who live in the outer suburbs to send their kids to our school because of its good reputation.

I have 2 bright kids (one of them quirky and tested highly gifted - academically and musically). They are both in the public school in our suburb and DH and I make sure we both take the time to sit with them with their school work. They love school and up to this point the school has bent over backwards to accomodate for DD1's giftedness. However, things are getting to a point where this public school is starting to show its limitations due to their strong focus on NAPLAN and all enrichment/extension activities for DD are put on hold until the students have finished the test rolleyes.gif. We're starting to look at other schools and leaning more towards private education for this very reason as DD is starting to coast and feels bored with the repetitive work. She was looking forward to doing the robotics program this year (which starts in Grade 4) but looks like she might have to wait until Term 3. We will probably move her before high school if she gets offered a scholarship in high school but we're happy to pay full fees if we have to move her in Grade 5/6.

DD2 will probably thrive in the current public school a bit longer but then I won't be surprised if she tests in the gifted range too. She's only in Prep so only time will tell. If a public school is meeting your child's needs and you are involved in their learning and education they will thrive regardless. I think parents get too hung up on the private/public thing. Take each school on its merits not because of its $$$ status in the community.



#25 cathyd2203

Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:30 PM

I am a teacher, i have only worked in the public system so i can't comment on what the private system provides. But i am of the opinion that most public schools provide a great education. Teachers are well trained and take part in ongoing professional development training. They are committed to the students wellbeing and invest alot energy into the children they teach. The public system often has better support in place to assist children with learning difficulties or disabilities. Yes there are what we would call 'challenging' students as there are in all schools and yes they are not easily expelled from public schools. That is because these challenging students also have a right to an education. A teacher/school not giving up on a child and having that child eventually come around might be the thing that leads that child on a new path in life. Of course it is a personal decision for each to choose, but i would disagree with the comment that there are 'not many' good public schools.

Edited by cathyd2203, 15 March 2012 - 07:34 PM.





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