Children may have to change schools


To Be Honest: A parent writes

I am trying to decide on a secondary school for my daughters.

I had always planned to send them to the local private school, which has a great reputation, great results and a wide choice of subjects and extracurricular activities.

I am not particularly wealthy: we live in a modest home and have one five-year-old car, and I work for an accountcy firm in middle management.

My wife and I have been putting money away for years to help pay for private schooling. We chose to prioritise it at an early stage in our parenting.

My worry now is that if the Government decides to withdraw support for private schools the fees will rocket and we will not be able to afford them.

My daughter is due to start at the school next year, and we’re afraid that she might get a few years there and then have to move. We will just about be able to afford the fees as they are.

If there were any significant rise we would not be able to cope. A school move would be very disruptive and is something we would like to avoid.

We would also hate to have to send our second daughter to a different school. I haven’t really looked at State schools, and now I feel I have to revisit the whole plan, just in case.

Would I be better to abandon the idea of a fee-paying school now and find a State school where my daughters can get settled without the threat of a move? I know people will say that a State school is a perfectly good option, and I know there are many fine State schools.

But I know that the school I have chosen for my children has small classes and offers the subjects that my older daughter wants to study.

Many of her friends are going there and she’s geared up for it. To be honest, the State school nearest us does not have a great reputation, so I would need to look farther afield.

I just wish that the Department of Education would be clear about its plans. I’m sure many parents around the country are trying to make similar decisions, and we could all do with some certainty.

I don’t have a strong view on the rightness or wrongness of State support for private schooling; I just know that my wife and I value education and will pay whatever we can afford to get the best for our girls. I wish it was not such a guessing game.

The department needs to realise it is playing around with people’s life plans by “flying kites” about such important issues.

Fee-paying schools – and the parents who support these – are enduring far too much demonisation.

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