Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 28 Jun 2007

Help! My husband wants our daughter to go to private school, I want her to go to school locally

Hillary's Advice

This reader says the dispute is breaking up their marriage, and she is probably not exaggerating. Secondary school choice can be a highly charged issue. While parents always talk about what is best for a child, underneath they are also speaking about their own deep-hidden desires and insecurities.

In this case, this reader’s husband accuses her of wanting to tie their daughter to her apron strings, and he may be right. Secondary school is where children start to grow away from home, and it can feel threatening to believe they are going to disappear into an entirely different world.

But what about his hidden motivations? Is this all a status thing? Would he be embarrassed to admit his child was at the local comprehensive? And is he intent on her having only the ‘right’ kind of friends?

In practical terms, the educational equation probably weighs in something like this: your daughter will be happy at her local specialist languages school, do well, and love having local friends. However she is likely to be equally happy at her private school, where she may well do more sports and other external activities, and be more sure of coming out with top grade A levels. This is will certainly be true if she wants to aim for maths and science. However these advantages will cost you tens of thousands of pounds, and give your daughter a much narrower social perspective.

Is this what you want? Only you can decide. But bear in mind that – Oxbridge aside --- bright pupils from all kinds of schools tend to end up at exactly the same universities.