I am getting increasingly torn and indecisive about which schools to aim for.
A childless relative has offered to help with school fees if we go for independent schools, which is incredibly kind of him and means we can genuinely consider them. I have two in mind - both academic and also well rounded - RGS Guildford and Hampton School. Looked round Hampton yesterday and it was superb - best facilities of any school we've seen. And yet... there was something about it, I couldn't quite pin down, that didn't feel right. It had a whiff of public school about it, of social as well as intellectual elitism. Given its astounding advantages over other schools, I was shocked to see that only a tiny handful had made it into Oxbridge. 6 to Oxford, 1 to Cambridge last year. That's not much higher than the comp I went to, which was a pretty rough mix inner city ex-grammar.
RGS felt fabulous, but I've heard from pupils and parents that it is very pressurised. If you don't get straight A*s you come out feeling like a failure. I don't want my children to grow up unable to appreciate and enjoy the talents they have because they've been trained to always feel not quite good enough if they are merely A grade, not A star.
The grammars are scruffier, more down to earth, and the boys from a wider range of backgrounds. But the nearest is Tiffin Boys and - gulp - we hated it. Visited twice and it didn't impress anyone in our family. I loved Wallington, DS and DH loved Wilsons which I didn't see. But these would involve a house move that I'm up for but my husband isn't. Not seen Sutton yet.
The local comp is currently getting G&T students gaining up to 15A*s and places at MIT and Harvard. But it is hugely oversubscribed. We're right on the edge of its catchment (in the street that the line is drawn around) and the next comp along is dire.
It would be sensible to make some decisions about which schools to aim for, as they all have different entry requirements, but I'm utterly stumped - as much by my own hesitations as by the wealth of choice. I have no doubt that I approve of selective education linked to talent, but am unsure of selective education linked to wealth. I disapprove of it per se, but am so impressed by the facilities and in particular the attitude of the staff at the indies we've visited. It's important to us that our sons don't end up with a sense of entitlement and privilege, socially, as a given. I want them to have some humility and a deep social conscience. It's also important that they get the best chance we can provide for them. And I just don't know which that might be.
Sorry for unburdening. I've thought about this all night long and decided some insightful, frank feedback from any 11+ forumers would be very welcome if it's offered. I'm sure some top-drawer verbal reasoning could make sense of it all!