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Humble pie but no regrets

Kate, not her real name, says she feels like a traitor when she talks about her decision to send her children to private schools.

She has spent her career teaching in Bradford comprehensives, describes herself as being committed to state education, and always thought her children would be educated in the maintained sector.

Initially, her daughter did attend the local primary school, but by the time she was nine problems had begun to emerge.

"She was a very bright girl but it was clear she was coasting along and wasn't being stretched," she said. So the family decided to send her to an independent prep school where she flourished.

Now at Bradford girls grammar which has annual fees of pound;6,585, the 18-year-old has been offered a place at Cambridge. Kate wanted to offer her son the same opportunity, and after finishing the same local primary, this time successfully, he was sent to the independent Bradford grammar school which charges pound;7,305 a year.

"It was a very difficult decision and I had to eat humble pie with a lot of my friends and colleagues because I had always said I would send my children to state school and found myself changing my mind," she said. "But I haven't found myself regretting it at all."

Dave Harvey had a greater choice for Jane, his 13-year-old daughter. A junior school teacher living in the Coulsdon area of Croydon, south London, he had the option of six independent schools, seven church schools, five grammar schools in the nearby borough of Sutton, six ex-grant maintained schools and seven community comprehensives.

He opted to send her to the local community comprehensive, Woodcote high, and rejects the view held by some local people he meets that this amounts to a second-class education.

"My partner and I went to comprehensives ourselves and we are totally in agreement with Fiona Millar," he said. "Even though there is this enormous choice, we never had any doubt that we wanted our children to go to a local school with their peers from the local community. They will come out as much more rounded individuals and will still have been given the chance to succeed."

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