Help please- prep school not doing Common Entrance anymore

(14 Posts)
ooerrmissus Sat 08-Mar-14 18:20:52

Our 2DSs are at a local prep school. School announced on Friday that as of this July they will not be offering year 7 and 8 and will only go up to year 6 (i.e. 11 years old instead of 13). Our DSs are Year 4 and Year 2.

We had been looking at the DSs doing CE at 13 and then going on to boarding- Possibly Rugby, Wellington, or for DS2 Harrow. It's very early days so haven't narrowed it down yet.

However now the school is only going up to year 6 we have a major problem on our hands. All the other local schools either stop at 11 or are feeders for their senior schools. The nearest school that does CE is 30 miles away! Obviously this is not feasible as a day alternative but they do offer boarding.

So my question is, assuming we still want to go for boarding at 13, which option would be best? Should we:

A) Leave DSs where they are until Year 6, then move them to the boarding prep to do CE (assuming they have places). Would this give them enough time? Would the new school be able to help with applications for the next schools?

B) Move DSs earlier to the boarding prep? Don't really want to do this if at all possible!

C) Leave DSs where they are until Year 6, then go for a good day school which doesn't do CE. Would this make applications for boarding schools at 13 harder? How would the applications process work?

D) Move house to somewhere with more options (sounds extreme but we have actually thought about this today!)

As an added complication DS1 has just been diagnosed with Asperger's. It's fairly mild but he struggles a bit with change and we are still a bit iffy as to whether boarding would be right for him. On the other hand he is very bright so needs a school that would be fairly academic.

Help please lovely MNetters; we are totally shellshocked as you might imagine and don't know where to start!

inthename Sat 08-Mar-14 18:34:38

In your position, particularly if Ds1 is going to be in year 5 next year, you need to be finding out which prep schools typically feed the senior schools you feel you are looking at. The school you are at now has effectively made the decision to do 11+ entry to senior schools, so theres little point in staying there if all the schools you feel you want only take via CE. Check each senior school out and find out when registration lists close and if they pre test in Yr 6 for entry into Yr 9 (becoming increasingly popular)
I wouldn't imagine your dc would want to start one school at 11 and then transfer to another at 13

ooerrmissus Sat 08-Mar-14 18:43:14

Thanks inthename, I guess unless we give up the idea of boarding at 13 altogether they will have to have an extra change at some point.

If we are looking at, for the sake of argument Wellington, I think they do make provision for those children who are at schools which don't do CE- but my question is wouldn't that be harder e.g. if you are then having to sit potentially 3 or 4 entrance exams for different schools rather than do CE for all potential schools? Or could you do CE as a private candidate?

ooerrmissus Sat 08-Mar-14 18:44:16

Also the feeder preps are generally down south whereas we are up north! When I said moving house I was talking about 100 miles at least!

inthename Sat 08-Mar-14 19:03:14

Ah! Ok, with CE you are normally advised by your head to register for 3 schools - one 'aspirational' one 'dead cert' and one 'fall back' When they sit CE in year 8, you've normally already nominated a first choice who will mark the CE papers, particularly as pre testing is becoming more common, when the senior school does a formal exam day for those registered with them (usually year 6) children will then have a 'conditional' offer on their CE mark.
If your school is now not doing CE, then there is only really the option of transferring to a school that does do CE now or opting for senior schools that take at 11+ wherever that may be geographically. Wellington probably has provision for non CE entrants due to also taking from state schools. If you stay at your current school, then the transfer at 11 for CE could be quite difficult, as yr 7 & 8 are intense academically and you'd have to find appropriate spaces amongst people transfering because their dc have failed 11+
Hope that helps a little. Very difficult for you as the goal.posts have moved. What does your head recommend?

ooerrmissus Sat 08-Mar-14 19:19:36

Thanks that does help a bit. I haven't spoken to the head yet- as it happens I have a meeting with him first thing Monday for PTA reasons so will collar him then!
I guess if the alternative prep were nearer I would move them in September. It's a very very good prep with an excellent reputation so it may not even have places. The fact that they would have to board ages 9 and only just 7 puts me off.

ooerrmissus Sat 08-Mar-14 19:20:32

I'm off to drown my sorrows dinner now so will be back tomorrow if anyone else has any thoughts!

CharlesRyder Sat 08-Mar-14 19:46:51

What's the run like to the 13+ school? If the roads are great so the commute is only 40mins I would say send them there as day pupils. They could start to flexi-board when they are ready.

Maybe check if the 3-13 has places and then at least you know where you are with that option.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Mar-14 02:44:03

"Would this give them enough time? Would the new school be able to help with applications?"

Have you already checked that the boarding prep does send pupils to the senior schools you are interested in? Because all the time in the world would be worthless if they're not up to the job or simply have a different focus. So have a good look at their leavers' destinations over the past five years... (I know of one boarding prep in the North that does regularly feed to some well known seniors in the South....)

I think you'll need to be prepared for CE no longer being "Common." It's likely your DSs will have to pre-test in yr 6 or yr 7 and be in possession of a conditional offer from a particular school in order to take CE for that school.

If you're looking at schools that pre-test in yr 6 then you will probably need to register with the senior school before they join the new prep. But this shouldn't be a problem if you are well organised and extremely vigilant about closing dates etc.

It does mean your DSs will essentially be tested on what they have achieved at an earlier school - but it shouldn't be too detrimental if they are bright and interview well. The new prep should have just time to brush up their skills.

Then, assuming they're successful in a pre-test, they will have plenty of time to prepare for CE. Joining in yr 6 is FINE. Firstly because 10 yr old boys (IF they are robust and preferably gregarious) love boarding. Secondly because it gives them time to consolidate their work before the horrors of yr 7 which is a real step up.

I've answered from my own recent experience do hope I'm not too vague. (And old forgive capitals, not sure if the app does bold...)

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Mar-14 02:47:26

...so hope...

...and also...

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Mar-14 03:43:24

Aaargh! You'll realise that what I mean is - you move the elder boy into yr 6 and boarding etc. You could keep the younger at the present school for now.

(Only because I too would be reluctant to let a child board before yr 6 - though plenty of children are happy to do so...)

So what exactly has your school done? Surely they mean to honour their commitment to the current yr 7s and yr 6s??

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Mar-14 03:43:33

Aaargh! You'll realise that what I mean is - you move the elder boy into yr 6 and boarding etc. You could keep the younger at the present school for now.

(Only because I too would be reluctant to let a child board before yr 6 - though plenty of children are happy to do so...)

So what exactly has your school done? Surely they mean to honour their commitment to the current yr 7s and yr 6s??

ooerrmissus Sun 09-Mar-14 11:28:12

Hello all, back with a stonking hangover after a very messy night out.

CharlesRyder The run to the boarding prep would be a good hour- and the day there is already very long. I think going as day pupils is a non-starter really.

Zero thanks for your comments, that's really helpful- I suspect you are thinking of the same prep I am. It sends to all the schools we would be interested in.

As for the current school I'm not sure what will happen to the current Year 6s and 7s- the official letter didn't go into any great detail so I will need to wait until tomorrow to find out more. At least we have some time before we need to make decisions unlike those poor parents.

LIZS Sun 09-Mar-14 11:38:02

I would assume they will phase it out for the current year 6 and 7's and offer help with advice on transition so that CE schools are still attainable, assuming that is a common destination. dc prep almost removed CE a few years ago but had to retrench . Are the numbers in 7 and 8 very small now, dc prep have had an increase in demand over the past 5 years since making the decision to stick with it. Even so increasingly independents are arranging 13+ tests and traditionally CE schools are pre-testing in Year 6 so fewer pupils are solely dependant on CE results for a place.

As to your situation I think I'd move them for year 6 to give time to settle before the academic step up in 7 and 8, or ask the secondaries for advice (they may have an arrangement with feeder preps for 7 and 8 or offer an alternative entry path).

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