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Switch to independent at 11+ - how hard to get in? (NORTH LONDON)(16 Posts)
Planning ahead here. Trying to decide whether to keep DS at state until 11 or move him earlier. My preference (socially and financially) is possibly towards keeping him at state school until 11.
I'm having a (premature!) panic though about how hard it is to get into a selective independent secondary school at 11 from a state school. I presume that I'll have to get a tutor (for a year before?) but other than that - presumably he'll mostly be up against other state school children (as surely private school boys will move to such schools at 13+) - is that right?
My big worry is - what if he doesn't get in somewhere? Obviously there is the state school option but none that appeal for boys where we live - and so if I were to go down the state school route for him at secondary level, then I'd want to think about moving well before then.
I know that it's not an easy question without knowing my child (and to be honest, we're a few years off yet so I don't myself know what he'll be like - ability/socially etc at that age) - but basically the question is, is it really that hard to switch to private in central/N London at that age? Even if he didn't get into the more academic schools (such as Highgate, City of London, UCS) - is it still hard fought over to get into less high profile places - such as Portland Place or Northbridge House Senior School. I guess I'm wondering whether people are likely to say that there is a risk that he might not get a place anywhere (with anecdotes of people in that position) or (hopefully!) reassurance that all the fuss is a bit of a con, and that if you are prepared to pay for schooling, you are bound to find a place somewhere.
Actually, an afterthough - do children ever move from state schools to private preps at 11? ie to prepare for the CE exam? Or would that be a really odd route?
I'd have now problem with state school options if we lived somewhere else or we looking at this issue for a girl.
You're right that the 11+ candidates are usually from state schools. I believe there are some really good forums providing loads of info on the topic - you might want to google elevenplusforums.
I've not particularly heard of children moving to private preps at 11 so as to prepare for CE. The CE is the culmination of a syllabus that has been taught since year 4 (it's very different to the 11+).
Others that have been down this route will have more information but presumably families also apply for state places as a fall back in case their child doesn't pass the 11+.
I work in an independent in Herts and we take plenty of boys at 11 from state schools. They don't do CE, but sit our entrance exam and have an interview. The prep boys are often very over-coached and I much prefer talking to those who just come along and explain why they like school / learning and what they are enthusiastic about. Best advice from me is to visit as many as you can and just talk to the person showing you round to get a feel for the place.
yesbutnobut - yes, the bit about moving to preps a 11 was just an afterthought, I don't know why I asked that as it's not really relevant and I can't imagine that it is common, not least for the reasons you say ie that they are already immersed in the specific syllabus.
Thanks for the tips re 11+ information - that's useful.
Your final paragraph hits the nail on the head - my concern is the lack of a (decent!) state place to fall back on!
Thanks also to trixie - that's good to hear.
Of course the private system gets better result. They select who they let in, the minute the kids fall behind they are tutored, (most of the families can afford to do this) and then after shelling out tens of thousands of pounds, if your child doesn't cut the mustard they ask you to leave. Which is exactly what happened to our son and he was at as so called "non-selective school" in North London.
Seriously consider moving to the catchment area of good state school. There are 3 good ones in Haringey.
We really panicked when we were asked to "remove our son from the school" at the end of year 9. He had been there for 7 years and because he was so far behind he would never have got a place at another independent school and we thought transferring him to state school would be like sending in a lamb to the slaughter. We couldn't have been more wrong. He loves it. We were extremely fortunate and he got a place at very good state school, even though we were slightly out of the catchment area. It was better than a lottery win. My biggest regret is not sending him there in year 7 and being drawn into to this whole "private is best" scam. Kids in the private system are in a bubble. We live in London, for God sake, our kids need to mix with all types of people. State schools are much better funded and the curriculum is much more varied as they have got more students to cater for. Your child will grow up much more rounded and resilient. Don't be put of by large class sizes either. My son has 16 in his Spanish and Science classes and 22 in his maths.
I could go on about the pros and cons all day. Please feel free to ask question I could write a book on the subject.
Thanks. I think that in the back of my mind I know that we seriously need to consider moving. I don't know much about Haringay - is Highgate Woods one of the 3 that you mention? We are in Camden but too far south for Acland Burghley or William Ellis to be viable options
Some interesting insights from LindsLou. But to answer some of the questions in the OP, I have a DS in Yr 7 at a North London prep. I don't think any boys joined the school this year, but a number of boys joined from the state sector in Yr 5 and Yr 6 in order to get a leg up in senior school admissions so I do think that happens quite a bit, just earlier than 11.
From what I've heard NBH senior and Portland place not terribly hard to get into - although I think NBH senior may get more popular now that it is in Hampstead.
Although UCS etc very selective, if you have a bright and motivated DS in state school and you are willing to either tutor or do some exam prep yourself with him, it shouldn't be impossible to get a place. Maybe also look somewhere like Mill Hill - I think academically it would fall somewhere between UCS etc and NBH etc.
HGW is our nearest school and is on the up. We would have been happy for our son to go there. They were over subscribed at the time and completely out of the blue he got a place at Fortismere, which is the school that is the Muswell Hill Estate Agents' best friend. If you have a musical child you really should consider it. If you have a sporty child be careful where you send them. I beleive State schools do sport much beer than private schools. private schools simply don;t have enough kids to get a team together.
We looked at Portland Place - they have no outside space and it is run like a business, no sole. Having said that the sport Dept. is excellent. My son hated it.
Problem is if you ask people about the schools their kids attend it is unlikely they will give you an honest answer. Nobody likes to admit to themselves let alone other people that they made a wrong decision.
Speak to a variety of people.
I don't live in N London but my dsis does and her two children got into two VERY selective schools at 11plus from a state primary. They were tutored for about a year. It can -and is - done all the time. No, your child will not end up without a school place. Don't worry (though you will ...)
Thanks - Lindslou - now I'm curious, what is the 3rd good school in Haringey (disclaimer - there may be more than 3 obviously - but you specifically had 3 in mind, and not knowing the area that well, I wondered what they were). I think we've established that Fortismere and Highgate Woods are 2 of them - is that right?
Baglady - thanks. Yes, I hear that Mill Hill is likely to be more popular now that it's ditched Saturday school (who wants to go to school on Saturday?! )
mrsshakleton - thanks for the reassurance!
I am betting that school no.3 is Alexandra Park School, also in Muswell Hill. Am I right?
Watching with interest - although premature here as well. Have this Q very much in my mind from time to time. We have (nearly) decided that a move at 7 is far too soon as we are so happy with the local state primary. For senior school, I know of DC going on to places like King Alfred's or St Christopher's in Letchworth, by way of less academically pushy independents. Also worth keeping in mind music places at Fortismere and also languages places at St Mary Magdalene's academy in Islington, as a workaround tight catchment areas. Good luck, and please come back and post about any more anecdotal evidence you gather!
Hi there yes the 3rd school is Alexandra Park. It's doing very well. In regrd to the less acameic choices. I would be very careful about sending your kids to schools that claim to be less academic and more nurturing. They don't always do what they say on the tin. My son was at such a school and he was picked on constantly by the teachers. They destroyed his confidence.
I've no experience because we haven't gone through it yet, but from what I've seen of friends they seem to have no problem getting into very sought-after schools from state schools in north london. These tend to be pretty academic children of pretty academic parents though. From what I see, the schools all want the same kids so either a child will breeze through to quite a few of their chosen schools or absolutely nowhere. And I've some of the latter from both primary sectors so I'm not sure it's worth going private for this reason alone. Perhaps in borderline cases...
Having said that I worry about my son. He's doing well, on track for level 5s by end of year 5, but he is (while super lovely, gentle and compassionate) very inarticulate. All mumbles and likes. Don't know how much this will count against him? And if I want to buy into a system where this is the case...
I'm coming to this thread very late, but you said you're planning way ahead.
Have you considered 10+ which they do at City of London and Kingston Grammar. This avoids the enormous pressure of 11+ and raises the chances of getting a place considerably. My ds did 10+ for CoL after working out the statistics for getting in. It also stops a very bright child becoming bored in state primary school. (You need to be academic, confident and quite mature for this option, but they are cushioned from older boys in the school at this age).
Another option is putting your child into a prep for year 5 and 6 which feeds into a secondary school where existing pupils don't have to pass an entrance exam. My dd, who is much less academic, did this at Northbridge House Prep, which feeds into NBH senior.
There are ways around the 11+ for the academically gifted and the struggling. I believe it's worth avoiding it altogether if you can.
We do have some children who have joined my prep school in yr 7 with a view to then take 13+ CE and move on, not many but some. The CE syllabus is loosely based on the KS3 programme of study so it's not a huge issue for those who have in the state sector, they would normally either not do Latin or do the beginners paper.
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