Access to private schools/Can you buy a place?

(67 Posts)
pithy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:35:11

You will pay fees, if not on a bursary. However, it is often suspected that the most academic schools will discretely ignore mediocre entry test scores for those whose parents' face fits in terms of wealth/contacts/influence. Any teachers willing to spill the beans?

Mintyy Sat 19-Jan-13 18:36:50

You need to be a member of the Royal Family?

Everyone buys a place at a private school wink

diabolo Sat 19-Jan-13 18:55:25

I disagree. Any remotely selective school will require a DC to pass an entrance examination (even if the % score to pass is 50%), unless you excel at hockey, rugby, tennis etc.

There are some non-selective independent schools, and I am sure if you are the Beckham's DC's then yes, you might get a place at a selective even if you don't pass CE, but I know of children who have failed CE 13+ and gone off to local state schools as they can't get in to the school of their parents choice (even though said parents could well pay the fees and more besides).

trinity0097 Sat 19-Jan-13 18:59:01

I've taught a child recently who was rejected from a leading public school, which his grandfather and father had both attended and who could pay the fees. But likewise I know of a leading public school who bent their usual strict admissions criteria to take on a child of a wealthy family, and at short notice (I.e. 2 weeks before CE was sat!).

GinandJag Sat 19-Jan-13 19:43:59

There will be some discretion for borderline candidates (for example, for a narrowingly missing candidates who have siblings in school), but in general, schools will work to their published policies.

MsAverage Sat 19-Jan-13 20:35:22

Do they actually write in published policies that the best exam performers are those who will be taken? I thought they say rather vaguely about "selected on the basis of the examination results and an interview", which may mean whatever you want. Headteachers on the open evening were saying "If a girl belongs to the school, she will get a place".

marriedinwhite Sat 19-Jan-13 20:45:39

I don't think it goes on at the top London schools. Convinced it's entrance exam - know some blindingly rich families who have had a younger boy rejected. The really high performing schools are not for the faint hearted and most families realise they would be wrong for their children.

happygardening Sat 19-Jan-13 20:57:07

My DS's friend didnt get offered a place at Eton even though the brother father uncle grand father and uncle Tom Cobbley went they also have lots of money and influence. Many top highly selective schools are so over subscribed they can choose the best of the best and also as many offer generous bursaries money ie parental wealth does not have to be the first consideration.

Copthallresident Sat 19-Jan-13 21:34:53

I do know that a scion of the Goldsmiths (only a cousin) was able to get their pick of the South West London preps, regardless of waiting lists, when they moved up to London. Jemima's alma mater a bit put our when not chosen . However no proof the same goes on in the selection process for secondary.Mary Portas was roaming the campus of Latymer as if she owned it prior to the 500 applicants for 50 places sixth form selection. Would be interested to know if she is actually now a parent.

happygardening Sat 19-Jan-13 21:51:49

I think prep schools are slightly different and even the most oversubscribed have vacancies at various times and can find a space for the "right family".

corlan Sat 19-Jan-13 23:20:04

My neighbour attempted what could have been construed as a bit of bribery to get her son into a very academic independent school. (He is very bright but did not score highly enough on the entrance test)

She was turned down flat.

GW297 Sat 19-Jan-13 23:34:25

Money talks.

horsemadmom Sun 20-Jan-13 02:14:56

Mary Portas is not a Latymer parent. She just looks super confident but is actually very nice.

arghhhmiddleage Sun 20-Jan-13 02:53:34

Exam results are the lifeblood of academic secondary schools. They are published, that is what parents are paying for. It seems unlikely they would risk their percentages by taking a pupil who may pull their results down carefully ignoring the obvious absence of dichotomy here This may not be such an issue at prep.

Mominatrix Sun 20-Jan-13 08:36:54

Agree that it probably does go on at the Prep level but would be very difficult to do at the highly selective secondary level (even at the ultra competitive preps). The pace and level at those schools would make it a misery for those children who were not academically capable.

MsAverage Sun 20-Jan-13 09:09:30

I would say exams are in place to a) screen totally incapable applicants, b) make a right impression of desirability: even undersubscribed schools organise exams. Then "moderate to good" children are looked at from the personality perspective (it was many times said here that StPauls girls are kind of from the same stock) and other factors are considered (for example, City of London shamelessly had "Is the child from a single parent family?" question on the first page of the application form).

lainiekazan Sun 20-Jan-13 12:59:33

Private schools are businesses. The way some people on MN talk you'd think that every second kid is on a generous bursary and they are truly charitable institutions. You only have to see the number of wealthy Russian and Chinese students at many schools to know that a parent's fat wallet sets the bursar's eyes spinning to three bell fruits.

exexpat Sun 20-Jan-13 13:09:44

Schools have to tread a very fine line. The ones with the best reputations can afford to turn down anyone who doesn't meet the high academic standards, but others further down the pecking order may be tempted to lower their standards to keep the school full.

But that can have repercussions: if they take too many rich children whose academic performance is likely to be low, their exam results go down and they get fewer applications from bright families, so have to take more rich, unacademic kids etc in a downwards spiral. And eventually their results go down so far that the rich families wonder what they are paying for and pull out too. I've seen that happen with a few schools near me.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 20-Jan-13 13:12:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AuntieStella Sun 20-Jan-13 13:14:58

Some schools, such as the Harrodian, are quite open that they have a standard pass mark for entry (I'm thinking CE), but will accept lower for children they really want (sporty types, from the context). So I think there are schools that might decide to exercise flexibility.

Highly unlikely for the very academic schools, though.

pithy Sun 20-Jan-13 14:23:43

I wonder what happens around the cut-off points in the exams for highly competitive schools. Exceptional children, the top one per cent, will stand apart. But what about those who just scrape in, and the DCs who miss the target level by one or two marks - many DCs fall into this category in the tutor intensive south east. Most parents are realistic about their DC's prospects. They get feedback from schools and tutors. I would guess that, prior to the test, 90 per cent will be in the top fifth of the bell curve for academic achievement. Do these DC get ranked strictly on exam scores. And if they do, why don't the schools publish the results? It all seems rather opaque. As MsAverage implies: there seems to be lots of wriggle room.

Copthallresident Sun 20-Jan-13 14:54:09

Pithy I think that for the very selective private schools it is rarely a horse race with first past the post IYSWIM. They want to find the most able but ability is multi dimensional and they wouldn't go to the trouble of having an admissions process that tries to give them a picture of the whole child; with questions designed to test ability as well as attainment, literacy and numeracy, references and interviews to give them an idea of personality, interests etc. even auditions to identify musical talent. When both my daughters got into a very academic school I rang up to make sure they hadn't "just scraped in" and on both occasions it was made clear to me that that wasn't how they assessed a child and in fact my DDs had got in on the basis of entirely different talents, they had built up an accurate picture of them both, and of their strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day they were seeking to identify who would best take advantage of what they had to offer and succeed at the school.

They have a level of attainment they feel is the minimum they can build on. St Pauls admitted to me that they set that bar quite high because they don't want to have to waste time bringing girls up to speed. which is why they tend to get girls from a similar background, since that discriminates against state and overseas schools, it's a few years ago now but they showed no qualms about it. However over and above that level of attainment it is a much more subjective process.

horsemadmom Sun 20-Jan-13 16:10:19

Correction- Forgot that Mary Portas has a boy too. Coulda been her.

marquesas Sun 20-Jan-13 16:19:20

Surely a private school can amdit whomever they choose for whatever reasons they choose and similarly turn away anyone they don't want.

I know the schools local to me don't publish any kind of admission rules and tbh I don't see why they should, they are self funding and can set their own criteria.

OP - are you trying to buy a place or are you objecting to others who do so?

Abra1d Sun 20-Jan-13 16:23:20

Decent very academic schools don't do this. It is horrible being at a school like this if you are not bright and in lower sets for everything, very stressful and soul-destroying. Often children who just aren't able to keep going at the pace drop out a few years in. I don't think my children's schools would do this and to be honest, they don't need to. There are enough bright children out there and with a few good bursaries they can offer places to some pupils who wouldn't otherwise be there. I know several like this in each of my kids' years.

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