Surrey area schools - selection - chances of getting in and and suggestions for non selection options

(21 Posts)
timeforsomethingnew Tue 05-Nov-13 13:18:24

Sorry, this ended up longer than I expected!

Back in summer a number of kind mumsnetters gave me great pointers and advice for schools for my academically solid/average and very sporty daughter as we will be moving back to UK from overseas. Hockey playing school important for her. Y9 entrance next Sept.

We visited Cranleigh, Lord Wandsworth College, Epsom and St John's Leatherhead in the summer. Liked all the schools. She wants to be a day girl but liked flexi boarding option from time to time. If we got moved again before A levels we ideally wanted her to be able to board full time so she wouldn't have to move again. But boarding not essential.

Cranleigh say she would go on waiting list as they are over subscribed. Epsom she's down to take exams (English, Maths, VR) in Dec/ Jan. St John's test in Feb (maths, English, VR and non VR). She'll also do sports scholarship assessment for St Johns, and I hope for Epsom.

She did well at school last year - she's very hard working and diligent student, but doesn't come easy to her. We've noticed this since Y6, and just did ed psych assessment because she needs to study so hard for tests and never does as well as she does in class/homework. Assessment shows she has mild dyslexia and dyscalcula, (or as it is apparently now known Specific learning disorder affecting literacy and maths - mild!)

Enough background, now my issue. I'm v concerned she won't pass the entrance exams for Epsom and St Johns. I think she'd do well if she got into either school - she's such a worker and has got the right personality and interests but since they are selective, I'm not sure she'll reach the academic target.

It's really just come clear to me as in last couple of months I've been working with her on 11+ - 12+ maths bond papers and 11+ - 12+ VR bond papers. She's getting approx 60% in maths and 70% in VR. Her English is likely to be lower end for comprehension and OK for writing.

Any insights into the likelihood of her getting in - Epsom said that their pass mark for VR is 118, but of course I can't equate that to a %. As she's Feb birthday, I'm guessing around 80%+? In which case, I don't hold out much hope. She might squeeze extra marks between now and then, but her comprehension/vocab understanding is a challenge and VR needs so much of that.

In any case I'm feeling that we should look into back up options. I'm a total novice at this having lived overseas for so long.

What should I be looking for? We are flexible about area - Surrey or other close by counties in commuting distance of Epsom (office is near there).

homebythesea Tue 05-Nov-13 14:52:24

as far as I know no weighting or otherwise is given by the schools you mention with reference to birthday so that should not be a concern

Given you are coming from a non-trad background ie not doing Common Entrance, I reckon a school report from her current school will hold much influence. They will recognise that she will be unfamiliar with the syllabus / format of the tests and may give some leeway especially if curret school can vouch for her. The possibility of offering top notch sport will also be influential (this needs to be at least County standard)

That being said the new Head at St Johns is keen to lift the academic standards and has increased the CE pass mark required. Epsom has always sought slightly higher than St Johns.

Local alternatives with lower (or effectively no) entrance requirements would be Box Hill, St Teresas, Manor House (day only and only to GCSE), and Priors Field

timeforsomethingnew Tue 05-Nov-13 15:08:14

Thanks homebythesea - really appreciate your input.

I also hoped there may be some leeway for her as she's from overseas - was optimistic of that over the summer - but as we've got deeper into this, I'm wondering if that's the case. The realisation came to me that she is sitting the papers at the same time as any students sitting from state schools - ie all those who have not come the prep route and therefore not been prepared for CE.

So, I'm thinking now if they have a handful of places left (St John's head said he keeps some places for students transferring from schools who start at 11+), she's still in quite a competitive situation. I'd underestimated that.

Her sport is good I think - hockey might be county standard, and her other sports are solid. But difficult to say as we are overseas and the benchmark is so different. And her school report or reference would be good.

Off to look at the others you suggest. Had already looked at Box Hill, but not the others.

Thank you

Clavinova Tue 05-Nov-13 23:02:57

I would say that St John's is still considered slightly less academic than Epsom and their entrance exams should reflect this. They have an example of the pre-test exam (taken in year 6) on their website and the maths paper doesn't look too onerous compared with some other schools in the area. Also, I think being a girl helps too as St John's only went fully co-ed about three years ago and they'd like to even up the girl/boy ratio a bit more. Manor House is lovely and a feeder school for St John's at 16+. Heard good things about St Teresa's too.

LIZS Wed 06-Nov-13 07:27:01

St Johns only went co-ed a few years ago so may be a bit more flexible towards girls. Most of these schools usually pretest in Year6/7 and conditional offer on CE so if they say there are still spaces available there may not be that many entering for this particular round of tests. 118 would be out of 140ish, so you are looking at top end of the "average" band. There are plenty of other secondary schools around which set a 13+ entrance exam taken in January/February but you'll need to register asap if not already too late. Worth, Ardingly, Hurst, Greenacres all less academic but do check which play girls' hockey as not all do.

Leeds2 Wed 06-Nov-13 09:29:47

Could try Woldingham, although I think they don't encourage flexi boarding. They play hockey, not sure to what standard as a school team, but I know several of the girls play for their county.

timeforsomethingnew Fri 08-Nov-13 15:55:14

Thanks for all the input and apologies for delayed acknowledgement - crazy work week and no time to response coherently!

Clavinova - thanks for the info. Yes, think the CE entrance is pass mark of 55 for St John's vs passmark of 60 for Epsom. Will have a look at the Y6 paper. Interesting re the girl/boy ratio. She's happy in a co-ed school, but her closet friends are a lovely crowd of girls, so I hope any school she goes to has enough girls throughout the years for it to be a balanced environment.

LIZs - thanks again. You also gave me some great input that got me started back at the beginning of the summer. 118/140 may be out of her reach unfortunately sad She's getting more like 70% and that would be high 80s. I'll take some time over the weekend to have a look at your other suggestions and give them a call next week. A good solid fall back option is what I need.

Thank Leeds2 - will check out Woldingham again. I did look orginally but think I discounted as we are not catholic and as we ideally wanted co-ed and flexi boarding. It does look a good school though. Is it less selective?

Good news is that her current school will now be giving her extra time in school tests an exams due to the dyslexia/dyscalcula, so feel more comfortable asking for that during the entrance exams at Epsom and St Johns. At least that gives her the best chance to show what she can do.

Thanks all and welcome further thoughts also.

LIZS Fri 08-Nov-13 16:03:19

Have you got an Ed Psych report which requests extra time ? Often the school involved will need to see that as "evidence" for any access arrangements for entrance tests.

homebythesea Fri 08-Nov-13 16:03:27

Re co-ed: St Johns and Epsom will never be 50:50 and they are quite open about that. More like 70:30 or 60:40 at best. At St Johns the girls and boys houses are separate so lots of opportunities to find a group of girls to fit in with. Not sure about Epsom.

You are correct about percentages required at CE but St Johns have made a subtle but vital change. Instead of an average 55% across all papers you now need at least 55% in all papers meaning you can't disguise a weak subject within an overall average. The new(ish) head is trying to up the game academically which is a shame in many ways

timeforsomethingnew Fri 08-Nov-13 16:18:58

LIZS - yes, we have ed psych report. We only got it 2 weeks ago so just met her current school today, which is why she's not had extra time until now. They are planning to give her 25% extra in their internal tests and exams and said that for any external tests in future they would be happy to apply for her. (But that before GSCEs we'd probably need to get her tested again so their was a recent assessment to see if she still needed the time.) I'll check with the Epsom and St John's to see what their process would be, and I'll be happy to send to them if needed.

homebytheseas - interesting re the 55% in all papers. We really liked the head when we met him and he was very complimentary to DD about her end of year school report and seemed to think she'd be fine. But it's the gap between her school work and testing that most worries me. From a purely selfish position, I completely agree that it's a shame he's upping the game academically (particularly at this moment ;))

timeforsomethingnew Fri 08-Nov-13 16:20:27

Grrr ... I do know that should say there not their!!

Shootingatpigeons Fri 08-Nov-13 16:53:03

time I would be surprised if the schools don't give you extra time in the entrance exams once they have the Ed Psych assessment. My dyslexic DD2 got extra time in the entrance exams for 3 out of the 4 selective Surrey day schools she tried for (more selective than Epsom). Or they will take it into account as they did at the fourth. My DD1 took the exams overseas, for even more selective schools than DD2 and all, except St Pauls' Girls School, said that coming from overseas would be taken into account. In fact a couple of Heads said that coming from overseas is a point in candidate's favour as they value what they have to offer to their community as a result of their experiences. It is a little simplistic to look at the entrance exams as looking for the first past the post. They do look at candidates as a whole and what they have to offer to a school / evidence that they will make the most of the opportunity. When we accompanied some friends from overseas on a tour of Epsom for their DD, the Head asked my DD where she was at school and when she mentioned she was at a selective school nearby the Head offered her a place on the spot, and got her in for a charm offensive day to see if she liked it. We liked the school a lot and I would have liked DD2 to go there but she didn't want to move at Year 9.

Presumably you have a VR score as part of the Ed Psych assessment. It is a test of ability and should not be affected by your DDs specific learning difficulty, it is precisely the gap between ability determined by tests of reasoning and attainment that trigger a diagnosis. NVR and VR tests are an advantage for dyslexics because it does give the schools an indication of their ability as opposed to attainment which can be affected both by their SpLDs and their schooling to date. It will tell you how your DD scores in relation to the rest of the population with a percentile score ie that your DDs reasoning is at the 90th percentile and therefore scored better than 90% of the population. You can improve your DDs score with a small number of practise papers but if they have invested in tests that are not predictable (state grammars often don't which is why people gain benefit from tutoring for them) after about 8 or so it won't improve the score they achieve, plus of course they will have back up evidence in the Ed Psych assessment.

Regulations on extra time at GCSE have changed, unfairly. Now you will only get extra time if your DDs scores for processing and working memory were in the below average ranges, the scores fall into ranges, from memory, very superior, superior, average, below average and dire can't remember the exact term. The below average range means they have scored below the 14th percentile I think. There is a lot of controversy as bright dyslexics will often score above that level but still have a significant difficulty and the associations representing dyslexia charities, Ed Psychs and schools are all campaigning for a fairer system. And yes you will need another assessment pre GCSE and then pre University applications as well (been there, done that!)

Good luck. I am sure your DD has lots going in favour of her application smile

notagiraffe Sun 10-Nov-13 15:21:36

Are you looking for day or boarding schools? And are you only looking at co-ed? Another to consider would be Claremont (virtually no selection process. They do an exam, but that's more to know where a child is on the scale, than to select academically.

Then there's City of London at Ashtead, which has a selection process but isn't aggressively academic. both schools have gorgeous grounds and are co-ed day schools.

Have you looked at ACS Cobham? Don't know much about it but it has a reasonable reputation locally.

LIZS Sun 10-Nov-13 17:08:46

I thought CLF was fiercely competitive academically !

notagiraffe Mon 11-Nov-13 16:26:11

Is it LIZS? It's seen among some to be a softer option than Hampton/LEH or RGS/Guildford High. Don't want to misinform anyone. I thought is was a good school either way and very well worth a look but didn't get the impression on looking round that it was academic. the French tutor told me they study films, not novels for A level, which I was a bit hmm about, so it can't be the most stringent syllabus.

One impression I got from them was that they didn't mind what you were good at as long as you had a passion for something. They had a pupil who missed a lot of school because they were in West End shows (in lead roles) and the school was (rightly imo) proud of that, as it had been the school who fostered their original interest in drama.

homebythesea Mon 11-Nov-13 18:14:20

I'm with LIZS on this- CLFS the most academic school in this area over Epsom, St Johns et al. Not entirely fair to compare with Hampton and RGS as they are super selective and boys only

Shootingatpigeons Mon 11-Nov-13 20:41:33

erm......LEH and Guildford High are for girls

I think there may be two issues here, OP may not realise that schools like Epsom and St Johns will take their DDs learning difficulty into account (as indeed would LEH and Guildford High), and her fears may be unfounded, and frankly for schools less selective than St John's I doubt very much that it will be difficult to get a last minute place.

For context OP in the Telegraph GCSE tables, which don't really tell you much about a school but do reflect selectivity, CLFS is 52nd, Epsom 101, St John's 192, and Claremont Fan, which isn't boarding so not what you are looking for, 269. There are schools that would be even less selective than that. Heathfield comes to mind which doesn't make the table. However I really think the two schools being tried for are realistic.

And LEH is 9th, GHS 15th, RGS 16TH and Hampton 25th.......

Shootingatpigeons Mon 11-Nov-13 20:42:15
timeforsomethingnew Wed 13-Nov-13 12:48:52

Shooting - thanks for the thoughts on how they might view dyslexia. Really helpful as it's first time we've faced this.

Reading back through her report (again ... I've read it so many times and still need to read it more to understand it!), her VR is average, but the below average are around comprehension, vocabulary, defining words,recalling information, finding words. She really struggles to understand and find the words. Reading back through this and based on practise papers, she'll perhaps be ok on logic questions, but she really stuggles on word and vocab questions. Her non VR is 92nd percentile so definitely her strength! Maths is computing challenges ... but seems like her working memory is OK, low average.

St John's have said they may want her to sit pre-test - don't know if that might be the Y6 pretest, or assume they have another one better suited to her age as she's now in Y8. Or they may just get her to do full exams in Feb.

Notagiraffe - Ideally boarding and day to give us option if we get moved later. But St John's is only weekly boarding, so not really helping in that regard. And yes looking for co-ed but must have a good mix of like minded girls (sporty, friendly, hard working, motivated) will check out ACS and Claremont. CLFS is probably too selective based on the league tables from Shooting.

LIZS and homebysea - thanks for the input

I've just been to the hairdresser to cover up my greys ... thanks all for the support!

holidaysrcoming Wed 13-Nov-13 15:45:42

claremont has no boarding...
duke of kent? although you'd need to check they have the numbers to provide full sporting opportunities

if you'd consider west sussex you have ardingly and worth

anecdotally i've heard st john's are more concerned about maths at entry

Shootingatpigeons Wed 13-Nov-13 16:27:17

Time a low average working memory will be a disadvantage for a pupil with non verbal reasoning at the 92nd percentile. You would predict that a pupil with such high non verbal reasoning skills would have a working memory at the same level, and because they don't they will have problems demonstrating their ability in timed conditions which is why presumably the Ed Psych is recommending extra time. The reason that the new guidelines on extra time are being challenged is that you cannot set an absolute value for the point at which working memory and processing become a problem because the key issue is the gap between reasoning ability and working memory and processing. If reasoning is below average it really isn't an issue that working memory is at the same level.

I am sure these schools will view your DDs application in the context of her strengths and weaknesses. A lot of pupils are much stronger in non verbal or verbal reasoning. It is why even the most selective schools have bottom sets for Maths and some pupils that genuinely struggle.

Just to give you an indication of how strong a candidate she will be in that area LEH expect their pupils to score at the 95th percentile.

Good luck. We came back from overseas and it is bewildering, but these schools are experienced and good at knowing whether a pupil will thrive there and they end up where they should be IYSWIM.

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