Westminster. Your thoughts.

(43 Posts)
Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 16:42:41

Note; I'm not invested in my son sitting for Westminster, I hate secondary school hysteria to the point where I'd like to leave England, but he would like to. He's down for the February exam.

How can I get a realistic view on how he'll score on the exam? As far as I can tell, they don't publish sample papers? He's been working on bond papers, the sample papers the school sends home (they have an 11+ curriculum) and Godolphin & Latymer papers (he's sitting for that exam as well). I understand it's 70% but aren't some exams are harder than others so which ones should I base this on?

Based on exams, he's in the top 10% of his current (prep), but uneven, lazy, and distracted. During my 11+ meeting with his school last year they suggested a range of schools that included St Paul's at the top with a caution that he'd have to take the test "on a good day". I gather his school does not have a strong relationship with Westminster.

I'd love to hear anyone's input and would welcome suggestions that he shouldn't follow through with the exam. My biggest concern with him taking it and not doing well is that 1. it would knock him down a bit and 2. if he buckles down in the next few years, maybe it would be better to do it later (if at all) so we don't have this bad score hanging out there.

EdithWeston Mon 09-Dec-13 16:49:31

What 'record' are you concerned it would be on?

If he flunks the pre-test, then the remaining route is the scholarship exam and previous performances won't be relevant.

If the prep is recommending St Paul's and/or KCS Wimbledon as serious prospects, then Westminster would also be one. If this is 'aspirational' then perhaps only one of those three. Sounds like you need a follow up meeting with your prep to see what they have to add since last year.

louloubelle Mon 09-Dec-13 17:03:32

I agree it is very hard to assess the actual level a child need to be at for a decent chance of success in the London day schools exams, particularly if not seeing an external tutor.
70% in one VR may not be the same standard as another...a CAT score taken in y5 may not be truely representative...or is it? And if so, is there a specific level for Westmisnter, or St. Paul's?

Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 17:05:52

Edith, scores aren't retained?

Their suggestions included KCS & St Paul's (with above noted qualification).

Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 17:09:38

I'm avoiding the tutoring route, mostly because I don't think we need one between me and my husband.

Glad louloubelle is equally confused. I'm circumspect about the whole process.

EdithWeston Mon 09-Dec-13 17:19:24

I don't know whether they are retained. But I think that whether they are or not isn't relevant because, if a candidate doesn't have a conditional offer, the only 13+ route is competitively via the scholarship exam. And if you score highly enough in that for an offer, no one's going to care one jot about one test a couple of years earlier.

I think that 11+ entry is for WUS but the pre-tests for 13+ entry to W are done in Yr 6 (just finished) so if he doesn't get through the 11+ then he will not be able to go for 13+ because he has missed the pre-tests (I am assuming he is yr 6)

As Edith said you don't need a conditional offer to try for a scholarship but that is tough.

Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 17:33:24

By scholarship do you mean 13+ or financial assistance?

EdithWeston Mon 09-Dec-13 17:41:38

I meant scholarship to mean non-means tested award for academic excellence.

I think bursaries for financial assistance need to be applied for in parallel to normal admissions. You'd probably need to speak to the bursar if that's what you need.

Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 18:45:55

We're not seeking a bursary.

basildonbond Mon 09-Dec-13 20:33:32

Presumably he's sitting Latymer not G&L unless he's planning a sex change ...

I'd go back to your head and ask for a realistic assessment of how he's doing right now. At dd's school the staff are very good at advising parents on appropriate choices for their child. You really shouldn't need external tutoring if your prep is doing the job for which you're paying large amounts of money!

From what they've said so far it sounds like St Paul's would be aspirational, Westminster and KCS would therefore also fall into that category. It's generally not a good idea to put your child in for too many exams - we're given the standard advice of no more than 3 (one aspirational, one realistic, one safe bet, unless your child is either exceptionally academic in which case most children's 'aspirational' would be their 'realistic' or struggling and would need to be looking only at most people's fallback options)

Londinium Mon 09-Dec-13 21:42:53

You beat me to it Basildon!OP slightly concerning that you may have applied for a girls' school. the relationship with the school will perhaps be because the 13_18 secondary schools don't poach pupils at 11 but expect them to join at 13 .Have you now mussed the 13 plus boat or does your prep actually finish at 11.

Crowler Mon 09-Dec-13 22:02:29

Yes- latymer!
Too many g&l test papers sitting around the house.
Low pressure as the school goes through 13+. I'd be not so laid back otherwise!

antimatter Mon 09-Dec-13 22:46:34

why is he lazy and distracted?
ale those papers you are doing with him too long?
is it done too late in the evening so he is too tired?
can he stick to on 45/50 min and finish it in that time?

Homeworkqueen Tue 10-Dec-13 01:34:09

As a parent who is facing CE this year and has faced all the horrors of year 6 pre- tests - I think there may be a few misconceptions here . If your DS doesn't get through the pre-test at most schools he won't be able to sit CE - that's why there is such a level of hysteria , tutoring etc in year 6 . If he doesn't get a place can he sit the scholarship exam in Westminster? I've not heard about that before - definitely not an option for St P , KCS etc .

Eastpoint Tue 10-Dec-13 06:54:14

The 70% pass mark refers to the Common Entrance papers taken at 13+. Places at 13+ are usually offered conditionally after an interview. There are different levels at Common Entrance, I don't know what Westminster require.

I don't think the schools worry about whether children reapply, I know of children who did not get in to Latymer at 11+ but joined in year 8 after others left.

scaevola Tue 10-Dec-13 07:03:17

Westminster pre-test (year 6) papers are published.

The Westminster website says clearly that it uses the ISEB pre-test, and links to that site, which in turn sells past papers.

The typical required CE mark for those holding conditional offers is 70%.

123flower Tue 10-Dec-13 09:15:10

OP Am a little confused: are you entering your DS for 11+ entry into Westminster Under, which offers places mostly to primary school pupils or the pre-test for Common Entrance? If it's the latter, then both Westminster and St Paul's have now changed the rules. Boys sit a computerised pre-test in English, maths at their own school. Both Westminster and St Paul's have access to the results and invite applicants who've performed well for an interview. With St Paul's this includes a further short test in maths and English. If you're trying for 11+ entry at either school, I don't think a "bad score" will be held against him. We know a boy who failed WU at 11+ but was later offered a place at Westminster.

Crowler Tue 10-Dec-13 18:33:22

We're down for the 11+. I know their policy, but they accepted our application - does that mean anything? There are quite a few boys from my son's school sitting for the 11+ (maybe five?).

I've just ordered the ISEB past papers. That's the missing piece, so thanks scaevola. I'm going to discourage him from taking it if he's well below 70. English is of course a mystery to me, but his English teacher would probably give me a good idea - she's the most helpful person at the school.

He's always been lazy, personality trait I guess? Possibly tired from school, yes. He can sit through a 45 minute exam with ease, though. He's motivated intermittently.

Crowler Tue 10-Dec-13 18:34:05

And thank you everyone for your insight, it's very useful. thanks

irisha Tue 10-Dec-13 18:43:34

70% pass mark refers to Common Entrance taken at 13+, i.e. papers in Maths, English, French, Latin, Science, History, RS and Geography. This is the pass mark for most selective schools, e.g. StPaul's, Westminster, Eton, etc.

11+ Common Entrance is taken mostly by girls who apply to boarding school (also set by ISEB). These papers are extremely easy (especially maths) and are a long shot from London day school papers. I wouldn't use them as an indicator for Westminster at all - they follow a linear syllabus with practically no harder, problem-solving elements.

Farewelltoarms Tue 10-Dec-13 19:39:40

Out of interest, what is Westminster's policy on 11+? It says on the site that it's primarily for boys from state primaries or privates that end at 11, yet the only boy I know of who's got in via that route goes to a very well known prep that ends at 13.
Dunno seems a bit disingenuous of them to encourage applicants from state schools and then pit them against boys who've been trained up at prep schools. Especially when they say one thing on their site but clearly do little to discourage boys such as OP's son.

Crowler Tue 10-Dec-13 19:41:40

Irisha - How about the bond papers?

I just spent 40 on the iseb papers. Are they useless? I may cancel the order.

irisha Tue 10-Dec-13 19:56:37

I think they are great as a first experience of doing papers starting in mid year 5, but not much more than that. My DD was getting 95% on them in Yr5, means nothing. They are not worth the price - it's just that ISEB is a monopolist so they can charge that. You will do better by getting David Hanson books 1 and 2 from Galore Park which have ISEB style questions.

But given so little time left to exam, I would focus on schools' past papers, e.g. St Paul's Girls (on the web), Manchester Grammar School papers, and North London Consortium that you are already using. If he can get close to 90% on North London Consortium untimed and 80%+ timed, I would say that he is well positioned. Try Manchester Grammar papers and St Paul's girls paper B and C. If he is getting 60% on those, that's excellent. They are supposed to be very challenging.

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