Is it harder to get into a selective state school or selective independent school?

(87 Posts)
FiveHoursSleep Fri 28-Feb-14 12:08:08

I'm guessing it depends on the area and schools?
In our area, Middlesex, the kids who went private are the ones who didn't manage to get a place in the selective state schools in the Sout West Consortium , QE boys and Henrietta Barnett.
The girls who went private ended up in schools like Goldophin and North London Collegiate but when reading posts on here it looks like the independant exams are much more complicated than the state ones.
Is there just more competition for State places as you don't have to pay?

It depends on how selective each school is.

Is it easier to get into Tiffin (or similar super selective) than a boarding school that requires 55% on the Common Entrance - No, my guess would be Tiffin is probably harder.

Is it easier to get into Tiffin than St Pauls or Westminster - probably because StP and W can interview the pupils as well as requiring high exam results etc.

ATrueBeliever Fri 28-Feb-14 12:35:47

There is usually much more competition for a state selective school as it is free, whereas the independents are hugely expensive. But the state schools can only take a test result into account, whereas the indies can look for other skills, and how you come across at interview is v important. Also there can be a large amount of tutoring to a v narrow test (eg esp for Tiffins where "average ability" pupils become whizz's at VR/NVR). But in an area with both, usually the minimum standard for entry is higher in the state.

Nocomet Fri 28-Feb-14 12:44:49

State here as we have nothing like enough grammar school places for the top 25% who might pass the 11+. Lots of private schools to the point where some have merged.

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 13:05:44

I know boys who were offered places at Merchant Taylors, Habs and St Albans but failed to get a place at QE Barnet. I don't know of anyone who was offered QE Barnet (who also applied to one of the selective independents) who didn't get offered a place at the indies.

ClaraMaugham Fri 28-Feb-14 13:08:40

In parts of London where there are virtually no grammar schools, I'd say state is harder hands down. I know of people getting St Pauls but not Tiffin. Just down to numbers applying I guess.

donnie Fri 28-Feb-14 13:08:54

The state super selectives are a lot more difficult - loads more applicants which drives the results way, way up. Places round my way in the grammars are like gold dust (Norf Laahndan).

alwaysneedaholiday Fri 28-Feb-14 13:10:28

Our local comp has a few places for out-of-catchment children - chosen based on an exam.

I know of one boy who achieved 97% in the exam, but didn't get a place as there were enough at 100% to fill them shock

I guess it's simply that you can get an excellent education for free, loads of children apply, so the school can pick and choose. Money isn't a factor.

donnie Fri 28-Feb-14 13:12:44

The state super selectives are a lot more difficult - loads more applicants which drives the results way, way up. Places round my way in the grammars are like gold dust (Norf Laahndan).

donnie Fri 28-Feb-14 13:13:11

oh dear sorry about that double posting there grin

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 13:15:51

I know someone who got Eleanor Holles but not Tiffin, this was last year and she was nowhere near the Tiffin cut.

Beastofburden Fri 28-Feb-14 13:17:36

Private schools may call themselves "selective" but some of them are not all that selective. So it absolutely depends.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Fri 28-Feb-14 13:29:30

I am nowhere near London, BUT if you want either a private school or a grammar school here the grammar is much harder to get into.

The boys grammar is about 10 miles away and the girls is roughly 15 miles. The area that children are applying from is so vast that only the very top performing students will get a place. There is one private school in our (small) city, which has reasonable results but not significantly superior to the local comps for many parents. Therefore, getting a place at the private school (whilst still selective) would be easier.

dellon Fri 28-Feb-14 13:47:52

It depends of course on the grammar and the indie in question ...someone else posted here recently that their DS got a place at Westminster but not Tiffin...but selection criteria are also different ...leading selective indies look at a range of data: head's report, interview, extra curriculars like music and sports as well as entrance exam results...the superselective grammars can only look at rankings in an 11+ test .......all those state schooled children in particular whose be all and end all aim is to get into the superselective grammar because parents can't afford private and other options are dire may have been prepping intensively for the grammar school tests for 18 months - 2 years beforehand, something the prep school types with other options for secondary and lots of extra curriculars/sport in their child's schedule may not have done either because they were 1) naive or 2) not motivated to do that kind of intensive prep because of the private options held in reserve either as fall back or as first choice.

The there will be the ones who get into superselective grammar who will not get into leading indies because they don't have enough extras to bring to the table or simply don't shine at interview.

JustADadHere Fri 28-Feb-14 13:52:04

I live in Southern Hertfordshire, the hot spot for school competitiveness. Around here, it is much much harder to get into a state super selective than it is an independent - if nothing else but for the number of applicants. This year QE Barnet had between 1800-2200 applicants (reports vary) for 180 spots. DAO had around 1600 for 65 spots. The two Watford Grammars and Parmiters had around 1500 for 50 spots. Compare that to MTS: 350 applicants for 72 spots. Habs: 400 for 72. St Albans: 250 for 72.

I think it is a little self-selecting, however. If your child is borderline academically, then it is hard to justify spending £100 for each independent's exam, but if taking the exam is free, then anyone can take it - I would theorise that this would lead to the applicants to the independents on average being more academic than the applicants to the state schools.

An additional factor is that in order to get a spot at the state schools, a child needs to remarkably adept at all three (or four) categories of testing (VR/NVR/Maths/English) while the independents have the freedom to take a border line (for example) Maths student if the English score is off the charts (which is, I am pretty sure, why my son got offers from Indies and barely passed the minimum at QE and the Watford Consortium).

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 13:58:44

dellon - I'm not sure there's much of an 'extras' hoop to jump through at some independent selectives, provided you meet their academic requirements. Perhaps it matters for a borderline candidate or for the likes of Westminster.

My sons were both offered selective schools (including habs) and they didn't so much as play the recorder. DS2 talked about Pokemon during his habs interview. I remember the feeling of shame.

anotherverydullusername Fri 28-Feb-14 14:19:26

Were they super-academic though TheBeautiful?

It is surely all about supply and demand as others have said. Demand for grammars considerably outstrips supply relative to the ratio for this for independent schools in these hot spot areas.

It's quite sad that an exceptionally gifted writer or maths whizz can't get a grammar place because of the need to be even across both subjects.

ShredMeJillianIWantToBeNatalie Fri 28-Feb-14 14:53:19

Agree with JustADadHere - we are in South Herts too, and the schools he lists are tough nuts to crack due to the sheer numbers of applicants chasing the places. I know of a couple of boys who didn't get places at QE Boys but were awarded places at Habs, one with a scholarship.

It depends where you live, too.

The Watford grammars (yes I know they're not really grammars) have different cut-offs for inner and outer catchment areas.

ShredMeJillianIWantToBeNatalie Fri 28-Feb-14 14:58:09

We also found that lots of canny parents are using the state 11+ tests for all sorts of areas as a practice run for the independent school tests. I'm not sure what effect that has on the cut-off marks required as it's standardised (and for the life of me I can't get to grips with standardisation!), but the marks do seem to be very slowly creeping upwards.

ShredMeJillianIWantToBeNatalie Fri 28-Feb-14 14:59:32

True ThreeBee. And have you seen the cut-offs for a child living outside the catchment for Parmiters? Pretty daunting, because there are only three (I think) places available.

My sons were both offered selective schools (including habs) and they didn't so much as play the recorder.

One of mine managed to get a highish score (enough for a music place) in the S.W.Herts state consortium music audition by singing a rugby song. grin

dellon Fri 28-Feb-14 15:18:22


I think the extras matter for the hugely oversubscribed public schools like Harrow, Wellington and Eton.

dellon Fri 28-Feb-14 15:20:06

and Westminster could i forget "the best school in the world"

dellon Fri 28-Feb-14 15:26:40

You have to ask though if the superselective grammars are harder to get into (suggestion being they then are even more selective in their intake based purely in academics), why do the indies like Winchester, St Paul's, Westminster, KCS etc. do so much better on their Oxbridge entrance successes than the likes of Tiffin (especially since Oxbridge claim not to take extra-curriculars into account)? Is is superior teaching or deluxe preparation? Not meant to be contentious ...but an observation.

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