Moving DC to Newton Prep in Yr 7 - any experience views

(48 Posts)
OhDearConfused Fri 27-Apr-12 16:16:37

DS at state primary and going to take tests for selective schools (grammars, Graveney and usual south london indies at 11+) next time round.

Having a panic in case he doesn't make the grade for those. Reading other threads - where there is talk about moving to a prep at year 7 (which I hadn't thought about before) - I thought I would ask specifically about Newton Prep.

Anyone moved their DS to Newton Prep at yr 7?

Will a state school primary leaver (easily going to be level 5 throughout) fit in (no latin, etc..)?

How does the "selection" for entry at yr 7 to Newton Prep compare to selection for the super-selective grammars, Dulwich's, Alleyn's, and so on? I am assuming not so selective - but am I kidding myself?

If a bright (but "messed it up on the day") DC fails 11+, might they have more success at 13+ (of course indies only at this stage)? (Or will these schools not even look at him.....having failed 2 years earlier?)

sicutlilium Fri 27-Apr-12 18:00:53

I think this is a good back up in case the 11+ doesn't come off. I'm in north London, but know of a couple of bright boys locally who didn't get in to CLSB/Highgate/Mill Hill at 11+ from state primary and went to prep school for Y7 & 8 and got in at 13+.
At DS1&2's prep school a couple of boys join in Y7 from state primaries without Latin and catch up - last year one such got a prize for his CE Latin paper from Rugby, having started from scratch in Y7.
The Head at Newton Prep was head at DS1&2's school when DS1 started (so he interviewed us). I really liked him, but he's quite formal and traditional. He's keen on Noggin the Nog though.

carltonscroop Fri 27-Apr-12 20:23:24

Newton Prep is very much about the head.

They do take several children every year for y7&8, and presumably the parents are happy with what they can achieve in that time.

This year's y6 destinations (for those who choose to leave at 11+) didn't seem particularly good, if you compare to other schools in the area (most of which are smaller and less selective). But the children do all seem to end up in a sound range of schools.

OhDearConfused Sat 28-Apr-12 16:22:21

Thanks both. Sounds like indeed it is a good back up plan. Being at a state primary I don't know much about the local preps (that might be an optin as a fall back if 11+ goes bad). I thought that Newton was the best. I know people that leave the smaller ones around the Common to go to NP; and I know noone who is happy with Thomas'. Where else might I think about?

carltonscroop Sat 28-Apr-12 16:34:49

Have you thought about Hill House? I don't know its attitude to taking pupils in for years 7&8, but it is usually very accommodating of arrivals at odd moments, and good at rapidly assimilating newbies. It's fairly traditional, and a large school (though over several sites, so it doesn't feel overwhelmingly large). It's less selective than Newton Prep, but in terms of leavers' destinations and numbers of scholarships, seems to do rather better.

twoterrors Sat 28-Apr-12 19:14:28

I'd look at the less selective independent secondaries for your back up rather than being committed to two changes of schools. If he's at easy level 5s throughout, I'd be surprised if he didn't get one of those. And he may then do just as well there. If a prep had exceptional results, maybe, but I think it sounds like 2 years of thinking about an exam, when you could be enjoying all the sports and activities of a big secondary, making friends that may be yours for life, enjoying being the little ones again with people looking after you.

OhDearConfused Mon 30-Apr-12 13:19:58

Thanks twoterrors. thanks Isn't the only "less" selective indie in (or within easy reach of) SW London Emanuel? (I don't like the sound of that simply because it deprives DC from playing the national sport - mysteriously choosing Rugby over Football. But I think that concern should have to give of course ....)

Needmoresleep Mon 30-Apr-12 13:43:37

DS went through a prep till 13+, though had been there since the beginning.

Things to think about.
1. You can get very small classes, especially in a school like Newton where almost all the girls and many of the boys will leave at 11+
2. Common Entrance is quite demanding so he will learn a lot, probably more than he would in the first two years of a secondary. It will be hard work. CE is also proving good experience now GCSEs are upon us.
3. There is quite a shortage of boys secondary places, and this is no better at 13+ than 11+. That said if he is good enough for one of the big names schools, Preps like Newton have established relationships and good communication channels. 13+ is not as hit and miss as 11+.
4. In our experience 13+ seemed to suit relatively unsophisticated boys who benefited from those extra two years of being the oldest in the school before hitting secondary.
5. Preps can be flexible about the number of places they offer and so can be a useful fallback if you don't get what you want and want to try again as opposed to settling for a less academic school from the start. I doubt that Newton, who takes kids from 3+ will be very competitive to get into at 11+. They will want to fill the place and will have a reasonably mixed ability cohort.
6. I disagree with the post above. Worth a look at Newton's destination schools.

With Newton specifically the major factor seems to be the Head who by many accounts is quite "marmite".

milkshake3 Mon 30-Apr-12 13:53:47

I agree with both Needmoresleep's considered analysis about CE, but I think it is different if you have been at a prep since the beginning. Moving in year 7 for 2 years can be very demanding, what with the uncertainty of "where you are going next", with making new friends, and dealing with the considerable step up that the common entrance syllabus presents versus 11+ preparation. Therefore I would go with twoterrors advice and look for a secondary, where your DC can settle in, have fun, not worry about a looming set of exams and get settled. Even if the school does not offer football, can't you do this outside school? No school will be perfect, there is always a compromise. Good luck.

twoterrors Mon 30-Apr-12 15:02:36

Mmmm, it depends where you live - there are schools further over in SE London and also in Croydon (and I am not naming them because then there will be a deluge of posts about how they are not less selective....it varies from year to year but sounds like your lad has a good chance. Children from state primaries in this area get into all these schools, and the ones you name, albeit with a bit of help).

Train routes can be v important as schools that may be miles away are close if you live near a train station. I know about the football, that is a big deal and it isn't always straightforward to do it out of school competitively. But yes I agree about compromise, and you are talking about a back up plan anyway.

If he does SATS this summer, take the results with you to the open days in the autumn - some admissions people were very happy to give me a pretty categoric view when I did this, which was reassuring that we were in the ballpark. I just think year 7/8 can be huge fun and a break from the exam treadmill (yes, I can see that CE would help with GCSEs but think they take up enough time and effort already! I agree it is different if you have been at a prep before year 7).

OhDearConfused Tue 01-May-12 10:30:00

Thanks again for all your comments. Much to think about. twoterrors I'd be interested in the schools you are thinking of (so do PM me if you prefer - promise I won't out you/them....)

Needmoresleep Wed 02-May-12 08:06:38

Not sure if there is disagreement. Provided you are realistic, and apply for a few schools with a decent fall back, you will almost certainly get something. We have known a couple of unlucky children over the years who have lost out (four wait lists in one case, none of which came through) and who has ended up re-thinking - and who are now very happy.

Moving to as prep for two years probably makes sense if either your fall back having not got a school of your choice, is then boarding at 13+. Yr 7 would be really hard work but having caught up before Common Entrance the child is on level pegging once they start. Or if you are in the rare and unfortunate position of getting towards Easter without a school place, a Prep would then be the best option for a good quality education, though as others point out what you are doing is simply deferring the secondary school transfer for a couple of years.

A child who has gone through CE ought to be more attractive to a 13+ secondary as they will have covered the ground, than a child who has spend two years in their fall back school and is less prepared. But there is huge pressure in independent boys places and if you get something acceptable at 11+ you should probably take it, as the place might not be there two years later.

One thing to watch out for is that though Westminster, SPS, Kings and some boarding schools all do CE in June, other schools make their decisions quite early in the spring term, if not before. So you end up with a repeat of the summer term of Yr 6, where not much gets done, two years later. Worth talking through at the start, and looking at options like, say, a term in France, or an extended project.

Agree that Emanuel is not the only "less selective" option. Also Emanuel takes some very able children, and has a strong top set.

twoterrors Wed 02-May-12 08:13:34

Completely agree with your last line Needmore sleep (I don't know enough about the system for the rest, I am sure that is right too!). I am sure that is true of most of the schools that the blunt shorthand calls "less selective", and as you say it makes sense to include a spread.

Needmoresleep Wed 02-May-12 11:30:53

I love it when people agree with me!

Needmoresleep Wed 02-May-12 11:59:35

Also I disagree with the idea that there is a clear hierarchy, and somehow schools and applicants know their place. At times it can come across as rude. (DC not at Emanuel, but have had the experience of other mums having a double take and then quickly trying to formulate something nice to say about DDs school.)

Some kids come good around the age of 13, others later. Bright Primary children can ace 11+ and then fade. Others discover parties, or rebel at being pushed. Some like being top of their year, others thrive in a competitive environment. Yr 6 performance in one school does not always translate into matching Yr 7 performance in a larger secondary and it is not uncommon to see wait listed children go on to perform very well. Diligence, organisation and motivation count for a lot, as does, in our experience, a natural curiosity and interest in the outside world. And lots of other reasons to chose a school beyond results, including: feel, Head, cost, travel, extra-curricular, size, co-ed or not and so on.

What a prep does, is give you a bit of breathing space if you dont get what you want (or dont get anything). They have a lot of experience with 13+ entry. Say a child failed to get into Dulwich. A school like Newton should be able to work out pretty quickly in Year 7 whether they are a sound Dulwich candidate and either tell Dulwich they are worth another look, or tell the parents that they need to rethink, and suggest some options - options which are probably on their current list of destination schools.

aurorablast Tue 12-Jun-12 12:30:02

Absolutely agree with Needmoresleep that NP's head is 'marmite'. 'If you don't like what we do here, then vote with your feet' is a direct quote. Also it's a tad worrying that there always seem to be places available and a constant advertising campaign to attract new parents. In our year he seems to have 'fallen out' with a significant number of parents. I wouldn't send another of my dear kinder to Newton. It was an excellent school 'til a couple of years ago and some crapulous management changes.

StockwellLiving Thu 24-Jan-13 11:18:11

Bumping this up as I am thinking about sending DS there for Year 6 (and perhaps if 11+ doesn't go well until Year 8).

Anyone got any experience of entering during these latest years?

StockwellLiving Thu 24-Jan-13 11:19:42

I should add given the discussion above re the old head, that I think a new head has been appointed.... ex Dulwich.

milkshake3 Thu 24-Jan-13 11:29:50

Have a friend with a DS there. She's underwhelmed. Old Head has definitely made a mess of things in her opinion and new head will need to bed down and make changes which take time...all during the quite important years of yr6-8 for you. Do you have other options, or are you set on it?

StockwellLiving Thu 24-Jan-13 11:40:43

Thanks. Oh dear. Yes of course it will take time and the new head won't start until next academic year I suppose.

One option is to stay put in the State primary he currently attends (but we are underwhelmed with that at the moment) ....

milkshake3 Thu 24-Jan-13 12:08:54

the thing to remember is that for 11+ and 13+ references need to be written ( and almost immediately at the start of yr6 given exams are all taken in jan of yr6...and for some 13+ schools there is pre testing in yr6, so the references are written then). If your ds is new to the school and the head is new to the school, how good a job is he going to do for your ds while he's busy trying to settle in and do his day job?

majurormi Thu 24-Jan-13 12:15:45

I would look at Thomas's, they have a very established 13+ programme and the numbers to sustain many sets of varing ability across all subjects. New head at Clapham is excellent. 13+ children arrive from Thomas's Fulham so your child would not be the only one new to school. While a good school, I do not think Newton would be the best place for year 7&8.

StockwellLiving Thu 24-Jan-13 12:24:17

Thanks. All good points to think about.

Are references really that important, though? I would have thought they would all be fairly standard (at least from a state primary!): he worked hard, attended (mostly), assessed at level 5x, etc...

And in any case, in my DS's side, wouldn't any sensible indie school take into account when the head says ("DS has only been with us for three months, so not much we can say, blah, blah, except he has settled well, .... " IYSWIM). Or any indies not sensible?

TheWomanOnTheBus Fri 25-Jan-13 08:56:23

I have a friend with a DS there who is very happy with it indeed. Planning to stay there until 13+.

Moving a DC there for one year sounds a little risky to me.

chialini Mon 03-Jun-13 21:12:18

i have a grandchild which goes there and his parents are having a nightmare at the moment. it seems that NP are either on a strategy to keep as many pupils staying beyond Y6 to pay for their building works or the education is failing. Over 30 children have stayed in Y7 which is nearly double the previous year, i hear many not because of choice but because they failed their entrance exams to secondary school.

KingscoteStaff Tue 04-Jun-13 16:26:49

That's very peculiar chialini, I am looking down the list of the boys who are staying at Newton for Year 7 and I can see boys with pre-test places at Kings, St Pauls, Westminster, Tonbridge, Radley, Eton... As far as I know, all of the 'stayers' have places. We are staying for 7 and 8 because of the superb teaching.

bico Wed 05-Jun-13 14:23:50

If they have 'pre-test places' don't you mean they have conditional offers (ie a firm offer of a place subject to passing CE)?

KingscoteStaff Wed 05-Jun-13 21:11:34

Yes, 'conditional' is the word I was looking for!

I was going to say they 'have places', but then thought I wouldn't tempt fate...

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Jun-13 10:34:17

Hello OP here. Interesting that this thread has come to life again. Still proceeding with 11+ attempt at the SW indies and the couple of grammars that are within reach. And so still interested in people's views as to whether it makes sense as a fall-back to go to NP from 2 years if it all went wrong.

Clearly, for example and an obvious potential problem, DS will not have done the pre-tests!

All thoughts welcome....

KingscoteStaff Thu 06-Jun-13 18:12:39

So where are you now - do you have any places for September or are you on any waiting lists?

I teach at a state primary, and have seen quite a few boys go to Newton, Thomases or Fulham Prep for 7 and 8.

As you say, the problem is that you've missed the pre tests. Dulwich and Alleyns do 13+ entrance exams at the start of Year 8, so they are possibilities. I'm sure there are others, (St James in Ashford?) but you would need to go into September really switched on about your plans and with the support of the prep school head.

The advantages would be two more years of maturity before moving him, small classes, opportunities for leadership, staff with experience of CE/13+ entrance exams.

scaevola Thu 06-Jun-13 18:15:40

Newton Prep isn't what it was.

But there is a new head starting there in September and people are pinning their hopes on her turning it into the school it should be.

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Jun-13 13:40:14

KingscoteStaff - he is still in Year 5 in a state primary. Just having a panic about what would happen if he didn't pass 11+ for Alleyns, Dulwich, City, etc. And the couple of GS's.

I'd be interested in more views as to whether the new head is making a difference yet...

carltonscroop Fri 07-Jun-13 13:47:24

The new head only starts this September.

She comes from Dulwich College Junior School, so one hopes is experienced in getting children to their (increasing) academic level for entrance. How quickly a school can be turned round and a reputation restored is anyone's guess.

OhDearConfused Tue 11-Jun-13 10:01:17

Thanks CarltonScroop. You seem to know the school well. Do you have DC there? Are they (you) happy with it?

chialini Tue 11-Jun-13 10:13:55

KingscoteStaff - My grandchild is staying because they have to. There are at least a further 3 children in the same boat. How do you know about pre-test places? I would have though that this information was not public information. Are you a Teacher there?

09870987 Tue 11-Jun-13 13:43:09

With pre tests, IME, DC take several tests. Those who get into KCS etc can generally get into other academic schools and are likely now sitting on 2-4 offers. It's the tail of DC with nothing at this stage that gets hidden in the "look at our wonderful results" PR and they get subsumed into the "staying put" column.

KingscoteStaff Tue 11-Jun-13 22:39:52

All of the boys in DS's friendship group have conditional places. I agree that there are probably 4 I don't know about.

We have nothing but good to say about Newton - the teaching has been superb for both our DC. Mr Allen (leaving head) has been very Marmite, but he has inspired DS and given us very good advice about secondaries. He doesn't have much of a bedside manner, but that wasn't a priority for me. However, when Newton won the Prep Schools Athletics thing on Monday, he personally congratulated every member of the team.

Traceydeborah Sun 16-Jun-13 23:07:12

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

OhDearConfused Tue 18-Jun-13 12:33:39

Oh dear - sorry to hear your DC had such a bad time of it.

I'm not sure how 13+ pre-test works. Is it possible that both you and KingscoteStaff are correct. Many kids failed 11+, but then at the same time got pre-tested conditional offers for 13+. Is that possible.

Lots of divergent views here!!

Needmoresleep Tue 18-Jun-13 18:58:51

The popular co-eds - Alleyns and Latymer Upper are tricky at 11+. Odds are as low as one in 10 and it is all about performance on the day. So it is perfectly possible to get, say, the Westminster pre-test and fail 11+. Indeed we know of boys to whom this has happened. However numbers will be small.

In fairly big preps like Newton you can expect there to be about one a year who is really unlucky. (Not Newton but we knew of one child who ended up on three or four wait lists none of which came through.)

The better question might be does the problem lie with girls or boys.

My impression was that the departing Head's background was in all-boy education and that he understood this process reasonably well. And indeed this was a factor for the school filling up at the top. (Yrs 7 & 8.) The process for girls is very different, centered around performance on the day 11+ exams. Because it was mixed Newton traditionally offered girls a more rounded education which stood applicants in good stead, particularly with the Dulwich schools for whom Newton was a recognised feeder. Central West London is different, with lots of small girls preps teaching very much to the test and staking their reputations on the numbers they can get into SPGS etc. Pupil demographics changed under the current head. Fewer buying their way out of Lambeth education and more from north of the river. Unless he was able to change the approach for girls quickly to meet the requirements of West London school entry, perhaps to match Thomas' who split the girls off earlier, there was always likely to be a number of disappointed parents.

OhDearConfused Wed 19-Jun-13 09:35:55

Thank you. Yes, worrying about this because of the being "unlucky on the day" (times 3 or 4) problem and not liking the state options locally.

The other concern I had was whether moving at Yr 7 is a good idea in general. You allude to the school filling up at Yrs 7 and 8 which sounds like it does often happen, but if you move from a state primary to a place like Newton, how do you get "up to speed" to do a pre-test in such short order. Or do some of the 13+ schools (the usual London suspects) allow for that?

meditrina Wed 19-Jun-13 12:16:48

Well, some schools pretest in year 6 and of they've made all their offers you are a bit stuck.

Others which test in year 7 or have flexibility so to do should take account of the reference should make educational path to date clear. So it can be allowed for, but you will perhaps need prep head's advice on which have a good track record for doing so.

Needmoresleep Wed 19-Jun-13 12:18:56

Pre-tests normally happen in Yr 6. However they are normally for the very competitive London days schools and boarding. Other schools, Dulwich etc, allow later entries and will know Newton and equivalents well.

You really need to check with the senior schools themselves.

Being unlucky on the day three or four times is very very rare, as long as you have pitched it right. And of the two cases I know of, one at least is pleased in retrospects to have had a chance to rethink, rather than have their child bump along the bottom in a competitive day school.

Also in fairness in DDs year, Newton's predictions for girls went wrong in both directions. Several girls including DD got into schools they were not expected to get. And she is fine. My guess is that Newton may have placed too much focus on CAT tests and the girls who did better than expected were the ones who would have had plenty to say at interview.

I also don't think it is fair to say that the best staff have all left. One of Newton's strengths was its staff room. I know some good teachers left, but plenty who we valued strongly still seem to be there. Overall and with an experienced new head, the school should be back on track. Apart from some problems towards the end of our time there, and then relating mainly to a difficult relationship with the out-going head, it was a fantastic school.

sanam2010 Thu 27-Jun-13 21:54:20

may I ask what the new head's name is?

OhDearConfused Fri 28-Jun-13 13:44:47

I think it is Alison Fleming the current head of Dulwich Junior

Michaelahpurple Sat 29-Jun-13 20:17:01

Very very good chap starting in September as deputy head, as part of the new team, for what it is worth

OhDearConfused Mon 01-Jul-13 09:28:04

Where is the new deputy from?

KingscoteStaff Tue 02-Jul-13 13:12:51

Westminster Under School. He's currently Head of Years 7 and 8 there.

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