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Understanding Prep School system - Help Required please

(16 Posts)
Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:55:41

Hi, thanks for reading this. I'm really confused and wondered if someone was kind enough to help.

My situation is that I have twin boys aged 2 and one on the way. We'd love to send them private from either 4 years or 7 years of age. At the moment we do not know for certain if we are going to be able to afford it but I keep reading that parents should get their children's names down at schools. I'm reluctant to start signing my children up if we may not have enough money at that time. Surely we're not the only ones in this boat?

Also, do prep schools generally offer a discount on fees for multiples? I know a couple of families where the school offered to discount younger siblings fees by 50%. Is this typical? How and when does one approach this with the school?

Finally, with the boys at 2 years old is now the right time to start going to open days etc?

As you can tell we are really new to this so would welcome any guidance from mums with more experience on these issues. We live in Oxford by the way.

LIZS Wed 24-Apr-13 14:05:51

You will need to register (and pay a fee) them soon , around here it can be as early as 6 months to secure a Reception place(4+) as most spaces are taken by those who attend the nursery (dd was one of only 4 joiners at that age). Therefore you need to catch the next wave of open days or arrange visits asap. There may be an assessment day before the formal offer is made. You wouldn't normally pay in addition to a registration fee until you accept the place/s a term or two in advance and put a deposit down, after which you need to allow a full term if you don't want to take the place up.

ime sibling discounts are between 5 and 10% on the fees of subsequent children although that may only apply from 3rd child in attendance while others are still there.

KathySeldon Wed 24-Apr-13 14:59:36

MCS only starts at age 7, others, I believe, have nurseries and/or reception years.

I would think now is a good time to start making enquiries.
My 2 dc started off in state primary and moved into private school for years 4 and 3. We had no problem getting places for either of them just looking the year before entry.

What type of school were you thinking of? There's loads round Oxford way.

KathySeldon Wed 24-Apr-13 15:02:53

By what type of school, I mean y1 - y9 prep, or y1-y13, or y1 - y6?? Co-ed or single sex? Sporty or academic? Boarding facility? Loads of different types.

AuntieStella Wed 24-Apr-13 15:09:28

Many, but not all, offer sibling discounts of varying amounts. You'll need to ask ech school you are considering.

An early registration definitely helps for schools which manage their lists by 'first come first served'. With those that assess, it isn't crucial (though might be a toe break factor), but if you're going for selective ones, you need to register with more than one school anyway (as eggs all in one basket is a bit too nail-bitingly risky).

So you're probably going to have to shell out a few registration fees; may as well do it sooner than later, as they only get more expensive if you leave it.

Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:11:44

Hi, thanks for replies.

Ideally co-ed but not a deal breaker. Difficulty is that at 2 years old how can you tell whether your dc is academic or sporty?

Finance is the main issue really, do many parents register their dc even if there's only a 50/50 chance of being able to afford it?

Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:15:24

Ah I see, so most parents register their dc with several schools. I didn't realise this was accepted practice. With regard to a possible discount for multiples do I just telephone/email the bursar? Ask to meet bursar at an open day? Any thoughts would be welcomed

LIZS Wed 24-Apr-13 15:24:09

Most will state their sibling policy on the website under Fees , alternatively speak to the admissions secretary or bursar. Just because they start at 4 doesn't mean they can't change at 7 or 11, or occasionally in between, if a flair,for say music, means he is better suited elsewhere.

Traditional preps go up to 13+ and prepare for Common Entrance exams for secondary school entry which is whole different ball game in itself. You may also find some in the area with senior schools which have their own internal exam for progression from one to the other. However they won't necessarily prepare them for state 11+ exams or other school entrance tests at 10+, 11+ or 13+. You may wish to consider the longer term and the destinations of leavers, as to whether a specific school will meet your aspirations.

KathySeldon Wed 24-Apr-13 15:26:32

So - Dragon (£££££) is co-ed, but I can't think of others unless you head out towards Abingdon way. Then you've got Chandlings, and Our Lady's. Cokethorpe is Witney way.

Do your boys like to kick footballs? Are they physical? Why don't you chose one sporty type, and a more academic type just to cover your bases? Abingdon Prep is both academic and sporty.

Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 16:26:04

Does anyone have experience with Ferndale prep in Faringdon?

KathySeldon Wed 24-Apr-13 16:58:08

All I know is that both my dc have recently had dc join from ferndale. At least 3 families.

Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:16:07

Thanks Kathy, just to be clear, are you saying that you know of three families that have moved their children out of Ferndale and into the school where your children are?

Phoenix78 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:29:41

If so were the children at age 11 or was it earlier?

KathySeldon Wed 24-Apr-13 20:46:26

I'm afraid all were earlier than 11. I don't know the parents that well, but I do know they weren't happy with Ferndale. But, you can't please everyone all the time. I also know that people leave my ds's school because they aren't happy there either! I did think hmm as all 3 moved over within one year. Maybe someone will come along on here and defend Ferndale????
PM me if you want to.

handcream Thu 25-Apr-13 17:07:39

Are you looking to go private all the way to 18? I suspect you are and despite all the info on here I wouldnt try and organise it yourself unless you really cannot afford prep and can only pay from 11 onwards.

Certainly around here (South Bucks) it is very common to register with 2-3 schools and you are unlikely to get your registration fee back if you change your mind. Reg fees are between £100-£200.

I think its a minefield tbh. My DS's went to a well know prep school known for getting their boys into the big private boarding schools. Some parents did leave after recognising that just because you go to that school doesnt mean you will go to Eton! A good Head will guide and help you, they will know what each school is looking for. If our Head recommended a school, your son will get in. The Head recommendation to the senior school is key (you dont see it!).

Common Entrance (done at 13) is taken - very late June for a Sept entry and you only take it for ONE school.

Oxford is a fantastic area for day private schools. Lots of choice.

Timetoask Thu 25-Apr-13 18:47:45

OP, if you are not sure about affording the fees for 3 children, then I think it is best if you try to find a house in the catchment of a good state school.
My DC's prep has raised it's fees by 4.5% three years in a row!!!

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