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Pre-Prep - builds foundations or complete waste of money?

(64 Posts)
Phoenix78 Mon 27-May-13 13:29:09

I'd be interested in people's views on this as I am undecided.

I know from my own experience that I barely remember by pre-prep days other than winning an award for a poetry reading and learning how to count in French. I believe the main positive influences in shaping my character, aspirations and willingness to work hard came from prep school.

I wondered how many felt that education at ages 4 to 6/7 were key years in determining a child's blueprint.

How important is it to you and why?


Tanith Sun 09-Jun-13 19:19:33

DS is at prep school. They take children from both state infants and pre-preps. They reckon it takes around 5/6 months for the state children to catch up and everyone to be on the same level.

I'm not sure if that helps?

Vietnammark Tue 04-Jun-13 02:54:58

Really tired: they may have various reasons for coming to Vietnam to offer these scholarships, but over the years I have worked with a number of these schools and they make it clear to me that the main reason for coming to Vietnam is to get excellent students to boost their ratings.

beltsandsuspenders Mon 03-Jun-13 21:11:03

I agree rabbit - the thing is we are all coloured by views (good and bad) and have had different experiences. We will never know if it was a lot better (or not) because we won't have had the other experience.

rabbitstew Mon 03-Jun-13 17:09:14

I agree with all those who say that whether it is a waste of your money or not depends on your own very subjective opinion. If it feels right to you and you can afford it, then it isn't a waste of your money. It might well have been a waste of someone else's money, but it's self-evidently not a waste of yours. grin

ReallyTired Mon 03-Jun-13 15:41:50

"Living in Vietnam and being involved in overseas study I see the occasional UK boarding schools coming to give scholarships to Vietnamese students. The schools don't try and hide what they are doing and these are generally good schools, but not the best. "

Prehaps these schools are trying to meet their charitable aims of giving a world class education to the poor. In the UK every child has access to an education as even the state comps are better than what the rest of the world has.

Private schools have to justifiy their charitable status.

Vietnammark Mon 03-Jun-13 15:25:52

Living in Vietnam and being involved in overseas study I see the occasional UK boarding schools coming to give scholarships to Vietnamese students. The schools don't try and hide what they are doing and these are generally good schools, but not the best.

They administer tests to students and if the high scoring students pass the oral interview they will be offered anything from a 50-100% scholarship.

According to the school representatives they are doing this to raise their standings in the school tables.

I do not believe this is widely done amongst the good schools and I doubt it changes school grades that much, but it is finitely done.

Farewelltoarms Mon 03-Jun-13 11:32:05

Oh I agree, Word, it's not just about the results and you're right that the value is very dependent on an algorithm of factors. I do think Teacher's question about the entry point is interesting though as by comparing the pupils in the same school by when they went there you could possibly see some meaningful data.
For instance, UCS is pretty difficult to get into at 11 (say 250 for 25 places, though obviously those 250 would all be applying to other schools). However, there is an automatic senior school place for any boy in the juniors. And almost of all the boys in the Phoenix pre-prep get into the juniors. And there is preference given for sons of old boys for entry into this pre-prep. In other words, the process of getting into the senior school by attending the pre-prep at 4 is far less academically rigorous than doing a competitive exam at 11. My friend argues that the pre-prep and junior are so academic in their teaching that the boys who go up via this method are just as clever if not cleverer than those entering at 11.
I have absolutely no idea whether this is true, but it would be pretty easy to compare the university destinations of the two groups.

wordfactory Mon 03-Jun-13 10:20:07

farewell how much value a private school adds, is, IMVHO, impossible to calculate.

Sure, you might be able to work out how many A*s pupil x left with and compare with pupil y, but that wouold only tell you half the story, wouldn't it?

Value is far too subjective to be properly measured. It is so very personal, taking into account how much money was has to begin with, what one wants from an education, what alternatives are on offer etc etc etc...

Farewelltoarms Mon 03-Jun-13 10:11:45

I think Teacherwith2kids raises a really interesting question and one that I've never seen addressed. I have read that once you extrapolate socio-economic factors, then the gulf between private and state schools is actually much smaller than one would expect. I do always think that the sort of kids who get into Westminster/St Paul's Girls might be so bright from such motivated families that they have a 50-50 chance of getting into Oxbridge from anywhere.
On the specific question of the difference in outcomes dependent on when one enters the private sector, I can only offer one personal example. I left my state primary to go to a (not partic good) private school for y6. Most people had been there for four years and they did subjects I'd never done like French and calligraphy (!). End of term exams resulted in a class position for every subject and then one overall (urgh, not my cup of tea to do that and the fact that I can remember suggests I was a bit scarred by it). Anyway, end of first term exams, I was in the top half by not very much. Something like 17 out of 40th, I'm guessing. By the end of the year, I was 4 out of 40th (I think, long time ago!). In other words, it really didn't take long to catch up and hit my natural place.

Xenia Sun 02-Jun-13 08:29:07

I was saying the results of foreign pupils do not improve private school results materially as most children in private schools are not boarding so the foreigner results are neither here nor there. There is one girls' boarding school in the top 20 schools - I think - Wycombe Abbey - 11th

I just think it is a red herring to say private schools do better as they take a lot of overseas pupils.

goinggetstough Sun 02-Jun-13 08:12:58

I agree with HG there are not loads of army children in all boarding schools. DCs in any school come from a cross section of families with many different issues. Plus military DCs don't bring down the results due to being the DC of military personnel!
Back to the original OP... we moved around a lot when our DCs were of this age. We used pre preps and they gave our DCs small classes which helped with the constant moves.

happygardening Sun 02-Jun-13 07:58:10

Really there are not loads of army children in every boarding school because many don't offer an armed services reduction. IME the main reason why boarding children are anxious is because they're parents are going through an acrimonious divorce.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 22:41:14

Hmm. Xenia, could you suggest some girls' schools, which include boarding, outside London that you would not describe as mediocre? Or do you believe that all of them are? I cannot think of any, even the most prestigious, that do not have a substantial body of overseas students - and while I do believe that they are cash cows, I do not believe that all lower the academic standard. Even in my day - and that was when many Hong Kong Chinese were establishing toeholds of residence in the UK prior to handover to China - the girls from the Far East contributed very significantly to the results of many girls' schools.

Happymum22 Sat 01-Jun-13 22:18:26

My children all went to private schools from Reception. But it was a a time we were living somewhere with all fairly poor state options.
Nowadays, if I could send DC to a great infant school then possible move them, I may do. I think at that stage the most important thing is the parents attitude to education. You set your expectations to your child and I really believe that makes all the difference.
DC went to all through academic schools and the children joining at 11 from state (admittedly many fantastic state schools and a fair amount of tutoring) all fitted in fine, had just as strong work ethics and went on to do brilliant universities. Others who went right through the school from reception, left at 16 and are now not in such great positions or enthusiastic about education.
I really think it depends on the child and parents so much.
My DC thrived in academic environments where trying hard and being ambitious was the norm (but also a lot of fun and some amazing friendships) from an early age. They made good foundations and I do think it makes a difference at age 8, but whether at age 11 there is a difference between those who have been in prep from 4 and those who joined at 8, I am unsure.

ReallyTired Sat 01-Jun-13 22:15:31

I imagine that boarding schools have a lot of army children who may have issues that affect their academic results. (Ie. anxieties that Daddy may well be blown up in Afghanistan or have been in loads of different state primaries before being sent ot boarding school.)

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 22:05:21

On the basis many of these overseas pupils are usually not the brightest int he school but they are filling up places otherwise no one would take in mediocre schools and are a cash cow I would imagine they lower results not raise them particularly as the children are struggling with language issues but I might be wrong.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 17:35:10

Xenia, that's not what I mean in this particular case, though I agree that it does not shed much light on the 'length of time in private school - adds additional benefit or not?' debate..

I was pondering more about how the results of overseas pupils influence the position of individual private schools on local league tables, and their wider reputation.

I agree that in London, the 'big name' private schools are day schools - this is not the case where I live, where off the top of my head I name only one private secondary (certainly only one anywhere near the top 30 or so schools in the local league tables) without a boarding element. the others, through my observation, are possibly c.15-20% from overseas, in one case possibly more - and the latter, with an international reputation, is the only one that does better than the local comp.

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 17:19:22

Yes, but even if the boarding schools were stuffed to the gills with overseas students as it is such a small % of private school children at boarding schools it would mean that the overseas element is not what makes the exam results so stunning. In fact with a few rare exceptions in the best schools those boarding schools with high numbers from overseas are the ones with falling numbers and which you would be best to avoid. I think some boarding schools has an unofficial % limit.

Post private school pupils are not in boarding schools.

happygardening Sat 01-Jun-13 11:15:40

teacher I believe about 12% of boys at Winchester come from overseas. The head vision for Winchester is to turn in into an "international academic centre of excellence".

happygardening Sat 01-Jun-13 11:14:12

We have lots of friends who didn't send their children to pre preps just used local schools often not rated ofstead "outstanding", they moved onto boarding preps at yr 3 the parents took the view that any problems/gaps will be sorted out by the prep school thats what your paying a ridiculous sums of money for. Nearly all have gone to very selective top independent schools including two who got the KS into Eton so obviously didn't do them any harm.
I'm not fully signed up to this get them reading writing math thing at 3 yrs old. DS2 didn't start school till yr 1 and its certainly not had a detrimental effect on his ability especially for math.

teacherwith2kids Sat 01-Jun-13 10:35:58

They may not be all that selective, but they probably include a fair handful of 'well-known names', especially outside London. I think that many of the remain all-girls' borading schools - CLC, Roedean etc - rely quite heavily on overseas boarders, and would be interested to know the proportion of overseas pupils at e.g. Oundle, Rugby etc, or even Eton and Winchester.

Not something that I have researched in detail, so I am quite prepared to be told that all those contain very few overseas pupils. I appreciate that the situation is very different in London.

wordfactory Sat 01-Jun-13 09:55:36

Overseas students are concentrated in pockets. Schools that offer termly boarding. Not many left and not all that selective.

Xenia Sat 01-Jun-13 08:19:48

Most private schools are not bioarding schools and the day private schools have very very few overseas students. I cannot think of a single one in the classes when my older children were at Habs, NLCS, MTS so surely most of the private school results are not good because they have 30% Chinese in the class. I don't think over seas students warp figures therefore and in fact I'd always assumed the overseas ones tended to do worse in the boarding sector than native speakers and schools with a lot of them were schools that could not fill their UK places because there was not that much competition for entry and the school was not that good. Of course a school with the odd Arabian prince is a different - I mean boarding schools with 20 - 30% of all pupils boarding from overseas.

teacherwith2kids Fri 31-May-13 23:31:58

Further comment to Karlos - because Iam genuinely sorry that the use of broad statistics in a post has caused an individual pain.

In my classes - which have contained up to 40% of children on the SEN regsiter - every child is an individual. I know that the child with severe mental retardation caused by an unknown genetic disease has very different needs from the child with pathalogical demand avoidance, from the child with foetal alcohol syndrome and from the child with acute visual tracking issues. I know the barriers to making progress that each og those children has, and in conunction with support staff, SENCo and external agencies do my absolute utmost to enable every child to make the progress they are capable of - because although statistics like SATs are used to 'benchmark', what really matters is the progress made by each individual child every day. For one child, that progress might be recognising the first letter of their name. For another, it might be finding an environment in which it is possible to show their true mathematical ability without experiencing distress from auditory or visual stimuli.

But on a general statistical level, having 10 or 12 such children in a class of 30 makes reaching specific test benchmarks a harder job than it is in a class where there are virtually none and many children have tutors outside school to hasten their academic progress...

JoyMachine Fri 31-May-13 23:18:16

I don't have any research specific to independent schools... however, I know (from having analysed 45,000 children's end of key stage assessments) that changing schools has a negative impact on attainment, indeed, the larger the number of changes, the worse children perform (in relation to prior attainment).

If you cannot afford to remain in the independent sector (at least until 11) then I would hesitate from going into independent at 4.

It really depends on the schools available to you- there is no blanket statement that applies across the UK.

I do believe the first 7 years of life are the most important though.

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