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Can you help me sort out my muddled thinking re DS and private senior school entry?

(41 Posts)
schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 09:12:00

He is in year 5. Bright, scientific, good at maths but has a processing issue which means he is not great at English and unlikely ever to be great at English. Gets full extra time. A very charming interesting kid who will interview well - bit of a tendency to be the class clown and maybe not maturing as quickly as others. Current school love him.

Currently at private day school which goes up to year 6 near oxford. Usual exit at 11+ is to MCS and Abingdon with a few to OLA, cokethorpe or other preps for yrs 7and 8.

They say if he gets into Abingdon at 11+ he will do v well there but needs a good day and a good English paper. Borderline.

Otherwise we send him to eg summerfields dragon or cothill to prepare for 13+.

So I'm thinking about 13+ schools to get my ducks in a row. He was put down for Radley at birth so has a place there. I guess that is aspiration all depending on how he matures over the next couple of years. We have close connections with Rugby so he is registered there- I'm guessing that is a pretty safe bet that he will get in there. Both have no pre-test which is helpful as he will be focussing on 11+. Safety choice - school suggested Stowe, I think not. St Edwards? Any others I should think of which are within an hour of oxford and do not involve Catholicism in any shape or form?

Your thoughts much appreciated on all of it - including whether trying for Abingdon at 11+ Followed by a panicked move is the right approach or whether we should bin ideas of 11+ and move him to a prep for 13+ now. In which case Abingdon would probably displace Radley as the aspiration all choice....

Many thanks!

ATrueBeliever Wed 12-Mar-14 09:26:44

I think that you have to look at it as an either/or decision. You won't be doing the best by your son if you have to parachute him into a 13+ school next year after "failing" his 11+, and in any event you have to be in the right frame of mind for any year 6 pretest required for 13+.

I would first have one more chat to your prep head, preferably making sure that you have all of his CAT results etc, and then go and talk to the head at Abingdon. With CAT scores in hand she'll probably be able to tell you how risky he is for 11+ After that talk (which could happen in the next fews weeks), you should then make a decision as to whether to go full steam ahead for 11+, but do watch out for the pretest dates too.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 09:31:23

I've seen his CAT results which are 120 something for maths and 106 for English...

English is the problem.

Yes maybe I should talk to Abingdon...

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 16:15:48

Bump for the afternoon crowd, all thought gratefully received!

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 21:41:35

Nobody else? Sigh...

DizzIzz Wed 12-Mar-14 21:54:21

I would consider trying for the 11+ at Abingdon , not that it helps much but there will be others who do not make it on the day. Would it be an option to get him some English private tuition in the meanwhile?

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 21:59:46

Yes I think I might look into that. My concern is that it is difficult to let him know that he needs to work really hard to get in while also being able to say "oh well it doesn't matter" if he doesn't. But I guess that's a tightrope we can manage...

summerends Wed 12-Mar-14 22:19:34

Why is Radley aspirational? If he has a chance for Abingdon does he not have the same level of chance for Radley? They must be very used to boys who are weaker at English as I was told some boys just do English language rather than language and literature.
The other possibility would be decide to move him to year 7 and 8 prep any way and delay pretests for entry into year 9 so that he and you have a bit longer to see what will suit him best and it is not a 'we will move you if you don't get into Abingdon'.

DizzIzz Wed 12-Mar-14 22:20:40

It is, I have had work colleagues where 1 child got in to the school and then 2 years later their brother didn't, it's really tough.

My own DD went to a very good girls school from age 4 and was probably average in that environment, however within a stones throw was the leading girls school if you like. DD decided herself in Y6 that she wanted to try for it and I truly believed she would not pass the entrance exam sufficiently to gain a place. I prepared her for this as best as I could but she proved me wrong and she never looked back.

If I had played a safe game I would never have even thought of looking at the more academic school.

If he fails but has good parental support then he will move on.

happygardening Wed 12-Mar-14 22:25:00

Radley as you said is becoming increasingly selective, I thought Rugby is also becoming more selective ok neither are MCS or Abingdon but I've heard it's definitely upping the anti but I could be wrong. You mention St Edwards doesn't it meet your criteria? A much nicer school than Stowe, no Catholicism (I'm with you on that one) lots of full boarders and plenty to suit all.
Bradfield not a million miles away, a nice happy school according to friends but only weekly boarding.
Friends looked at Bloxham and Cokethorpe felt that both were a waste of money. What about the Cheltenham schools Dean Close and Cheltenham College don't know much about them but might be worth a look.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 22:26:34

That's really good to hear DizzIzz. You are quite right - he won't get in if he doesn't try.
Summer ends - I guess I'm saying Radley would be aspiration all if he had already failed to get into Abingdon because I think of them as pretty similar entrance thresholds. That might not be right though - I find it difficult to really know who might get in where! Do you have any sense of it? That's v interesting about the Eng Lang though, gives me hope.

The benefits of Radley Rugby and St Edwards is that none of them have pre-tests...

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 22:32:04

Hi happy. My husbands family is very closely connected with Rugby school so I'm hoping they might feel obliged to take him grin. You never can tell though! St Edwards would be more for if he didn't want to board - he could be a day boy (although the hours are horrendous).
I know you are a st edwards fan. I know nothing about Bradfield - I'll have a look. I really think Bloxham and Cokethorpe would be wrong. I'm put off by Cheltenham as I child I know killed himself there for reasons which arguably are connected with a lack of care. Is Dean Close boarding?

summerends Wed 12-Mar-14 22:36:05

It sounds as though your only option at 11 is Abingdon but if he moved to the Dragon or Summer Fields he would have the option of Abingdon for year 9 (pretest year 7) plus the others and you would also get sound advice about which of the schools would suit him best.

happygardening Wed 12-Mar-14 22:54:59

Don't know much about Dean Close frankly but I think there are boarders. Other alternatives Dauntsey well regarded by locals not smart like Marlborough, opposite direction Wycliffe again well regarded by locals I've heard. For preps for 13+ what about Beaudesert, Dragon Summerfield all send their pupils to a wide range of schools.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Wed 12-Mar-14 23:27:17

Yes the decision is whether to move him to a prep for 13+ now and not bother with 11+ at all or try for Abingdon at 11+ and move him if that doesn't work. The head thinks we should go with the latter as he may well get in. If we get him some English tutoring and get him to give it his best shot whilst making it clear the world will not end if he doesn't get in then at least we will have tried and that's the way I'm inclining at the moment. Not least because his brother is at Abingdon and loves it and I would much rather we had him as a day boy there than board elsewhere. He is more likely to get into a Abingdon at 11+ than 13+ when it is more competitive.

We are looking at Cothill next week - should probably look at summerfields too. I'm a bit worried he might get lost in the middle of his peer group at the Dragon if he is only there for 2 years but I guess. I should look.

Happy Dauntseys is I agree a good school but prob takes at a similar level to St Edwards, no? I'd probably prefer him to be closer to home than in Devizes...

happygardening Wed 12-Mar-14 23:42:31

St Edwards is probably a similar level to Dauntsey but I suspect St Eds has a more varied and dare I say it interesting in take, Dauntsey is a bit of a hike from Oxford, I've never looked at it but all the parents I've met there really talk highly of it.
Quite a few of my friends have DC's in their last few years at Dragon they all seem very happy there and loth to leave many want to find a senior school "like Dragon" its a big prep but none report their children getting lost.

summerends Thu 13-Mar-14 06:25:53

From what I've heard about the Dragon, it remains an exciting school to be at in the top two years and joiners don't get lost at all although some wish they had joined earlier for other reasons.
Going back to one of the original suggestions why don't you have a meeting with the Abingdon head of admissions (or head) armed with your DS's info and ask her frank advice about your DS's chances of admission at year 7 or year 9. Are year 9 admissions more competitive or are they just more geared for prep school preparation rather than state primary schools?

happygardening Thu 13-Mar-14 06:51:22

From what I've heard (all anecdotal) MCS and Abingdon were enormously over subscribed this year and many excellent candidates didn't get it. These then applied to Cokethorpe this has had a knock on effect for the less academic whose first choice was Cokethorpe they are now having to find an alternative because the head admits he's selecting on a academic criteria only. Could be rubbish but 2/3 friends have independently told me the same story, their not overly academic children can't get a place at Cokethorpe and so their looking at Kingham Hill/Bloxham.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Thu 13-Mar-14 09:09:28

At 11+ this year Abingdon raised the bar considerably and didn't even offer interviews to children who were subsequently offered places at MCS, INCLUDING some with older siblings at Ab where Ab was their 1st choice. I can't think of another year in the last 5 years where MCS offered a number of places to kids rejected by Abingdon. This year was particularly large and boy-heavy locally and it may be that Abingdon just misjudged it. I'm hopeful the bar will come down a bit next year but who knows...

Amongst those boys who didn't get either (or who only sat for an not MCS and didn't get it) the more popular and dare I say intelligent choice seemed to be Leckford Place rather than Cokethorpe. Again that is a change - Leckford seems to be doing v well at the moment. Junior part if d'oeverbroeks.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Thu 13-Mar-14 09:12:00

So maybe I should look at Leckford. Except my DS is v sporty and energetic and it is a city school. But worth a look perhaps...

nibs777 Thu 13-Mar-14 09:36:42

Be careful OP in assuming that entry at 11 is easier than 13...I don't think it is, as a lot of those applying at 11 for either MCS or Abingdon would have prepped for months and both are very oversubscribed and MCS has always been very academically selective and Abingdon increasingly so.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Thu 13-Mar-14 16:17:32

That's interesting nibs. I think of 13+ as a trickier exam as it covers so much more ground but of course (a) that narrower exam is easy for everyone to prep extensively for as you say and (b) he would have more time to mature which I think he needs and (c)lots of people at 13+ are aiming at selective boarding schools.

This is driving me further towards a conversation with the ab registrar isn't it. Because the current school says "stay with us and have a go at 11+" and the prep school says "come to us ASAP and try at 13" and of course they both would say that wouldn't they!!

nibs777 Thu 13-Mar-14 16:57:51

i am not intending to worry you, I just put it there so you don't underestimate it may be narrower as a test but the competition may be just as fierce and at the end of the day it is a competitive exam is worth discussing that aspect with registrar.

nibs777 Thu 13-Mar-14 17:04:42

also don't forget that even for year 9 entry - the vast majority of academically selective schools are really now doing their selection in year 6 or 7 with a narrower pre-test of English, Maths and Reasoning, the common entrance in year 8 with its much wider range of subjects if you are going for entry into year 9 is really just a qualifying exam (with certain schools asking for higher level papers and pass marks), whereas the real competition and selection will have already been done at year 6 or 7 pre-test stage.

schoolchoicesdrivingmecrazy Thu 13-Mar-14 17:27:22

Hmm yes
So if I move him to a prep and let's say:
1. He has a place at a radley without a pretest (put down at birth)
2. He has a place at St Edwards without a pretest (they don't do one)
3. He has a place at Rugby without really a pretest just an interview
4. He fails the Abingdon pretest so that's out the window

Then how does it work? I have to nominate a 1st choice - say Radley. He sits common entrance - let's say he fails to get in. What do I do then? Do I phone Rugby and say "I know I said we wanted to go to Radley but they don't want him- will you take him please?" ? Won't they be busy sending offers to those who did put Rugby first?

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