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Interview for school (reception year)

(25 Posts)
Azure Mon 22-Mar-04 10:30:03

DH, DS and I have got our first "interview" for a private primary school on Wednesday, for entry September 2005. DS is 2.5. What on earth is the head-teacher going to ask? I would appreciate any insight, because this is all new to me.

jmg Mon 22-Mar-04 10:39:29

TBH having done a few of these I still don't think I'm any the wiser!

Part of me thought that they were selling the school to us, part of me that they were checking us out - were we the 'right' sort of parents who would take education seriously. They weren't really that interested in the children but did spend a little time chatting to them.

They were keen to know whether they were at nursery and how settled they were there - presumably to check whether they were used to being left and would settle into school ok.

Just be prepared to make lots of supportive noises - ask about the culture of the school what they think are the priorities, what do they think differentiates them from the other private/state schools locally, then nod enthusiastically when they answer!

Wish I could help more but as I said after 2 rounds of this I still haven't a clue what it was all about!

Good luck though!

Jimjams Mon 22-Mar-04 10:41:41

TBH I think they're a bit of a joke. Ds1 "passed" his at 2.5- a year later he was diagnosed with autism. He still can't talk at 4 and a half.

wilbur Mon 22-Mar-04 10:50:17

Ds (3 and a bit) just got a place at a nursery attached to a primary school (he'll go there this Sept and hopefully carry on to reception in 2005). He had an "assessment" which was basically just playing and a bit of chat with other children and staff. I was not in the room with him and it seemed they just wanted to see if he was ready for nursery school and able to concentrate a bit and be sociable. They were not interested in us as parents in the least, which I thought was good. I've not heard of people being asked to come in so early for a 2005 start, usually it's the end of Autumn Term or beginning of Spring Term when they assess for the following Sept entry. Is this just a preliminary chat and then they plan to have a more formal interview next year?

marialuisa Mon 22-Mar-04 11:14:16

Suspect this is more about whether your face will fit than your DS's. A relation looked around a very chi-chi London prepand made comments about how ridiculous the uniforms were and what was the point of french at 3. I think the head decided pretty quickly that she wasn't the sort of parent they wanted and equally she decided that it wsn't the sort of school she wanted! Have you already looked around this school? If not remember this is as much about whether you would want to send DS to the school as whether they will offer you a place. Just be prepared to seem "interested" and supportive.

sorry, not much help, DD is at the nursery attached to the private prep she will attend so we didn't have to go through this.

Azure Mon 22-Mar-04 14:03:22

Thanks for your responses. It's a new school opening in September but will be a sister to an existing school - I've been to open mornings around both places and have a good feeling about it. I would really like DS to go to the sister school, which is in walking distance to where we live, but have already been told that there is no chance he will get in, as we "only" registered him last June. As it is non-selective, I don't know why they need to see DS. I think that this is the only "interview". I shall look keen. not criticise the uniform and ask salient questions (e.g. how can parents become involved)!

marialuisa Mon 22-Mar-04 14:51:54

sounds good Azure. perhaps you can ask questons abouthow close the links to the sister school will be and so on. Defo sounds like they want tomake sure you'll be supportive parents as it's a new "branch" opening.

Good luck

janinlondon Mon 22-Mar-04 15:03:31

It seems that preps either interview the parents (non-selective) or test the kids (selective); a few do both (What do they call these?? Ultra-selective??). IME parents are interviewed to see if they seem likely to be supportive of school policies, eg: homework, uniform, discipline, etc, and to see if they have any special skills that they would bring to the school (eg: set building for school plays, editing for school newsletters etc), though I am sure there is more than an element of checking how well you will fit in with the other parents socially too. The kids exams are more complex. At four years old mine was tested to see if she could do basic addition (what is two plus two?) and subtraction (if I hold up all my fingers and take away two how many fingers am I holding up?), write her name, identify her full name from a set of name cards, including some with the same first name as hers, colour in a picture using the colours specified by the teacher, sing a song for the group, draw a picture of your family (points awarded for people with bodies, not just heads with limbs sticking out, fingers drawn on hands, eyebrows on faces etc), and assessed by a psychologist on how she played in a group when there were not quite enough toys to go around. She also had an interview in which she was asked why she wanted to come to the school (apparently because the ballet leotards are blue and she wants to join the choir and sing the song about harvest festival that she heard them sing at the open day!?!). I have since discovered that lots of parents have their kids coached to pass the tests. We were completely naive and sent her in without any idea of what was to happen, though on reflection it did mean that she had no idea any of it was a test and thought she was going there to see if SHE liked it. Of course parents have to stay outside, so it was nervewracking to say the least. Hope someone finds this useful. And please, no outraged responses! The school had hundreds of applicants and only eight places to offer, so I guess they had to choose somehow.

Batters Mon 22-Mar-04 21:12:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hulababy Mon 22-Mar-04 21:17:59

The info for DD's prep school (she will go in Sept 2006) says that the 'interview' is to assess whether she will be ready for school, and will not be an assessment of what she can and can't do. Still not sure what that means though!

Hulababy Mon 22-Mar-04 21:19:30

Same comment janinlondon - WOW! That sounds very tough. Luckily round here our prep schools are much 'nicier and gentler' to the kiddies.

ScummyMummy Mon 22-Mar-04 21:21:51

Good grief, janinlondon. I'm trying to summon up an outraged response but I'm too speechless to proceed so I'll let you off just this once.

tanzie Mon 22-Mar-04 21:22:53

Here they also interview to see if children are extrovert or introvert to get a good mix in a class.
But also sounds v similar to Jan's experience.

janinlondon Tue 23-Mar-04 12:22:31

Thanks for being gentle on me! I should add that DD told us she had had "a lovely afternoon playing" - so it didn't exactly scar her for life or anything.

Sonnet Tue 23-Mar-04 12:33:45

Only exeperience I have had was both DD's spent some time in the nursery class of their pre-prep in the January prior to them starting the following September - IYSWIM... As hulababy siad it was to "asses whether they will be ready to join this particlular class". They both enjoyed it. DD1 is now in year 2 and DD2 has just had her assesment this Jan - she keep asking when she can go back!!, has packed a litle bag all ready...and keeps getting DD1's old blazer out that I stupidly put in her waderobe....

Both DH and I had already looked around the school and had a chat with headmistress so we must have passed the parents assessment!!Good luck

Sheila Tue 23-Mar-04 13:01:34

JaninLondon - did your dd get in after all that?!

janinlondon Tue 23-Mar-04 13:29:16

Sheila, thanks for asking. Yes, she is in. And hysterically excited about it. Wants to go buy the uniform now!

Batters Tue 23-Mar-04 16:54:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Azure Wed 24-Mar-04 09:21:20

Janinlondon - well done to your DD for getting in. I never realised how difficult it would be to get a place for DS, despite being warned. I'm more nervous than for a job interview!

janinlondon Wed 24-Mar-04 12:00:59

Thanks Azure and Batters. I'd like to think we (as her parents) had something to do with the success but actually I think it was all down to her nursery, which I cannot praise highly enough, and her own doing. The number of places is further restricted in some schools (including the one we got her into) by the gender balance requirement. The co-ed schools mostly try to take 50/50 boys and girls, and if there is a nursery class already going into reception the places allocated to the newcomers may in fact be all boys or all girls just to get the balance right. So you may have a very bright child and still not get them in, just because of their gender. What a minefield!

janinlondon Wed 24-Mar-04 12:51:44

Azure - any news on the "interview" ?

Azure Thu 25-Mar-04 09:44:44

Thanks for asking Janinlondon. After all my worrying it was simply us asking the head questions rather than the other way around. DS was an absolute darling - lining up his cars on the head's desk and chatting away to her. At the end the head offered us a place! I think we were lucky in that they are keen to secure an intake for the new sister school BUT we now have a week to confirm the place with a non-refundable deposit of £1,500 (apparently a "special rate" of only half a term's fees). What on earth do we do, given that we have no idea what other offers DS may get? I really like the ethos of the school but it is more difficult for us to get to - the original is within walking distance from home and I wouldn't hesitate if our offer were for that one. I think we are going to have to accept the offer, write-off the deposit and hope DS gets a transfer to the original school. All of this energy and expense is simply because the state secondary schools (not particularly the primary / junior schools) are so bad in the area (they would be fine if DS were a girl or we were Catholic). To get DS into a decent independent school he has to go to the right junior school - what a ridiculous situation.

Marina Thu 25-Mar-04 10:01:26

Sympathies on the predicament Azure, but many congratulations to your ds . Hope you get the right solution in the end.

janinlondon Thu 25-Mar-04 12:48:17

Well done on getting an offer just like that! The deposit wheeze is a common one. In London the schools know where they stand in terms of what the parents think of them and make their offers in order accordingly - the least difficult to get into goes first, once they have their deposits the next one offers, etc etc. We lost one deposit through this system but I think there must be people who lose many - which adds up, I know. Sorry, not much help!

marialuisa Thu 25-Mar-04 13:30:26

Well, at least you'll have piece of mind that he'll have somewhere to go. IIRC the "deposit" thing is even worse at secondary level because different schools send out there offers at different times. Parents pay out a term's fees when their child is offered a place, only to find they get offered a place at first choice/preferred school 3 months later. Seems a bit of a scam, acn't see why the results can't all be given out at once, like wth common Entrance.

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