primary education and destination schools(10 Posts)
Hi, I am new to the forum, also fairly new to the education system here. I appreciate if someone could give me some general guidance.
My son is just over one year old and I begin to consider which school he would go to in a couple of year. I am a bit confused of the system though, as different school offers education for children at different age. To this, I mean, for example, the state primary school is 3-11, while some of the private ones are 2-7 and others are 4-13 or 5-13.
My first question is whether children in these schools continue to different types of schools, as the leaving age is different? What kind of school one can end up if the primary ends at 7 yr?
Secondly, if my son goes to a state school, does he have a chance to continue to a private secondary school and vice versa?
In state schools, children legally need to start year 1 aged 5 in September. However, children can all start school for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) aged 4 in September. Most children start school at this age. Some schools have nurseries/preschools attached for 3 and sometimes 2 year olds which you will have to pay for (though you may qualify for some free hours), so children don't start 'school' under 4, but they may start a nursery attached to a school aged 2/4, if you see what I mean.
Private schools are a bit confusing, so I will let someone who knows more about the system than me explain that, but I do know for sure that private secondaries do not (or at least, should not) discriminate against children from state schools, even if the start/end times do not match up, you can apply for him to join the new intakes when they come around.
The system in England is confusing because there are so many types of schools in the state system and private schools too. There are a lot of different admission policies too as much of is set by the school (within certain guidelines).
There are some primary schools that have strong connections and links with secondary schools, but it is rare that this is set in stone.
It is very possible to start in the state system and move to the private system. Each private school will have it's own admission policy and intake years, but you will often see private schools testing children for 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+. There are countless thread on these forums about this .... its bewildering and often intimidating.
What you really need to find, and you will, is a local parent who is open minded, doesn't have a political axe to grind and can give you a rationale explanation of the local choices.
If you want to say where in the world, UK, England etc you are looking you might get more specific advice here.
One good place to start is your local authority website. They will have a Education section and probably a parents guidebook to nursuries and primary schools in their borough. Some boroughs also list the private ones.
AvocadoLime and MN164 thank you both for the information. The system is complicated so I am trying to get my head around it.
AvocadoLime, if I opt for a state school, do I have to register twice with the council? That is once for nursery before 3 and another for primary before 5? Also what's the option of a state secondary education? I know grammar schools are generally good. Any other choices?
MN164 you mentioned that private schools are testing children at all those years. But will a private prep school offers more targeting tutoring than a state school, which increase the chance of getting in a good private?
I currently lives in swiss cottage area. I wonder if anyone can recommend good primary schools around this area.
I think it is fair to say that if you start at a private prep school then a) your child will have passed some sort of assessment so will already be more likely to pass entrance tests later on and b) the school will help your child progress to the senior school(s).
However, in my opinion, there is a lot of undue fear that state primary isn't good enough from private or grammar secondary. State primaries can (and do) an excellent job of teaching the national curriculum. They will not help you with entrance exams to private schools or grammar schools. So you will need to take on that limited work yourself (or get a tutor to help).
I would urge you to keep an open mind and to see as many schools as you can and talk to as many parents as you can before jumping to any conclusions or dismissing certain choices.
Finally, in addition to the local authority school information go to your local library and look at a copy of the Good School Guide. It doesn't matter much if its a couple of year old. It will give you an idea, albeit in a kind of sycophantic pinch of salt way, about private schools in your area.
Also, use this website to get started on a list.
The thing it took me a while to understand fully is that (for boys: for girls it's a bit different again, and mixed schools are a mixture) there are actually two different kinds of independent school system, not just one. Everything I say here is an over-simplification (there are exceptions to everything) but still, I think a useful one.
1) Independent prep school, always called that, to age 13, then independent senior school (including the so-called public schools) from age 13. (Some prep schools start at age 7-8; "pre-prep" schools teach children younger than that; many prep schools take children from 4 or for nursery from 3 now, sometimes calling the younger years the pre-prep department.) Boarding schools at any stage are almost always in this group. Transfer from prep to senior school is done using the Common Entrance set of exams, which determines much of the prep schools' syllabuses. Hardly any pupils from such a prep school go on to state senior schools, and while the senior schools often have an alternative to Common Entrance for pupils coming in from the state system, in practice that's rare.
2) Independent primary, sometimes called prep, to age 11, then independent senior school from age 11. This system fits much more easily with the state system and it's much commoner for pupils to swap sectors at 11. Usually admission to the senior schools is done in a way that doesn't depend so much on what syllabus has been done, e.g., it may include only maths, English and reasoning (e.g. VR and NVR, often similar to the 11+ exams that remain in some of the state sector). The schools concerned are almost always day schools and often cheaper than the day schools in the other independent system. Typically classes are a bit larger. Many of the independent senior schools in this group are former direct grant schools.
As I said that's an over-simplification! For example, many of the senior schools that take from 11 also have an intake at 13. It's worth thinking at least a little about the whole plan, not just about the best first school for your child, though. We sent our DS to a type 1) prep school, guessing that we'd probably want him to go on to a particular type 2) senior school. Once we were in the system, it became clear that that school wasn't a usual destination senior from the prep, and increasingly, that that plan didn't make much sense. Either we'd have been pulling him out of a prep school he was very happy in and looking forward to being one of the oldest in, to have him join the senior school at the normal point, or we'd have been hoping the senior school had a place for him at 13 where they didn't normally have an intake. It's worked out fine for us because as we learned more about the schools that were options we decided we preferred him to go to a type 1) senior school anyway (hence my nn), but if we'd been really set on our originally intended senior school, it'd've been a bit of a problem.
FutureBoardingParent Thank you. Your explanation makes things much more comprehensive for me. I guess the sensible thing to do is first decide what kind of senior destination school that we would like DS to go to. Then going one step back and see which schools feed into this destination school.
For state primary schools the first year is called reception. Children start school the September after their 4th birthday and you apply through the LEA in the January of that year.
If the school take pupils from aged 3 then it must have a nursery/pre-school class. You will need to check with your LEA, but in my area you apply directly to the nursery and having a place in the nursery class doesn't guarantee that your child will have a reception place at the same school ( other children who live closer than you may be given places).
In my area nursery classes have a staggered intake where children start just after their 3rd birthday (i.e. the beginning of term after this birthday).
You need to apply approx 1 year before they would be due to start so I would make this my top priority.
Some pre-schools and nurseries say they take children from 2 years upwards but for a private school this would probably mean that children would start either the beginning of the school year where they would turn 3 or just before their 3rd birthday. My child started aged 2 years 10 months for example.
I would have a flexible plan at this stage and consider both state and independent schools. After all your circumstances may change e.g. if you have other children and it is hard to tell at this age which school would be best for your child. Some all boys schools, for example, have a strong emphasis on sport so would not suit a non-sporty boy.
Hope this helps with your search.
One possibility in your area is the Chalcot Montessori School - the parents I know are generally happy with it.
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