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Moving from prep school to senior school: year 7 or year 9?

(25 Posts)
TuttiFrutti Sun 06-Sep-15 07:55:58

The senior school we like best takes entry at both points, but which is best?

I can see that ds would benefit from being a big fish in a small pond if he stays on, maybe being a prefect and having extra responsibilities. On the other hand, he will have to do Common Entrance. Also, there may be a risk that when he arrives aged 13, the friendship groups have already formed and he has problems getting integrated socially.

Have other people been through this? What did you decide and why?

shushpenfold Sun 06-Sep-15 08:05:33

I've done different things with 2 of my 3 dc, due to moving house/job. DS moved from prep at 13 and yes, he LOVED his final years at prep, did really well, confidence soared (which he needed) etc, etc but CE is a pain in the arse if you don't need to do it and you do appear to spend all of the last year doing exams, fussing over no extra work, just revising. At his new school he has made loads of friends, although he's not the sort to have close friendships and I suspect this hasn't been helped by the rest of the group having known each other, in many cases since age 4!! I think for him though it was probably the right way around, although it would have been good to just get on with his work from age 11, instead of faffing with CE. My DD moved at 11 and she utterly hated leaving her friends for the final 2 yrs, was really, really sad and we had tears for most of the first term. She however has grown up so fast into the senior school vibe and her work has just blossomed as a result. She always worked hard but she's just decided that it's the place for her and she's now flying academically AND has some lovely friends as a result, whilst keeping in touch with her old ones (I've gone out of my way to get her back to where we lived before at holiday helped, as long as not too often) We're now in Y2 of the move and they're all completely different people....totally settled and very, very happy.

I don't think I've helped here as even after doing it in both ways, I still don't know which is better. Go with your gut. x

LIZS Sun 06-Sep-15 08:20:16

We've also done both. You need to find out how large the intake is at each point, and number of girls to boys. If 13+ is a minority integration can be difficult. It helps if they have a particular strength such as sport or music to focus on but if they then knock another out of the team that can cause friction. At 13+ they have to hit the ground running academically as sets and choices for GCSEs are made within a term or two.

shushpenfold Sun 06-Sep-15 08:40:53

Oh, forgot to say, be prepared for many others to leave at 11 even if your ds does stay on. If we had stayed at my dd's prep, she would have lost 2/3 of her girlfriends as they moved early.

PandasRock Sun 06-Sep-15 09:40:52

Watching with interest, as we will be facing this in a couple of years time.

Dd2 is currently adamant she wants to stay for the last 2 years of her prep. I can see her point (and remember leaving my prep 'early' and how I missed being the top,ofnthe school) but I'm not convinced she would hit the ground running if she moves at 13+, and it is close to option time etc.

It's so hard.

I'm off to a school's fair next weekend (feels bonkers as dd2 is just going into yr4! But fair is every 2 years, so next one would run when she is entering yr6, which feels too late if she is going to enter secondary at yr7) and will try to get a feel for our various preferred choices entry points - how many at each stage, difference in entry exams etc.

trinity0097 Sun 06-Sep-15 18:51:56

The rigor of common entrance is excellent preparation for future exams, when it reality the results are not critical if something does go wrong, but gets your child into the concept of serious study etc...

I work in a school that loses at 11 and 13 and gains at both. I think the kids who leave at 13 (or stay with us) are more emotionally ready for a move, somehow 11 is a difficult age when children are just starting to become mini adults and need some security.

We had a child leave at 11 and come back to the 2nd term of yr 8, having moved to a senior school that took at 11 and 13, on return he told us that he had learnt nearly nothing as the work didn't progress him from where he was at 11 until he came back to us.

TuttiFrutti Sun 06-Sep-15 22:23:09

Thanks for your messages everyone, it is really helpful to hear some past experiences. Keep them coming if anyone has any more...

happygardening Mon 07-Sep-15 07:44:41

When do most leave you're prep? At DS's prep nearly all stayed till 13 one or two left at 11 it wasn't a natural leaving point. Also our old prep didn't really give exam support etc for those leaving at 11 because the whole curriculum was geared up for those leaving at 13.
How long has he been there if from reception do you think he's ready for a change?
How big is your prep school?
From my experience by 11 many children are starting to grow out of their prep schools particularly if it's a small prep either in terms of buildings or pupil numbers. DS's went to a small (in terms of numbers) boarding prep the head (who I haven't got a lot of time for) admitted he treated them all like they were 10 year old, the good thing is that many are really are ready to go by 13 as they have grown out of it and desperate to get into a more grown up environment but mature children could find this irritating and very stifling. My DS was unhappy in his last two years at prep having previously been happy, he's was very mature and the general ethos (he felt it was petty and too many rules) got him down, I'm not sure I would have moved him to a senior school I couldn't anyway as his started at yr 9 but perhaps a larger less stifling prep would have suited him better.

LaVolcan Mon 07-Sep-15 11:19:57

Could you look at this from the other end? At what age do most prep school boys join the senior schools you are looking at? Is the 11+ intake mostly from state schools and the prep school boys mostly join at 13+?

Duckdeamon Mon 07-Sep-15 11:21:37

I would look at the number of places at each age / odds of getting in!

Have heard that CE is a right PITA for everyone. And that lots leave preps at 11.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 07-Sep-15 11:30:57

Ours stayed until 13 partially because the senior school was quite a lot further away and wanted to keep travel distance shorter, and also for Saturday school to start later.

In terms of friendship groups, this hasnt been an issue, they've all slotted straight in.

They all got a bit bored with Year 8 at prep school as is was repetively involved with going over Common Entrance papers. About half from the prep school go to a major local public school, although our DSes didnt, so there was pressure to get high CE marks. But that was the only negative from our point of view.

TuttiFrutti Mon 07-Sep-15 20:54:31

Happygardening (love the name btw), quite a few leave the prep school at 11 but most stay till 13.

LaVolcan, the senior school has about 50:50 joining at 11 and 13. So that doesn't help much with our decision.

I am worried about CE being a real PITA as you say Duckdeamon! lthough I suppose the other side of the coin is that there is the opportunity to be a prefect/head boy/captain of sports teams if you stay on.

Decisions, decisions...

happygardening Tue 08-Sep-15 00:03:19

Yr 8 can be very tedious especially if your not doing CE or its equivalent. Good preps will spend most of yr 8 revising and going over CE papers I think it's quite a pressurised year if your DS isn't sitting CE then I guess it might be a good idea to avoid it.

TuttiFrutti Tue 08-Sep-15 07:06:31

Well ds would be sitting CE if he stays on, it's more a question of whether that is a good idea. He will have to sit an entrance exam and interview in January (it's the same exam for entrants at 11 and 13), but if he doesn't go till 13, they also require CE. It's a relatively low pass mark needed, so in a sense it's just rubber stamping, but still it's another lot of exams.

surreygoldfish Tue 08-Sep-15 07:59:55

We've done both - from the same prep to the same senior school. Like you with pre-test being the major hurdle at 11 but with a high CE threshold too. I thought CE would be a real PITA but went pretty smoothly and really didn't feel different to other end of year exams. Main issue is being ready to leave before end of year 8... really enjoyed year 7 but all felt small by year 8. Transition to senior smooth at either although advantage at 13 is that the extra travelling etc is all a bit easier to deal with.

Fridayschild Sun 13-Sep-15 07:36:40

Echo views re size of prep school - DS1 really growing out of a small school by end of y6. We moved him to a larger prep....

I assume your child is a boy? At the larger (mixed) prep we had 4 girls out of 40 in y7. They all left at the end of y7.

Capewrath Sun 13-Sep-15 08:08:45

Boarding or non at senior school?

How many come in at each point? If only a few at year 9' prob go for year 7. But if equal, I'd go for year 9 unless exceptionally mature. The year 9 boys just seem to cope do much better than the year 7 ones in dc's school. That extra two years maturity is important.

KingscoteStaff Sun 13-Sep-15 09:53:17

Well, I am in the interesting situation of doing both this September!

Both my DC were at the same prep. DS has just left at 13+, DD has just left at 11+.

For DS, staying on for 7 and 8 and going down the CE route was a huge success. Yes, CE is demanding, but they are working with teachers who know them (and their weaknesses) really well. The CE curriculum moves them on in their learning, compared to some of DS's friends, who moved at 11+ and have spent most of Years 7 and 8 marking time while other children caught up. If your DS has already started French and Latin, they may well have to start again from scratch. One boy told me that he had learnt no new Latin or French during Year 7 and 8 at his new school. In his case, the feeling of being on pause while other boys caught up caused him to be bored and led to problems with behaviour. If the boys move in Year 9, they have all covered the CE curriculum, so are more likely to be of the same level. Even if they aren't, setting is likely to go straight into place as they start the GCSE curriculum.

Pastorally, I think Yr 7 and 8 at a (biggish) prep school are fantastic. Whether they are head boy or Library prefect or cricket captain or head of house, teachers try to find a position of responsibility for every child. It is a great chance for them to try out leadership with support behind them - teachers who have known boys since reception are really keen for Year 8 boys to spread their wings, whereas if they were right at the bottom of a big school, they might feel more squashed.

This of course comes with caveats. If the prep school is small, your 12 year old boy might find that the sport or the music might not be extensive enough. DS had 30 boys in his year group for 7 and 8, but we still found that he needed club rugby and cricket at the weekend. I also looked for a larger local youth orchestra.

Finally, DS was going on to a pre test school, so we were confidentish that he would end up with a place at the end of Yr 8. I can see that if you are not so confident, and you are offered a Year 7 place, it would be very tempting to go for the 'bird in the hand'!

DD, on the other hand, was going to a school where only a handful of girls enter at Year 9. Although we would have loved her to benefit from the responsibilities and privileges at the top of her prep school, we felt that it would be tricky for her arriving 2 years after major friendships had been formed. I'm still not sure this was the right decision, but we will see. Looking at them both this weekend, the 11 year old is certainly finding the transition to 'big school' a lot more demanding than the 13 year old.

Good luck!

TuttiFrutti Tue 15-Sep-15 19:36:23

Just wanted to say thank you everyone for your messages.

We are now veering more towards entry in year 7, having spoken to two lots of friends who have done both with different children. Their views can be summarised as "Get them embedded as soon as you can at the senior school so they can hit the ground running when it comes to GCSE work" and "Do anything to avoid Common Entrance!"

But I can still see the advantages of the pastoral side of staying on at the prep school, as you say Kingscote.

So no decision yet, but plenty of food for thought...

ChocolateWombat Wed 16-Sep-15 19:45:55

I think the key is to work out which school your child will go to next, before making the decision. Then have your child start the new school at the age most start the school.
For girls this will usually be 11 and for boys there is more of a mix.

My DH works in a school which takes in at 11 and 13. This year he says 120 started at 11 and 25 at 13 -and only 2 of the 25 13+ starters were girls. Personally I wouldn't be keen for my girl to be one of only 2 new ones into an established group of 60+ girls.

I think one reason many keep their children in Prep longer is because the fees are less. It is a fair point, but not enough to mean the children have a harder entry later.

Personally I think the future for the majority of schools will be at 11. Unless your child is going to a traditional boarding school which starts at 13 (usually boys) then 11 is usually better. Many of the day schools are taking more and more at 11 and only maintain a 13+ intake to keep in with the Preps that go to 13 and not upset them - and these are more and more doing pre-testing at 11 for 13+ entry to secure the candidates.

viewwater Wed 16-Sep-15 22:16:12

I would find out from parents of DCs in year 7 and 8 of your prep whether the DCs feel a little stifled and whether year 8 is mainly spent revising for CE rather than being academically stretched. If the answers suggest either of those then move for year 7. My DS had a fantastic time academically and socially in his last two years of a large prep. However I have heard of less positive experiences at other preps including some largish ones.
The argument for 'embedding' earlier pwould n't be the decider for me. They have year 9 to settle in when doing 13+ entry and are usually relatively keen as new boys so tend to perhaps put more effort in year 9 than boys who have already had a couple of years from starting at year 7.

Gruach Wed 16-Sep-15 22:48:50

Not quite sure how this tilts the argument but, speaking to a teenager tonight who spent yr8 working fantastically hard in the scholarship stream of a very successful prep, it transpires that so far he's finding the yr 9 work at public school relatively less taxing. Lots of it but not "hard" - so he has the mental space for new friendships and new adventures. (But there was no 11+ option so everyone goes at 13+.)

ChocolateWombat Thu 17-Sep-15 07:44:41

Once you've chosen your secondary school, perhaps it would be good to speak to any children or parents of children already there - some who went at 11 and some at 13 (assuming they take both) to see what they think the pros and cons of both are.
It can be very easy to think more about the younger years and what will be easier etc at 11 and 12 (because of course the decision is made in the younger years) rather than thinking about the impact the choice might have from 13-18.

One thing that is nice in my DHs school is that often boys from the same Prep end up together again at 13, even though some are new starters then and others have been around for 2 years - they often stay firm friends all the way through. Perhaps the TOTAL numbers going to a school, as well as the exact entry point is relevant too. Of course, being the only one to go somewhere isn't an issue for most and they quickly make friends, especially if part of a large group of joiners.

ajandjjmum Thu 17-Sep-15 07:58:54

Depends on the child.

DS was pretty immature at 11, and had a further year and a half of being class clown at his prep school! He seemed to switch on to the importance of work in his final year, and the senior school he went to let him take their entrance exam in the Jan/Feb and offered him a place based on that, rather than waiting for CE.

He joined his senior school as a more mature person, with no baggage, and went on to thrive.

roguedad Sat 19-Sep-15 07:13:39

Yes - it does depend on the child, and also on the environment at the junior school. We faced such a choice with our son, with his junior school being part of a school running all the way from 4-18, and he was well used to being around older kids and in a large-ish environment. So the move at 11 worked well for him. I know parents who have made the decision the other way round because of their perception of maturity issues. Other factors can come into play as well - in our case the senior school offered a more flexible extra-curricular program - more music, wider range of sports options, so we were keen to get him into that rather than remain in a place with rather fewer options (rugby or rugby in term 1). I'm not sure there is a single one-size-fits-all answer to the OP question - depends a lot on several factors in my view.

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