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Help Please? Anyone's D got into Haberdashers or NLCS at 4+?

(447 Posts)
funkychic Mon 11-Dec-06 15:42:41

My D is will be going for the 4+ 'play group' asesssment at Habs and NLCS. I'm desparate to know what they ask them to do. Really need advise from all mums whose child are already in these schools. Pleeeeeeaaaassse help!!!

Judy1234 Mon 11-Dec-06 16:27:35

Perhaps see my article on the Selective Junior schools thread.
My daughtesr are 22 and 20 and went to Habs and NLCS at 4 and 7 so that is not really very up to date. I know those schools used to take them in at 7 and found they could judge IQ equally as well at 5 which surprised them. They had a session in a group and if they passed that a one to one interview. Asked to kick a ball in one to one one (well known test for co-ordination). I suppose they assess whether the child can talk, look you in the eye, concentrate, sit still or whether they'd be a pain in the neck in a class. I think they picked out name cards. Daughter 2 who didn't get into Habs at 5 they couldn't find a book she couldn't read at 4 and daughter 1 who got in didn't really get started with reading until she was six so I don't think learned ability is what they're after.

In the group play I think they watch them play. See how they interact with others. Perhaps check if they can holdca pencil. Know which way a book goes up - that you read from front to back. May be pick out their own name written down although my daughter couldn't. The one that got into Habs at 4 had been at a Montessori nursery school. She's very outgoing and quite clever but is a bit dyslexic. Even at university she gets extra time. She would definitely sparkle in a group. Her sister who didn't get in was much shyer at 3 but she got into NLCS at 7. A lot of luck too because a lot of the girls assessed will have equally as high an IQ.

funkychic Mon 11-Dec-06 17:08:12

Xiena, again many thanks for the information you have provided. Really helpful. I have found for some reason most of the mums whose daugthers got in usually don't want to give out any information - it's all a closely garded secret!!!

Really appreciate your help and comments.

Judy1234 Mon 11-Dec-06 17:39:10

It's probably because the children can't remember what happened in there. I think psychologists know what sorts of things help you assess potential of children and raw IQ at that age. Preusmably you try to weed anyone out with ADD signs because they're not very easy to have in a class. You probably don't want someone who has bad hand and eye co-orindation and can't sit still (mind you my eldest at 3 couldn't sit still). Some schools like a mix of noisy and quiet children. I thought daughter 2 didn't get into Habs that day because triplet girls did get in and got 3 places but who knows. At Habs they were given a book to read although it didn't matter if they could read or not, as I said the one who didn't get in was the one reading early.

If I was assessing I'd probably also look for brightness of eye, a child who can listen, a child who understands what is said to them, picks up on a point quickly. I suspect they are given puzzles to do like jig saws and probably some drawing so may pay to know how to hold a pencil.

hidingmum Tue 12-Dec-06 10:00:35

I've changed my name because I don't want to be recognised, but fwiw my dd is in y3 at NLCS. She started in September, having sat the 7+ assessment, but I know quite a few of the mums whose dds started in the First School at 4+.
Jokingly a few of them have said they're glad their children didn't have to do the 7+, as the 4+ didn't seem to stress them at all. Then they told me more ! Things like co-operation, co-ordination (eg how they hold scissors/colouring pencils etc), how they cope generally in a group and how they relate to adults, will be gently assessed. You'll be aware of course it's a group thing, and like Xenia said I get the impression they're after a mix of types at NLCS. Certainly watching the girls, some of dd's new friends who came through the First School are very extrovert and confident, and some are quiet and more reserved. I've had both sorts back to play. I'd confirm too they DEFINITELY don't need to show reading ability.

I'm meeting up with some of the mums later for a night out, so I will do lots of quizzing and get back to you tomorrow or Thursday.

funkychic Tue 12-Dec-06 10:24:22

Dearest Hidingmum - I really could kiss you!!!

Thank you soo much for the information. You must be soo proud of your DD - getting in at 7+ is amazing given they only take a handful.

My DD is very confident and of course I think she's a little genius (like all mums). She is however an August born which makes her really young. I've been told there are roughly 200 applicants this year for only 40 places which seems a statistical nightmare for an August born. This is why I need all the information possible to give her that extra edge.

I am not a pushy mum, but she showed soo much interest in books at a very young age that infact she is now reading stage 1 of the Oxford reading tree (the kipper stories).

Please also advise - would you suggest getting a tutor? I know it may sound ludicrous to ask, and the schools say they can spot a child who has been 'coached' and positively advise against it. Funnily enough the two girls I know that got into NLCS from my DD nursery DID infact get tutors to coach their daugthers. SO I am in two minds.

Would soo much appreciate your view on this and also please don't forget to let me know what the other mums said in your coffee morning.

Thanks again.!!

frogs Tue 12-Dec-06 11:29:02

funkychic, I know they allow for age (ie for autumn vs summerborn children) at 7+ and at 11+, so I'm sure they do so at 4+. In other words being August-born shouldn't disadvantage your child. My dd1 is summer-born and was offered 7+ places at City of London girls' and South Hampstead, which are pretty much the same territory as Habs and NLCS. She was (and still is, actually) in the state system and definitely hadn't been tutored for the exams.

My nephew went through the north London boys' prep school admissions mill last year. FWIW one of the tasks was for the children to thread beads against a timer, presumably to weed out dyspraxic tendencies. Drawing various shapes (circle, triangle etc) to order has also featured, as has writing their name.

The schools should know what they're looking for, and should be capable of spotting it. Having said that, the head of a local (academically v. successful and non-selective) prep school told me that they are regularly approached by parents looking for entry at 7+ whose children have been accepted by the highly selective schools at 4+, but then found to not quite measure up. Apparently she tells them to go back to the schools, ask for a copy of the special needs policy, point out that they selected the child at 4, and ask how they plan to support her.

Personally I'm not big on the whole selective system. We're probably going to put dd2 in for the 4+ assessments at SHHS and Channing, as we're planning a house move and I want to have fallback options incase we're not in the right catchment area at the right time. But it's not going to be my first choice, and I definitely won't tutor.

funkychic Tue 12-Dec-06 11:44:12

Frogs, Thanks for your contribution, I note your comments with great interest.

By the way how old was your nephew? I'm assuming he was also 4+.

The reason I was concerned about my DD's birthday is because as I mentioned she is August born and so not even 4 yet. When I went to look round NLCS the youngest birthday date I saw in the receptioin class was March. You will agree that developmentally, there is a difference from what a March child can do to what a to an August child can do, and a whole year between those who turned 4 in September. I really do hope they take this into account.

I wish you all the best with your house move and hope your DD gets the school of your choice.

hidingmum Tue 12-Dec-06 14:07:06

Funkychic I'll hopefully be able to tell you more tomorrow...I'm a bit shocked the mums you met haven't been able/willing to give you more of a lowdown given that their dds are in as it were. Though Xenia's point about the girls' own recollections or lack of them, given their age could, to be fair, have a bearing too.

I didn't tutor my dd, though I did have to do some (mainly oral) times tables with her beyond what she was covering at her last school, in order to cover the outline "syllabus" as provided on a sheet of paper by NLCS (you'll have seen the one I mean!).
I'll ask the mums whether anyone tutored for 4+, but I can't guarantee you I'll get a straight answer...certainly some of dds ex First School friends were at pre preps before their 4+, - so perhaps more of a fast pace/tutor like vibe there (?) and some at gentler nurseries. What I'm interested in for you is whether any of the First School girls don't make it through to the Junior School at age 7; will try to find out. Maybe Xenia knows ? You wouldn't want your dd to get in, only to find a highish number of year 2 girls being asked to go elsewhere rather than on to the Junior School.

I'd say please don't tutor your dd, even though I take on board your concerns about the August birthday issue. I note from my dds year 3 list of 2 classes, there are quite a few July and August birthdays, some of whom i know for sure were at the First School. In fact a parent at one of the Open Days last Autumn, prior to dds assessment, raised this very issue, and was told they take full account of it.

It's possible to tutor a child to get into these schools I'm sure, but I'm equally sure they wouldn't keep up if they weren't supposed to be there, iyswim. I haven't (yet) any tales of woe re the First School, but have heard from other parents about the occasional child who leaves the Junior School after, say, a term because she can't cope, or who struggles on for longer, only to be told around year 5 that she's unlikely to make it to the Senior School. Often these poor girls have been over tutored to get in, and a short time later it all falls apart.

But hey, enough of this ! Most people love the school, and it's an unparalleled experience for the right girl. My dd is ecstatically happy and thriving. Will post again tomorrow.

Judy1234 Tue 12-Dec-06 17:47:26

I don't think there's a mass clear out at 7 of ones who got in who shoudln't. My daughter got in a year young at 4 (doubt they allow that now) (Sept birthday) and did stay down a year age 6 so ended up the right age - that was Habs. We were given a lot of warning she may not pass at 11 so sat her for other schools (although she did stay and pass). The school were very good about it. The head of juniors even gave her special spelling sessions one to one (she is slightly dyslexic and did much better in the senior school).

I don't know much about NLCS first school because when my daughter got in at 7 that was when the school started. There were no earlier years. She also tried for a rare occasional place at Habs at 7 and didn't get it but got into NLCS.

On coaching - why not? Most parents find children concentrate better with a stranger for an hour a week just practising papers. Children tend to behave better. We did for that daughter who got in at 7 get her some coaching. It wasn't pressured but it helped. I also spent a lot of time with her learning times tables and reading. We had a commute to school/work together so we used to sit on the tube and do it. It was quite fun. But none of that helps if the child isn't really likely to thrive at that school anyway. It's not a guarantee.

funkychic Tue 12-Dec-06 18:17:01

Xiena, I was wondering about coaching / tutoring for the 4+.

I've been given the number of a lady who apparently tutors girls to get into NLCS at 4+. Not sure what she can teach my child that I can't, but call it fluke or coincidence, the two people who I know got their daugthers at 4+ last year used this tutor.

Naturally, I feel my DD is capable of doing well however, I would be tempted to 'coach' if this particular tutor has some particular knowledge or skill she can impart in my daughter.

So what d'ya think? - Go for it or not bother?!!

Judy1234 Tue 12-Dec-06 19:58:27

Nothing to lose (except a bit of money) and looking at the end product like my daughter and her friends at 18 years old the girls are great. But I don't know what coaching at 4 consists of. She might give a few ideas like helping them to look at the person interviewing them, learning how to pick out their name, just general tips.

funkychic Sun 17-Dec-06 20:01:27

Dear Hidingmum, Wondering if you managed to extract anymore information from the 'mothers in the know?'


hidingmum Sun 17-Dec-06 20:44:37

I know I know I said I'd post earlier...but kiddie illness has prevented..sorry.

No real extra surprises, except all (well a poll of 4) said that the assessments (x2) were thorough but, they felt, fair in that the teachers tried to let every little girl show what she could do, rather than try to catch her out on things she couldn't iyswim. Also ,no interviews for parents which imo is a healthy thing.

alexw Sun 17-Dec-06 20:51:26

Hi, am a teacher at NLCS... Definitely looking at socialisation skills and potential (eg, spatial awareness, vocab etc..) They're not expected to read and are generally looking for teachability and whether they would be happy. HTH
Don't waste money on tutor - you'll be paying enough in fees if she gets in!!!!!!!!!

alexw Sun 17-Dec-06 20:51:29

Hi, am a teacher at NLCS... Definitely looking at socialisation skills and potential (eg, spatial awareness, vocab etc..) They're not expected to read and are generally looking for teachability and whether they would be happy. HTH
Don't waste money on tutor - you'll be paying enough in fees if she gets in!!!!!!!!!

funkychic Mon 18-Dec-06 10:07:10

Dear Hidingmum, once again thanks for your contribution, and hope your DD feels better, last thing you need in the run up to Christmas.

Dear AlexW, as you're a teacher in NLCS can I please ask if in your honest opinion those born in July/August get an honest look in, and whether the assessors take this into account? There is virtually almost a year's differnt in an September to August born and I am not sure this is seriously factored in.

Please reassure me or am I waisting my time?!!!!

alexw Mon 18-Dec-06 13:24:25

Age is factored in and allowances made. You're not wasting your time at all.

funkychic Mon 18-Dec-06 17:56:16

alexw. Thanks for your response. I am greatly reassured!

I've decided also not to bother tutoring. As desparate as I am for her to get into NLCS (cos i happen to think she'll thrive there), if she does get in I will always wonder if she did it on her own ability/merits or whether it was the tutoring.

However, what has become stark and frigtenly apparent to me is that the whole thing is by no means a level playing field. There are lots of parents who DO tutor and would go to any length and this is soo annoying when you here their daughters were selected!

I think I'll just adopt the attitide that if she gets in fantastic - if she doesn't that's fine also.

rinol Wed 20-Dec-06 19:09:14

My daughter got into Habs at 4+,she is now 7 and absolutely loves it.At that age she was able to write her name,colour quite well and also read a little.She was read a story and tested on comprehension.I did no extra work with her.I have found out that in her class, 90% have birthdays by march and very few in the summer.Good luck!I'm sure your daughter will be fine.

Judy1234 Sat 23-Dec-06 21:59:54

I never considered tutoring at 4. If you feel you don't want to leave any stone unturned and would kick yourself for not doing it then do it but I don't think there's much you can learn then. My daughter who got into Habs at 4 she had just been to a normal Montessori nursery school and couldn't read anything at that age. The one who went to NLCS at 7 I thought it did help practising some papers etc with a tutor as we both worked full time and it helped make sure there was some time to get a bit of preparation work done but she may well have got in anyway then.

I also think it's important you don't let it matter to you too much. Things usually work out okay in the end. When our daughter 2 didn't get into Habs following her sister it seemed very upsetting. In fact she cried not that I think we'd put any pressure on her and she seemed at that agethe cleverest child in the family but she got into NLCS at 7 and they've really enjoyed being at separate schools throughout so actually that was a benefit not that we thought so at the time.

miljee Wed 27-Dec-06 21:00:52

Been following this thread with a bit of interest - partly, I have to confess because the whole thing is SO beyond my experience. Selection at 4? Tutoring? However, and here I must quote:

"However, what has become stark and frigtenly apparent to me is that the whole thing is by no means a level playing field. There are lots of parents who DO tutor and would go to any length and this is soo annoying when you here their daughters were selected!"

- one has to put this into perspective. It's a lot more annoying when your local, close to home STATE school is filled with children from nice, wealthy middle class children from up to 20 miles away having been privately prepped and tutored to get in! At least- as it would appear to me if you're even LOOKING at the likes of H-A or North London you have options. SOmetimes, with our little darlings, for our sakes and mainly THEIRS we have to take a step back and chill a bit. School choice at 4 isn't the be-all and end-all. It's a part of a journey they will ultimatley make themselves.

nothercules Wed 27-Dec-06 21:11:55

Sorry nothing constructive to add but complete that you would consider getting a tutor for a 4 year old! The world has gone mad

Aloha Wed 27-Dec-06 21:16:43

This sort of thing is what I find so offensive and revolting about public schools tbh. My son is one of the cleverest, nicest children you could ever meet. He also has dyspraxia and Aspergers. He can't kick a ball at five (so what? David Beckham can kick a ball brilliantly and is a complete idiot in every way). He's funny, imaginative, very clever, but would never pass these kind of tests. I find it utterly repellent that people actually seek out schools that so carefully screen out people who are very slightly different. What does that do to people? It cannot ever be healthy.

nothercules Wed 27-Dec-06 21:19:23

Not one of the kids where I teach would get in - special needs school. Someone I knew sent their child to a private school rather than ds's school as they found out there were 3 kids there with special needs going into his class and they were concerned for their own kids education.

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