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Prep for whitgift school

(12 Posts)
Teachmum1 Fri 04-Mar-16 22:52:43

Hi there,

Looking for advise really. I am thinking about Whitgift for DS, he is a sporty boy, playing football at Academy level and cricket with local team. He is overall very sporty, chosen to represent his school in Athletics, table tennis and of course captain of the football team. He is a great mathematician working at above age expected level and the same in reading. He is good at written english but can rush and makes some little errors - usually silly spelling (teachers view) but is still working securely in age expected.

We are a working class family who have no idea about private/grammar schooling so really do not know how to prepare for the application/interview etc... Any advise would be HIGHLY appreciated!!!

MumztheW0rd Sun 06-Mar-16 09:30:30

Whitgift is a great school and like all rounded boys that want to have a go at lots of things, sport, music, drama and to keep up their academic work. The staff are very dedicated to the school, work long hours, have been there many years and are excellent at keeping in touch if you have any concerns by email. That has been our experience so far. The entry process is tough, 2 exams for grammar school entry, exams, sports assessment days for scholarship, drama, music auditions then interviews for the boys and parents. But it has been absolutely worth it. In the first year they give a free term of music lessons and now my son plays an orchestral instrument, taking his first exam soon. In year 6 and 7 the lunch break is extra long so they can eat first and then try one of the many (200?) clubs on offer. My son took up a new sport in one of these lunch time clubs and recently archieved a medal at an Independent schools championship. The drama productions there are outstanding, seriously on par with the west end, open to everyone who wants to get involved and are in conjunction with local girl schools. My advice is do it all- see ALL the schools and do the grammar exams, private exams and state school entry forms. The school has example exam papers on their web site so you can see what they will expect. The whole process is long haul but then when you have the choices, and you know which school feels right, it will be worth it.

Teachmum1 Sun 06-Mar-16 10:39:26

Thank you very much for your detailed response. It is great to hear your personal experience with the school. My son liked the school as did we on our visit last year but for us this process is very new. How would you suggest we prepare for it all? Do you have any tips on how to support him for the interview as he can be a little shy but will come alive when taking about his passion- sport!

beyondbelief Sun 06-Mar-16 13:17:36

Hi OP. Ds went to Whitgift from a state primary and I had no experience of the process either. He had a tutor for an hour a week for a few months leading up to the exam just to help him a bit with his maths, which was his slightly poorer subject. We also did Bond books and practice papers. Tried to make it fun, offer treats and rewards etc - the worst thing you can do is turn it into a chore!

Whilst the school has very good results academically, and boys are expected to work hard, the entrance exam is probably less rigorous than the local grammars. Your son sounds as if he would do fine, although it's always worth investing a bit of time into exam technique at the very least.

The interview is usually pretty laid back. The teachers are very used to getting the best out of nervous boys, so I honestly wouldn't worry too much on that front. They will ask him about his interests etc and why he wants to join the school - rarely anything too taxing! You will be interviewed as well but again it's usually more of an opportunity for or you to ask questions rather than a grilling grin

If he plays football at academy level would you consider entering him for a sports scholarship? They are very competitive but no harm in trying.

Have a look at the past threads on Whitgift/Trinity entrance process - plenty of info and angst there! It's a great school with many, many amazing opportunities for boys; ds is very happy there.

Teachmum1 Sun 06-Mar-16 13:41:25

Thanks! It really is great to hear that we are not alone with being unaware of this process. I have contacted a couple of possible tutors for our son but so support his English a little and build up his confidence. Will defo look to get some past papers and bond books to help- will ensure it is kept fun otherwise he will shut down confused. We will prob try for the scholarship, as you say no harm in trying. Glad to hear another happy child who is enjoying the school and having fun along the way. Thanks again for your detail response it really is helping smile

Teachmum1 Sun 20-Mar-16 19:56:51

Does anyone know if you need to prepare a portfolio? If so, what kind of thing do you need to include? any advice would be truly appreciated smile

SAHDthatsall Sun 20-Mar-16 20:51:19

You need to check on their attitude towards academy footballers as some schools are not as keen on them as you might expect! Mainly because they are unable to represent the school at the sport that much given their academy commitments. Also looking forwards if they manage to stay in the academy then often they are expected to be released one day a week to spend at the academy - something which some schools won't allow. A friend at Chelski had to rule out a couple of schools because of this.

Teachmum1 Sun 20-Mar-16 21:05:58

Absolutely! From what I have read about Whitgift, they seem to have a high number of academy players which is a positive for us I suppose smile

Ladymuck Mon 21-Mar-16 09:16:31

On the sports side, then it is worth looking at the sports application form
So you need to start thinking in advance who you will approach for testimonials. Bear in mind that almost every prep school boy will be in a local rugby or cricket team, so Whitgift will be looking for something more than just enthusiasm. Worth recording any particular statistics eg number of runs in league matches, bowling stats etc, to be able to distinguish your son from the masses applying.

Do try to get your son onto as many of the Whitgift sports courses as possible. Their April soccer course is for boys aged 7-12, and they usually have a 4 day sports course in July. I see they are holding their science taster courses in July this year, so again worth going. When you come to fill in the Whitgift application they ask how often you have visited the school, and use this information to attempt to differentiate between parents who are keen on the schools and those making speculative or back-up attempts. So make sure that you attend the open morning, and also ask to go on one of their tours during the normal school day.

It is worth spending time on the English, and in particular on the VR as Whitgift have tended to view that a good showing in the VR is a good sign of potential in a pupil. What age group are you going for?
Plenty of academy players at Whitgift, and they quote their Chelsea links prominently enough!
Good luck!

Teachmum1 Mon 21-Mar-16 12:14:38

Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your advice- completely appreciated! We are looking at 11+ as our son was not ready for the change just yet. I have lined up his academy manager, who said he would be honoured to write a testimonial and of course the head of sports at school has also offered to write one. Do you think I need to get one from his cricket coach too?

Ladymuck Mon 21-Mar-16 12:43:22

Certainly I would get one written - whether I'd submit it of course depends on what it says! Even if it is not his main sport, it all helps build a picture of his skills, fitness and dedication overall. For the coming athletics season I'd make a note of his best times/distances etc. I don't think you have to go as far as a separate portfolio - there is plenty of space on the applications, but they'll be interested in comparing factual data as far as possible.I though that I had read somewhere that of their 750 or so applicants, around 250 had applied for the sports scholarships. Not all get invited for assessment, so you just want it to be clear from the form that he is a serious candidate. There will be a number of applicants who just apply on a scattergun approach.

Certainly if the sports department want him, and his maths is strong, then it is worth being familiar with the types of English that Whitgift test (50 minute essay, English SPAG paper and VR paper - standard form, and tricky to do in time allowed). He doesn't need to be exceptional to pass the entrance test, and they do look at the boy from an overall perspective to see how he would get on in the school.

Teachmum1 Tue 22-Mar-16 17:47:22

Perfect! Well I have downloaded the sample papers and will get working on those. Have recently approached a possible tutor, just to work on his English for a bit, but he is actually quite good with English to, just maths is his strong point! Thanks again all smile

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