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Prep Years 7&8 or leave in Year 6?

(21 Posts)
Mumtogremlins Thu 27-Apr-17 19:55:44

I'm trying to decide whether to register for 11+ or 13+ for my son. He's currently at a prep and fairly happy with everything there. I can see the benefits of staying on and leaving so completely torn over what to do. Any opinions? My DS doesn't mind either!

LIZS Thu 27-Apr-17 20:04:01

We've done both.

How many leave/stay at 11+, will the school support preparation for 11+? Is the main intake at your destination school at y7 or y9? What different opportunities does it offer?

Does the prep follow the common entrance syllabus and ,if so, is that relevant to your destination school/s or do they pretest or use their own entrance test. Is there a large enough y7/8 cohort to make sport, drama etc viable?

happygardening Thu 27-Apr-17 20:12:08

I would have thought you decision would be totally made on the basis of the entry point for you preferred secondary schools. The schools on our radar started in yr 9 so fairly obviously we sent DS2 to a prep that went through to the end of yr 8 and prepared for the 13+.
I've never looked or considered a secondary school that starts in yr 7 or has two entry points yr 7 and yr 9 so can't comment on the advantages of them, I do like yr 9 entry, your DC is older, more independent, definitely ready to move on. But then I'm talking about boarding at both prep and secondary so maybe I have a slightly different take on things.
I'm also not sure how effective preps are that do both, 11+ preparation is different from 13+/CE prep both take up considerable lesson time and I don't think I would have wanted my DS in a prep that spent yr 5/6 preparing some of the class for the 11+ and the rest for the 13+. But again I've no experience of this.

Mumtogremlins Thu 27-Apr-17 20:33:46

The school does CE and most boys stay on, most girls leave at 11. The schools I'm looking at offer both intakes and are well prepared for both. There are just enough boys to participate in sports teams and they get a lot more 'perks' in those years I guess.

ChocolateWombat Thu 27-Apr-17 20:58:19

One thing that might be relevant in your area, as it is in mine, is that more schools that previously just took at 13+ have started taking at 11+ too, leaving fewer places for 13+ candidates.
Does the school you are considering offer the chance to pre-test at 11+ for 13+ entry? Again, it is increasingly popular round here and is meaning that by the time pupils are in Yr8, there aren't many places left for those who didn't pre-test at 11. Pre-testing is in some way the best of both worlds - you get the exams out of the way, have a secure place (schools are increasingly not relying on CE or abandoning altogether) and still get all the benefits of being the big fish in he small pond in Yrs 7 and 8. However, downsides are that you do have to effectively do 11+ prep which doesn't work for those who need an extra couple of years to mature.

I know there are some traditional public boarding schools who only take in at 13, but apart from those, I think the 13+ intake is dwindling and over the next 10 years a number of Preps will have to have an 11+ end, because they simply can't keep enough students to 13. In an increasingly competitive school market (from a school point of view) they are desperate to attract candidates of a good calibre and would often rather have them for 7 years of fees rather than 5 and ensure they have them, rather than they change their minds between 11 and 13, so offer more places at 11 leaving less at 13. This then drives more parents to apply for 11+ to be sure of a place....and it's a bit of a spiral. I think prep schools which don't send large no.s to boarding schools will struggle to keep going to 13.

happygardening Thu 27-Apr-17 21:07:28

I think I would look into the numbers applying/places in yr 7 and yr 9 and see if one is harder to get into than the other and also I think I would want my DC to start when the majority started. Having "just enough" boys to participate in sports teams has its advantages if your DC isn't brilliant at sport he still gets a chance but it does mean that they may not win against big schools with lots to choose from this could be frustrating for a very good/keen sportsman. I think your right they do get extra perks in the last two years, and more responsibility which again is good for boys who often mature later.

LIZS Thu 27-Apr-17 21:08:14

Don't just take the prep school's word for it though. Our experience was that the focus was on retaining pupils and preparing for year 9 transfer , with relatively little attention paid to those taking 11+, despite what we had been told. The relatively cheaper fees are an incentive. Many dc soon outgrow prep school and find year 8 dull, with lots of revision and past paper practice rather than much that s new. It suited ds to stay but we were relieved to move dd sooner. Recently locally there seems to have been more movement at 11+ , with secondaries adding a form, and this has had a knock on effect on slightly fewer places being available at 13+.

happygardening Thu 27-Apr-17 21:14:18

Wombat is making interesting points, I agree bar a relative handful of big name boarding schools who simply don't have the space, infra structure, tradition or financial need to start at yr 7 I suspect most are going to move over to 11+ entry in the future. Preps might find this easier as generally 11+ doesn't include a reasonably high level French and Latin unlike CE, or a geography field trip/write up therefore so reduce the need to teach these subjects in depth and more importantly find staff to teach them.

4448daybreak Thu 27-Apr-17 22:04:31

Just to add that The Mall Prep school in Twickenham (boys only) announced this week that the current Year 4 class will leave at the end of Year 6 in 2019 and it will become an 11plus school only. This is after consultation with the local senior schools who are increasing 11plus places due to demand and also parental demand wanting the grammar school option.

Mumtogremlins Thu 27-Apr-17 22:19:53

4448daybreak - that's really interesting. I guess CE only exists due to tradition and it is a right pain and makes it so complicated, particularly for boys.
Most of the schools I'm looking at that have intakes at both, have about two-thirds come in at 11, the other third at 13. I'm also looking at an 11 intake only school. My DS isn't that sporty so would get more opportunities to participate, and other responsibilities. But then I'd like him to leave and make friends quicker. I also know that current Year 8s are now quite desperate to move on and are bored of CE preparation!

Michaelahpurple Thu 27-Apr-17 22:29:58

Putting in a word for 13+, I wonder whether it isn't coincidence that girls traditionally change school at 11+, when most are cussing puberty, and that boys tend to hit this point at year 8/9.

I have a year 6 boy who looks just as he did at year 4, and my Noe year 9 was the same. I can't imagine moving my little one from prep now. But I know that during year 8 by eldest transformed as was really ready to move then

But a lot of it has to depend on strategy and your target schools.

ChocolateWombat Fri 28-Apr-17 08:38:27

In our area, the 13+ Preps are abandoning CE and have developed a new curriculum for Yr7 and 8 with the secondary schools support and input.
In reality, our local secondaries haven't used CE to determine entry for a long time. They set their own exams and offer based on them, either at 11 for deferred entry or at 13. The CE seems to have been used to keep the students focused in Yr 7 and 8 and whilst secondaries have marked it and the kids have been told by Prep schools it will be used for setting purposes, it rarely is, because little setting actually happens anyway, apart from in maths and perhaps languages.
The Prep said that CE had really become a bit outdated. It was very content rather than skills heavy and didn't always prepare for the way students are taught at secondary level. Their new curriculums apparently keep the best bits of CE content but add in more skills. The secondaries are very supportive of it.
I know not all schools are abandoning CE, but again this is probably a trend and it is one which doesn't really help 13+ schools, although it is their attempt to modernise, which is needed. It means they become less distinctive from other schools. For some it might mean less coverage of Latin or less use of specialist teachers, especially amongst the smaller schools.

My question, is what does the future hold. I absolutely agree that the big name public boarding schools often only take in at 13, but they are a relatively small number compared to all schools and take a small percentage overall of the children. Will it be that a small number of 13+ preps survive and kids who want the big name boarding schools have to go to those, with families relocating, or all of those Preps becoming boarding, because every area won't be able to support one and they will have to take children from a wider and wider geographical area. Will there come a point where the big names start to take at 11 too? That maybe further off or not happen, but I think that in 10 years time there will be fewer 13+ prep schools and more secondaries taking all or a bigger proportion of their intakes at 11. And that might mean that the teaching of Latin and use of specialist teachers from Yr3 or Yr5 is reduced, which would be a real shame.

ChocolateWombat Fri 28-Apr-17 08:45:12

Final thought, I think the trend towards more pupils changing at 11 is a shame in lots of ways. I think it is driven by the secondaries, but will be a loss for many children and prep schools.
There are certainly lots of benefits of staying in Prep to 13. The leadership opportunities and service opportunities seem to provide a real boost and benefit to many children who then start secondary much more mature. Having Yr 7 and 8 also provides something. Different for all the younger children too, in the way having a 6th Form does at secondary level. These would be real losses if most prep schools drop yr 7 and 8.
However parents understandably weigh those benefits against having certainty of a secondary place at a good school. The feeling of being in yr 7 or 8 and not having done deferred entry, knowing there are very few places left at the secondary of choice because they took an extra class at 11 for that year group due to lots of great candidates who would serve the school results well and pay for 7 years, isn't an easy position for parents or children. And at the end of the day, I think that wins over the benefits of staying in prep for many, and the critical mass needed to make it work can be lost, or is swimming against the tide and will be increasingly difficult.

LIZS Fri 28-Apr-17 08:53:23

Chocolate Wombat, I think I may know the school/s you refer to and if so this is something that was under review and indeed was almost abandoned CE about 10 years ago but at the last minute they retained it to cater for the occasional child heading to traditional boarding schools. Has it had a new head in past 2 years? Even in the last few years compulsory Latin has been superseded by Spanish. However at 13+ it is already deemed too late to take up some languages for gcse by some secondaries. Ds had done 3 years of Latin to CE by the time he moved at 13 and still had catching up to do.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Fri 28-Apr-17 13:14:56

Interesting about The Mall but looking at their leavers it is only 1 or 2 a year going on to boarding schools, their main senior schools are Hampton,St Pauls and King college - unsurprisingly for where they are based so 11+ may make sense for them. I would be very surprised if any of the other local preps more popular with the very wealthy where boarding is more common followed suit.
Kings College changed their intake recently to mostly 11+ directly into the senior school which means that boys from 13+ preps can apply and they are doing so, they were previously unable to as ther was an agreement with the IAPS schools that the junior school wouldn't take their pupils early. I have never believed any of the waffle about doing this to increase access, they did it to increase total fee revenue which will affect the local 13+ preps if they lose pupils. Kings have obviously now got empty classrooms as a result of of their huge spending spree on new buildings so it makes sense for them to fill them with Y7 & 8s, the least needy of any school years, no exams etc.
DS hated CE and Y8 but it saved him for GCSEs, he did nothing for 2 years at school but at least had a very solid base from which to build when he finally did sit down to work. I am not sure he would have got anywhere near the GCSE results he did unless he had been so focused on CE in Y8 and was taught so well in such a small class. Swings and roundabouts, but if I had my time again I would pay happily pay for prep but not so bothered about senior school.

happygardening Fri 28-Apr-17 14:35:01

I cant see the likes of Eton Harrow and Win Coll changing their entry point, they dont have the physical infrastructure to expand by over a third, or the ethos looking after 11/12 year olds full time in a boarding school living along side 17/18 year old often with very limited supervision is different from looking after 13/14 year olds. Many boarding schools who start at 11 often have the younger ones in a separate boarding house this would completely change the ethos of schools like Eton Harrow et al.
My DH went to the Mall what happens to those heading of to SPS will they join Collett Court or junior SPS or whatever it's called.

AuntPol Sat 29-Apr-17 08:11:26

I think a lot of it depends on when the schools that you are thinking of have their main intake.

Where we are, the main intake is at 11+, with only relatively few places at 13+. Our 11+ tutor said that she would never recommend waiting for the 13+ here for that reason, and also because the exams have so much more content - you have to sit a science and MFL paper, not just English, maths & VR.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Sat 29-Apr-17 12:35:32

Interestingly, Happyg, St Pauls seem to be trying to drop the Colet Court and have had a bit of rebranding as St Pauls Juniors, which makes more sense now they are all on the same campus. But yes you are right because like WUS and KCJS the boys in the junior school will have to pass a transition exam to pass on to the senior school. The 11+ entry to Kings is different because boys are going directly into the senior school which will run alongside KCJS for years 7&8 and theoritically do not have to pass any further exams. In DS's time the entry number at 11+ was very small, about 18, amd they had lost half of them by Y9 so we'll see how that works out.

prettybaubles Sat 29-Apr-17 21:58:12

We have the same decision to make. My DS is very happy at his current school and I can see many benefits to him staying and moving at 13. However the prep school has a top set in years 7 and 8 which comprises of the select few who seem to get all the attention and interesting trips etc, and everyone else just plods on with CE prep. Whilst the head acknowledges many schools are moving away from CE, they still seem to just focus on this for everyone else. This isn't the education I want for him and it will be frustrating. The school seems to be slow to change.

The additional issue for us is that we won't be looking at boarding schools, this narrows the field considerably for us. My current thoughts are that I will apply to the (very popular and highly thought of) comp near us and put DS forward for the year 6 exam for our preferred day school. If he fails to get in then we have the option of a second bite at the cherry. That said I am not keen to move to a state school at year 9.

It's very difficult.

Emilie1 Sun 14-May-17 22:00:51


Could anyone recommend an English and Math tutor for Hampton School?

Please feel free to PM me.

Thank you very much


Daisymay2 Sun 14-May-17 22:14:58

Our preferred senior school took most at year 7 with smaller intake at year 9. Although the prep school went to CEwe moved both for year 7, despite ds1 being put into the scholarship set. I was pleased when I went to pick up ds1 one day early in year 9 and saw the others from his prep huddled together as a group and not fully mixing with the rest of year
It got better but starting year 9 when the others had been together for 2 years, done weeks away on outdoor activities and really gelled was difficult.

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