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Summer term at prep school- is it common for the children to do nothing?

(20 Posts)
Vco001 Wed 31-May-17 14:54:21

Hello-
We have been in London for only two years so I am a newbie at English prep schools. I have a child in year 6 in a SW London Prep school. She did her 11+ in Jan and has been accepted into her first choice school (yay!). I am shocked, though, by how little her school has done academically after Jan. To make matters worse, we just received a message from her school that lessons are pretty much done for the year, no homework, and the focus is completely focused on the school play. The email contained a few websites that the children could log onto and work on if they choose. So far, we have been very happy with the education at this school. However, my daughter is going to an academically competitive school and I don't want her to fall into the "summer slump" with no academics over the next few months. Before I make a big deal about this to the school, is this the norm at other prep schools around London? What do other schools do for the summer term? We have the school play, the PGL trip, sports day and that's about it. I feel like I should have sent her to Sauvetrre or another program which is similar in which she would at least be learning another language. I am very curious to know how other schools operate. Thanks in advance!

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 31-May-17 17:29:36

I assume you mean the final half term rather than since Easter. Yes the last month of year 6/8 (depending when they are about to move schools) tends to be plays, trips, sports day, sports tournaments, activities week etc.

sysysysref Wed 31-May-17 17:32:04

Yup totally standard. School play, lots of sports, a couple of outings, a residential and next to no work. Rather than being concerned I'm delighted that they're getting a chance to really enjoy themselves and chill out after 11+ before the hard work really begins.

4448daybreak Wed 31-May-17 18:03:56

Yes totally normal, your dd has worked so hard earlier in the school year and this is the reward.

PettsWoodParadise Wed 31-May-17 20:13:11

Yep, very normal. We home educated DD for last term of Y6 and she got to do loads of things you can't do in a classroom. She was ready to move on, some of her classmates were staying onto the senior school but she was heading off to another school (her first choice too). She went back for the end of year party and the parents whose DCs weren't staying on all said how little school work was done that term and the play had taken up most of the curriculum.

CountryCaterpillar Wed 31-May-17 20:16:08

Working together on a summer play after years of school together and before going their separate ways seems a really good and memorial way to end school to me.

LIZS Wed 31-May-17 20:21:20

Is this a school which finishes at 11 or do some stay until 13? It is common for the second half of term to wind down after internal exams. Common Entrance exams (year 8) are early June so schools often try to keep younger years occupied while they take place with trips and activities, sports day etc. Presumably you will on,y have 4-5 weeks to go.

caroldecker Wed 31-May-17 20:42:52

Another one who took them out of school for the summer term.

jeanne16 Thu 01-Jun-17 08:27:13

The private schools my DCs went to certainly worked up to the May half term. They then had school exams shortly after the May half term. They did nothing much after that. However I would be shocked if they had done nothing since Easter.

intuition Thu 01-Jun-17 09:01:37

There is a lot to be learnt from preparing for a school play. Don't dismiss the other ways kids learn. After all that is usually why we choose private education, for the added value and extra opportunities. Chill, she's got into the school you want. Let her relax and enjoy this term

AnotherNewt Thu 01-Jun-17 09:07:31

Yes, normal.

Intensive production of a play is educational in itself, and suspending lessons for that happens frequently.

Teachers get the chance, on days when there are lessons, to teach things that they are passionate about (rather than following a curriculum) and they can be some of the best and most memorable lessons in a whole school career.

Most parents like the removal of the narrow focus on academics. But if it doesn't suit you, just grit your teeth that it's only for a few weeks, and book a tutor if you want an academic programme to continue for DD (no need to stop in the holidays, as this bothers you).

The wind down can be a bit of a bugger if your DC is staying on for CE. But (with hindsight) it's also good for them, as the CE years will be a focussed, and there need to be times in the educational journey which are not like that.

naturalbaby Thu 01-Jun-17 09:13:47

Let her relax a bit and enjoy being a child while she can. There's still plenty of time before September, a few weeks off won't hurt.

Middleoftheroad Thu 01-Jun-17 09:16:31

One of my DS is going to a super selective GS in Sept. He's at state school so been pretty full on with SATs.

It's joy that they are prepping for the play, going on days out and generally having fun playing with friends who will not be at same senior school. I'm not concerned about his academic side at this point - moreover his happiness and wellbeing. There will be ample focus on work from September. I'm sure there will be parents pushing the studies even in holidays, but our kids won't fall behind.

Please relax and let your DC do what kids do best.

TawnyPippit Thu 01-Jun-17 09:33:33

Hmmm, I'm on the fence on this one. I have 2 DCs, who are now well ensconced in secondary. I liked their Prep very much but this was pretty much the only thing I was pissed off about.

My DCs had their 11 plus/senior school choices done and dusted by the end of February. The older one pretty much did absolutely F-All between February half term and the end of the school year, with a noticeable ramp down, from a low base, in the last term. There were trips, some projects and a school play, but the latter is a bit of a double-edged sword. The intense work on it is great for those who are fully involved in it but an opportunity to arse around for those who are not.. DS had a peripherally main part in the play (was in loads of scenes, not much speaking to be done and a pivotal-to-the-whole-thing gunshot which didn't need much rehearsing, LOL) but there were others who were just crowd members.

I know a lot of parents were quite pissed off about this - not with the lack of academic work but with the lack of focus. There was a strong feeling that they should have had something more structured - whether improving their French, or learning to touch-type or something. The end of Y6 is a strange, febrile time anyway and it just felt like they needed to be kept Very Busy Indeed. As it was they all got a bit hormonal/moody/hyper and there was A LOT of falling out going on. My older DC was/is the world's most easy going child who had not been in a spot of bother at school from nursery up to Y6, and even we had several "incidents" I was good friends with the mother of one of the "livelier" girls in the class and her mother said she was being called by the school almost constantly, which she was pissed off about - she felt like the school had almost created the perfect storm and shouldn't be surprised about the fact there was fall out.

My second DC was in the same position 2 years later, and I think/know several strong representations had been made to the school as there was a noticeable change; they did keep them working and it was all much more focussed. My second DC is drawn to argybargy like a heat-seeking missile, so I was dreading this period to be honest, but we only had a couple of minor wobbles; it felt like the school handled it much better.

So yes, it is normal, but it doesn't mean its a good thing.

chameleon71 Thu 01-Jun-17 11:14:55

Am in exactly the same position - the school play and school trips are all that is happening at the moment!!

It does mean that the start of year 7 comes as a shock - but they soon get back on track.

IMO raising it with the school won't change how they operate?

Although it does seem odd, the kids very much see it as one of the traditional perks of year 6 - and although I could have saved a few £ by home educating her for this last term, she would never have forgiven me - she is loving the rehearsals and all the sport, and also loving being a monitor. They only get to be top dog in a school twice in their lives so I wasn't going to deprive her of this one.

ChocolateWombat Mon 05-Jun-17 20:19:17

My Year 6 had school internal exams the week before half term. They revised in class for 2 weeks beforehand.
Now there are 4 weeks left before the hols. The first week involves going over the exams. The Year 6 then have a week of French Exchange which they are hugely excited about. As well as it helping their language skills, I think it will be very valuable in terms of independence. They also have a couple of day trips, an afternoon of sex education, (much giggling) sports day, House matches and competitions, visits to their new Secondaries (if leaving at the end of Yr 6)
As far as I'm concerned, this all seems pretty well thought out and valuable. The school goes up to 13 and probably 2/3 took exams in Jan for either 11+ or 13+ pre-test so worked hard in the autumn term for those. They also worked hard in the spring term for the exams which came before half term. What's coming in these last weeks might not be so academic or on paper but seems valuable.....and isn't this one of the reasons we choose a traditional Prep education - to get the all rounded aspects. For me, a week of French Exchange seems very valuable in all kinds of ways.

GloriaGilbert Tue 06-Jun-17 18:10:58

Yep. Enjoy!

Badbadbunny Tue 06-Jun-17 19:02:42

Perfectly normal throughout state schools and secondary schools too I'm afraid. Things start winding down, little new is taught, and then things get even quieter now, after half term, and stop completely by the end of June. School plays, trips, sports competitions, etc all take priority meaning most lessons are done by cover/supply teachers. Considering teachers/schools complain bitterly about having so much to do and so little time to do it, it never ceases to amaze me that virtually no proper teaching happens between the end of May and the start of September.

ChocolateWombat Tue 06-Jun-17 19:19:10

Bad bunny, do you think the teachers are all dossing about during this period then?
I think it's a mistake to only see value in academic work which appears in an exam or as written work in a book and to think that other stuff is of no value. I agree that an endless round of video watching isn't useful, but I think that trips and exchanges can be really valuable. And I would think that running those trips, especially residentials involves a lot of work for teachers both before and during the trip - not sure I would want to be in France on duty 24/7 for 7 days with 50 11 year olds, which is what the French teachers are doing. The teachers I know say this is one of the busiest times of year and that all the work that happens in the next half term makes a big difference to whether the following year is a success or not - it's all the medium term and long term planning and reviewing and adjusting. And it's got to happen. Lessons don't just appear as a cohesive system.

I'm sure some schools do appear to wind down and perhaps the isn't loads of value, but I also suspect that kids do t always accurately report what is going on.
My DC has a week of going through exams this week. It's not new learning but consolidating and important for the next phase. The following week is in France on an Exchange. French and a variety of life skills will be learned there. The next week has a visit to the new secondary schools, sports days, a geography trip, house competitions - all seems worthwhile to me and I expect all of it involves lots of work.
Having spent months prepping for 11+ in Jan and for summer exams in May, I'm all up for the broader curriculum which the kids are getting now - isn't it what people pay for in Prep schools, rather than just a very narrow focus?

Badbadbunny Wed 07-Jun-17 08:10:29

but I think that trips and exchanges can be really valuable

I agree, but not all kids are going on trips/exchanges are they or are in the school play or on the sports teams? And those who do go are only away for average 1/2 weeks depending on the trip(s), and there are 6 weeks of the last part of the school year, not to mention all those kids who aren't going on any trips. Yes, brilliant for those who are involved in sports, plays or trips, but for those who've opted not to go, or those for whom no trip is available, it's a pretty pointless existence being stuck in school watching videos or killing time overseen by cover teachers. There must be a better way.

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