Alleyns - diversity(77 Posts)
Hello. My DD has just sat the 7 plus (awaiting results) and since then I’ve heard lots of stories about a lack of diversity at the school. Don’t know whether to raise this with the school - it’s clearly going to annoy them whilst they are busy trying to make their selections - but I don’t want my DD to be put at a disadvantage, particularly as I didn’t tutor her or engage in long-term preparation like most seem to have done. I naively thought we would see if she could get through on her own merit. She sat another assessment where she just missed getting through to 2nd round (60 applicants for 15 places and they invite back less than half) and now I realise that it’s highly unlikely we will get Alleyns (135 applicants for 24 places!) Feel torn as to whether to contact the school to discuss my concerns or just resign myself to the fact that there will be way too much competition and that schools don’t mind tutored kids as it makes their job easier. Thoughts anyone? What would you do in my situation?
When you say "raise it with the school" - what would you be asking the school to do?
I went to Dulwich and it was reasonably diverse for a public school. Way more diverse than the village school in Cornwall my daughter attends! What exactly would you expect them to do when raising it with them?
Other than asking for a factual breakdown of their non-white and/or non-British (other white) heritage pupil body, I'm not sure what else they could provide.
Or do you suspect they are discriminating against certain categories of applicant?
I've heard that Alleyns (co-ed) is less diverse than the two other, single sex, schools in the foundation. For girls, that's ascribed to certain groups preferring single sex education for teens. I've never heard that said for boys, so I don't quite know whether or how far it applies to the boys school.
Do you mean diverse in ethnicity? It is relatively non-diverse imo (dd is there), compared to the other Dulwich foundations. But not wholly white at all!!
But not sure what that has to do with being tutored or prepped though? Or do you mean your dd is at a disadvantage not having come from a pre-prep or been home tutored?
I'm guessing the other school you refer to is jags? (Sorry if I've got that wrong.) I think A is more competitive to get in mainly due to having less places, and being coed that means less places for both girls and boys. But it doesn't mean she def won't get an offer.
I'm not sure what you could really say to them if she doesn't get an offer. They definitely won't discriminate on diversity when making offers - they only go on the assessment results so it really is just who gets the most points there. State school kids def at a disadvantage in terms of not being prepped for the 7+ (ie not practising VR/NVR etc) though, but I guess that's why parents would tutor, even just to familiarise with the format.
Good luck with it all btw - it's a horrific process, and we're going through it all again now with ds for the 11+, so you have my sympathy!
Thanks for the replies everyone.
I guess brainstorming here has made me realise it probably isn’t worth saying anything, it will be an awkward conversation and their first filtering point, with so many applicants, ultimately is on pure academics. Oh well, let’s see what happens!
I think as others have said that some cultures prefer single sex for secondary. However, for me, there was an encounter with another parent that totally put me off and I could see that parent was typical of the school as a whole (I know several families there). So maybe a social difference that I didn't find to the same extent at Dulwich College. I guess if you have a finance or media type background and a confident child, this would be the perfect school (and it is a good school).
Thanks for your response MrsPatmore. Are you able to elaborate any further on the encounter? Might make me feel better about the likelihood of rejection!
With regard to diversity - a person I met at another assessment told me that someone they knew ‘on the inside’ said that they don’t plan to do anything about the diversity issue. Another mum told me they didn’t take up an offer because this issue was too concerning for them.
Am very new to all this and it has been a learning experience to say the least!
Alleyns definitely less diverse than JAGs - but still pretty diverse IMO? In the senior school anyway - dd's class of 23 is pretty mixed.
OP - in your shoes I think I'd wait until the outcome is known and then maybe raise diversity when you revisit the school if it's a concern? It is something that has been raised on here several times.
Mrs Patmore - seriously you let one encounter with one parent put you off the school? On the whole we've found parents to be welcoming and friendly - there are lots of concerts/matches etc and the junior school parents have all been v welcoming.
I disagree re diversity in sr school. There's def. mixed raced children, but you do not see the mix you see at say Js. It is disturbingly noticeable.
I disagree about people from certain backgrounds preferring single sex of co-ed. Competition for places at the Dulwich schools is high so there is no real element of choice for parents - most apply to all the schools and only if they receive multiple offers then do they get to choose the school, otherwise the schools very much choose the child.
I should rephrase - people from certain backgrounds may have a preference of SS vs co-ed but there won't be much opportunity to exercise that choice in these schools and other indies of this ilk.
"most apply to all the schools"
Not necessarily: those with girls might choose applying to JAGS, CLSG, PHS, WHS, SCHS and Francis Holland
(And of course, unless your child is intersex and happy to live as either sex, I'm not sure how you could apply to all 3 schools )
Thanks for contributions.
I agree that competition is so fierce that it is really the school that chooses you in most cases. I also don’t buy the single-sex preference by ethnic minorities - maybe a section of those do being the more religious ones - so I do find the selection process rather mind-boggling. There is also no interview at 7 plus at Alleyns so I would how they whittle it down to the final shortlist if they have lots of bright kids who are scoring the same - I would love to be a fly on the walls when they are making their selections!
Someone at work told me today these schools spends lots of money on these assessments to enable them to distinguish the tutored from those kids who have more natural/creative flair. I hope that is the case and it’s not just on pure scores because my DD was not massively prepared for these tests!
"Not necessarily: those with girls might choose applying to JAGS, CLSG, PHS, WHS, SCHS and Francis Holland"
At older ages perhaps but not really at 4+ where the majority are local. As always there will be the odd exception.
Re-read OP and see it is for 7+ entry so much wider area of intake than at 4+ but far fewer places available, I think.
"(And of course, unless your child is intersex and happy to live as either sex, I'm not sure how you could apply to all 3 schools"
I would like to see how the admissions folk tackle that!!
I meant girls and co-ed or boys and co-ed! In the Dulwich-ish area there's be JAGS, Sydenham high for girls;
Dulwich College, Dulwich Prep for boys; Alleyn's and St. Dunstan's for both
I still don't understand what "diversity" means here, are you talking about ethnic background or whether your dc is privately or state educated and tutored or not tutored. Many if not most state-educated children will have been tutored, so it is not a clear-cut decision.
The school will take the children with the highest scores - they won't all have scored the same, regardless of background in all three cases. When there is a choice between a state-educated child and a privately-educated child, the state child will have the edge.
@EdwinaMarlow Diversity on the very basic level here is about ethnic diversity - very important especially if you are at a London school. Going from state to independent, you notice the real absence of ethnic children (not just mixed race). But also economic diversity - which let's be honest, is always going to be a bit of a non-starter, even with bursaries! And don't even get me started with bursaries - so many bursary cheats out there it makes you question how schools actually award them.
I don't see the OP mentioning ethnic diversity, anywhere? It seems to me her concerns are about her child not being tutored.
One easy way to check whether there is any ethnic bias in the selection process is to look around you on the open day and the 7+ assessment day - do you feel that the intake of the school does not reflect the ethnic make-up of those around you on those days?
MsHeliotrope - lack of tutoring isn't usually called a diversity issue. It looks from the original post (or at least how I read it) - that she's concerned about lack of (ethnic) diversity AND kicking herself for not tutoring. It could be she's referencing that idea that for an ethnic minority to be considered in a non-diverse environment they need to be in the top set of the cohort to be chosen. (Guessing, not stating!)
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