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Has your 3 or 4 year old failed a private school assessment?

(83 Posts)
ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 20:20:05

Tedious background:
We hope to get a place at either our nearest state school, or one that is about 4th nearest. However we are adamant that we don't want ds to go to the "default" school should he not get into either of these, and hence have looked at the local private schools.

He's just been accepted at a non-selective mixed school. Only downside is that the majority of the children will have spent a year there already in a nursery class with a further 3 (incl ds) joining next September.

Our preferred private option is a boys only. When we viewed the school we were told that by registering we were practically guaranteed a place - only 1 or 2 children each year were refused, generally because of their behaviours (the head referred to "weeding out the biters"). This message was re-enforced at an open day we also attended. Speaking to other parents at the school however, they have been told different facts (eg they select 36 out of 50 or 60). I'm wondering whether in fact the school do offer more places knowing that some parents will turn them down if their other plans crystalise.

Ds1's assessment is in January, and we will be provided more details closer to the time. We now seem to be in some doubt as to how "selective" this school is?! Given we would hope to get into the state schools anyway, I'm just wondering whether we have to pay the deposit for the non-selective private school, as if we were offered, we would also have to pay for the boys school in February; we won't find out about the state schools until April/May.

For those who have got this far, I'd be interested to hear your experiences!

JanH Sun 28-Nov-04 20:22:25

Sorry, ladymuck, can't help, but LOL at "weeding out the biters"!!! What about the pinchers, whingers, nosepickers, kickers, sniffers and knickerwetters then?

misdee Sun 28-Nov-04 20:24:11

you forgot hair pullers.

hmb Sun 28-Nov-04 20:25:11

They didn't 'weed out' my ds and he was a biter!

JanH Sun 28-Nov-04 20:25:52

Thanks, misdee

codswallop Sun 28-Nov-04 20:26:16

why wont you get a place ta your state school?
thi s sounds unecessarily confused.

ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 20:26:48

Damn, and there was I feeling smug because DS1 is a pincher and not a biter.

Can I claim under Trade Descriptions or something. Would never have parted with huge registration fee if I thought that it could be so arbitrary...

misdee Sun 28-Nov-04 20:27:50

you should get the nearest state school place anyway. if its not over subscribed.

ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 20:33:08

Coddy, nearest state school is CofE and oversubscribed, though, depending on number of siblings we may get in.
Our other preference is also oversubscribed, and I've had a look at the maps made by the LEA each year. Basically we have less than a 50% chance of getting in.

It's a weird matter of geography. We're in the middle of about 6 excellent state schools and 2 lousy ones however we've about a mile away from each, which is considered to be quite a distance in this locality. Of course everyone wants the excellent ones, and we may not get in because they all live nearer.

ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 20:34:48

JanH, dare I ask what a "sniffer" is?

JanH Sun 28-Nov-04 20:37:46

LOL, ladymuck - merely one with a runny nose and no handkerchief....

LIZS Sun 28-Nov-04 20:38:17

How long have you got to accept the non-selective place ? I find it strange that the selective school can't/won't tell you their assessment format but I'm sure they know the timetables of the other school offers and play along accordingly.

We are in a similar position with dd. She has a place unconditionally at a private school for Reception in Sept 2005 but whether we take it up depends on whether they offer ds (6) a place, so we are on tenterhooks as to the outcome of his assessment (and it assumes we will be in the country at the time!). They have agreed to refund her deposit should he not get in. She would also be joining a class where the majority will have spent up to 2 years in the Nursery and will probably be the youngest (August b'day).

I just hope this and/or our state school strategies work out because the thought of her doing an assessment of any sort fills me with dread. She is just too stubborn and difficult to make it worthwhile atm !

There was a thread last week about an assessment at a private Surrey school but think that is pretty much the extreme competitive end of the spectrum - here

JanH Sun 28-Nov-04 20:39:22

(only because my resident sniffers do my head in) (oh, and I forgot coughers).

LIZS Sun 28-Nov-04 20:42:40

Presumably they'd turn down my screamer too !

ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 20:46:32

Thanks Jan - how would ds get marked as he uses his sleeve when he doesn't have a hanky? Can I wean him off this by January I wonder?

Liz, the school has really played down the assessment with us, and made the point that they do take all abilities. However it is known as a bit of a hothouse. It's the other parents who seem more worried about it. Personally I don't want to coach ds for an assessment at this stage in his life. If I have to do that, then it is the wrong school for us. I'm just wondering if "failing" is common, and if so are the parents told why? Will I have a conversation on the lines of "we don't like your green-sleeved pincher"?

LIZS Sun 28-Nov-04 21:04:57

In that case it sounds more like a formality than a selection. I wonder how many of those 50/60 quoted might have been suited elsewhere anyway (siblings at other schools, other offers, moved away, circumstances change). Have you been on their "list" a long time ? You may find that counts in the final scheme of things.

At the school we are trying for ours, siblings take priority over length of time on list . So if someone came along having got their elder child in in the meantime, the younger one would go to above a first/only child already on the waiting list for that class (hence why ds has never reached the top of the list although he's been on it 3 years !)

tbh agree with your attitude that if they don't take him as he is now then that school isn't the right place for him. Trying to take that view over ds, should he not be offered a place... but the implications send my head spinning.

ladymuck Sun 28-Nov-04 21:54:45

I guess that I had originally assumed that it was just a formality, until I spoke to some of the other parents, which just left me confused. But I haven't found anyone who has applied and who has been refused? So I was wondering whether anyone has been for such an assessment and been refused - searching here I've only found examples of children who had been accepted (and of course every school should welcome the offspring of MN'ers )

Issymum Mon 29-Nov-04 08:33:07

Hi Ladymuck, LIZS referred you to my thread about DD1's assessment for a private selective school. She's 3.5yo. This school turns down about 40% of the children and I'm pretty sure that it will turn down DD - she takes a long time to warm up to strange people and strange situations and I'd be surprised if she said a word in the assessments. I'll let you know next week when we'll get a letter advising us of whether she got a place or not. I very much doubt that the letter will tell us the reason for not being selected, I just don't think they'd bother. I should add though that this is a super-selective school (had highest results in entire country last year at KS2) and continues to 'let girls go' throughout their school career if they don't continue to make the grade. Remind me again why we applied.........!

Sonnet Mon 29-Nov-04 08:47:06

Don't know if this helps at all. Both my DD's go to an IS (one that is in the top 200 IS). Both have had so called assessments for entry into the nursery class - DD1 was 3 yrs and 2 months and DD2 wasn't even 3. From what I understand it was more about their co-operation levels and understanding and carrying out instructions than "ability".

It was only when the term had started that baseline assessments were carried out.
HTH

janinlondon Mon 29-Nov-04 09:35:24

Ladymuck I have seen some "thank you for applying but no thank you" letters from schools in South London. They didn't tell the parents anything about the reasons for declining.

Marina Mon 29-Nov-04 09:56:19

Agree with Janinlondon, Ladymuck, I know from friends' experiences in London and elsewhere that the reasons for your child's "failure" are not divulged. Or if they are, they are couched in the terms of "we don't think your child will benefit optimally from the kind of education we offer".
I was a bit sad to hear the head of a non-selective school even joke about weeding out the biters. Our non-selective private primary (where we ended up partly because one of our good local primaries did not have a place for us and the other moved premises another 3/4 mile up the road) does take children of all abilities including some with fairly challenging behaviours. They aim to help the child change these, of course, but if nose-pickers and pinchers had been stopped at the door they'd have no children to teach!
I think you are right to have your suspicions about selection processes at your preferred school. Ours "selects" purely on when you register your child, and, to some extent, how quickly you turn the paperwork round once offered a place. Maybe that's what yours does but it hasn't been spelled out to you?

Azure Mon 29-Nov-04 10:12:36

Can I just clarify with regard to the deposits? You have been offered a place at the non-selective school and a deposit is payable (when?). If DS gets into the selective school (and you accept) you will have to pay a deposit in February. If you get offered a place in your preferred state school you won't find out until April / May. From my experience with DS, private schools give a very short period of time (1-2 weeks) to pay the deposit to secure a place once offered. The deposit - as much as one term's fees - are non-refundable if the child does not join the school. The worst case scenario is that you pay the non-selective deposit, get into the selective school and pay that deposit, then get offered a place at your preferred state school - thereby losing 2 deposits (though saving far more money on school fees). Is it possible to ask the school secretaries to what extent a deposit may be refunded - particularly if there is plenty of notice and another child takes up the place? We are in a very similar situation, having already forked out for a great school, but in a very inconvenient position, and on the waiting list for our preferred private and state schools. Expensive business, this. I've no experience of selective schools - only those with long waiting lists. BTW, I wouldn't worry about other children being in the nursery beforehand - the dynamics of the class will change once in Reception anyway.

Jimjams Mon 29-Nov-04 10:18:42

well the private school we applied to failed to weed out my severely autistic ds1, and whilst he doesn't bite he's done a lot worse (or perhaps they accept poo smearers). We didn't send him- I suspect I could have got my deposit back £200 quid- eek -but at the time was too caught up in assessments (of the diagnosis kind) to deal with that as well.

LIZS Mon 29-Nov-04 10:23:34

Good point Azure. Of the deposit we have paid to "secure" dd's place half is offset against the final term's fees should you enter the school, but it is nowhere near a term's fees. You will also need to check, ladymuck, when the deadline is for telling them that you wouldn't need their place in September after all, and that by holding the place until the summer term (when the state school allocations are made) you won't need to give a full term's notice or be liable for the first term's fees, as well as forfeiting a deposit.

ladymuck Mon 29-Nov-04 11:50:18

Oh we're already well aware of the money aspect, and suspect that we will be stung - first deposit for non-selective of £150 is due by 10 December. I just feel a bit stupid having to phone up the other one to find out whether or not they are selective!!! Perhaps we'll fail before the assessment!

As I said, certainly they made a deal out of registering early (Ds1 has been registered for over a year now), and the fact that they had "spaces" left for our year. Hopefully it is just a formality.

Discussed with dh last night, and turns out that our decisions re state schools is not so clear-cut as I thought - I'm happy with most of them - he seems to be only happy with one. Aaaagh! He went to prep school himself, so views the £7k a year as definitely worth it...

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