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Help me decide which pre-prep/ prep to send ds to before I go mad!

(58 Posts)
chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 17:01:24

Have posted other threads on this but on specific issues rather than asking for a general view. Now I need an overall view to help us decide which school to send ds to at 4+ once and for all before I go insane!! We are going round in circles in the chipmunk household.

Option 1:
- All boys
- Lovely school - seems to value the things we as a family find important
- 15 to 20 mins drive
- from 4+ to 13+ so on the upside ds wouldn't need to move schools for a while
- class size around 20

Option 2:
- mixed to 7+ and then all girls (for under 7's it's about a third boys, the remainder girls)
- nice little school
- only 5 mins drive or a cycle away (although scary London roads so not sure this would really work in reality!)
- ds would have to sit the 7+ to go elsewhere/ change schools
- class size around 15

Background info:
1. ds is not a boisterous boy and I think arguably would be happier with girls around than just boys so the usual benefits of all boys don't really apply.
2. we have pretty much ruled out the main local (cofE) state option on the grounds that the classes are big (30) and we are not Cof E and there's a lot of praying going on in there!
3. The schools we'd consider for 7+ are really quite far away and so even though with the local one we'd do well for 3 years with the journey, once he moved to a prep we'd be facing a 30 min journey each way. So short term gain, long term pain.
4. ds is quite sensitive and also a summer born so small class size seems a wise move. He is also quite bright it seems so needing to keep up academically with autumn born girls will not be a problem I imagine (emotionally and socially is another matter).

Erm if you can make sense of that and come out with a solution I'll be very impressed! I feel like tossing a bloody coin (a dreadful way to decide but we just are totally stuck).

MarshaBrady Thu 23-Oct-08 17:04:17

Chipmunks will read this, but firstly has your ds got into both?

Or are you at interview stage?

MarshaBrady Thu 23-Oct-08 17:04:18

Chipmunks will read this, but firstly has your ds got into both?

Or are you at interview stage?

GylesBandwidth Thu 23-Oct-08 17:04:26

Which did DS seem to prefer when you all looked round?

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 17:06:12

Marsha we have offers from both and have to decide sharpish now.

Gyles (love the name) - ds is only 3 so it's hard to tell. If we ask him he says he'd like to have girls and boys there. But then if we tell him about all the facilities at the boys school he likes the sound of that and says he wants to go there!

To be honest I guess he'd be fine at either and that's what makes it hard to decide....argh!!

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 17:07:27

Forgot to say that DH likes the mixed school as he thinks the ability to move at 7+ keeps options open to choose the school that would suit ds at that age, and we'd have a better idea of what he's going to need/ like by then.

mazzystartled Thu 23-Oct-08 17:08:24

i'd go for option 1
simpler
unless could get in there at 7?

Miyazaki Thu 23-Oct-08 17:09:23

Option 2 sounds lovely. Plus the joy of being able to walk/cycle there is a pretty big plus.

PortAndDemon Thu 23-Oct-08 17:10:04

You could toss a coin, see which way it goes and whether you then think "Yay!" or "oh dear..."

I would probably go for option 1 just on the basis that you describe it as "lovely" and option 2 as "nice", and that the distance saving isn't a long-term factor given your 7+ issues.

Um. Are there likely to be places coming up at option 1 at 7+ (always a possibility if some boys go to other schols from 7+ or just move out of the area)? If so he could do option 2, nice and close to home, until 7 and then move to option 1. But that may just be fudging the issue.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 17:15:04

Option 1 doesn't have an official 7+ entry so only has places if boys leave iyswim.

<<head spinning emoticon>>

I like the idea of the coin toss. I did try visualising ds's first day and which school I'd be more excited about him going to. But that didn't really answer the question as it only really covers the short term and we need to think about four years' after that etc.

stealthsquiggle Thu 23-Oct-08 17:23:07

I would go with Opion 2 - non-boisterous boys can get easily overwhelmed at that age in all boys environment I think - and your DH is right about knowing much more about what DS wants/needs by the time he is 7.

Anna8888 Thu 23-Oct-08 17:26:41

Option 1

Jazzicatz Thu 23-Oct-08 17:27:24

Option 1 definitely. My ds started at pre-prep last year and was quite feminised at the start. Since being at school he is now total boy and absolutelt loves it. Its also lovely that the boys he meets now will be with him until 13, which is great for continuity for the boys.

myredcardigan Thu 23-Oct-08 17:39:17

Tricky one! Option 1 sound great except I'm not keen on single-sex schools but if that's what you're keen on then obviously that's not a problem.

Option 2 has plus points in that you could walk. However, despite your worries, sensitive boys are often more overwhelmed by confident girls than confident boys.

Personally, I don't like the idea of moving at 7. I think it's a very emotional age for boys and the pressure of assessment even for a bright child like your DS would put me off.

But...having said that, where do all the 7yr old boys at option 2 go for prep? Is there a natural place to move on to? It doesn't seem like it's option 1!

I agree with tossing the coin and see what your reaction is.

Cosette Thu 23-Oct-08 17:58:14

I would make my decision based on the school you would prefer to send him to at age 7+, and I would be comparing your Option 1, with the other 7+ schools and deciding which one seemed to be the right one (and I know that's tricky at this age).

If your preference at 7+ is Option 1, then send him there - if it's a different school - then send him to Option 2.

The other thing I would say is that Option 2 has class sizes of 15, and with a third of those being boys - means he would be one of 5 boys in his class. Are there other classes in the year group? If not or only 1 other one, then I would be concerned that he would have quite a restricted choice of friends - especially when you compare it to the other school. Having said that he would move at 7+ so it probably wouldn't be too much of an issue.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 19:53:37

Had another chat with DH and he really strongly prefers the mixed school (option 2) as he wants to keep options open at 7+. Even though we could move ds from Option 1 if all his friends are staying it would be hard and they wouldn't prepare them for 7+ entry. At option 2 all the boys will be moving on.

I can see dh's point but I'm still not 100% convinced as I think I like Option 1 best out of the 7+ schools in our area anyway.

Thank you all so far by the way - I love this about Mumsnet - and the variety in the responses!

Miffyinsurrey Thu 23-Oct-08 20:43:14

I would go for the local mixed private school until 7. It sounds as though it would be a happy environment for the first few years and convenient. By the time your DS is 7 you will have a better idea of the type of school that will suit him in the long run.

I would not be that happy with all boys all the way through and the drive would be a nuisance. If you send your DS to a local school he will make local friends and maybe he will move on with one or two of them to the next school.

Good luck with your decision!

singersgirl Thu 23-Oct-08 21:04:22

I think, having watched children (not mine) go through the 7+ exams last year, that it can be very stressful for them and for the parents. I think on your other thread you mentioned tutoring. In many cases, it's no more clear cut at 7 than at 4 as to what kind of school would suit a child in the long run.

If you're planning to put in him in a single-sex school from 7, I would go for Option 1. Boys and girls, in my experience, don't play together much anyway from Reception onwards - the peer pressure starts early. I think he's also more likely to find a similarly quiet boy in a class of 15 than in a peer group of 5 - it's more likely that he won't be the only one who doesn't like football (say) if he's in a bigger group.

You can always move him at 7 from Option 1 to another school with 7+ entry if you feel by then that he'd be strongly suited to somewhere else.

So now you've got lots of different opinions! Good luck with the decision; it is terribly hard, but I'm sure you'll turn out to be happy with whichever school you choose.

traceybath Thu 23-Oct-08 21:12:35

Option 1.

My DS just started pre-prep and is august born. At 3 he loved playing with girls but now is far happier playing with boys. He's not a boisterous boy but is becoming more so.

You could always change him at 7 if you wanted to.

LadyMuck Thu 23-Oct-08 21:22:16

Do you already have plans for him in mind at 11/13, and does option 1 prepare him for these?

My local experience of option 2 is that this tends to be geared to younger brothers of girls at the school. Talking to mums of girls there does seem to be a difference in the way that the boys and girls' schools approach the early years, with the boys' leading on reading and maths, and the girls' on writing. Are you happy that option 2 fully prepares boys for 7+?

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 21:51:27

re: "My local experience of option 2 is that this tends to be geared to younger brothers of girls at the school."

That makes sense but does it matter - I mean, how does that manifest itself?

DesperateHousewifeToo Thu 23-Oct-08 21:59:31

My ds about to start 7+ exams in next few weeks.

From our experience I think fact that your ds is a summer birthday could have a big bearing on exams at 7+ if the schools he is likely to go onto are quite competitive.

My ds is october birthday and has found this term quite pressured and at times hard (although is apparently, doing well).

Year 2 seems a long way away when they are 4yrs old but comes around veerry fast!

Consider that many schools do not take into account birth dates when doing entrance exams so he would be up against boys nearly a year older than him. Hopefully, by the time he is 13yrs, the differences in maturity with classmates would have 'evenned out' iyswim.

The younger boys in ds' class are finding the work much more difficult.

I do like the mix of boys and girls in ds' class but it does mean that half of the class are doing different work as the girls are expected to saty on until 11years.

I'm not sure if this point of view will be any help but just another angle to think about.

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 23-Oct-08 22:06:44

Interesting points DH too. Would it make much difference that Ds seems, as much as you can tell at 3.5, really very bright (not just my assessment but his nursery etc.)?

Or is it as much about emotional maturity and ability to cope with the pressure?

LadyMuck Thu 23-Oct-08 22:11:20

Essentially they are not the main focus of the school, they are tolerated in order to appease parents of girls (who are the main deal). They are in the minority within the class, so in a class of 15 only 5 might be boys - not enough for a game of football really. Almost by default the "naughtiest" children in the class will be boys. And in the early years boys often lag behind in writing, so either their work will not get displayed on the wall or else it may compare poorly with the girls (obviously a generalisation but handwriting and presentation of boys in ds1's year 3 class is still poor in comparison with girls).

And whilst I am sure that your son may be bright I haven't yet met a parent looking at preprep who didn't think that their child was bright smile. If he is already reading and writing then obviously he will hold his own in reception. But if he isn't then I wouldn't assume that being bright will mean that he does things in the order that you might expect - sorry to be blunt but I haven't followed any other threads. That said the school should be able to cope with the whole range of abilities that are present in a recpetion class.

LadyMuck Thu 23-Oct-08 22:14:07

Do they base their assessment of brightness on his oral or written output?

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