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How did you prepare your child for private school?

(35 Posts)
karise Tue 10-Feb-09 13:29:29

DD is currently in Year 2 and utterly bored! They say it's a difficult year because they are pushed for SATS but we just see the work getting easier!
She is very bright but school refuse to give her more challenging work 'because she would then just be bored in Year 3 instead!' shock
The plan is to take send her to private school as soon as we can afford it- we're looking at changing over in year 4 or 5.
Just wanting opinions as to what the best extra work to give her in the meantime! She already plays the piano and we do lots of extra spellings (she is already year 4 for reading).
Lots of parents around us seem to agree that the work at the local schools is too easy & it's best to swap them to private school as early as possible to avoid a big gap in their achievements.
Seeing as we can't get there quite yet, what workbooks/schemes would you use to make sure she is not too behind once she does start private school?
(Sorry it's so long!)

PortAndLemon Tue 10-Feb-09 13:37:42

If she's very bright I think she'll probably catch up herself once she gets there, especially if she's doing plenty of reading -- likely to be more useful to give her stuff to stop her getting bored and switching off (so not workbooks unless she's one of those unusual children who loves workbooks). What about extra side-projects on history or science? You could look at magnetism, or basic chemistry experiments, or get a telescope and start some basic astronomy, or something like that.

Cammelia Tue 10-Feb-09 15:52:16

Lots of private schools learn French from Reception (very basic vocab at first). If your private school does Latin they usually start in Yr 4 so be aware of that - as if your child enters at Yr 5 they will have missed a year

scienceteacher Tue 10-Feb-09 16:59:32

My DDs moved to private in Y7, Y5 and Y2. We didn't prepare them in any way. They are bright and don't have a problem with the standard of work.

What they do find is that it is much more intense. The days are very busy, as they have lots of new subjects, often with specialised teachers. Because their class sizes are small, there is nowhere to hide.

myredcardigan Tue 10-Feb-09 17:03:40

IMO, the biggest gap between bright state school kids and those in prep is the writing level. State schools place far less emphasis on extended creative writing, certainly not until upper juniors. I've seen creative writing from children in Y2 at my son's school and it's well ahead in terms of dept and maturity than the standard I see teaching in state schools.

A bright,sociable child moving from state to private should have no problem coping with what's expected overall. However, if you're going to do extra input in any area,make it writing.

If there's a 7+ or 8+ entrance assessment it will include writing. Couple of tips...

-Practise structure (beginning building up to the middle which builds again and comes together as a conclusion)

-Practise setting the scene and vivid imagery. Please do not teach her that description is all about adjectives. She needs her stories plump with fabulous adverbs.

-Think about character description. Encourage narrative attached to description as it brings the character more alive. So instead of, 'Jean had long, dark hair...' say 'Jean had long dark hair which her mother insisted was kept in a plait.'


myredcardigan Tue 10-Feb-09 17:08:30

I agree with scienceteacher about the intensity and the longer days.

Just to clarify, I am not saying that state primaries do not teach creative or extended writing. Rather that the NC does not allow for the intense approach that kids in independent schools get from very early on.

sarah293 Tue 10-Feb-09 17:17:58

Message withdrawn

myredcardigan Tue 10-Feb-09 17:30:03

I think it's true that by secondary, bright kids will have learned to write. However, I stand by what I said about the gap between state and independent when it comes to extended writing at primary level.

It's not because they cannot do it, more because they haven't had the regular opportunity to practise.

LowSlungAndOverhung Tue 10-Feb-09 17:42:33

My children were deemed v. bright by their state school and went straight into the numpty class for a term when they went into private. Was fairly shocking at the time.

SAMS73 Tue 10-Feb-09 19:27:53

LSOH - what is a numpty class?

sarah293 Tue 10-Feb-09 19:35:05

Message withdrawn

Judy1234 Tue 10-Feb-09 19:47:24

And plenty of private schools cater for the thicker child so pick carefully. Paying doesn't mean it's academic necessarily. Look at whether the children leave at 11 or 13 for good schools in terms of A level results and Oxbridge entrances in assessing it and ask how many scholarships they get a year to particular schools when they leave.

My 5 children have had children joining from the state sector over the years. Some are behind and one is about to leave (as he's not been able to keep up but that's very rare).

Your daughter sounds as it she will be fine. Just get her to enjoy reading and practise writing may be a bit, stories etc You could ask the prospective prep schools she might go to what books they use adn what level the children are on in particular years. I tink on average children are 1 - 2 years ahead in terms of the books they work on etc in some private schools.

seeker Tue 10-Feb-09 20:20:45

Private is not necessarily better. If you're not happy with your dd's school, challenge it, or look at other state schools - but dot assume that if you pay it will be better. You may e sadly disappointed.

And if private schools instil the attitude that it's OK to use the expression 'numpty class' I am even more pleased than I was before that we chose state schools for our dcs!

LowSlungAndOverhung Tue 10-Feb-09 21:46:23

Oh for goodness sake. They went from being top of the charts in the state sector to needing remedial support to reach the private school attainment level. I called it the numpty class, here, not to my children.

It isn't unusual for children to need help to adjust to the pace and stretch offered in independent education. I didn't know that at the time and was quite surprised. I'm just letting the OP know that even if her child is clever according to SAT's results, she may well need some support and that she is right to plan for this. It could knock her daughters confidence, we approached the subject with humour and my children soon caught up.

I agree with Xenia in that the smaller classes, clever peers and focused support offered leads to children moving through the syllabus at their own cracking pace. Fantastic if you are able to get that free in the state sector of course.

seeker Tue 10-Feb-09 21:49:02

So you find the expression "numpty class" humorous! Delighted for you - carry on!

Milliways Tue 10-Feb-09 21:53:08

Karise - what are the teachers like further up the school?

I had problems with DS being bored in Yr1. The teacher even said We should put him in a Private school as she could not give him enough attention.

However, in Yr2 he had a fantastic teacher who allowed him to move at his own pace - which does level out as the years go on, but in Yr 1&2 there is such a divergence between those that can & can't read/write/do Maths etc.

karise Tue 10-Feb-09 21:58:40

Thanks for the advice everyone! I will definately follow up the creative writing idea as she is already enjoying writing good stories & it will be a good way of helping her comprehension (DD has a reading age of around 9).
I like the languages idea too!
It is not necessarily that I am against the state system, I am just fairly convinced that our current 3 tier system will be changing to 2 tier very soon. This will leave DD stuck in the transition stage with schools which get very little funding! sad
If we go private, we will at least know that she has some stability as the school we are looking at has an all through system.

seeker Tue 10-Feb-09 22:06:52

State schools do a lot of creative writing too. But I know no one will believe me. The prejudice against the schools that 97% of the population go to is amazing!

twentypence Tue 10-Feb-09 22:21:29

Ds does less creative writing in his private school than he did in state.

But he does maths now - so we have a balance!

Personally I would let her develop her own interests and have fun being a child. The days are long for ds and by the time we have got home and done homework and tea it's time to get ready for bed. He then spends an hour rreading - which is his greatest pleasure.

I loved the fact that he found his first year at his state school really easy and had lots of time to play, read and play his cello.

myredcardigan Tue 10-Feb-09 22:42:58

Seeker, it's not about prejudice. I have been teaching in various state schools for nearly 15yrs. Of course children do creative writing in state schools but not enough. The N.C timetable does not allow for enough practice which is why Y6 teachers practise it constantly.

If you were to ask most selective independent schools where the biggest gap was between those joining at 7+ and those already there, they would say quality of writing.

sarah293 Wed 11-Feb-09 08:11:47

Message withdrawn

Judy1234 Wed 11-Feb-09 08:45:50

No one said being thick was bad but if you'vae a clever child it does better educated with other clever children and the class working at a similar pace which is why even selective private schools stream in some subjects even at primary level. My daughter for example who is a fairly clever lawyer was in the bottmo of 5 sets of maths at Haberdashers and she still got an A but it helped her to be in that class rather than with the genius types in set A. One of my sons is in the third maths set (not that anyone calls it bottom but any child with half a brain konws what these sets mean even though the school is careful not to refer to them as top or bottom etc) and he's getting some really good maths teaching at the moment in a very small group. It's really good.

MrsGrahamBell Wed 11-Feb-09 09:34:56

Definitely agree with the writing issue. My son went for a good primary into a very academic indie. He is thriving there and in top groups for some subjects, but struggling with the writing because it was never identified at his primary that his writing was appalling. He is left handed, and now being given special remedial help (very tactfully done!!!!) at the indie, and were are extremely grateful as otherwise it would have gone completely unchecked. At the primary the emphasis was always on praise, whcih is not a good thing if a child is very able in some areas and weak in others. As a previous poster said ina class of thirty it is hard to give chilrend indivual attention - in a class of 20, much more scope for this.

hellywobs Wed 11-Feb-09 09:56:43

I'm a governor at a state junior school and it is really pushing creative and other wriitng at the moment for all years Y3 to Y6. For example, they are doing Big Writing and free writing and are really working on writing generally. You can't say all state schools are the same. But I do think they just run out of time having to deliver the NC and it's other things like languages that suffer (although the school where I'm a governor offers Spanish).

myredcardigan Wed 11-Feb-09 10:04:38

Helly, Big Writing is very good as is the Nicholas Roberts stuff. I didn't say good state schools weren't aware of the problem nor that they didn't do extended writing, just that they didn't have the time nor often the resources to push it to the level that indie schools do.

Riven, I used neither of those words nor am I being snobby. I know nothing about Home Ed but I'm quite sure, as is the case in independent schools that those teaching are far less constrained by the N.C.

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