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Question 1: the British school system: Explain...

(24 Posts)
WaitingForVino Thu 01-Oct-09 15:11:42

<<runs and hides from her own ignorance in shame>>

DH and I are both non-Brits and we truly don't understand much of the school system here.

We were lucky enough to pick a first home very near to an excellent nursery/primary school attached to our church, but from what I hear the secondary schools around us are terrible.

We have no clue how to even begin to pick a secondary school. Our DC's abilities will naturally be a factor but we don't even know what the options are. What's the difference between a secondary school and a grammar school? Must you live near a grammar school to get in? We do want to move locally so in theory we could look ANYwhere. It's daunting!

And what are all these tests people talk about - 11+, SATS - and what ages are they taken?

Worst of all: do we need to put our names on a list for a tutor now?? (DS is 3.5)?? shock some would say yes, apparently...

I know we have time but we want to move house next year and we need to think about the long term just a little...


LIZS Thu 01-Oct-09 15:57:28

Grammar schools are academically selective and kids would normally take an exam (11+) for entry at 11 (year 7). Usually state funded (ie in Kent, Bucks, Lincolnshire)but many areas no longer operate a selective system , just comprehensives. Some independent schools also bear the "grammar" title having taken over the sites of previous state ones.

The catchment is usually wide in grammar areas but you may not have a choice as to which one is allocated, assuming he passes the exam. SATs are voluntary at aged 7, currently compulsory at 11 and I think still at 14, but this could well change by the time your ds is that age. They assess key areas of the curriculum and progress to date.

WaitingForVino Thu 01-Oct-09 16:08:30

We live in Richmond so there is one in our area I think (Kingston). If it's independent then it's not state funded and it charges fees, is that right?

Lio Thu 01-Oct-09 16:08:55

Wikipedia is your friend. Unlike anyone nuts enough to think that you need to put your 3.5yo on a list for a private tutor.

Lio Thu 01-Oct-09 16:09:20

Sorry, forgot the link:

Lio Thu 01-Oct-09 16:09:49

Yes, independent = fees

ThingOne Thu 01-Oct-09 16:16:07

Independent also known as private. Some particular independent/private schools are known as "public schools".
These are all definitely fee paying.

You do not need to book at tutor at 3.5.

If you look on the website of your local council you can see which schools are near you and which you have a chance of getting in to. I would read the Good Schools Guide before moving as you live in SW London and don't know the system.

Systems could all change before you apply for your child's place at secondary school.

Lilymaid Thu 01-Oct-09 16:17:56

You are thinking of Tiffins.There is a thread on Mumsnet all about tutoring etc for entry. Judging by the general hysteria about getting into Tiffins, you should have been tutoring your poor DC from birth!
(If you have the money for fees, Lady Eleanor Holles/Hampton Grammar are the schools to aim for at secondary level).

WaitingForVino Thu 01-Oct-09 16:53:29

pandora's box! (just read that Tiffin thread). OMG shock

As I'm already knee deep in this, and you all are being so helpful, let me ask:

How does one find out which primaries are prep schools?

Which prep schools feed which secondary schools?

Do grammar schools only take children from prep schools?

<<slowly going insane>>

LIZS Thu 01-Oct-09 17:01:29

How does one find out which primaries are prep schools?
Most local primaries (infants and juniors) would be state funded . Prep and pre prep/independent - all private - normally say so (or check here or [[ here]] ) You can get a booklet of the schools in the state admissions process from your Local authority or library.

Which prep schools feed which secondary schools? Some are attched to senior schools, but many are stand alone and wodul feed an= vairety of seniors (most will say where their leavers go in the prospectus or website)

Do grammar schools only take children from prep schools?
No it is primarily for state school pupils but private pupils can apply to take 11+ too and some kids are sent to preps to train them to pass it so they can get free secondary education.

LIZS Thu 01-Oct-09 17:01:59

sorry second link here

WaitingForVino Thu 01-Oct-09 17:20:49

Ahhh so a state funded primary is not ever a 'prep school' - prep schools are normally private - but a prep school is not necessarily preparing a child for grammar schools?


In my borough there are no grammar schools - I guess if DCs show some ability we'll need to consider moving to where there are more selective schools?

LIZS Thu 01-Oct-09 17:22:12

but even non selective schools can be good ! just mixed ability range.

WaitingForVino Thu 01-Oct-09 17:24:36

in the next borough is Kingston Grammar - which charges fees! (confused...)

Think I will go away for five years and hope it all becomes clear by then! grin

LIZS Thu 01-Oct-09 17:58:54

exactly , it will vary from one area to another. Just because a school is a grammar doesn't mean it would suit every child who passes its exam. Private prep schools can work towards entrance to senior schools at 11+ or 13+ (aka Common Entrance), since they may have intakes at either/both ages or even in between ! They don't have to do SATS or teach to National Curriculum.

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Thu 01-Oct-09 18:03:30

Just ask the parents at your child's playgroup or nuresry - if have they lived in Richmond since the birth of their child, especialy if they have been in the NCT in 3.5 years they will be experts, as local parents talk of little else grin

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Thu 01-Oct-09 18:15:26

And if you want to scare yourwelf witcless, and join in the hysteria, just read here

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Thu 01-Oct-09 18:18:11

sorry, I mean witless

qumquat Wed 28-Oct-09 11:09:58

Don't feel that your child has to go to grammar school if they are academically able, there are lots of great comprehensives, don't believe all you hear from panicking parents.

Horton Wed 28-Oct-09 11:31:57

WaitingForVino, I have lived in Richmond most of my life and I just wanted to reassure you that the secondary schools in Richmond are really not as bad as all that. My cousins went to various secondary schools in the borough and all are quite adequately educated, all made it to good universities and all are nice people. Don't panic! Tiffin is great from what I have heard but it's not the be all and end all.

deaddei Wed 28-Oct-09 12:33:33

I agree with Horton and Qumquat- Richmond secondaries have greatly improved. Many parents with their scary stories have never visited them ,and go on gossip/hearsay.
Tiffin is definitely not the be all and end all- we are waiting for the time of our Tiffin test in December, and I don't care if ds does not get in. We have an improving boys comp locally - but I would be talk of the playground if I voiced that opinion at school-hence I do not go.

pranma Wed 28-Oct-09 21:19:17

Just a point there are no more sats at 14-they are optional at 7[KS1],compulsory at 11[KS2] and abolished at 14[KS3]GCSE at 16 is [KS4].KS=Key Stage

MrsGently Thu 29-Oct-09 08:14:29

The whole hysteria surrounding secondary schools was the main reason we moved away from SW London - people really did start tutoring their kids from the age of 5 to either get into Tiffin or one of the local private schools. Primaries were great but the secondaries were either struggling or had intensely competitive entrance requirements.

So DH now commutes and we live in an area where all the secondaries are excellent and there are no entrance requirements other than the usual distance from the school etc.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Thu 29-Oct-09 09:24:07

Looking at independent schools

"Pre-prep" covers Reception to Y2/Y3
"Prep" covers Y3/Y4 to Y6 (girls) or Y8 (boys)
then "secondary" (not sure if secondary is the right term, or even if there is a general term) covers Y7-Y13 (girls) or Y9-Y13 (boys).

(Generalising on the girls vs. boys thing there, but it's the general pattern).

Two or more of these may be combined in one school -- for example it's not unusual to have a private school covering Reception to Y6 or Reception to Y8. These may be known as prep schools even though they are technically pre-prep plus prep.

Prep (and pre-prep) just mean "private primary", basically.

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