Entry at 3+, 7+ or 11+(8 Posts)
Hi, I hope this is not too long and that I am able to make clear what I am seeking advice on.
At this point in time, we would like our son to be educated all the way through the independent system. He is 3 and has secured a place at two prep schools in the area.
One prepares them very well for entry at 7+. Probably the best in the area in being a feeder to the three top independent schools at that age. The outcomes are not so great further down the line. In fact, the results at the age of 11 in terms of feeding into the top independent schools are very disappointing given how well they do at the 7+ stage. I can only assume they take their foot off the peddle post 7+ or that all the brightest students leave at 7?
The other is one of the top 20 prep schools in the country and does well in getting pupils into a number of the top independent schools in the area other parts of London at age 11. I don't think they focus on preparing kids at 7+ for entry into the independent schools.
We have an assessment for one of these top independent schools at age 3+. If he gets in then he would go all the way up to his A levels. So I would not have to be concerned about any other entry exams until A levels. So there is a sense of security with this option. In terms of my preferred independent school it is the 3rd. My preferred option only takes kids in from age 7+. By the way, I will be looking to get an assessment for him at my 2nd best option, where they have 3+ assessment.
*My question*: Given that I want him to go through the independent system, should I just try to get him into one of the top three as early as possible instead of waiting until he is 11 to see how he fares at the entrance exams? Go all the way through that top prep school would no doubt give him a solid foundation and would open up options beyond just the top three in my area. However, I worry that he may not do well at 11 and then miss out on going to any of the good independent school. I wouldn't have that worry if he got in at 3 for instance and surely it is easier at 3 than at 11?
It is so difficult to predict, when your DS is only 3, what sort of secondary school will be right for him.
Getting the right school is important, but what is going to be right in 4, 8 or 15 years time may well not match your current ideas of a 'top' school.
So you need a plan with flexibility. Yes, choosing a through school, so you have the security of being able to continue there, could be a good plan. And does not rule out changing to another school should you decide there is one that is a better fit.
I wouldn't read too much in to 11+ results as the pool of pupils sitting it will be quite different to the pool of pupils in the run up to 7/8+ transfers (because those who want a 13+ secondary will leave at that point, either to feeder or just another prep which does CE).
As well as looking to which schools have the right 'feel', ethos and mood for your DC right now, you do need to think about affordability, convenience, curriculum and facilities.
If you can, find out how ruthlessly the schools 'weed' pupils and when, as that might be a relevant factor too. No use counting on a through school if transfer between juniors and seniors isn't guaranteed.
It's hard dealing with the fact that I am unable to predict the future .
Good point; I will check whether the through schools I have in mind weed out pupils at a certain stage. Am I right in assuming that through schools would not be interested in preparing pupils to sit entrance exams for other senior schools? I am not big on the idea of tutoring.
Part of me thinks that if he is bright enough, then I should not worry about his ability to get into a good/top senior school at 11+. If by that age he does not have the aptitude, then the impact of a top vs good enough senior school would be negligible?
Where do most kids post prep school go? Do they go on to state school or continue through the independent system?
I find the whole thing a mind twister. I wish it was simpler.
Post prep, I would expect most pupils to continue in the private sector, or to go to a grammar or one of a handful of coveted comprehensives.
Some preps prepare pupils for any external exam (because they offer whatever the parents want) others do some exams (fairly common to omit 7/8+ but do both 11/13+, others might do 8/13+ because they feed trad boarding and not 11+ unless coed), and others might do none at all. You'd have to look at leavers destinations to see how many leave at the main exit points.
Junior departments of through schools will typically teach to their senior schools entry level. If that's a good standard, you'd have a decent shot at passing the exam for other schools with very little additional exam prep.
Not all secondaries have an 11+ entry, btw. So if the secondary schools on your short list include 13+ entry only, you may need to work out what to do 11-13 if you've chosen a finish at 11 prep.
The younger the better considering you're going independent all the way.
He'll be better prepared for the 11+ should you change your mind re secondary schools.
Many thanks for the advice Edith and mumteacher. I am new to all of this so very grateful for the views you have shared.
The secondary schools I have in mind are (in order of preference): City Boys, Bancroft, Chigwell, and Forest. The prep I have a strong inclination to at this time does well in placing pupils at these schools (but this is of course no guarantee that my son would be successful at passing the entrance exams for these senior schools)
Bancroft takes them from 7yrs. Chigwell and Forest have entry assessments at 3yrs.
Academic rigor and success are important to me but I would like him to have a rounded experience.
So maybe I just focus on getting him into one of the senior schools as early as possible instead of waiting until he finishes prep at 11.
Newrule, I thought you might be in or around London! Just speaking statistically, for most children a very good prep that is not "the best" (i.e. ultraselective) would be totally fine, especially if you can avoid 7+ exams. 7+ exams are very stressful for parents and for many children come too early. I also think many parents fail to foresee their child could encounter problems (dyslexia or anything else that might affect their performance), which can make the 7+ / 11+ process even more stressful.
This article discusses your question at length - might be interesting for you:
7+ vs 13+ or all the way to 18? What is best?
Oh sanam, I could hug you. Well here's virtual hug from me.
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