Montessori to Prep or State? How does this work?!

(22 Posts)
AliceAnneB Mon 23-Feb-15 15:56:07

Would appreciate any help really. I'm not a Brit and feeling a bit baffled by our school choices. My DC is 3 and currently at a Montessori Preschool. We live in Muswell Hill but may be in one of the dreaded "blackout" zones for a primary school place. We are on the list for a place for Norfolk House but not entirely sure how I feel about that school. We took a tour of Highgate and liked it quite a bit but it would mean our DC sitting the 7+. So our choices are to leave him in his Montessori until he's 4 then hope for a state school place and then have him sit the 7+ for Highgate or leave him in his Montessori for the entire preschool period until he is 6 but then what? From what I understand he would never have a chance at a state school place because our local state school is way over subscribed (Rhodes Avenue). So we could send him to the Montessori elementary school in Hampstead but that would mean a trip over the Heath and it seems to strange to send him to another school for only a year anyway if our intent is to sit him for the 7+. But who knows if he's even academic. He's 3! Anyone else have any experience. Am I missing a possible path?

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MillyMollyMama Mon 23-Feb-15 16:35:47

Enrol in a school that preps for Highgate? Do you not have a nursery and pre prep that does this successfully? What are the feeder schools? Going from state to private (where you have an entrance exam) won't be that easy, because many other children will have been specifically prepared, and I definitely would not stay in Montessori so you need to find just one year somewhere else. What about making friends and keeping them? Realistically, if you want a prep at 7+, you need a school that prepares for this exam and takes children from4.

MMmomKK Mon 23-Feb-15 18:25:27

When I read your post I had several thoughts.

First, is that is very difficult to know what your DC would be by Y3, so choosing a prep school that you think will work for him at 7+ is difficult, and not really possible. He will change so much between now and then. So, if I were you I'd choose the best school for DC for right now.

Next, just like MMM above - going from a state system to do a highly competitive 7+ is not easy. It will require a lot of extra tutoring, and would not be pleasant for you and your child. A friend just did that, unfortunately unsuccessfully, and I watched them with sadness...

Finally, from an educational standpoint, I love the Montessori approach for the early years, provided that it is done properly. It works wonders for a curious child who is eager to learn. A lot of research indicates that too much formal tuition in math/English is actually hurting long term educational outcomes. Montessori allows children to move at their own speed. Both of my DDs went through a Montessori nursery and came out reading, with good feeling for numbers (both small and large) and with solid understanding of the world. If there was a proper Montessori school in the area, I'd seriously consider it.

HOWEVER, the reality of this country, is that Montessori system is not developed here, so you'd still need to go back to mainstream middle/high school. And that means taking exams either at 7, 8, 11 or 13. So, before committing to any school - I'd check where their kids end up going for their next school.

Good luck!

ag123 Mon 23-Feb-15 18:32:41

Highgate do a 3+ entry though, no?

Or there's The Avenue which basically specifically prepare for 7+ (I have heard that you don't necessarily have to have been on the list for a long time)

Also, if you're even considering schlepping it over to Hampstead then there will be so many other pre-preps you could consider...

AliceAnneB Mon 23-Feb-15 20:09:32

Thanks for your feedback! My DC is currently at Montessori House in Muswell Hill. We have been very happy with it but the his Directress and the Head have both just resigned (Norfolk House has bought MH). I had assumed that since MH was an AMI Monty that he could go on to elementary at the Monty in Hampstead but today was informed that this is not the case despite that being what it states on the website. We passed on the 3+ for Highgate because I am a true believer in Montessori education for preschool age and wanted that for him. I also just wasn't that impressed with the preprep. I thought the junior school was great but the preprep left me cold. We are too late for the Avenue and I'm not sure I know of any other feeder schools? Rhodes has an outstanding ofsted and I presumed that if he's academic that with a tutor he could pass the 7+ but you all seem to think that would be a stressful and unlikely to succeed route.

I was trying to avoid the cross heath commute if I could help it but it's looking like I better start looking in Hampstead as well although we we seem to be late as he's the ripe old age of 3. As for continuity of friends I just don't know what to think.

As for friends I was hoping he could form friendships from clubs and then join a school at 7+ when most others are new too? We done heaps of toddler groups and he already has lots of little buddies.

I would be happy with state as an option but 4 just seems so young to be shoved in with 30 kids. My stepDC hated reception and just wasn't ready and I don't want that for my son.

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Threeunderthree33 Mon 23-Feb-15 20:12:23

I heard that the number of primary places in Muswell Hill is being increased. Rhodes is now 3 form entry and St James Muswell Hill is going from one to two. So even if you don't get into St James', there is a bit less pressure elsewhere too. I believe that Whitehall Park picked up a few Muswell Hill children too. There are some rave reviews of WP from parents.

The transfer from state to private is perfectly possible if your child is bright. For the 11+ people seem to have a tutor for 2 years before, I suspect it is a shorter period for the 7+. There will be children entering Highgate at 7 who have been to state primary school.

If you haven't looked, there is a document on the Haringey Council website with distances for schools.

Parents at the Avenue seem very happy with it.

ag123 Mon 23-Feb-15 20:31:43

If you get into Rhodes I think you would be fine (depending on aptitude of your son obv)
It's just whether you get in!


AliceAnneB Mon 23-Feb-15 20:49:55

So I went on the .gov website that is linked through the Haringey council and it calculates the distance to the school based on postcode rather than specific address which isn't actually all that helpful when we are right on the margin. Last year the last place offered to a child at Rhodes was .35 of a mile and according to the calculator our postcode is .31. But is that the middle of the postcode or the edge? And if it's the edge, then which edge? If it's the furthest edge then we would be .38 and out. If it's the closest edge I think we would be more like .27 and in. I called the council to ask if they could plug our address in and tell me our exact distance. But no, they can't. They can only do that during the application period over the fall. So she told me to call back next October! Really? I asked if she knew the logic in the postocode distances as in does it calculate from the middle of the postcode etc and she did not. So we are no further forward knowing and apparently won't know until next fall. The whole UK system blows my mind.

I haven't got a foggy whether my son is bright or not. He's still so little. I'm leaning toward moving him down to the Montessori in Hornsey so he would be at least eligible to go to the Monty elementary in Hampstead. But my DH has concerns that too long in a Monty and we will end up with an itinerant musician. ;)

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AliceAnneB Mon 23-Feb-15 21:07:08

Sorry one more question. Does anyone know of anyone successfully doing the 7+ route from a state north london school? If so when would we have to start tutoring?

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Threeunderthree33 Wed 25-Feb-15 06:41:29

Have a look on the 3/4/5/7+ support threads. Also, have a chat with private schools that your child might apply to. Ask if children in state schools will have covered all the material required for the entrance exam.

I think that some children switch from state to private at 7, but 11 is more common. Once families are in a good state primary school they tend to stick with it.

The last distance offer for Rhodes Ave changes from year to year. If in your year, a couple that would have gone there instead go to the enlarged St James or Eden, then that frees up spaces and the last distance would be greater.

From everything you have said, I can see that you might want a back up place in a private school. But there are very good state schools in MH and you would then enjoy an easy journey to school and lots of local friends. And state schools might be a bit more relaxed and in line with you favoured Montessori approach at this stage.

One more thought. If you have any religious affiliation, then look at those schools to see if you might meet the criteria. Eden, for instance, has a very relaxed criteria.

MMmomKK Wed 25-Feb-15 09:16:59

From what I've seen - people mostly stay at the state system until 11 because by 11 the gap between state/private is less, kids are older and more ready to learn, so they better understand why they are being tutored.

State schools are a lot more relaxed in the early years, which is great for kids. But it does make prepping for 7+ especially painful. You not only need to cover extra material, but also replicate constant testing that's going on in the preps, so that your kid gets used to doing tests.

ag123 Wed 25-Feb-15 15:07:24

Just in case it's of any interest, I looked at a school today, Keble Prep in Winchmore Hill which seemed very lovely. Apparently they have several boys who come from Muswell Hill and they do have a bus service (not completely sure of route though)

MillyMollyMama Wed 25-Feb-15 17:37:45

You seem to abandon Montessori principles pretty easily if you want to start tutoring! The two don't really go together, do they? I think you either want a Montessori education, and stick with it, or you abandon it early to go for something else. It will be pretty tough sticking with Montessori and tutoring at the same time. Also, if you have to tutor, you are more or less saying the Montessori is not teaching wehat he needs. So what is the advantage of going to it?

As for larger class sizes in state schools, it is the quality of teaching and learning that matters. All classes of this size will have teaching assistants and plenty of children learn really well in this setting. You cannot assume a small class will have an outstanding teacher in a private school. You could have a poor teacher who cannnot each 16 children satisfactorily. If he has plenty of buddies already, why would he not settle in a larger class? 93% of the schoool population do.

milkyway1304 Thu 26-Feb-15 12:39:22

Hi Alice, I'm also not from the UK and living in Muswell Hill with my almost 1 year old so am a bit behind you on thinking of schools etc! Have your neighbours got children- and if so do you know where they go? If they have gotten in to Rhodes Avenue in recent years chances are your son will too. I really don't think there are any bad schools in Muswell Hill and I would be happy with any of the state options. I'm definitely planning state for primary at least. We are probably a little luckier in that we seem to be well within the catchment for Coldfall, depending on year may just make Tetherdown, and are extremely close to Our Lady of Muswell (which we would qualify for on faith grounds) and Eden which we would make on distance. My neighbours kids go to a mixture of Coldfall, Eden and Our Lady of Muswell- all kids and parents seem very happy with the schools.

AliceAnneB Thu 26-Feb-15 13:19:01

Really interesting feedback on the 11+ tutoring being less stressful than the 7+. I was thinking tutoring at 7 would be easier as they are less aware and hopefully less anxious. My stepson did the 11+ and it was not a pleasant experience for him so I was hoping by doing it early for my son at 7 it might be not such a negative experience.

Thanks for the idea ag123 I hadn't heard of Keble before and now I've booked a tour!

I don't see a conflict in tutoring my son for the next stage in his education. Montessori would not prepare him for the exam or any exam for that matter so he would need to be prepared somehow. As for class size I'm not comfortable with 30+ in a class. It's not so much an academic concern although I do think it can't hurt to have more individual attention it's more about his experience and pastoral care. I just don't see how you can look after than many kids! I want him to enjoy his school experience and find it as enriching as possible which I think is easier done in a smaller class. All four of my sons grandparents are teachers/professors and all have encouraged me to look for a place for him with a smaller class size and it does intuitively make sense to me.

Thanks again for all the help. If anyone knows of any other schools we should look I'd love to hear them.

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AliceAnneB Thu 26-Feb-15 13:21:33

threeunderthree33 where do I find the support threads for the 7+? I looked under education but I don't see anything. Am I being daft or is there not a specific heading?

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ag123 Thu 26-Feb-15 14:19:59

They're all in this section (primary education). I'll try and link one (is it square brackets I need?!)

Dioskouri Thu 22-Mar-18 19:42:38

Resurrecting this thread in the hope that AliceAnneB might see it. We are in a very similar position. What choice did you make in the end, and how did it work out?

Picklesandcheese1 Thu 22-Mar-18 20:06:46

It's me! The OP. In the end the Montessori was a red herring because he hated it and didn't settle well at all. We moved him to pre-prep in Hampstead Garden Suburb for a year of preschool. He will sit the 7+ next year. Happy to help if I can.

Dioskouri Thu 22-Mar-18 21:02:49

Hello! Do you mean Annemount? We have ruled out Annemount - found it rather terrifying...

Iwantawhippet Sun 25-Mar-18 15:08:28

Highgate Primary is very good and has a large catchment, St Michaels too. Both have been affected by a free school adding 60 places nearby.

picklesandcheese1 Mon 26-Mar-18 12:17:34

We went to see Highgate Primary and for our DS it wouldn't have suited. It was too big, too loud and chaotic. He needed a smaller class size to flourish at an early age. He would probably be fine now but I don't regret our decision to go private one bit.

DS was quiet and fairly timid when he started in prereception and he's come out confident and achieving his targets really well.

Having had kids in both state and private the difference you get by going private is most pronounced for quiet middling kid who wouldn't get much attention in a class of 30. The high achieving state schools spend a lot of time drilling English and math once you're out of reception. The private schools can offer a huge range of extracurriculars and more free play. They also can work on the emotional/social development of the kids because they have less than 2/3 the kids.

Hope that helps. Other schools we considered were Grimsdell, the Avenue and Keble.

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