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Kensington Prep or outstanding state primary WWYD?

(54 Posts)
BigMamaMama Sun 29-Jan-17 19:19:16

Has anyone chosen an outstanding state primary over a top prep school and regretted it? We are planning to go independent for secondary. I'm sure the education is close enough between the prep and state but I would think the stress of the 11+ would be much less at the prep as they are so well prepared there. Is there anything else I should be considering?

GieryFas Sun 29-Jan-17 19:29:46

Some of the factors to consider (that I hadn't realised until I had kids at primary school) are things like the amount of homework and the commuting time, and the impact that has on time for other activities. So my kids have the time (and I have the money!) to do a lot of extracurricular stuff, which gives them a richer experience, a chance to try new things, and a selection of friendships outside school. A prep maybe have all that (though I doubt the range would be as wide as what we have on offer locally) but it would all be with the same children, and that's not always a good thing.

On preparing for 11+ / entrance exams, it is a worry, especially as there's just no guidance from the school about where might be sensible to apply. But that's something that we'll probably buy in, via an experienced tutor, to work out where to apply and to polish up exam technique. Though from what I hear from friends, there's plenty of children at preps who are also tutored.

The things that we don't have at a state primary are specialist teachers for French, music, sport etc, and also there can be a lack of academic peers (it depends on your child and their year group). Those are the things that are the most obvious downsides, IME. But the local friendships, the time freed up by the lack of homework and living so close by, and (for us) the caring ethos of the school are major advantages.

LondonMum8 Sun 29-Jan-17 21:27:42

Sadly, the lack of academic peers will likely mean that the children will struggle to even keep up with the NC. Any more able children will get paired up with the lagging ones, I guess for teacher's sanity sake as they are struggling to manage their classes of 30. Yes, in theory you can make up for all this through heroic weekend tutoring efforts over the years. What do good tutors charge? £50-60/h?

Add to that the government plans to slash funding for more state schools. In our local outstanding primary that's projected to cause a loss of £500/pupil and 7 teachers. Given the current political and economic uncertainty, coupled with the inevitable rise of inflation, the prospects for the state sector look bleak. Sadly.

Just my .02.

timeforachangeofusername Sun 29-Jan-17 21:36:28

I had to choose between an outstanding state primary and putney high school. I chose the state primary. However, they are not the same thing with different names. There are pros and cons to each. In our case, after one term, my DD moved to Putney High and I have never regretted it.

RoccoW14 Sun 29-Jan-17 22:04:13

If you choose Ken Prep, see you there for Reception 2017!

Best of luck with your decision.

sw15mum Mon 30-Jan-17 09:22:47

It will depend a lot on the state primary option. DCs are at a state primary and I don't recognise at all the description of more able pupils being paired up with less able ones or the lack of academic peers.
Tutoring does go on but all the private school pupils seem to do it to so I'm not sure that will eliminate the stress.
I do however think it's important to be happy with your decision whatever you decide to do. There are always parents at school who moan about things all the time and think it would all be fantastic in a private school but all schools have pros and cons and the one thing you have no say on is their classmates.

BertrandRussell Mon 30-Jan-17 09:26:34

"Sadly, the lack of academic peers will likely mean that the children will struggle to even keep up with the NC. Any more able children will get paired up with the lagging ones"

Ah. The old rich children are cleverer than poor children canard......

GieryFas Mon 30-Jan-17 09:32:20

I don't recognise the pairing up to help other children, or of struggling to keep up with the NC. It's all differentiated as far as I can tell, and they choose their own level of challenge, with some guidance from the teacher.

What I have found is that, if you have an child who is an outlier in terms of academic ability, it can be hard to get that a) recognised and b) properly catered for. I think this is probably true of most schools, but that it is less likely that a child who is academically able will be such an outlier in a school which selects on academic ability. They basically have an easier job.

I'm very happy with our choice (excellent state primary) but there are things I would change about the school if I could. But for me (and us as a family) the positives strongly outweigh the negatives.

strugglingwithmaths Mon 30-Jan-17 09:32:37

If you're planning to go private for secondary then think hard. We struggled- the gap at year 6 between state and private in the material they need to have covered for the exams is big. This isn't saying the state education wasn't good- it just didn't touch lots of things they needed for exams at selective London private schools. There will always be people with hugely bright children in state who claim their child sailed through the exams with no tutoringsmile, however for the merely "clever" child we found that we needed at least 18 months additional tuition. That has an impact on family life.

LondonMum8 Mon 30-Jan-17 09:58:21

Your wouldn't call your statment a canard - rubbish will do. Most privately educated children are necessarily middle class, which I think is well documented to have a positive impact on DCs educational status. There is nothing stopping poor children from applying to independent schools, and top schools will have bursary-based intake in the region of 25%.

Ultimately, you do have 6-10:1 competition for places at top indies, with results around 100% GCSE A*-C, and similarly for A levels.

BertrandRussell Mon 30-Jan-17 10:39:35

"top schools will have bursary-based intake in the region of 25%."

Oh yes, I forgot all those 100% bursaries...........

Trumpdespiser Mon 30-Jan-17 10:49:56

Is money a big issue? If so, state

Which school is closer? If the journey to state is easier, then probably state.

Which school does your gut feeling point you towards? Which did you like the feel of most when you looked round?

LondonMum8 Mon 30-Jan-17 12:16:59

@BR I take the implied point that the system isn't very fair, but you can't use that to argue that top academic indies are full of mediocre spoiled rich kids.

Stressedstatemum Mon 30-Jan-17 13:00:19

My DD is Yr6 at a very good state primary and is currently applying to independent secondaries. We will find out in 2 weeks how successful she has been, though I'm cautiously optimistic.

My 2ps worth - LondonMum's comment does not reflect our experience and frankly that attitude may be a reason to be wary of doing private the whole way through. Whilst DD will probably go private, she is well aware that some of the best kids in her class, from lovely families (both mc and non mc) will be going to the local comprehensive. She's also aware that while she may be better academically than some kids, many have other talents (art, sport, humour) where she is not even close. Even if she goes private for secondary, she'll never have that feeling of 'letting her kids down' if she later sends her own children state.

The tutoring has been fine. She's done roughly an hour most weekdays for yr 5 and the first term of year 6. Whilst of course this interferes with family time, my understanding from neighbours with kids at prep schools is that they normally get at least one hour homework in those years, and that the vast majority have private tutors on top.

I also expect the stress is worse at prep schools. In DD"s class she is in a minority, so it's not a subject that gets discussed much at the school gate. The children are also largely unaware of the ranking of different schools, which I doubt is the case at a prep.

However, that said, I had a look at Kensington Prep's offers list and it is impressive - a quarter to St Paul's. My impression is that it is very hard to get into the absolute top schools and a prep gives the edge there, but for a more mid-ranking senior school - say Putney High - a prep doesn't add much. So while many preps may not add much beyond an outstanding primary, that particular prep may be an exception.

ToohotforaSeptday Mon 30-Jan-17 13:18:44

I think 11+ is a lot of pressure anywhere. If you are in state, you most likely will have to spend quite a large number of hours outside school to prepare for the exam, tutor or no tutor. If you are in prep, the atmosphere, the chats and competition among the children and the parents in the playground will still be stressful. It will be bad either way!

Trumpdespiser Mon 30-Jan-17 13:33:57

Ken Prep is selective, so I would expect it to send more girls to the "top" secondaries than many other less selective preps. If OP's dd got into KP, she stands a decent chance with top schools later. I would agree, speaking from experience, that there is far less stress for children if they take 11+ from a state primary, parents freak out either way time

Trumpdespiser Mon 30-Jan-17 13:34:13

IME not time

NicolaMarlowsMerlin Mon 30-Jan-17 18:50:09

Not sure which state you have been offered, but Ken prep is outstanding among other prep schools, with a fantastic ethos, outstanding academics, a lovely atmosphere - assuming money is not a big issue I'd chose this over any alternative.

AnotherNewt Mon 30-Jan-17 18:58:33

You won't know which primary school until offers day on 18 April.

If you don't get in to the 'outstanding' state school, what then?

The big league London preps are a world apart from state primaries. Specialist subject teaching from graduates in the subject? Fully equipped labs? Native speaker language tuition? On-site auditorium and concert hall - that the pupils really do use? Dedicated art and music rooms? Ample supply of materials? Library?

What matters to you at the stage - the education or the likelihood of passing example to a selective secondary? If the utilitarian approach, go state and tutor either in parallel, or start when you lose your nerve.

VictoriaMcdade Mon 30-Jan-17 19:02:12

I think what you have to be aware of is that you have no idea how bright your child may be when they are 11 when you look at them at 3 or 4. Unless they are outstanding.

Howevet, If you Do have a very clever kid, then it may not make much of a difference in outcome Between state and private, so I would go state and use your time / money for lots of extra curricular and fun and enriching activities.

If you have an averagely bright child, I would def go private as they will have a much better chance of getting into an indie at secondary level. You can top up with tutoring with an averagely bright child who had been taught French etc from Y1, but it will be a hell of a slog for an average kid from a state school who has not had that opportunity.

At the end of the day you have to choose the right school your your particular child. No one here knows what you DC is like, and where they would thrive. You are in a fortunate position, but you have to go with your own gut.

Suzietwo Mon 30-Jan-17 19:02:12

Sorry I'm just pleased to read this - I went to Ken high/prep in the 80s!

VictoriaMcdade Mon 30-Jan-17 19:03:44

Ken Prep sounds amazing btw!

EddieStobbart Mon 30-Jan-17 19:12:13

Sadly, the lack of academic peers will likely mean that the children will struggle to even keep up with the NC

Where on earth is this? I don't recognise this at all. I used to work with lots of people with DCs at private school and in conversation it always struck me that the ones who had been privately educated themselves had no idea what state education was actually like. Most of them seemed to be supplementing their (primary aged) children's education with tutors as well.

LondonMum8 Mon 30-Jan-17 19:27:47

This is in an outstanding London primary. Neighbours with a DC in a good one complain about teachers yelling at children. I guess none of that rings any bells with you hence it's not true?

EddieStobbart Mon 30-Jan-17 19:36:32

I don't hear of teachers yelling at primary school aged children in class, no but I'm interested in how that links to the academic ability of the children?

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