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Private primary school assessment....what to expect

(21 Posts)
PersisFord Thu 23-Feb-17 21:07:55

Hello! I have just put my twins down for our local private school and they have to do an assessment morning "to see if they are likely to be a good fit". This school is very academic and prides itself on the fact that the kids work at about a year above what state school kids are doing. I am not particularly keen on this as an ethos....but we need an insurance school in case we don't get a state school place, and it does seem to be a happy place with a lovely library and so I'd like them to get in.

What do they test in these assessments? Is it what they can do or just their general attitude and potential? How can I prepare the girls - should I just say they are going to have a play or that it's a "taste" of big school or that it's to see if they like the school? I don't want them to think they are being tested or judged in any way.

I tried really hard to extract some information from the head but she was particular cagey about it.

Any advice would be very welcome!!

ridinghighinapril Thu 23-Feb-17 22:18:18

Tell them it is a playdate with a teacher and some children. Adults are not allowed as the toys and games are just for the kids but you'll be having coffee in a room right near them and taking to the other mums and dads who are also not allowed in.
If you can take them on a visit to the school beforehand then that is helpful as a reference in their mind when you talk about it in the build up.
Lastly a bribe always goes down well - so offer them a treat for afterwards. Hopefully, as they are both going together then knowing the other twin is there will make the whole process easier, esp separating from you.
Good luck!

ridinghighinapril Thu 23-Feb-17 22:19:51

P.s They will have no idea they are being tested as it will (should) be all done through play, so provided they are happy separating from you then it should be a stress-free experience for them.

wickerlampshade Fri 24-Feb-17 11:23:44

What's the school? loads of threads about this, search for the ones called 3+ 4+ 5+ 7+ support for more info.

GU24Mum Fri 24-Feb-17 13:26:47

It really depends on the school. If the assessment is some time between October and January, I'd assume it's vaguely (all the way through to extremely) competitive and that they'll look at all the children applying and choose a classful from that. If you are being asked along to a taster morning or similar then I'd expect that to mean that there is a place but they want to check that your child doesn't look to have educational or behavioural issues that they think they'd rather not cope with - and for different schools that will be different things. Sorry, this is probably very vague!

PersisFord Fri 24-Feb-17 13:36:58

That's what I don't know.....the assessment is in June when the girls will be nearly 3. I've been reading the 3 4 7+ thread and am now terrified - it didn't cross my mind to get a tutor!! They are at home with me or the childminder and although we do do things like letters and numbers and puzzles, we only do it for fun as I assumed they would just learn all of that at school.

I think maybe we will work a bit more on holding pencils properly (DD2 v good, DD1 much less interested!) and puzzles now the baby is old enough not to just eat the pieces.

Can I find out how many children apply for each place? I don't have the feeling that it's massively competitive but I do know they ask children to leave if they don't do well enough academically.

wickerlampshade Fri 24-Feb-17 13:40:15

if you name the school there are likely to be people here who know it.

PersisFord Sun 26-Feb-17 21:24:27

I can't.......I'm worried it would out me and I've said loads of things on here that I wouldn't want the neighbours to know!!! It's a small school and I can't imagine there will be loads of twins going......

Thank you all for your help though. There a non-selective private school not too far away and I'll go and look round there too to have a backup option.

flowers and thank you for being so nice. I'm so glad the kids won't know they are being assessed and that they will be nice to them!!! I got the fear when they said I had to be there in case they got "distressed"......

CruCru Tue 28-Feb-17 20:50:02

Nearly 3 is young to do an assessment - does the sound have a pre Reception year?

One of the things that the school will be looking at is whether your children are able to have a reasonable, civil conversation with an unfamiliar adult. So they may listen to a story and then be asked some questions about it afterwards.

One thing that seems common is getting children to draw a picture of a person - but your girls may be a bit young for that.

Tell them that they are going to have a playdate so that you can decide whether they would be happy at that school.

PersisFord Tue 28-Feb-17 20:54:03

They will be nearly 4, sorry.

I think telling them they are going to play at the school is a great idea. Dd1 is often pretty rowdy and dd2 can be quite shy....but these people are teachers and if they can't cope with that then I guess it's not the right school for us anyway.

They are excellent at drawing aliens. Hopefully that will do!!

Tatlerer Tue 28-Feb-17 21:02:31

Hi persis, my now 3 yr old DD did two of these assessments when she was about 2.5, so younger than your twins, but fwiw the main thing seemed to be seeing if she would come away from me easily enough. They also looked for speech/ curiosity with the toys around her. Please don't worry about a tutor! Seems like crazy overkill for such little people!

LightMcQueen Tue 28-Feb-17 23:31:02

My 3 year old son had a couple of assessments just before Xmas. One was an hour and I think was less academic. The other was a whole afternoon and definitely looked for more things. If you want them to succeed there are some tips I can suggest.

Firstly call the admissions department and ask them what they're looking for. If they don't mention something you believe they might be looking for, just ask. E.g. I asked if they'd ask my son to write his name and once I knew they would I focused on pencil grip and writing his name.

Secondly, practice numbers, letters, shapes, colours etc. All the basics. There are something's which can't be practiced but embedded over time, but the aforementioned can definitely be taught.

Finally and importantly, though they may not say it, at the end of the day it's a subjective assessment. You can leave an impression. Visit the head leading up to the assessment, ask questions, demonstrate why you're keen on your child attending. And after the assessment drop an email to the admissions department thanking them for their time etc and reiterating your desire to have your child attend the school.

All these little things make a difference imo as it's humans making subjective decisions.

PersisFord Wed 01-Mar-17 07:56:52

Ok, great tips. They can definitely hold a pencil and i will bribe them to learn to write their names (long names so they tend to stop after the first couple of letters). Colours abs shapes and numbers are ok I think, and they are v interested and curious about the world.

I tried to find out from the admissions head what they would ask but she flatly refused to discuss it at all. But we have been to meet the headmaster a couple of times so hopefully that will help. I'll email him again nearer the time.

I'm not sure how happy they will be leaving me - they only do 2 mornings at preschool and there are often lots of dramas at pick up and drop off! I can hopefully bribe for that too though.

What would you dress them in? Dresses? Leggings? Jeans? It's in June. I was thinking about maybe some pinafore dresses to look like the uniform a bit?

What should I wear?!?!?

CruCru Wed 01-Mar-17 08:46:40

One of the schools near me specify that the girls should be dressed in stretchy, comfortable clothes that they can do a range of activities in - so perhaps a stretchy top and leggings.

For you - I would dress as though you are going to church. Not necessarily a suit but jeans are out.

Tatlerer Wed 01-Mar-17 10:26:34

Have you been asked to take a photo of them with you? My friend was asked to do this and swore by dressing the child the same on the assessment day as they were in the picture. Aided with memorability.

ridinghighinapril Wed 01-Mar-17 16:11:34

I dressed smart cas (so unmemorable that I can't even remember) but saw people dressed in all sorts including suits, paint splattered overalls and very 'street' - they didn't care what the parents wore at all (all our kids got in) which is as it should be.

For the kids, I dressed them in comfy clothes and something they were happy in, so leggings for DD and trackie bottoms for DS i.e. as children should be dressed, ready for play and fun.

Having said all that, I am not in N. London, so I don't know what the "etiquette" is like there.

Good luck!

ridinghighinapril Wed 01-Mar-17 18:06:12

P. s ignore the north London bit - I'm confusing this thread with another confused

Leeds2 Wed 01-Mar-17 18:34:47

I would also ask if they will both be in the same "group" on assessment day, if there is more than one group. School may want to look at whether they are happy not being with their sister.

PersisFord Wed 01-Mar-17 19:03:13

Oh no.....if they have to be separated then they will be miserable. I'll ring up nearer the time and ask. But they won't like it!!

It's a very formal school. Proper uniforms from age 2. On paper it sounds horrific....but it is lovely - happy children, lovely teachers, lovely facilities but obviously used by primary school kids so not fancy libraries with lots of priceless first editions. Lots of well-read Julia Donaldson and Harry Potter when I took a look.

Perhaps I'll go for leggings and t-shirts but nice clean tshirts and leggings with no holes. I will wear some work trousers and a clean top, and work makeup.

Thank you all again for your help!!

JamDonutsRule Wed 01-Mar-17 20:59:14

If I were you I'd have a good read of the 4+ admissions thread, and also change your username so you can ask about the specific school without outing yourself.

shinywhiteteeth Wed 01-Mar-17 22:04:40

My girls were 5 & 6. They listened to a story and talked about what they liked and didn't like about it, drew picture of a monster and name it, played some games like jigsaws and building blocks - they had a great time! My eldest was nervous and cried but within 5 minutes of leaving me had cheered up and joined in and thought it was brilliant. Our school is quite formal in terms of uniform and teaching etc but teachers are lovely and very supportive. Good luck!

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