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School won't keep our place - what to do?

(289 Posts)
VitAL Tue 11-Apr-17 23:06:07

Hi all,
I'm really stuck with a difficult dilemma and would appreciate any thoughts. DC is currently at a very academic pre-prep, we chose it precisely for their leavers' destinations, they send a lot of children to three top selective indies high on our list and some pupils to a couple more selective schools. DC is happy there, but I want to give 4+ a go. I feel I would really regret if I don't, would be thinking all the time about opportunities lost and it's a bit easier to get in at 4+ than 7+. I wouldn't say DC is exceptionally academic at 3.5 but strong-willed (sometimes to the extent of being bossy with even older children), emotionally mature and disciplined/co-operative so I think could do quite well at 4+.

The problem is our school won't keep our place for Reception if they find out we're sitting 4+ and I think they easily can as it has very good links with most of the schools on our list. I have actually sent applications to two schools before I knew about our school's policy (it's not an official policy AFAIK but people talk). I've no idea if they actually ask for references and reports at 4+. I'm still thinking about applying to at least three more schools. I guess (I'm not 100% sure) I could leave the current school's details blank on application forms but I feel bad about it TBH.

If we get kicked out of the current school we might end up with no place at all. We might possibly get a last minute place at a non-selective non-academic indie, but that would mean extra money on tuition for 7+ with less chances and much more uncertainty as we plan to buy a house close to the school if DC gets in at 4+, if not that would be another 3-4 years in limbo.

I'm at a loss what to do and so stressed about the whole situation that I lost sleep. Should I abandon the whole idea and wait until 7+?Please help, I really need to make up my mind.

fatowl Wed 12-Apr-17 01:46:12

I'm a governor at a private school overseas, so forgive me if I am not understanding something but you are saying if you go for the 4+ your current school would kick you out? Regardless of whether you gave notice on the place or not?
Sounds like very shady practice to my mind and not in-keeping with what is best for the child and not a school I'd want my kids out. It also makes no business sense.
With a practice like that, are they are so sure of themselves they think it's fine to treat their families like that and do they have such a long waiting list and high demand for their places they can confidently risk word of mouth getting around that they are uncaring. Especially as there are obviously schools nearby that parents prefer (Like yourself)

The most I'd expect from the ruthless "business" end of the school is to time their confirmations for the next term before the 4+ is sat, so at worst you will be in the position of being liable for their fees even if you go to the school where you are sitting the 4+.

If this is the cut throat world of private schools in the UK, I'll stay overseas I think.
I live in a city abroad that has many private schools and the competition is fierce- poaching of students and staff do happen, but even the very top schools wouldn't risk kicking out a paying student because they had deigned to look at another school (it's ridiculous business practice)

fatowl Wed 12-Apr-17 02:13:54

Sorry for the typos in that post - it's early here and still on my first cup of tea!

wickerlampshade Wed 12-Apr-17 06:16:11

This must be Hampstead Hill, if you are in London. It's a horrible policy and one of the things that put me off the school. There are other pre-preps around. Don't be bullied.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 09:32:55

@fatowl Yes, they are in high demand as far as I can tell. They turn out excellent results and for many people that's what matters, myself included.

Butterymuffin Wed 12-Apr-17 09:37:05

I wouldn't want my child going to a school that so clearly sees them as just a set of results. But if that is your top priority and you think this school is the best way to achieve that outcome, then you're stuck with doing things their way.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 09:55:30

@wickerlampshade Well, it's take it or leave it in a way, I only wish I knew better before we committed, it's such a stress now that it's too late for a place at an academic school.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 10:23:39

@Butterymuffin Maybe worse than that, not a set of results, but just a source of income. But private education is rarely charity, it's a huge business after all.
Yes, choices. I don't see the point of paying 18K+ if results are mediocre, that can be had for free. I just can't buy into the idea of 'contacts', 'accents', 'facilities' etc, it's not what I'm looking for in private education.

CruCru Wed 12-Apr-17 10:25:45

Ah, I see your problem. Presumably, when you sent in the application forms for the two schools you have applied for, you put the school's details on the form? If so, then I would assume that those schools you have applied for will ask the current school for references.

In which case, the current school will know that you are applying to other schools. You may as well apply to the three other schools in that case.

You don't know for certain that the current school will kick your child out, it sounds as though that is gossip.

CrazyCatzCuckoo Wed 12-Apr-17 10:26:08

What are you looking for exactly at age 4?

AnotherNewt Wed 12-Apr-17 10:40:39

Can I just check: you are looking for a reception place at an 'academic' pre-prep/prep for September 2018.

Your DS is currently in the nursery of a pre-prep with no automatic transfer to reception (because he could be asked to leave at that point), and the school either does not have (or you don't like the look of) a prep department.

The other schools you like have 4+ and 7+ entry points (not 8+).

Current school preps for 7+ (but not 4+ or 8+)

At some stage, your DS is going to have to go through a selection process for the schools you currently like the look of, but as he is only 3 there's no way of telling yet what sort of school is going to suit him best.

My start point would be trying to work out exactly why you have cold feet about current school. Are there things about it (only apparent once your DC has started) that you don't actually like?

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 10:43:30

@CruCru Yes, I did put the details on the form. Though some of the schools don't ask for reports at 4. Not sure about these two I've applied for, I've read so many admission documents of so many schools that it's all blurred already. And I don't know at what point they would ask for references. I assume it's after the assessments and if we don't go ahead with 4+ after all, the whole thing just lapses?..
I can't confirm if it's a policy or a gossip, have never seen it in any of their documents, but cannot ask them directly obv.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 11:01:15

@AnotherNewt No, I'm looking at schools that go 4-18, for stability reasons. We don't need any other pre-prep as current is good and they transfer to reception automatically. They go to 7+ only.
We will have slightly more choices at 7+ as City doesn't do 4+ and I quite like the school, but that's all.
Yes, it's very difficult to tell at this age if DC2 is academic. DC1 is G&T and went to top-20 grammar, but DC2 doesn't seem to be that bright, though knows ABC, numbers etc since 2yo without effort but it's pretty common. It may be reasonable perhaps to wait and see what school would fit DC2 better, but it creates huge uncertainty in the family as we are looking to buy a house asap and the location depends on the school.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 11:04:18

@CrazyCatzCuckoo Ah, that's a difficult question. It's easier to tell what I'm not looking for generally - ultra posh SKen schools iyswim.

bojorojo Wed 12-Apr-17 12:45:21

I would not look for an all through school. Children can get very jaded being in the same place for all their schooling. There is something about growing up and going to senior school at 13. You must have liked this prep school when you chose it and it had the right exam perfomance that you desired. Do I now understand that your child is not suited to this academic environment or is it posh people you want to avoid? A bit difficult at academic prep schools in London one would think. I would stay put - and grin and bear it. You seem to have become over-anxious abut this. He is only pre prep!

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 13:01:31

It's not extremely academic yet at 3, DC is doing fine so far, though difficult to compare with other children, the school doesn't do sets or even informal 'rankings'. The social background is rather homogeneous, well paid City professionals, but it's basically us so no problem here either.
The main reasons are a chance to get in to an all through school and the need to decide in the location. And 7+ will be much more stressful, at 4+ it's all play for them and no pressure.

Thanks for all opinions!

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 13:05:15

*on the location

wickerlampshade Wed 12-Apr-17 14:02:26

There is something about growing up and going to senior school at 13.

yes, great fun having to spend two years of your life preparing for the 11+ or CE.

bojorojo Wed 12-Apr-17 20:52:25

At my local 4-18 school there are no guaranteed transfers from prep to senior and the lowest performing children are filtered out. The difficulty of finding another school is then very stressful. The county wide 11 plus will mean these children will not go to a grammar school and there are no other local private schools. That scenario ends up being very difficult as often the only option is a secondary modern. Many, many parents are happy with CE prep (or see it as a necessary evil) and the children are ready to move on to a new environment with new challenges. Very few top academic private schools go from 4-18. Some schools set their own exams and these are not so bad.

wickerlampshade Wed 12-Apr-17 21:01:31

Would you consider Habs to be a "top academic private school"? They have just written to all parents to say that junior pupils won't take the 11+ and will all transfer except in exceptional circumstances. In most of the NW London private schools that go from 4-18 only a handful leave at 11, well under 5%.

Wheredidallthejaffacakesgo Wed 12-Apr-17 21:10:53

<reeling> but the child is three years old... really what difference does it make at this age? How is a three year old academic or not academic? Isn't the main objective at that age knowing your colours and numbers and remembering to get to the toilet in time?

I realise that private education in London is in a different world to the rest of us. I have focussed on letting my children discover their own talents and nurture them, and they've been just fine. I think the OP should recognise that parental engagement is far more significant than the choice of pre-prep in terms of longer term educational engagement.

wickerlampshade Wed 12-Apr-17 22:02:04

I realise that private education in London is in a different world to the rest of us

That's the thing though. In reality, most kids will do very well in these academic schools. It is easier to get in at 4/5 than at 7, and easier at 7 than at 11. The 11+ is hideous. It's a very sensible thing to be looking at getting them sorted early.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 23:47:35

Isn't the main objective at that age knowing your colours and numbers and remembering to get to the toilet in time?

Not really, most children here are well past all that at 3.

I think the OP should recognise that parental engagement is far more significant than the choice of pre-prep in terms of longer term educational engagement.
Yes, I can see now that choosing the school and parental involvement are mutually exclusive, thank you.

VitAL Wed 12-Apr-17 23:50:37

@wickerlampshade What would you suggest, knowing the local situation? Actually we are quite flexible yet, looking at Alleyn's also, albeit reluctantly.

Atenco Thu 13-Apr-17 02:55:35

Sorry for changing the subject but I am genuinely curious, OP. You say: "Not really, most children here are well past all that at 3". What on earth are they doing?

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