Boys pre-prep advice Fulham/Putney

(30 Posts)
Itsmommy Tue 28-Jan-20 19:20:11

Looking for advice in selecting independent primary school for DS. DH is a Squirrels/Kings alumni and is keen to duplicate if possible. Wondering which primary/pre primary schools we should have on our radar that are closer to Fulham. As well as the benefits/drawbacks of selecting a pre-prep ending Y2/3 vs Y6?
My DD will attend school in parsons green, so logistics at work as well.

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Itsmommy Thu 30-Jan-20 09:58:30

I’ve had recommendations for Merlin? Any feedback about this school?
Amazing that a non selective can achieve such leavers destinations as St. Paul’s jr, Bute house, KCS. Does that mean tutoring galore??

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Moominmammacat Thu 30-Jan-20 12:05:08

What is Squirrels/Kings?

Itsmommy Thu 30-Jan-20 12:52:47

@moominmamacat squirrels prep is now Wimbledon common prep (I think?) and Kings College School.

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Jegtre Thu 30-Jan-20 17:51:10

There are few non selective schools nearby that have good results. I would look at Squirrels in detail and see if you like it, not all do. We had a highly academic child and chosen to go to a different school for a variety of reasons. I would look at prospect house if you want something closer by. Merlin was very similar to squirrels for us.

Itsmommy Thu 30-Jan-20 19:13:39

@Jegtre thank you. Could you expand on your impressions of Merlin and Squirrels? I’ve heard that the 4-11 preps don’t really prepare boys for the 7+, so was assuming we needed to try pre prep route? It there are so few of these schools and my fear is that tutoring is unavoidable? DS is both sporty and I suspect academic. I think he needs a busy, sporty, outgoing environment with smallish class size.

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MMmomDD Fri 31-Jan-20 00:18:13

Not a whole lot of choices for the boys in the area. Another one to consider is Eaton House Belgravia. And have a look at Falkner House boys - it’s fairly new but slowly building their reputation.
Wetherby, of course is the coveted school but may be hard to get in if you haven’t got a place already.


Itsmommy Fri 31-Jan-20 09:05:53

@MMmomDD thank you. I think we have time to register in most places. Will have a look at Eaton House and Falkner Boys.
I’m really torn between a pre-prep 4-7/8 and 4-11 prep. Far more local options for the later, but none seem to prepare boys for 7/8+, just 11+. So I’m assuming tutoring would be on us for 7/8+ entry? Or maybe that’s the same predicament regardless of school choice?
I’m not sure which local schools feed into St Paul’s Jr and KCS from 7/8+ or if it matters so long as the boy is prepped for the exam and other willingness/interests/genetics are present, of course. Who is to say now if those qualities will be present, but want to start the right path of possible.

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whatsnextnow Fri 31-Jan-20 11:25:34

Op, all I would say to you is that many very bright boys are simply not mature enough at 7+ to do themselves justice in the exams. Your options at 7+ are SPS, KCS, Latymer Prep and this is the hope of parents who put their DS’ into the pre-preps. However, many boys just need the extra few years and I’ve seen many that “fail” at 7+, only to get into the same schools at 11 plus.
You can’t tell at 4 if there might be mild motor processing issues or dyslexia or some other issue. You really can’t. So if you do go the pre-prep route, are there other schools that you’d be happy for him to go to if he was not successful at 7+? Your options would be somewhere like Prospect House, which would prepare him for KCS, LU, Hampton or SPS at 11+ if they think he has a realistic chance. Otherwise, you would be looking at a prep that goes through to 13+ eg Kings House in Richmond or Tower House in Sheen? Be warned, a lot do tend to get swept down the boarding school route at these 13+ preps though because day school options are limited at this age.

whatsnextnow Fri 31-Jan-20 11:26:59

The only school I’ve heard of that prepares them for 7+, 8+ or 11+ is Fulham Prep.

Itsmommy Fri 31-Jan-20 12:34:02

@whatsnextnow thank you, very helpful! I agree it’s impossible to tell at the point of school registration what is a realistic trajectory for a child. That said, also seems challenging to get on the ‘right’ trajectory en route. Am compelled to leave options open and strategically register DS for 4+ entry so we are in a good position to decide what’s suitable down the road. Just trying to wrap my head around the ‘boys’ path as it differs from the ‘girls’ path (which I’ve only just figured out!!).

Fulham Prep makes sense w DDs school. At a recent open day they mentioned they no longer prep for 7/8+, but entry is possible @ 7/8-11/13. Although wasn’t super keen on Fulham prep beyond pre-prep. Merlin makes sense for us logistically, and you’re right if DS doesn’t make it the first entry point, we may be in a pickle. Prospect house Is another to consider, haven’t yet seen. Would be a contender if they prepped for 7/8+ and allowed the ‘not ready’ group to stay. Eaton house and Wimbledon Common could work, but both make for a long school run, so am less keen, but realize options are limited for boys.

Also take your point about tutoring and prepping young boys along the way, a bit OTT. And I can’t bear the idea of boarding school, so that will be good motivation for exam prep.

It’s really sad that the oversubscribed London system puts so much pressure on young boys and parents. sad

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whatsnextnow Fri 31-Jan-20 13:08:15

If it’s any help I can highly recommend Prospect House and have had my own children go through there - all very different, but they do a good job of guiding them towards what is the right senior school for them. They celebrate children for who they are. There’s great SEN, but also, there are super-academic children there who gain places and scholarships every year to all the most selective schools.
I also have experience of a pre-prep and I did find it a very hot-housing environment, with generally very single-minded parents and frankly, some who were slightly unhinged.
At 11 plus, you also have the options of Kingston Grammar and Hampton, or even CLBS. There’s also Dulwich College, Whitgift, etc. The top handful will sit KCS and LU. Some sit SPS but they still have a more limited 11 plus entry (this may change though in line with KCS)?
Maybe go and see Prospect at their next open day. The head is very impressive - he has a good way with boys in particular. There are some exceptional staff there such as the Director if Studies who came from SPS. Music and drama are of an exceptionally high standard. The school doesn’t have an all-pervasive sports atmosphere like some of the boys schools will, but it’s inclusive and all these schools compete in the same tournaments anyway. Its a really lovely, busy, supportive atmosphere there. None of mine ever had a bad day.

Itsmommy Fri 31-Jan-20 14:14:49

Thank you. I will definitely go see Prospect House.
Do all of the local pre-preps have a hothouse reputation? Might make sense why they can achieve such amazing exit results in the absence of selective entry?! Still baffling to me... Also some kids do benefit from that environment but not sure how to predict whether that environment is suitable, especially without an assessment or teacher input. Here’s to hoping I don’t screw up for DS or inadvertently enter a tiger mums lair...

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jupiter123 Fri 31-Jan-20 14:59:10

I'm afraid that tutoring happens in pre-preps quite a lot, you also have parents who set their mind on SPJ or KCS very early on so competitions can get unhealthy in some of those schools. I would definitely look at the commute too, there are few other good schools around Wimbledon but it is going to be too far for you. We went with the school that felt right for our DS and goes to 13+ although will sit him for 7+ if it feels right as we live next door to it

MummyAZTM Fri 31-Jan-20 19:24:18

Hi, I would just like to know what your thoughts about PHS with regards to my daughter who seems academic so far and wondering if they would prep her for WHS / PHS or more academic schools? Thanks for advise

whatsnextnow Sat 01-Feb-20 08:03:40

Mummy - do you mean would Prospect House prep for PHS or WHS? Yes absolutely! Every year many (most) girls from the middle-top sets are offered places and scholarships at these schools. They are seen as very good schools to get into, but still slightly easier than G&L, SPGS or LU.

So for the most academic handful of girls in the top maths and English set, they might sit say, SPGS, LU or G&L as “stretch” schools; PHS / WHS / KGS as solid options; then somewhere like Ibstock, Kew House, Emmanuel, Surbiton or another School through the Girls Consortium as a safer option.

The good thing about an independent prep is that they will prepare them for ALL options at 11 plus. Different schools have different exam formats obviously, eg some have VR or NVR, some don’t; some use “creative” exercises; some put more emphasis on interview; some exams are largely multi-choice; etc etc. Different exam styles suit different children. The risk with a through-school is that they don’t want to lose their most-academic girls to elsewhere, so they wouldn’t prepare them for other exam formats such as SPGS, G&L etc.

OP, it’s always a bit of a leap of faith with schools but, if it helps, Merlin, PHS etc are all great schools. As I’m sure Squirrels is. You can’t go wrong with any of them. They will all help a child to reach their potential.

I guess their are pros and cons to both routes - if you can get them in somewhere at 7+, then you avoid the 11 plus. But it is a very full-on route, because they are learning to write timed short-stories and doing formatted comprehensions from the start of year 1, rather than just being able to enjoy creative writing and books for the love of it, if you see what I mean? It’s actually very little time to find out what your child’s potential is, because the exams are early in Year 2. It’s called 7+, but most will be 6 at the time of the exams.

Having said that, if they don’t get into the hallowed SPJS or KCS at 7+, it’s not the end of the world because they can always move elsewhere and try again later (or not)!

11+ is more competitive than 7+, but obviously there are more options at 11+.

whatsnextnow Sat 01-Feb-20 08:24:44

Fwiw OP, one of my sons was in a pre-prep (not one of the ones listed here) and got no offers whatsoever at 7+. He went to PHS. A few years later he received offers for every school he applied to inc KCS, Hampton, LU, KGS. Not only that, but they inspired his confidence in so many areas and this was the gift of the school and something he’s carried with him through life. He never looked back. He received ten grade 9s at GCSE and is now considering Oxbridge. This was a boy the pre-prep told me would “struggle every day of his life”, based on the fact he couldn’t get his thoughts onto paper quickly enough for the purposes of formal exams at age 6.

whatsnextnow Sat 01-Feb-20 08:25:57

Sorry I just realised I’ve written an essay here!

Itsmommy Sat 01-Feb-20 09:24:00

Thank you! Very useful information for our leap of faith decision process smile

Such terrible feedback to give your boy at such a young age... teachers in particular should know that potential is not ‘set’ and learning and development are not always perfectly linear w age. It’s this kind of nonsense from some schools/teachers that risks damaging pupils’ sense of self in the early years and causes parents to panic. A happy confident pupil in a supportive environment will learn best and apply him/herself. For what you pay for independent schools, it would be useful if they applied this logic to achieve outcomes vs some of the weeding and bullying tactics...

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MummyAZTM Sat 01-Feb-20 09:28:55

Thanks so much for all the useful information and advise. I’m so reassured now I’ve made the right choice as we registered from 2 as we loved the atmosphere and the results were very impressive. She is now nearly 4 and seems to be doing very well and loves to learn so I Jsut want me for make sure she will be pushed if she infact becomes academic. Thanks a lot again and well done on your sons achievement!

OhTheRoses Sat 01-Feb-20 09:47:02

OP as a word of warning the preprep hothousing does not necessarily prepare a boy for the rigours of schools like KCS. My DS is in his 20s now and we saw borderline boys tutored to within an inch of their lives by ambitious parents sink within a couole of years of arrival. Not something to do to a 7 year old.

Let them have some fun and facilitate learning. My boy went to KCJS from a local outstanding primary. No tutoring. The most constructive thing about the assessment day was when at the end John Evans told them they had a half hour to play, got out board games and sat at the back and watched.

DD didn't get PHS at 11 (we didn't apply to WHS) went to a less highly performing school and transferred to WHS for 6th form and from there to Cambridge.

It isn't a race and much is about happiness and thriving and that is better nurtured by succeeding elsewher than by failing or scraping at the holy grail.

KCS et al are fab for the round pegs, who are on the alpha side but think about where your boy will thrive and let him be him rather than what you want him to be.

Merlin was fab 15 years ago and wasn't hot housey back then but still got its clever boys into KCS.

legoninjago1 Sat 01-Feb-20 11:09:04

We were Putney based and DS1 was due to start at Merlin last year, but we moved. I loved it there. Another option (then at least, not sure about now?) was Lion House. Small and very good track record of 7/8+ success.
Prospect House I loved and I thought was great if you wanted 11+ but the Head told us several times on the open morning that they didn't prep for 7/8+ snd I got the picture it would be a big problem - particularly as DS2 would be one year below! - so I'd discounted it.

legoninjago1 Sat 01-Feb-20 11:10:44

*got the impression

Itsmommy Sat 01-Feb-20 12:01:13

@OhTheRoses thank you very helpful. Agreed about happy kids over academic ‘success’ signposting! Am no pushy tiger mum. Education is a developmental process lead by the child. Well done to your DCs and thanks for reassuring us that they all end up where they are best supported. We are all v lucky to have so many amazing schools from which to choose.

@jupiter123 thank you for your input as well. I assumed as much re tutoring. I am of the mindset that it’s the schools job to prepare and let the cards fall where they may. So I think I’m positioning for a pre prep with a relaxed mindset about what it & DC can and cannot achieve (and maybe not attending ‘competition’ play dates...and doing the school run in a hat and sunglasses).

@legoninjago1 thank you. Will have a look at Lion House. Thanks for your feedback on Merlin.

I guess I have enough information to spend a small fortune registering DS for places now!!

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legoninjago1 Sat 01-Feb-20 12:06:32

@Itsmommy that's what I did (registered everywhere!) and in hindsight I wish I hadn't. Obviously we moved, but so did a load of other people so we probably didn't need to register as far in advance as we did! I know people who got spaces easily within the same academic year. I get that it's peace of mind though. Are you looking for Sept 20 start?

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