Stay in state primary, prep or private junior?

(11 Posts)
Superkale Mon 09-Nov-20 17:58:50

DS1 (Y2) is not thriving at his state primary. He's average academically, but he's not made friends and was bullied through R & Y1 (playground roughhousing until Covid stopped it and thankfully it hasn't returned). School handled it well, but it is a large 4-form one. I worry in the next few critical years he isn't going to get enough attention. From speaking to parents, every class seems to have at least 1-2 disruptive children taking up all the school's resources.


1. Move him to the local boys prep for Y3: smaller classes, good pastoral reputation, get into drama or sports that his current school doesn't offer, better after school provisions (both DH and I work FT). Very good chance for grammar based on its leavers destinations. He is bright enough but I sometimes think he has mild ADHD or dyspraxia... a smaller school will suit him better. Calmer environment, everyone motivated. Cons: boys only (i don't mind, but 7 is young!), more academic pressure (he doesn't react well to it), more homework, split up from his sister hereon (school run logistics... state and prep are each 5 minutes drive but in opposite direction.)

2. Go for 7+ at a selective private school (all through). I think he can pass it with a little practice.. famous last words! This would take the pressure off for 11+. It's co-ed, has an excellent academic reputation, all the pros of prep except you rule out grammars or other senior schools. His sister will join him. Cons: 20 minutes drive or school bus. i don't know what either child will be like and it seems a bit much to decide on a school now for the next 11 years...

3. Continue at his current school and monitor. They change classes in Year 3, so we could still move in Year 4-6. With two sets of fees saved we could spend on tutors, sports clubs outside school, save up etc. I reckon only the top 2-3 in each class will make the local (superselective) grammar, most are headed for the local comp which we wouldn't send either child anyway. This means socially there is no benefit from staying too long...

Sorry it's so long... I didn't grow up here and find the system mind boggling.

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PresentingPercy Mon 09-Nov-20 18:15:52

You don’t have a good chance of a grammar place based on other people’s children. They are not your child so never choose a school based on that. Around me, the grammar crammers do get a lot through but some would have gone to the grammars anyway. They do loads of homework so be careful what you choose. Also pity the poor dc from the grammar crammers who don’t get to the grammars! Not a nice feeling at all to be in the minority.

So, yr3 is the normal time to move. Pressure at 7 plus is still pressure. I’m not a fan of through schools. If I’m paying (and I did) I want a school that suits dc. Not one where dc swerved 11 plus.

Not that any of this helps but I’d probably go for all through if there no other decent senior schools at 11 or 13 you could aim for. Do you have no other choice at 11 - standard day school?

TypsTrycks Mon 09-Nov-20 18:42:22

Ah we faced such a similar choice smile

I prefer prep schools and then deciding at 11 or 13 what schools would suit DC. Having said that, a prep school is best suited for entry into boarding/independent day schools rather than grammar. Grammar entry is a completely different game (and very competitive nowadays!) and you are probably looking at a tutor on top of prep school fees, depending on the competitiveness of the grammar area you are in.

Superkale Mon 09-Nov-20 19:08:27

Thanks.. because i didnt know how it worked when i moved here, i totally missed there is no decent secondary comprehensive to go to. Another option is to move.

I don't care for grammars personally. DH is a proud grammar product so he is adamant with his 'training' he will get in! i take on his view since i'm the foreigner. Anyway, if he doesn't, from prep he can still try for school #2 or a less academic school (which we can move house then). He'll get the opportunity with things like rugby, cricket and chess which his current school doesn't offer.

What do you mean by day school? #2 is a day school, a good one

I really can't gauge what school suits him at this age, and I worry in a few years it's too late. He is summer born, sensitive, can be moody, bright enough, creative, not a boisterous loud sort but playful like all children.

There must be some advantage bypassing the 11+ pressure, he will do the 7+ as if he's doing a piece of homework and talking to some grown ups, whereas at 10 he will be very conscious what it all means

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PresentingPercy Mon 09-Nov-20 19:33:55

I meant a day independent school as opposed to one that’s fully boarding. Having said that, lots of boarding schools accept day pupils now. I would have a broader look regarding which independent school will suit him best at 11. Then choose the best way to get him there. Look at destinations of leavers but don’t assume your DS will do exactly the same.

If you love the through school, then problem solved. But if you think there are better options, then think about how you might access them.

Personally, if you have the money, I wouldn’t want to tutor like mad for the 11 plus. I have to say we didn’t! Is it really what you want for your DS? What if it all goes wrong - as it frequently does. If he doesn’t react well to academic pressure, is this realistically an option?

Superkale Mon 09-Nov-20 21:33:51

Ah I see. It's 7-18 but no boarding. We wouldn't do and can't afford boarding anyway!

We are in London... so yes, grammars are competitive.

That is a good point, he wouldn't react well to tutoring.

It sounds like prep gives more options. So around what age can you read DC better in regards to what sort of school suits them best?

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PresentingPercy Mon 09-Nov-20 22:28:33

I think see if DC are good at academics, eg maths. What do reports say? Are DC sporty? What interests them that would be developed more at senior school? What about music? Think about personality and if DC needs nurturing or is confident. Good preps advise you what senior school might be suitable. You can get all the info you need via open days. Also ask other parents at the school. What range of schools do dc go to? Are any of these schools ones you aspire to?

DDs prep mostly sent girls to boarding schools so a boys prep doing that wouldn’t suit you. However often ones that go to 13 have a lot to offer dc with good sport, music and art etc because dc are applying for scholarships from the senior schools.

So I think you need to work backwards from senior school. What do you want? Grammar, (comprehensive if not grammar? Is that ok?) Or local independent or one a bit further away and you will move to make travel easier? Or is the through school likely to meet all his needs? Is it big enough and does it retain the brightest dc? In some respects the through school is the easiest choice.

The grandchildren of some friends went to a through school but all took the 11 plus anyway - in Essex. All left the through school for the grammars. So that’s also an option.

I have to say that most parents I know do choose according to the money they have available but some fairly well off parents look at the grammars and prefer to buy a Porsche! It’s quite difficult to know by 7 what might be a suitable school at 11 but quite a lot know exactly what school they want and choose a prep accordingly. Ones that only go to 11 for 11 plus cramming or those that go to 13 where parents are looking for senior private schools at 13. So it might be necessary to choose your prep according to realistic aims. If the grammars are super selective, taking an alternative route in a through school with less tutoring can be more pleasant!


Dozer Mon 09-Nov-20 22:30:44

Superselective grammars are a long shot.

Zodlebud Tue 10-Nov-20 07:33:53

I personally would go for the prep so long as they have good leaver destinations at both 11 and 13 (if it goes to 13). If they have lots of boys leaving for grammar at 11 and then lots heading to boarding school at 13, where does your son “fit”? One of the important factors for us when choosing a prep was that they had a really wide range of leaver destinations - state, grammar, independent day, boarding etc. I felt like we didn’t want to be forced down a certain route.

Year 3 is actually a great time to move to prep. You find there’s usually at least a couple of other children joining at the same time.

As for all boys, I think they can actually offer more balance than you might expect. There will be the sporty ones, the bolshy ones, the quiet ones, the “geeky” ones and the quirky ones. More boys from which to find your tribe. Our co-Ed prep has a constant flow of new joiners who are boys who just didn’t seem to fit at their old school but have flown since joining and made fabulous friends. The smaller class sizes and setting also gives them the attention they really need. Just check there’s support for the less able (I’m not talking SEN here particularly, just those who learn at a slower pace). The more confidence he has in himself then he will thrive.

I am also not a fan of all through schools particularly. Like you say, you are signing up to the rest of their school career at an early age.

PresentingPercy Tue 10-Nov-20 09:00:42

I’m generally not a fan of all through schools either but as the family we know in Essex, the clever dc leave for the grammars at 11. Another all through school I know also has dc leaving at 11 for grammars. So you don’t have to stay at these schools. They do, of course, appeal for people who don’t want dc doing entrance exams and hate the 11 plus!

My DDs prep was all girls. It concentrated in their needs admirably. It appealed to parents who knew exactly what they wanted for senior school and was very successful in getting girls scholarships to the very best schools. It is horses for courses!

However it never works to think that because previous DC have passed the 11 plus at a certain school, yours will do the same, is faulty. At the nursery DD went to, which was attached to a prep, there was consternation among the parents of the older DC when no one passed one year. They thought paying guaranteed success. It doesn’t. The school had not accurately assessed ability of the DC who were considered likely to pass by parents. So everyone over estimated what they could do. The parents also discovered getting into the private senior schools was a problem too. Quite a few dc ended up at the local secondary moderns which was not what parents had in mind after paying fees for 7 years.

Superkale Tue 10-Nov-20 09:25:51

Thank you, it does sound like prep is the best choice for us (and nearer!)

I have no idea about senior school for him at this age... will have to revisit the question in 3 years!

This prep goes till 11 and 13, but most leave at 11 for an array of grammars and indies (including school #2 - which is increasingly hard to get into) - some quite far away, so that means there should be likeminded parents.

OP’s posts: |

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