Best Prep Schools in Surrey & Kent for Interview Prep(9 Posts)
You may have seen my other recent posts- I have grandkids and want to ensure they have an excellent secondary school education. A number of my own children attended the once highly-selective John Fisher School (Surrey) during the selection policy and two of my nephews went to the other highly-selective Catholic school at the time, London Oratory (Fulham).
As selection has been banned at both of these schools; we are looking desperately for alternatives.
I know Cumnor House & Laleham Lea were both very good (maybe 10-15 years ago) at interview preparation for John Fisher and the London Oratory- we want to know which prep schools are best for entrance to Whitgift, Sevenoaks and Worth, AND MORE SPECIFICALLY which prep schools do mock interviews, interview prep and work with parents and DS's best?????
Are Cumnor House/Laleham Lea still the best preps for interview based schools?
Nearly all preps will do some sort of interview preparation this is standard stuff these days all will also do NVR/VR practice as well. Most preps also clearly detail on their websites destinations of leavers my advise is ask exactly how many went to you choosen school in the last 3-4 years because this indicates they are up to date with current entrance requirements although there is not a prep out there that will guarantee success into any selective over subscribed school.
Most will also work with parents and advise on the most suitable next school although of course parents don't always choose to take this advise! Those who don't are swimming against a strong tide as references reports entrance exam/interview prep etc are done by the head/school.
Anecdotally, Cumnor did not do as well as it usually did getting pupil into Trinity/Whitgift last year. I don't know for certain though as DS2 got in
effortlessly from state primary.
Whereabouts do your dgcs live, and what school years are they in? many prep schools are full and overflowing in certain year groups.
Laleham Lea struggled once John Fisher changed their policy, and almost closed 2 or 3 years ago. The diocese stepped in to help, but the school now markets itself as a "value for money" private school, rather than a rigorous prep, and many Catholics now end up at Cumnor (in part due to the way that the schools previous expected closure was dealt with, leaving parents without a school place in the middle of an academic year).
Cumnor do of course prep rigorously for Whitgift/Trinity. But again the school has undergone significant change in the past 15 years (in particular white boys are in a definite minority! Though there are a good number of Catholics). I'm afraid you can't assume that any school has survived that length of time unchanged! Cumnor does send the odd boy to Sevenoaks and Worth each year. You may also wish to rethink your stance on Trinity by the way. I have a recollection that depending on which version of the league tables you look at, academically it has been on a par with Whitgift for a few years. The Trinity Headmaster tends to be more popular with parents.
With the exception of Caterham Prep (where the pupils don't get interviewed going up to senior school), all the prep schools I know of in the Purley area (Cumnor, St David's, Oakwood, Essendene etc) cover interview practice.
If you were looking at a 13+ prep that covered all of these schools, have a look at Hazlewood Prep near Oxted.
IME all the local preps have upped their game as regards exam prep and interview skills. The thing to watch out for is that if you want to do 10/11+ entry for likes of Whitgift, Sevenoaks etc, those which are traditional preps going through to 13+/Common Entrance tend in practice to be far less focussed on preparation for earlier movers, whatever they may say. Agree with it depends where you live though. You have mentioned Kent before, if they are not relatively local to their prep their friends may live equally distant in the opposite direction so socialising becomes more tricky, worse if trying to cater for more than one child too. Also logistically attending evening events, concerts, parents evenings, matches becomes more of a problem and many of these schools pride themselves on the extracurricular opportunities which take place on site. The schools you mention cover a broad range in terms of character, social mix and ability, I think you may need to be more focussed in what you are looking for. I'm not sure South London preps would really consider Worth as a common destination for example.
All prep schools will coach their pupils to pass the schools they feed into.
For a day prep school that will be the local day senior schools.
For a boarding prep school that would include schools such as Tonbridge, Eton, etc.
I am still not quite clear where these children are and if they are going to stay there, but if you want a day school, then look for the local prep schools and where they send their children.
At my DCs' prep school AFAIK they haven't done any coaching on interview technique, their thinking I guess being that children will get in on academics, music, etc., and for that reason they concentrate on the Verbal/Non-verbal reasoning type questions.
If you are applying for a school that is looking for a child with a 95th percentile IQ, lots of extracurricular activities, and so on, then a bit of interview prep won't cut the mustard.
Interestingly the mega selective and grossly over subscribed St Paul's does not do any NVR/VR when it selects future pupils it seems to rely on a heads report and and putting 10/11 year old through a mini Oxbridge style interview. I suspect there's lots of preps busy doing nterview practice for those hoping to go there.
You realise that the interviewers can tell which children have been extensively coached both for the exam and interview? This does not always gain the child an advantage.
At my DS's old prep they had one practice interview just so the children knew what was likely to be expected of them. Seems reasonable to me most people going for a job interview will do some research/practice before hand. I do agree that extensively coaching much be very obvious to the interviewer especially if answers are over practised and the claimed love of Mediaeval madrigals turns out to be non existent on closer questioning!
I understand that those at my DS's old prep applying to two very well know boys boarding schools were advised not to admit this when asked what other schools they were considering. IMO expecting a child to lie effectively in an interview is both unfair and immoral. If the question is that sensitive then the interviewer should not ask it.
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