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if I want to get my son to a good secondary school - what sort of clubs/ additional activities shall I plan in primary school

(21 Posts)
charlottenina Mon 13-May-13 14:43:52

my DS is in primary school and I wander what sort of clubs/ tuition it woudl be wise to get him into in order to inverst for future - to get to a good secondary school on the basis of musical aptitude test or or other selectives process? would really appreciate opinions from other mothers. i also work full time, so need to be able to get him to clubs and things or just do lots of it at home?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 13-May-13 14:46:20

The only entry requirement for a state secondary is either religion or where you live. It doesn't matter what clubs or activities he does outside school. confused

scaevola Mon 13-May-13 14:49:50

Do any of your local schools have a quota of places that are selected on a particular aptitude? If not, it won'y make the slightest difference.

If they do, they will have some sort of screening, but these are designed (or should be) to get aptitude not pre-existing ability, so unless you are fostering something DS loves and is good at anyhow, it's highly unlikely coaching will be productive.

exexpat Mon 13-May-13 14:55:45

If you mean a state school, then very few of them select on anything at all apart from location, unless you are talking about grammar schools (only an option in a few areas of the country).

There is one state school in my city (choir school, private turned state academy) which does set aside 10% of places for children with 'musical aptitude'. But it is precisely that - aptitude - not whether they can play an instrument to a certain level. I'm not sure exactly how the tests they do work, but I know children who play instruments to a high standard who haven't got through to the second stage, whereas ones who have never had a formal lesson have been selected. Another academy near here has 10% of places for linguistic aptitude, but again, I don't think you can really prep for that.

If you are talking about getting a musical scholarship to a private school, then it's more complicated, but in my experience musical scholarships at most schools are only worth a small proportion of the fees (10-25%) so you would still need to stump up a lot. And private schools expect high standards in one or preferably two instruments, so you would probably have spent enough on music lessons over the years that you might as well have paid full fees anyway...

By all means do extracurricular activities (music etc) if you think your child will enjoy and benefit from them, but I don't think they would have much to do with getting into secondary school.

You might also find this interesting, on how pushy 'tiger' parents don't actually improve their children's performance.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 15:03:57

Some state selectives have a music selection route. IME your DC needs to be at least Grade 3 standard in order to stand a chance. They don't need to have actually passed - they just need to perform at that standard. There is no interview so courses attended etc has no impact.

Music scholarships for private schools are slightly different. Most school websites say that successful applicants tend to be at least Grade 5. Having a second instrument is expected. Also expected is a demonstrable 'passion' for music ie orchestra membership, courses attended, quartet workshops etc.

I have no experience of art, sports and drama entry so I leave that for others to address.

Apart from the above, private schools when they interview a child, wants to see a child that can confidently talk about their interests whether its about looking after a pet or their favourite author.

At this age I don't think the schools are looking for volunteering experience or evidence of leadership potential or similar smile

happyoverhere Mon 13-May-13 15:55:57

My son plays team cricket, rugby and football for our local town with regular awards, so we investigated a private school sports scholarship. We were told that he needs to be playing TWO sports at COUNTY level to even be considered. Its quite a stretch from afterschool clubs to county level!

charlottenina Mon 13-May-13 20:39:33

I meant for grammar school or secondary with music selective process. I know it is not good to push kids, but some way of stirring them towards something that involves effort and discipline should be good - is it not?

VivaLeBeaver Mon 13-May-13 20:43:18

It depends what your local good school specialises in. There's a good school near us which we're out of catchment for. But other kids have got in on the basis of been good dancers/singers/being in Youth Theatre as its a drama specialist school. They put it down as first choice and have to go to an interview/audition.

I've also known people win appeals for local MFL specialist school on the basis their DC goes to a French club and they feel the school thye've been allocated hasn't got as good a MFL provision as the one they want.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 21:00:16

Well, if it's state and music then there is no interview so your question about joining the right clubs is moot.

The format of the music exam varies. In some areas there is a listening test which in theory allows the kid with a musical ear but only a few years playing experience a chance to shine If this is your area then you may want to look for a tutor. Then there is the performing. Some state schools have a strong music reputation and will attract some very musical applicants. Consequently one will probably need to be Grade 5 in order to be competitive here

WhizzforAtomms Mon 13-May-13 21:47:48

I would suggest an unusual orchestral instrument would be the most desirable for a school selecting on musical grounds.

marriedinwhiteagain Mon 13-May-13 22:14:19

He should do the clubs he enjoys!

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 22:51:28

Whizz - I don't think that state schools are allowed to arbitrarily choose on the basis of instruments. No doubt I will be corrected if I am wrong.

BackforGood Mon 13-May-13 23:01:47

I would let him go to clubs that take his fancy. I would let him try a musical instrument, and I would let him try sport, but for his enjoyment, not as some kind of back route way into a particular school.

Talkinpeace Mon 13-May-13 23:03:35

round here its all on distance and catchment
they do not look at ANYTHING in the child's results
its all done electronically on home postcode and school postcode

Blu Tue 14-May-13 14:19:40

Do you have Grammar Schools in your area? Or within travelling distance and which accept students from the borough you live in?

If so and if he is of Grammar ability you can do some practice papers for the Bonds books, or look on one of the 11+ internet forums. I think they are altering the 11+ to make it less coachable.

Are there any secndaries near you that offer entrance on musical aptitude? In some areas there are a few schools which take 15% on musical aptitude and/or sporting aptitude. In which case you could work on these skills.

But state secondaries (including Academies and Free Schools) are not allowed to take things like hobbies, clubs, extra-curricular activities or talents into account - only the published Admissions criteria.

You need to look at the schools near you that you could apply for, and look at their admissions criteria.

charlottenina Tue 14-May-13 19:44:10

I am quite flexible as to the travelling distance - we do not mind moving as log as I can maintain my job

Blu Wed 15-May-13 08:49:29

In order to help, MNers need to know:

What sort of school do you think would suit your DS - IS he bright and academically committed? Does he have any musical talent and enthusiasm?
Then what area of the country you are in.
Then identify some schools you think might suit him - and you can't tell this without visiting their open days etc
And only then can you start thinking about the specific entry requirements for those schools. But unless they are independent / private schools membership of clubs will have no part to play - unless they are maths clubs or musical actibities that would support bhis confidence and ability for some (as yet unknown) selection criteria.

cory Wed 15-May-13 09:48:31

I think you are approaching this from the wrong angle. Instead of looking at what activities are best for teaching discipline, you should be looking at your son and try to find something he can be naturally enthusiastic about: that way, discipline will follow.

Lottie4 Wed 15-May-13 14:24:18

There were no requirements for my daughter's school. They do not have to be gifted at anything. In fact, they have to sit a fair banding test which ensures they take in children of all abilities, so they have roughly 10% high achievers, 80% average and 10% lower achievers. Just let him do the clubs he enjoys.

Do have a look at 2/3 different schools, think about what they have to offer and how comfortable you feel about him going there, how he feels about the school, will a lot of his present friends who are in the same area go and distance - they do get a lot of homework, so it is a factor.
Some like the thought of a smaller school, but a bigger school will offer more clubs so if there are subjects he enjoys he can also do them in a club. For example, my daughter's school literally has everything going - sports, cookery, sports, language, signing, music clubs.

Any good secondary school will give encouragement for him to be the best he can, so yes do help him, encourage him yourself, but just let him enjoy himself as well.

ThreeBeeOneGee Wed 15-May-13 21:40:43

I have seen two children through the musical aptitude tests for partially selective state secondary schools.

DS1 had passed G1 piano and was working towards G2. He also sang in a choir. He did not score high enough in the initial listening test to be called back for an audition.

DS2 had done his bronze medal (descant recorder) but that's it. He scored quite high in the listening test and was called back for an audition, at which he sang a rugby song. He got a high enough audition score to get a music place at nearly all of the schools that use the test.

I know of several children of grade 4 standard or higher (including one grade 7 violinist) who did not score high enough in the listening test to be called back for audition. On the other hand, I also know of several children with little or no musical background who have been awarded music places.

Talkinpeace Wed 15-May-13 21:47:49

thank goodness we do not have that rubbish round here
and DCs school is through to the National Music for youth festival so they cannot be too dire

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