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independent schools, how many, and interviews

(63 Posts)
MrsSteptoe Mon 07-Oct-13 21:53:15

As always, turning to you lovely peeps for a couple of independent school questions (how did you all get to know so much? Why don't I know the answers to these questions myself? Those aren't my questions.)

1. how many indie schools do you normally put kids in for (actually thru exams, that is, not just register)? Yes, OK, there's no straight answer, but I don't want to send him to too many exams. At the same time, I don't want to end up with no offers. I'm not going to confess how many schools we're registered for, but I haven't run out of fingers. Yet.

2. was hoping that the interview would just be a character assessment of an 11 year old, a chat. I fear I'm wrong. I have suddenly come across description of prep school project books, parents who prepare their kids with professional coaches... I didn't even want to TALK to DS about the interviews, just let him come across naturally. How naive am I being? Any info? Do I really have to prepare him? How utterly unspeakable. He's ten, for heaven's sake.

You guys rock.

basildonbond Wed 09-Oct-13 09:08:12

I'm pretty sure Emanuel's closed to new registrations now

JustAnotherUserName Wed 09-Oct-13 09:26:33

I have the same problem, MrsS,

except that it's hard to restrict to 3 schools as I have no real sense of what is "probable" for DS - and his school are not helpful, simply because they have so few parents going on to indies so they just don't have the experience.

State pirmary, the head just doesn't know the independent system, so have no idea if, say, Dulwich is "probable" or "aspirational".

We all think our DCs are bright don't we: and indeed comparing him to his peers ini primary he is: he is top table but at a very mixed primary - getting level 5s at end of year 5 and with a short of level 6 certainly in maths by end of year 6 - so by national measures "bright". But I know that this is comparing apples and pears when comparing to his prep school friends (who call all speak fluent Latin smile).

Just how do you know?

So am left with one "aspirational", one or two "probables" (but perhaps they are aspirational too), one back-up (but who knows perhaps that was really only a "probable" and he might mess it up on the day.

So really I am no wiser, cannot help you much, but only share the predicament!

JustAnotherUserName Wed 09-Oct-13 09:27:16

"shot of" not "short of" (they really should add an editing function to MN!)

meditrina Wed 09-Oct-13 09:30:14

OP had already mentioned Emanuel, so may well have already applied.

MrsSteptoe Wed 09-Oct-13 11:09:30

Yup, Emanuel interview is tomorrow. We were fortunate enough to get our reg off in time for the early cut-off.
JustAnotherUserName, sharing pain is always good. But while I have been told DS is perfectly (not super-) bright by most people who ought to know, I remain convinced he's a total idiot.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 09-Oct-13 13:12:24

By the way the new Headmistress about to start at CLBS is fantastic, the pupils and parents at KGS love her, her letters to parents, and comments on the current education system are on the KIngston Grammar website.

WillColbert Wed 09-Oct-13 13:59:43

Good luck for your DS for tomorrow. My DS had the Emanuel interview last year. If I remember correctly, they were given a sheet to fill in before the interview (hobbies,which clubs they are in etc) and the interview was mainly based around this with a couple of general questions thrown in. Interviewer made a big effort to put DS at ease - it felt more like a 'chat' than an interview.

notagiraffe Wed 09-Oct-13 14:23:00

Just another those grades sound very promising. Schools can see through the fact that a child is state educated, and very much take this into account. Anyone achieving sixes in Yr 6 should be a fairly safe bet for most schools. DS got into one of the most academic day schools in the country and was only level 6 in one subject. Rest were high fives.

JustAnotherUserName Wed 09-Oct-13 15:08:05

Thanks, NotAGiraffe, here's hoping....

MrsSteptoe Wed 09-Oct-13 17:01:09

notagiraffe, do you mean that he was high fives when he sat the exams, or when he took the Y6 SATs in whatever month they do them - May or whatever?

MrsSteptoe Wed 09-Oct-13 17:06:51

What I mean is, I only have end-year 5 grades for DS, and I don't think his school would test him again between now and January, so I'm working on the principle that he's 5C, 5C and 4A (writing). But he should be high or medium fives by the time he finishes Year 6. I know he's not the brightest, but am obviously hoping that he's sufficiently bright that he'll get mopped up by someone...

JustAnotherUserName Thu 10-Oct-13 09:41:36

My guess (as not agiraffe hasn't come back) is that she means high fives at end of year 5 (level 6 at end of year 5 would be genius!). Sounds like we have similar DSs as well as anxieties...

MrsSteptoe Thu 10-Oct-13 15:00:21

justanotherusername, Hmm, I read it as high fives and a six at the end of Year 6. Either way higher than my son's likely to get, I suspect. I'm guessing mid fives for him at the end of year 6. What kind of perverted world have we created where that's not good enough? This is where the pressure of London independents really makes me cross. But hey ho, no-one forced me to play!

JustAnotherUserName Thu 10-Oct-13 17:22:09

Yes - I read it the same way (but wrote it wrong). Level 5s and one level 6 at end of year 6, she says. So your DC's (and mine as it happens) 5C, 5C, 4A at end of year 5 seems to be a good indicator for being good enough (I think/hope!).

Likewise, could just opt out of this indie lark.

Ladymuck Thu 10-Oct-13 19:18:35

Unfortunately it is not about merely meeting a minimum standard, it is purely a competition for relatively few places. London independent schools are not particularly unhappy with a situation that means there are more boys chasing relatively few places. Sympathetic possibly, but not unhappy.

Mutteroo Thu 10-Oct-13 23:57:27

Best interview we took DS to was at his chosen senior school. The then HT's dog, who was sleeping by the fireplace, (the dog not the HT), started proceedings off by farting. We had to clear the room for a good few minutes until the smell left. It was quite lighthearted (funnily enough) after this. We had a more formal meeting (not really an interview) with his other choice school, but again it wasn't stressful.

DS went to a state primary until year 7 & then moved to a prep school. He took COmmon Entrance exams for entrance to the senior schools so only one set of exams to contend with. DS was not coached either for the exams or for the interviews as we wanted him to come across as him & he was offered places at both schools. Going back to when we looked at Preps in year 6, one school assessed DS when he went in for the day to confirm he was capable of keeping up with his classmates. That was an academic prep with a strong scholarship reputation. DS was offered a place on the back of this, but preferred the friendlier feel of a less academic establishment & still won a scholarship to his senior school.

Best of luck to your son! I recall how we first felt when we choose to move the DCs to private schools & it was scary. Think the kids handled it much easier than we did.

Belltree Fri 11-Oct-13 12:18:21

In a similar position with a bright but not exceptional Y6 hoping to move from (outstanding) state primary to independent secondary. I've heard people say that the secondaries make allowances for the lack of prepping the state primary children will have had - even with tutoring I don't think there's any way they can fairly compete with prep school kids whose entire education has been directed to these exams rather than SATS. Does anyone know if that's true? If not it seems such an uneven playing field!

Ladymuck Fri 11-Oct-13 14:08:12

I'd say over half of the 11+ intake to the London indies are from state schools, so certainly he is in good company. And I do think that the indies are better at looking at the boys overall.

The selective preps often are aiming at 13+ transfer. The non-selective preps will have a range of abilities within their classes. So I wouldn't get too concerned about the competition.

What I do think that prep schools do differently is to try and make sure that their boys do have something to go in and talk about at interview, hence the infamous project books etc. And I guess observing some of the tutoring frenzy that can go on, that would probably be the one thing to ensure: that your son can keep up a range of (his) interests so that he has something that he can talk passionately about, whether it is his pet snake, or his football team. Make sure that there are still some things that light up his eyes!

JustAnotherUserName Fri 11-Oct-13 14:12:46

What's a "project book" ?

None of the indies we are looking at (central and south london way) have mentioned these.

Yikes - do feel ignorant.

Ladymuck Fri 11-Oct-13 14:39:38

Some, but not all, of the indies ask the boys to bring something with them to the interview (to get the ball rolling). I think it is meant to be something you are proud of, so could be a sport trophy, music certificate etc. Some prep schools work specifically on projects in this current term, so the child can turn up with a project book for example. No need to panic - it is what the child has to say that counts!

Certainly I know of one indie who is asking pupils to bring along their school English book and one other subject to interview. I crossed that one off our list grin.

showmethemoney1 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:48:02

Most of the London Indys have agreements with IAPs not to take boys from 13+ preps. Otherwise the preps would be left empty for the final 2 years, and there may not be enough applicants for the senior school's 13+ entry places.

All of the top London schools now pre-test in Y6, you are not allowed to enter a 13+ pre-test and an 11+ exam for the same school. Boys really aren't too badly affected at 11+ entry There are very few boys/co-ed private schools which finish at 11, I can only think of a few locally. I am actually surprised that they even take 50% of 11+ places.

I've never heard of project books and DS went to a very good prep which does extremely well for senior school places. I suspect this may be another playground scare story.

Flicktheswitch Fri 11-Oct-13 14:54:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ladymuck Fri 11-Oct-13 15:49:33

Of the 4 schools mentioned by the OP, only one pretests for 13+ (CLSB). There are also plenty of other schools which do not pretest or rely on 11+ entry - Latymer Upper, Kingston Grammar, Whitgift and Trinity to name a few. There are also plenty of prep schools which do not belong to the IAPS.

I would assume that for those schools who select for 13+ entry, they have more evidence to go on as they are usually taking boys from IAPS schools and will have common entrance requirements too. I suspect few schools ask for props for interview at that stage. It may be just down to local demand - if the most local senior schools ask you to bring something to interview then word gets out and people prepare for it. Certainly if you check on the Whitgift/Trinity threads which run on here each January you will see that one or both of these DO ask for something to be taken to the interview, which means many of the south London preps will respond accordingly. They still take plenty of state school children though!

showmethemoney1 Fri 11-Oct-13 17:01:48

Sorry, missed the "not" by KCS/St Pauls.

All our local preps are IAPS, I can only think of one school I've heard of which isn't IAPS - maybe its a location thing. Senior schools which have a 13+ intake really do try and discourage 13+ applicants from trying at 11. DS was at a 13+ prep and I've heard the stories confirming this from parents who would have preferred and tried for an 11+ move. You will also find that some prep schools hang on to huge deposits which you lose if you leave before Y9, at one prep it is over £5k!

In reality very few boys leave 13+ preps at Y6. I can think of only one which had a huge number leave 2 years ago following a change of headmaster, but this was a one-off.

I don't think OP/Belltree/anyone should be worried about competing against huge numbers of prep school pupils with their "project books" etc, as there aren't as many as you think. There are lots of 11+ places, and if half of these are taken by state school pupils your DCs have a good chance of getting in. And please don't be put off by the numbers sitting, some parents collect school offers like stamps.

Ladymuck Fri 11-Oct-13 19:22:00

There are a number of prep schools which finish at 11 in South London, which is where I assume the OP lives given the schools she is looking at. Not all prep schools are trying to feed to Westminster and St Paul's. Equally in that area there are prep schools who lose half their boys at 11+ to the south London day schools. In return these prep schools pick up a lot of state school boys who fail 11+ and resit at 13.

I speak as parent of one son who left his IAPS 13+ prep school early to go to a HMC school without any particular difficulties (along with the majority of his classmates) and have another son in year 6 at a prep school which finishes at 11 who will be sitting for some of the schools mentioned by the OP. May I assure you that the project folder is not a figment of my imagination. It may only happen in South London but it does happen grin.

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