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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.

LIZS Fri 11-Oct-13 19:24:14

ah yes the "portfolio" !

notagiraffe Fri 11-Oct-13 19:24:25

Sorry Mrs Steptoe, I went to bed early!

Yes, he was fives when he sat exam and level six at end of yr 6 (not yr 5!) in Science and English, with high five in maths but still got into one of the very top academic day schools in England, from state primary but with an hour's tutoring for a year plus about 2-4 hours practise per week - so not onerous as school gave almost zero homework, so the tutor practise was in lieu of having nothing from school.

Show me the money I think an increasing number of prep boys leave at 11* stage. The indies that start at 11 have swayed the balance in their own favour by making 13+ boys jump through far more hoops to be guaranteed a place. Of course some schools don't start until 13, but those that do seem to far more aggressively encourage the switch at 11. At DS's school about 1/2 the boys are state school and half from preps that run to 13 but parents wanted to secure the place by moving the pupil at 11.

showmethemoney1 Fri 11-Oct-13 23:18:35

Very few left DS's prep at Y6, and those that did went to an 11+ school with no 13+ intake because the parents were worried about what school they would get into at 13+. It was the same story for about 5 other preps in this area, it was much talked about at the time because one prep lost a huge number of boys following the introduction of a new Headmaster.
Boys in this area are looking for London day schools, and I hope that OP and subsequent posters are re-assured that very few from this area will be competing for 11+ places, but it looks like a totally different story from South London. I am not trying to start a fight I'm just telling it as it is here!

Shootingatpigeons Fri 11-Oct-13 23:30:15

Around this area, SW London, I have heard many stories of prep school parents trying to jump ship at 11 but coming up against Headmasters refusing to rock the boat by taking them before 13. I have DDs but it does look distinctly odd when you see a 6ft Year 8 with bumfluff looking self conscious in that sweet braided blazer that looked so cute aged 7. I know boys mature later than girls but it suits some but not others. Ignoring parents instincts comes close to a restrictive practise. However it does leave the way open for state school applicants, and certainly around here there are many more places at 11 than 13.

MrsSteptoe Sun 13-Oct-13 02:43:33

Ooh, thank you everyone for all the info - finally managed to get back onto Mumsnet after a few days of not being able to access it for some reason, probably nob-beaker related.
We live in SW1 near Victoria so really all the schools are easy to get to, though the odd one, like Ibstock Place for example, would be a bit of a wretched journey.
I do get hacked off, though, with this emphasis on music or sport or achievement. He's just a nice, bright-ish kid who builds a lot of Lego. He has never won a trophy at anything sporting - got a few karate belts but hated it so I allowed him to stop - and I haven't pushed him into doing music exams with his sax, which he's only played for a year anyway. So on top of all the practice papers, now I've got to try to get him to do something he can take to an interview. You'd have thought that being bright and good-natured and wanting to please would be enough. It's enough to put you off the whole process.

MrsSteptoe Sun 13-Oct-13 03:11:29

Oops, that sounded badtempered. It kind of was, really, or it certainly wasn't written with the best of humour, but it wasn't meant as ungraciously as it came across! All teh comments are really appreciated.

Ladymuck Sun 13-Oct-13 08:35:17

It doesn't have to be a sporting and music achievement - if anything the scholarship candidates for those areas will already covered those areas sufficiently. It just has to be something that he can talk about - even just photos from a day trip that he enjoyed. I can't say that all the schools want it, and I don't know what your son is like. Some 10 year olds have no problems in talking in an interview, others do. I guess you can probably tell most from your sons reaction at open days: when he was asked questions by the boys or teachers did he shrink into the background, or step forward and engage? [I have children at opposite ends of the spectrum, and if you have one who will continue talking even if there is no one left in the room, you may not realise how long 15 minutes with a child giving one word answers can be!]

Precisely what the schools don't want is a year group who have done nothing in their spare time for the last year bar do practise paperswink. They are looking for boys who will get stuck in, and cub badges will demonstrate that as impressively as grade 7 on the oboe. If his thing is Lego, then photograph a few of his models or something.

If your son is naturally chatty, then don't stress about the interview. But there are plenty of boys out there who find the papers easy, but really struggle when talking to a stranger.

MrsSteptoe Sun 13-Oct-13 09:09:34

Thanks for your post, Ladymuck. That makes it clearer. Three consecutive late nights at work (including Saturday) and not sleeping for long enough afterwards will derail my responses (in both the emotional and written sense of the word) sometimes, particularly when I look at Mumsnet at 3am before finally getting to bed.

Shootingatpigeons Sun 13-Oct-13 12:37:53

Are you doing Ibstock Place? They have a very hmm attitude to learning difficulties. Have heard some stories that would make you grrrr. Incomprehensible when the other indies have good strategies in place.

MrsSteptoe Sun 13-Oct-13 16:10:13

I looked at Ibstock but didn't care for it. I didn't feel DS would fit there. x

Farewelltoarms Mon 14-Oct-13 14:16:35

MrsSteptoe, just wanted to say that I couldn't have written your posts bar the fact that my ds is y5 and we're the other side of the Thames. I bloody hate the process and the way it is already forcing me to judge my son and his lack of accomplishments and possible shortfall in academia. They are so little that it is crazy to be thinking like this. My ds is utterly charming, compassionate and kind, and actually pretty bright but I feel I'm being forced into measuring him up against some unknown prep school yardstick of chess champions and violin virtuosos.

Adding to my misgivings is the fact that I don't even much like any of the independent schools we've looked at anyway. Nor the state ones either, but at least they're not forcing me to judge my own child.

notagiraffe Mon 14-Oct-13 20:44:58

Know what you mean. DS has always been passionate about his music playing but was still only at Grade 2. Walked into chosen school to see tiny boys playing Grade 8 Beethoven at open day. [Hmm]

But it didn't hold him back. I'm pretty sure that what they are looking for with extra curricular is a sign of enthusiasm and consistency in something outside school. So loving Lego is absolutely fine if he can talk about what he likes building and why. I think they just want children who aren't passive. If their key interests are watching TV and skyping their mates, then they might feel a bit at sea in schools where they are encouraged to get really stuck into extra curricular.

The academic pressure is a bit gloomy though. I know several boys who were perfectly bright enough to thrive at the good local indies and they didn't get in. Bit of a shock to everyone.

MrsSteptoe Tue 15-Oct-13 20:59:25

Apparently DS is going to be entered for Level 6 SATs in Maths. Who knew.

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