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Grey Coat school admissions - how to get in?

(37 Posts)
Luna9 Thu 18-Sep-14 13:17:02


My daughter is in year 3 and I have started looking at secondary schools and set my heart on the Grey Coat School; I have read the admission criteria and am aware of how difficult is to get it; I would like to find out from other families with girls attending the Grey Coat School how did they get in? Was it a language place? Open place? Do I still have time to start going to church? Do I need to move in front of the school? In other words how do I increase our chances of getting a place?

Thank you

tiggytape Thu 18-Sep-14 14:36:43

Goodness - that is some admission criteria. 12 pages long!

A language place is a possibility for any child but, with only 15 places up for grabs, your chances would depend on how many others sit for it. If 60 take the test, your chances are pretty reasonable. If 600 take the test, it is probably a very long shot. You can ask the school to tell you how many sat it last year to get a rough idea.

The rest seems to be banding with extra weighting given to faith criteria. Banding makes it hard to improve your chances of a place.
Banding means they test all pupils but not with a view to taking the best scores like at some grammar schools. They want a certain number of each ability.
So suppose your DD is a top set girl and is band 1, her chances of a place depend on how many other children also do really well in the test and get placed in Band 1 with her.
If lots of children get a high score, band 1 will be very full and very competitive but if relatively few do as well as her, band 1 could be practically empty with the chance of a place greatly increased. There is just no way to influence it.

The one thing parents can influence is getting in the faith category because more of those children are taken from each band than other children but unfortunately I don't think you have enough time.
To comply, you need weekly attendance for 5 years.
This doesn't mean you won't get a place, they give 20 places over all bands to children who don't meet the faith criteria but 20 places isn't a lot and again, there may be hundreds fighting for those - you'd have to ask.

Address doesn't seem to be a big factor at this school unless you also attend one of the feeder schools (Millbank Academy, Westminster, or St Matthew’s Primary School, Westminster or Burdett Coutts Primary School, Westminster) in which case you may come off better in a tie breaker or for an open place. It is mainly faith and luck or strong language aptitude I think.

AuntieStella Thu 18-Sep-14 14:39:05

That has to be one of the most complicated set of entrance criteria there is!

HibiscusIsland Thu 18-Sep-14 14:43:15

Is it Michael Gove who has a daughter who just started there? I wonder which criteria his child got in.

tiggytape Thu 18-Sep-14 14:45:32

Yes same school. They met the faith criteria I believe.

Luna9 Thu 18-Sep-14 14:56:23

Thank you; it looks as complicated as I thought; we will have to rely on luck to get a language place. It looks like we don't have time to apply for a church place even though it is still 4 years until she starts secondary school

GregorSamsa Thu 18-Sep-14 15:10:42

I'd be really interested to see some evidence that Greycoats idiosyncratic 'language aptitude test' correlates with anything in particular, tbh. I know of three girls from different primary schools and year groups who didn't pass the test, but went on to Oxford (1 girl) and Cambridge (2) to read...

Modern Languages.

I guess some girls must get in that way, but prob best to treat it as a lottery rather than a reflection of academic or linguistic potential.

Luna9 Thu 18-Sep-14 15:32:14

Yes; it is definitely a lottery; not sure how they test aptitude to languages; saying that my daughter speaks a second language as English is not my first language; I know this does not guarantee a place though.

GregorSamsa Thu 18-Sep-14 15:35:03

No, it doesn't, because they don't test actual languages, they set some kind of 'Martian language', or at least that's what they used to do. Really don't set your hopes on it, it's a gamble, no more than that.

CatherineofMumbles Thu 18-Sep-14 15:43:43

Quite a few schools used to use Swedish for this, that may have fallen out of favour now, especially in London where they might well be an actual Swedish speaker taking the test grin.

prh47bridge Thu 18-Sep-14 15:44:10

they don't test actual languages

That's because they are required to test aptitude, not knowledge. If they tested, say, French they would simply be prioritising children who know French already. They should use a test that tells them how good the pupil will be at learning a foreign language.

Note that I have not seen the test used by this school. I have no idea how well it tests for aptitude.

tiggytape Thu 18-Sep-14 18:15:41

Some schools that have music aptitude tests (not this particular school but other state comps).

No pupil turns up and plays grade 8 piano. It is all clapping weird rhythms and being able to show good listening skills, pick out notes etc. Children who play instruments sometimes fail and children who have never so much as picked up a recorder can pass. It is potential not ability that is looked at.

GregorSamsa Thu 18-Sep-14 19:51:56

The music aptitude tests I have less of an issue with, because they are generally using well-established methods of testing abilities like pitch discrimination that are known to correlate to musical potential, and hence an acceptably fair way of trying to assess aptitude without covertly selecting children who have benefited from extensive musical training. (Though it must be added that quite a few schools that have music places use the aptitude tests as an initial screen before a second round involving auditions, where preparation and teaching is clearly key).

My issue with the GCH language test is that (afaik) it is set by the school and I don't know of any evidence to show that it correlates with actual linguistic potential or subsequent achievement - clearly anecodotal evidence of dc with high linguistic ability (as evidenced by A* grades at A-level and places at Oxbridge) is just anecdote, but enough to make you wonder. I'd be really interested to see whether the school have actually attempted to evaluate their selection tests against outcomes for the pupils thus selected.

The point I was making was really just to warn the OP that however potentially able an applicant is, it would be unwise to assume that the outcome of the test will reflect htat ability and hence lead to an offer of a place.

Mintyy Thu 18-Sep-14 19:55:06

Admissions criteria like this make me froth with rage. This is a state fucking funded so-called comprehensive school!

paddythepooch Fri 19-Sep-14 07:42:51

I believe that there is likely to be a new set of admissions criteria as a result of an adjudication which found like other leading faith schools - oratory, coloma, - the criteria were being used as selection through the back door. I suspect you will see a constant cycle of slight change to admission, adjudication, another tweak... So the criteria that apply now could well be different in 3 years time.

Bilberry Fri 19-Sep-14 07:59:12

I remember doing a language aptitude test at school and I did very well at it. As far as I remember it was basically a logic test; identify the rules of the test 'language' and apply them to set questions. I am quite a scientific person so this appealed to my strengths. What I am definitely not is a linguist. I have no 'ear' for language or music and found learning GCSE French difficult.

HPparent Fri 19-Sep-14 08:09:52

My DD did the test some years back and said it was like an alien language and mostly aural. One of her friends was offered a language place but didn't accept it. She is fluent in an oriental language - not sure if that helps.

I would go and have a look at it. Personally I didn't like it but most people I know rave about it. St Marylebone was the more fashionable school a few years back and many people apply for both.

Needmoresleep Fri 19-Sep-14 10:11:19

Our nearest school. A few years back DD sat the test and thought it more of a logic test than language. There were sittings on at least two different days and queues round the block, so the odds are slim. Some local children seem to get tutoring for it. I have not read the admission criteria but people living really, really close seem to have a higher chance. I also don't know if things have changed but rules used to demand a high level of religious participation so easier for girls from evangelical church backgrounds for whom church was a big part of family life. The slight downside here was that some of these pupils might be less tolerant of homosexuality and other facets of a liberal society. Not a school for a child of gay parents.

Locally Pimlico Academy is becoming increasingly popular, to the extent that people now turn down Greycoats for Pimlico. More liberal, good pastoral care and less rigid. That said, Greycoats delivers a good education. They take boys in sixth form.

DD did not get a place. Frustrating to see pupils travel in from far and wide, with a mini traffic jam of parents dropping pupils off out of sight of the school. And unlike pupils from other schools, Greycoats pupils regularly fail the bus behaviour test. I wish one of their teachers would tell pupils that they should give up seats for clearly elderly and disabled people, and not block the entrances. but that's what comes with having, effectively, a London wide catchment.

MrsWobble3 Fri 19-Sep-14 14:01:56

dd1 got a place some years ago but didn't actually go. she sat the aptitude test but got her place on faith grounds - as did everyone else we know who went there. And those that didn't get places were actually those from the more evangelical churches - if your church doesn't baptise babies then your dd won't get full marks on the faith score. this may have changed though as I know one family who complained about this.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogoves Sat 20-Sep-14 08:26:47

Needmoresleep, I don't understand how anyone could turn down a place at one state school for another one in the current system. Do you mean that people are putting Pimlico down as a higher choice than Greycoats?

Using the common application form, or whatever it's called, parents get one offer (or none) from their state school applications. If a family puts Greycoats down as #1 and Pimlico as #2 and both schools would be able to offer a place in the first instance, the system will automatically hand back their Pimlico place and Greycoats, which releases the Pimlico place for another family. The family will never know that they would have got a place at Pimlico.

I suppose if they had a change of heart when they get the Greycoats offer they might be able to go to Pimlico and ask if there are any vacancies there - is that what you mean?

(The current system is so much better than the position ten years ago before this came in when some families did end up holding multiple offers and took their time deciding which to accept, while other families had nothing at all.)

AllMimsyWereTheBorogoves Sat 20-Sep-14 08:27:45

hold onto the Greycoats place

Must preview!

tiggytape Sat 20-Sep-14 09:30:42

There are 2 ways this can happen:
1. Parents turn down a place at Greycoats for a place at private school. It is possible to hold 2 such offers at the same time then reject one of them.

2. Parents get offered Greycoats even though they placed a different school higher up on their form. Sometime over the summer, a place at the school they prefer becomes free. They turn down Greycoats and accept this new offer. This frees up a new place for somebody waiting on the Greycoats waiting list

HPparent Sat 20-Sep-14 10:03:41

Yes, scenario 2 happened to a friend of my DD's. Got a place at Greycoats, was offered St Marylebone from the waiting list and took a place there.

GerbilsAteMyCat Sat 20-Sep-14 10:04:59

Awww my mother went there during the 1950s. Good luck!

Luna9 Sun 21-Sep-14 04:55:06

Thank you for all the information; it is very useful. The conclusion is we will be very lucky to get a language place but will try anyway; no chances of a religious place

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