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Possible to get into private secondary from a state primary (London)?

(29 Posts)
CruCru Sun 14-Dec-14 15:10:57

Just that really. A while ago I put up a (fairly long) thread in primary education asking about various private schools accessible from central Islington. Since then, I've visit d my local state primary (William Tyndale) and am filled with enthusiasm for it.

The only snag is that they won't prepare for the 11+ / common entrance. Is it possible to get into Westminster / Highgate / CLS from a state school?

Sorry, I know it's a how long is a piece of string question. My son is 3 but, although I obviously think he's marvellous, I have no idea how academic he will be.

EdithWeston Sun 14-Dec-14 16:09:18

Yes you can, and many do.

But you need to think in advance about entry points, types of exam and whether you need supplementary tutoring (and when to start it). And bear in mind that requirements (such as Westminster requiring Latin, which seriously reduces the number of state school pupils securing places) might change by the time your DS is approaching entrance.

Westminster starts at 13+ (after CE or the scholarship exam). But you need to pass a pretest at 11+. You can apply to the Under School from 11+ onwards instead, and that might be a better bet if your DS's'so school does not follow the CE syllabus. Or you might want to look for a prep school to move to for those two years anyhow if trying for a range of senior schools. Or even from a bit earlier (if your eventual short list of target schools is heavy on those which have yr6 pretesting).

CLS has different entry points, and those might be easier to do from state school (with or without tutoring).

LeBearPolar Sun 14-Dec-14 16:20:09

DN went to Latymer Upper from a state primary. I'm not sure if he had any supplementary tutoring though.

farewelltoarms Sun 14-Dec-14 17:20:24

Edith Weston's right to say you need to do your research, but wrong to say Westminster requires Latin. There's an 11+ entry point to Westminster Under, specifically aimed at state school boys and for those whose schools end at 11 rather than 13, and it's your standard 11+ (i.e. maths, English and vr/nvr).

Plenty of children go from primaries to private secondaries, you've only got to the look at the numbers - for example City's 11+ entry is 65% state school. Quite frankly, all the parents at prep schools seem to end up prepping their children outside school (i.e. tutors) anyway.

Prep or state primary, those schools are selective and you lots opt for an easier back-up - most people seem to look to Forest, Northbridge House and Portland Place for that. Or you might find that your experience at a state primary is so positive that you prefer one of the rapidly improving Islington secondaries. We are doing the a couple of the selective privates, but I feel we're more relaxed about it as we're very pleased with the state secondary we put top of our CAF so aren't doing any of the less prestigious schools I've mentioned above. The parents of those at private primaries get in a total tizz about 11+, but if your child has survived and thrived at a state primary (as ours has) then you find yourself much less bothered as you'll know that state schools aren't full of feral monsters who bully violin-playing nerdy kids.

I have read your previous threads and I think you might have to relax over the next few years though - it's a long way off!

EdithWeston Sun 14-Dec-14 19:34:56

I was talking about Westminster CE requirements when I mentioned the requirement for Latin.

I mentioned the 11+ entry to WUS as a separate issue, recommending it for boys whose school does not follow CE curriculum. Joining WUS is the nearest thing to a guaranteed transfer to Westminster, but it is a separate school with a separate entry procedure. I apologise for not being sufficiently explicit in pointing out that the WUS option (like many other London preps) includes teaching the requisite level of Latin to pass CE at 13 at the level Westminster requires.

Ladymuck Sun 14-Dec-14 23:25:24

And if you do join WUS at 11 you used to have to do a number of months of Saturday school from March to September in order to catch up on Latin and French.

Is it possible to go from state primary to independent - absolutely.

In one sense few prep school parents leave everything entirely down to the prep school, and most will be involved - the amount of home preparation for entry isn't hugely different in some respects. However the biggest difference will be the peergroup, and you need to think about how your ds will find things if he is the only one in his class who is having to prepare in year 5. It is a very different environment in a prep school where every family is preparing for pretests/junior entrance etc, and doing practice papers at the weekend is the norm not the exception.

If you like the state primary, then I would see how it goes until age 7 or 8. If you child is bright enough for these senior schools then there is every chance of picking up a prep school place in year 3 or 4.

farewelltoarms Mon 15-Dec-14 10:20:59

Sorry Edith, I was skim reading on phone and hadn't realised you'd differentiated between 13 and 11+. But the 13+ is pretty irrelevant to those at a state school since why would they opt for it over the 11+?

Ladymuck, I think there's an argument to say that the lack of peer group doing the 11+ at state primaries can be an advantage. Yes it's harder to get them to do the work since they're not surrounded by others doing it, but the whole atmosphere at private preps/primaries (from what my friends tell me) can become frenzied. It takes the pressure off my ds that he's not surrounded by others to whom he might compare himself and feel as if he's 'failed' if they get in and he doesn't. It also takes the pressure off us because he's surrounded by lovely children who are all off to the various local state secondaries so it doesn't feel as life defining as it does for those at privates.

OP, it's counter intuitive to us as parents but I think the choices around schools make much less difference that we might assume. It's not as if opting for one thing at 4 is a path to Oxbridge glory and career success and another at 4 leads them to educational failure. It's striking to me how much they all seem to end up more or less where they're supposed to by whatever route.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Mon 15-Dec-14 10:28:10

Of course. Both my girls did that. SW London. The only think I would say is let them do a few papers before the exams, as the format may not be something they've seen in a state school.

amidaiwish Mon 15-Dec-14 13:17:46

yes you can, if they are academic enough and you have a tutor to prep them.

i think it's often easier from a prep school as the head often has good relationships and can put a word in. also they prepare them.

From our state primary (Richmond) plenty get into private secondaries (LEH, Hampton etc...) it isn't impossible if the school is right for them and you have kept on top of where they need to be academically. It's a harder route though.

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Mon 15-Dec-14 13:23:56

Both DSs went to private secondary from state primary and it hasn't been an issue at all. Both had one year's tuition of 1 hour a week (term time only) just to ensure they covered the maths syllabus at the right time and were familiar with verbal reasoning.

Their primary didn't prepare for 11+ at all, although as we're next t an 11+ borough, there were plenty sitting that and a few sitting private entrance exams.

Personally, I would go with state primary and save the fees for any tutoring in the later years. Revisit the decision each year as you discover where your son's talents lie - DS2 surprised us by being very bright when he appeared to be mainly physical as a preschooler!

Notinaminutenow Mon 15-Dec-14 16:19:51


CruCru Mon 15-Dec-14 19:37:17

I know I'm thinking about this early but we've already had to put down a deposit for one prep school and the interviews etc for the others (that we haven't already had or opted out of) start this Spring.

Thanks all for your help.

amidaiwish Tue 16-Dec-14 10:50:26

you're not thinking about this too early imo.
if you have your heart set on a particular secondary then find out what % come from state schools and whether there is one in particular.

if it is a very low number with a definite prep feeder then you need to think hard.

if they accept plenty from the state system (>40%) then you should be ok if the school is right for your dc.

farewelltoarms Tue 16-Dec-14 11:11:50

If I were you, I'd go for a private school. And I say this as a very enthusiastic supporter of state primaries in your borough! I just think that if you're this worried already then you're not going to have the necessary sangfroid to stick with the state system and it would be a shame for you to have to move your child and a shame for someone else who'd have liked a reception place at an oversubscribed primary. If you're absolutely sure you want a private selective secondary school then the best insurance is a prep school. It's not guaranteed even then but it's more likely and takes the onus off you.

Otherwise every time you see friends with children at private schools you'll be asking about their homework, fretting about how far ahead they are, wondering what your child is missing out on etc instead of enjoying the myriad benefits of a good local school.

amidaiwish Tue 16-Dec-14 12:04:37

i'm with farewelltoarms.

you will spend 7 years fretting.

amidaiwish Tue 16-Dec-14 12:07:39

and i say this as someone who has DDs in state primary with DD1 going into selective independent secondary. it's definitely the harder more risky route!

Think school pushing for L5/6 SATS and you pushing for 11+ prep. grim. at least in private primaries they don't get into the SATS tizz.

Luckily we have good state secondaries so if DD2 kicks back against the tutoring then she can go there.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Fri 19-Dec-14 11:59:39

I don't know, if you're very enthusiastic about your local primary then I think it's a gamble worth taking. As others have said it is far from impossible to get into a private secondary at 11+ from state. To me, it would depend on how near the primaries - state and private were to my house, a long journey for private definitely isn't worth it. Also how easily I could afford the fees, it is not worth bankrupting yourself for a prep education.

almapudden Fri 19-Dec-14 12:17:00

Schools such as Highgate, Latymer Upper, the GDST schools (not relevant in your case obviously!) and City take a large proportion - at least 50% - from state primaries into Y7. How many of those children have been tutored is impossible to say, but almost all will have spent at least some time familiarising themselves with the style of the exam papers.

DontGotoRoehamptonUniversity Sat 20-Dec-14 14:17:50

From our state local primary more than half do. My DC went to a very selective indie secondary and have been very happy there. We didn't think about secondaries until Y5 when DS1's teacher said he should try for the most academic schools. We did some Bond VR & NVR at home, otherwise no special prep. No need for Latin or French at 11+_ as they assume you wont; have done those, and they easily get up to GCSE and beyond by 13+

ChocolateWombat Mon 22-Dec-14 18:53:07

I have a friend who works in very academic independent secondary school teaching languages.
She says that in the first year they can tell who has been at Prep school because they have some knowledge of languages. However by the second year, the thing that determines how well they do at languages (right through to GCSE and A Level) is natural the brighter ones do better and the weaker ones do less has nothing to do with where they received their pre-11 education.
She also says that the weaker students tend to be from their feeder prep....they don't have to pass an exam to get into the secondary. Some scrape in on the 'nod' from the Prep Head who might not pass the entrance exam. Very quickly natural intelligence added to effort put in, takes over determining success, not previous school.

boxoftissues Sat 27-Dec-14 12:08:21

We are in this situation. DS at state primary, hoping to get him into selective independent for secondary.

There is certainly the issue of his school focussing on sats whilst we are focussing on 11+ prep. However there is a lot of overlap between sats and 11+ so not that big a conflict in our ultimate targets.

One thing we have done is told the school DS will not be doing any school homework as he has not got the time after doing his 11+ homework. This has made a huge difference as at home we are solely focussed on 11+ prep.

It is doable as my DD went from the same state primary to a selective independent, albeit not a super selective.

Elibean Sat 27-Dec-14 16:23:43

dd1 is about to sit the 11+ for one indie school (though we also like the local state, and are torn). She is at a state primary, and the indie school in question has simply suggested that she do a few practice papers over the Xmas holidays, and prepare something for the interview. Which is what we're doing.

I know many kids from local state primaries who've gone on to independent secondary schools - including a few who, with no tutoring, have had offers from SPG, Ibstock, LEH etc. Somehow, I think those schools can still spot the bright motivated kids through the fog of high intensity panic that tends to gather around their entrance exams [smiles]

chococupcakes Mon 29-Dec-14 10:11:50

Defo not to early to start thinking about it imo (from a mum with a child who has done both state and private primary and who eventually went from state to private at 13+!).

I found the environment in the private primary school was more conducive to where we wanted to go to. It was also much harder to motivate my ds to prepare for the tests etc. when she was in state primary. Nothing is impossible mind and when the state secondary didn't work out we did it again. Luckily where I am there were a couple of private schools that didn't do CE at 13+. Up against all those privately educated children however was incredibly stressful.

If you can't afford it, I would gently start her on the bonds books from the year before whatever age the books start from. The kids are getting smarter and smarter and so competition for these schools become increasingly fierce. Your options such as Westminster are not the easiest schools to get into either.

Save yourself seven years of stress if you can and the same grey hairs that now cost me a fortune to hide every weeksmile

Needmoresleep Mon 29-Dec-14 11:04:31

Schools will be looking for potential and so, as Elibean says, be trying to spot bright motivated kids. The problem with some schools is sheer weight of numbers. Latymer Upper, say, might have 1000+ sitting and presumably will find it easier to pick those with proven skills than try to identify which of the lower performers have potential. Its also not a simple matter of prep vs state as many state kids will have been tutored extensively for Grammars.

The advantage/disadvantage of applying from a known prep is that they will advise parents which schools to aim for, and tailor school references to reassure the secondary where that child would sit in within the cohort. (A disadvantage is prep schools can make their minds up early and cant see that the very average child in Yr 4 might start to shine in Yr 10.)

If applying from a state primary which does not have much of a history of having pupils transfer to the independent sector or who are unsupportive, it is hard to know which schools to aim for. As above, most 11+ London independents will be taking a good proportion from the state sector. However a level of preparation is worthwhile.

1. You need to look at what they need to have covered. The Galore Park "So you really want to learn...." are good for home teaching of bits of maths or English that may have been missing at school.
2. Your child should ideally practice timed essays and comprehensions.
3. It is also worth practicing timed maths papers. Perhaps do three or four, mark them together and then focus on the type of questions where marks are being lost. (We discovered DD was consistently losing marks on the trigonometry questions, so practiced these, hopefully giving her an important extra five marks.)
4. If the child does not know about mark schemes, explain. Many papers get progressively harder. Get to the end of the paper and then have another go at the 5 mark questions, not the 1 mark questions. Similarly a one mark english question is probably looking for one point, a five mark question for something more substancial.

Don't over do it. The aim is for a child to feel prepared and relaxed, not stressed. Schools are generally nice to them, with some good lunches and snacks. If you can make January fun by promising a pizza afterwards, and an afternoon off school, so much the better. Also check the route, parking and the school requirements (clear pencil case, calculator etc) so your own stress does not show.

DontGotoRoehamptonUniversity Mon 29-Dec-14 14:25:22

Some excellent points form needmoresleep! DS2 was ill when he did the entrance exams - in those days the KGS one was the days before HS. He had always wanted to build-a-bear so the treat after the exam was to go the Bentalls (?) BaB afterwards. He was so looking forward to the day he sailed thru the exam - major interest was the event afterwards grin

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