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Switching (independent,selective) schools at 11- issues

(12 Posts)
Bingolittle38 Fri 31-Jul-15 06:28:56


I'm looking for advice on potentially moving my daughter from her current school.

She's 9yo and about to start Y5 in a mixed independent school. The school goes all the way to 18, so she could potentially stay there throughout. However, she has said a few times that she would prefer single sex, and so I'm looking at her possible options for 11+. (Her current school is great and we are generally completely happy with it.)

There are a couple of good single sex schools locally that I would consider for her. However, they are both academically selective and competition for places is fierce. (Her current school is v similar but no issues there as she would automatically transfer to the senior part of the school.)

Given all this, it's not guaranteed she'd get a place at either of the single sex schools I'd consider, which would obviously mean staying where she is- which would be fine. However, I'm concerned that her current school might react badly to the fact we've looked elsewhere- no way to keep it secret as they would likely be asked for references.

Has anyone been through anything similar? In your experience, do schools react badly to this sort of thing, and am I risking anything by putting her down for other schools? Worst outcome would obviously be if she didn't get in anywhere and somehow jeopardised her place at her current school (is this possible?) Is it best to keep things under our hats for now or to talk openly to her current school? We'd also need to think about exam prep, as her current school doesn't prepare the children for 11+ at all as almost all stay on.

FWIW her current school has a big and oversubscribed intake at 11+ so no issue re them filling the place.

Sorry that was so long. Thanks if you got through it!

Bingolittle38 Fri 31-Jul-15 06:36:21

Should add that she's bright and doing well, so I think she would have a reasonable chance of getting a place at one of the single sex schools, but obviously nothing's guaranteed.

mummytime Fri 31-Jul-15 06:44:23

If the school would react badly, meaning treat your DD or yourself differently because you investigated her preference for single sex schools, then I would want to remove her quickly, as it would be a most unprofessional set up.

Most Prep schools I know are open for discussions about prospective senior schools, and understand some children might "fit better" any another place. A lot will even give some pointers about where might be best.

The only ones I know where looking elsewhere might be treated negatively are those with dodgy finances.

Ladymuck Fri 31-Jul-15 07:51:55

Perfectly normal, and I'd be surprised if you were the first family who had considered it. I doubt the school will do much in terms of specifically preparing for 11+ (after all some parents will have chosen it as it avoids the 11+ pressure), but they should be able to give you an idea of her chances.

AnonyMusty Fri 31-Jul-15 08:33:34

Schools generally only get uppity if the parents haven't communicated their thoughts and there is a surprise absenteeism on exam day or a request for reference. They'll be fine about it. Very understanding, I'm sure. Just express how keen you are on current school and that it's purely down to her stated preference for single sex.
No schools prepare anything near adequately for the 11+. Fact. You'd be needing to prepare her out if school even if she were in a primary-only school.

AnonyMusty Fri 31-Jul-15 08:38:04

Just to add: although no schools prepare adequately for 11+ (leaving no need for consolidation or support from home/ externally), there ARE, of course some children who are so uber-bright that they need no additional home/external support to be able to pass 11+ assessment tests.
In all my years of tutoring though, this sort of innate ability is extremely rare. If you dig a little deeper, those who had no external support/ tuition had been working with a parent at home (very effectively), in some cases, for a considerable length of time.

ealingwestmum Fri 31-Jul-15 09:06:29

Have been in similar position to you - definitely tell them at some point during Y5. Others will be looking also, even if not being open for similar reasons, and many parents just like to benchmark at this time.

Your Head will also more than likely be asked to submit end of Y5 reports to your prospective school/s around Dec Y6 so you don't want any awkwardness then.

Just be mindful to manage your DD's expectations that there are no guarantees, that her current school is still great (if she stays), and that some parents can be a little touchy if they know you are considering a move. Although this is completely about your DD's wishes, they somehow make it about them and take it as a personal slap that their children's school is not good enough for you. Hopefully you won't encounter this!

Gruach Fri 31-Jul-15 10:38:05

As others have indicated, if you have a good relationship with her current school it shouldn't be a problem. Go and talk to the Head - the sooner the better. Say what you've said here - you're really happy with the school and had no plans to move her - but she's 11 and curious about the possibilities of something different.

It will be important to have their support. They know your DD's strengths and weaknesses - even if they won't actually help with preparation they should be able to pinpoint anything needing extra attention. And they may subtly help to build her CV (if necessary) so she has the best possible report.

It's true that you need to manage her expectations. In this situation some children can begin to distance themselves (that's putting it politely) from their schoolmates in advance of a proposed move. Have a serious talk about that ... And there is no need whatsoever for any other parents to be told anything so she really shouldn't be talking about it at school at all.

basildonbond Fri 31-Jul-15 13:45:50

No schools prepare anything near adequately for the 11+. Fact.

Oh that's rubbish anonymusty - dd had absolutely no tutoring and no extra help from me when she went through the 11+ process last year. Her school prepared her very well with regular practice exams, practice interviews etc. Anything extra on top would frankly have been overkill.

She sailed through the process, being offered academic scholarships everywhere she applied. She was by no means the only one in her year group either. These children are bright and hard-working but by no means genius level

But then it's in a tutor's interests to talk up the need for their services hmm

To go back to the OP I'd have thought an open conversation with your dd 's current school would be the place to start

MN164 Fri 31-Jul-15 14:25:32


Off topic, but why does she think she wants to move to a girls school? Is it because she has friends there, knows the schools somehow or is it to get away from boys?

Bingolittle38 Fri 31-Jul-15 21:41:58

Thanks so much, everyone. That's really helpful and v reassuring.

MN164, I think it's largely to get away from boys TBH. She isn't thinking about particular schools, only that she's like to go single sex. Seems ok to me- she has been coed since 3 and has an older brother so it wouldn't be as if she'd never see boys. Hmm.

Leeds2 Fri 31-Jul-15 23:09:09

My DD (now just finished Lower Sixth) was exactly the same. Except that she doesn't have a brother! Went to co ed primary but, against my wishes, went to single sex secondary. Was exactly right for her.

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