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I Need A Prep School for Common Entrance

(24 Posts)
Gojanetgo Mon 14-Mar-16 20:36:05

Hello, my son has been fortunate to be offered a 13+ place at St Pauls School and Westminster. We are currently abroad but will be relocating to London in August so we are planning to visit preps soon. We can live anywhere central or in North London (my DH will work in Canary Wharf). Where are the best preps for the Common Entrance? I don't know if he would like to sit for the Challenge but l would like a prep where they might teach to this level perhaps? He plays piano and enjoys sport but does not like the look of rugby. He is good at art. His English is excellent although it is not his first language. He has studied Latin but has NO French. I am wondering will all the preps be full? Any ideas of where l should start to call? Much thanks!

AnotherNewt Mon 14-Mar-16 20:50:56

I doubt very much you'll have any difficulty in finding a prep that will take on a boy who already has a conditional offer for Westminster it St Paul's.

What sort of features and ethos are you looking for in a prep?

The one that springs to my mind is Newton Prep (has has a pupils go to Westminster as a Queens Scholar, and exhibitioners to all of the big London boys' three in recent years).

aghteens Mon 14-Mar-16 20:54:13

I would start by asking the school you plan for him to go to (I assume he is currently in year six and that you don't plan to hold onto two places?). They should be able to suggest suitable prep schools. Some boys do leave preps at 11 so there should be a few places around, but it will be a case of contacting possible schools to ask.

Gojanetgo Mon 14-Mar-16 21:14:53

AnotherNewt, l will call Newton Prep. It's interesting that they had a Queens Scholar which gives confidence in the teaching. I had not planned to live in South London but do you think the journey would be acceptable from Chelsea or somewhere Central? Aghteens, l do not intend to hold two offers but l need to decide soon. I'm not sure what "ethos" l would like. Is there such a difference in the preps at this age?

AnotherNewt Mon 14-Mar-16 21:20:26

It's dead easy from Chelsea, assuming the Sloane Square end. 137 or 452 bus southbound, about 7 stops and going against the traffic.

almapudden Mon 14-Mar-16 21:31:19

Wetherby Prep at Marble Arch?

aghteens Mon 14-Mar-16 21:40:02

I think the difference in the preps is in the rigor with which they prepare for CE/scholarship as senior schools vary a lot in the standard they require. That's why I'd ask the senior school e.g. if you are interested in the Challenge it would be helpful to send him to a prep that has a decent track record in preparing boys for it (Newton Prep certainly sounds like a possibility).
In terms of the ethos, many people are quite passionate about one or the other. I know Westminster but not St Paul's so can't really compare.

Needmoresleep Mon 14-Mar-16 21:47:37

As well as Chelsea a number of Newton parents live in Westminster/Pimlico. Again a simple bus journey or one stop on the train from Victoria to the station right opposite the school.

The difference between Newton and, say, Thomas' is that the latter tend to seperate out their 13+ kids at 10+, ie for the last three years of school. Newton does it a year later so it is easier for a new child to join. Its also mixed, so they will lose most of their girls at 11 so lots of places. It gets good results and has a sound track record of sending pupils to Westminster, plus has better facilities than many of the central London schools.

(If I were you I might also try a cheeky phone call to Westminster Under. If they have an unexpected place once they have sorted out their 11+ offers they might prefer to give it to a child who has already been offered a place at the senior school.)

You can take Common Entrance in languages other than French but you might have to negotiate seperate teaching for it, or organise your own tutoring.

Gojanetgo Mon 14-Mar-16 22:24:13

I had not heard of Newton Prep so l am pleasantly surprised by what l read. Excuse my ignorance but what is the station near Newton Prep for the train? I have heard of Wetherby also. Is this an academic school of calibre? I think he would be a candidate for the Challenge in some subjects but the French would be too much l think? The offers states French must be taken for Common Entrance. If he took a language exam in his native language l think that would be cheating.

AnotherNewt Tue 15-Mar-16 07:50:00

NP is more or less opposite Battersea Park station, and just round the corner from Queenstown Road station.

DaisyFranceLynch Tue 15-Mar-16 08:04:20

I live very close to Newton Prep. The children all seem lovely and well behaved (but sparky and confident too) when I see them out and about. If I could afford it it is where I would send DC. It's a short bus ride to Sloane Square or a twenty minute walk.

Sloane Square to Canary Wharf isn't too bad (tube to Westminster then another tube). Half an hour maybe? Or if you were in Battersea there's the train from Queenstown Road to Waterloo (two stops) and then the Jubilee Line.

bagelsandlox Tue 15-Mar-16 08:36:57

With conditional offers under your belt any prep will take your son - plus most will have places as a few boys will leave at 11+. In north London you could check out The Hall, Arnold House and Trevor Roberts.

Gojanetgo Tue 15-Mar-16 11:50:27

Thank you everybody for your helpful suggestions. l think l will start to also search North London. I have heard of the Hall - l will look this up & the others mentioned. Any others?

Coffeeismycupoftea Tue 15-Mar-16 13:48:58

Some of the secondary schools in North London (e.g. Highgate) are winding down their 13+ which means that increasing numbers of boys are leaving preps at end of y6. I think they'll be fighting to have your boy. Hereward House I know has some boys leaving for y7. You're offering them a chunky St Pauls or Westminster to have on their leavers' destinations - they'll be biting your arm off.

Michaelahpurple Tue 15-Mar-16 21:13:21

Thomas's Battersea or Fulham Prep or Newton prep are traditional choices for this locally (ie for chelsea and Fulham based people) as they have gaps from 11+ leavers. Wetherby is more of a joker but definitely worth a go. Not sure how much experience they have of the challenge.

I'd have thought that Colet or WUS would be unlikely - in the case of Wus the year 7 joiners attend French and Latin catch up lessons over the Easter holidays and summer term Saturdays (or at least they did two years ago and I imagine this still applies) but it can't hurt to ask

Doing challenge French from scratch would be an utter killer, but not everyone who sits the challenge is at scholarship level in every subject (clearly, given the numbers).

Michaelahpurple Tue 15-Mar-16 21:14:55

The hall in Finsbury Park area definitely can do the challenge - no idea if they tend to have occasional places

Ditto Sussex house - I'd have thought they would be less likely to take someone in as they have no natural movement at that point

NL2016 Wed 16-Mar-16 13:49:39

You can try Hill House ( Kinightsbridge) or GEMS Hampshire ( chelsea) as well. Hill House being a non selective school did well at 11+ this year, at least 6 to Westminster and one to WU, 7 to St Pauls and sipome are interviewing, several to City, few to Latymer and good boarding schools. They may have places as couple boys are leaving at 11. They have history of helping kids coming from overseas to improve French. I doubt about Westminster Under - they have strict intake size of 28 ( 2 classes) and hardly over offer... Good luck!

Needmoresleep Thu 17-Mar-16 10:10:49

When working out schools and where to live, you should look at TFLs journey planner. Easy public transport journeys are far more important than distance.

I also think it is worth looking holistically at what your son wants to get out of the next two years. Is it a major scholarship, or to settle well and to use the last two pre-teen years developing resilience and a sense of comfort within his own skin, or is he bright enough that he can manage both.

Newton rarely prepare kids for the Challenge unless they feel they have a good chance of suceeding. Other schools will have a scholarship stream where a whole class of boys move at a cracking pace. DS moved on to Westminster and I dont think entering via CE made one jot of difference. Indeed some of the more hot-housed kids had a real slump in the first set of exams as if they felt they had made it so could then relax.

There is an approach to parenting in Central London that almost has children as performing seals. The right school, the right position within the class, and lots of high level extra curricular, all forming the ideal background for a good application to the right Ivy. The right school, if you are not already in Colet or WUS, would be The Hall, Sussex House, Wetherby, DCPS if you are in South London, or one or two others.

I don't know. My instincts were that this was all too much both for DC and for me. Looking back I think those pre-teen years are very important and there is a lot to do beyond getting the grades. In his last two years DS used to read three books a week, about anything and everything. He spent his half term before CE at a cricket camp. Newton used to have his year group help with things like the nursery sports day, and it did him no harm to have both girls and quite a wide ability range (they split into two sets for teaching) instead of what might have been a stressful and hot housy experience. I think this chance to enjoy education has been really useful, not just in seeing him through the rest of his secondary years but also at University, where he has no problems with self-motivation and self study.

You will know your son and how far his current teaching is from the British system. But it is worth factoring in his wider development needs when considering what school might be right for him. Honestly we have seen some major car-crashes of boys who have found the pressure too much.

French was DS' weak subject, and the only one in which we gave him extra help. Happy to PM with details.

Gojanetgo Thu 17-Mar-16 10:47:43

Needmoresleep, what you say makes sense. I will think it over. Was he ever in danger regarding French?

Needmoresleep Thu 17-Mar-16 20:40:14

I have PM'd you.

Fridayschild Sat 19-Mar-16 07:12:01

St Paul's will be able to make some suggestions. I agree any mixed prep school will have places for years 7 and 8 and will be delighted to welcome a boy with a St Paul's offer

My son moved to Fulham Prep for years 7 and 8. I am really pleased with the school and the move. we have never felt that we are just slotting into a group of kids who have been together forever, because the school mixed up the year group into a blend of established and new friendships. The teachers were great at settling my child in and have been very available when I have had questions about his education. It's a big school but I have always felt that the teachers know my child as an individual. The head is retiring but Miss Coles leads y7 and 8 and the move to the next school and she is going to carry on. I cannot speak highly enough about her.

There is a huge network of school minibuses to get your child to school each day.

Fridayschild Sat 19-Mar-16 07:14:56

Also at Fulham Prep you can avoid rugby in y7 and 8! You can do mixed hockey instead.

Mominatrix Sun 20-Mar-16 08:42:13

Another school worth a look into is Sussex House in Chelsea. They have loads of experience with the top public schools as 3/4 of their exits are to Eton/Winchester/St Paul's/Westminster. Definitey not a big rugby school.

Needmoresleep Sun 20-Mar-16 12:18:56

Mominatrix, I don't disagree and indeed included Sussex House as one of the "right schools" that would get you bragging rights amongst London's alpha cupcake-moms.

However there is a balance to be struck. The year group will be much more open at somewhere like Newton or Fulham. Lots will have left so friendship groups will be broken up. In contrast at a trad boys 13+ prep, pupils will be in an established class well into the CE syllabus. It could be tough on a new boy.

One thing we have observed is children whose parents put a lot of emphasis on the grades (including in music and sport) achieved. These children often seem to believe that self worth can only be validated by this achievement, and so may judge thier peers based on the same criteria. This would be tough on those who might be struggling initially. It is more than possible to tutor, coach or train pre-teen children into quite impressive achievements. Some will sustain this and emerge from their school years with amazing CVs, though other outstanding performers seem to get there through talent and without the early pressure. However others will fade and will need to find constructive ways to deal with being ordinary, albeit often within a selective environment. Not all manage, hence the car-crashes.

If Westminster/St Pauls have offered a pre-test place to a boy not already within the London system they will be more than satisified that he will get through CE if they have the right preparation. There is a value in learning that "good enough" can be "good enough" especially when spare time can be used for developing social and emotional skills and getting used to a new city.

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