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Need some advice about 13+ common entrace prepration

(29 Posts)
Pani6161 Wed 13-Apr-16 01:20:11

Hello every body. My son is currently at year 6 and he is in the prep school. He sat for Tiffin school 11+ entrance and he has been offered a place. On the other hand he got the offer for the 13+ entry at Westminster school as well.Our heart is with Westminster , however, in that case, he needs to stay in his prep school for another 2 years which he is not happy about it. So much bullying going around in the school and he hates his school. I was thinking maybe I can take him to Tiffin for 2 years and then he will sit for common entrance in year 8, however, I am not sure whether he would pass the common entrance while he is not in prep school.
I would appreciate if anyone could advice me in this regard as I am very confuse :roll:

SAHDthatsall Wed 13-Apr-16 08:09:54

They wouldn't be preparing for the CE exams at Tiffin so you would need to cover extra work on top which would be hard. So on that basis I think you would be mad to consider that change for 2 years.

If you're really not happy with the current school then you could find another prep school who would prepare him for CE. I don't think it would be difficult to find one who would take him on for a couple of years

LIZS Wed 13-Apr-16 08:11:58

Are there alternative preps? Do Westminster offer non CE entry routes, ie for those from state sector , non CE schools or abroad.

AnotherNewt Wed 13-Apr-16 08:12:42

Moving to another prep might be the best solution.

Are there any near to (or an easy journey from) your home which go to 13+ and regularly send boys to Westminster (or KCS/St Pauls, or other schools which require a very high CE mark)?

AnotherNewt Wed 13-Apr-16 08:16:14

"Do Westminster offer non CE entry routes, ie for those from state sector , non CE schools or abroad."

OP's son is already on the CE route, having sat the pretest and secured a conditional offer. The other route is the Challenge, which he can do anyhow (and if he passes well enough CE is not longer required).

As he has been at a prep until the point he secured an offer, he won't 'count' as state school candidate now wherever he goes for the next two years.

mertonmama Wed 13-Apr-16 08:23:00

As others have said it would be very hard to pass CE if not at a prep school. You could tutor but the amount you'd have to do would be quite a burden. The level of French, for instance is high and well beyond what he'd be doing at that stage if not prepping for CE at school.

Aren't you leaving the decision a bit late? Don't you have to give a terms notice at your current prep?

Michaelahpurple Wed 13-Apr-16 08:44:59

Sounds as though eating a term's fees and switching prep would work but you will need to get on it asap. You need a school which prepares for both 11 and 13 so they have a decent number of spaces for year 7 eg Thomas's , Fulham prep etc.

Did you try and not get a place for Wus at 11+?

happygardening Wed 13-Apr-16 08:55:04

I think you could prepare your DS for CE if youre very motivated and organised.. CE is pretty predictable and you can buy books practice papers, and I personally don't think the standard of French is that high it's similar to GCSE French.. Do they stream for French at Tiffin? I assuming he's done French from an early age at prep, will he be in the top set? He may need some help in the 3-4 months prior to he exam with technique and just to polish any rough bits but it's not as if he's not doing any French at school. The science papers are exceedingly easy, you could help fill in any gaps, with the ?the Galore Park books and I would have thought Tiffin would give him adequate preparation for the English and possibly even the math. Does Tiffin do Latin? Latin tutors well at least good Latin tutors are harder to find than say math ones. Obviously you would have to keep a very firm eye on what your DS is doing at Tiffin and how this compares with the CE curriculum but not insurmountable. If you became concerned in the summer term before sitting it you could "HE" him with the help of tutors. I also understand the are plenty of "tutoring companies" offering extensive help with CE including Easter holiday courses etc.
The question is would you want too do all of this, surely moving him to another prep would be easier. Or are interested to see if he likes Tiffin and does well and then you would then have the option of leaving him there?

Needmoresleep Wed 13-Apr-16 08:56:06

Newton Prep is another option. They are not far from Westminster and so regularly prepare candidates. They will have lots both boys and girls at 11+, mainly to Dulwich schools, so will have lots of places, and unlike Thomas' won't split out CE candidates at 10+. It is co-ed, and will have quite a wide ability range (they will set) as there will be a contingent who will be opting out of London Day Schools and heading for "country boarding", so should go easy on the hot-housing, which may reduce the chances of bullying.

(Our experience was that the boys who seemed old for the year in Yr 6 were the ones who tended to move on earlier, as if the parent recognised they had outgrown the school. This meant Yr 7 was pretty dominated by the quieter boys and was a lovely place for them to grown in confidence.)

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Wed 13-Apr-16 10:39:04

Move him to Tiffin and see how he gets on. He may wish to stay - and you will save a fortune. As others have said you can prepare for CE with tutors - especially in the London area. You may also wish to check whether Westminster have a non CE route at 13 - my DC's school allows non CE applicants to sit scholarship papers and a satisfactory performance, even if not of scholarship standard, exempts from CE. Would not worry too much about Latin as marks are nowhere near as important as maths and english.

Interesting that you prefer Westminster to Tiffin. Academically I would put Tiffin above Westminster when judged by the academic abilities of the student body. Far more applicants per place and from a wider social background. I guess the added extras at Westminster are better - but it's a lot to pay for added extras.

You are very lucky to be in this position. You obviously have a very bright DS - and he will do well wherever he is.

happygardening Wed 13-Apr-16 12:04:41

Tiffins results are hardly comparable with Westminsters (the former says GCSE results but this is a typing error I think). And Tiffins university destinations definitely aren't remotely comparable with Westminster's they sent 86 to Oxbridge in 2014.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Wed 13-Apr-16 12:29:53

I think it would be interesting to see Westminster's results broken down by year of entry.
They get a large influx of very clever (overseas) boarders and clever girls at 16+ who inflate their results and Oxbridge entrance stats. I think the impact is greater at Westminster because it is day, and single sex with a few weekly boarders until 16 though the same applies to many other UK boarding schools.
Tiffin also have 6th form entrants, but fewer, and from a smaller catchment area. I am not saying that Westminster is not a fantastic school - but Tiffin offers much of the same for nothing.

happygardening Wed 13-Apr-16 12:48:36

"Tiffin offers much of the same for nothing"
I dont know Westminster very well and cant comment on their 6th form admissions but obviously I know a very similar type of school. IME the difference in terms of ethos and opportunities between schools like Westminster and state schools however good their results might be is vast and you can only really grasp how enormous it is when your actually experiencing it. We had the choice between a super selective top 5 grammar grammar and DS2 schools I looked very carefully at both and have a friend with DC's at both. You are definitely not getting much the same for nothing.
Secondly sending 86+ to Oxbridge every year with approximately 160 in their 6th form means over 50% are going to Oxbridge surely it doesn't matter when they join the school the fact is that they are brilliant at preparing their pupils.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Wed 13-Apr-16 13:54:32

@Happy: I am pretty confident in saying what I did about 6th form entry to Westminster. It gets the pick of the clever girls from the London days and an influx from abroad - virtually all of whom would have been Oxbridge bound anyway. And that does inflate its results. That is not to say it is not an excellent school. It clearly is.
Tiffin also send 15- 20 to Oxbridge each year (some of whom will also have been new at 6th form) - and doubtless OPs son would have every chance of being among them. And Tiffin Is free.

Which leaves me wondering whether the "added value" from 5 years at Westminster is worth £80,000 (plus the two years at prep before). I am not bashing private schools and their "ethos". But I would be interested to hear you define that further. I think you will find a belief in the pursuit of excellence, nurturing everyone's talents, being the best that you can be etc in many state schools. Certainly in the selective grammars. And certainly at Tiffin.

I do think that many private schools are very good at taking credit for producing talented children when in reality the children were recruited to the school because they already possessed those talents. That includes the DCs with an IQ of 130+, those who can speak four languages at 13, those with grade 8 in two+ instruments, those already playing rugby with Harlequins academy....That usually has all to do with the parents and little or nothing to do with the value the school has added. Clearly there is a multiplier effect if you have enough of these children together - and there will be more of them at the very big public schools - but you will have a similarly talented, if smaller, group at the selective grammars.

I also think there is a very real question as to whether an education at an elite, academically selective fee paying school which excludes 95% of the population is the best preparation for life. It seems to be a particularly British phenomenon. Clever children from supportive home backgrounds seem to do very well in most other developed countries - without the need for their parents to shell out a fortune for private education.

happygardening Wed 13-Apr-16 14:51:46

"It gets the pick of the clever girls from the London days and an influx from abroad - virtually all of whom would have been Oxbridge bound anyway. And that does inflate its results"
Yes it might inflate the results but you cant deny that Westminster are obviously very good at preparing their pupils for their Oxbridge application. 15-20 isn't 86 by any stretch of the imagination. I think it would be fair to say if you want your DC to have the best shot at Oxbridge then Westminster is the place to go.
"I think you will find a belief in the pursuit of excellence, nurturing everyone's talents, being the best that you can be etc in many state schools."
Extra curricular stuff will be better at Westminster, for example here is details aout thier drama here is Tiffin's the two aren't really comparable.
I don't dispute this every school in the UK in both sectors will claim this its so boring. But its inevitable that a school like Westminster and others of its ilk can offer so much more. I visited our super selective grammar, the results are very impressive but frankly I felt it was an exam factory, that results were the most important thing, that the schools ethos first and foremost was to teach pupils to do very well in their exams (they've succeeded there), don't get me wrong there was lots of other stuff on offer but results were the number one priority. I felt it was a sausage factory. I personally seek an all round education, where learning takes place not because its on the syllabus or enables you to enter an Olympiad and look good on your website and but because its there because it matters to the school that pupils are exposed and learn about things just to improve their life in general. I didn't want my DS to just study the subjects he enjoys or is very good at I wanted him also to be exposed to the things he's not keen on not so good at and doesn't always enjoy to, to have to listen to lectures on say Chaucer and write an essay about him, not because you're doing English but because its important that you appreciate Chaucer. I did the Crucilble when I was 16 we spent a whole term studying it, nothing else, the MacCarthy witch hunts, the rise of communism, the crushing of free speech/beliefs all in a historical context and the principle of standing up for your principles come what may regardless. It was not then on any exam syllabus (we just had one of those teachers who couldn't care less about the exam syllabus) to this day Ill never forget it, I talk to my DS about it still, I remember great chunks of it, I would say studying it gave me great pleasure and it has improved my quality of life. In contrast I cant remember any books I studied for my Eng Lit O level, because even in this days learning the books was so prescribed.
Good schools like Westminster have the freedom and lets not forget money to offer a broader education.
"I also think there is a very real question as to whether an education at an elite, academically selective fee paying school which excludes 95% of the population is the best preparation for life."
I agree that is a valid comment. The problem is as with so much in life you cant have everything.

Hopeless432 Wed 13-Apr-16 22:22:18

Pani, l have PMd you.

Pani6161 Sat 16-Apr-16 12:30:50

Thank you everyone, I can see lot's of ideas from you and sorry for my late reply. I was on holiday.
Michaelahpurple It is not possible to sit for both 11+ and 13+ at the same time at WUS. He sat for 13+ and the school expect him to join the school in year 9.
happygardening I am very good at organizing my DS and I prepared him for the both pre-test and the 11+ exam at Tiffin on my own. I must say that the prep school did nothing really apart from year 6's Autumn term some past papers which my DS had done those papers before However, CE had wider subjects which I doubt that I can help. Latin and French are not a problem , I can get the tutor for those subjects but not sure whether Science, History,... syllabus at Tiffin is the same as the prep school and CE requirement.
Needmoresleep I am not leaving in central and those well known prep schools are ofcourse great place to be, but transportation would be a problem. I am considering my son to stay boarding at WUS in year 9.

happygardening Sat 16-Apr-16 13:51:36

Get one of those books that prepares for CE the science is a complete doddle, it seemed very similar to DS1 GCSE.
The history you choose a period that could be more difficult but not insurmountable especially as you sound very motivated.
Have you checked the actual number of yr 9 boarders at Westminster. DS2 got a place at SPS which admittedly has a fewer boarders, he would have been the only yr 9 boarder the vast majority were 6th formers, boarding is about having friends of you're own age and older ones as well.

Nairsmellsbad Sat 16-Apr-16 14:45:29

Given what you've said I would stick with Tiffin for now and consider prepping him yourself for CE at 13 if he and you think it's a good idea - doing it that way leaves your options open. I know a family who went to a secondary school at 11 and successfully prepped DC for CE - hard work but doable. Equally, you may feel in a year or so that he doesn't need to move at all.

Pani6161 Mon 18-Apr-16 10:18:48

happygardening and Drinkstoomuchcoffee Thank you to you both. Lot's of useful information.
happygardening I have visited the Westminster and year 9 boarding. many of students start boarding at year 9 and they all stay together, not mix with older boys. I spoke to some of them and they seemed very happy and enjoy each other's company

njshore Mon 18-Apr-16 23:40:39

"I also think there is a very real question as to whether an education at an elite, academically selective fee paying school which excludes 95% of the population is the best preparation for life."

And Tiffin prepares you for what? How to talk to a plumber?

I don't know about you but it seems to me that privately educated people are doing pretty well in their life. Just because one goes to a private school doesn't mean one can't talk to or deal with all strata of the population. The reverse is harder to prepare for, i.e. being at ease with the higher social class.

True, smart kids with supportive parents will do well anywhere but there are intangible benefits one gets from a globally-recognised brand name school, such as alumni network and access. This is truly what you are paying for and it pays back in spades.

The Harvards/Goldman Sachs/or any other brand names of the world will be actively recruiting at Westminster, not Tiffin. Even if you don't want to work at these places, it's nice to have the option. In 2016, Westminster School received 6 offers from Harvard out of 40 offers UK-wide; only one other school had 2 offers.

Needmoresleep Tue 19-Apr-16 06:13:52

Don't worry. Westminster operates as a boarding school including Saturday lessons and often matches on Saturday afternoons. About one third of the year group will board and day pupils are able to arrive for breakfast and stay for supper. St. Paul's is a day school with a small number of boarders.

We have come across a three people who have prepped from CE themselves. One, who was successful, said it was hard work, another failed and the third was very, very clever even within the Westminster context.

Honestly, you have a great choice, but I would choose on or the other, rather than try to do both. If Westminster why not a boarding Prep?

FWIW DS did not get a place at Tiffin but did go to Westminster. He was not the only one. Tiffin is extraordinarily selective.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Tue 19-Apr-16 13:52:04


You are right to say that Tiffin is also exclusive. But unlike Westminster it excludes only on academic grounds, not on academic AND income grounds. I think it is fair to say therefore that Tiffin boys are likely to have greater social range. I would not be surprised if there were a number of plumbers sons at the school grin Not to say that Westminster boys may not also be sons of plumbers, but fewer I suspect.

I do not think that big employers prefer students who have attended "internationally recognised, brand name" fee paying British secondary schools. If anything, they are making huge efforts to diversify their intake. They want talented, driven people whatever their background and they will be looking for those with top degrees (and an interesting CV) from the top universities. The vast majority of these people in UK and elsewhere will have attended state schools.

Nor do I think the Harvard statistic is relevant. Most British parents do not consider Harvard for an undergraduate degree. Despite Harvard's slick marketing, it works out massively more expensive than a UK university - particularly for those who can afford a fee paying secondary and so do not qualify for financial aid - and the value added at undergraduate level is debatable.

I think we all want the best for our children. And we all see that the employment market is becoming increasingly competitive. So we all want to give our DC an edge if we can. And it is that desire that the UK private school industry feeds off. Spend thousands with us and we will guarantee your DC a head start in life.

As I said at the start, the extras at Westminster are doubtless better than those at Tiffin. I think Happy' s reference to the drama offering illustrated that very well. But it's a bit like a breakfast buffet in a 5 star hotel. It looks great and you want to eat it all but you can't. And in the end the Tiffin offering is quite enough.

Pani6161 Tue 19-Apr-16 14:11:03

Needmoresleep That is my concern. I don't want to risk to fail the CE by leaving his current prep school, on the other hand, DS is very unhappy at this school. Moving to another prep school also won't be easy as children have already made their bond and that would be difficult for him to make friends as he is a shy boy.

njshore Tue 19-Apr-16 17:32:58

Pani6161, to go back to your original question about CE prep. The fact that your son has a conditional offer from Westminster means that the school is confident he will not have any trouble with passing CE, which is 70% pass rate. He can probably sit CE today and pass it. It's not that difficult. I don't have the exact rate but i was told recently that, in the history of the school, only a few boys with a conditional offer fail CE exam.

Someone mentioned previously that you shouldn't have a problem finding a prep school to park him in for a few years to prepare for CE. This is true; they will most likely take a boy with a Westminster conditional offer in hand because they can claim credit and boost their exit results.

"But it's a bit like a breakfast buffet in a 5 star hotel. It looks great and you want to eat it all but you can't. And in the end the Tiffin offering is quite enough."

True, i can't eat it all but I'd still want the best available selection a five-star hotel has to offer rather than a Holiday Inn's selection. Plus, the service and ambience are better......

But humour aside, I'm sure a boy at Tiffin is very bright and will get as good an education as anywhere--not doubting that and not putting a Tiffin education down. But someone asked where does the value lie in tution paid at Westminster and my belief is the value is in the brand name.

The reality is people/schools/companies are lazy and, if they are going to hire, a brand name school immediately sparks interest and will get a first look ("in" pile"). These schools will also have established career services/alumni network/college outreach programs in place to court universities and companies to come recruit on campus, saving students and companies/schools time.

Using Harvard and the Ivy League schools as an example again (although I realise they are not everyone's cup of tea), they are courted by Westminster School and conduct interviews on campus. This is a valuable service if your son decides to try for an American University. Again, you may not want to but the OPTION is there and it's good to have all the options available because a bright, ambitious boy (and his parents) may want options later in life.

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