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11+ or CE for kind, average IQ, sporty team player?

(20 Posts)
Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 13:45:25

I would really love some advice please! My DS is currently in Yr 4 at a non selective private Prep school in SW London, he is happy, confident and enjoys school life generally. My query relates to the Common Entrance procedure and whether an average child would be better off taking the 11+ instead? He hates exams and really struggles with the pressures of timed tests and although getting results is important, I feel the journey through school should be a celebration of learning rather than focusing on getting A*'s, A's etc.
He gets average exam marks for the year in all subjects, so isn't scholarship material but seems to keep up with all set work. He loves football, cricket and chess but hates rugby. His sister goes to KGS and loves it but I fear he may not be bright enough to get in and if he failed to do so, the repercussions on his self esteem. Is it better to stay at the Prep school (with much smaller class sizes in years 7 & 8) and take the CE exams or do you think it would be less stressful to take the 11+. I know this really is a first world problem but I just want him to be happy and not completely stressed out before senior school. I have considered moving out towards the South coast for a suitable school. Many thanks in advance...

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 14:10:36

I think it depends what you mean by "the 11+" - the ISEB Common Entrance at 11+, or 11+ for entry to state grammar schools, or some other entrance procedure taken at the same age? Presumably to a very large extent, what exam he takes is determined by what senior school,or what kind of senior school, you'd like him to go to: tell us more about that? I think you need to put the school first, and then think about how best to get him there. It does sound as though you want a school that's not terribly academically selective, so it had better not be very oversubscribed and weeding people out by 11+. A school admitting by Common Entrance at 13+, and without pretesting, will not be doing that weeding out, so at least that's a possible way to reduce stress. However, CE preparation does involve a fair few exams.

The KGS I know is Kirkwall Grammar Schol in Orkney and I'm guessing you don' t mean there. If wherever it is is somewhere you think he may not be bright enough to get into, surely it wouldn't be a good place for him to go?

Seeline Thu 05-May-16 14:14:36

Agree that it will partly depend on the school you choose for him. Some have their main intake at 11+, so in that instance it would be better to do that rather than compete for far fewer places at 13+.
Some have an intake at 10+ (before the main 11+ intake) and again, competition is often not as great at that stage.
I think you really need to narrow down the possible schools to balance out what's on offer with potential stress.

SAHDthatsall Thu 05-May-16 14:16:15

I assume you mean taking the 11+ route into an independent secondary? You're kinda doing that anyway with many of the pre-tests that go on anyway. Find the right school for him and find the best way to get there is the way ahead. I doubt he would make it into KGS from what you describe.

Oh and it's not hard to work out...

MidLifeCrisis007 Thu 05-May-16 14:16:35

CE every time. The 11+ is a minefield.

Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 14:52:47

Thanks for your input everyone, I think knowing which school will be the right school for DS is really the main problem. Kingston Grammar would be perfect because they don't do rugby but it's very tough to get in to. (Very bright DD was on wait list before getting a place although all worked out in the end! smile)
We really like the ethos at Lancing and Hurstpierpoint and would be willing to move, although that would mean DD would have to either spend U6 renting in Kingston or switch schools after iGSCEs. (It's too early to say but she's very unhappy at that particular prospect!) Very limited choice locally as even the fall back schools of old are now expecting 65% in CE (Reeds etc). Is the pre test just one exam taken and the results used for different schools or is it a different pre test for each school? I guess the school will enlighten us at some point but I'm completely in the dark (and found the whole 11+ for DD daunting enough).

mary21 Thu 05-May-16 15:32:00

Have you looked at halliford? Either 11+ or 13+
Many boys mature later and take off academically later so waiting till 13 maybe a good idea and look for schools that don't pre test at 11. He may surprise you!

LittleHouseOnTheShelf Thu 05-May-16 15:40:14

I would say neither if you want him to be relaxed and not stressed out before starting secondary school. There is too much pressure on children today as it is.

SAHDthatsall Thu 05-May-16 16:19:33

Halliford is very rugby oriented but still only does it for one term. Very small intake. But boys that I know went there were very middle level academic wise. St Johns in Leatherhead could be an idea, those going there I know are quite academically challenged. Or Ewell Castle.

DS1 had never played rugby before and didn't particularly like it but endured a couple of terms playing it at Reeds. Don't remember seeing him touch the ball in matches he played in!

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 17:01:45

Would you/could you contemplate boarding? It's not right for every child but if it might be (when he's 13! they grow up a lot between y4 and y9!) and you could swing it financially, it would give you a lot more choice.

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 17:06:40

What you should really do is make an appointment to talk to his prep school head about what they think will suit him in due course. Obviously they don't him as well as you do, but they know him a lot better than we do here, and they've seen a lot of different children do the growing up between now and then and I think it really does give them insight that's quite hard to have, even as a parent, when you're thinking about decisions for so long in the future.

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 17:07:20

they don't know him as well

Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 17:29:47

Hi preduc I would ask the school but they make it very clear that all DC leaving before end Yr 8 will be written out of the schools history books and not invited to the leavers luncheon etc, etc. Obviously that wouldn't keep me at the school if we found the perfect fit for DS at 11 but I'd like to keep his options open for now.

I guess what I'm really asking is how does the pre test differ to the 11+? Listening to the Hampton Head a few years ago (when we were at a future schools event for DD so didn't really listen as didn't concern us then) he seemed to suggest that if a place was offered at pre test that you were guaranteed a place. Do you know if this is still widely the case?

Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 17:31:37

I would add that we're not thinking of Hampton for DS, I just meant is this widely the case for most schools...

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 17:41:03

I meant, talk to them about what schools would be likely to suit him at 13+, and perhaps whether they'd guess he'd enjoy boarding at that point, if you'd consider that. It's a little early, but not too early. No need to tell them you're considering removing him younger, but what they say may help you there too.

Pretests vary a lot in their content, it's hard to generalise. It's still a minority of schools that do them (but the fact that some do is your excuse for talking about it now!) However, "noone fails CE" (at 13+ anyway) so yes, if you get through pretest you are pretty much guaranteed a place. Sounds as though you may not be quite up to speed with how CE works in general? Your papers are sent to just one school and that's where you go, barring calamities. It's the job of the senior and prep school between them to make sure you're not sending papers to somewhere you won't make the grade. Pretests are one of the mechanisms they use to ensure it.

Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 18:01:32

Completely not up to speed in CE! So they sit one pre test for every school applied for but one only one CE exam (with a paper for each core subject) for the chosen school? I've also read that there are different levels for some papers, Lancing College for instance, states CE 55%+ (Level 2 & 3 papers only). Is this similar to the old O'Level/CSE system, where able students took the more difficult O'Levels and the less academic took the easier paper but could only achieve an equivalent C Grade not matter how well they did? (Showing my age here! blush)

Shooting4themoon Thu 05-May-16 18:02:38

NO matter...

bojorojo Thu 05-May-16 18:04:08

If you think he would struggle to get into an 11 plus selective independent school, I would defiitely look at boarding schools because they cater for a much broader range of child and you can find one to suit. Some are not very selective but have a wide range of opportunities for the pupils and the best start at 13 anyway so you are not in any way disadvantaged. I would definitely go for the 13 CE route but choose the school very carefully with help from the prep school. Decide how far you wish to travel (not more than 1.5 hours in my view) and see where other parents from your school decide to go after CE. This will give a steer if their boys are like yours. Some children do have to look for a second choice, but the majority do not.

QGMum Thu 05-May-16 18:40:19

Some independent schools, although selective, are less so than KGS. You might consider if Kew House or Radnor House could be a good fit depending where you live.

If you think he could get a place at these then you could still enter him for KGS at 11+ as well in case he surprises you. This route would not be stress free as you can never guarantee how the dc will do on the exam days. Also your prep might not provide any support and one of the things you're paying for, in my view, is their help in finding the right school.

prepeduc Thu 05-May-16 19:02:07

Don't read too much into his hating timed tests in y4 though! That might change (eg if he struggles to write fast at the moment) and he might surprise you.

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