SW London - State primary to selective secondary?(51 Posts)
My DS is currently still in the early years at an outstanding state primary in SW London. He is very happy and settled, but for a variety of reasons we are considering whether to move him to an independent boys prep school that goes to 13+. I am really torn at the moment on what to do. He is very bright and academically able, he loves his current school - but due to the large class size and number of SEN classmates I'm worried that he is not really being stretched. Would really appreciate any first hand insights on how possible it is to get a place at selective state or indie boys day-schools in SW London from a state primary (and whether a lot of tutoring was needed?). I'm also concerned that choosing the 13+ prep school route might be restrictive - is it still possible to sit the 11+ for co-ed secondary schools (from a prep school that primarily focused on 13+ CE) or would this be totally different preparation needed vs the 11+ pre-tests? Many thanks - am one very confused mommy at the moment!
It sounds as if you want to keep your options open, so perhaps what you are looking for is a prep which admits boys and which prepares for transfer at 11+, for pretests and 13+ transfer (both for CE and competitive exam).
Is that a fair summary?
Can you narrow down SW London a bit? As your DS is young, the last thing you need is a difficult school run, and knowing which areas you are near and which routes you use anyhow might be helpful.
And to have a stab at your other question, yes pupils move been sectors really at 11+ and it is perfectly possible to go from state primary to independent and selective secondary.
It can be a bit more complicated at 13+ if is a Common Entrance school. But others have competitive exams at that point, which might be rather easier to tackle.
Do you have any particular secondaries in mind?
Thanks, we are based in Richmond at the moment - the state and the boys prep are both walking distance to us (5 minutes difference, so not a huge factor there). I asked the prep about the 11+ support and they stressed that they encourage all the boys to stay for the 13+ CE route which worried me. TBH as DS is still quite young we don't have our hearts set on any particular secondary yet, in an ideal world a co-ed one that is strong academically (Ibstock?) but have not ruled out the boys day-schools that are a reasonably close to us (St Pauls, Hampton, etc.).
I know that moving sectors at 11+ is feasible from state to selective and independent - strangely looking at our schools leavers stats the girls seem to be gaining places at the more academic schools than the boys for some reason. Its also an "open secret" that some tutoring is done for the 11+ from year 5. It feels a bit mean to add tutoring hours on top of the normal school workload, which is another reason I am looking at the prep school option to try avoid this!
So why's there an issue about 11+ transfers if you are considering Hampton, St Paul's?
DS transferred from state primary at 8. Got into KCJS Jnr school and Collet Court. No tutoring although he is 22 now!
What I would say is it's harder to move from private back to state socially and emotionally than vice versa so if money's an issue jeep him in state for as long as possible.
And finally, Ibstock, academic ??????
@OhTheRoses - the prep school will only allow 13+ entry at the boys day schools (they cannot sit the 11+ and the 11+ pre-test) so we would essentially be committing to the 13+ CE route if one of those schools looks like a possible fit for him. Ibstock seems to be more up-and-coming academically, there are unfortunately not many co-ed options near us that I know of.
A bit further for us, but yes we will be looking at Kingston grammar too
If work load is a concern, ask prep school parents about tutoring that goes on among prep school children. In north london tutoring happens in both state and private schools - so private schools aren't a way to avoid it.
Around here the form is 2 years of tutoring before the 11+ for children in state schools. Plenty of offers from desirable schools.
Latymer Upper? Across the river but easy to get to. My DS went there from a good state primary and is loving it.
Its a really complicated decision for us, thanks for all the info. I've not asked about the degree of tutoring at the prep - interesting that we might not be avoiding that either way :O I'm also really trying to focus on which school environment suits DS best (without bankrupting ourselves prematurely, still a long road ahead!)
We have some experience we can share if it helps. Our son was in a very good SW London primary school not far from Richmond, but we similarly felt that he wasn't being challenged enough, was not getting enough sport, and was therefore getting distracted and bored. We did love his school and he had a great new teacher, but we put him forward for two schools - Kings House and Colet Court (2016) just to see how he got on - he had had three months of weekly tutor before, mainly testing exam technique. He was offered a place at Kings House, but they wanted confirmation in November, so we turned it down as we wanted to see how he did at CC (now Saint Pauls Juniors). One of the other main reasons we did this is that I had heard from various parents that the lack of 11+ involvement at boys prep schools was proving frustrating as lots of the good London day schools were focusing more on aged 11 entry. So sending our son to SPJ was giving him an opportunity through to 18 which was a big bonus as far as we were concerned, hopefully avoiding any 11+/13+ pain. My daughter, in Year 6, is currently undergoing 11+ (at the same primary school which my son was at) and it certainly seems to be the case that lots of boys are going for the 11+ places. Schools they are going for are SP, Hampton, Kings College, Latymer, Ibstock.
Sorry a bit of a waffle, but in essence what I am saying is that if at 7+/8+ you can get your son into a school which goes through to 18 then it is definitely worth it, if the school is right for your son in other aspects, obviously. However, if your focus is on a London day school, and he's not yet ready for the 7+/8+ at those schools, I would keep him where he is, support with tutor (our daughter had 2 years of tutor), and other extra-curricular activity and focus on the 11+. Another great co-ed is Latymer Upper which takes very few at 13+ - the huge majority of their entry is 11+ and very straightforward journey from Richmond on the tube.
Hope this helps.
over half of KGS intake come from state primaries
Hampton is v academic and has two intakes - an 11+ where the boys come from their prep and the state primaries, and then a 13+ where the prep school boys come from. Not sure entirely why you would choose to compete at 13+ rather than 11?!
about 20% of DDs state school will go to independent secondaries, about 1/3 will apply and it is very unusual not to get any offer at all.
but yes you will need a tutor or do a lot of bond books at home. It is not for the faint hearted. It is a lot of work.
talk to your ds's head teacher and ask for destinations, you'll get a good feel.
from Richmond you have incredible choice - on most of the coach routes, easily accessible into the West London schools and out to KGS etc.
I am sure I know which prep school you're referring to and other parents with your dilemma, it really is not supportive of 11+ so I would keep him in the state primary, rope in the tutors and have him do 11+ for schools mentioned above. Loads of state pupils at all these schools.
Ask his current school how they meet his needs?
Primary schools typically use TAs and a learning-mentor/ special unit to ensure that all abilities get exactly what they need. Working in small groups in different levels of work, etc.
If he is happy at his school I would check this alongside exploring other options.
It's not that you can't move from a prep school at 11, it's usually that they won't prep for 11+ so you have to get them ready yourselves.
That said it is worth bearing in mind that lots of the senior schools that have intakes at both 11 and 13 are now saying that they 'do not expect to see' applications at 11 from boys whose schools go through to 13.
You can try and transfer your boy to Hampton prep, he can then have a conditional offer from Hampton.
If you're in NW London, I know that both the Hall School and Arnold house have a special intake for state school boys.
You can't apply for 11+ places at St Pauls, Hampton or Westminster from KH, they will not accept the entry. I know a parent who challenged this arrangement with another prep, they insisted on applying and sitting the test threatening legal action if they were refused. They received a very carefully worded letter after the exam saying no but noticeably not the standard letter. Kings College is different as the new 11+ entry is directly into the senior school so anyone can apply as are
I know KH and it is a very good prep school. Of all the money I have spent on school fees I think the amount spent on prep school was by far the best value. For me it is not about the results as boys in state schools can get the same or better senior school places, GCSE results, A level results and university places as boys in private schools, it is about the experience.
There is always some jumping at 11+ from boys who's parents think they will struggle at CE or who think if they are not going to get the London boys schools they may as well leaeve early. From DS's year at another local prep they all got places at local selective Indys which MN parents claim are very difficult to get into. Another route for KH is that parents are aware that Ibstock has a lot of overseas children who regularly move back home. Overseas children are often continuing seniors from the prep so Y7 is just another school year for them and they always lose a few. KH boys will often take up these places in Y8 having missed 11+ and avoiding CE, ask the school for numbers. Cost is less of an issue at KH than other local preps and boarding is more popular.
I can understand the appeal a pp has made about settling a DS into a school they can stay into until they are 18 and in most cases this will be fine, but I have known a few boys sent to very selective schools at that age who struggle later but didn't want to leave their friends. This is a tiny minority but if its your DS it can be quite tough.
Just looking at the KH leavers destinations 25 went to day schools last year and mostly to very selective ones 7 St Ps, 3 Kings, 1 RGS and 11 Hampton, only 3 went to less selective but still very good schools.
Boarding schools are more difficult because they are often chosen for family reasons but 17 went and mostly to very selective schools, 1 to Eton, 1 Winchester, 2 Wellington, 1 Whitgift, 3 Charterhouse, 1 Radley. Epsom was the most popular with 5 going. KH always attracts more potential boarders than other local preps probably because the parents tend to be wealthier.
Thanks everyone, very useful to hear firsthand info. Kings House has offered us a place and are pushing us to give them an answer soon. We loved the school and feel our son would do very well there with the smaller class, extra murals etc. The only reservation I really have is this 11+ vs 13+ trade off as they were very, very clear they do not support 11+ moves (obviously!) 13+ seems a harder route test wise and at this stage it's too early to say which secondary would really suit him. Our other option is to keep him in the waiting list for ibstock so hopefully our younger daughter can join him there in a few years and it's straight thru to 18 which appeals!
Unfortunately moving him to the day school junior deps. now is a more tricky option, the convenience of walking to school as both of us work full time is a real god sent at the moment! I'm going to really miss that and the community feel/local friend and play dates has been lovely.
You said he is at an outstanding state primary, happy and settled. I see no reason to move him to a prep school that focusses on keeping your fees until 13 when you are thinking of 11+. The schools you are looking at have a much broader intake at 11+ and being a bright kid at a state primary is no disadvantage at all. For example SPSJ where they have a separate entry process for state school boys in year 5 (deferred 11+).
I would strongly reconsider leaving the state primary system and forget all about it until year 5.
I totally agree. We were in the same boat and thought about moving on from an outstanding primary at various points for similar reasons but we didn't and I am so glad now. DS had a very very happy time in primary school without any undue stress. If you are worried about him being stretched then perhaps start some tutoring but try to keep it fun and stress free.
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