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Preparing for Independent schools 11+

(20 Posts)
TheExtraGuineaPig Sat 29-Jun-19 15:03:06

I'm wondering how much of an advantage there is in sending children to a private prep school before the 11+ exams. We are in SW London / Surrey and as the exams are so competitive we are wondering if we should move DC for years 5&6. Thanks!

OP’s posts: |
Gingercat1223 Sat 29-Jun-19 16:07:27

The secondary schools write Entrance exams to find bright dc. It depends on your child's ability & where you want them to end up. Top performing schools will take a majority of pupils from the state sector at 11 who may have used a tutor for just exam technique.

1 option is to have your child assessed in by a private prep to see their recommendations for how they could help.

TulipCat Sat 29-Jun-19 19:46:44

It really depends on how much preparation you are able to do at home. For example, are you there after school before they get too tired? Is your house chaotic or quiet? Is your child happy to be taught by you? If you think you'd struggle to do it yourself or with a tutor, then it might be worth the move. Personally I have prepared my son myself because I'm able to be at home after school, only have one other child and my son is happy to be taught by me. The material isn't difficult, it's just a question of whether you feel you can cover it or prefer the school to take that on.

TheBigBallOfOil Sat 29-Jun-19 19:50:10

A lot of private peeps are not interested in preparing kids for 11+ anyway, as they want to hang on to kids until 13.
It might be better and cheaper to get good private tutors for maths and English, and handle verbal and non verbal reasoning yourself. They are just about practice really.

Notcontent Sat 29-Jun-19 23:39:37

As others have said, it depends on the prep school (some do lots of 11+ preparation) and also how much you can do at home.

My dd went to a state primary and now is at a private secondary in London. But to get there we had to do a lot of work at home. We had a tutor but I also had to do a lot of work with dd myself.

winterisstillcoming Sun 30-Jun-19 14:05:57

Can I ask to what levels they need to be tutored to? What kind of marks should they be getting on the practice papers to have a chance?

TheBigBallOfOil Sun 30-Jun-19 14:28:27

I didn’t have dd do practice papers. I got the galore park books and just had her do 10 to 20 questions per day. When she was getting them all right consistently on questions of all different types I thought she was probably sorted, and that proved to be the case.

TulipCat Sun 30-Jun-19 15:24:09

@winterisstillcoming that partly depends on the schools you are aiming for as some are more academically selective than others. In general, if they are getting 85%+ on papers like Bond or similar at the 10-11+ level papers they should be OK. Don't forget that working to time is key though - they need to get this mark within the allocated time. Lots of children will be able to do it with 15 extra mins, but of course they don't get that in the exam.

winterisstillcoming Sun 30-Jun-19 16:38:53

Thanks. I know relatives in London have sent their children to prep school to get them into grammar so some may leave after 11+.

At the prep open day at the school we are thinking for 11+, we were told that most go through from prep to high school but secondary intake is significantly higher

I think your child will be at an advantage if they go to the prep, but it's not guaranteed 100%. I think you should ask the school how many people they rejected at prep, if any.

My BF who's children are at croydon and Sutton was really stressed at 11+ for high school so I'd say send them to prep to avoid the stress, or go for 11+ at home to save money and avoid upheaval of changing.

Seeline Mon 01-Jul-19 10:00:39

You also need to be aware of the type of exams the Indies set. Some are computerised, some include VR and/or NVR tests, some still include the requirements for writing an essay of some form or another.

I agree that DCs have to learn how to do the tests in the correct time frames.

FlumePlume Mon 01-Jul-19 12:32:55

Having gone through it this year, I’m not planning to move my younger DC. I think there are definite advantages to being in a primary (much less pressure from the school to apply for more schools to get their numbers of offers up, less / no direct competition with classmates, very little homework and short commute so more time to do your own prep with them or get a tutor) and for me that doesn’t outweigh the advantages of a prep (which I think is mostly about helping to navigate the system, and knowing what’s a stretch and a realistic choice).

BazaarMum Mon 01-Jul-19 12:41:32

I understand why people do this, but it annoys me so much. Grammars are STATE schools. Kids in state primaries in my area are now increasingly competing with kids from private schools who are moved into catchment and have been extensively prepared for the 11+, by the school being able to flex the curriculum in a way that state schools simply aren’t allowed to do. It is an unfair advantage for the already highly privileged.

I know there’s nothing to stop you bucking the system but our local grammar is now predominantly populated by the privately educated who can afford to move within a mile radius (houses near the school tending to be between £1-2m). Grammars are supposed to promote social mobility for the brightest, but it’s a joke...

WombatChocolate Mon 01-Jul-19 13:07:18

I'm unclear if OP is talking about sitting 11+ for independent or state schools (or both).

What would be best is very dependent on the specific schools you wish to sit for.

If you're talking about state Grammars, then I'd advise having a good tutor - the tutor will specifically prep for the specific exams to be sat. Bear in mind the good ones get booked up very early.

If you want to go to an independent that has a linked Prep/Junior that guarantees entry to most of the Prep/Junior pupils, then going to the Prep for Yr5/6 could be a good move if you worry your child might be borderline on the exam.....but do check their specific requirements - some might only waive the entrance exam for those who've been in the a prep for longer than those joining at Yr5, because they tend to make the offers to their Junior students in Yr5 not 6 and need enough time to make a realistic assessment of your child.

And if you're interested in an independent senior which doesn't have a Prep, just be aware that other Preps are often prepping for lots of senior schools and some of that Prep can be rather generic rather than targetted at one specific school and it's specific'll often find those parents are often paying for tutoring too because of this.

So actually, on balance, unless you are looking at an independent Senior which has a feeder Prep, I'd say a good tutor (and his needs to be one with experience of prepping for that particular school - not a Kumon centre or similar or tutor who does groups of students all going for different schools at the same time) will give you the targetted help that is needed for the exams probably better than a Prep school. Most of the Prep day will be spent on usual stuff such as humanities, music, art, sport etc etc - all good and part of a broad Prep education but not vital for getting through the 11+. For most 11+ Emglish and Maths needs to be good and often VR and NVR needs covering too. Of course Prep schools teach English and Maths but I'd query if their teaching of just that warrants the fees in comparison to paying a tutor.. Some will schedule an hour a week for VR or NVR in the timetable or in an after school session, but again, is it worth £15k fees and will it be better than a tutor who targets a specific style of VR and NVR as required?

I'd say Prep schools are great if you want a Prep education. But if you're not really after a Prep education but the passing of 11+ There are other cheaper and possibly more effective ways of achieving it, especially if you are also willing and able to put some time in with your DC too.

If looking at Preps ask v specific advice - exactly what preparation do they provide for 11+ in terms of specific skills, for GL or CEM exams, how much time devoted to it, how many different schools they are prepping for and how they ensure everyone is prepped for the different exams they will sit. Yes, Preps do advise parents about suitable schools to apply for etc and that can be useful and is part of an overall Prep education package, but is it really worth £15k if you can't say money is no object. Most sensible parents have the ability to go to some open days, and speak to a tutor or ask for an assessment fromma tutor to get a sense of if applying to a certain school is realistic.

I think Preps have a place for families with plenty of cash who want a Prep education, but the idea that they do something really magical in getting children into competitive day schools, that can't be achieved by interested, educated parents and possibly a tutor isn't quite true and a bit of a myth that the Preps themselves and their parent bodies perpetuate. Yes, a wholly unprepared state school child will be disadvantaged even if bright, but being at a state school doesn't mean you can't be well prepared and if bright, have a good chance of a place. The top independents all take a decent number of state children. The vast majority have been prepped by parents or tutors.

TheExtraGuineaPig Mon 01-Jul-19 13:15:24

Thanks everyone - and just to clarify I'm talking about preparing for independent schools for 11+ entry, not grammar schools.

We have one DC who is very bright and got into a selective school from state primary with a general tutor but didn't get offers across the board as the tutor and teachers expected. We all had no idea what the entry process would be like- how competitive and how well prepared lots of people are.

DC2 is academically strong but quite immature and lacking in confidence. It's hard to imagine them in the exam scenario so we are thinking of a prep school to prepare just for that. I try to work with him at home but he doesn't respond well at all, yet he tries hard during lesson time.

These responses are really helpful - thanks everyone for taking the time to reply smile

OP’s posts: |
Gingercat1223 Mon 01-Jul-19 18:36:22

@TheExtraGuineaPig , I remember you from earlier this year. Just to add the school I think your eldest got into is slightly easier for girls as there are so many girls schools in the area giving more choice. It's much harder for middle of the road ds or ds who don't perform well in exams. Do consider all through schools like Claremont Fan/Ibstock & St G's Wey with the option to move earlier and have a gentler year 6 journey.

aweedropofsancerre Mon 01-Jul-19 22:39:22

I know people who moved their DC to a prep at yr3. Interestingly there DC ended up going to the same independent as my DS who stayed in the state system throughout at primary. It really depends what schools you are applying to on whether a move is necessary. My youngest is at a private pre school and we have found out that to get into the junior he needs to have a reading age of two years ahead by yr 1 and the same for maths.

WombatChocolate Tue 02-Jul-19 07:31:57

Remember though, that lots of children in state schools also achieve this. SATS allow for 'greater depth' in measuring attainment at the end of KS1 and KS2. The key for reading is to read lots and lots to your child and to engage every single day with reading at home from the moment they start doing it - there is no replacement for regular reading and practice and it doesn't really matter what kind of school you're in for reading, if your child gets that help at home, as long as they sent one of the few who has real difficulties in learning.

We did state until The end of Yr2 and then Prep - one that had 11+ and 13+ exit. A number of children joined the school at Yr3 into the Prep and in most cases were ahead of those who had been in the pre-prep. The school provided a wonderful Prep education,nwhicwhich was why we chose it - as well as food specialist teaching in the core subjects, there was also specialist teaching of modern languages, Latin, LOTS of sport and really good music and drama, as well as outdoor education and lots of running round in the woods and cooking on fires. It gave an idyllic few years. About 1/3 of the kids left at 11+ to about 10 different senior schools and the rest go at 13 to perhaps 15 different senior schools with a couple being the most popular. Exam Prep was provided but I wouldn't say it was hugely focused because each school tests slightly differently and it would be hard to really focus on the very specific skills. Plus, the Prep for exams was in small groups of perhaps 5 and that simply doesn't replicate the 1-2-1 you get with a tutor. For that reason, we had a tutor too for about 9 months - an hour a week. Some people think that's a but safe when you've paid fees for a school to 'prep' but we actually paid the fees for the whole educational experience. Our DC might have got their senior places without the tutor, we will never know, but I just felt that the group prep and fact it was fairly generic made it far less useful than a tutor could be. Lots of the children at their Senior schools came from State schools (about 1/3) and are doing as well as anyone else. They are all bright children.

The Prep did advise us about suitable schools - aspirational (which we got) and a safer option. However, to be honest, we had worked it out ourselves and our tutor was also able to tell us we were likely to be on target, having had years of experience of prepping for that specific senior. We don't regret paying fees for Prep from 8 as it was a fantastic experience. The French and Latin learned meant the DC started Senior in such a strong position and they had a fantastic time. I also don't regret paying for the tutor for peace of mind and targetted exam practice and prep. But we could afford both. If we couldn't, I'd have gone for just the tutor option and I think the senior school result would have been the same.

lovekew Mon 15-Jul-19 01:12:05

Not sure if you are thinking of moving DC to Year 5 for a couple years to prep for 11+ or if looking for a school to move to that's a through school and would avoid need for 11+?

Radnor House in Twickenham have an entry at Year 5 - I think it's about 20 places (coed) once in that year it's an auto transition to Year 7 so no 11+ needed.

Mind you that won't help if you want a school to prepare your DC for 11+ so might be of no interest at all!

TheExtraGuineaPig Mon 15-Jul-19 09:13:21

Thanks for all the replies! The school(s) we are hoping for start at 11 so the question was really about preparing for those. Although will also be looking at Radnor as an option

OP’s posts: |
londonparisny Mon 15-Jul-19 22:36:50

@TheExtraGuineaPig I am not sure about prep but practicing with some good study material at home can be every helpful. My DS did 7+ and then 13+ and we found few resources very helpful. UKMT practice papers/ galore park books. If you have specific q please drop a PM and I will ask my son.

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