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Westminster underschool 11+ interview help please

(55 Posts)
songeur Wed 29-Jan-20 17:25:27

My DS has received an interview call for 11+ next week. I'd be grateful if you could share your experience about the format, what kind of questions are asked and what is the school looking for. Highly appreciate your advice.

OP’s posts: |
trinity0097 Wed 29-Jan-20 19:52:03

They are looking for bright boys that will fit their kind of school. Also ones that will not cause them any hassle!

Talksunderwater Wed 29-Jan-20 21:39:20

Well done to your son! Please don’t overthink the interview. Trinity is right - they’re looking for bright boys who will thrive at WUS. The interviews don’t follow a particular format. I have 2 DSs who joined WUS at 11+ and they both had completely different formats to their interviews. They are also both completely different personalities so there’s not a particular type the school is looking for either. Your son should just relax and be himself. It’s not something he can prep for. Best of luck!

MrsPatmore Thu 30-Jan-20 09:56:40

If you search my posts you'll see details of ds interview a couple of years ago (and he was offered a place). He'll be interviewed by a maths teacher (taught a KS4 concept then given a simple sum based on it to work out - not necessarily looking for a right answer but to gauge the child's approach/working out) and English teacher (talk through a poem analysis) then a general chatty interview with the two Masters. Having said that, ds was a bursary candidate so the process may have been more stringent.

Jbliwecd1 Thu 30-Jan-20 10:11:39

Hi talksunderthewater! I just sent you a PM... Hope that it is ok... Thank you for your help!!!

songeur Thu 30-Jan-20 12:02:30

Many thanks @trinity0097, @Talksunderwater and @MrsPatmore for all the helpful insights. DS recently gave an interview at KCS and I was wondering if the format will be any similar? He really enjoyed the Kings experience.
@MrsPatmore - three teachers interviewing a 10 year old for 20 min sounds a bit daunting...We were told only one person will be interviewing. Hope that's the case. I am getting the nerves before the interview. DS is totally chilled out.

OP’s posts: |
Jane077 Thu 30-Jan-20 13:34:04

@songeur My DS is also being interviewed on Monday. It's slightly thrown us as I didn't expect him to get this far through the process. I wonder if anyone ever turns down a place at WUS?
It's not an easy commute for us and I'm also a bit concerned about how hard DS would have to work if he joined WUS and whether he'd make it into the senior school without that being a painful process too. He's at an average primary now. Would love to hear from others with boys at Westminster. Is it fun too, as well as highly academic?
My DS is bright, but quite lazy when he's not engaged and has never really liked too much hard work (!), prefers chatting/StarWars, although he has risen to the challenge of 11+ exams very well.

leeloo1 Thu 30-Jan-20 13:37:58

Mine has an interview at Wus for 11+ next week and I've gone from elation to panic that ds won't show his best side to the interviewer!

I'm pretty sure the format must have changed, as the email says "We are inviting approximately 60 boys in for an interview and that will be with me or a member of the School’s Senior Management Team."
Its also only 20 minutes long.

@songeur how did your ds find the exam?

leeloo1 Thu 30-Jan-20 13:43:37

@Jane077 - you've described my son too! He's so bright, but reluctant to work hard if he's not engaged or if he can negotiate his way out of it!

I'm so hoping that he gets a place at Wus, where they're used to encouraging these bright boys who have been allowed to coast at primary school.

Jane077 Thu 30-Jan-20 13:50:08

@leeloo1 ha! maybe Westminster is good at spotting the bright, but lazy and haven't-been-stretched boys. Good luck to your son for the interview.
My DS is in fact very keen to go to Highgate (he's been interviewed but not heard back yet) as he thinks it'll be more chilled out and fun. If he is offered Westminster, we'll have to persuade him it'll be fun and not hard work all the time. It's also a worse commute for us, so that's an issue. And it's bloody expensive!

leeloo1 Thu 30-Jan-20 16:11:03

Thanks @Jane077 and good luck to your ds too. I suspect he may be right and Highgate is more relaxed, but it's such an accolade to our boys to have got this far, that even if they don't get an offer or decide to go elsewhere, they should be so proud of themselves. And yes, the fees are really expensive - and I'm not 100% sure what they offer that it needs to be 3k more a term than elsewhere?

Michaelahpurple Thu 30-Jan-20 18:28:51

Bear in mind that Great School is also very expensive!

songeur Fri 31-Jan-20 11:20:58

*@Jane077*, @leeloo1 congrats to your DC and good luck for the interview next week. Looks like we are all in the same boat.

@Jane077 - I read on the school website that boys entering Westminster Under School in Year 7 have a guaranteed place at Westminster School, in the Fifth Form (Year 9).

@leeloo1 - DS actually enjoyed the WUS exam. He said it was one of the shortest. He is not v fond of writing - would rather talk! He said there were some very creative and funny questions unlike other exams.

OP’s posts: |
Jbliwecd1 Fri 31-Jan-20 12:10:45

Hi @songeur! I was told by the school that admission in Year 9 in not guaranteed, as WUS Year 6 pupils need to sit tests alongside 13+ external candidates... But let’s face facts: this is just a safety “get out” clause for the school... I have absolutely no doubt that all nice, hard working pupils in WUS are accepted into the Great School! Good luck!

Jane077 Fri 31-Jan-20 12:33:55

@songeur thanks for info. I think if you’d done all this rigorous testing at 11, it is highly unlikely they would manage you out at 13.
My child is a v chatty one too who is not wild about writing so he also liked the exam as it was short.
I would love to know what kind of commute you would face if your DSs went to WUS. I’m worrying ours is unmanageable and stressful for an 11/12 year old. It’s about 40 mins mainly on Victoria line. Just can’t imagine DDSdoing it twice a day.

Talksunderwater Fri 31-Jan-20 22:35:52

If you get a place at 11+ now, your entry to the Great School at 13+ is conditional only on good behaviour and working well at WUS. They are all expected to (and do) go on to the Great School. The boys who join earlier than 11+ (ie at 7+ or 8+) are not guaranteed a place at the Great School until after they do the tests in Y6 but once they’re in Y7 they’re treated the same way as those joining at 11+. There are of course some (about 10ish each year) of the 7+/8+ joiners who by choice go on to Eton, Winchester etc in Y9 instead of to the Great School.

leeloo1 Sat 01-Feb-20 13:32:58

Hah @songeur and @Jane077 my ds also prefers talking to writing. There is definitely a theme here!

We'd have a similar commute @Jane077 and I do worry it'll be too long - especially when they start doing more clubs and things in the evenings. My ds has just twigged about Saturday school starting soon if he gets a place and was less than impressed. 😂

On the plus side we were told at the open day that it's automatic entry to the great school now if you start at 11+, so that is one less thing to worry about (if they get in!).

Jane077 Sat 01-Feb-20 14:52:38

@leeloo1 I think if I tell my DS about Sat school I won’t even get him to the interview on Monday 😂
We didn’t make it to the open day at WS. I thought there was such a slim chance my DS would make it this far, but I’m now regretting it. If he was lucky enough to be given an offer, I hope there’s a chance for him to get a feel for the place.

Jane077 Sat 01-Feb-20 14:54:26

Sorry - sent too soon. Meant to say gioe he has chance to look around before making decision.
Also thanks for clearing up about entry into great school. Exactly, one less thing to worry about.

leeloo1 Sun 02-Feb-20 14:39:32

@Jane077 goodness yes, maybe don't mention the Saturday school just yet then! 😂

I'm feeling more nervous as its getting closer to the actual interview tomorrow!

I can't decide if I really want ds to get a place (as it'd be amazing, really suit him academically and he's set his heart on it - he's desperate to be with 'boys like him' who love reading and debating) or hope he doesn't (as tbh I really can't afford it and I'm not sure if we'll be offered a bursary that will make it affordable, or that doesn't mean I end up with no pension or... food/a roof over our heads!). This whole schools thing is such a stressful dilemma!

Jane077 Sun 02-Feb-20 17:24:26

@leeloo1 I am similarly conflicted. I think it’s because WM is the kind of school you generally don’t turn down even if it’s an inconvenient choice and barely affordable.
When will you find out about bursary? Hope that goes well for you.
I also will be relieved in many ways if DS isn’t offered a place (assuming he does get an offer from the two other schools he really likes). It’l be difficult for my other kids and I do worry a bit about it’s central location and all that commuting on the Tube. Actually think my DS would be up for weekly boarding when he’s a bit older, but by goodness have you seen the yearly cost of that?!

leeloo1 Sun 02-Feb-20 17:50:23

Omg @Jane077 - I just looked the fees up again! 42k pa for boarding is scary! I had a brief happy moment when I thought sixth form was 10+k pa, then I realised it was per term! 🙈 With 7 years of those level fees we could buy them a house instead!

I think we find out about the bursary at the same time as the offer. But apparently there's a 'bursary home visit' (🤯 scary, but I guess to see if I'm secretly living in luxury) on the week of the 10th - though I guess if we don't hear about that being arranged they won't be making an offer.

You're right, it's one of those schools you can't really turn down, but... Oh well, fingers crossed tomorrow goes well for them all.

leeloo1 Mon 03-Feb-20 17:17:38

How did your ds get on today @Jane077 (and anyone else who's had their's today). Mine came out feeling they'd been very nice to him, so he was happy. 😊

Jane077 Mon 03-Feb-20 19:19:00

@leeloo1 DS came out pretty perky too and enjoyed the session. Felt a long way from our home though and just can’t imagine him schlepping down on the Victoria line there every day.
Glad it went well for you. Has your DS been round the Under school? Mine hasn’t and he wasn’t massively inprsssd today. He said it felt cramped but I’m sure he only saw a tiny bit of it. The two teachers who interviewed him were really nice he said though.

leeloo1 Mon 03-Feb-20 19:32:43

Hi @Jane077 I'm so glad it went well for your ds too. Whatever happens now at least they've had this be a positive experience!

When I went on the open day to Wus it was the first school I'd seen and tbh yes, compared to the other schools we saw later (City, St Paul's etc) it is really very cramped and a bit 'rabbit-warreny'. E.g. The science labs, which are normally generous in these schools are v small rooms.

But I haven't seen the senior school - I did arrange a tour, then my 'd'h said I was really wasting my time as ds was v unlikely to get a place, so not to bother - so perhaps they're more generously sized?

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