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Is Alleyn's harder to get into than Westminster??(26 Posts)
I am asking on behalf of someone whose son is at a private school that doesn't prep for these exams and would like him to move at 11+.
She knows of a couple of boys who got offers from Westminster but not from Alleyn's and doesn't know whether they are anomalies or if Alleyn's is really that difficult to get into. She wants to be realistic in expectations and hope! She is also considering some other schools.
Before anyone says, she has visited them and spoken to current parents.
We applied for Whitgift and Alleyn's this year. DS was assessed for scholarship at W and chucked out without interview at Alleyn's! The letter we got said they tested 800 for 100-something places so the expected level is just very high
I would say that the process for these schools is very different. Having looked carefully at Alleyn's as a teacher of Year 6 children - if you want to go to Alleyn's you need to perform really well in the test. I compare it these days to the Tiffin schools. Other schools will interview children before their test (Emmanuel), or take co-curricular achievements into account / head teachers report. That's fine of course, except that their test is very prescriptive and there are many many tutoring companies who are making a fortune preparing kids for that very test.
It's mindless exam strategy preparation which takes them away from meaningful learning for those last few months of preparation in my view. You need to really really want to go to Alleyn's and have some money behind you to go this route but it can absolutely be done.
In my classes it is sadly the children who have been tutored who get through to interview, whereas my top students who haven't the money / parental support do not make it through to that stage.
It feels like Alleyn's are also standardising the scores in the actual exam for a whole range of factors including whether you are applying from a state school or a prep school (I'm not sure if this has been publicly stated, but I've watched over the years and believe this to be the case) so you should also take that into account. It's a great school, but there are lots of good schools out there with a more meaningful assessment process in my view.
Having been through the process 3 times (and tried Alleyn's all 3 times) I can honestly say that I still have NO idea how they select.
As per the poster above - all children that I know that had an offer from Alleyn's were tutored within an inch of their lives. Also without fail they all DCs friends that were offered a placed seemed to have some musical / drama ability.
I think its a fabulous school - 2 of my 3 DC got academic scholarships at other local selective schools but didn't even get to the interview stage at Alleyn's (they are all sporty but not musical at all !)
Interesting last year, children I know got offers from Alleyns but didn’t get offers at other local independent schools (i.e Jags and Dulwich college) and vice versa so no real pattern.
Westminster has a different process than Alleyns. Alleyns is a straightforward entrance exam. Westminster has an screening type of initial exam. If you pass that you are invited back for a further exam. From my experience Westminster is tougher than Alleyns...
I can't answer for Westminster particularly but I would second what a PP poster said. The test for Alleyns is disproportionately significant and is also very prescriptive so there will be huge numbers of children who have been heavily prepped for this specific test and then will do very well and secure places, above students who might be brighter or have other skills but haven't been as heavily prepped.
Thank you all - these answers are very much appreciated and food for thought.
Some questions from my friend (typed by her):
@dinosaurinmybelly - can you explain what you meant about standardising the scores? Do you mean they factor in the childs schooling etc?
Aren't children also heavily tutored for other entrance exams, too? I expect the majority will apply for more than one school.
A friend's daughter had a three stage process for the 7+ at JAGS with an initial computer test, I believe. Currently, it doesn't seem that Dulwich College do this. City only do an initial test for bursary applicants.
No. Totally different schools and tests were very different. As a pp said, Alleyns test is prescriptive and favours tutoring. A significant proportion of their 11+ offer holders come from certain schools. We know children who failed to reach the super selective Grammar schools be offered places at Alleyns. Westminster Under seem to be in a different league and test differently. It is possible to be offered both.
Alleyn's is always a toss up.
They interview the top scorers in the exam, and from them choose the DC they want to see in their classrooms - not necessarily the top scoring ones.
Though there are some very clever pupils there. It's also a school where pupils need to be self-starters to thrive, and it has an enduring reputation for beung socially sophisticated.
There is also a much higher applicant-to-place ratio than for Westminster
Hi, DS sat City, Westminster and Dulwich. The first stage for all three schools is the computer- based ISEB pre-test. Dulwich follow that up with an interview, while Westminster and City follow that up with a second round of written assessments plus interview. For both City and Westminster all candidates called after the ISEB must sit both second round written assessments AND interview. Only then these two schools make their selection, which is not yet out this year.
DS did not sit Alleyn’s as test clashed with LU, which we favored, so have no direct experience. Having said that, a good friend who is a senior consultant with The Good School Guide did advise me that Alleyn’s was surprisingly over- subscribed and, as per pp, socially sophisticated.
The standardisation is both for boys versus girls (girls tend to outperform boys generally but being co-ed they try to keep a balance in all years of intake).
They also try to keep a fairly large proportion of state pupils and I think the state cohort is also judged against each other rather than against the prep school applicants.
Why do you say Alleyn's is 'surprisingly' oversubscribed? A school which has been very successful and popular for a very long time is likely to be oversubscribed. What would be surprising about that? Confused.
Slightly annoyed that nobody replied to this thread now. Perhaps because it's 'too late' to change anything from this years' intake?
Yeh perhaps it's too late for this year. I have lived near Alleyn's all of my 60 years. It's not Westminster or Harrow or Eton. It's way superior. I say this as a life long Labour voter. When I grew up in the 60s and 70s being innately smart and articulate was the standard, not money. That is what's changed. Alleyn's wants to take those who do well in the entrance test of course but they also want smart, sassy, funny, articulate people regardless of results or how much money their parents own. Remember that world?
Did not mean to offend you personally... Didn’t think I was actually offending anyone’s honour by saying that Alleyn’s is perhaps proportionally oversubscribed, compared to other equally excellent schools...
* disproportionately oversubscribed...
I do somewhat agree about Alleyn's being disproportionately oversubscribed. I went there myself 20 years ago (and did very well) and know people with kids there now. It's fine as a school but isn't now and never has been amazing. It doesn't have large grounds, is definitely less friendly and accepting in atmosphere than other schools, its results are in line with it's level of selection and no more, it's co-ed among mainly single sex schools locally which it has going for it if that's what you want though.
Thank you, all, again.
Further quesions/queries raised by friend:
Quite differing views from @hambledon and @HolesinTheSoles!
One of things I liked about Alleyn's is that they do not manage pupils out if they are not quite making the grade and seem committed to the pupils whether they enter at 4+ or later. I would suspect potential success is harder to predict at 4+ but also those that are heavily tutored to get in are more likely to struggle to keep up with the pace.
Do Westminster do the same?
This is quite important to us in terms of managing the pressure on children and their mental health, especially as they will be comparing themselves to a bright cohort and all sense of proportion will be lost.
Secondly, Alleyn's seemed to have quite a lot of land/fields, incuding some just across the road from the school. I read it was something along the lines of 20 acres of land. Westminster does have amazing sports facilities, too. Is there an expectation to be good at sport at either school? Or to rephrase, are sporty children lauded over at the expense of others?
Sporty kids don't get special attention at Alleyn's, certainly not any more than those v talented at drama or music or art. It is a very well rounded school and gives opportunities to all sorts of children. I have 2 dc's there.
Both Alleyns and LU can be both tricky and unpredictable. Co-Ed’s, so effectively half the number of places, and often first choice for those who want co-Ed or to have all their DC in the same school.
And yes we know kids who did not get one or the other but did get WU or SPJ. Observation is that Alleyns seems to like big personalities arty types. Almost as if they get over the bar in terms of the entrance test (which some, but not all, will have been heavily tutored for) it all rests on the interview.
think Alleyns have a selection process which is out of kilter with a lot of other schools?
The academic barrier is quite high. I see people saying it favours those who have been heavily tutored, but neither of mine were tutored and both got invited to interview.
Once you've got through that stage, it's 100% on the interview.
My ds was quite reticent at interview- he knew he already had his favourite school in the bag and wasn't really that fussed about an Alleyns offer - so he didn't get one.
My dd on the other hand is a keenie beanie who was able to really show why she wanted Alleyns and what she'd bring to the school -and she got an offer.
This is all very interesting but isn't it also that Alleyns is promoted as an "all rounder" school that would fit an academic child/an arty child/a sporty child/a very musical child/a combo of some/all of the aforementioned whereas Westminster is seen as a very academic school so unless you have a very clever and primarily academically driven child you might self select your child out of the application process in the first place? So Alleyns by its very nature will attract many more initial applicants? Whereas the calibre (in terms of academic ability in a narrow sense) at Westminster applying in the first place might be higher? And yes, a lot of children we know playing a couple of instruments at Grade 5-8 standard are at Alleyns or Drama with Lamda Level 5 and above so a certain talent apart from academic ability is what I see in the kids we know at Alleyns
Reading with interest as DS, at another local private school, swam in an IAPS gala a couple of weeks ago where Alleyns also fielded a team - and subsequently subjected our school team to fairly serious bullying in the changing rooms afterwards.
Hiding their clothes, physically hitting and calling them 'pussys'. These are boys of 10-11. Clearly as parents we raised this with the PE department at our school and the matter is now under investigation at Alleyns. I was just thankful we didn't include them in our round of entrance exams, if they are turning out children who behave like that when representing their school, leaving our DC upset and humiliated. Left a very poor impression indeed.
edwinbear - you get "bad eggs"/dynamics in any school. I am sure Alleyns would have looked into this seriously afterwards. You can't judge a school on one incident. There will also likely be some kids taking drugs at all of the top independent schools outside school - just a fact of life. It has always been like this.