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At what age should I be putting DDs name down for independent secondary schools?

(15 Posts)
Pennies Thu 08-Oct-09 20:10:59

She's just turned 5 - should I be looking round them now? A mum at her school already is and I was wondering if I'm missing something here, seeing as all independent schools have entry exams, so surely it doesn't really matter when you apply.

GoppingOtter Thu 08-Oct-09 20:14:00

in this economic climate? 5 minutes before she goes and they'll still bite your hand off? wink

wont you wait till she's yr six then let her choose?

notagrannyyet Thu 08-Oct-09 20:14:53

Why don't you ring up and ask the schools you're interested in?

overmydeadbody Thu 08-Oct-09 20:15:38

You mean you didn't put her name down at birth?shock

She'll never get into the best schools now.

Pennies Thu 08-Oct-09 20:21:54

omdb - no! Can you believe it?! What a muppet I am. I was too busy weaving lentils and reading her Shakespeare. In Latin.

Notagrannyyet - well I figure they'll be so desperate to get a deposit from us sitting in their accounts that their exhortations for us to sign up now might be a tad biased.

GoppingOtter - that was sort of the plan WRT to seeing what she's like and how academic she is etc and then seeing what would suit her best. But I was lead to believe that there'd be no places and that the economic climate would have picked up by then and they would be totally oversubscribed.

Summersoon Thu 08-Oct-09 21:17:42

In the case of London day schools: go around and look (by yourself) in the autumn term of Yr5, then go again (with your DD) in the autumn of the following year. Application deadlines are mid to late November of Year 6, entrance exams in early to mid January, interviews a few weeks later, offers mid-March (at which point you will probably have grey hairs!)
Things may possibly be different for boarding schools but, seriously, I think that there is no advantage whatsoever in applying before the autumn term of Year 6. Also, bear in mind that schools change over the years. So relax! Really. You do not need to worry now.
I must say though that, despite the recession, the London day schools are as hard to get into as ever and, depending on what sort of school you will be looking for and what sort of school she is at now,you may need to think about tutoring from about year 4. We didn't have our DD tutored and she got into one of the top schools but she also came from an excellent small independent with a very high teacher-pupil ratio.

Cortina Fri 09-Oct-09 08:29:16

To Summersoon - assuming you go for a tutor? How do you find a good one? From what I can tell the good ones are too busy to fit anyone else in. It's also very hard to get their telephone numbers from the Mummies that use them!

The ones I know of that advertise do so all the time, for very good reason!

So you are saying children need about 2 years ideally of tutoring?

If yours are in a different system or state primary do you need to approach the school you want ideally and ask for syllabus? Will they be forthcoming?

Strikes me that tutor will need to know what he is working towards and if a very 'different' school may not be obvious?

Or am I missing something? Thanks!

LIZS Fri 09-Oct-09 08:34:31

Some have registration deadlines and pretest more than a year ahead of entry but for most you simply register to take the exam - one I know of is as late as start of December in Year 6 for early January 11+ exam for example.

Summersoon Fri 09-Oct-09 08:51:56

Hi! I am not sure that I can answer your question fully but here goes:

If you approach a secondary school, they will not give you a syllabus but may refer you to sample exam papers on their website. essentially, the top schools want the children to be working at or close to level 5 of the KS 2 syllabus when they take the exam - which, for the so-called North London Consortium schools ( a grouping of independent girls' schools) consists for 1 1/4 hours of English and 1 1/4 of Math.
It won't be until towards the end of Yr5, IMO, that you will have a real sense of whether your DD is up to that standard.
The thing to do will be to listen carefully what the school is telling you in Yr3 and 4 and perhaps to have an explicit conversation with them in yr4 in order to estabish whether she needs extra tutoring help. Sometimes it is just a matter of teaching exam technique and not all schools teach that. I gather from your last post that your DD is not in a "standard" school.
As far as finding a tutor is concerned, I am afraid that I can't be much help. It is very useful to have friends and acquaintances with slightly older children because they might know somebody they are willing to recommend.
The other thing I would say is that I believe that most schools make some allowances for children from a non-standard background, e.g. an overseas school or an underperforming state school.
Once again: I would relax for a few years. The best thing you can do over the next 2-3 years is to make sure that your DD learns the basics really well: good reading, simple arithmetic, including times tables, good spelling (learn those word lists!)

BonsoirAnna Fri 09-Oct-09 08:54:47

You need to ensure that your child has been to the primary/prep school that will have enabled her to develop the skills that the secondary schools you apply to will be selecting on.

So yes, 5 is about right.

Cortina Fri 09-Oct-09 12:37:23

Summersoon that makes sense, very many thanks.

Our school doesn't do spelling tests - perhaps something I can find online and do myself at home? Any ideas? Guess it's just basic stuff can probably improvise.

Less confident with maths stuff but can keep a check on the basics.

Should I email/contact secondary schools I like the look of to ask advice, when I register etc?

BonsoirAnna - what should you do if the primary you are in isn't equipped to deliver the skills? Do those that send kids to prep schools really register them for an indep secondary school/grammar at 5 too? Thanks also

LIZS Fri 09-Oct-09 15:29:10

Check the websites - or request a prospectus - the Admissions section should tell you all you need to know, Bear in mind it may change in the next 5 years . Visit anytime from year 3/4 for an open day and revisit in year 5.

Summersoon Fri 09-Oct-09 20:19:28

Hi Cortina!

The spelling tests will probably come later, I had momentarily forgotten that your DD is only 5. However, she should be getting simple ones starting next year - if she doesn't, try buying some guides to KS 1. The bigger book shops will have them but if you live in a remote area or abroad try Amazon.

Before you go to the trouble of contacting any secondary schools, have a good look at their websites - all of them will have a tab that says "admissions" and that'll give you a very explicit guidelines as to what is required when.

To my knowledge it is always the parents and never the school which registers children for secondary schools.

The other thing you may want toi be aware of is that some private secondary schools have junior schools attached to to them. These start at 4 in some cases and at 7 in others. While there is no guarantee that children will automatically pass from there to the senior school, neverthless many children do. However, entry to the senior school is never limited to children from the junior school as the senior school invariably has a bigger intake. I mention this in case you want to contemplate an earlier move, in which case you would need to get your skates on for 7+ entry. This would almost certainly involve a simple exam and interview of some sort. Even if you want to leave your DD where is but are contemplating a move to a senior school with a junior school attached, you might want to go to an open day and have a good look around at the work on the walls etc.

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Sat 10-Oct-09 09:53:24

Would also recommend if you have decided now that you want her to go to a top secondary that has a junior section that you move her earlier. We didn't cotton on to this unitl it as too late to enter the DC for 7+or 8+ sad and they would have benefited immensely from an earlier move.

Summersoon Sat 10-Oct-09 11:29:38

Hi MrsGhoul, you may be right, but Cortina needs to bear in mind that not all children are ready to move at 7+. In London at least, entry at 7+ is very competitive - not least because parents think that it will spare them the bunfight at 11. My DD was definitely not ready for this at 7+ but was very much ready at 11. If Cortina's daughter is very bright, fairly interested in schoolwork and quite confident, I would say go for it. Otherwise leave her in a smaller environment but start watching progress very carefully from about yr3 onwards.

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