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Common Entrance CE 13+ Exams Independent Prep Schools 2017

(80 Posts)
platinum3 Fri 16-Jun-17 17:10:00

Pupils at our Prep school recently sat their CEs and results have been coming through. Some pupils were given the chance to improve their finished papers on the same day as the exam and given advice to neaten them up, where they could pick up extra marks and so on before papers were sent off to senior schools. This has made some pupils, parents and staff uneasy for all sorts of reasons. My question is, is this normal practice at Prep schools and do the exam board and senior schools know it goes on? Is this how schools such as ours can boast a 100% pass rate and subsequent acceptance into senior schools?

GinGarden Fri 16-Jun-17 18:28:53

I am really shocked! My DS has just sat CE and this def didn't happen!

Foinavon Fri 16-Jun-17 19:23:01

My DS got his CE results today, definitely didn't happen in his exam hall. He is an honest little soul and would be appalled. I feel sorry for the children, it may weigh on their minds.

TisGlorious Sat 17-Jun-17 15:33:54

I've never heard of this and suddenly doesn't go on at our school.

AnotherNewt Sat 17-Jun-17 15:43:53

No, it is not normal practice.

The reason that good schools have an 100% success rate is because they really pay attention to each pupil, what desitinatiins chools might suit them and which of those are within capability. That means that (unless parents are hell bent on making a different first choice) all their pupils should achieve whatever marks are required for their conditional offers.

It's pretty rare for it to be otherwise. All the difficult bits happen earlier in the process.

originalbiglymavis Sat 17-Jun-17 16:21:25

Wow that's very odd! Definitely not the case in our school.

JellieTot Sat 17-Jun-17 22:01:38

I am shocked by this - highly unethical

platinum3 Sun 18-Jun-17 00:01:59

Hi everyone. Thank you very much for your replies.

For those who are sure it hasn't happened at your school, do you think that you can be completely sure? I ask this because I didn't know that it was happening at our school until this year's exam week. Some children and parents in Year 8 and possibly some staff even now are in the dark. I can't say for certain, but my feeling is that it isn't the first time either - but to be clear that is just a feeling.

What actually happened was that each day during the CE week some children were called back in to redo them to some extent or other. No secret was made of it, in that they were called back in front of other children, with the papers clearly visible. The children have been talking about it, and it has obviously got back to some parents and to some staff who were not involved. The children seemed stunned, saying that it wasn't right or fair, but also understandably relieved if they were not the ones involved in having to do the extra work. Parents are shocked and find it unacceptable. Comments have been made about teaching the children that cheating is ok to get what you want, it is unfair to the children who didn't get the extra go, and is setting the children up to fail in the future when they have to compete equally alongside everyone else. One parent who's child was involved seemed uncomfortable but accepting of it as just the way things work. Senior schools the children involved are going to range from a grammar school, through several reasonably big names, to the top of the tree.

Ironically, our Prep school is seen as a 'good' school, with lots of work going on in the preceding years to prepare the children for CEs, yet this is going on behind the scenes. It is interesting to see that all replies so far are firmly against this occurring and saying it is not common practice. It would be nice to think that is the case, and I wasn't just being completely naïve in even posing the question.

Any more thoughts and experiences welcome, from Prep or senior school staff or HTs, exam board staff, parents and past pupils.

Missingthepoint Sun 18-Jun-17 10:48:32

How are the senior staff reacting to the parents who are objecting? I agree it seems completely wrong and dishonourable. I do accept that it seems as though good preps will have guided parents to the correct level of school for their child so that failure occurs very rarely. But if the senior schools get wind of it, won't it make it less likely some of them will want to take children from the prep school in future, particularly those whose exam results are borderline?

LIZS Sun 18-Jun-17 10:51:34

Didn't happen in ds sitting.

originalbiglymavis Sun 18-Jun-17 14:27:46

I asked DS, who yelled over to DH "dad! Mums asking me if I cheated!!" So I guess definitely not then.

Our school got all the kids into chosen school.

Michaelahpurple Sun 18-Jun-17 17:49:15

Definitely not our London prep (speaking as a parent). Really quite shocking behaviour.

TisGlorious Sun 18-Jun-17 19:23:15

I think the key is in this statement, The children have been talking about it,. This sort of thing can't be kept secret as children will talk about it. I think you'll find your prep school son the minority here doing this sort of thing.

It is shocking, and totally dishonest and I think parents should be calling the HM to an urgent meeting to discuss this before it gets really out of hand and senior schools hear about it. It could really mess things up for the children involved.

originalbiglymavis Sun 18-Jun-17 19:59:12

Of course it could be playground gossip, with kids exaggerating the extra time given to students who get extra time because of dyslexia etc.

platinum3 Sun 18-Jun-17 20:49:40

Thank you to everyone for the latest replies - much appreciated.

originalbiglymavis - I can confirm that I am entirely sure that it is not playground gossip, although I can completely understand your considering that. Without going into too much detail, I know the children well who were talking about it, and also the other children who were given an attempt to improve their papers. It was also confirmed by a mum who's child was one of those called back, as mentioned in my second post. As you'll know, additional time for dyslexia etc is given at the time of the exam, rather than pupils being called back later, at the end of the morning or afternoon exam sessions. Not all the pupils called back by any means have those sorts of issues. Mention was also made of a marking scheme being given to one pupil. I did however feel impressed and heartened by the reaction of your DS to being asked. Like you, I would feel certain that he wasn't involved in anything like what has happened at our school. Long may he stay that way too.

Another post to follow shortly.

platinum3 Sun 18-Jun-17 22:23:17

TisGlorious - I just want to be clear that I am not writing as a parent of a child who was called back, far from it. Although I think the '..your prep school son the minority...' in the first paragraph of your post is perhaps a misprint for '...your prep school is in the minority...'?

TisGlorious Sun 18-Jun-17 22:28:12

OP yes, silly spellchecker. Meant to say 'your prep school is in the minority', I didn't get the impression your dc was involved.

By the way, the children involved, what type of schools were they sitting CE for? Where they schools that required a pretest?

timetositdown Sun 18-Jun-17 22:43:28

It is certainly not something most prep schools would ever consider as it is out and out cheating. Having said that I do know of a school who did this - and after a few years the senior schools were not so keen on their pupils as they didn't live up to expectations. This was before the widely taken pre-tests that most schools do now. A word to the Governors? Such a bad message for the pupils aside from the fact it is cheating.

platinum3 Sun 18-Jun-17 22:58:14

Missingthepoint and TisGlorious - I'm going to try to cover your points together, as they seem related. I truly hope that our school is in the minority in having done this. One of my thoughts was, is this widespread? Is this one of the unspoken secrets of Prep schools, senior schools and exam boards? Is this one of the many advantages parents pay for in private education, to get their child the results needed to get into the school of choice if not at any cost, then with a little massaging of exam results? I'm relieved to hear that, as at our school, some parents, pupils and staff would be very much against it, and be completely horrified in fact. I also think, sadly, that some would not be. If it was your child's chosen senior school at stake for the sake of a few marks, would you object? And not just the worst, overambitious, unprincipled parents. Certainly the parent who's child was one of those involved seems, in every other way, a thoroughly decent person who loves their child very much and only wants the best for them. The child too is one of the really decent ones, who does genuinely need a little extra help in one area. It would seem such a shame if they missed out on their school place, for the want of a few marks. And yet, I suppose the other question arising from that is, is the best worth them being involved in what amounts to cheating, and having that on their conscience moving forward in life?

Another post to follow shortly.

TisGlorious Sun 18-Jun-17 23:30:48

You haven't answered wether these are schools requiring pretest?
It is not one of the unspoken secrets of prep schools nor is it one of the perks paid for.

One pays for a sound education, and after prep school, to gain admission into a school in line with their own ability having done everything to support the child's education in the last 6 or so years.

That descent include cheating in exams.

platinum3 Sun 18-Jun-17 23:51:45

Apologies and thank you TisGlorious - I was coming to that, hence ' Another post to follow shortly'. Aiming to cover all the points raised, when time here allows. I mention the range of destination seniors in my second post. Yes, some of those seniors do pre-test, others not. I would certainly like to agree with your second and third sentences. Could you just explain your last sentence please - not quite sure of the meaning.

More to follow.

TisGlorious Mon 19-Jun-17 00:05:44

Sorry. 'That doesn't include cheating exams'.

Senior schools are usually very good at knowing the right children for their school before offering conditional offers. These are made will full confidence that the said child would be able to achieve the required standard at CE. Failures at this stage are therefore very rare, barring any exceptional circumstances.

So I can't understand why your school would feel they need to further 'assist' the kids in obstaining more marks.

platinum3 Mon 19-Jun-17 00:25:51

timetositdown - I hope that you are right, in that it is not something most Prep schools would consider. I do know that at our school several pupils favoured by our current HT in very recent years - not as far as I know helped with CE results, rather other issues such as not sufficiently challenged on bullying, awarded prizes, captaincy, Head Boy/Girl etc on the basis of friendship with parents or donations and so on from parents - have not gone on to do as well as expected at their senior schools and in one or two cases have had to move on. As you say, perhaps senior schools will start to cotton on, which while right in itself is also a great shame for the reputation of our school and for applications from our pupils of more genuine merit or need. As for what, if anything, could or should be done about the CE issue here, including talking to Governors- that is a very difficult question.

platinum3 Mon 19-Jun-17 01:16:27

Missingthepoint - I am not aware that parents have complained to staff. There are, I think, several reasons for this. Firstly, I think people are genuinely shocked, stunned and embarrassed by it - it is a deeply awkward situation. Despite the very important standards and principles involved, who would want to risk the reputation of our school and risk pupil places at senior schools, whether someone else's children or not? The pupils are, after all, innocent in this. I am not sure how even the best of 13 year olds could have refused when being told to improve their papers. So rather than them cheating, I believe they were made to cheat, and the clear responsibility belongs to the school. The current Year 8 families will leave in a very short time, and perhaps think it is not worth rocking the boat and spoiling these last few weeks? My own sense of it is that the book on this issue stops with the current HT, who is a generally but not universally thought of as a very difficult character, and probably due to retire in a year or two. I suspect that the HT's concern was to get favoured pupils in particular the right marks and into their schools, but also all pupils - which of course then reflects favourably on the HT and our school. It has sometimes seemed that children are sent for interviews and pre-tests at schools which look good for the school rather than being the best schools for those particular pupils, and of course some parents are flattered by that and go along with it. There has been a general sense under the current HT of a push to take our school further upmarket and to strongly micro manage all publicity and reviews. Perhaps the current CE situation is part of that. Such a shame, as in essence it is actually really a super little school.

JellieTot Mon 19-Jun-17 11:52:20

Honestly in this situation I think it does need someone to stand up and say it is not OK .... before it hits the press as cheating

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