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how to get my ds of 6 through exams for private school

68 replies

olliebird · 09/06/2007 22:09

anybody got any advice form
i've got to try to get my ds into local private school. He's just six and this means an interview in sep, then exam and 3-hour assesment in jan.

I haven't pushed him atall so far. hes at a good state primary. On level 5 of oxford reading tree.

I feel i'm going to have to make up masses of ground in six months. Any advice?

I sure he's bright enough, but no boffin certainly and he's quite hard to persuade to do his homework.

OP posts:
bobbysmum07 · 09/06/2007 22:43

They're expected to perform at about the beginning of KS2 level, certainly for the more academic prep schools. He'll have to read a paper - a couple of pages - and answer questions on it, then write a short essay (a few sentences with correct punctuation). You'll (he'll) need to work very hard to bring his reading up to the required level -- in reality they need to be reading pretty fluently. For the maths paper, he'll need to be able to do simple multiplication and division, to order random numbers, be able to tell the time, know the basics of fractions, etc. It's bloody hard work and if he hasn't been pushed up until now, he's probably going to struggle. Unless of course, he's naturally very bright.

hercules1 · 09/06/2007 22:45

Tuition and continue it when he gets into the school.

bobbysmum07 · 09/06/2007 22:47

I would actually recommend transferring him to a pre-prep if you can for the next year.

snorkle · 10/06/2007 12:31

A lot depends on the school. Many private schools aren't very far ahead, if at all, of a good state primary. If it's a good school in a big population centre like London, then there will be a lot of competition for places, so the standard required will be higher. If you are more rural, then the tests may be more of a formality or with a much lower entry standard. So, try and find out how many applicants for each place there are likely to be togive you a better idea what you're up against. Also, you haven't said why he has 'got' to go to this school, but you should be careful not to leave him feeling like he's failed if he doesn't get the place.

roisin · 10/06/2007 17:23

I would agree with Snorkle. If you are very unhappy with your local state school, and if this is a very academic school (and it may well be so given the entrance requirements), you may want to consider in addition entering him for a less academic school so that you have some options.

Ladymuck · 10/06/2007 17:35

Would opt for preprep if possible. If he has started reading then they will push him along at quite a pace.

LIZS · 10/06/2007 17:39

What year is he now, 1 ? tbh ORT 5 would be ok for dd's Year 1 class, there are several children, mainly boys, around that level atm. ds sat the exam at ours for 7+ entry and got in , dd is probably already at that same level (he took it the Autumn term of Yr 2).

They looked for potential rather than current ability but the criteria for yours may differ. Will they give you the curriculum for Year 1 and 2 so you can be reassured that it is roughly in line with your ds' current school ? You could always look at Bond Assessment Starter Papers (samples online, available in Waterstones and WH Smiths) for a few ideas as to the level expected and sort of questions, although the reality will probably be less formal and intensive anyway, with a story, comprehension and maths. hth

janinlondon · 11/06/2007 11:29

Might be an idea to find out what reading schemes they use at the school if your DS has only done ORT. Lots of preps use multiple schemes to expand the kids' vocabs and it might be worth having him look at some books in other schemes. Though I do second the pre-prep suggestion too.

3littlefrogs · 12/06/2007 09:22

Have you asked the school what the standard is? I am surprised they are talking about an exam at six. I have some experience of private school entrance tests, and TBH they were not that challenging, even at age 7/8/9. Many private schools are fairly relaxed about admission criteria and take children of average and above average ability. I wouldn't panic unnecessarily - I am sure the school would give you some information.

Just to put it in perspective - my dss did exams for private secondary schools and state grammar/selective schools, and the state selectives were much harder.

olliebird · 12/06/2007 14:53

thanks for very useful advice

ds is at lovely c of e primary in london where most go on to private schools. However there are only two local private schools for boys, so v v hard to get into. the local state schools for boys are very bad (policman on the gate every day and stabbings on his day off). I would prefer keep him where he is and transfer to private at 11, but now fearful he won't get a place at 11. I do really want to get into either of two local private schools, both top of the leagues (not far of westminster).

At 6/7 they do a 3-hour assessment session which includes an exam in maths, english and reasoning. Prior to this at the interview the deputy head takes them for reading.

The problem with going to the pre-prep is the worry of making new friends several times, I would prefer just one switch - worry about emotional impact of changing schools too many times.

Have started search for tutors and got the books, but my ds not easiest to get to cooperate!! this is going to be hard.

OP posts:
bobbysmum07 · 12/06/2007 17:15

Which schools are you looing at? The very academic preps (Westminster Under, Latymer, etc) require them to have reached the end of KS1 by the time they sit the paper and to be achieving at Level 3.

He'll also need to be reading fluently (i.e. able to cope with ORT Stage 11 and above).

If your son is particularly bright, you might be able to get him through it with a tutor. But it will be very hard.

Bink · 12/06/2007 17:22

Do talk to the school about what their standards are - they are often quite open about that.

Co-operation - that might, to be honest, be more of a problem than evidence of achievement - as is often said on these threads, selective private schools like motivated, self-disciplined learners, and may even pick those children over the ones whose reading/maths is at a higher level. Lack of co-operation will show up in the assessment.

So, if you can focus on bringing on his co-operation/motivation, that might be of best help to him.

frogs · 12/06/2007 19:12

Olliebird, are you in North London by any chance?

I think UCS and Highgate (which are the two N. London options) are not as selective as Westminster or St Paul's despite the impression they might like to give, and the same is true of non-premier league boys schools in other parts of London (Kings College Wimbledon, Latymer Upper etc). Having said that, most of the boys going for 7+ entry will have been at prep or pre-prep schools which gear them up specifically for those exams, so you need to make sure you are ahead of the game. To be brutally honest, ORT level 5 is not a particularly high level for a 6yo -- I know that at one of the equivalent girl's schools they set the 7+ reading comprehension from Roald Dahl's 'Danny the Champion of the World', which is a long, long way ahead of Biff, Chip and co. Many of the 6yolds gearing up for 7+ exams will have been off reading scheme books and onto reading chapter books independently for quite a while.

Wrt maths -- at the girls' schools (and I presume the boys are similar), they are expected to know 2, 3, 4 5, and 10 times tables, and to be able to use the information to solve sums and problems. They need to be able to tell the time to the quarter hour and to be familiar with all UK coins and able to work out change and understand basic fractions.

Would the school give you an informal assessment at the point of interview?

ungratefuldaughter · 12/06/2007 19:21

also the exams aren't objective, the school has x places to fill so offers the top x on the assessments put the next group in order on the waiting list and gradually move down until come september all places are filled (they don't want empty desks as it means no money coming in) and can often get places during the term as children are persuaded to leave if they don't come up to scratch

3littlefrogs · 12/06/2007 22:53

If you are in North London, and striking distance of Hertfordshire there are some lovely private schools - quite a lot of choice. Many schools have a coach service, so you only have to get them to the pick up point. It is manageable then, and the boys get used to it very quickly.

St Columbas in St Albans is a lovely school and goes right up to sixth form. St John's on the Ridgeway, Enfield is another excellent school.

singersgirl · 12/06/2007 23:00

Wrt reading, a few years back I know from a friend that the comprehension at King's College Wimbledon for 7+ entry was from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". So a reasonably high level.

bobbysmum07 · 12/06/2007 23:12

The comprehension questions aren't particularly hard for the 7+, and the examiner will often read the passage out loud (well, depending on the school). But the kids have to be able to read the questions and refer back to the passage to find the answers. And then they have to write an essay.

With the maths paper, they have to be quick and disciplined enough to move on to the next question if they don't know the answer.

Some of the kids are barely 6. It's very very hard.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 08:41

My sister's children are at a private school that goes up to age 7 and gets children prepared for exams at that age and then that school stops and obviously in her case they're getting lots of practice and advice. Our children got into their schools at 5 which avoided the 7+ exam except for one so we just practised tables and spellings with her at home and reading and she did have a tutor who had got children into that school before now but only I think for a few weeks for an hour a week. And she got in. That was North London Collegiate which at that stage started at age 7.

Some private scholls will take all comers virtually as they take the rejects from the more academic ones so it rather depends on the school whether you need to be too worried about it. I agree with the people below who said if you;re in an area like parts of the south east have him apply for a few. My sister's children's school likes them just to apply for 1 or 2 but at 11 my daughter sat for six school just in case and it did her no harm.

Azure · 13/06/2007 08:50

Out of interest, is there an advantage in trying for 7+ rather than 8+ entrance, apart from schools such as Latymer which only have a 7+?

Twiglett · 13/06/2007 08:55

if he's at a lovely primary school why are you moving him

it scares me, this much pressure on a 6 year old.. he's just a baby

fine if they're assessed but all this talk of extra work and tuition

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 09:09

They love it. Why should reading and writing be a chore? It's not pressure at all. obviously if they're not bright it's pointless to get them even to try but we're talking about clever children here. Not 4 hours Japanese steyle cramming a night but an hour a week with a tutor. That doesn't exactly dent your 10 hours TV a day on Saturday. It's only pressure if silly parents make it feel like pressure. I don't think I've ever said I want you at that school you must get in. We always said things like there are a few schools you might like to go to and they just need to see how you are. As long as the child is neutral as to whether it gets in or not sitting writing a few stories isn't pressure.

7 or 8 depends on the school. I thought most would have 7 or 8 rather than both.

Twiglett · 13/06/2007 09:24

yes Xenia, patently because I'm against pressuring young children it means that we watch 10 hours of tv on a saturday

do you ever take that stick out of your arse?

Twiglett · 13/06/2007 09:26

if the school is not capable of assessing natural intelligence through meetings and discussions and observations and relies instead on things that can only be tutored .. and the ability to read earlier than others is simply NOT a sign of intelligence .. then its not worth its, very expensive, salt

colditz · 13/06/2007 09:28

I think the very best thing to do is leave him alone. they will spot a hothoused kid a mile away.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 10:05

There is a lot of difference between one left to play in leaves for his first 6 years who can't read spell or know his timestables though and one who has had 2 years of education. That's not hot housing but it makes a huge difference when it comes to being presented with an exam paper. I've seen pressured children. They can never come to play because they have extra lessons all the time. Their parents are neurotic about performance etc etc but that is not the same as preparing children for a few tests an dif they're in a school which isn't working a year ahead of some state schools like many private pre preps do in small classes with clever children then yes he might find it harder to do the tests at rising 7. That's all.

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