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4+ prep Assessment....?

31 replies

shalom · 23/06/2007 08:49

My DS is going to sit for a 4+ assessment for a prep school. Has anyones child done one of these and what do they look for. Can they really assess a child at such a young age. What if the child is not feeling in a good mood on that particular day?

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LIZS · 23/06/2007 12:59

dd spent a morning there to confirm whether she was ready - she was actually still 3 at the time. She did a few activities with another of her peer group already in the nusery there and a teacher to assess her concentration, dexterity, ability to follow instructions, joining in etc. Very little emphasis on academics although have heard some are rather more rigorous in this even at 4.

tbh I doubt you could identify all but the most extremely bright or potentially disruptive so early but those involved seem to know what traits they are looking for and should see past off days . Does n't mean they always get it right though.

shalom · 24/06/2007 09:49

sorry in getting back to youlate. I was wondering if i should prepare him in any way or just let him go and act naturally.

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slondonmum · 24/06/2007 10:29

Shalom - I don't think you can really prepare him, he's so young. I'd just let him go and act naturally. My daughter had an assessment for a 4+ in a girl's day school. I think they just observed how she played in a group and she also met the headmistress. For that she brought a bag full of little toys in!! The head chatted to her about what toys she liked especially. Halfway through my DD said (she was only 3 at the time) "is she testing me"?!!!

DominiConnor · 24/06/2007 10:44

From what I pick up, at this age behaviour is a big thing. They read stories and ask questions to determine which kids follow the plot, and can articulate their understanding.

A quick check on letters/numbers/colours etc is often there, and probably the only thing that you can do any real coaching for in the short term.

At DS school (Forest, London),they don't seem to interview parents as such, and the "interview" is to whisk them away. But I get the impression that some schools want the "right" sort of parent.

katelyle · 24/06/2007 10:51

I think you should be assessing the school, not the school assessing the child!!!! Remember who's paying whom!

Earlybird · 24/06/2007 10:54

FWIW, there have been many threads about this very subject in the past. A trawl through the archives should provide a treasure trove of valuable information and advice.

shalom · 24/06/2007 18:11

He basically knows his letters ( but only in upper case) colurs, numbers and shapes. It just that i do not want to look back asnd say i should have done a bit more. Dominiconnor what exactly is the 'right parent'. Was your son able to tell you what happened during his assessment?

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Hulababy · 24/06/2007 18:28

DD went for hers at 3 and half. It was more a case of assessing if she was ready for school. DD and the PP1 teacher went off together to do the assessment stuff, whilst me and DH sat and talked with the Head. The headteacher asked us about DD, her likes and dislikes, etc. and then more general stuff.

From what we can gather DD had a fun time with her new teacher. The played a game with some boxes, all inside one another. She drew a picture of a favourite character, which was labelled with her name and the name of the character - Dore, which the teacher would have spelt out for her. And they talked a lot - the teacher came back knowing about our holidays to France and Florida, and about a friend's new baby, amongst other things. They were gone about 30 minutes I guess.

I wondered about what happens if chid was not in the right frame, and you can ask to have it delayed to another day/time if necessary.

After this we were offered a place.

Later on there was a taster session fpr all the new starters - in June. We missed this as we were on holiday, so DD went in at anpther time, and just joined in with the current PP1 class.

And around this time DD's new teacher visited her at nursery to chat and observe DD,a nd to speak with her nursery teachers and see her work.

alycat · 24/06/2007 18:54

As for 'right parent' one school I looked at asked both parents which schools and uni's were attended - have to be parental oxbridge material!

Another asked for all professional qualifications and affiliations (IOD, RIBA etc)

Some independent schools are very sniffy about the quality of parents they allow in!

Katelyle, parents have less rights (imho) in the independent sector than in state schools.

DominiConnor · 25/06/2007 20:27

Shalom, he was 3.5 at the time, so his account was a little patchy...
Number, letters, shapes, colours and animals.

When he was asked about camels, he found it appropriate to inform his would-be teacher that "camels spit at mummy", based upon his mothers account of trekking in the That desert.

The thing was over an hour which I think tested the "stamina" and attention span of some kids.

Alycat's right, the market is the arbiter for private schools, not government regulation.

Forest doesn't seem to vet parents, was one thing we liked about it. A few parents in DS year have name-droppingly good jobs, but they have smart kids.
Some schools do seem to cater for the social cachet of private education. The headmaster of Chigwell waxed lyrical of the oportunity for our kids to one day be "Old Chigwellians" which impressed neither DW nor I. It had a shit libray, really crap. I went to a crap working class comp, and it had a better one.
But the Chigwell library was in a much nicer building, really good faux mock tudor, most have cost a packet.

BagLady75 · 25/06/2007 23:25

I received some advice before DD went in for assessments at age 3 and 1/2, which was that the schools are looking to see if your child will follow instructions, as opposed to testing their knowledge.

I explained to DD that she was going to visit a couple of big schools for fun, and that she should make sure to cooperate with the teachers and do as they say.

Only one of the 3 schools she was assessed at "tested" pre-reading skills. The others did activities such as drawing, puzzles, and listening to then discussing a story.

Good luck!

shalom · 26/06/2007 19:52

Thanks guys, i will focus on his colours numbers etc. Doninoconnor, was else did you like about Forest and what else do you think i should look for in a Private School?

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DominiConnor · 27/06/2007 01:57

Forest teaches "real" science, separate GSCE, not the arty "oooh look penguins they are pretty " at Bancrofts or Chigwell.
It's highly selective, which we w liked since DCS are fractional percentiles, DW & I don't like the idea of DCs being too much smarter than their peers.

Chigwell had fewer books in their library and of lower quality, not only than the sink comprehensive I went to, but than we have at home.
Forest had less emphasis on sport than Chigwell, Bancroft or St Aubyns. We liked that.

We spoke to a valid sample of Forest kids, and they seemed "nice", that got it an overwhelming number of brownie points. It seemed more relaxed than other schools.
Forest has a fine record for getting A levels is real subjects. Bancrofts looks good but when you strip out shit like Photography, is not so great. My personal metric is to subtract points for ever A level grade in a crap subject. That hurts Bancrofts badly, and utterly overwhelms the fact the head has a proper degree, since in spit of that he sanctions arty science GSCE and dippy A levels.
The chaplain at Forest and I have history, long story, but we have a sort of mutual respect.

The maths department includes people that I consider competent. My bar is very high, 90% of maths graduates fall below it. The other local private schools did not impress me, and St. Johns Buckhurst Hill is run by such a pile of shit headmaster that wne he said that he didn't approve of maths teaching beyond 12, I had to concentrate not to drop the creep where he stood.

hydrophobia · 27/06/2007 10:49

DC try travelling on the number 20 bus around 4-5pm - the forest kids aren't quite as sweet as you think, girls from woodford behave well as do the trinity bunch (but soooo many of them)

It did surprise me about some girls from DD's primary who went to forest - did worse at GCSE and A level than DD's friends who went to comp

DominiConnor · 27/06/2007 14:40

Didn't think to try the bus, are they worse than you'd expect from teenagers on the bus home ?

Generally we like what we on the academics for Forest, but these things are never constant.

frances5 · 27/06/2007 14:50

I find it strange you are thinking about A-levels and what subjects kids do at the age of four. By the time our kids get to THAT kind of age A-levels won't exist anymore and many kids change schools for sixth form.

I am just praying that state schools will bring back proper science. Otherwise I will teach my son some proper science at home.

hydrophobia · 27/06/2007 16:43

it goes quicker than you think

hydrophobia · 27/06/2007 16:48

that route goes past about at least five or six secondary schools the ones that get on at loughton station in afternoon probably worst I see, some swearing from forest kids but at least it is grammatically correct and pronounced nicely

shalom · 27/06/2007 20:40

I suppose it is a bit early to think of things like Science but what if you think it is not all that important and then you decide that you want to stay at the school and then the issue of Science comes up. I also think, correct me if i am wrong that you have to think as to wether you will have to employ extra tuiton as well as paying a whole load of school fees. To be sincere i just do not want to make a wrong choice because i do not want to start changing schools after a few years. How many of you consider the membership to all these independent school association as or the inspection reports as a determing factor?

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DominiConnor · 28/06/2007 09:31

Actually we had science as a factor, before DS was 3. We gave more points to schools that did the full set of science GCSE, than those that did arts graduate imposed combined fake combined science.
It was a signal, not an expectation that syllabus would be the same in 12 years time. Our kids education is over half a million quid, and I'm fucked if I';m shelling out for "oooh look at the penguins, aren't they pretty ? The cow is an endangered species" and the other neo hippy shit kids get fed.
I'm not impressed by any of the "objective" reports on schools, private or state.
Part of my previous life was reviewing things for magazines. I never ever regarded myself as having done my job until I'd found out what was wrong with it.
That clearly is not the way schools are reviewed. It's all too cooperative, "working with", and 100% on the side of the providers of education rather than the kids.

frances5 · 28/06/2007 11:29

What will you do if your son's school changes and goes over to Joke science. (ie. 21st century science)

You might laugh at me, but I think of preparing my son as a private candiate for the international GCSE when he is is a bit older.

He is a bit young for it at the age of five. lol

Ladymuck · 28/06/2007 12:33

Forest's strength ime is in terms of career advice/uni selection, and following on from that A level selection. They used to bar able pupils from doing Comp Studies Alevel as it was only being offered for those pupils who were going into the family business (who also tended to do Goernment and Politics A level). As much as I dislike MSE as a person as Head of Sixth he does do an excellent job on getting people onto the right higher ed courses. Bancrofts may get the higher exam results but the Forest Uni results are much better.

That said I don't think that it is actually as selective as you may think - there may be a highish number of applicants per place, but each of those applicants is usually registered for at least 2 other schools, and usualy more. They will always fill their places - and a certain number do go to children based on who their parents are.

fridayschild · 28/06/2007 14:05

DS2 got assessed just before he was 3. It was in a group and lasted about an hour, no parents. He liked the assessment a lot - threw a trantrum when we had to leave - they seem to have taught him how to do jigsaws because he wanted a jigsaw when he got home and was MUCH better at it.

He hated the place when he had to go everyday though. At a parents' evening before we stopped sending him there, the teacher said he "followed instruction" - I think this is one of the key things they look for at that age. If you are cynical, you could say they only take the children who will be easy to teach...

DominiConnor · 28/06/2007 17:59

Sadly, frances5 my expectation is that by the time DS is 16 the arts graduates will have eliminated real science GCSE. Thus my comment about it being a signal that Forest has resisted the tide for so long.

For DS it actually doesn't matter anyway, since we have the ability to teach almost any subject to A level. It pisses me off that kids with poorer or less educated parents get shafted by the artsgrads though.

As for CompSci, Forest's advice is spot on. A bright kid should no more be doing IT A level than photography or Media studies. When I was on the academic board at Uni, I voted for IT not being counted as an A level for any subject especially Computer Science.
My business involves IT, but I'd not want my kids doing it, since it became the dim boy's subject in the mid '90s.
I now find myself in the bizarre position of running a company that doesn't count my own degree as a real one

The Uni results at Forest are indeed good, and partly that's due to the way that Bancroft seems to have more kids doing daffy subjects especially "--studies".

hydrophobia · 28/06/2007 18:41

There is a large difference between computing A level which is predominantly programming and systems analysis and the IT A level which is email and digital photos which is presumably why DD's science college nearby offers computing but not IT at A level (along with separate sciences at GCSE)

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