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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:31 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:09 pm
Posts: 93
Location: Herts
Having idly browsed these forums for a couple of years, it's now my turn. Our DS has just started Y6 at his state primary school and we're considering all the options. The local 11+ school is Parmiter's and DS is quite bright, but only 1 child in the last 4 years has got to Parmiter's on academic ability from his primary school. So we're also looking at St Albans + Habs as possible backups. But then I got to wondering about the relative difficulty of the admissions process - if St Albans/Habs are harder than Parmiter's, then they wouldn't make a very good backup!

I appreciate they're not that easy to compare (St Albans/Habs have an English component to the exam and hold interviews), but I thought there must be parents/children who've similarly applied for both Herts 11+ and St Albans/Habs and possibly got offers from one, but not the other, which might give a clue.

Happy to hear people's opinions!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:52 pm
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Based on the people I know who applied for 2011 entry, in order of increasing difficulty to get in, I'd say:

1. St Albans,
2. Habs,
3. Parmiter's


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:02 pm
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Location: Herts
I'm not sure about the relative difficulties of the exams.

What makes Parmiter's (& the other consortium schools) so hard to get into is the fact that so few exam places are available. There are slightly more places available at DAO but all these schools are seriously oversubscribed.

You are very lucky to be in a position to have an independent school as your Plan B.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:51 pm 
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Location: Herts
tense wrote:
You are very lucky to be in a position to have an independent school as your Plan B.

Whether we could actually afford it is another matter - it certainly would involve very big changes in our life. At this stage, we're just considering our options.

However, I appreciate that we're lucky to even be able to consider it (we also have only 1 child, which helps in this respect).


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:57 am
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Hi maddad,

Ds took these exams last/this year and this was how he found them :
Parmiters - easiest
St Albans - Maths easy, English difficult
Habs - English easy, Maths difficult
All I can say is each child is different and what is easy for one child might be difficult for another depending on how much preparation they've had, coupled with other issues they might have experienced on the day of the exam i.e nerves etc.
All the best with the preparation.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:36 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:52 pm
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Hi Maddad,
We were in your position last year - my son sat Parmiters, Habs & St Albans and got offers from all.My advice would be to treat all three schools the same - all as hard as each other !!
Looking back, my son did feel similar to Josa's son regarding maths & english at St Albans & Habs - VR about the same at all of them.
Although he also felt Parmiters was the "easiest" it is the hardest to get an academic place for when over 1000 kids sit for only about 47 academic places.
Parmiters was only Maths & VR with no English paper.My son felt the questions were more straight forward - with none of the really testing questions you can get at the end of independant school papers but the key is consistencey. You just can't afford to make any silly mistakes or miss out any questions & he also had time to check his answers to make sure ! Unfortunately, 1 mark can really make the all the difference between getting a place and missing out.
Good luck


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:16 pm 
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Location: Herts
magic-mum wrote:
Looking back, my son did feel similar to Josa's son regarding maths & english at St Albans & Habs - VR about the same at all of them.
Although he also felt Parmiters was the "easiest" it is the hardest to get an academic place for when over 1000 kids sit for only about 47 academic places.

Yes, that's the problem - the 'easiness' of the exam doesn't have any direct relation to how difficult it is to get a place. Parmiter's presumably has a much higher pass mark/percentage. The relative difficulty of getting a place would only really be obvious if there was a pattern of people being offered places from one or two schools but not the other(s). Given that both of you (magic-mum & Josa) have children who got offers from all 3 school (kudos to you & your children!), that isn't so helpful :).

magic-mum wrote:
You just can't afford to make any silly mistakes or miss out any questions & he also had time to check his answers to make sure ! Unfortunately, 1 mark can really make the all the difference between getting a place and missing out.

That is so true (and what concerns me the most). I'm sure DS is capable of doing well enough to get a place at Parmiter's on a good day, but normally he makes too many silly mistakes. I've changed focus from practising papers to teaching him sensible methods to double check his answers. Fingers crossed!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:12 pm 
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We knew quite a few boys who got St Albans and MT's but not Habs & Parmiters/Watford G/ DAO and girls who got Habs but not St Albans & some who got St Albans & St Helens but not Habs or selective state !!!Why ? Who knows - it will probably make your head hurt to analyse - sometimes it can really just depend on the day - so I think its wise to approach them all with the same attitude & not think one will be easier than the other !!


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 Post subject: QE vs St Albans / Habs?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:27 am 
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Hi MagicMum, I was wondering which school you ended up choosing for you DS?

We are in a similar situation - we applied for Parmiter's (out of catchment place) and QE but also to Habs, St Albans and St Columba's as indie back-ups. Independent schools would not be an easy financial choice for us - we'd have to make big sacrifices and take some equity out of the house but I know we are lucky to even have this option.

However, although the indie schools were supposed to be a back-up, they are really growing on us and I can really picture my son at Habs and St Albans. He's academic, quirky and, according to his head teacher, worthy of scholarship. However he got through to second round of QE and stands a good chance of gaining a place there.

So possible dilemma is that we might be offered places at QE, Habs and St Albans. A nice dilemma to have but how do I know which is the right choice for my DS and for the family as a whole? I'm now having sleepless nights thinking about it.

Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:57 pm 
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Location: Herts
PlutoMum wrote:
So possible dilemma is that we might be offered places at QE, Habs and St Albans. A nice dilemma to have but how do I know which is the right choice for my DS and for the family as a whole? I'm now having sleepless nights thinking about it.


I think a lot of people end up with a similar decision to make (our situation sounds very similar to yours). There is no right or wrong answer to this question - it's a personal choice depending on your exact circumstances. There was a similar discussion last year which has some interesting views (including a parent, Pushy Dad, whose backup plan of the Indies became his main plan).

Personally, I suspect (hope!?) we will have an agonising decision to make end Feb/early Mar when our options become clear.


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