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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:30 pm
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Dear all!

Advice sought from members with experience in applying to selective independents from state primaries.

My daughter is now in Yr5 of a prep school. For a variety of reasons, we have become increasingly unhappy with the school. I was thinking of transferring her into a different school for Yr5, but talked myself into keeping her where she was on the basis of "better the devil your know", how can we be sure she will be happier in a new school, etc. In any case, I really don't want to keep her where she is for Yr6 as well so thinking of putting her into a local state school where she has several friends from various after school activities.

However, here is my dilemma. I heard that some state school heads were not at all supportive of secondary private school applications. How does it work then for Headteacher's report for indies as they all require it? Even assuming the state school head is willing to provide it - they will have only known my daughter for less than a term by the time she applies to indy (i.e. November is when report is generally solicited) so what will they put? They will not have history of her termly exam performance from prep (very good), CAT scores, her extra-curricular, etc. So I am agonizing over this and wondering whether we should just stick it out with the current school for another year?

How important is Headteacher's report for private school admissions? We are in London and will be looking at places like JAGS, Alleyn's, City of London for Girls, Latymer Upper, etc.

Thanks very much to anyone who can help with this! Any views would be appreciated - this is doing my head in!!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:49 pm 
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Can't help with your specific query re transfer from state primaries, but I have a DD at one of the schools in your list and a DS who will start at another in September.

All the senior schools claim that the report from the previous school is important, but I suspect that they are less important than the exam/interview, particularly for the more academically selective schools. Clearly they will want to know that there are no problems regarding discipline etc that they should be aware of, but beyond that I can't believe the reports differ that much between candidates anyway.

Assuming that the head of the school you are thinking of is prepared to write a reference at all, you could give him/her all the info to include regarding extra-curricular activities etc. Again, I suspect that previous test results are of far less interest to the senior schools than the results of their own entrance examinations, which are no doubt carefully constructed to identify current attainment and potential.

All of the schools you list take many children from state primary schools every year, so I'm sure they're aware that some Heads are more willing to provide references than others, and allow for that fact.

All that said, I would have been very nervous about moving either of my DC at this stage. The first term of Y6 is very important with regard to preparation for the exams in January, and I would have been worried that adding the stress of settling into a new school to the preparation workload (whether at home or at school) would have been too much for my DC. The schools you list are difficult to get in to (some of them very difficult) and even taking the number of exams required is a big ask for a 10/11 year old.

However, I'm sure you have very good reasons for considering the move.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:26 pm 
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Jess,

Thanks a lot for your input. It's difficult to put things in perspective in this 11+ stress. You must be right - exam and interview must be the most important things and all these headteachers' reports must sound the same. I guess I should really think carefully about moving her at all because it's more that I have issues with the school rather than my daughter, probably not a good reason to uproot her just before the exams.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:10 pm 
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irisha, I have pm'd you!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:02 pm 
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I would not worry too much about HT reports for now. DS1 went from a state primary to indie for secondary . The senior school were more concerned with his performance at the exams and interview . Concentrate on preparing her for the exams and interview now and worry about the reports later . However , I will agree with the previous post that it may be tricky to move her half way though year 5 as the exams are only a few months away, settling into a new school etc . If you are worried about her academic levels at the current indie , it may be wise to download some free past papers to assess her ability or invest in a tutor to address any gaps in her knowledge . If you do decide to move her to a state primary, the school may not prepare her for 11 plus exams if they do not support 11 plus tutoring , in which case , the money saved can be spent on extra resources (books) and a good tutor to address any gaps in knowledge.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:19 am 
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Location: Herts
Both my dd's applied to indy's from a state primary. City, Habs, St Albans, Queenswood and Haileybury. The HT gave the reference form to the class teacher who was better equiped to comment. I agree with the other posters that what these schools are really looking for are students who have the academic potential to do well so that performance in the entrance exams and interviews will be far more important than what is said on the reference form. The most important thing you can do now is to maximise her chances to perform in the entrance exams. You do not have any Sats level to go from so you really need to get some idea of where your dd is in terms of her cohort. What guidance has the school given you as to her current levels and her chances of gaining a place at the schools you are interested in? I can give you a good idea of her English levels if you send me an example of her work. You can pm me. DG


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:02 am
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This sounds like a difficult decision.

However, I would be very cautious about moving her at this point - particularly as it is you who have problems with the school, and not really your daughter. It would be very difficult to settle down and focus, and the Autumn term is the most important one for exam preparation. You would also presumably be moving her from a school that does prepare for the exams, to one that doesn't.

You can always take her out once the exams are done and dusted in February or April next year.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:53 am 
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I also agree with not moving her now. My dds are at a state primary and really they give NO help or support with preparation for any selective schools, you are on your own! Plus as you have said, you run the risk of your dd not being happy or the new school not working out quite as planned.

It's only a year, personally I would stick it out and make sure your dd is as prepared as possible.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:12 am 
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Thank you very much for all the responses.

On reflection, I think we should just stick it out with the current school, however unhappy I am with it. Moving her now will probably be in the "cutting off your nose to spite the face" category. For me, the chief attraction of state primary was that they finish early (3:15) vs 5pm for prep - so plenty of time to do extra stuff at home or get a tutor if needed. I am not convinced that non-selective independents (such as ours) prepare children for top London schools particularly well, but then I don't have a benchmark - may be it's even worse in the state system where you have to do ALL the work for that. On the other hand, unsettling my DD now will probably outweigh any benefits gained from extra time after school. Thanks again for all the views, I will just concentrate on doing what we can within current constraints - there is summer and weekends!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:57 pm 
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5pm, wow! Is that across the whole school from reception? Is it compulsory for them to stay that late every day?


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