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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:38 am 
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Apologies if this isn't accessible to non-Times subscribers behind their firewall. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/education ... 319251.ece

It quotes a London prep head and figures on the number of applicants increasing for independent schools at 11+. It also mentions how some children sit 6 or so schools nowadays.

My question is, has overall demand really gone up that much, with a much greater total number of children chasing the same number of places, or is it that at least some of this is caused by children actually sitting for more schools each? And if so why do they sit more than say 5 or 10 years back?

I know the birth rate has gone up for those sitting this year and last and will continue to do so and I suppose London's population of well-off families has probably gone up but equally there are plenty of middle class families whose housing costs have rocketed who will now consider their often much improved local comprehensives.

I understand from DAO's posts that Habs' Boys has 600 candidates, presumably including the prep boys. But if say 300 had a first choice elsewhere that wouldn't be so bad for the 180 (?) places?

Thoughts please?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:49 pm 
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I think a rise in the school age population has increased the competition a bit. Parents have responded to the moderate rise in competition for places by applying to more schools, as a sort of insurance. This in turn has ratcheted up competition even further by pushing up the number of applicants for each individual school.

IMHO, only the schools have the power to calm things down. The parents will not unilaterally stop applying to so many different schools. Their behaviour will only change in response to some sort of change made by the schools.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:57 pm 
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Good points - especially about the population increase having a small effect but then this snowballing up.
I don't think the prep schools will calm things down as it's in their interests to have a good list of leavers' destinations and ditto for tutors, so they want them to sit for lots of schools (granted some preps do produce a list of entries/ offers/ acceptances, but many just the latter).
Of course there are some tutors and heads who are more concerned about their pupils' wellbeing and put that first if they think it is too much to do loads of exams but I doubt all think that way.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:38 pm 
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Location: Cheltenham
HotCrossBun wrote:
I think a rise in the school age population has increased the competition a bit. Parents have responded to the moderate rise in competition for places by applying to more schools, as a sort of insurance. This in turn has ratcheted up competition even further by pushing up the number of applicants for each individual school.

IMHO, only the schools have the power to calm things down. The parents will not unilaterally stop applying to so many different schools. Their behaviour will only change in response to some sort of change made by the schools.


I'm not sure what the schools could do about it. At present, if parents choose to apply for their child to sit the exam for a particular school, then the school will let the child sit it. Each school probably won't even know how many other schools that child is sitting for, let alone be able to do anything to stop the child sitting too many. What would you suggest doing instead? Introducing some kind of central application system like UCAS is for universities? I think there would be a lot of opposition to that from both parents and schools (particularly struggling schools).

But maybe you have ideas that haven't occurred to me. What would you suggest?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:13 pm 
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I think if one is adamant on an Indies school it would be sensible to have contingency plans a couple of top tier schools a couple of middle tier schools would be sensible,all 10-11yrs can have an off day , but more than 4 seems excessive to me


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:51 pm 
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DebsB - I think a UCAS type system is a brilliant idea - restricts to 5 initial choices.

Then if you get 5 rejections there is 'extra' which means you can add choices ....


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:10 pm 
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Guest55 wrote:
Then if you get 5 rejections there is 'extra' which means you can add choices ....


I don't think that would work unless say all the London Indies where in the same consortium, a lot of top schools are trying to break free from some of the existing Consortiums e.g NLCS and St Pauls would strongly resist
it's not like A ,IB , Pre-U levels where there is some kind of equivalence factor.

as I have said before ,these Indies are a law unto themselves

in the end it's up to individual parents to be sensible, they are just children and it's not fair or sensible to put them through the exam wringer at that age


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:42 pm 
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Catseye wrote:
Guest55 wrote:
Then if you get 5 rejections there is 'extra' which means you can add choices ....


I don't think that would work unless say all the London Indies where in the same consortium, a lot of top schools are trying to break free from some of the existing Consortiums e.g NLCS and St Pauls would strongly resist
it's not like A ,IB , Pre-U levels where there is some kind of equivalence factor.

as I have said before ,these Indies are a law unto themselves

in the end it's up to individual parents to be sensible, they are just children and it's not fair or sensible to put them through the exam wringer at that age

Having lots of schools in a consortium certainly cuts down on the number of exams each child has to take, without restricting parents from applying to lots of schools. That's good for children and parents.

Why is it that schools don't like them, I wonder? Is it because they want the freedom to set their own papers? If so, that's tricky. But I'm sure somebody was mentioning on here recently about some consortium somewhere in which the school where the child sits gets to see the paper, but the other schools just get sent a score. I can see why schools might justifiably feel that seeing what the child has actually written gives them a lot more information than just a number, but if that's the main bone of contention then it's easily fixable - how hard can it be to scan the papers and send them electronically so that each school the child is interested in gets a copy?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:51 am 
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Sorry DebsB, I don't have a suggestion. I am still thinking it through. Those are just my thoughts after going through this Autumn looking at schools and preparing my DD for exams.

When visiting CLSG, it was clear that they were distraught themselves with the situation and were literally begging the parents not to apply for so many schools. I thought at the time that the parents are stuck in a sort of "prisoners' dilemma," and cannot really do anything. I am not sure what the schools should or could do. I just think they are in a more powerful position than individual parents.

Thinking of the most elite/popular schools such as Eton or St Paul's, I believe they have electronic pre-tests to whittle down the field early on in the process. Maybe for purely practical reasons, more schools will be heading down this route.


Last edited by HotCrossBun on Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:57 am 
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I guess there might have been a dip in 2008/9 due to people losing jobs and general economic uncertainty which has slowly picked up and risen to today. Couple that with steady population rises and bingo!
We entered DD and DS for four schools each. As primary school entrants with no help from school, relying on the guidance of a tutor, we weren't really sure where each child sat in the cohort of entrants so needed to cover a range of possibilities, plus the off day possibility mentioned above. I would have thought the great thing about being a prep school applicant is you would be much better informed, so you might feel able to drop either the top or bottom one! Any more than four seems a tad excessive, I have heard of kids doing six however. DC and DP must have a favourite, then hedge your bets around that, surely?
The North London Consortium of girls schools seems to work well and is specifically designed to reduce the number of exams taken. Shame the boys schools can't club together in the same way. CLSG had a specific problem as often they were competing with NLCS for the same girls, it's difficult to get your offer numbers right then I guess. Now they are not both looking at the results of the same paper it might help a bit but at the end of the day they are businesses and that's the market they are in.
The DC cope provided parents are sensible and don't go mad with too many exams. Mine actually quite enjoyed the process in the end.


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