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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:07 pm 
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I like to have others' opinions on the selection process of top tier independant schools around London. My experience is that children from preparatory schools/independent primaries have greater advantage than the children from state primaries.This is similar to Russell Group Universities preferring 'Indie students'. It is impossible believe many of the state primary children who performed very well in selective school exams and not even selected for interviews for top indies. Indies have much lower competition ratios than selectives. 'Having a bad exam day', 'private school students are better prepared than state school children' and 'this year we had more competition' are the common excuses. In my view ,children from state schools have more chance in the second tier indies. The whole education system is riddled with 'inequalities' and 'elite' culture and attitude which we can't change.
I will not apply for my youngest child who is in a state primary for 'Top indies' for next year as I feel the money for registration will go down the drain. I will apply for a second tier indie for a back up place where there could be realistic chance.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:46 pm 
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One reason that lots of state school children get state school places whilst indie children don't and vice versa is that indie kids don't start preparing for exams till September. This means most do little if any preparation for state exams, because otherwise the length of time spent in exam prep is too long. In our case we sat state exams but didn't prepare at all-except for one mock paper -as I didn't want my DD to peak too early. She has told me repeatedly that if she could do the state exams again now after the prep she has done for the indies she would score massively higher. I know that to be true from the mocks we did pre the state exams and now pre the indies. Her scores have increased dramatically through practice. Having said that she got very close to a DAO place even without any prep, and would probably get in on waitlist.

Once the indies start preparing the kids for their exams they then go above and beyond the state yr 6 curriculum, which I suppose does give the indie kids an advantage in that respect. Indie schools in my experience also spend a lot more time essay writing than state and this is a large component of indie exams but not of many state exams. On top of this, indie primary heads are very good at guiding parents as to where to apply for their child. If your child is not bright enough for a top tier school, indie primary heads will tell you in my experience, they are not afraid to be blunt. That means that a larger proportion of the children applying are academically suited to the school, because if they are not they will have been told by their current school not to apply.

I would however strongly dispute that private senior schools favour indie primary pupils. That just isn't true in my experience. My elder child for various reasons came from a non indie primary and managed just fine to get into a top tier private school, as did many of her friends. The schools want the brightest kids, that's all, they don't care about their background. Most top schools live or die by their league tables. They would never jeopardise that by picking indie kids over more able state kids.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:23 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:25 pm
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Location: Cheltenham
NLMum27 wrote:
I would however strongly dispute that private senior schools favour indie primary pupils. That just isn't true in my experience. My elder child for various reasons came from a non indie primary and managed just fine to get into a top tier private school, as did many of her friends. The schools want the brightest kids, that's all, they don't care about their background. Most top schools live or die by their league tables. They would never jeopardise that by picking indie kids over more able state kids.


Likewise in my experience. People who are involved in marking indy school entrance papers all seem to me to be interested in what the entrance papers indicate that the child understands and/or is able to do, and they couldn't care less about what school they came from. Remember, a lot of indy teachers were state educated themselves. They've nothing for or against kids from particular primary/prep schools. They just want to admit children who will learn well and so make their jobs easier!

Similarly, my experience of universities (and I have several friends who work in Russell Group unis) is that they don't favour indy candidates over state candidates as such either.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:06 pm 
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Location: Herts
Russell group universities certainly do not prefer indie applicants, in fact I know of students who have moved to Hills Road State sixth form college from an indie to increase their chances of getting into a good university.

As to the 11 plus things are different area by area. Some selective state schools do not have English Creative Writing, some (like the Watford Consortium) do not have an English paper or like Latymer and Bucks and Berks use CEM. Students studying for those schools wil be at a disadvantage as they are not preparing for the skill set requiring for many of the indies. In my area students who have prepared for DAO and St M's are in a very good position to do very well at Habs, NLCS, St Helens, St Albans, St Pauls etc and they absolutely do. I don't know of anyone who did well at DAO and St M's who has not also done well at the above private schools.

Any state school student can get into these schools and many do. But if the selective states you did are not the same format then you have more work to do. Prep students don't know anything special, they just do the papers at school which state schools do not.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:54 pm 
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I concur with DG on the point many state school students go into top indie (at least get interview invite). DD from a good and average state school tried SPGS and CLSG this year, and has received interview invites from both.

Not sure about the area and preparation. DD prepared in her own relaxed stressless way without tutor or mock tests or any particular focus etc. In addition to SPGS and CLGS, She tried 4 selective school tests in 4 different formats. All results are very positive so far. Personally preparing different test formats might matter in much smaller scale.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:01 am 
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Agreed here as well, both DDs' year groups several children their primary school got into super selective gs and had interviews T top tier indies. Most both, some one and not the other (both ways), different skills assessed in the test. Sorry for your experiences OP but I think it it important for other prospective parents to know that many, many children get into indies from state primary schools and so not to be put off applying.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:22 am 
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I would agree that prep schools have an advantage over state primaries (and, I might add, non-prep independent schools) in preparing DCs for top indies. But that simply means - as we discovered with our DD, who attends a small, non-conventional private primary school which states very clearly that it doesn't prepare its pupils for the 11+ - that parents and their DCs need to be diligent and systematic if they are targeting (top) indies.

In our case, because our DD's school doesn't follow the national curriculum, we discovered some gaps in her knowledge which we then sought to close - on one subject area, we had to start largely from scratch and teach her first principles (like reader88, we took the DIY route). Throughout the process, we found the standard preparatory materials (Bond, CGP, etc) and 11+ exams from different indie schools immensely helpful for initial and ongoing calibration (Is it doable for DD or simply too much? What is the standard that DD needs to reach? Etc). This forum has also proved invaluable in getting novices like us up to speed and to understand the ins and outs of the 11+ process (hat tip to the many individuals who generously shared their experience and wisdom).

Of course, a lot of it depends on the individual child. Our DD, whose school doesn't give exams (and marks, so we didn't really know where she stood), was curious about taking the 11+ exams and found the subject areas intellectually stimulating and therefore participated willingly (in general).

Overall, it is a fair amount of work requiring commitment not only from DCs but their parents as well (including a willingness to be hands-on). But it can be undertaken in a sustainable way (without DCs having to give up extra-curriculars or families giving up summer holidays, etc).

While the ultimate outcome remains to be seen, our DD has fortunately received interview invitations from top London indies.

On the topic of elitism, I would imagine that the head mistresses of top indies (the ones we met all displayed a passion for education) would find it rather deflating if they saw their mission as simply educating the DCs of the privileged. By contrast, I felt they were keen to identify and develop children with potential, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds.

Hope this helps and best wishes to your youngest child.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:11 am 
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I was rather hoping that the independents we've applied to might contextualise their offers - ie if they're faced with two similarly marked kids and one's from a prep and one's from a bog standard primary they'll give the place to the latter (my son!) because to have reached that level in a non-selective 30-kids-in-a-class environment represents better potential.

Does anyone know if they do?

I assume that they interview the top x% of those that took the exam without looking at their heads' reports or which school they've gone to (they didn't even have a head's report for my son). For this of course you're at an advantage if you go to a school that has only 15 in a class and no kids with the social/medical/special needs that are in an average state primary (not complaining - I think in terms of non-academic skills, my children benefit).

Once they've got those that they're interviewing, then they might take into account their school. I cannot imagine that they will be prejudiced against those from state schools if they've reached the requisite standard in the exam. My son is up against 35 boys who've come from the most hothousey prep in our bit of London - I hope they recognise how much more of an achievement it is from him.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:43 pm 
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In general, the prep school students end-up practising more English papers (Comp & Creative Writing) and will have an advantage. I know of quite a few children from state schools who have made it to Indies but they all had English 'coaching'.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:52 pm 
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I think the private schoool DO miss out on good candidates. Not every family can afford the right tuition or be in the catchment of a good primary ...

Private schools don't like turning away too many students from their feeder preps as it gets them a bad name.


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