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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:39 pm 
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Hi, there!
I am going through 11+ and 10+ process at present, I would like to hear some advice on Tips ( if there any) re: getting a reference from primary school, where I did not managed to get the best relationship in the previous year when she became a Head teacher.

Apologies, it is rather long-winded but I though it is essential to grasp the background if someone is there to share an advice, opinion, an experience….

My both children’s last year reports are good, however….. I feel I did not started well with current young and ambitious head-teacher who took over a couple years ago as a large proportion of children in her class got into private school (we are a state school with ambitious parents I would say). I work full time - not a choice – I must; so being part of school PTA driving force – as much as I would have loved, it is out of questions for me….
Being able to work for myself in the last year helped tremendously with children's after school activities being more productive (instead of afterschool club) and to add time for tutoring. Their confidence increased and math and overall, desire to learn, paying gmore attention to the work they produce - increased.
My eldest ( in year 6 now) did not made it to the highest group in Math by the year 3, so he is in the middle somewhere still - all places were occupied by others since year 3..In fact, last year three children were moved from top performance math group in the beginning of the year, prompting one mother to take her child out of school to another school (where her D is the highest performer in Math). One parent decided to be quiet ( yet her child, I learned got 232 in the Tiffin exams just gone, yet four of the children in the class, who also sat Tiffins got 218-225 points – I know it is VR and NVR not math tested there, but still…), the third person challenge the school and after three meeting and her husband ( Private School education) they reinstated their daughter.

So, this was last year. When I also have a misfortune (being under the pressure of my employer in the last stages of the project I was delivering I guess, at an expense of relying on extended school club and sitters for my children) I wrote a complain to school last Autumn asking why after 3 years of music tutoring at the school ( teacher was a third party) the teacher is not put none of my children through Grade 1 ( even though they already on grade 2 and 3 respectively on other instrument taught outside the school).
The truth is – their Dad, my ex, complained in an email to school back 3 years how bad that teacher was with my youngest ( who said to his dad – he does not want to do it). Sad as it is, instead of admitting it to myself, that this might something to do with children not being put forward for grade 1 exams – I wrote to school saying that this is ridiculous – 3 years and not even one was put forward for grade 1. So here I believe my sage began.

The result was – the school did not challenge my elder son ( who in my personal opinion, although more rounded then the younger son, academically needs to be challenged rather than picking his books and reading ( as the youngest who last year picked up and read The Hobbit), perhaps because they have already challenged three people in his class, and the lady who left the school was a single working mother like me….
The school challenged my youngest – with 3 cards for misbehaviour being given within 3 weeks’ time in September After my letter re- music, calling me and my ex to see Headmistress, which happened in November.

I was told on that meeting, that apparently my son ‘also lashed out on someone at a playground ‘ back in July whilst in the afterschool club.
It was a pointless meeting – my cards were marked, my ex just happy to agree with the others and that everything his children doing with me is over-doing (although he is blind for me working and everything ££).. The Headteacher ‘hinted’ that she is also aware that I was asking other parents about an alternative music tuition…. Leaving along pause….At the time of a meeting – having learned that both ‘alternative’ pulled to after initially quoting their welcome, I had already found someone who miraculously played on 4 instrument sand took both my children and fitted us in.
Anyway, all went quite until in Spring my eldest (who voluntarily spent his pocket mines to buy The Hobbit and reading it non stop) was picked by his teacher that his comprehension is poor and that I should read more with him…ETC…
My eldest sons report ‘ was not to bad – borderline ‘good@, however having witnessed ‘the competition’ for the top math group – I ahd to write and got a confirmation tha he will be starting school in he top group , that ‘ he was in the top performing group all year – something report does not highlights.

Having visited a fee- paying school on their Open Day (with the view that if my sons performs well on exams – I could apply for a bursary) - I overheard how important it is current school reference is. One lady asked a question – what to do if …. And the reply from the school rep was – its best to meet with the current Headmistress and to let her know what your goals are.


So, Shall I call for a brief meeting with the Headmistress?
What would I say to the Headteacher re- reference? Her objective at present- is fundraising to expand the school.
You know what I am concern about – there is a way of saying good and downplaying things ( just like it was with my youngest Maths abilities in the report. He done 10+ Latymer papers and got all correct, the other paper – he done 2 wrong).
It is hard to miss when the PSA member winning ‘ holidays to Barbados’ and etc in the lottery. I am all for people being remunerated for what they do for schools. But somehow you just know – their kids will get a sound-reference as well as perks, yet where it leaves someone like me?
Any tips on how best to conduct the meeting with the Head ( or not conduct at all).
Shall I call a meeting with the head teacher or not? If I do what three sentences should I say / or how it best to conduct the conversation in the light of the last year.
Or shall I just leave it to the good fortune in the hope that the reference will be ‘ not too bad’.
Apologies for long-winded ‘story’. I really appreciate any advice.

Many Thanks, SM :roll:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:04 pm
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I would look carefully at the application forms for the target school. Some now ask for copies of recent school reports (ie the ones you get sent as a parent). This is especially common where there are a number of applicants from state schools who often do not fill in reference requests.

Have you seen a pro forma of a reference? They will include sections on family, whether fees are up to date and whether there are outstanding disputes with parents.

I would therefore go into a meeting aiming to get the head "on board". Ask her about her thoughts on future schools and see what she says. Obviously she won't be willing to support a 10+ application but I guess you're going for 11+.

In terms of the reference, it will probably not make any mention of where in the current cohort your son is, as position in one class of children doesn't really give a senior school much information. They will be looking for some sort of standardised tests whether CATs, PiP, NFER, SATS etc. a child in top set at one school can be performing far below the bottom set of another.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:35 pm 
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One other thing worth considering is to use grammar school results as an independent test of your ds's ability. We deliberately sat ds for a grammar test which we knew would give us a numerical result in time for the private school applications


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:20 am 
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Location: Herts
You will only need a reference if you are applying for a private school. The primary school has not impact at all on the state school application. When my dd's applied for private school exams the Head gave the form to the Y6 Head and let her do it. She had nothing to do with it. You might want to find out from the other parents who actually does write the reference. DG


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 7:15 am 
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Oh dear - that is a real tale of woe - I feel for you. I don't have any personal experience of references (sorry) but I am thinking that many schools advertise where their pupils go after primary. If your head teacher is keen to increase the profile of the school, then presumably if your DCs go on to other "good" schools then this would be a positive thing for the primary school to say in their figures? In other words, what would your DCs being given a "poor" reference achieve for the school? Nothing IMO. Could you ask for a reference now for a school that you are not interested in and then obtain a copy? At least then you would be able to see what was written and make decisions from there. Good luck.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:19 pm 
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Hello, Ladymuck, Daogroupie and Rosy pippin,

thank you for the replies.
I read it with delight in the Monsignor, but only not had chance to reply.
I re-read my post - apologies - so many typoes and mistakes?!?!


Dear Ladymuck, I am not concern about recent school report - as other then downplaying my youngest ( yr5 who is applying for 10+) maths abilities a little - it is good. And his exams results for Maths will tell facts anyway.

Proforma - i s this is something you think I could request from the private school? An Example of the private school's reference's. We are actually going on a school tour in 2 weeks time there. I requested a meeting with the Head and will have it in 10 days circa.

Dear Daogroupie, I am concerned about the references for the private schools here ( Of course we have a local comps on the list, but I would like to try with private firsts, but all based on children's performance on exams, only because I saw a huge difference in their attitude within the last 12 month that I pushed myself to go working self-employed)


Dear Rosy Pippin, i really like your idea of trying to request a reference for the private school we are lukewarm to get into and then request a copy for it. the only thing - I am not sure when actually any of the schools we are going for be requesting their references...
Anyway, I am hopeful that by meeting with he Head and 'sharing with her' our choice of schools and then listening to what she had to say on this and take it from there.

Best,
SM


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:56 pm 
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This forum isn't keen on third party links but if you search the ISEB website for a copy of the "common transfer form", then you will see what such a report looks like.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:39 am 
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I suspect that there are rumblings and grumblings like this going on at any one time in prep schools, but when it comes to writing the report they won't let that get in the way of the child getting a place at another school.

Preps, to some extent, rely on their reputation of children going on to "good schools" to attract more children in.

They are utterly reliant on getting the numbers - there have been several who simply haven't managed to maintain interest and closed - most recently I know of Malsis who tried to merge with Giggleswick as a rescue package but that has failed.

The last thing the Head will want is grief over a reference and don't worry about the PTA - Head has them eating out of her hand, she will far more concerned about all the other parents!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:41 am 
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I think the OP is at a state school. I wonder if private school heads don't read state school reports in quite the same way as ones from other private schools as they know the info at the state school headteacher's disposal can be more limited?

Is one allowed to read references in this kind of situation and chip in if one had some academic info to add (standardised scores for example) which one felt has been left unfairly out of the picture.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:33 am 
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Dear Hermanmunster,


Thank you so much for the advise - I got the Common Entrance form and I found the following section:

HOME BACKGROUND
Please include details of any bursaries, siblings’ education and any family or other
circumstances of which the senior school should be aware.


Obviously 'bursary ' is not applicable as we state primary; and I better somehow sound this section out with the Head on a meeting. obviously, children live with me, they see father on fortnight weekends.... she might add that we later for school ( heads up- occasionally, as all music tuition is outside school prior lessons, so we traffic prone) and I am occasionally late to pick up after school as commute from London.

the other section:
PERSONAL QUALITIES AND CHARACTER
Please include attitude to work, reliability, leadership qualities, confidence, responsibilities
undertaken and relationships with peers/staff.


Well - it should be straight -forward, obviously as I am not on PTA - none of my children anticipate at welcoming parents for registration on fundraising events, nor at the gates distributing PTA leaflets... I should not worry about it.

There is a section on what grades achieved in music-
school would not know this, as all music we do is outside the school, although children are in the school orchestra.

There is a section on VR and NVR - not sure if our primary does any of this at school.
The Grade 6 maths - only will be open to few selected from the top performance Group.

I guess I take the form with me for my meeting just to sound out some areas with the head.


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