Will your child get into the ‘best’ school?
MANY PARENTS come to us wanting t o k n o w h o w to get their child into the “best” school. We r e c o mmend t h e y start considering options by the end of year three. At secondary level, the choices are: state, state selective and independent. For state schools, it’s straightforward — you need to meet the admissions criteria. This often comes down to the distance you live from the school. For some though, particularly faith schools, it can be a pure lottery.
For state selective and independent schools, it’s also simple — your child needs to pass the entrance examination. Perhaps not so simple after all.
If considering the independent route, look for a school where your child will be happy but also one where they will thrive and reach their full academic potential. Speak to other parents and teachers at the prospective school; look at league tables, Ofsted reports and former pupils’ university places.Visit on a typical working day.
Don’t think purely in terms of academic level. Consider pastoral care as well. Some children like being big fish in small ponds, others prefer being small fish in big ponds. Each child is different, so think in terms of “best school for my child”.
Be realistic. These schools have entrance exams and interviews. It is important to prepare your child. For many, this will mean some external support and tutoring. However, tutoring should be introduced only to ena-
Tutoring will familiarise your child with the format of 11-plus entrance tests and equip them with exam strategy ble the child to understand the exam requirements, learn any new curriculum required and showcase their best in the exams.
Tutoring is expensive and can be emotionally draining for parents and children. If a child is reaching their full potential but is not at the entrance- exam level, we recommend not to sit these exams, not to be tutored and to look at alternative schools that would be more appropriate.
That said, many very bright children who go to state primary schools are unsuccessful in entrance exams due to lack of preparation, rather than ability. Curriculum areas examined are generally not taught in state schools until secondary level. To ensure children are ready for 11-plus exams, they will need outside specialist curriculum support and exam strategy preparation, practice and fine tuning.
Schools are keen to ensure they make offers to the “right” children for their school. So, what makes a Channing girl? What makes a UCS boy? Each school is different. We have asked many head teachers this question. Some prefer children to be stronger in maths than English; for others, the reverse is true.
Many schools say they are looking for “bright, engaging, independentthinking” students. That is why an interview forms part of their selection process. At some schools this can be a 20-minute session; for others, such as Highgate, it may be a half day, with only 50 per cent of exam candidates asked for interview and only 50 per cent of interviewees offered a place. Children need to be confident and prepared, show a genuine desire to go to this school and demonstrate via extracurricular activities and hobbies that they can contribute fully to school life. Lorrae Jaderberg and Katie Krais are directors at Jaderberg Krais, offering expert educational support and tutoring for ages five to 18, jaderbergkrais.co.uk