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

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