10 October 2018
One family’s pathway through
the independent education system.
What ages for which stage?
When to go to prep school?
Private secondary school vs grammar school?
How to choose a private senior school?
How to decide on GCSE options subjects?
How to decide which course to take after 16?
Verity’s children started their
Early Years education in their local village at the primary school. This primary school had a pre-school
associated with it, so they were able to start there, aged two.
The pre-school had the same terms
as the primary school although the days were a little shorter, 9am – 3pm. If Verity had had a full-time job at this
time she may well have looked to send her children to an independent pre-school
associated with a prep school. Schools
such as these often offer have school days which ru from 8am – 6pm, although
their terms are sometimes significantly shorter.
Verity’s two children, a girl and
a boy two years apart transitioned seamlessly from pre-school to the primary
school. It was always the intention that
at the end of Year 4 they would go on to preparatory school. This being the rural South East the prep
schools tend not to be selective, so for Verity it was a case of researching
and visiting the schools that she liked the look of and putting her daughter’s
and then her son’s name down. Both
children moved to prep school when they were seven at the beginning of Year 3,
albeit two years apart.
As Verity’s daughter was nearing
11, Verity started to consider which senior school her daughter should progress
on to. Verity considered briefly putting
her in for the 11+ in an attempt to get her in to a Kent grammar school but for
a variety of reasons decided against this.
Had she decided on this route she wold have needed to register for her
to sit the test in the summer of Y5 with a view to sitting it in the September
The Headmaster of the prep school
had some firm opinions about which senior independent schools he favoured and
which he believed would be most suitable for Verity’s daughter and two years
later, her son. Verity’s daughter was
accomplished at sports, so schools offering opportunities for sports
scholarships were on the agenda.
Additionally Verity needed to take in to account how her daughter was
likely to perform in an entrance exam if one was required, as well as her
likely attainment in the Common Entrance Exam.
Verity’s budget allowed her to keep their options open and consider
boarding school, which meant that they could look at establishments much
further away from home.
Verity had completed her research
for a school and pretty much made a final decision by the time her daughter was
in Y7. Scholarship assessments were
taken in the Spring of Y8 and Common Entrance in that summer. Verity’s daughter started at her new school
in Y9 when she was 13. By this time
Verity was well in the throes of carrying out the same research process for her
The two children were now at
different boarding schools – the daughter had gone to an all girls’ school and
the son had chosen a co-ed school.
During the first year at senior school, Y9, choices were made for GCSE
subjects – ‘Options’, and the GCSE courses started at the beginning of
When they were studying for their
GSCEs it became clear that the daughter was showing a flair for Maths and the
sciences and her A level subject choices appeared to be a given. However the son was not demonstrating any
clear strengths in any specific subjects and could not reach a decision with
regard to what A levels to take. Verity
encouraged her son to have a look at the International Baccalaureate a course
of study which requires students to sit six subjects – Maths, English, a
science, a humanity, a language and a free choice as well as an Extended Essay
and a prescribed amount of ‘Creatiity,
Action and Service’ . This course was
deemed by Verity’s son to be an appealing
option so he enrolled in a different school that specialised in teaching
the ‘IB’ at 6 form.