I can’t believe my son is only 6 years old, and I’m already thinking about the next step school wise. We’re from a family of dyslexics on both sides, and so I wanted to take that into consideration and had loads of questions that I needed to find answers to.
I was introduced to Alastair at Ivy Education a few years ago, and he seemed like a great person to contact. He wanted me to start by meeting Helene Jones, who is a learning support coordinator, class teacher, and specialist teacher and has been for over twenty years. Helene talked me through the minefield of the assessment process, and objectively directed me on a realistic path for both my children based on their academic abilities.
I next met with Elizabeth Hill who spent almost 40 years working in schools as a teacher, deputy head, a head and even an inspector. As headmistress of Westminster Under and deputy head of Dulwich prep she’s prepared dozens of children for entry into future schools and is a huge support in decisions making about future schools. She’s also taught at co-ed schools like Alleyn’s, and has worked with Cambridge University supporting their teacher training. She has a huge knowledge of all the top schools and a great relationship with many of them. She also has five children of her own. My main reason for meeting up with her was to talk through the boys’ and co-ed options for my son.
I lastly met with Rosamond Bowman a consultant whose teaching career has also spanned 40 years. Having a similar career background as Elizabeth Hill, and having been headmistress of Glendower School in South Kensington she’s very well equipped for preparing girls for entry at 11+ to both London day schools and boarding school.
During her career she’s also taught at boys schools including Colet School for almost a decade, and is now an IAPS appraiser and mentor of new heads, as well as much more.
The key points that were raised:
Dyslexia runs in the family and I’m looking at schools that support this. I’m very happy with my children’s current London based school, which is co-ed and goes up to 13 years, but I worry about the facilities, especially sport, and also the academic preparation for common entrant’s level. Only a small number stay until they’re 13, and worry that they don’t send many to boarding public schools. My children are both very happy and I think those two points are my only concern.
Should my children go for a prep school offering day or boarding?
The Dragon Oxford was mentioned as an excellent co-ed prep preparing for 13+ entry but is boarding. They could go at 11 as a stepping-stone to boarding senior schools but I’m not keen on boarding that early.
Should my son move to a traditional boys prep school in London?
The options given are:
- Sussex House – Local traditional boys prep with excellent preparation for CE to any boarding school. 7+ and 8+ competitive entry plus individual entry places available in year 5 and 6.
- Dulwich Prep – 10 minute train from Victoria 3 stops to West Dulwich. Traditional boys prep Excellent facilities with extensive playing fields etc.. Excellent reputation for 13+ preparation catering for all abilities . Entry tests at 7+ 8+ and individual entry into other years if spaces.
- Northcote Lodge – Traditional boys prep school in Wandsworth to 13. Broader range of entry. Prepares for CE. Good facilities.
- Hereward House – a small boys prep school in North London prepare for CE.
Options for London Day Schools
- Dulwich college (boys), Alleyn’s (co-ed), and James Alleyn’s Girls are excellent London Day Schools from 11 to 18 with junior schools attached. Excellent schools with outstanding facilities (playing fields on site etc) but highly competitive entry and do not prepare for 13+. If you definitely want 13+ boarding these schools probably wouldn’t suit as the curriculum is geared to GCSE not CE.
Which boarding secondary schools would be suitable for both children?
- Having gone to Marlborough College and absolutely loved it, this is my dream for both children. It requires a 13 + entry with preparation for Common Entrance Exams. They will do 11+ pre-testing at prep school. Offers are made in year 6 subject to pre-test results but it is a confirming exam so if offered they are expected to go. I’m told this is a realistic and achievable choice with values that I like. With the right preparation for CE both children could go here.
- Eastbourne is an excellent co-ed boarding. Maintains tradition but actively supports dyslexia. Geographically South East.
- Bradfield is co-ed and achievable near Oxford.
- Stowe is co-ed and achievable.
We also discussed secondary boarding schools for my son that are single sex.
- Radley- An excellent boys school choice. Excellent on all fronts with a broad range. They do not pre-test but they will call him for interview to confirm.
So in summary, from taking in all of the above, the specialist did a bit of a 360. They realised how happy we were, so staying put until 13 is a definite option. We could engage in one-on-one support without it being too ‘pressurised tutoring’ to support study skills and exam technique. They thought it sounded like my son would benefit having more time taken for exams. They suggested I look at other options for boys’ prep schools in case the existing one gets too small as they grow. They did say however, that it was much harder for girls in London due to the fact that most schools finish at 11, which is not ideal for matriculating to a 13 plus public school like Marlborough.
Another of my main concerns was the element of sport, and they suggested in enrolling in other activities outside school. Lucky for us, we do spend many weekends in the countryside where they get to run free. They left me with one final though which was to sit down with my headmistresses and find out
- How they facilitate CE preparation
- If there a specialist teacher for each subject?
- How they address exam technique?
- Lastly have a good look at the timetable to see how much sport/ art / design technology there is on the timetable?
So if that doesn’t give me enough food for thought, I don’t know what will!
Contact Ivy Education, email: info@IvyEducation.co.uk.