Moving from a State Primary to Private Secondary School
Applying to a private secondary school from a state primary can be a challenge, but it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact, many pupils have made the leap, often without too much difficulty.
Many private schools are selective, basing their admissions criteria on highly competitive standards. Others, however, are non-selective academically, making it easier to gain a place.
If you choose an academically selective private secondary school, there are tried-and-tested ways to ensure that your child gets the place he or she wants. It's no good leaving it all up to chance; the key is early preparation.
Remember, your child will be competing against children who have been in the private system practically since birth. They – and their parents – already know which hoops to jump through. It's up to you to find out what they are, and to prepare your child to glide through them as smoothly as possible.
Admissions CriteriaMost private schools base their admissions criteria on a combination of an entrance exam and an interview, and often this interview includes the parents as well.
With this in mind, the selection criteria is usually academic – and financial – although some schools may select a student based on musical other promise or sporting aptitude.
Most schools will use the Common Entrance Examination to determine who is selected, with some students who score very highly given scholarships to generally raise the academic standing of the school.
Preparing your child to pass the exam is perhaps the most important thing that you as a parent can do. And making those marks does not, in most cases, depend entirely on your child's innate intelligence (see "Get an exam strategy tutor..." below). So start early to guarantee the best results!
Top TipsHere are some tips to help your child get into the school they want:
- Do your research. Decide on a school that is right for your child, and one that he or she has a reasonable chance of actually getting into. Don't put your child up for a specialist music school of they have never played an instrument in their life; don't apply to an incredibly academic school if they aren't up to it.
- Get a tutor early on. Children who attend a private primary school often have the benefit of having years of smaller class sizes and more personalised attention. It's no wonder they often come out of primary school with more knowledge than their state-school counterparts. It might be worth investing in a weekly tutor (just one hour a week) when your child is in Year Four to even up the playing field a bit.
- Get an exam strategy tutor six months before your child takes the Common Entrance Examination. Even if your child is a Brain of Britain and doesn't need a regular tutor, it's worth investing in this type of tutor, if only for just a few sessions. The tutor is there to teach your child how to pass exams, including knowing exam strategy basics.
- Talk to other parents at the schools you are interested in. If you have narrowed down a few schools you like, ask the other parents about the admissions process, including exams and interviews. Knowing what a particular school is looking for in a potential student is worth its weight in gold.
- Get some interview coaching – for you and your child. Professional coaches can give you a couple of sessions, if only to make you - and your child - feel more comfortable on interview day.
You have no doubt spent a lot of time looking into the schools you want, and you need now to spend even more time preparing your child to get accepted. Start early, and be optimistic – there are lots of great schools out there, and they would be lucky to have a child such as yours as a student!