Top Headteachers and Private Education Advisory debate how to detoxify competitive school entrance exams
Record numbers of applications for selective schools present tough challenges for families
Amid concerns for the increasingly competitive school entry places, Enjoy Education, an award-winning schools advisory and private tutoring company in central London, invited parents to hear from three top Headteachers from the prep, London day, and boarding school sectors. This year, the leading schools in London saw as many as 1,000 children competing for 150 places at 11+ entry. Latymer Upper School, in Hammersmith, has seen more than double the number of children sitting their 11+ exam compared to ten years ago.
In response to the popular demand for places, schools have been required to develop continually their intricate entry requirements, leaving many parents feeling overwhelmed by the choice and complexity. As the autumn deadlines for 11+ and 13+ admissions are fast-approaching, parents face increasing pressure to familiarise themselves with the updated processes when looking for the right school for their child.
Mrs Vivienne Durham, Director of Schools Advisory at Enjoy Education and formerly the award-winning Headmistress of Francis Holland School, Regent’s Park, hosted the keynote speakers Adam Pettitt (Highgate School), Dr Katy Ricks (Sevenoaks School) and Ben Thomas (Thomas’s Battersea). The event, in the heart of Knightsbridge, offered families essential advice and guidance to support them through this significant milestone in their child’s education.
Apprehensions were expressed regarding the rigorous selection process of pre-tests, exams and interviews. Many parents were concerned about finding a healthy balance in order to prepare, but not overwhelm, their child when applying for oversubscribed schools. Schools are equally concerned to minimise the increasing levels of anxiety surrounding school entrance exams. Mr Pettitt expressed his intentions to ‘detoxify’ the 11+ and advised parents to ‘retain perspective’. Mr Thomas echoed this sentiment and advised parents to look for a nurturing environment that would meet the needs and interests of their children now and not to ‘chase the brand’ of a school. Dr Ricks reassured parents that their children will be happy if they ‘go with their gut instinct’ when selecting a senior school.
The event also brought to light the wider issue of children enjoying a well-rounded education. Mr Thomas shared ten top tips to ensure that children would feel both ‘empowered and fulfilled’, highlighting the importance of family routines such as reading together, having regular family meals where all children are heard and planning simple weekend outings. All those attending found that successful preparation goes beyond practising exam technique.
Notes to the Editor:
- Enjoy Education offers a complete schools advisory service to share unbiased information and advice for parents looking for the best schools for their children.
Enjoy Education was founded in 2006 by Oxford graduate, Ms Kate Shand. Winners of the Education Investor Award in 2013 and 2015, featured in the Spears 500 and recommended by the Good Schools Guide, 2016 marks their ten-year anniversary.
- All profits from the Demystifying the 11+, Pre-Tests and 13+ Entrance Exams event went to Chance UK, an award-winning early intervention children’s charity that organises mentoring for 5 – 11-year-olds with challenging behaviour.