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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2019 7:20 am 
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mm23292 wrote:
I agree Moon unit, that would be unfair, but I’m not asking how to circumvent fairness in any way here, I’m simply asking how does the whole scholarship application process work. How linear is the decision, and are other factors considered. There is a genuine reason why our daughter might not perform well on any given day, so perhaps that simply warrants an exam deferral. As for having obtained 2 EP reports, the first was in year 3, having missed nearly half her school life up to then through illness, and had certain issues that were only addressed once the EP had picked them up. It was definitely money well spent. We had to have the 2nd report updated for exam access arrangements. I’m sorry if that is considered an unfair ‘advantage’ in any way, I think any parent of a child who has had the health disadvantages she has had this far, would have done the same. In prep or not. And it was in fact the awful experience we had in the local primary, that prompted the move to her current prep at the time.


Being completely honest here - I have worked in many schools and my experience is that the SEN departments in state schools are far better than the support offered by that particular department in private schools - secondary school is a very different beast to primary - children themselves are more aware of not wanting to stand out as being different, for one. Don't rule out all state secondaries (& GS are state secondary schools too) on the basis of a bad experience at one primary school, especially if it would put the entire family's income (including any subsequent children), at risk.


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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2019 7:38 am 
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I think there's lots of different stuff going on here. The whole GS v private debate is fairly pointless as it's all about individual schools. And even within those individual schools you will get wildly different reports from parents. The GS we considered for our son has generally fantastic reports about support and pastoral care, but there are still comments that it's an 'exam factory', that the children are subjected to frequent and intensive testing right from the start of Y7, and that the broader curriculum suffers as a result. I think it's probably an excellent school, but the answers you get depend on who you ask, and when, and what the question is. The same is true of the indie we eventually went for: most of the reports are glowing, and say that despite the v high academic standards, the smaller class sizes and greater resources mean that kids feel supported and have a very broad education, which means that there doesn't have to be too overt a focus on testing and performance. But there are still dissenting voices too, with reports of individual children being unhappy there, under pressure, etc. You will never find a school that everyone agrees on.

As for your daughter, OP, it sounds from what you say as if her health issues might put you outside the standard 'go to the Open Day and get a feel for which school you like' category. If she is going to need ongoing support and potentially special consideration, I would be having that specific conversation in advance with the relevant staff in the schools. Different schools vary massively in their support and attitudes. And it's not clear cut between state and indie. State schools are desperately under-resourced and have very little flexibility on the targets they have to aim for (eg they have much stricter rules around attendance and progress); but they also have a legal obligation to educate every child, and some of them have amazing and highly qualified inclusion staff. Indies have more money, more staff, smaller classes, and more flexibility over the targets they set themselves. But they have no obligation to use those resources to support your individual child. Some will be fantastically nurturing and flexible, while others will make you pay extra for every ounce of support you need and might even 'manage out' a child who doesn't fit the mold. I think you'll only get a steer by talking to the staff in the school.

As for the scholarship thing, I don't think you're being unfair, and it's naive to think that scholarships aren't widely used as a judicious tool to attract certain students. I can't believe any school just gives its scholarships automatically to the top scorers in the exam, as there are so many other factors to consider. And if that sounds unfair, well maybe - but actually it can help widen access. A poster said that offering your prep school daughter a scholarship over a state candidate who scored higher would be unfair. OK, but what about if a state candidate scored just lower than a privately educated millionaire's child - so the scholarship and discount automatically goes to the wealthy family? It's 'fair' on paper but not necessarily the best outcome. Actually I think one of the advantages of private schools being subject to less strict rules is that a socially conscious school (and I'm not saying they all are but some very much are) can use that flexibility to help redress the balance. I have known v bright children from poor or difficult backgrounds who have failed the 11+ because they simply didn't have the preparation or support - no flexibility in the pass mark - while the less bright prep school children squeak through. Whereas an indie can decide that a state educated child who scored slightly lower has greater potential and is more deserving of a place and perhaps a scholarship than the rich prep school kid who was tutored to death and scored higher.

In your case, I would avoid presenting your situation as any kind of ultimatum (ie I can only accept a place if...). But that doesn't mean you can't have a more nuanced conversation that makes it clear that X is your preferred school but that money is an issue. If you don't tell them, they won't know (and they won't assume, as they might if your daughter were at a state school). One thing I've learnt from going through this process is that everything is so much more personal at indies compared to state, because of that flexibility. The admissions staff will take note and remember the things you say about your child and your circumstances - that's their job. Then they will use all of that information when they're making decisions about places and scholarships.


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PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2019 10:50 pm 
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Thank you Lapin, I completely agree with everything you say. Fairness is a frequently flouted word in the realms of school talk. Particularly on here. But it helps to remember that fairness is not just monetary. It’s not just about the indie child versus the lesser resourced state school child; it can also be the seemingly privileged indie child, who has other disadvantages that no amount of money can put right.
As for the previous comment, regarding prep school children somehow having advantage by way of assumed wealth, that is simply not always true. Certainly not around here at least! We know quite a few people who have chosen state schools, yet live in far grander houses than our decidedly modest home, drive top end cars and holiday numerous times a year. We on the other hand, had to make a choice. And it was one that has had a significant financial impact on our family, and the equity we have in our home. It really irks me how narrow minded those views on wealth can be, just because you choose to make a sacrifice, for the good of your child’s education.
I totally agree that delivering ultimatums is not in any way wise, and certainly not something we would ever dream of doing. We were advised to simply let them know we were considering a scholarship, and whatever information that was available, would be provided. That is all, and that is what prompted the original question. We just wondered whether this information would even be looked at in any way, or whether things like this were earmarked in any way..pending exam performance of course.
As for the whole state versus private debate, and SEN provision etc...I too was told this repeatedly by many. 10 years ago I was the very one who found the concept of paying mortgage scale fees for an education we already subscribe heavily for through our taxes, an absolutely ludicrous concept. Having had a disappointing experience with our eldest daughter’s primary, in terms of a minor SEN issue which was repeatedly dismissed, the difference in terms of addressing it and putting it right, was incredible. The secondary independent we chose for her, was nothing short of fantastic. But that was one child, and we were determined to prove to ourselves, that our other primary catchment would be better. How wrong we were!
I think I’ve posted here a few years back, about the complete lack of awareness or help, in terms of legal obligations for schools to provide additional lessons for children, who are repeatedly absent, and that this should be provided relevant to their ability. Yet our daughter never had any additional support or catch up on missed lessons, and was simply stuck on the mid table..because she was good at just slotting in and keeping up herself. It was an absolute farce. The hospital teachers would give her worksheets a year or two years ahead, and were always commenting how able she was. Yet her state primary couldn’t mark observations beyond ‘expected standard’ for her SATs performance data, for lessons that were done when she wasn’t there. All they cared about was ticking boxes and attendance rates for Ofsted. When we told the school we were leaving for prep, they laughingly told us that she would be catered for better in a state school, not ever acknowledging the massive failure they had been.
Thankfully they were wrong, and our choice of prep was definitely the right one. Yes there are some small issues that arise from time to time, but the difference is they are quick to listen and react, and are flexible in more ways than any state school could ever have been. Far from not having her learning objective box ticked for not being in, she catches up every which way she can, and is currently working on yr6 / 7 maths. She is challenged and motivated and loves her school, and it would be amazing if we could have the same going forward. If we knew that any of our local GS / state options could deliver the same, we simply wouldn’t be considering putting ourselves through the financial strain of another 7 years. Thanks so much for your input.


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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 8:38 am 
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Caveat: This isn’t about scholarships, lapindebois’s post was a great explanation.

In a New York Times opinion piece last week, Tim Kreider wrote: “...the most essential freedom to secure is the power to move freely within the borders of your own skull. Doing what you want is predicated on knowing what you want. The world’s most insidious power is that which infiltrates your own brain, constricting and deforming what’s permissible to think.”

Children can and should be free to think about and try things that aren’t purely curriculum focussed. Join a library and read widely - all sorts, not turgid stuff. Listen to the discussions of a broad spectrum of educated people on the radio. Find a captivating hobby. Move the body. Delve into the liberal arts. Perform. Plant a few seeds and see what happens. Speak with strangers you choose to engage.

Educationally speaking, notionally working a year or more ahead is not something to recommend. What happens the following year? And the one after that? How will it help a child to fit in? To have good mental health? To be happy?

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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 9:42 am 
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I like that Stroller, thank you. And I agree; children should be free to explore beyond the confines of any curriculum. That is what we love about our daughter’s current school. The enrichment experiences she has had, have been incredible. And far from confining her to the table of mediocre averageness, determined by the box without a tick. She is free to attempt and achieve, and learn as much as her mind is willing to explore. Yes there is a background curriculum that is followed by all the sets, with emphasis on achieving depth and secure the groundwork for proper understanding. If a child has secured the broader aspects of KS2 maths at sufficient depth, then surely it makes sense to allow extension that extends beyond this. Boredom can also be a prison for the mind, and freedom to develop at a pace that is natural for that child, surely has to be a better scenario than not? Aside from all this, she is very much a young 9 year old, whereby playing with her friends and her pets, are top of her everyday agenda. As it should be!
And I also wholeheartedly agree, Lapin’s explanation is a great one. But scholarships are someway relevant, if it meant without it, we didn’t have a choice. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 4:05 pm 
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
You can get great additional learning in state schools too. It isn’t the preserve of independents. DD’s school have enrichment weeks with a huge array of experiences. A large variety of language, sports, curriculum enhancing and class bonding trips, sports and inter-school challenges. We can also afford to pay for other things outside of school as we are not struggling with school fees. Having been in both systems it astonishes me how people see it as private vs state thing, it isn’t. It is about the school irrespective of what sector it is in.


Last edited by PettswoodFiona on Tue May 28, 2019 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 4:51 pm 
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PettswoodFiona wrote:
Having been in both systems it astonishes me how people see it as private vs state thing, it isn’t. It is about the school irrespective of what sector it is in.


Likewise. It is about your child and whatever options are available. Blanket statements based on one's own anecdotal experience are meaningless (I have good and bad from both).

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