Getting Ready for Senior School

Choosing a senior school can feel like one of the most important decisions you have to make as a parent. Do you opt for a school with strong pastoral care, academic success or excellent after-school provision? Is grammar better than independent? Are big schools better or small schools? Which school truly is the right choice? These are just some of the questions we get asked when supporting families in finding a school for their child. For some, the world of senior schools can be daunting and worrying and others have a clear idea of the path they want their child to take. Whatever position you are in we are here to help you make sense of the system and offer advice and guidance along the way.

Mrs Tamara Hunt, our new Director of Academics, is an expert in both preparing and helping families choose the best senior school option. As a parent, she has been through the process herself with her two children. She has an excellent knowledge of the requirements for each school and leads our senior school preparation programme. She has written a very helpful article below to guide you and is always available to meet and chat about your options.

Our Aims for Your Child

At St Edward’s Prep our goal is for all children to leave with a large range of skills, academic and social, in order for them to succeed and have choices about which school they can go to for the next step of their life.

  • We maintain close links to local senior schools (independent, state and grammar) and help parents to identify and secure entry to the most appropriate option for their child, tailoring our support to the specific requirements of each individual.
  • We develop children’s ability to work both independently and collaboratively, showing self-discipline and pride in their work, as well as working up the pace and stamina required to overcome the selection process.
  • We ensure our Year 6 leavers are confident, resilient, well prepared and excited about taking the next step into senior school.

When and How to Start

We encourage families to start thinking about senior schools from Year 4 to allow plenty of time to get organised, informed and prepared, including visiting your chosen schools. We advise starting with at least four schools in your selection and then narrowing down to two or three. You may only have one school in mind, but as this is rarely guaranteed, it is good to have a couple of backups so that there is not a mad panic closer to the application deadlines.

It is important to consider several factors when making your choices:

  • Location and travelling time to get to and from school (whether they can get there independently, if it involves public transport and how your child will manage this)
  • Cost of school and what the fees include
  • Ethos and values of the school
  • Inspection data and academic results
  • Length of school day (it will be longer if it is also a boarding school and they may have school on Saturday)
  • The facilities and size of school
  • Entrance exams and selection process (written or computer-based exams, interviews, team activities or problem-solving tasks)
  • Reviews and ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations

How We Support You

At St Edward’s we have a unique curriculum, which goes above and beyond usual provision at Key Stage 2. Children have specialist teachers for Maths, English, Science, Computer Science, Music & Drama, French, P.E. and Games, as well as receiving two dedicated 11+ lessons a week from Year 4. This will include Maths & Non-Verbal Reasoning and English, Verbal Reasoning & Creative Writing.

Our Secondary School Co-ordinator organises several events each year to help guide families through the transition process.

  • An evening at the beginning of the academic year for Year 4 and 5 parents to talk through the application and preparation process ahead.
  • 1:1 parent meetings to discuss and guide you through the selection and application process
  • Practice entrance exams and mock interviews to prepare pupils, tailored to the individual schools they are applying to
  • Senior School references written by Form Tutor and Director of Academics to include personal and academic information and contributed to by all specialist teachers and Headteacher
  • Senior School Fayre: an evening at St Edward’s Prep with many of our local independent schools attending to give families the opportunity to speak with a range of representatives and registrars in person and find out about Open Events coming up

You can find out more specific information about our programme designed to prepare children for the 11+ exams and hear our pupils sharing their experiences on our Preparing for 11+ page.