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When you start to consider whether the 7 Plus is right for your family, your child is probably going to be around 6 years old. At this point, there are a number of things you need to consider.
It is very early to have a clear sense of their attitudes to learning and have picked up on any anxiety or sensitivities and also to have a real sense of their emotional maturity. You may well find that they have changed a lot in Infant School or pre-prep and your thoughts around their personality and capability need to be refreshed and updated. Children that were total refuseniks in their toddler years may have become much more cooperative as they matured. Equally, children may develop anxieties and sensitivities as they grow older and start to be tested and assessed at school.
From this perspective, it is wise to consider if the pressure of a prep school entrance exam is a fair one to place on your child and some questions to consider would be:
Although most families go through the same routines of school drop offs, sport and music clubs, in reality, families can be very different and have very different values even within the same geography and amongst parents at the same school.
A change of school at this juncture will affect the journey of life your child is on and should reflect your family values. You may assume a general commonality in that most parents considering prep schools wish their child to end up with good exam results and having the opportunity to study at a good university. However, many different environments will lead to the same result. As your child gets to age 6 and 7 you may be starting to get a few clues as to the kind of educational establishments they, and you, might be comfortable in.
A school entrance campaign will undoubtedly be demanding and difficult. If your family values are strongly linked to relaxation and quality family time, you should consider whether it will be worth it to sacrifice weekends and holidays. Will you, as parents find this so negative that your child will pick up on this? Equally, if you are all crazy about archery or line dancing, are you ready to sacrifice time spent on a family passion to ensure the required work is done?
If you go away a lot or have caring responsibilities, this needs to be taken into account, in terms of how and when you will get the required work done.
One of the most important data points you need when starting to plan for prep school options is to understand your child’s current academic attainment in relation to their peers.
You need to understand this at a level deeper than say, “they are third in the class” or “she got 75% in a Maths test”. You need to understand where your child sits within bigger cohorts such as their national peer group and the peer group for grammar or independent selective entry.
The reason for this is that all children effectively operate within the small bubbles of their classrooms and consequently don’t give you any context about their ability and placement for the 7+ test.
Ideally, try and find some data about your child that places them relative to their peers on a national basis. If your child is at a State Primary school, they will hold this information about your child although they may not wish to share this with you in the first instance. You are however entitled to see this information and especially since the introduction of GDPR, they must be able to show you any data that they hold about your child. A State Primary will test your child at least once a term and this data is fed into a national database which will place your child relative to their peers on a national basis for key skills linked to the National Curriculum.
If your child is at a private pre-prep school (or a free school) they will most likely have opted out of the national testing environment, and it is likely to be harder to place your child’s attainment relative to a large enough group of peers. Instead, many prep schools use University of Cambridge CEM computer-based tests, also sometimes called CAT or INCAS scoring to understand and benchmark their cohorts and suggest appropriate next schools to parents.
We are one of the only educational consultancies with a licence to provide Cambridge University CEM tests as a diagnostic assessment for parents seeking to understand their child’s 7+ suitability.
We believe this is the best academic assessment your child can sit because over 70% of independent secondary schools use CEM to create their own entrance exams, leaving you with a close correlation between the strengths and weaknesses your child displays during the assessment and those they may exhibit in their entrance exams. The assessment is therefore a great way to identify gaps in knowledge, inform the most effective tutoring and help parents place their children in the correct cohort of schools where they will thrive.
Contact us for expert advice about tuition, Academic Assessments and the next steps for your child.