Copthorne Prep has an outstanding reputation for helping children successfully gain entry into the senior school of their choice and many of these children enter with scholarships. 50% of our year 8 children have received scholarships to their next schools over the last five years and 100% of children were successful at gaining a place in their first choice school.
Choosing a senior school for your child can feel like a daunting task however, we are here to support you every step of the way. In the autumn term, parents of children in years 4 and 5 are invited to a ‘Where next after Copthorne?’ evening during which the Headmaster will talk through the process of finding, choosing and then gaining entry to the school of your choice.
During years 4 and 5, parents should visit those schools they are interested in – many parents like to visit more than once. It is a good idea to take your son or daughter with you on the second occasion, but it is unwise to allow them to think that there is only one school that you are considering as their disappointment will be even greater than yours if this does not work out.
Do use open days to ask questions about the senior school, (GCSE and A level results, sports teams and their success, extra-curricular provision, bus routes, fees, pastoral care etc.) You will of course want to choose a school which caters for your child’s individual needs – socially and pastorally as well as academically. You will want to find a school where your child will be happy and thrive. You will also want to choose a school where they are likely to be offered a place. By the end of year 5 it makes sense to have registered your child’s name at more than one senior school.
No two senior schools are alike – either as institutions or in terms of their entry requirements. This is why the best way through the system is in discussion with the Headmaster.
The Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) common pre-tests are increasingly becoming the assessment that senior schools are using to determine whether your child is academically suitable for their intake. These are online tests for verbal reasoning, non verbal reasoning, English and mathematics and are in an online multiple-choice format that take about 2 ½ hours to complete; the tests can be taken together or at separate times either at Copthorne Prep or at the senior school for which your child is registered.
The normal class work that the children do in English and maths prepares the children for these tests. As they move into year 5, we also include a cognitive abilities lesson in their timetable and subscribe all the children to both the Planet BOFA and Bond Online practice websites. We also use the CAT4 computer based test across the school to track the pupils, and this provides the children with an opportunity to complete a series of tests that reflect the format of the common pre-test.
For schools that use the ISEB common pre-test, once the children have completed their online test the marking is completed electronically. The test score is then adjusted for age. These standardised scores range from 70 to 140 with the average being 100. If your child has been registered for more than one school where they take the common pre-test then he or she will only need to sit the test once and the results will be shared with those senior schools. If you child is entitled to extra time in exams then they may be entitled to extra time on the ISEB pre-test. Any extra time allocation would need to be agreed in writing by the respective senior school, and our learning support team are here to guide you through that process.
Many schools also include an interview as part of the assessment process. We ask parents to advise us of the date of an interview as the school is not always directly informed. The Headmaster or a senior member of staff will conduct a practice for your child a few days before the real interview.
Most senior schools will also ask for a confidential reference from the Headmaster which will indicate if he believes the right school of choice has been made. This does underline the need for parents to be realistic, as well as hopeful, about their child’s chances.
Although your child will not go to their next school until either the end of years 6 or 8, the process can begin as early as year 4, because a few schools have an early closing date for registrations. Most grammar schools require registration in year 5 and the majority of the independent schools have their registration deadlines in the autumn term of year 6. Please note that these dates are subject to change so it is best to contact the registrar or the admissions office at individual schools for the most up to date information. School websites and prospectuses should also give you the dates, which can differ widely from school to school. It is very important to make a record of closing dates as schools are likely to be inflexible about late applications.
For pupils with a particular talent, be it academic, sporting, music, art or drama, the Headmaster will contact you regarding our recommendations for a possible scholarship application. Pupils applying for scholarships are usually invited to the senior school to take part in a formal assessment process. This may include the need to prepare set pieces or compile a portfolio of work or achievements.