Senior School Destinations

Our ‘greenhouse’ approach pays handsome dividends as each year boys secure places at senior schools which suit their academic and wider interests. Typically, the majority of boys proceed to top independent boarding and day schools with many qualifying for scholarships. 

About half of the boys leave at the end of Year 6 to join 11+ schools such as Highgate, UCS, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, City of London (by way of example) with the rest of the cohort staying on to complete Years 7 and 8. Popular 13+ schools include Westminster, St Paul’s, Harrow, Eton, MTS and Wetherby. 

St Anthony’s provides comprehensive and bespoke advice to families, helping them navigate the application process. 

Regular assessment and reporting of boys throughout the school helps to inform discussions. 

Boys as a matter of routine are prepared during Year 6 lessons to sit for the ISEB Pre-Test as well as 11+ entrance exams (which usually include papers in English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning). 

Senior School applications: FAQs

Throughout their time at St. Anthony’s, boys are equipped with the key inter-personal skills and academic knowledge to ensure their success at school and beyond.

St Anthony’s will offer parents clear, data-informed advice to help select schools most appropriate to the child’s personality and potential. The landscape can be a complicated one with various moving parts so we do all we can to assist families with choices and applications. 

This guidance is designed to give an overview of how we prepare boys to succeed whether they leave St. Anthony’s at 11+ or 13+.

Step One

When should I start looking into schools and which ones should I choose to apply for?

Families start exploring school choices in the Autumn and Spring Term of Year 5. Exploring websites, attending open days and talking with your son are the best means of getting a sense of suitable schools. We advise casting your net wide and being realistic. Some highly academic schools may not suit a boy’s temperament whereas others will thrive in a fast-paced, highly competitive environment. Other boys will flourish in a smaller school which is more nurturing in its approach. 

It is crucial to try and match the school with each boy’s personality and potential.

Most apply to around 5 schools, although there is no hard-and-fast rule on this. We are on-hand to guide parents throughout this process and are happy to advise individual families on the schools which we think would be the best fit for you son, based upon both academic performance, pastoral profiles and our view on where he is most likely to flourish.

It is also worth noting that 11+ tends to be a more competitive exit point, as the competition for places because of state (primary) school applicants as well as girls. We would suggest that you avoid ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket’ when making your applications. Competition can be fierce for senior schools and it is always wise to have ‘back-up’ options. 

Nearly all our destination boarding and day schools have been rated ‘Excellent’ by ISI (the equivalent of Ofsted in the private sector) although sometimes parents confuse highly competitive and less competitive schools as a short-hand for ‘good’ and ‘bad’. This would be a mistake because, by way of example, some less competitive (or famous) schools offer great pupil-teacher ratios and, if a boy requires it, learning support that will optimise performance.

All schools which we send our boys to have excellent reputations, and more importantly, achieve leading outcomes at GCSE (and A-Level if offered).

Step Two

Once I have applied for a selection of schools, what happens next?

Most of the ‘screening’ for senior schools is done in the Autumn and Spring Term of Year 6. This looks different depending on the senior school. Some choose to interview our boys first before inviting them to sit written examinations, and others opt for written examinations first followed by interview. 

Irrespective of the processes which different schools follow, we are experienced in providing all of our boys with the necessary, and bespoke, preparation to stand them in the best possible stead.

Do note that for 13+ school applications, students will be required to sit what is known as the ‘Pre-Test’. This is sat, at St. Anthony’s, in November of Year 6. The results of this test determines whether or not boys will be called for further assessment by the senior school.

What is the Pre-Test?

The Pre-Test comprises of 4 short assessments in: Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. These are sat over the course of two days, and are all computerised and ‘adaptive’. Again, only students applying for 13+ schools are required to sit this assessment. St. Anthony’s manages all of the logistics in consultation with Senior Schools and there is no ‘action’ required on the part of parents.

This sounds like an important test so how will my son be prepared?

The skills being tested in the Pre-Test are, in essence, taught to our boys from day one. They are the fundamentals of Maths and English, and we also explicitly teach reasoning. However, the Pre-Test also has its ‘nuances’ in terms of format (online multiple choice). For this reason, we start being more explicit in ensuring pupils practise and hone these skills from the Spring Term of Year 5. It is at this point that students are introduced to ‘ATOM learning’, our preferred online platform which is built explicitly with the Pre-Test in mind. More information on this will be sent to parents when your son starts to use the platform routinely. In addition, Pre-Test clinics are held once per week from the beginning of Year 6 after school, led by the Deputy Heads. Finally, key skills are also made explicit through the normal teaching of Maths and English during preparation time.

What about interviews?

Again, we thoroughly prepare our boys for all elements of ‘screening’ in Year 6, including interview practice. The school will provide bespoke interview practice with Senior members of staff in advance of interview dates. There are also resources available on FireFly for you to prepare your son at home too, should you wish.

Please continue to update the school on interview dates as we are not always made aware by senior schools. We will send out a range of live ‘surveys’ at key points in the year for parents to complete to ensure that everybody is in the picture.

Once my son has completed all of his tests in Year 6, when do we hear back and what are the next steps?

This very much depends on the school; some inform us of outcomes in January whereas others wait until early March. Again, we will send out surveys during this window for you to update us on the status of applications.

What if my son does not get his preferred offer?

It is very important to wait for all offers to come in before considering next steps.  Being able to see the ‘full picture’ is important in informing any future action. There are a whole host of ‘moving parts’ at this stage in the year. Some senior schools, for example, wait for parents to accept or decline offers before moving to wait lists. Even senior schools are not entirely sure that they have secured the numbers until the final acceptance has come through. Please ensure that senior schools have been informed of your intentions as soon as possible. Once the final offers come through we will support and guide you through next steps and the role that the school will play in advocating where there is a viable case to do so.

Beyond assessments & interviews what else do Senior Schools take into account?

Yes. All Senior Schools are asked for a reference from the Headmaster, which they consider alongside examination data and interview performance. Schools place different weightings on all of these. Some will place more emphasis on examinations, whereas others look at our boys ‘in the round’, giving greater weighting to the reference. The key metric is always likely to be Pre-Test/entrance exam scores and where each candidate falls in the rank order of applicants. 

Senior schools make their own decisions based upon their own criteria. It is important to understand that our role, as a Prep School, is to ensure that the boys are in the best possible position to succeed throughout this process whilst continuing to ensure their pastoral wellbeing during what can be an uncertain time.

What can I, as a parent, do to support my child?

St Anthony’s is robust in preparing boys for the Senior School screening process. We emphasise to boys that they are all talented and gifted. We never want boys to feel as though they have let themselves, their teachers, or their parents down. We do not encourage competitiveness, and work hard to ensure that no undue pressure is placed upon them. Learning works best when it is for learning’s sake, rather than to ‘pass an exam’. Pressure is often counter-productive. Avoid letting any anxieties through what can be a difficult process project onto your children. A child’s sense of self-worth is the most important thing of all. 

Of course encourage them to complete their ATOM learning homework, read widely, ask them some searching questions, and encourage them to pursue and talk about their interests.  Children, we know, pick up on more than they can often make out. Experience shows that boys will end up going to the school that is right for them; this will enable them to flourish well beyond their time at St. Anthony’s.

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