Pupil's Success Story
Moving from a state to independent school to take up a scholarship at the age of ten
“I was at a local state school where I was happy, doing well and had lots of friends. There were large classes (of about 34 pupils) which meant there was one teacher for many kids. It was easy to get away with drifting away and not concentrating and I found the work a bit boring. Sport wasn’t very good. Designated PE time was mundane and non competitive. I am very sporty so I found it frustrating that competitive sport was frowned upon. There was only one small sports pitch. Sports Day was non-competitive, everyone just went around doing activities and then everyone got the same sticker. One PE lesson on a wet day consisted of hitting a tennis ball up and catching it on the racquet. I got into trouble for hitting it right up to the top of the ceiling even though I caught it every time. Some teachers were really nice.
I won a scholarship to prep school when I was ten. I was pretty nervous about moving schools and about what I would find at the new school. Initially I went for a trial day and I remember them talking about a rainforest project. It was completely different because the classes were really small. There were only about 12 to 15 children in each class, less than half of what there were in my school. I did not know anyone so I was a bit scared. But everyone asked me who I was and I found the other kids friendly so it was fine.
The whole way the school worked was a lot more organised and you were more accountable for your actions because you were one of 25 not 60 in a year and the teachers chased you up if you had not handed in homework. At my old school I didn’t actually get any homework.
The academic work was more intense than it had been at my old school and I had to move to different classes for most subjects instead of staying in the same classroom. One of the things I found difficult was that I had not been learning a foreign language but my new class mates had been learning French since year 3, so I had to catch up. Luckily we all started Latin together in year 6. We were set quite a lot of projects, which I had never had to do before. They required a fair amount of preparation and several weeks work. I quite often relied on my parents for help with projects but then so did everyone else.
There was a lot more discipline, which was not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly created a better working environment in the classes. There was a well established system for everything, it was far more organised than my other school. I liked the fact that there were less people. It was a very friendly school. It was like being part of a big family.
Sport was a revelation. Instead of playing one football match a year, we played rugby in the first term, football in the second term, and cricket and athletics in the third term. During PE lessons we also tried different sports. There were after school sports clubs and we played matches against different schools each week. I found all this really exciting and challenging as I love sport.
Socially I found it a bit difficult to break in at first because the class was smaller and everyone already had tight knit friendships but I persevered and found it worth making the effort in the end.
I am definitely glad I accepted the scholarship and moved to an independent school. My old state school would never have provided me with the opportunities I had at my new school and the sport was wonderful. I loved having different clubs every afternoon after school.
My prep school did prepare me well for my senior school too. There was a high academic standard and very experienced teachers who were used to getting pupils through entrance exams for senior and public schools. And in sports I was well prepared for sports scholarships by experienced teachers and through regularly playing against other schools. I went on to get a sports scholarship to senior school and I don’t think that would ever have happened if I had not been awarded a scholarship to prep school.”