Many parents are currently finalising senior school choices. Some also have the challenge of deciding whether to move at 11 or 13. It is hard to give generic advice as it depends on the family circumstances. Consider your child as an individual and make a decision as to what feels right. When you visit a school you instantly get an impression of which one has the right ethos and atmosphere. To do this, visit on a normal school day rather than an open day when the school is on show.
Talk to the Head and other key staff and choose a school with the same values and philosophy as you. Ignore dinner party banter and avoid making comparisons with other families. Advice from all directions can take you round in circles and lead to confusion. Stick to one or two independent sources of advice such as the Head of your prep or primary school or an education consultant.
Staying on at prep until 13 gives a wealth of opportunities to develop independence and life skills through positions of responsibility. Being a big fish at the top of a small pond means expectations to achieve are high. Years 7 and 8 in a senior school by contrast are often seen as settling in years where the aim is to lay foundations and nurture confidence, being the youngest pupils in a bigger school environment. Some children thrive better with this approach at this age, especially where a change of scene is needed to maximise potential.
Competition for places often forces parents’ hand, with a move at 11 often being the less risky option, where waiting until 13 can mean places are like gold dust.