How private tutors can prepare pupils for English public school pre-testing.

As the trend develops for public schools to use pre-testing, parents should consider using private tutors to prepare their children.

“Increasingly we are seeing a move towards pre-testing prior to Common Entrance examinations as the demand for places in sought after British public schools rises," clarifies Emma Swanson, Director of Tutoring Futures.

“Whilst it used to be sufficient to prepare children to take Common Entrance exams at 13, it is now often too late.  Many private schools have made their appointments by this stage and families who are not familiar with the new system are missing out,” explains Emma.

Pre-Testing is a new stage in the admissions process which has slowly moved into the UK education system during the last few years.   For parents this presents a new concern, ensuring that their children are ready for this assessment.  UK Preparatory Schools are fully aware and will work with pupils to prepare them as required; however, for many expatriate parents or international families, it is still an unknown and certainly not something that is allocated time within the international school system.  Families who are educating their children internationally will need to provide additional support for their children to ensure that they are ready.

 “Having worked in international schools myself, I remain unconvinced by arguments that they are working at the similar level to Preparatory Schools, producing pupils who are working at a standard that top British public schools require.  International schools have many additional challenges due to issues with EAL students, transient communities and demands for curriculum time from host countries.  It is inevitable that such schools will generally work at a significantly lower level, although clearly individual children will exceed such standards,” reveals Emma.

Pre-tests normally occur at the beginning of Year 7, when children are 11.  Taking such tests 2 years before Common Entrance means that children are now plunged into exams that will have a serious impact on their future at a time when many children are still trying hard to get to grips with their academic studies.  Common Entrance used to be an exam that was only for boys looking to move into top public schools.  As many such schools have made the move into the world of co-education, this is now an issue affecting many girls too. 

These tests are simple enough to prepare for as many schools are open with their requirements for assessment.  For most schools, the pre-test consists of verbal / non-verbal assessment, a study of the pupil’s current school books and an interview where the child is asked to initiate a discussion on a chosen topic.  The assessment will then be supported with a report from the pupil’s existing Head Teacher.  Whilst it may appear that much of this cannot be prepared for, this is not the case.  Children will need to be working at the required level academically for the book scrutiny to be successfully received.  

For many families the solution lies in engagement of a private tutor to provide additional support for children in the run up to these assessments, ensuring that pupils are fully prepared and confident in their approach.  Some families opt to fully home-school their children during the latter years of their primary school stage, from 9 onwards, to gear their curriculum to their precise requirements.  This is a particularly effective approach as children benefit enormously from the individual attention, tailored syllabus and opportunity to develop a broad academic base.  Schools are looking for children who have a lot to offer a school and a private tutor is able to expose a child to many experiences that are simply too time consuming for a child attending a full time school.  A child who can talk confidently about stimulating experiences, offering intelligent arguments and beliefs, will be a strong candidate for school selection.

You can contact Emma at Tutoring Futures to discuss private tuition and options for the placement of international private tutors to support the home-schooling of your child(ren).  For more information please contact Emma at or on +44(0)1344 627171. 

Tutoring Futures, a Berkshire based private tutor and international tutor recruitment company, places high quality full time and substantial part time live in tutors with international families.  With experience in the region, the Company places private tutors in Dubai and private tutors in Abu Dhabi where the demand for live in tutors and home schooling is on the up.  Tutoring Futures field enquiries from families seeking private tutors in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, where the demands for private tuition are at a premium for UK expatriates and foreign nationals targeting specific curricula or exam preparation for sought after UK private schools.

About the Author

Emma Swanson is an experienced classroom teacher, having graduated from Cambridge University to pursue a career in education.  Emma has taught in many private schools, heading departments at every stage of the Primary School.  Her experience in senior management in a UK Preparatory School and in a leading International School in Dubai, make her well placed to provide educational consultancy to parents.  Emma is also a mother of 2 young children, living near Ascot, Berkshire.