Tutors for tots as three-year-olds compete for places at private schools

Parents are hiring tutors for children aged 3 as growing numbers are entered for academic admission tests for places at infant schools linked to highly selective senior schools. This is from the Times

So-called 4+ assessments are becoming one of the most keenly contested entry points into private schools.

Three-year-olds are asked to sit 30-minute written tests, be assessed by teachers or a psychologist, or interviewed by a teacher to judge their general knowledge, logical thinking and numerical reasoning. Other common assessments involve observing children in group play, activities or discussions.

The tutors aim to give the children an edge: answering questions fully or adding detail to drawings such as the fingers of a hand. Some schools ask for references from a child’s nursery or playgroup. The 4+ assessment is not new but more children are being entered amid fierce competition for school places following a rise in the birth rate, especially in wealthier areas of London where demand for places at fee-paying schools is booming. Assessment fees vary from £50 to more than £100. Many parents enter their children for 4+ tests at several schools to maximise chances of getting a place…

Some pre-preparatory schools ask children to sit a written test, such as the Wechsler pre-school and primary scale of intelligence test, a 30-minute test whose scores can rank children on an ability scale and give an IQ score. Most observe children in group activities, and if they do well they may be invited back for a second assessment stage.

…However, David Hanson, the chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, said: “Assessment of children at an early age is highly sensitive, complex and in the end unreliable.”

More at:  Tutors for tots as three-year-olds compete for places at private schools (subscription required)

What do you think of the idea of competitive testing of children at such young ages? If you think it inappropriate, what approach would you use instead to decide who gets over-subscribed places? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

Social skills 'key to good start at school'
Parents back head teacher after hate campaign
Categories: Private Schools.


  1. Mktadvice4schls

    SchoolsImprove really quite scary – can’t see any advantage to hot housing at that age. Very glad my son is at relatively relaxed primary.

Let us know what you think...