Wicked Smart are dedicated to understanding the ins and outs of the top prep schools in London, and every week we will be shining the spotlight on a different prep school. Our focus is to zone in on the 7+ procedure and to shed some much-needed light on what parents and children should expect. This week,it’s the turn of The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School!
Butterfly Lane, Elstree WD6 3AF, United Kingdom
Headteacher: Gus Lock
Pupil role: 1095 (boys only)
Termly fees: £6782
Ages: 5 – 18
What’s good about it?
Awarded the coveted title of ‘Independent school of the year’ by the Sunday Times in 2017, it’s no surprise that this day school for boys is a popular choice among London parents, despite not being located in the heart of the city.
With notable alumni including Sacha Baren Cohen and Matt Lucas, it’s understandable that the previous headmaster labelled students at the school as being ‘slightly quirky, unusual boys.’
With more than 35% of students moving on to an Oxbridge education, this school is one of the top prep schools in the country. Although there is undeniably a pressure for boys to achieve academically, the pastoral care provision in the school is deemed to be excellent. The boys will often meet up with Habs girls, and there are many extracurricular activities available. The school has a strong reputation for debating and they also offer a combined cadet force. It’s worth noting that participation in sports is necessary, but boys have a variety of choice ranging from cricket, rugby, fencing and squash to name but a few. Boys are also offered the chance to play a musical instrument of their choice – free of charge – for a year.
What does the 7+ exam look like at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boy’s School?
7+ entrance exams are held every January, with around 120 boys applying each year. The school does provide some degree of transparency about the content of the exam by providing sample papers on their website: https://www.habsboys.org.uk/7PlusAdmissions
At Wicked Smart, we have found the questions within the Habs Maths papers to be the most academically challenging we’ve seen. Emphasis is given to problem solving, and often answers require multi-step working out. As well as Maths, papers in English, Grammar and Reasoning are also given.
In 7+ writing papers, it is common for children to be given a choice of titles to write about, but we have often seen Habs papers giving children one choice – a continuation of the comprehension text they have just read.
Of the 120 boys that apply, 48 are invited back for the interview stage of the selection process. This involves a meeting with the headteacher and the deputy head as well as the child’s parents. It is not unusual during this meeting for families to be asked if they have sought the help of a tutor.
After the interview, boys will be invited to participate in Year 2 Maths, English and sports lessons. Not only is this a good opportunity for boys to find out more about the school, it allows teachers to assess how prospective students interact with their peers.
In a nutshell…
There is no getting away from the fact that the competition for Habs is fierce. The good news however is that multiple entry points are available for boys. Should your child simply not be ready at 7+, the options of 11+ and 13+ are available. Also giving parents peace of mind is the common view that once a child has secured place in the prep school, they are almost guaranteed a place in the senior school.
It is clear that Habs offer exceptional facilities and a range of extracurricular activities that will allow boys not only an excellent academic education, but the chance to explore sports, music and the arts as well.