Q. Would it be better for our son to change schools at 11 or wait until 13 to move to Senior School?
A. A very common question though one that may well become less common as more senior schools lower their entry age to 11.
There are many variables here. Obviously, if you hope your son will go to one of the schools which only start at 13, there is no choice. If you are aiming for a school with entry points at 11 and 13 then much will depend on the numbers of entrants in each case but, more importantly, on how your son is doing at his present school. If he is doing fine and is likely to do well at the 11+ stage then, why not go for it if you have an 11+ entry school in mind? On the other hand, if he is thriving where he is, you are confident he will carry on and, in Year 8, possibly, gain the rewards and honours that often accrue at that stage, then you should be able to trust that he will gain entry at 13+. If, however, he is not yet doing as well as you - and his school - feel he is capable, then the extra two years might make all the difference to his confidence, his maturity, his motivation and his ultimate achievement.
You need to have a frank conversation with his current school. But be a little wary. Some preps which take children until they are 13 are anxious about 11+ leavers and some put considerable obstacles - practical, financial, psychological - even legal!- in the way. You may need to remind yourself of what your contractual agreement is with the school. Year 7 and 8 pupils are becoming something of a rarity at some preps so, frustrating though it is, you can understand the schools' reluctance to help.
In the end there are two key questions: i) at which senior school will your son do best and be happiest? ii) which course of action is likeliest to achieve this? This is best resolved by open discussion with his current school, realism and pragmatism on your part and listening to your son's own views on the matter.