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to wish that you couldn't prepare for a 11+ exam (dd took it today)

(48 Posts)
wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 19:04:10

that's it really, plain and simple. some people view it as a prize/the more you prepare for it the more you deserve it whilst others (like me) think it should be based on natural ability and is open to all kids (supposedly for the kids from backgrounds that can't afford to send to private schools but are naturally clever). i can see it/understand from both ways but don't see a way round it. dd took the 11+ today for a grammar that apparently has the hardest exam in the country. doubt she will get in but she enjoyed taking the exam. whilst she was hanging out in the summer holiday/went away for a week in the UK, others were being drilled beyond anything i could or would want to do.

I agree. In the area I'm moving to, they either go to terrible schools or go for a super selective where you can only get in after tuition- it's to make bright kids know more, than average children be on the same level. It's a hard choice to make, I wish it didn't meant years of work.

Souredstones Mon 02-Sep-13 19:17:40

I agree but people have always been coached for it.

My dad was, I was, my husband was and my children will be. None of us ever had a tutor but all of us had extra classes in school and parental support by way of practice papers at home.

I really don't like the idea of intensive tutoring, those kids fell flat on their arses at my school.

My year 4 dc is going to start practice papers after Christmas and MIL (a retired teacher) is going to help them with verbal reasoning, that is sufficient IMO to help but not pressurise.

wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 19:19:30

tbh dd did go briefly to a tutor purely so she could familiarise herself with vr & nvr as it is not something taught at (her) school and a teacher i ain't. but that was it. i know of kids that for literally the whole of the summer (& for about 2/3 hours after school for the last 4/5 months) have been SERIOUSLY drilled ie got up at 8am and worked doing timed test papers until bedtime. i admire the dedication inpart although i think some of these mothers are doing it for their own personal interest and not that of their child. infact, i feel sorry for these kids, the pressure on them is incredible. alot of really nervous faces this morning. dd knows that all we ask is that she does her best but we want her to be happy. she will probably end up at the local state school which is pretty good (at least this is what i hear). tbh i did like the idea of a girl school as i was a terror at secondary school grin

OddBoots Mon 02-Sep-13 19:26:10

I agree, it does make a mockery of the whole idea behind the system.

ILikeToClean Mon 02-Sep-13 19:33:14

I agree, my dd is taking it in a couple of weeks and I've tutored her myself using practice papers, only so she is familiar with verbal reasoning, which is not taught at school, and also just trying to make sure her English and maths are up to speed. She's definitely got the ability but whether she'll pass, who knows?! In the summer hols we've been doing 10 minute tests every day but I think if she doesn't know it all by now then she never will. Interestingly when we went to the grammar school open days they all said only around 10 hours of tutoring would be needed! They are trying to encourage pupils with natural aptitude rather than heavily coached but it's hard, I do have moments of panic where I wonder if I've done enough and should I have paid for a tutor, as you just know lots of parents have, but at the end of the day it's up to my dd to do the exam to the best of her ability and if she's meant to go to grammar, then she will! Stressful though, and will have it all again next year with dd2!

wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 19:45:21

funny really but dd did a test sheet (just the one) that was timed. she didn't fair all that well with nvr so when she came with me to the market (my job) on sunday, she came along and brought a nvr test book with her (that her tutor insisted i buy but hadn't been used ages ago). she surprised me as throughout the morning she would give herself half hour to work and then half an hour break timing herself. i left her to it but she really enjoyed herself. obviously i have no idea as to how well (or not..) she did but she told me after the exam today that she thought just doing that made all the difference. our local grammar seems to churn out SERIOUSLY high gcse achievers (was reading about them in the local paper) and all seem to want to go on and read medicine at uni' whilst dd wants to be a journo'. i don't think she would fit in that well. i want her to study well but also be a teenager and have somekind of life outside of schooling although not on the level i did, i was a nightmare (all boys and fashion)

ILikeToClean Mon 02-Sep-13 20:04:58

Maybe that particular grammar isn't right for her then? I do believe that if a child wants to do well they will, no matter what school they go to. Just that grammar schools push more and there's no distraction of boys!! I think my dd will benefit as at the moment she's top of her class and can easily "coast" whereas if she goes to grammar she certainly won't be top and will get that push she sometimes needs, she can be a bit cocky and slapdash about learning iyswim! Re your dd, if she's meant to go there, she'll have passed, I believe in fate, wishing her luck though smile

wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 20:06:07

thank you ilike

coco27 Mon 02-Sep-13 20:49:26

VR and NVR are very little affected by coaching , a bit by practice but you very soon hit the maximum .I think after 2 papers you make hardly any more improvment and after 5 papers no more.It is a excuse myth perpetuated by parents of those who fail

"VR and NVR are very little affected by coaching , a bit by practice but you very soon hit the maximum .I think after 2 papers you make hardly any more improvment and after 5 papers no more.It is a excuse myth perpetuated by parents of those who fail"

Absolutely, and the reason why grammar schools are disproportionately full of tutored children and children from private schools is because children who have families who can afford tutoring and private education are simply CLEVERER than children whose familes can't afford tutoring or school fees.

Eastpoint Mon 02-Sep-13 21:19:42

If your daughter wants to be a successful journalist she'll want to go to a really good university to read English, she'll fit in fine with the girls who want to be medics. Emily Maitlis, Stephanie Flanders etc went to Oxbridge - seriously clever people.

Hope you have good news in the spring.

RedHelenB Mon 02-Sep-13 21:40:29

Only fair way is to change the type of exam each year so no one knows what they will be faced with.

"Only fair way is to change the type of exam each year so no one knows what they will be faced with."

It makes no difference.

Very bright children who've been taught in classes of 18 in private schools which exclude disruptive children and most children with special needs will always do better in entrance exams than similarly bright children who've been taught in classes of 31 in state schools where they have to learn alongside disruptive and special needs children who often have no allocated support. There is no entrance exam that can 'control' for the effect of an expensive primary education.

wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 21:49:07

a friend is friends with someone who teaches at the local grammar. she has told her in confidence that there are a fair few girls who go there who were tutored/trained in the art of vr/nvr and got in over girls who were alot cleverer than them at school. the girls in question now struggle to keep up as are not really clever enough to be there, they were just good at vr/nvr. i have heard this many times over the years, how girls that were in all the top sets in the juniors didn't get in but were beaten by girls that were not nowhere near as clever but heavily tutored. being the least clever in a school full of seriously bright students would be a pretty miserable existence. rotten thing to do to your kid. my dd is clever, top sets n' all BUT she ain't a genius, i wouldn't want her to feel inferior and struggle to keep up. i can't believe the gcse results that were coming out of the grammar. alot of the girls got 11/12 As and one of which was for a 'specially high type of exam much harder than the other schools' (quote, as per the local paper). dh went to a good private school and said that his school never had anyone get anything like that; the grammar school was quoted as saying these were the highest results they have (possibly) ever had. i think if i knew the girls there were seriously THAT clever i wouldn't have registered dd for the 11+. i don't think the girls that go to this particular grammar do much if anything at all outside of studying. not sure that is such a good thing tbh, you need to learn about life and being around people..

ReallyTired Mon 02-Sep-13 22:00:22

My year 4 dc is going to start practice papers after Christmas and MIL (a retired teacher) is going to help them with verbal reasoning, that is sufficient IMO to help but not pressurise."

Whats the difference between a paid tutor and getting your mother in law (a retired teacher) to help with verbal reasoning. I feel you are being a complete hycrocite thinking you are holier than thou for not employing a tutor.

We did consider entering my son for a super selective grammar and he he is naturally very good at vr and nvr. (ie. 93% on the first attempt at a bond paper.) However a grammar school would not have been right for him because he would not be able to cope with the pressure.

You can improve verbal reasoning scores by reading a lot of books over a period of years. Intelligence is not completely fixed and there are things that many parents do to make their children brighter. (ie. read to them, get them to learn musical instruments, take them to museums, give them interesting experiences... etc) Chidlren who believe it is possible to improve their intelligence do better than those who believe ablity is fixed.

lougle Mon 02-Sep-13 22:08:39

"Very bright children who've been taught in classes of 18 in private schools which exclude disruptive children and most children with special needs will always do better in entrance exams than similarly bright children who've been taught in classes of 31 in state schools where they have to learn alongside disruptive and special needs children who often have no allocated support."

hmm Nothing like stereotyping, is there? Plenty of children with SN are so completely non-disruptive that they become invisible.

ILikeToClean Mon 02-Sep-13 22:08:48

I can believe that wintertime, I know a girl who was heavily tutored, scraped through on a waiting list but is still having the tutor now she is in the grammar school! Surely she should not be there. If my dd gets in and struggles then we'd take her out, but I think for her personally it would push her being with other academic girls. dd is actually having to do 2 exams as one of the schools has broken away from the county exam and has set their own which is an unknown quantity and cannot be tutored for because they were having the very same issues of girls not coping. So she has 2 chances really but 2 exams one week after the other, one of which we have no idea about hmm

CaptainSweatPants Mon 02-Sep-13 22:17:20

Why don't they just go on SAts or levels over the course of year 5

Would make life easier & fairer

wintertimeisfun Mon 02-Sep-13 22:21:20

ilike best of luck to you too. i think it would be good for dd to be around girls who are into studying as opposed to flirting with boys in the playground etc. she is also going for a couple of music scholarships but again, i don't expect anything to come of it althought she is at the right level. i recon she will go to the local secondary. some good kids there/good results. doesn't hurt to try though smile

Horsemad Mon 02-Sep-13 22:36:08

Both my DSs did 4 test papers at home during the summer hols of the year they sat the test in Sept.
Both passed with high scores and have fared well at grammar.
Lots of their peers were coached and a large proportion have not done as well as expected. It is unfair to the child to coach them through the 11+ as they will struggle to keep up once at the grammar.

ILikeToClean Mon 02-Sep-13 22:36:55

Thanks wintertime, think the same about my dd, she'll be too distracted at the local comp although it's a good school. She did a mock and aced it, so fingers crossed but as said before, fate will determine it and if she's meant to be at grammar, she'll get in! Same for your dd.

ReallyTired Mon 02-Sep-13 22:39:35

"Why don't they just go on SAts or levels over the course of year 5"

People would just get a tutor tod well at SATS and the low income child whose primary is in special measures wouldn't stand a chance.

I think with tutoring a parent has to be sure what they want to achieve. One of ds's friend had tutoring for English because he is an EAL child and would have been at an unfair disadvantage. I am sure he will do well at his superselective grammar.

ILikeToClean Mon 02-Sep-13 22:39:54

Thanks horsemad that gives me encouragement as I do stress I should have done more even though I know deep down if a child has the natural ability they'll be fine. Think it's just last minute panicking!

thebody Mon 02-Sep-13 22:47:39

you can actually flirt with boys and study hard you know.

my dds manage it and thankfully their local mixed comp is outstanding with brilliant results all round.

I went to an all girls top grammar and fucking hated it.

don't want that pressure for my girls but each to their own and everyone knows their child best. also we are so lucky with our local schools.

op I agree with you. if you need to heavily tutor them to pass then how will they keep up when actually at the school.

Horsemad Mon 02-Sep-13 22:50:28

My DH was mad keen for our 2 to go to the grammar, and I said we'd do the four papers and if they didn't pass I would NOT appeal. Luckily they passed and I'm glad they did as our local schools are not as good as the grammar, but I wouldn't have appealed as I'd feel they weren't best suited to the school.

Nerfmother Mon 02-Sep-13 23:02:32

Totally agree. Ds sits it soon and really wants to pass - this summer has been appalling and I've been holding it together, not been able to practise maths etc with him and I feel like shit for it. I know loads of his friends/ peers are being tutored twice a week.
Op- hope your dd has done well.

EugenesAxe Mon 02-Sep-13 23:42:57

Someone tell me why it wouldn't work to restrict access to past papers. Once you've done the exam going over it would be futile and as it's an intelligence test, presumably you would expect people with it to be able to decipher the format in reasonably quick time.

I hate the idea of heavily tutored 'average' children struggling once at this so called 'great' school (can it really be if they are actually a square peg in a round hole?), if children with more aptitude but either less money for tutoring or, like the OP's a greater sense of fair play/ the spirit of the exam, miss out.

And for the record - in my experience it's only this generation exposed to this circus. I was barely aware of what was happening when I sat 11+. I've read posts from others saying the same so I don't think I'm an unusual case.

EugenesAxe Mon 02-Sep-13 23:45:33

Sorry OP I should say potentially miss out! I hope your DD has done well.

Round our way HUGE numbers sit the tets for the local grammars.

So the point isn't that a not very bright tutored child who will struggle with the pace of the learning will get a place ahead of a very bright untutored child, but that almost all the places go to very bright tutored children leaving the very bright untutored ones out in the cold.

Re: children with sn - I was going on my own experience. My son has ASD and IS disruptive.

EsmereldaBelle Tue 03-Sep-13 00:49:15

I completely agree. I went to grammar school after taking the 11+ along with one other girl from my primary school. She had tutoring most evenings to prepare before the test but when she did get in she really struggled to keep up with the quality and quantity of work expected, she couldn't be tutored throughout her entire secondary education!!

You should pass on your own merit, and if you don't get in that's fine and should be pleased you're child will be in an appropriate setting for their educational needs!! It's an awful lot of pressure on young kids though sad

Souredstones Tue 03-Sep-13 09:11:34

Because my MIL is doing the bit we would be doing. We don't have time to help with practice papers. So instead of us doing it, it's another family member and my dc will probably end up with less help than a tutored child

Souredstones Tue 03-Sep-13 09:15:32

Also so schools still do the 'head teacher recommendation letter' that they had in my day? I know that that was often used to get state school pupils in that had received no help with the exam but were felt to be truly exceptional pupils

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 10:21:07

DS1 took the exam for a supercompetitive school with no tutoring, having refused to look at more than one past paper, and from a normal state primary school. He did really badly in the maths exam as they hadnt done algebra at his school, so he had to work out what all that a+b stuff was about during the exam itself. "I decided it probably meant that they were instead of numbers" he said, in his interview. They gave him a place and he did well.

What made the difference, though, was that there was a full day of interviews and supervised interactions as part of the selection process. I think the 11+ is difficult where there isnt enough interview stuff to go alongside it, so they cant exercise discretion as much.

ReallyTired Tue 03-Sep-13 10:34:38

"What made the difference, though, was that there was a full day of interviews and supervised interactions as part of the selection process. I think the 11+ is difficult where there isnt enough interview stuff to go alongside it, so they cant exercise discretion as much."

State schools are not allowed to use interviews as a selection technique. In many ways it would be kinder to have an ed pych interview boarder line canditiates. (Ie if a private school child has just scrapped a pass, it might be better to refuse them a place.)

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 11:10:40

I agree with that. It is silly to think that interviews should be banned for state schools because exams are so much more rigorous and incapable of manipulation by coaching- we know the reverse is true. An interview gives a kid a chance to show what s/he can do. Not sure an ed psych needs to do the interview though- an experienced teacher would be my choice. And I would choose the full day of activities, not a single artifical fifteen minute slot.

All of which is expensive. But grammar schools are so rare anyway, I think the places ought to be as carefully handed out as Oxbridge places are.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Tue 03-Sep-13 11:23:56

Reading your posts OP you sound like someone who wasn't that bothered about preparing your dd for the 11+, and are now trying to justify to yourself that it doesn't matter anyway because grammar schools are actually quite nasty places filled with miserable struggling children.

Here it's very much the norm to have your child tutored for the 11+. Yes even if they're one of the clever ones in the class. Local tutors have no interest in taking average or low ability children and drilling them and drilling them, only to scrape a pass and struggle horribly once at grammar.

Instead they take already clever children and teach them exam technique, and timing and give them familiarity with the test. That's all. So if they pass, they can be confident of being able to tackle the work at a grammar quite easily.

Even if they're not one of the shining stars, they are already in the top 15% and so very competent and already academic. They might not be top of the all classes, and they may even be bottom of some. But it's highly unlikely they will bottom of ALL classes for the entire seven years they're there.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Tue 03-Sep-13 11:31:19

And even though tutoring is the norm here I don't know of any children (and many of my friend's dcs are seeing tutors) who are being made to sit dozens of past papers for many hours every single day and have had a miserable summer holiday as a result.

In the real world, they see their tutor for one hour per week, and then have roughly an hour's homework (typically a past paper). So, a WHOLE 2 hours per week out of the dozens and dozens of hours of their free time. It's hardly tortue or back breaking.

and let;s not forget, these children are already clever. So they can do the homework and work quickly through the past papers. Sometimes you know, they even quite enjoy it.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 11:52:09

I would say, re the kids/parents that complain about being tutored for the 11+- DS1's school worked them very much harder than our local comprehensive. Lessons went fast, content was high level and only delivered once, homework was more difficult and you were expected to finish it however long it took you, there was a lot less down time generally.

They will look back on their tutored days as lazy times...

Scholes34 Tue 03-Sep-13 11:59:52

My goodness, what a relief not to have to do 11+. Fortunately, our city has comprehensive schools, and DD has just finished Year 11 with As and A*s in GCSEs in this local characterful comp.

Retropear Tue 03-Sep-13 14:09:29

I've just started tutoring my twins myself (going into year 5)in order to keep our options open as they've mentioned wanting to go.

Can't afford a tutor.

Anyhow I've been surprised and am now wondering if the view re tutoring kids in who shouldn't be there is false.My dc go to quite a weak school(bottom quintile for everything,maths/writing particularly dire) so we're just beginning to cover work they haven't covered eg some maths topics,VR,checking spelling etc.Will then do a bit of exam technique ie timing which any child should and could do.

None of it is rocket science and after doing the initial assessments(I was a teacher) I was shocked to see their high score for VR having never done it previously,ditto maths,spelling etc.Just done square numbers etc and they picked it up effortlessly in a session.

Now admittedly my dtwins are bright but given how some of the stuff is just a higher level of basic stuff I don't buy that a child could dupe it's way in ie if they need hours of cramming I'm not sure they'd get through the exam.

<Hoping I won't fall flat on my face in a years time if they choose to sit the exam>grin

wintertimeisfun Tue 03-Sep-13 16:36:17

whore you are wrong about my post. i don't regret not pushing my dd to the degree of others. if i have any regrect actually it is that i had her tutored at all. i am old school and only believe in tutoring a child that is struggling at school and needs a little extra help. i never implied or said the children at the grammar were 'nasty' filled with 'miserable' children, you are deliberately twisting what i said. i said there were SOME children there who were unhappy/struggling, this is have had verbally first hand. i think the school is FAB' and would still love dd to go there although i don't think she is clever enough as it now appears to be a REALLY tough grammar where the standards are SUPER HIGH. i would worry that she was unhappy and falling behind. nothing odd about that. when we went to the open day we were shown around by three of the students who were all lovely. oddly enough one of them told me in confidence that she didn't like it there grin which was unusual as she was supposed to be selling us the place although i didn't need it being sold to me as i thought it looked great.

wintertimeisfun Tue 03-Sep-13 16:43:40

i joing a forum for mothers of children sitting the local grammar exam. i was a fly on the wall reading with opened mouth the posts of these mothers. i already knew through dd's tutor the lengths some tiger mothers went to ie taking their child out of school and having them tutored from early morning until bedtime including a mixture of 3/4 different tutors (she told me this was the case for a few of her students). one of which used to fall asleep during her session with her sad. with regard to the forum, many of the mothers posting on it were very open about how their children did nothing aside form study all through the holiday and that it was regarded as 'treat' to take time out just to go to sainsbury's hmm. i have a friend who sells books. i was helping him and sold one man an 11+ bond book. i chatted with the man who seemed surprised that i allowed dd to watch tv. he said his son only worked as that would (quote) get him a guarantee place. it is this type of pushing that i hate. i understand a child seeing a tutor to be made familiar with the basics of vr & nvr, this is the reason dd did it

wintertimeisfun Tue 03-Sep-13 16:47:54


Jellybeanz1 Tue 03-Sep-13 17:04:16

I'm looking forward to removing my 2 ds and dd from excellent mixed grammar school next year as I cant afford it. Im going to move near an excellent state school and make it my local. My daughters best friends are boys and it will be nice to be with her brother. I feel confident that an outstanding state school has inspirational teachers who sometimes have to work a lot harder to get those results. With the extra money I can work part time - hurray.

Souredstones Tue 03-Sep-13 18:11:28

You don't pay for grammar school education. Grammar schools ARE state schools...although its hard to believe with the number of privately educated kids that start in year 7

Retropear Tue 03-Sep-13 21:13:03

As long as it stays Outstanding Jelly or isn't an Outstanding school that sits on it's laurels enjoying the pushy parents who help them do their job.<bitter>

coco27 Tue 03-Sep-13 21:45:04

Absolutely, and the reason why grammar schools are disproportionately full of tutored children and children from private schools ....

How can you know that? There are plenty of state educated kids entering grammar schools.
I think
1) the parents of bright children are more likely to pull out all the stops to give their DC the best chance of GS acceptance, than those of non-academic kids.
2) Generally speaking intelligent parents have more intelligent children and intelligent parents are morelikely to have better jobs so there is some correlation between intelligence and money.

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