Anyone else stressed about 11+ tutoring?

(60 Posts)
MyMimsy Thu 27-Sep-12 16:44:53

DD has just gone into Yr 5, and has just started her 11+ tutoring with a private tutor. I'm actually against intensive tutoring for the 11+ but it's very much the culture around here, with even very clever children getting extra coaching.

DD is clever. She got all level 3s at the end of Yr 2, and her teacher is confidently predicting she'll easily get all Level 5s at the end of Yr 6, with even a chance of a Level 6 in Reading.

Her tutor has an excellent local reputation, and having assessed her he has assured us that she is definitely grammar school material. DD has had 2 sessions with him so far, she says she enjoyed them and that she likes him. She has been happy to do the homework (approx. 2 hours per week) and has tackled it well, just needing a few prompts from DH and myself.

So, why do I feel so stressed about the whole thing. She's only 9.5 and I just think it's quite unnatural to ask a child to use their brains in (what I feel) is quite an unusual/artificial fashion. I just don't think it's normal for a child to be wrestling with non-verbal reasoning problems. It all seems very brutal. And I didn't expect there to be so much homework, either.

As I said, DD is clever but she's quite laidback and dreamy and I suppose I just feel so sad that she's on the 11+ treadmill now.

The alternative comprehensives really aren't an option (they're dire) and DH thinks I'm being silly and sentimental. He thinks we'd be doing DD a huge disservice if we don't help her get into the grammar school.

moontuition Tue 11-Feb-14 22:32:18

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Minifingers Tue 11-Feb-14 23:30:45

I feel your pain.

Ds will start his tutoring shortly. I think he'll love it. It's me who's stressing.

He particularly loves the NVR stuff, which I find bloody incomprehensible.

I just feel sad that he's unlikely to get a grammar place no matter what we do. (Super selective, lots of private prep kids apply).

NanaNina Wed 12-Feb-14 00:45:59

I don't want to upset any parents or be confrontational but I do think you need to take care about excessive tutoring. In the area where I live there is a grammar school that is hugely over subscribed and only 10% of girls get in - well it might be lower than that now. My DGD sailed through primary and was level 5s in Year 5 and her best friend was the same - they were as you might say "neck and neck" - my wise DIL would not let DGD be tutored at all, because (as someone has pointed out) if they are "taught to the test" what's going to happen when they get to gs and can't keep up. Incidentally my son and DIL are both primary school teachers.

In the event DGD did not get in but the best friend did and apparently her father came into the playground with the letter for her to open herself and she had passed. DGD knew how much tutoring her friend had had - in the girl's own words "morning, noon and night." Very sadly the girl missed most of Yr 8 at the gs as she was in a psychiatric hospital with Anorexia and was a very slightly built child. I also know of another friend of a friend whose daughter went to the same gs and she too got an ED though wasn't hospitalised and left the gs in Yr 10. It's the same gs where both girls went, and I know from the friend of a friend that all they cared about was grades and neither of these girls were offered any support at all.

The friend of a friend's girl is now doing well at a 6th form college and I'm not sure about the other girl. I can only hope she has recovered.

Just a little word of warning.................

barbour Wed 12-Feb-14 11:42:06

They will crash and burn if you are not careful ...if too much is done too soon, and that may happen just at the time when they are needed to be "on"...my DS got into superselectives (indies and grammar) - we didn't tutor but did a lot of DIY...and I saw he was in danger of being totally bored of the whole process so we had to ease off for a while leading up to the exam and we had started only a few months before the exams at a steady but not intensive pace of practising the usual off the shelf NVR, VR, English and maths. Also many of the grammar schools are changing their tests now to a less tutorable CEM style which will hopefully calm things down a bit on the tutoring side.

Minifingers Wed 12-Feb-14 13:12:31

NanaNina - can't say I agree with you.

You have to acknowledge that there is a nuclear arms race going on with tutoring. If my very bright ds sits the entrance exam of the local super selective without tutoring he is likely to perform worse than a similarly bright boy who has had a year of 11+ tutoring. Then of course you have to factor in the fact that's he'll also be sitting the exam alongside kids who've been in private schools, where the pace of learning tends to be much faster because of the smaller classes and planned exclusion of children who aren't bright, and children who have significant behavioural problems.

The days of not very bright children being tutored into grammar and then struggling are nearly over, given the levels of competition for grammar places. There are more than enough extremely bright children who love learning to fill the places 3 times over.

barbour Wed 12-Feb-14 13:17:23

no there is not a nuclear arms race with tutoring...there are a lot of children who are heavily tutored who don't get into superselectives and a lot who do a lot of practice a home DIY only with some limited guidance from their parents and don't pay for tutoring ...there is a lot of paranoia that people buy into though about tutoring --- you can perfectly manage to do this yourself at home with your child if they are willing to put in the hours and effort....it's not rocket science or neurosurgery - it's only 11+ fgs.

JustAnotherUserName Wed 12-Feb-14 13:49:24

Barbour diy at home is tutoring. Just edit Mini's post and you will see she makes a very valid point.

You have to acknowledge that there is a nuclear arms race going on with tutoring preparation for 11+. If my very bright ds sits the entrance exam of the local super selective without tutoring such practice he is likely to perform worse than a similarly bright boy who has had a year of 11+ tutoring preparation.

Minifingers Wed 12-Feb-14 14:27:14

Barbour - of course you are right that many children who are tutored heavily don't get in to grammar schools. Brighter children than these who are tutored by confident parents who understand the 11+ and have good standards of numeracy and literacy themselves can of course make a huge difference to their child's chances by doing the work themselves at home.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about similarly bright children - one of whom may have had two years of regular, focused tutoring in maths and English from an experienced, qualified teacher skilled in identifying gaps in learning, and with an excellent track record of getting children through the 11+, while the other has a parent who may have good numeracy and literacy skills but hasn't the time or the energy or the confidence to bring the child to standard where they will perform brilliantly in an exam. And there is clear evidence that grammars take in disproportionate numbers of children from private schools. The Sutton Trust recently published a report on this: here

As for "....it's not rocket science or neurosurgery" - there speaks someone who lives in an middle-class bubble. I have friends with no GCSEs and poor basic literacy and numeracy who have extremely bright children. No, 11+ coaching at home is not a massive challenge for most graduate parents or those who've done A-levels, and who have the time to do it. But there are many people who would really struggle with this. For goodness sake, my husband has a Phd in chemistry but would find it hard to tutor my 10 year old well in creative writing!

Minifingers Wed 12-Feb-14 14:33:17

From a 2013 news report:

"Many parents rely on private tutors to boost their child's chance of a grammar school place, suggests a small poll.

Seventy-two per cent of 212 first year grammar school pupils said they had been tutored for entrance exams in their last years of primary school.

Researchers from the Institute of Education (IoE) spoke to students at grammar schools in south-east England."

Would add, of the 28% who didn't admit to private tutoring I suspect that many have parents who undertook a structured programme of intensive tutoring at home.

surreytuition Sun 16-Feb-14 15:06:52

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