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.

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

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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.

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 "'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!

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.

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's not rocket science or neurosurgery - it's only 11+ fgs.

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 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" 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.

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.................

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).

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

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difficultpickle Sat 06-Oct-12 18:04:19

It is possible to be in catchment for both grammar schools and comprehensives. We are.

Arisbottle Sat 06-Oct-12 17:57:44

How would for all thos other children to have to go to a school that is "dire" . That is something to get stressed about.

If I found tutorin stressful I would stop

TalkinPeace2 Sat 06-Oct-12 17:30:26

If you live in a county with Grammar schools, the other schools are NOT "comprehensive" as they have no top sets ....

lots of schools like that round here :-)
SO SO SO Glad that Hampshire does not have the poison of the 11+

3littlefrogs Sat 06-Oct-12 13:32:11

There is a huge comprehensive in one part of the country that is known as the "Learning Village". It is a mixture of buildings - like a university campus. All levels and abilities are catered for, and streaming is in place. However, pupils can move between different streams. Many activities are mixed ability. It sounds like a really good system to me, but I haven't come across anything like it where I live.

3littlefrogs Sat 06-Oct-12 13:27:23

Abolishing selective schools would work, as long as all schools would then cater for all abilities. Where this happens the system works well.

Where I live, there are several selective and partially selective state schools, a few good comps and a number of schools that are grim.

I entered my child for the local grammar (without tutoring) because I wanted to give her the best chance I could.

I know the system is unfair. I would love all state schools to be excellent and provide a really good education for everyone. I don't think I, personally, am in a position to change the system. Like any parent I want the best opportunity for my child.

How many parents would happily send their child to the local sink school in the name of political correctness? That would be a really difficult thing to do. It might be the "right" thing to do, but I doubt if many people would do it if they had a choice.

seeker Sat 06-Oct-12 12:57:57

"Dd is at a grammar school.

There are pupils in her class who have struggled from day one to keep up. These are the children who were tutored from the age of 7 in order to get into the school.

The system is very hit and miss, but I don't know what can be done about it."

How do people know so much about the children in their dc's classes? It's all I can do to find out about my own children?

Oh, and what can be done about it? Well, abolishing state selective education would do it.........!

3littlefrogs Sat 06-Oct-12 12:42:30

Dd is at a grammar school.

There are pupils in her class who have struggled from day one to keep up. These are the children who were tutored from the age of 7 in order to get into the school.

The system is very hit and miss, but I don't know what can be done about it.

breward Sat 06-Oct-12 12:37:39

It might be wrong but when local private prep schools are giving children Eng, maths and VR papers every week from the age of 7 it is a very uneven playing field. Our local super selective GS has an intake of 65% from independent prep schools when only 7% of all children in the area go private schools. For state school children tutoring, whether that be from a well-meaning and driven parent or from a private tutor, is the only way to allow your child to be on some kind of level playing field.

Both my DC go to state schools. BIDMAS or BODMAS (i stands for indices such as squaring a number, and o stands for order- both i/o are correct) is taught in the Autumn term of Y5 as part of the National curriculum. However, mathematical concepts like that are like plate spinning, if not revisited regularly the concept is just not secure and 6+7x2 will always be answered as 26 rather than correctly as 20.

As for pathetic fallacy, this is a literary device that compares a mood to a weather feature... such as 'there was a dark cloud of misery hanging over village,' and 'the fog surrounding her added to her confused state.'

Hope this helps. I DIY tutored my DS (shame on me!) and await the result in 9 days. It was stressful but enjoyable too. We both learnt lots and enjoyed the time we spent reading together the most.

EvilTwins Fri 05-Oct-12 17:10:00

IMO, tutoring a child for over a year to pass a test is plain wrong.

sue52 Fri 05-Oct-12 14:35:20

Isn't it BODMAS not BIDMAS. I wouldn't know what a pathetic fallacy was if it bit me on the bum.

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 12:59:16

DD3 didn't drop a single mark in her A Level last year (100% in the exam as well as in the coursework) and doesn't know what a pathetic fallacy is either seeker.

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 12:55:25

piggy Brilliant. Thanks for that. I think we'll have to hope that the wine gums I've just packed up will help see her through, given her wholesale lack of knowledge concerning literary devices and their distinctions. I've never actually come across the need to label these things in the 11+ though - mine have only ever been asked to write an essay/ letter and perhaps do a comprehension.

DialMforMummy Fri 05-Oct-12 12:52:44

Well Piggy, are you then suggesting that the only way for a child to pass the 11+ is to have serious training/tutoring on these papers? IME this is not the case.

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 12:50:00

And I'm not absolutely sure, but I would put money on my dd, who got 2 a*s in English at GCSE and is now doing A level not being able to tell you what pathetic fallacy was. And it's a pretty odd 11+ that expects 10 year old's to know!

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 12:46:51

Do we? I actually think we need to think carefully before we condemn a school as "dire". Particularly when it's a school that 75ish% of children in an area will be going to.

It's not good for society for people to think in those terms.

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