How exactly do you know that your DC should go to grammar school?

(318 Posts)
plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 11:06:38

Sorry for the ridiculous question, but I am going slightly bonkers.

DS is in yr 4 and has unspecified learning difficulties - mainly with attention and processing instructions. He is bright & remembers incredibly well. Literacy & science are his favourite subjects, and thinks he struggles with Maths but is actually above average. He craves structure and routine

My problem is that I am aware of some children in his class already doing extra work out of school (such as explore & kumon etc) and I now feel like I am letting him down hugely.

Should we be jumping on the treadmill of extra work etc to give him an even playing field? I don't really believe in excesses coaching to pass the 11+

So how do we tell if Grammer could be the place for him? When I have spoken to school, they always imply that academically he will be fine (whatever that means)

Sorry if this long & rambling, it all seems so very competitive around here (Bucks) thanks.

SoldeInvierno Fri 05-Oct-12 15:32:10

if he's not grammar school material and he gets in by just working extremely hard to pass the exam, you are setting him to fail in the coming years, so I would be very careful about overdoing the tutoring.

I went to see a private secondary school just recently and one of the teachers was saying that every year they take in 1/2 way through the year, 3 to 4 pupils who have had to abandon the local grammar school due to an almost "nervous breakdown". This made me think very carefully about trying to push my DS beyong his abilities.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 15:38:40

Maybe they teach Latin because it's valuable and wear uniforms to away matches because it gives the right impression, representing the school. Delusions indeed.

To the first poster: I agree with seeker, give it a go. Buy the practice books first. The maths isn't even that hard and you could probably teach it yourself; ironically it might be harder to prepare for the English as schools aren't good at that sort of prep., so a tutor might be of some help there.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 15:40:25

I don't agree with : if he's not grammar material and you push to get him in, you are setting him up to fail. The other children are not all natural genii, most are bright children like yours, tutored. The level is not Einstein.

IsabelleRinging Fri 05-Oct-12 15:48:43

Ask his teachers, they should be able to tell you.

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 15:51:31

The teacher was doing a loyal marketing job for his school Solde! Not hugely professional to say the grammar is the cause of near nervous breakdown - how gauche.

mimbleandlittlemy Fri 05-Oct-12 16:22:14

You say you've spoken to the school but you don't say you have you actually been round it? However good a school looks/doesn't look on paper you don't know until you've actually been. You could go round now, in the current open day sessions, then go round in Y5 by which time you'll still have a year to tutor if you think it's right. If he is bright enough a year will be ample. It's also much more effective, I've found, to ask when you are on the spot in a classroom with a real teacher what they can do for your child than to ask over the phone, because you can see the whites of their eyes when you explain any possible problems and you'll know whether they are genuinely prepared to accommodate any form of learning difficulty or whether they just talk the talk. Sometimes the look of blind shifty panic a question about SEN induces is almost amusing (not what I was saying a while ago at a particular school I have to say but I've come to laugh about it subsequently!).

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 17:02:55

Sorry - I have only spoken to the primary school. Have no experience of what is available after primary. I am so heads down, focusing on current problems, that an innocent chat in the playground yesterday seemed to revel that half the parents in Ds year were already preparing their DC for this bloody exam. It has panicked me (which I know is ridiculous - but I am desperate not to limit his choices & opportunities because of the SEN) sad

I will look at websites & try to determine if we are in a super selective area. Have no idea about catchment etc, but really just wanted some advice/reassurance about my PFB.

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 17:14:20

Could you tell us where you are? If not, I suggest you look at the secondary transfer section of the LEA website- find out what aort of grammar school system you're in and we'll help from there.

mimbleandlittlemy Fri 05-Oct-12 17:16:24

plus3 I totally understand - it's not ridiculous and having been through SEN issues with ds I can offer you an awful lot of hugs and sympathy. Don't let playground talk panic you though - and do see if you can get round the grammar school and even a couple of others schools now if you are really anxious because then you can start to see what the possibilities are and they won't be nearly so scary - and you will be the person in the playground who might actually know what they are talking about too and quite often those people are rare!

I know how much playground talk whips people into a panic - ds is now in Y6 and I've been watching it and panicking away myself on and off, but if you give yourself a clear picture of what is out there now and how you feel about local schools that might or not be right for you dc then you will be able to make sensible decisions and it won't seem so bad, honestly.

SoldeInvierno Fri 05-Oct-12 17:16:42

TBH, regarding the nervous breakdown story, the subject came up because I mentioned about someone who I know personally who had that problem, and consequently ended up in that school. That's when he mentioned they have a few every year. I don't think he would have brought up the subject otherwise.

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 17:24:25

I completely agree with mimble that you should not, not, not let playground talk panic you. I hear absolute rubbish all the time about the local grammar, real scaremongering, daft statistics and yes, well, just rubbish. I know it's absolute rubbish because I've had DC there continuously since 2001. Steer a steady course and listen to the HT at an Open Day but do avoid ultra competititve mums - they're bad for your health.

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 17:33:13

grin see... MN is a lovely place!

Won't get a chance until after 8 now to look on websites etc, but we are nr High Wycombe/Beaconsfield.

School are (probably quite rightfully) non-committal about this subject as DS is in Yr4. They just say keep on with what we are doing at home to support him, and that he will be fine.

weblette Fri 05-Oct-12 17:42:59

Ok so you're in Bucks. It isn't superselective. If you get the qualifying score of 121 you will usually get into your nearest catchment grammar. There's no ranking on what the score is above that, get it and you're eligible for a grammar place.

Single-sex grammars tend to have much smaller geographical catchment areas than co-eds. It all depends on where you live. The county council website has details of where your nearest would be.

In terms of whether grammar is the appropriate place for him I'd say as a basic he would need to be looking to achieve Level 5s in Yr6. Analysing the last government data before all the local grammars converted to academy status, the vast majority of children have this. At the 2 single-sex schools there was no-one below this. Because of this, work is pitched at a high level from the start and it can be hard to catch up.

If you have a very science-minded child the grammars are very often the best option - they do single sciences and have far greater numbers studying to A-Level.

That said, the non-selectives round here do get really good GCSE and A-Level results.

I know it's hard but try to ignore the people doing loads of work out of school. You don't have to do two years of tuition to pass it.

Anything else you need PM me smile

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:01:15

right.. utterly embrassed...all my post I have been spelling Grammar wrong (would like to blame the predictive text at this point...) blush

A quick look at LEA website shows as Weblette states, that it is catchment area driven, 2x VR papers and all scores above 121 are offered places. An even briefer look at the 2 schools that would be offered, shows no mention of SEN support.

Thank you weblette for the offer of PM'ing you.

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 19:03:43

The next thing is to go and look at the schools- and ask searching questions about SEN. And look at the alternatives- which might very well deal with SEN better.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:13:34

Gramm*A*r schools only exist properly in three counties

in the rest of the country we have the luxury of all of the state schools having proper top sets without all that tutoring and selection malarkey

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:18:00

seeker thank you for your support. Out of interest - are you anti-grammar? or just the hoops that have to be jumped through?

weblette Fri 05-Oct-12 19:18:44

Actually lots of the grammars have great SEN support, the boys' ones particularly. A friend's son is dyslexic, dyspraxic and borderline ASD. He's had tremendous help. Agree that you should go and see them.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the Bucks exam is changing from next year. Because all the grammars are now academies the county council has no responsibility to administer the test. It's yet to be announced what the new format will be, they are committed to maintaining selection though.

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 19:20:42

I am anti selective education. But I know a lot about it.

weblette Fri 05-Oct-12 19:20:42

Forgot to add, my ds2 is also year 4, my eldest did the exam 2 years ago, ds1 did Paper 1 yesterday. I hate the exam and do sometimes wish we'd moved somewhere else. Bit late for that now though...

seeker Fri 05-Oct-12 19:21:45

But I do have a child who is being very well served by a grammar school.

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:34:40

Can I visit them if not applying this year?

Weblette: is it too cheeky of me to ask if you are doing lots of additional out of school work with your Ds2?

weblette Fri 05-Oct-12 19:39:51

You've just missed the open evenings alas, some will do ad-hoc visits, others won't.

I'm not doing anything extra with ds2 atm, I'm not yet convinced that grammar is right for him whereas it would suit ds1 down to the ground. With my older two the only extra work I've done is to look at papers/techniques from the January before they were due to sit it and one term of formal tuition.

I'll PM you.

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:40:42

Seeker: I think that is my feeling - I don't want to go all out and overstretch DS, but I can't help feeling that despite everything, he would do well in the Grammar system (from what I understand of it)

Will keep talking with school.

plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 19:41:17

you are a superstar

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