Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

(390 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Mon 05-Nov-12 17:16:02
TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 18:14:33

The tutor was pushing the child hard so that he/she was safe bet at 95%? What a bastard grin

We did what your tutor did except we condensed it into 6 months so i'm not rushing to condemn the guy.

Having been through it twice I tend to be hmm when people tell how their DC barely needed tutoring. One mum went so far as to name her school. I looked it up and it was ranked 200 places below mine. If mine did her 11+ they wouldn't need much prep either.

Are there tutors out there who take your money knowing that the DC only had an outside chance? Of course but it's a bit ridiculous to malign a whole group of workers because of a few that lack principles.

piggywigwig Tue 05-Feb-13 18:26:36

copthallresident
"His parents were also advised not to go on holiday during the summer holidays at the end of year 5 but to spend the 6 weeks doing at least 5x 50 minute NVR and VR tests each day which they did."

I don't wish to appear incredulous but if the boy had been doing 3 x 50 minute NVR and VR papers a week from YR4, with the occasional further 3 x 50 in bad weeks, then I struggle to see how his tutors or parents could have found enough papers to do 5 a day in the 6 week summer holidays? Somewhere on Mumsnet, I've done a number tally of all the VR books and I suspect there's around the same for NVR. There's surely not that many tests in existence for the regime you mention - unless the tutor has a huge bank of unpublished, self-written tests, ie the "W" ladies for Tiffin.
I'm happy to be shown the error of my thinking though, on this...have I got the wrong end of the stick?

I understand the competition level for Tiffin and having tutored my DD2 for a superselective in VR, Maths and English Comprehension, I know only too well the fears a parent can have. However I struggle to understand why it takes 2 years to bring an able, top-of-the-class child up-to-speed on NVR and VR?
I'd like to see the end of 11+ tests where only NVR/VR are examined - you can drill a child to pass. I'm not sure the CEM tests are the Holy Grail they're made out to be but they certainly seem to be causing stir in that they're harder and there's no practice papers out there.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:01:32

TotallyBS bit confused. "We did what your tutor did except we condensed it into 6 months so i'm not rushing to condemn the guy."

Is "Your tutor" these nutters that had some child doing multiple NVR/ VR for over two years and then 5 per day throughout the summer holidays of Year 5 for a supposedly untutorable (and certainly only tutorable to a limited extent) test? And you condensed that into 6 months? Sorry but if that is what you mean then no you can't win with me. That is bordering on child abuse.

If "your tutor" means the term of cosy sessions once a week with Miss Smart and 45 mins of a Maths work book on weekday afternoons (she got home at 3) if it didn't seem to be ridiculous to be calculating the area of a football pitch when the sun was shining outside and the sounds of her friends enjoying themselves were wafting up from the playground below, and you spread that out to six months, that sounds about right. Got DD into two of the day schools in the FT 2012 top 10 smile Similar regime also got DD's classmate a scholarship at CLC.

The most popular VR / NVR tutors around here test their would be victims first to determine who gets a place around their kitchen table , not sure if that is to make sure they don't waste the money of those with only an outside chance, or to make their tutoring into a self fulfilling prophecy. They still don't get everyone in though.....

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:03:52

piggywigwig I was quoting from another thread, and an extreme. I agree!

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:25

piggywigwig I do quote the exact poster and thread upthread but various people have come on thread doubting the existence of the likes of Mrs W, and I have been trying to explain the nature of the South West London tutoring industry that has grown up around the Tiffin tests in spite of what they actually involve.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:46:48

TotallyBS Come to think of it two weeks out of school for 9 to 5 tutoring, no other extra work at all, also got another classmate into RGS Guildford.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 20:07:37

We are not doubting that there are very strange goings on in that part of London. We are pointing out that you are making the same mistake as the folks from Kent in assuming that everywhere else is the same as where you are. smile

plenty of kids at Dd1s school were not tutored. DD1s school is not 200 places below any school.

annach Tue 05-Feb-13 20:23:20

Copthall, I suspect you are right that some parents tutoring for Tiffin are that extreme, and it borders on abuse. But that's really not typical of the tutored child. I can't help thinking though that the previous poster made a typo error and for 5 a day, it's more likely they advised 5 a week ie one a day. I tutor in the Kingston area (not a Tiffin tutor) and don't know of any tutor who advocates 5 papers a day.

My own DC were both tutored for selective schools. Didn't do it myself because I wanted them to have an outside influence - not just mum going on again. They did one paper a week with the tutor and one at home. Sometimes we did a bit of extra maths. If the sun was shining they played out with mates until it got dusk then came in and did 40 mins that would otherwise have been spent on Skype saying to all their classmates: 'wot u doin?' 'I'm on Skype with u. Wot u doin?'

We did this for a year for each of them.

Every weekend they had mates round for sleepovers or film nights or waterfights depending on the weather. They had loads of days out, trips to the circus, cinema, holidays, visits to and from relatives, messing around at the seaside and in the woods building dens, endless days at the lido splashing around.

No hardship. Not a jot of childhood lost. So much gained. The only noticeable difference it's made is that both DChas grew tremendously in self confidence. DS1 was weak at English and now loves it. DS2 was weak at maths and is now regularly top of the class instead wobbling between of bottom of the top group, top of the middle.

Looks like they did well in the selective exams. No rejections yet. But if they didn't, if they end up at the state school, they won't have miserable memories of a wasted year. They'll have memories of Minecraft and Warhammer tournaments and Nerf gun wars and Skyfall and cycling round to the corner shop with their gang, all pooling their pocket money to buy unspeakable drinks no parents would allow in the house. As children should. But they will get into the top stream, and they will feel able to cope with secondary school homework.

Copthall, please lay off this myth that tutoring is intrinsically a cruel and unnatural browbeating experience. Over-pushy parents are over-pushy whether they tutor or not. Excess parental pressure is cruel. Tutoring is not. Tutoring can be - and I know it to be for my pupils - a truly pleasurable experience. My pupils often hand-draw me Christmas and Thank You cards (sometimes even with 'I love you' in them!) because I build their confidence and help them achieve their dreams. Not their parents' dreams, their own. You do know some children fall for selective schools and long to go to them? My own DC both said they missed their tutor and bought her huge bunches of flowers when they parted. They felt a deep affection for her.

A friend and her son recently had their tutor over for lunch, they all got on so well. He was so glad to see his tutor again. It can be an intensely affectionate two way thing. I care deeply that my students make progress, that they get into the schools they are aiming for. If I don't hear, I fret and ring up. As did my own DCs tutor when we hadn't called her. Not to glean wicked insight into the questions so we can use the knowledge to further our financial gain, but because we are dying to know how our pupils did and how they are feeling.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 20:57:34

annach See my posts at 1400 and 15.53. Yes tutoring can be a positive experience and what you describe is what it should be, but for the majority of my SW London friends, especially those that sat the Tiffins, it really was about being crammed around a kitchen table with 5 others doing endless practise papers because that is what the tutors that get passed about by word of mouth offer, a miserable experience that most of them now regret putting their children through, and quite possibly in the case of the Tiffins a waste of money too. And I do think that Tiffin is partly responsible but enough, I just hope at least one parent comes on here and thinks twice about getting sucked into the madness, and focuses on what will be a positive experience for their child.

piggywigwig Tue 05-Feb-13 21:31:14

copthallresident
"piggywigwig I do quote the exact poster and thread upthread but various people have come on thread doubting the existence of the likes of Mrs W, and I have been trying to explain the nature of the South West London tutoring industry that has grown up around the Tiffin tests in spite of what they actually involve. "

Please accept my apologies - I checked, re-checked and re-read before posting but with my migraine-debilitated brain but I somehow missed the earlier quotation of this. I don't usually make mistakes like that but to be honest, I was responding to your post of 05/02 15:53 where you don't quote or cite the original poster. You quoted the "Mumzy" bit on your posting of 04/01 at 22:55

I have no doubt whatsoever that there are tutors and DIY parents who pursue a relentless timetable for 11+ preparation. However, I echo Annach's sentiments with dirty-great bells on, that many tutored children gain so much...and the most importantly thing they gain, is confidence. Mine did - it was the making of them in many ways... and it was all down to the fact that they chose to sit and prepare for the 11+ There's no way I'd "out" myself by giving examples but believe me, every one of DD1 and DD2's teachers remarked upon the hugely positive changes in them, following my tutoring.

I feel sorry for any child who is introduced to hothousing and cramming at such an early age.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 22:40:35

annach I may well live in a parallel world but the idea that you think 5 a day is ok just makes me feel weak....

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 22:42:46

Aargh how annoying I've done it again.

I mean that you think 5 a week is ok.

That's just nuts tbh. IMO.

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 23:49:20

Copt - it is only madness in your judgy pants eyes. In the Land of the Tiger Moms this 'madness' is normal.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 08:09:42

I think it's complete and utter madness too. And unnecessary.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 08:19:48

TotallyBS And for why??? You do not need to do that sort of soulless cramming, far more effective to have your DC read a good book, or do something else that stimulates their intellect and feeds their intellectual curiousity and is part of their rounded education. They do not need to do that sort of cramming to get into the top schools, the Heads are very vocal about that, and they don't need to do it when they get there. DD an A* student and now studying Natural Sciences at an elite university, and on for a first, she works very hard but she succeeds because she has thinking skills, intellectual curiousity, and a genuine fascination with her subject.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 08:22:40

And Yellowtip has an entire tribe wink going through elite universities achieving at the highest level............

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 08:47:49

Copt- We all have anecdotes of DCs that either coasted or did the minimum and still went on to have a glittering career. What you don't seem to get is that some children do need this 'madness'.

I kept track of DS's progress during that 6month period and it was only at month 5 that his test score past the 'safe-ish' 90%. He wouldn't have past without the 'madness'. And no,he is not now struggling.

As for the reading a good book instead, why does the whole thing have to be mutually exclusive? I mean, my DCs crammed AND did music, read, play and watched TV.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 08:48:32

Copt- We all have anecdotes of DCs that either coasted or did the minimum and still went on to have a glittering career. What you don't seem to get is that some children do need this 'madness'.

I kept track of DS's progress during that 6month period and it was only at month 5 that his test score past the 'safe-ish' 90%. He wouldn't have past without the 'madness'. And no,he is not now struggling.

As for the reading a good book instead, why does the whole thing have to be mutually exclusive? I mean, my DCs crammed AND did music, read, play and watched TV.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 09:13:59

TotallyBS DD doesn't ever coast or do the minimum at anything! She throws herself into everything she does, and she does it with evident enjoyment and humour. Just recruited by the Science Museum to communicate that enthusiasm for Science to others. I am just glad no one ever took the joy out of it for her....

Anyway I have the joy of my own studies to engage with, you have actually made the procrastination more painful than the getting down to it. Thanks wink

The fault is partly with an exam that can lead to that sort of preparation increasing the mark. Lets hope the Grammar Schools do succeed in making the exams tutorproof .....

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:01

Yellowtip, you feel weak at 5 x 40 min practise papers a week? Get a grip. I don't actually advocate anything like that amount, but I can't see it hurting any child of 10 to do that in amongst an active and fun-filled life. After all, lots of them go onto secondary and have an hour's homework each night. I've never set a child anything like that amount and my own DC didn't do half that. I was pointing out that no one really recommends 5 papers a day and the quote was likely to be a very misleading misprint. That is just not likely. Unheard of. 5 a week is pretty intensive but it's not onerous. 5 x 40-60 min papers in 7 days during the summer holidays leaves untold amounts of time for play, fresh air, cavorting, days out. And of course it isn't at the expense of reading good books, listening to great music, going out into the world and exploring it. How short are days where you live? Sounds like they are only two hours long.

It isn't hardship to work hard. Especially for those DC and parents who want a Sutton grammar or Tiffin because the alternative is an unpromising state comp.

I didn't like Tiffin for my own DC. It wouldn't have suited my DC. We didn't try for it. But if we had, most importantly, if my DC had had a burning desire to go to that school above any other, and if getting in meant five practise papers a week during the summer holidays, we'd have done them first thing in the morning and then made sure the rest of the day was packed with fun of the DC's choice. It would have been water off a duck's back to them. As they went to bed each night, the papers would have been forgotten already and the kayaking, swimming, BBQs etc would be what they recalled of that summer pre 11+.

It hurts no one ever to work hard and play hard. The key is not to miss out on the play. It's a weakness in modern British culture to get so uppity about a bit of extra effort - I mean a tiny little bit - an hour a day at max (most tutors suggest 2 hours a week.) Our DC aren't fragile little critters. I do know that the marks needed to get into Tiffin even three years ago are now well below their pass rate. If DC want to go there, they have to work hard, because others who are prepared to will get in over them if they don't.

i suspect what is really damaging to them is the parental attitude, not the tutoring. Tutoring works best with the attitude: study a bit harder and you'll find your work easier, you'll feel confident, get better grades, and when you sit any exams you'll know what to expect. There's no guarantee you'll pass, but there's every guarantee you'll improve and that will help you wherever you go to school.

I have heard parents outside Tiffin school exams saying: 'Go in there and pass that exam. It'll save daddy £250000.' And 'You can beat all these boys' (waves arms around at the 1000s of Tiffin hopeful as his pale son looks on, frightened.) That is pressure. A few papers a week isn't. Don't blame the tutors for the parents' attitude.

Hothousing children is not fair. There are parents who sit their DC down after school to rigorous piano practise, Kumon maths sheets etc for three to four hours. We bought our house from such a couple. Their DC didn't have a single toy or book between them, just neat rows of 11+ practise papers in their bookcases. Heartbreaking. But it's not tutoring per se that is at fault. I'm just trying to put a fair and positive case for tutoring to those parents who are considering it.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:48

Copt - there is a lobby of MNetters that seem to think that their DCs didn't get a place because of pushy parents that heavily tutored their DCs to pass the 11+

Would you care to share with them your thoughts on how all that tutoring has no appreciative effect on their DCs' performance.

I guess that the inference from that is that their DCs simply weren't bright enough.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:09:30

annach I really feel I have a quite adequate grip and five of these timed tests a week is barking. Even if each and every one of these kids, subjected to this silly sort of pressure to allay parental angst (because it's the parents putting their own needs first on this, not those of their kids), lives a halcyon Enid Blyton cavorting type of lifestyle.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:10:13

Yes TotallyBS that's exactly the inference.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 10:14:30

Yellow - You appear to have a brood of very bright and driven DCs. Why do you find it so hard to accept that not all DCs are like yours?

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 11:04:33

I suppose my DC are pretty bright but none of them are driven by any stretch of the imagination. Some are woefully undriven in fact. Driven just isn't their thing (or mine. I'm far too lazy for driven).

And I'd be fairly thick if I thought all DC are the same. I have not the slightest problem in accepting that obvious fact readily TotallyBS.

But how that makes a grinding regime of extra tutoring ok I'm really not sure confused.

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