Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

(419 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Mon 05-Nov-12 17:16:02
Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 12:43:10

Interviews could never be transparent, quantifiable or accountable enough to be fair or acceptable for any school system which needs to be based on equal opps.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:45:01

Apparently a recent 7 plus interview question was 'which year was the Queen's coronation'?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 12:50:03

I would have known the answer to that at 7 but only because my parents had got married the year before and went to the coronation. That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became Queen.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:52:44

And most wouldn't know which year Elizabeth become Queen.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 12:55:15

"That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became Queen."

grin

ReallyTired Tue 06-Nov-12 12:57:31

"I would have known the answer to that at 7 but only because my parents had got married the year before and went to the coronation. That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became !

It was the golden jubliee last summer so I expect that sharp seven year olds might be able to work it out.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:57:37

smile I think it's about the recent jubilee celebrations - with which they'd assume familiarity - and a maths question in disguise.

Then they'd be wrong - that's the point! Coronation was 1953 - 59 years ago.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:06:32

Travel that's my point grin. I'm surprised that others didn't spot it too.

gazzalw Tue 06-Nov-12 13:11:07

Bisjo I think in an ideal world all schools would have a year-on-year, uniquely computer generated test such as Eton uses but I think it's very, very, very expensive (which is why such a system is not more widespread).

This whole 11+ 'bunfight' has really opened my eyes and made me redefine pushy parenting! We did some 11+ practice papers with DS but as he's not naturally a diligent child he was not an eager student. "Yeah, I've got that Daddy" was the closest you got to an aknowledgement that he was even paying attention. Fortunately he passed and got into a grammar school where he is very happy and whilst not top of the form, he appears to be above average as far as we can tell but it is of course very early days...

But ever since he gained his place, we have had no end of parents from the primary school DD still attends, anxiously asking us how old DS was when we started paying for a tutor (which we didn't) for him. And the looks of disbelief when we say that we didn't even start looking at VR/NVR until six months before the exams. It really, really irks me!

Oh, and whilst DS reports that in his form no-one did attend a prep school (although I do recall the Admissions Tutor said the boys came from about 87 different schools of which about 15 were private sector ones), it is quite apparent that most are from comfortably middle-class backgrounds.

One of DS's best friends has just moved from the state sector to a prep school and it's quite obvious that their whole way of teaching is about maximising the children's chances of getting the places at the schools that their parents would wish them to attend....

I am one of those 'council house' children from the 1950s, 60s and 70s who was lucky enough to get into a grammar school without any encouragement from home or extra help/tutoring.

Quite what has changed that means that the 11+ exams of yesteryear (which did cut across the social divide in measuring intelligence) no longer seem to do so?

crazygracieuk Tue 06-Nov-12 13:12:17

I agree with what's been already said. I don't believe that there is such thing as a tutor proof test.
The best you could do would be to evaluate the child without them realising that they are being tested (testing by stealth) but obviously that's not going to happen.

Random test formats mean that children will simply be tutored even harder as they have to learn more just in case.

Interviews favour the confident, eloquent and tutored.

crazygracieuk Tue 06-Nov-12 13:13:25

Is the Eton test really tutor proof?osn't it Common Entrance? If so why do many pushy preps tutor for it?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:15:58

Common Entrance exam is at 13. Eton do a pre-test at 11 which is a computer test and apparently cannot be tutored for. If they pass that and the interview then boys get offered a place subject to passing CE at 13.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:17:15

A good interviewer will easily spot a tutored child.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 13:30:49

And a good interviewer will not choose based on personal prejudice, and will look for potential.

And we are going to find these good interviewers exactly how?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:44:19

gazzal I went to a primary school that I would never dream of sending my dcs to. Back then there wasn't the internet. Our parents choose schools either by reputation or by not having a choice. I went to a primary school in the middle of a large council estate although I didn't live near there. I went to a grammar school that wasn't my choice either (my father refused to allow me to get the school bus to the one I wanted to go to but was quite happy for me to walk nearly two miles crossing dangerous roads to his choice). I also didn't visit any school I attended before I actually started at them (and didn't expect to visit either).

I did the first year of 12+ so wasted my last year at primary doing nothing and learning nothing. We did three practice papers in class and that was it. Looking back I would have easily passed any scholarship exam for independent school a year early, but that sort of education was completely unknown to my parents.

Everyone I know is talking about getting tutors for 11+ or confirming they have already booked tutors (some from year 2). They see it as investment in their child's future that will hopefully pay off by avoiding the need to pay expensive senior school fees. If they get into grammar and need tutoring to stay there then so be it. I think it is now a system that discriminates against those who don't have the money for tutoring. In my day there weren't tutors and the result was a far more mixed group of dcs at my grammar than are probably there now.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 13:49:13

If you are coached for interview but told to be honest and genuine, how can they spot the 'over tutored' child? Coached in that you are given a sensible head's up on what the likely questions are etc.

The consensus seems to be that children are passing the 11 plus but not being intrinsically clever enough to keep up later on? Interviews can apparently gauge whether a child is naturally clever by asking them challenging questions designed to independently assess natural intellect.

Someone asked about why tests worked well in the past - I think no one prepared as such so there was ore of a level playing field.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:53:01

People did prepare (in terms of practice papers in class) but it wasn't seen as a big thing. My parents said that if I failed I would go to private school. I was really keen to fail as I wanted to go to a school where I could have a pony (too much Enid Blyton!). I was genuinely upset that I passed.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 13:56:21

"The consensus seems to be that children are passing the 11 plus but not being intrinsically clever enough to keep up later on? "

Is there actually any evidence of this?

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:00:53

Seeker so much quoted by various heads in recent articles. Read something in times or Telegraph only the other day - both I think. There seems to be a feeling that schools like Tiffin etc should have much better results given their intake too - hence a movement to gauge more than VR/NVR etc. Independent schools have a composition & comprehension element etc.

I tend to think it's a myth bandied about by those who didn't get in/sour grapes but no evidence to back that up.

gelo Tue 06-Nov-12 14:07:52

I've seen studies that show that the borderline children that get into grammar schools are the ones that benefit (in achievement terms) most compared to those that go to secondary moderns/comprehensives. I suppose children rise to the expectations and don't like to be bottom whereas somewhere else they may have coasted a bit. It doesn't necessarily mean they are struggling, I'm sure many children can work a bit more conscientiously without too much effort.

LaQueen Tue 06-Nov-12 14:15:20

No test is tutor proof.

The children with well-educated, education-orientated parents are always going to have a massive advantage.

Growing up in a house where the parents are highly articulate and strive to include their DCs in conversation confers a huge advantage.

Growing up with a maths graduate parent, who is good at explaining maths problems to their DCs, gives them a huge advantage.

Growing up with affluent middle class parents who take their children travelling a lot, confers a huge advantage.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:17:39

The Durham tests cost almost four times as much as the standard tests. At £100 per applicant, it would be a crippling dent in the budget to cover the cost.

I can see that interviews are logistically difficult given how much time they'd take up, but a return to them after an initial whittling down of numbers would be good. I can't see any reason why it would be considered 'too intense' at the age of eleven. I was interviewed at that age by the HT of the school my parents wanted me to go to together with some man, for a direct grant place -they asked me lots of questions about current affairs and measurements and stuff but it wasn't in the least intense, just quite informal and friendly. I'm sure that 'coaching' for interviews can do as much harm as good.

LaQueen Tue 06-Nov-12 14:18:35

I think it's actually a myth, that children of below average intelligence can be coached sufficiently so that they can pass the 11+, and then struggle with the academic work required once at GS.

In reality, what happens is that already naturally bright/clever children are getting tutored, pass the 11+, and then don't really have any problems whatsoever with the academic work.

gazzalw Tue 06-Nov-12 14:19:45

But schools like Tiffin (and that always springs to mind because there seems to be so much spin surrounding how much prep needs to be done years in advance to stand any chance of getting a place there) maybe demonstrate what happens when your intake is generally a very highly tutored cohort (which doesn't necessarily make them the naturally most able of children).

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