Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

(390 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Mon 05-Nov-12 17:16:02
Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:20:29

gelo I think I was keener that my borderliners should get into the grammar than the ones nearer the top, for exactly that reason.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:22:36

Gelo, a rising tide floats all boats.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 14:24:12

I wonder if there has been a change since independent school fees were hiked up hugely in the last 10-15 years? Previously a lot of professionals would send their dcs to private schools whereas now the majority can no longer afford to do so. That means there are more parents with all the advantages LaQueen describes are competing to get their dcs free good school places.

derekthehamster Tue 06-Nov-12 14:26:06

I am so glad I wasn't a member of mumsnet when my son sat an exam for a selective private school.

We did no tutoring at all! No vr/nvr. We did make sure he knew his times tables though. I had no idea that this is what parents did!

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:26:32

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

No - I disagree. That is neither fair nor true.

The truth is that there are less grammar schools nowadays
And there are more people who want a grammar school education for their children. There are more informed parents wanting a more middle class, more traditional, smaller school education - as close to free private schooling as is possible.
And there are too many clever children for too few places which means about 50% of those taking these test are easily clever enough for grammar school but there is only room enough to take 10% of them.

Tutoring is all to do with how that 10% decided:
In many areas highest score wins (no sibling or distance criteria is used) so a clever child who can score 83% in a test they’ve never seen before would be trumped by another equally clever child whose 2 years of preparation tutoring has enabled them to improve their speed and accuracy to score not 83% but 91%. The children are equally clever but the tutored child wins the place. Of the 400 children who pass the 11+ test for each school (in and around London), ,most of them will be of pretty similar ability. They have each scored higher than 1000 other clever applicants to pass the test but that’s not enough. 400 must be whittled down to 150 and they are in direct competition with each other to actually get offered a place and that’s where tutoring comes into its own – every percentage point counts and pupils are increasingly having to aim for perfect scores.

charlottehere Tue 06-Nov-12 14:28:36

In this area, it is essential to get a tutor as the exam is based on work Dcs do in year 6 (state), the exam is in september at the start of year 6. Unless you know what the dcs need to lnow and tutor them yourself.

Mrskbpw Tue 06-Nov-12 14:29:25

I went to a super-selective school (I still don't really know what a super-selective school is - clearly I'm not as clever as they thought I was).

Back in the dark ages (1985) when I was applying to secondary schools, no one was tutored.

And I had an interview. I'd lost my voice completely and had to use a lot of gestures, though perhaps that worked in my favour as I'm quite common!

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:30:30

And the whittling down process cannot include interviews. It is forbidden by law (by the Admission Code)
All grammar schools have to go on is who scored 91% as opposed to who scored 83% regardless of how much tutoring went into either of those scores and regardless of how otherwise suitable a child might be.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 06-Nov-12 14:31:57

What is wrong with getting a tutor?

I am planning on it.

DD is year 4. She needs help though she is bright. I don't have much time when she gets home and I'm not a teacher.

If people think it's wrong because some can't afford it...well some people can't afford ALL kinds of things. I don't see why denying a child some paid for help is morally correct.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:32:06

Tiggytape and LeQueen I don't disagree but the Telegraph article and others say this sort of thing (from Telegraph article about reforms to the system):

*One survey found that just over half of families who put their children through admissions tests pay for tutoring to help them pass.
However, grammar school head teachers have complained that some pupils who get through the test with the help of intensive tutoring then struggle to keep up with lessons once they arrive.*

St Paul's say they don't want tutored children for much the same reason.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:33:15

But we're not talking about the Admissions Code as it currently stands tiggy.

Chandon Tue 06-Nov-12 14:34:22

Laqueen, I think that is a myth as wel.

I cannot see how anyone could be coached beyond their ability. To the top of their ability, yes, but not beyond it surely. And well done to any tutor or parent who get any kid to the top!

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 14:36:25

Just remember, all you grammar school supporters, that you are also by definition, secondqry modern school supporters too. I suspect you would be less happy with that tag!

charlottehere Tue 06-Nov-12 14:39:08

Agree with mrs can't. I think it is up to the parent to realise if your child is the sort that will thrive in grammar and not just tutored to within an inch of their life. hmm My DD1 has done well and looks likely to get offered a place but we have known since she was very small ahe is bright, also turns out to be academic, enjoys working, wants to do well, is very competitive etc.

DD2 is bright but very different to DD1, she is airy fairy basically. I am going to contradict myself but we will be letting DD do the exam if she wants and getting her tutored for the same amount of time as DD1 because I feel she deserves to have as much support as DD1. However, she says she doesn't want to do it, this may change she is 8. smile

Chandon Tue 06-Nov-12 14:39:27

Why do you think I/we are grammar school supporters?

Careful not to be fighting windmills again.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:41:28

Chandon, I couldn't agree more! They don't seem to want the industrious at the academically selective school? Surely a super keen student with 'enough' intellect may even trump the academically gifted in time?

This is interesting - questions from St Paul's girls:

*1. Has your daughter received private coaching and in which subjects?
2. If yes, then for how many hours per week and for how long?
3. What were the reasons for tutoring?'*

'Incomplete information may prejudice a candidate's chances of being considered properly at the decision stage'

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 14:41:42

I didn't say anyone specifically was a grammar school supporter. But there q some on this thread!

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 14:47:09

This article from the Telegraph rings so true, sadly.

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:53:49

seeker - I am not really a supporter or otherwise but the happy side effect of a ridiculous shortage in grammar school places is that the comps aren't impacted at all and remain good with high academic standards.
You can get on a train near my house and be at a super selective grammar (no catchment area / top score wins) within 45 minutes but equally our local comp has a top set that comprises only children who scored level 5b and above in their Year 6 SATS. Many of these passed the 11+ but just never got a place.

If 25% of local children went to grammar school, instead of 3% or 5% or whatever it is, then the local comps might suffer. They might not offer separate sciences and further maths at A Level and would effectively be without a top group. But in many grammar school areas this doesn't happen. Grammar schools take so few local children that their impact on other schools is negligible (I appreciate in some areas though they do have 25% of children creamed off which may well cause problems for the others)

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 14:57:11

Does anyone really think it would be supportable to include interviews as part of the process?
One benefit of VR / NVR tests is that they have definable right / wrong answers.
Almost anything else needs qualitative analysis and is open to subjective judgement. Especially an interview. I suppose an interview oculd be recorded and then analysed fro number of similies and metaphores used, number of times an opinion is backed up by evidence, timing the pauses and lengths of hesitations...

They work fine for private schools and scholarships, presumably, because those schools are not by definition equal opps. They are looking for 'the right fit' - something which may be much more discernible in an interview. State funded schools must do all they can to assess on cognitive ability alone.

Can you imagine the appeals process? Suspicion of every kind of ism, discrimination against children who have EAL, not to mention an enormous disadvantage for children who have not had access to dinner part conversations and are not used to expounding their opinions to adults. The results would differ wildly depending on the skill, approach and personality of the interviewer, what sort of person a child finds easiest to talk to etc etc. Too many variables.

It just isn't workable, and is disallowed in the admissions process for a v good reason, IMO.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 15:04:14

Tiggytape- that is exactly what happens in our area, and it is the 25% type grammar school that I believe Michael Gove is looking at extending. It has profound educational and psychological impacts which nobody who has not actually experienced the system in action could possibly understand.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 16:49:15

Well it was allowed under the direct grant system Blu and it appeared to work.

Some universities interview. Is that wrong too?

The appeals thing is a separate issue but I can't see what's intrinsically wrong with interviews as a supplementary process to the exam.

dinkybinky Tue 06-Nov-12 17:20:15

One would assume that the most logical thing to do would be to open more Grammar schools.

figroll Tue 06-Nov-12 18:07:21

What makes me laugh is how grammar schools object to tutoring to get into the school, but are quite happy for them to be tutored right the way up to 6th form, once they are in. In fact, we have found that quite often the children getting prizes year after year, are those with private tutors. Round by me, they changed the test away from NVR and VR in the traditional sense and replaced the tests to avoid excessive coaching but I don't know if it worked.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 19:08:41

How do you know that, figroll? About the tutoring, I mean?

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