11+ being scrapped

(1000 Posts)
musu Sun 05-May-13 11:36:32

At one school in Essex here

Interesting development which follows on from Bucks CC overhauling their 11+ and trying to make it tutor proof (although everyone I know in Bucks is still employing tutors).

tiggytape Sun 05-May-13 11:52:40

They are still going to have testing but it will be 'tutor-proof' or at least less predictable.
I think that is a good thing for the children, parents and the schools.

We live in an area where a place at a Super Selective (i.e. grammar with no catchment area) is a possibility and the tutoring culture is quite astonishing.

A few years ago it started in Year 5 with once-a-week tutors.

But then people knew of super clever children not being offered places so, to be certain, they started tutoring in Year 4.
The number of applicants are nearing 2000 for some grammars now but there are still only spaces for 150-180 to attend.
Tehrefore hundreds pass the 11+ but won't get offered a place.
Therefore it is not enough just to pass, they also have to beat 90% of all other applicants from a 30 mile radius.

This year, the people I know with a child in Year 6 who are really pulling out all the stops have 3 specialist tutors: one for maths, one for English and one for reasoning.
The children do 3 hours per week plus daily homework and mock tests.
It starts off slowly in Year 4 but by the end of Year 5, they focus on nothing else and do booster sessions in each school holiday too.
And these are children who finished Year 5 on level 5 SATS. It isn't like they are a bit behind or below average - they are already very clever. But very clever isn't enough when you are up against 1000+ other equally clever children.

tiggytape Sun 05-May-13 11:54:22

Oh and it did pay off - they did get a grammar offer in March. But then you could argue that under a tutor-proof system children of that ability would have passed anyway.

musu Sun 05-May-13 12:03:29

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops. So far it has made no difference in Bucks. Ds is in year 4 and everyone I know has got a tutor booked to start at the beginning of year 5 (I suspect some have started already but not broadcast that fact). Ds won't be doing the 11+ so we haven't bothered.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 12:15:26

The changes brought in by Chelmsford County High School for Girls isn't new/hot-off-the-press news, so I'm a little surprised at the Telegraph reporting it now. I guess it's at least 6 months old and hardly a scoop.

Chelmsford aren't scrapping the 11+ they're merely changing the format of the the selective test they present to candidates, calling upon CEM to devise it, rather than GL Assessment VR via the CSSE (Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex) and the Maths and English that CSSE set.

We have superselectives in Essex but no pass marks - it's the first 112 highest-scorers past the post for DD2's school. Therefore, you don't get the situation Tiggytape mentions with another superselective, where people "pass" but don't get a place.

Tiggytape
"But very clever isn't enough when you are up against 1000+ other equally clever children."

Absolutely right - the competition for GS places is incredibly tough. It's only one of the many steps in life where competition is huge.

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 05-May-13 12:16:00

I think dd's independent school are using theses tests. They are computer based and called INCAS. I'm sure that place in Durham has something to do with them

Interestingly for reading ds who is currently being assessed for Aspergers and who has been seriously under performing at school it has shown up that he has exceptional ability in literacy. We had been concerned about him getting into the senior school.

No one has tutored in fact it's been almost impossible to find our much about the tests.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 12:24:22

If CEM can truly produce a tutor-proof test for Chelmsford, then I welcome it with open arms. If unscrupulous tutors now find they can't make money from capitalising on people's fears, then fabulous! If it levels the playing field and diminishes the tutoring "arms-race", then even better. But I don't think it's really managed it in Birmingham and Warwickshire, where they've already been doing CEM's tests for a while.

musu Sun 05-May-13 12:25:27

Durham do the Bucks new test and the Eton 11 pre-test (which is definitely supposed to be tutor proof). I'm sure some people must try and tutor for Eton though.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 12:36:29

TBH - in Essex, we're semi tutor-proof anyway as our exam is VR, English Comprehension (with two hefty sections on spelling and punctuation) and Maths. Whilst you can tutor a child in terms of covering all of KS2 and teach them spelling and punctuation rules, they still have to have the ability to do it with a passage they've never seen. Then there's the notoriously difficult comprehension with inference skills tests that go above and beyond what a normal 10 or 11 year old can be expected to tackle.

Try this for size

http://www.csse.org.uk/English%20for%20pdf%202007.pdf

Likewise with the Maths - they have to take what they've learned and transfer that knowledge to solve heavyweight questions.

VR and NVR-only tests are easily tutorable and therefore IMHO no measure of a candidate's suitability for GS.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 12:39:10

Picturesinthefirelight
I'm not sure that Chelmsford are doing a computer-based test but I could be wrong.

musu
As I understand it, no child in Bucks has done the CEM test yet.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 12:40:35

...not child has sat the test for a place at GS.

musu Sun 05-May-13 12:54:21

No, Bucks CEM starts this September but as I said it hasn't stopped people booking tutors. We are out of that now and it is amazing just how many people have done that. I thought that those people were my friends but none of them mentioned anything about reserving tutors until after ds moved schools! I was amazed at how competitive it all is.

trinity0097 Sun 05-May-13 13:55:46

It wouldn't be INCAS from CEM centre, as that is to measure process made not a entrance type test.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 14:47:18

musu
"I thought that those people were my friends but none of them mentioned anything about reserving tutors until after ds moved schools! I was amazed at how competitive it all is."

It's a sad fact of reality that you have no friends in the 11+ game if your "friend's" children are direct competitors for a place. I too was guilty of playing my cards VERY close to my chest. I didn't lie but neither did I volunteer too much information when asked. I'm lucky that I keep myself to myself anyway, in real life so didn't have any real issues. wink

As far as getting hold of tutors is concerned, you're either in the know or you're not and many are already full by the beginning of YR4. We didn't play the paid-tutor game.

musu Sun 05-May-13 17:08:53

piggywigwig that appears to be true. I discovered that quite few had booked tutors in year 2. Quite a bit of lying though as I remember talking about it and asking direct questions! I also remember being surprised at the number of people who had done senior school visits whilst our dcs were in year 3, again something I only found out many months later.

At that stage we would have been planning for ds to take the 11+ but then our circumstances changed and ds moved schools to one that finishes at 13.

If we had stayed at the school I doubt that I would have employed a tutor as we aren't in a super selective area and I'm of the view if they need lots of tutoring to get a place they will also need lots of tutoring to keep up. That is a view I shared with my 'friends' but I suppose they didn't believe me.

thecatfromjapan Sun 05-May-13 17:23:08

i think the Birmingham grammars have been using Durham CEM papers. And examples are on-line already. I don't see how they can possibly be tutor-proof since they draw on the same skills that existing papers call for: wide vocabulary; knowledge of grammar; maths. confused So I don't see any decline in tutoring brought about by this change.

Personally, i find them a bit worrying because they will discriminate in favour of children who have been exposed to a wider vocab and more advanced grammatical structures (and higher-level maths) - and thus discriminate against those that haven't.

piggywigwig Sun 05-May-13 18:02:03

thecatfromapan
"i think the Birmingham grammars have been using Durham CEM papers. And examples are on-line already. I don't see how they can possibly be tutor-proof since they draw on the same skills that existing papers call for: wide vocabulary; knowledge of grammar; maths. confused So I don't see any decline in tutoring brought about by this change.

Personally, i find them a bit worrying because they will discriminate in favour of children who have been exposed to a wider vocab and more advanced grammatical structures (and higher-level maths) - and thus discriminate against those that haven't."

The only example online, that I know of, is the standard one that is shunted around to every consortium/school/ etc. It gives a very vague idea of the sort of thing that might be asked.

The reality of life at grammar school, is that if they aren't already at a certain level of skill and understanding of English and Maths, they might find the pace of life a little hard and become unhappy.

tiggytape Sun 05-May-13 18:55:35

Grammars fairly local to us have maths and English as well as the reasoning tests at 11+
All that happens though is that people hire maths and English tutors in addition to the reasoning tutors. It certainly doesn't level the playing field at all.

The children sitting the 11+ in September (i.e the start) of Year 6 need to have covered the entire Year 6 curriculum in maths and beyond to realistically be at the required standard. If the school don't support this by racing ahead with the brightest children (and not all do), it has to be covered at home.
The same is true of English. There are 10 year olds right now getting reacquainted with collective nouns, interesting homophones and synonyms for the word ‘said’ via old fashioned flash cards! And that's not to mention the endless English comp practice papers they sit.

If the exam is in any way predicatable, parents will prepare for them in any way they can.

exoticfruits Sun 05-May-13 19:13:52

Wonderful news. If schools don't like the tutoring, which they don't, it is up to them to do something about it and this is a good start. I would love it if tutoring didn't get any advantages.

exoticfruits Sun 05-May-13 19:14:12

I am glad they have woken up to the problem.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Sun 05-May-13 20:34:54

The last thread on tutoring was about a week ago. Various MN regulars were going on about it being cheating. Others weren't quite so direct but the general consensus was that nice parents don't tutor.

So grin at the poster for being so [shocked] that people she considered friends didn't mention that they were tutoring.

And why do people keep going on about unscrupulous tutors. I'm not a tutor but if you came to me and said that you want me to tutor your DC for a couple of hours a week for the next fours years I would say thank you very much.

Does anyone really expect the L'Oreal woman to say 'buy the Boots version. It does the same job'?

Or 'the perfume is only worth £2. The other £28 is for advertising and the fancy bottle. The fragance there for £5 is similar' etc etc.

Tutoring seems to be the only profession where no one blame the gullible customer .

CognitiveOverload Sun 05-May-13 20:39:42

I went to that school. They probably dont care much abiut equality but more upset that children of lower academic ability get help through tutoring and this skews their intake. They only want the brightest...not kods who have been coached to pass and then find actually being at the school too much.

musu Sun 05-May-13 20:41:51

Not shocked just surprised that people I have known for 5 years didn't bother to mention it. I don't see other people's children as a threat. Rather I'm happy to celebrate their achievements but I'm learning that I'm in the minority where that is concerned. When ds was going for his scholarship I wouldn't have been upset if his friends had applied too.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Sun 05-May-13 21:02:02

musu - those people were probably conscious of being judged. As I've said, the consensus, at least on MN, is that nice people don't tutor.

Maybe, if their DC got in they didnt want people to say what people here on MN say ie if your DC needs tutoring to pass then they aren't that bright.

I'm just guessing at the reasons since I obviously don't know them but I highly doubt that it had anything to do with thinking that you are a threat.

I mean, unless they are a bit weird they are hardly likely to think that you are going to do hire two tutors if you ever found out that they had one. smile

musu Sun 05-May-13 21:27:32

That isn't the consensus where we live though. Where we live everyone tutors, I just didn't realise they booked them so early! Mind you if I were minded to put ds in for the 11+ I wouldn't book a tutor as no one knows what the new exam is going to be like.

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