Predicting Oxbridge in Year 7?!?

(64 Posts)
settledandsmug Fri 21-Jun-13 11:27:28

I attended a parent forum meeting at my DCs school recently and a question was raised with regards to Oxbridge entrance and student preparation.

The staff response was that some likely candidates can be identified from year 7 and they keep a close watch throughout their school education. I was intrigued by this and have a couple of questions for your consideration:-

1. Do you think this is possible and/or sensible?
2. If you do, what do you think they identify in year 7?

I asked these qs at the forum and was only offered vague answers. Just curious really, but could imagine an onslaught of Y7 parents all desperate to ensure their children fit the 'Oxbridge box'.

MarshmallowFarm Sat 22-Jun-13 13:21:19

I was identified as "backward" (appalling label they used to give kids in the 70s) at age 5. Struggled to keep up throughout primary. Suddenly it all started to click when I was 15/16 and, much to everyone's amazement I went to Oxford.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 22-Jun-13 13:29:20

My school did this in the mid 80s - had a g&t group and gave them extension stuff and then encouraged then to apply to Cambridge.

I was not in it (messy, bad handwriting, not an all rounder, asked hard questions and talked too much). Went to Oxbridge. So did a few others in my year (state school).

Not one of their g&t group did.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 22-Jun-13 13:30:01

Marshmallow, do you have a summer birthday?

Isthiscorrect Sat 22-Jun-13 14:06:24

"only really becomes defined in Y12"
Year 12 is too late. GCSE grades are all important for Oxbridge.

I went to Oxford, identified in Lower six - bit of a surprise to all really (not least me grin ). DH went to Oxford as well. I think we'd both be stunned if ds2 went & not that surprised if ds3 did (although I'd be equally unsurprised by ds3 ended up doing appallingly :lol: ). Both boys are bright enough but ds2 is utterly uninterested in academic work - he does well when glued to the table & made to do some but he hates book based learning. He does very well in other areas. I think he'd hate an Oxford style degree tbh.

Ds3 however loves topic work - if they do say Victorians or Egyptians at school he'll come home & find out more. He wants to know everything & thinks about it outside school & comes up with lots of questions. So in his case I could see him fitting it.

I doubt either would be identified in year 7 by teachers though - as they both have scruffy handwriting & don't put themselves forwards. My opinion comes from my own experiences.

I know when I was offered a place (for biological sciences) my chemistry teacher was stunned - but tbh I wasn't an all rounder I had a deep interest in one area - schools aren't always good at noticing kids who fall into that group.

MarshmallowFarm Sat 22-Jun-13 16:38:37

wouldbe no I am a winter baby. I am dyslexic though (never identified at school however!)

MiniTheMinx Sat 22-Jun-13 16:47:39

I think it is worrying that some schools are identifying children in primary and labelling them Oxbridge material. As others have said and proven with personal experience, people's learning trajectories are different.

We have a two tier system where some are privileged because of economic inequalities. But now we are celebrating the fact that even within the state system there are further divisions, with some very young children being dismissed from the off.

I believe in setting, streaming, differentiating and even moving throughout the system based upon ability rather than age. This way almost all children would sit exams when they are ready not at some arbitrary age. I often laugh, thinking I might still be in secondary taking my English G.C.S.E nowgrin

I don't like the idea of teachers, many of whom are not Oxbridge material themselves having the power to shape a child's future attainment in this way. For some these pronouncements become a prophecy, for others a burden. For many more though it will simply make clear what we all know to be true, very few of these children will succeed to Oxbridge. Do they need to realise this at 11 years. Realise that competition for jobs and a salary which will afford them a comfortable life is and will be quite probably out of their reach.

Once a degree was enough to ensure good future prospects and a comfortable life, before that just finishing school and before that being able to turn up on time ensured one a job and therefore access to resources such as food. As work becomes yet more scarce it would seem that teachers are able to pick out tomorrows food bank recipients and those likely to get any job, those that have a degree from not just a university but from an ever diminishing list of universities.

Anyone notice anything?

Such nonsense as early assessment of university potential requires an assessment to be made of those without potential !

prettydaisies Sat 22-Jun-13 17:31:44

DD is going to apply to Oxford in the summer (currently just finishing Y12). I don't think at Y7 and before she would have been noticed. She's always been fairly clever, but not brilliant. However, she loves physical geography and has become more obsessed by it as she has got older. It has only been in the last year that she has considered applying to there.

HarumScarum Sat 22-Jun-13 18:17:42

I went to Oxford and apparently my teacher (of the subject that I eventually studied) advised my parents that I should be thinking about it when I was 12. They didn't tell me and I was quite surprised when someone else at the school suggested it when I was about 15 or 16.

lljkk Sat 22-Jun-13 19:52:51

I thought that folk always said that Oxbridge wanted depth (the more anorak you are about your subject the better). Whereas Ivy League wants Leadership potential in multi-all rounder ways, and tend to dislike depth/anorakness.

wineoclocktimeyet Sat 22-Jun-13 20:12:38

thebuskersdog because they had identified his potential in Reception and to keep him quiet in numeracy lessons one of the school Governors has been coming in (on a voluntary basis) this year to take him for maths
They started with 11+ questions and then took it from there - apparently the main problem was he couldnt actually read the words in the questions!!
Should add, he didnt actually take the GCSE this year, he did a past paper

mercibucket Sat 22-Jun-13 21:26:25

start with fairly high intelligence

do you live in the south east? add points
live in the north? deduct points

go to private school? double your points
go to grammar? add points
go to comp or secondary modern? deduct points

Arcticwaffle Sat 22-Jun-13 22:33:10

I agree with Saintlyjimjams that schools are good at noticing certain types of intelligence - maths is often fairly cut and dried. And I think school teachers can be quite bad at understanding what's wanted for non-school subjects, as nearly every secondary teacher has specialised in one or two school subjects and done a degree in that. I wasn't wild about any of my A level subjects, or very motivated, but I was quite passionate about the subjects I applied for (philosophy and psychology, but especially philosophy), and so I got in on that enthusiasm. But not that many secondary teachers will really know what exactly philosophy academics get excited about.

lottieandmia Sat 22-Jun-13 22:38:36

The thing is, Oxbridge are looking for independent thinkers. A straight A candidate is just the beginning really.

capercaillie Sat 22-Jun-13 22:40:07

Definitely wasn't predicted for me. A couple of teachers said it was a) unlikely and b) I wouldn't fit in.

I like proving people wrong.

wordfactory Sun 23-Jun-13 08:59:40

Well, as part of the widening access prog, it is extremely frustrating to meet students in say year 11 or L6 and discover they ahve been advised to take idiotic GCSEs and A levels!!!

Or they've been put off the notion moons ago!!!

So the seeds do need to be sown earlier.

That said, I'm not a fan of cherry picking DC as Oxbridge material. That is for the pupils to decide. I also think there's many a slip betwixt cup and lip, and those showing early potential may go off boil. Similarly, other students often come into their own later.

What I'd like to see, is that all students being given the correct information early on. Onformation, that frankly will stand them in stead for lots of other good universities.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 23-Jun-13 09:52:11

Word, one of the problems is that colleges and schools are not straight about the fact that all a levels are not equivalent for Uni entrance.

I got upset doing a similar project to see students doing at A2 eg law, media studies and sociology and wanting to read law at a good Uni and then work in a law firm.

wordfactory Sun 23-Jun-13 10:17:18

WBHV if I'm being charitable, I'd say some schools genuinly don't know (though that's a bit shameful in iteself)...but I have been to some schools and colleges where they are very resistant to the idea that some qualifications are less regarded than others.

Indeed, I've seen many a post on MN from teachers who are positively antagonistic to this point.

sashh Sun 23-Jun-13 12:09:36

Wineoclock, how on earth can a 6 year old do things like quadratic equations, surds or circle theorems without having been taught them?

Have you seen a GCSE maths paper recently? No surds on them, not sure about quadratics.

Anyway there have been cases of young children developing proofs that they have not been shown but just working from first principles.

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Sun 23-Jun-13 12:15:14

My French teacher told my parents I should be aiming for Oxbridge when I was in Yr 7. My Mum left school at 13 and my Dad did his degree later in life through work. We were not a typical Oxbridge family, and it was an ordinary state school. Teacher also happened to be my HOY, and taught me French all the way through (not sure if she engineered this on purpose). My parents didn't tell me about this until much later, and were not in the least bit pushy. I think the teacher could see that I had academic potential and, more importantly, was very, very self-motivated, which is extremely important to success at Oxbridge.

I did eventually go to Oxford - to study English! Teacher was gutted ;)

HarumScarum Sun 23-Jun-13 19:17:35

I wasn't a straight A candidate by any means. I didn't even get straight As in my A Levels, let alone O Levels. But Oxford obviously saw something they found interesting in me.

HarumScarum Sun 23-Jun-13 19:18:04

Not sure what it was, mind, and nor am I sure I turned out to be what they were looking for once I was there!

TheBuskersDog Sun 23-Jun-13 19:28:45

Have you seen a GCSE maths paper recently? No surds on them, not sure about quadratics.

Well my son took AQA linear maths higher level and they definitely feature. Perhaps that's why they choose to only put the top sets in for that one, I think it is seen as better preparation for A level maths (I have not seen the modular papers so don't know how they compare).

TheBuskersDog Sun 23-Jun-13 19:37:26

I think it's more of a problem that for many children it is like Oxbridge is another world, not helped by teachers who perpetuate the idea and so never let the children see it as an option. There must be plenty of children who had they attended another school would have been encouraged to give it a go.

Tuttora Mon 24-Jun-13 10:20:48

sashh
Those topics most certainly do feature on higher tier GCSE papers.
Perhaps your six year old did a foundation level GCSE paper, which is very much easier.

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