OK, who's got a copy of a Common Entrance paper?

(72 Posts)
curlew Mon 03-Feb-14 18:20:00

Then we can all try it on our 13 year olds and see how they get on. Then we can send the results to Michael Gove, and increase the amount of research he's done by 100%...

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 04-Feb-14 10:51:39

Singersgirl, CE geography is KS3 without the population bits.

History the first half is a sources question. The second is write a history essay, the scope of titles etc is so vast that DCs learn one essay and a backup and parrot it down. DS wrote his William the Conquerer essay in Y6 and spent 2 years polishing it. "teaching to the test" as you say.

Prep school tell parents that CE is GCSE equivalent, but its a bit like Everest telling you that double glazing is wonderful. Until someone links CE to SAT levels this is hard to argue against.

DS had an level 3 A grade maths from his London Indy, who are known to mark very hard. He has started the Edexcel IGCSE maths syllabus this year and is finding it difficult. He is currently learning to factorise quadratic equations - he hasn't done it before!

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 04-Feb-14 10:58:01

I should make it clear I am very happy at the education DS received at his prep, which is probably one of the most academic in SW London. I am delighted with his senior school and am sure he will do very well there.

But, I just get cross that CE is portrayed as something it really isn't, a bandwagon Gove has happily jumped on.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 11:27:49

Common Entrance is pretty minor: it's mostly only taken by boys, and it's only at prep level. The successful senior private schools admitting boys from state primary at 11 don't put them through it.

EdithWeston Tue 04-Feb-14 11:39:51

Many CE school however have no entry point at 11+, and state school joiners go into the prep and do have to reach the CE qualifying mark to progress. The 11+ selection process is however designed to find pupils who should be well capable of doing that.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 11:47:30

13+ schools with prep schools are basically completely different schools.

When you exclude the girls schools and the schools that are either split between 11+ and 13+ or are purely 11+, the significance of CE evaporates almost entirely.

EdithWeston Tue 04-Feb-14 11:54:40

I agree. Not all private schools have a 13+ entry point. And of those that do, not all use CE.

But for those which do, it is a significant exam, and remains the single most important factor in the 11-13 curriculum in preps (whilst spawning countless articles by commentators of varying levels of scholarliness about its future).

wordfactory Tue 04-Feb-14 12:11:12

I think the only thing that CE really demonstrates is 'this pupil will knuckle down.'

As said, it's dull and fact heavy. To get a 70% plus mark in the higher papers, you do need to revise.

This shows the senior school hat you're not a lazy arse, I guess grin. Coupled with their own intelligence tests at 12, plus interviews, plus reports, plus classwork portfolio, it gives a school a good picture of a boy.

It also keeps a boy working in year 8, when they've already passed the entrance test.

DS didn't have to do it, and he seriously chilled in year 8!!!!

Shootingatpigeons Tue 04-Feb-14 12:51:58

I was very grateful that my DDs did not have to sit the CE at 11. The exams for the schools they applied to required much more thought and gave them a chance to demonstrate potential and ability, not cramming. It really is relatively easy to get 100% in the Maths at 11+ with a bit of tutoring, hence it spawns a tutoring culture.

Then the school they went to had three years to challenge and inspire them without the need to conform to a prescriptive curriculum, one that has only recently been overhauled not to be centred on what are perceived to be boys' interests, the history was the same as was lampooned by "1066 and all that". Of course Gove would not have a problem with that grin

singersgirl Tue 04-Feb-14 15:09:02

Cake, I wasn't supporting Common Entrance - far from it. I have 2 sons, one currently preparing for GSCEs and one preparing for 'transfer exams' (the school's own exam, partly based on CE) and my opinion on the Latin and French is based on what I see them doing - the language and the grammar parts, not the Latin literature. What my 12 year old is required to do in French is very close to what my 15 year old is required to do for IGCSE. It probably wouldn't be good enough for a top grade at GCSE but it's not far off what's needed for a solid pass.

Anyway, that's irrelevant. My main point was that I thought that Gove was looking in completely the wrong direction for 'tests' for schools - backwards, not forwards.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 15:35:51

My DS is doing CE, it seems pointless to me, but I suppose it assures his new school what he has been studying in Y7 and Y8, but then it's all in the NC so who gives a stuff anyway.

curlew Tue 04-Feb-14 15:41:02

In my day you only ever did the Common Entrance when you were moving from prep to public school at 13. 11+ for posh people. I didn't realize it had changed.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 15:50:48

It goes like this:

* most girls schools, and all at state primary -> 11+, no CE
* boys and a minority of girls at prep schools, 11+ and subsequently the CE

But the schools don't actually care about CE, they care that you pass their 11+, and will accept/reject boys on the basis of the 11+. Once you've passed their 11+, then the CE is just supposed to be a rubberstamp - they've assessed your ability, and unless you don't do any work for 2 years, there's no way you should fail the CE.

EdithWeston Tue 04-Feb-14 15:51:06

I think that's still it curlew though ISEB who set the 13+ CE also set exams for 11+ and for pretests and that can lead to confusion about what exam people are talking about. Especially as there is an 11+ paper that can be used as qualifying not competitive exam if the school so wishes. And of course some schools set their own 11+, pretest, and 13+ transfer exams and scholarship papers. And some pretest in year 7 not year 6.

The only thing that's new is the rise of the pretest (alongside references and interviews) as part of the procedure for selecting for conditional offers.

I think it's why prep schools need a good head or someone with responsibility for transfers, just to hold parents' hands through all the differing processes and help them come up with a realistic plan of attack which the school knows it can prepare the pupil for.

Blobbyblobbyblobby Tue 04-Feb-14 16:11:21

I can't understand the pretence of state education being in any way comparable to public school (and Cameron et al not being superpriviledged) when you look at CE.

There is no way the brightest kid in a state school could pass it cos plebs don't get taught Latin!

If Gove is serious about levelling the playing field by driving state standards up (which he isn't, he's just doing his own little sealed knot version of a 1950s boyhood) he will bring back Latin and put MFL firmly back on state school curriculum.

The local school to me barely do any MFL.

curlew Tue 04-Feb-14 16:30:46

Still can't open the paper to try on my guinea
Pig.
However, it's not going to happen is it? It's
Just another of Govey's whacky back of a fag packet ideas. His officials will rein him in.

TheWave Tue 04-Feb-14 16:44:37

Latin offered at our massive comp IF you wanted to take it. And 2 from a choice of 4 MFL and Mandarin. But plebs...really?

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 16:55:12

Latin is just one subject on CE. It has its own paper. It's entirely detachable, and I'm pretty sure you can sit CE without Latin.

MFL is a different story, again it has it's own paper but it's far more more important than Latin.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 08:35:24

I suppose Gove may impose exams at the end of year 8, with a view to introducing academic selection at that stage.

One of the arguments against grammar schools was always that 10/11 was too young.

I think Germany operates a system like this. Though happy to be corrected.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 08:37:17

Aga you can sit CE without Latin. I remember one of DS friends doing just that because he was new to the UK and hadn't studied it sufficiently.

French, I believe, is non negotiable. And the higher paper assumes a good standard.

TheWave Wed 05-Feb-14 11:18:14

In Germany they get separated into grammar schools vs other types of school after yr 5 equivalent, so even earlier.

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Feb-14 12:20:43

French might be non-negotiable, but they still give you a grade for each subject (Maths, Science, Geography, etc.). You could remove MFL + Latin from the CE with no difficulty.

Blobbyblobbyblobby Wed 05-Feb-14 12:31:01

But the fact that Latin and French are there suggest they are seen as important by the institutions educating the children of the elite who will grow up into the elite of the future...so they probably are quite handy/worthwhile.

I know of no state schools within 20 miles of here where Latin has been taught in the last 20 years ('pleb' mesen).

Proper equality of opportunity would give importance to languages, history and the arts in state education but they seem to be seen as silly distractions from maths and science...it's a shame.

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Feb-14 12:40:09

French is definitely prioritised in the private sector. My kids' prep dropped Greek a few years ago and Latin feels like an after thought, but French they do from Y1 (age 5).

The problem state education has is that the gold standard is a C in Maths GCSE, another in English, and once you've achieved those, the 5 A*-C is guaranteed.

So comps spend a huge amount of effort on boosting kids up from D to C in Maths, working on English, because if they can get up from a shitty 45% 5 A*-C at GCSE to something in the 60%+ or 70%+ range, then they will start to become a first choice school sought out by parents who care about their kids' education.

Maybe an interest in History and Geography can follow alongside the naice kids their improved results attracted, but I suspect it's more like:

Step 1: - work very hard to pass Maths + English GCSE
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Profit!

When you are paying for an education, the school is free to market itself on any aspect of its education, but state schools, aside from a few grammar schools, have little to go on beyond a league table position entirely determined by the number of children achieving a C in Maths and English at GCSE.

curlew Wed 05-Feb-14 12:43:46

"The problem state education has is that the gold standard is a C in Maths GCSE, another in English, and once you've achieved those, the 5 A*-C is guaranteed."

I feeling a broken record on thread like this, but this is not true. It may have been but it isn't any more. Children are required to make "expected progress" and for a high achiever, that isn't a C. So the days of stopping once they reach a C, if they ever existed, are no more.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 12:50:48

But Curlew there's no evidence whatsoever of OFSTED doing owt about it!!

And frankly Gove has just put his lap dog in charge. Do really have faith that they will hunt down all the under achievers and heads will roll?

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