Free tutoring for the 11+ - or how to make the 11+ more meritocratic

(434 Posts)
tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 23:08:03

Thinking aloud...

I successfully tutored my own dc for the 11+ and have been approached many times to tutor other people's children (I'm a teacher, but not at this level, but frankly didn't find it difficult to get on top of requirements for the 11+).

I've always said no to doing any paid tutoring (though I've tutored a friend's child for free) - I know I could make lots of money doing this but strongly believe that grammar schools should not only be open to the children of those who can pay - much like it used to be when I went to grammar school myself.

I'd like to return to that situation - where 11+ exams are NOT tutored for. But in the absence of that, I'd like to ensure that 11+ exams are open to everyone, rich or poor, and that the poor are as well prepared for the exams as the rich.

I'm happy to offer my expertise - but can't afford to spend my time tutoring everyone who might want it for free, personally.

So how to achieve that goal? I've thought of creating materials, websites... Anyone else like to join with me in this? Got any other ideas?

hottiebottie Mon 17-Feb-14 00:02:17

Have you tried asking on www.elevenplusexams.co.uk? Which 11+ areas do you have experience of tutoring for? There's a big demand for CEM-style materials in Bucks at the moment!

People didn't resort to tutoring in our day because there was a grammar school in every town. Unlike the situation today, where the 164 that remain are inevitably in big demand. It's a vicious circle and those who are not tutored are perceived to be at a disadvantage. DIY preparation is quite possible with the right support, but some parents find this difficult for a number of reasons - confidence, expertise, relationship with child, etc. Rightly or wrongly, there will always be a market for tuition as long as the situation remains as it is at present.

Retropear Mon 17-Feb-14 07:31:03

Hmm I think a lot is down to primary schools ie those that get their kids to a very good level in English and maths by the start of year 5 give kids an advantage so I'd give parents check lists to go through at the start of year 4 sadly.This will make sure they're on a level playing field from the very start.

Give suggestions of materials to cover weaknesses.I'd also stress the importance of reading and provide book lists which would encourage kids to read.

Then at the beginning of year 5 it's simply a list of what is covered in the exam and suggested materials.

They all differ and the above is on the 11+ forum already albeit in a slightly scary format.

Minifingers Mon 17-Feb-14 08:12:17

I'd prefer to get rid of grammars and bring the brightest children into comprehensive school, so that these schools are... Comprehensive.

Children shouldn't have to jump through a hoop at 11. No matter what you do you can't level the playing field. Not when such a disproportionate number of 11+ candidates are privately educated.

All schools need to be able to teach all children as there will always be children who are fantastically bright who won't sit the 11+, or who will fail it because they are having a bad day.

senua Mon 17-Feb-14 08:41:24

Sorry, am I missing something?confused Surely tutors are only filling a gap left by teachers, so the way to "ensure that 11+ exams are open to everyone" is for Primary schools to prep the most likely candidates (so if a Grammar takes the top 5% then you prep 10%; if they take 25% then you prep 50%).

mrscardigan Mon 17-Feb-14 09:39:45

Couldn't agree more, suena!

stillenacht Mon 17-Feb-14 09:42:41

I teach in the selective end of the 11plus I would love to see a test that tests general knowledge and lateral thinking eg How do you turn right on a motorway? What does ACAS stand for? (Both questions on my entrance exam which I took for a GPDST school in the 80s)smile

stillenacht Mon 17-Feb-14 09:43:36

Senua the 11plus questions are not in the National Curriculum

stillenacht Mon 17-Feb-14 09:44:41

We have pupils on level 3 English pass the 11plus... How can that be right?

I have wondered the same previously OP. I tutored my own son (well did test papers with him & went through bits he hadn't covered in school yet) & he got in. I did work as a tutor about 15 years ago. Tbh it's easy to self tutor for the 11 plus as there are so many materials.
I thought of a DIY website. With advice/programmes/do this type advice.

Minifingers Mon 17-Feb-14 10:05:42

I'm amazed that so many people actually think that fair selection at 11 is even possible in the context of a system where many sitting the 11+ Come from the private sector.

How on earth do you make up for the fact that some children sitting the 11+ will have been educated in classes of 15 in an academically selective school since nursery, and other children in classes of 30 where they are sharing their teacher with double the number of children, many of whom are vastly needier than themselves?

My husband and my brother are extremely bright - both have PHDs. Both failed the 11+.

It really saddens me that there are so many people who think it's a good idea to treat those who pass the 11+ like a separate species of learner, when there is a very wide spectrum of talent and ability in children. If you accept the 11+ system you have to create an artificial cut off point and say - children who don't reach this standard are categorically incapable of learning at a high level and are better off in schools where they won't be academically challenged. Or labelled as 'not academic' . This is completely unacceptable to me. Intelligence is to complex a thing and resists crude categorisation.

Retropear Mon 17-Feb-14 10:08:42

I don't think schools should choose.Classes differ(10 % in one may not be the brightest elsewhere),some kids perform better in school but may not necessarily be the brightest,kids mature at different rates, some kids get on better with different teachers........How do you define a bright child?

Reincarnatedpig Mon 17-Feb-14 10:09:59

There was a website called chuckra which had loads of free stuff including videos though they did have paid stuff as well. I think elevenplusexams are more interested in making money out of those caught in the 11 plus hysteria.

I would prefer tests that are completely untutorable. My dd goes to one of these superselectives and I know of kids tutored for years who don't get in. It is heartbreaking. My DD's school has a very low proportion of kids on FSM and is more like an independent.

senua Mon 17-Feb-14 10:13:10

the 11plus questions are not in the National Curriculum

And your point is ...?
Isn't that sort of thinking part of the problem.

Retropear Mon 17-Feb-14 10:13:16

Oh here we go.Yawn,yawn,yawn.

You've said this over and over again Mini.

Others don't agree.

venturabay Mon 17-Feb-14 10:15:00

I didn't have questions like that at all stillenacht, though I took the 11+, as opposed to a dedicated entrance exam for the GPDST, and it was simply the usual spot the difference questions etc. Then the girls who correctly spotted the differences enough times got a direct grant place - sometimes two. I'm not in any way convinced that knowing what ACAS is can measure the dexterity with which an 11 year old thinks though it may measure their social background.

My own DC needed decent teaching in maths and English to pass their 11+ for the grammar. The older ones got that at their primary school but the younger ones very obviously didn't, so the younger ones got 45 minutes help a week in both subjects to provide something resembling a proper grounding in both subjects. It's completely about good, solid teaching + bright kid. The answer to meritocracy lies in providing that across the board, as senua says.

I certainly got no tuition to get my direct grant places, just decent teaching at an early age - and I realise now that those direct grant places were highly sought after (something no-one ever told back then), almost certainly as sought after as London superselective places are now. None of the direct grant girls at school, including me, had a single practice test put in front of our nose - I didn't even know the test was coming on the day we were called into sit it. Perhaps the ludicrous parental pressure which pervades the whole system is a problem too? That said, the short did have interviews with the HT of our top choice GPDST and some other bloke (an educationalist of some sort) and that doesn't happen now.

venturabay Mon 17-Feb-14 10:18:23

The short listed is what I meant to say, there was no selection on the grounds of height smile

Minifingers Mon 17-Feb-14 11:25:17

"You've said this over and over again Mini."

Retro - did you mean to be so rude? hmm

I haven't actually ever had a sensible discussion here about the complexities and challenges of identifying which children will benefit from an education which is intellectually rigorous.

What part of my argument do you think people don't agree with?

The bit about whether it's a good idea to label children as 'academic' or 'not academic' at 11?

The bit about the impact of private schooling on chances at 11+?

Do people not agree that schooling up to the age of 11 can impact on a child's chances of passing the 11+? If they believe that it makes no real difference, then how do they account for the disproportionate numbers of privately educated children in grammar schools? (some grammar schools award nearly half their places to children from the private sector).

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Mon 17-Feb-14 11:33:23

I think that 11+ is a current fact of life and that many bright kids are currently at a disadvantage because of widespread tutoring.

Free tutoring (NHS style "free at the point of use") is a good idea and should be applauded.

Those who believe in a truly "comprehensive" system must, therefore, be indifferent about bright kids that fail 11+ through lack of access to tutoring, because it means they will default to the "comprehensive" system. They should be indifferent to tutoring, as they would never use one or let their kids sit an 11+ anyway.

I am not sure what difference it makes to less bright kids in secondary school to have either 1 extra bright kid or 1 extra rich kid in the class. It does nothing for their own success and has zero effect on social mobility or integration. Like minded people stick together.

tryingreallytrying Mon 17-Feb-14 12:00:35

Interesting points raised.

Clearly, if , like minifingers, you believe grammar schools are 'wrong', then my thread is a bit of a red herring and not designed for you.

Personally, I believe in differentiated education as I don't believe all children are the same or benefit from identical education. I believe in faith schools, single sex schools, vocational and technical schools as well - because whilst so-called comprehensives may suit many kids, some kids are better suited to more specialised education - and the state should provide what is best for each child.

But I don't want this thread to turn into a pro/anti grammar thread - that has been done to death on other threads. So going forward, please only post on HOW to improve the fairness of the grammar system not WHETHER the system should exist at all - that is a given in the context of this thread. And also beyond - it does exist and no amount of moaning on NM will change that!

tryingreallytrying Mon 17-Feb-14 12:01:16

But feel free to start a different anti-grammar thread yourself!

tryingreallytrying Mon 17-Feb-14 12:06:47

Reading the comments, an interesting correlation has occurred to me, that just as exams that used to be sat by most kids with little fanfare or preparation have over recent years become highly competitive and highly tutored-for, so also the people sitting for and passing those exams have also changed, at least in my area: namely that the proportion of children of recent immigrants to the country who sit and pass the 11% is now huge relative to their proportions in the country as a whole. I don't know if others have also noticed this? - I'm sure it is un-PC to mention this, but it is a fact - at my old (top) grammar, there were virtually no children of recent immigrants when I attended - now 65% of pupils there do not have English as a first language, acc to Ofsted. I'm not saying that's good or bad, it's just an interesting difference.

Obviously, correlation is not causation, but I wonder if there is a link - many of these parents come from cultures where intensive tutoring is the norm, in a way that until recently has not been the norm here. This has raised the stakes across the board for everyone applying to these schools.

Of course, even if my hypothesis is correct, it is clearly not the only factor - the introduction of league tables, making 'good' schools nationally visible, rather than only of interest to local candidates, and the reduction in unskilled, but well-paid, jobs, putting an increasing emphasis on the need for children to excel academically, are also factors, I'm sure.

A slight diversion from the overall theme of the thread - am just contemplating the reasons for the situation we find ourselves in, whilst thinking of how to resolve it. I'd like to see a return to the kind of meritocracy that allowed members of my family from v working-class backgrounds to attend grammar schools in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Not just those who can afford a tutor.

Minifingers Mon 17-Feb-14 12:38:22

You CANNOT improve the fairness of the 11+.

You can't 'control' for the input of highly motivated and controlling parents. (Considering the point made about immigrant parents on this thread - many immigrant families I know have raised their children from birth to be extremely compliant. I know mothers whose children study for 2 hours a day after school all the way through juniors - the mothers insist on it and the children do as they are told. They're not doing the work from natural interest - they are doing it because they have no choice. Either way, they are often MILES ahead by the time they come to sit the 11+. Children from more laissez-faire families may be just as intellectually able, or more so, but are likely to perform worse in exams. How on earth could you control for parenting style?)

You can't control for tutoring.

You can't control for the impact of primary education on performance at 11.

It's been tried and has been a failure.

The existence of grammar schools means those children left behind in secondary moderns (which is what comprehensives are in a system where grammars exist) are permanently ghettoised into an education where high academic attainment is seen as irrelevant and inaccessible.

Other countries with more successful education systems than our don't separate kids off by perceived intellect at 11, and still manage to turn out doctors, architects, engineers and mathematicians. We should be looking at what countries like Finland do, and considering how we could make a system like this work in the uk.

Retropear Mon 17-Feb-14 12:42:09

Do you want to do this on another thread Mini.

We know your views and frankly I haven't hog the energy again to go through why I disagree and think they're wrong.It's been done countless times over and over again.

tryingreallytrying Mon 17-Feb-14 12:49:15

Agree, Retropear.

Minifingers - I think you're spectacularly missing the point. Children who work hard will do better than those who don't - but we don't need to control against this, because working hard, with or without family support, is part of what achieves success and part of what makes children suitable for a more academic school.

We do need to control against places only going to those who have loads of money to spend on tutors - because not all families will be able to afford them.

Please start a separate 'I hate grammar schools' thread - it's cluttering up this one.

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