To Tutor or not to Tutor - That is the question....(68 Posts)
Yr 5 boy, in state school, bright, willing to do practise papers, aiming for a place at a local, highly selective school in the top 20. Exams in Jan. Will be sitting both level 6 sats papers in May next year - unless they are scrapped again. Would achieve Maths now, has a fair chance (with work) on achieving English. Bright, reasonably patient parents. Past papers not available through the school or on line.
School will not prepare him for the exams and interview - nor should they, it is not in their remit.
It seems to be taken into account from such selective schools if a child is state educated and has not had a tutor.
DS is happy to sit the exams, do practise papers, but does not want a tutor.
So, do I negate the possible allowances made for his education to date by employing a tutor. If asked, he will not lie - nor would I ask him to-. Or, do I ensure he has the best chance possible by arranging tutoring for the interview and exams?
from your Op it would appear that school are looking for untutored students
ask around, praps on those 11+ type forums
Thank - you.
It was a general comment re tutoring v non tutoring.
This particular school has 6 applicants for every place and the majority of places seem to go to the local prep schools.
How sure are you that they have a 'rough diamond' clause?
If you are not sure I would get a good, knowledgable, got kids in to said school before tutor.
We are in a similar situation and have decided not to tutor. I have spoken to the private school that DD will be sitting exam for and their entrance exam is based on national curiculum, so she should be as prepared as anyone. She is also sitting L6 papers next year and acheived a 5a in maths and english in yr 4. You can get L6 papers on line at freepastpapers.co.uk
Thank you both.
EBD - Not sure. Your plan of campaign is also my gut reaction, but I am interested in everyone's views.
Sticklebug - I've previously looked at the papers on the website you kindly suggested. Indeed, used some of them. Sorry, what I meant, was that the school does not choose to make available the past entrance papers they have set.
Have you asked the school what their entrance exam is based on? There are 2 schools that we considered and one is based purely on national curriculum, whilst the other tests on 'logical reasoning' and non-verbal reasoning as well as basic latin, spanish and french understanding (none of which my DD would have seen before) and some elements of maths not on the national curriculum. If we had chosen to go with latter school, then I would have got a tutor to take through these basics.
If just National curriculum then my concerns over tutoring are that the child would not cope with the school and then I would be paying for a tutor long term on top of school fees-and setting my child up to be constantly struggling. By going in on her natural ability it feels like we will get an honest view of whether this is the right school for DD. We a torn between v good private option (which she was offered a scholarship at following entrance exam at 7 - no tutoring) or v v close local 'average' state school......still not decided, but she will sit the entrance exam (with no tutoring) to keep options open...
Sorry, should have said 2 private schools - DD is only sitting the exam at the one based on national curriculum...
"We are in a similar situation and have decided not to tutor ...... their entrance exam is based on national curiculum, so she should be as prepared as anyone. [She] acheived a 5a in maths and english in yr 4."
I hope that you are telling us how proud you are of your DD as opposed to advising the OP not to tutor her child
I home tutored my DCs and I was discussing tutoring with a workmate who had DCs at a famous highly selective grammar school and she told me how she didn't tutor any of her children and how it wasn't necessary if the child is bright.
During a later conversation she told me that her DCs went to a very academic primary school (why do some parents have all the luck with catchment areas?) and that her exams were based on the NC.
Hmmmm. Her GS exam was based on subjects taught at her very academic primary school. I wonder why her kids didn't need tutoring for the exam?
Some posters say that schools can spot a kid that has been tutored. How? If your DC is asked why she wants to go to that school then DC spouting about its because of the school ethos and its outstanding pastoral care plus its organic style of teaching then of course the school will know the kid has been tutored or coached.
But if a kid does very well in the written test then, unless the kid can't spell his own name correctly, how can the school tell that it was because the child was tutored?
No doubt the Usual Suspects will turn up and post about how if you need to tutor your kid in order to pass then that school isn't suitable for her. Load of piffle. My DCs would have failed if I hadn't tutored them. Now DD is in top 50% of her year so not struggling. DS is in top 20% of his year.
People who go for interviews for demanding jobs prep for it so I don't understand why people would consider letting their DCs walk into an exam room with no prep work.
"the school does not choose to make available the past entrance papers they have set"
I home tutored DS for two schools. The school he didn't get an offer from didn't make available past papers. Come exam time DS encountered questions whose format he hadn't encountered before and so lost valuable marks.
I later found out that several of the children that were successful had tutors that were previously masters at the school in question and so knew the format of the test. This was why these tutors were booked years in advanced.
What I am saying is that if your child is bright then home tutoring will be enough but it may be worth employing short term a tutor that has experience of the school's exam.
Is it a state school? For if so they cannot interview and therefore cannot ask about tutoring. If most of the intake are from prep schools I would get a tutor who can teach the exam technique ( or do it yourself) at least.
Where are you? Because some people may have more specific advice!
Thank you all
talkingnonsense - it is not a state school. There will be an interview for the top 90 (based on exam results), with 60 places available.
PooshTun. We seem to be on the same wavelength. Thank-you for sharing your experiences.
Sticklebug: The exams are English, Maths and Verbal reasoning. Unfortunately they do not test NVR - DS is rather good at that.
I suppose one of my concerns is that he may be asked in interview whether he has had a tutor - thus eliminating any "rough diamond" advantage he may have.
I am currently having my DS tutored for 7+. It's an hour a week plus 1.5hr homework spread over the rest of the week. He's exceptionally bright. He might well get into the school we want without this. But this tutor has 95% success rate. She is lovely and I view this hour before school as supplementing his state school work and stretching him. He really enjoys it. And his school teacher refuses to give him any differentiated maths etc in class. Which is fine - as his collection of Star Wars sketches that he does when finishing work is coming along nicely .
As to the rough diamond thing - I am happy for my son to mention that he has a tutor. The school he is aiming for are fine with it. It won't change his intelligence or potential - just gives him practice sitting writing a paper and a story and covers work he wouldn't have done yet.
(I know OP is talking about secondary level but principles are the same). I know loads of people on MN think tutoring at 7 or 11 is cruel. I think that's nonsense.
"I know loads of people on MN think tutoring at 7 or 11 is cruel. I think that's nonsense"
Yes but it does mean less competition for us 'pushy' parents The more unprepared 'deer caught in car headlights' kids that sit the exam the better our odds. Listening to those parents going on about how cruel we are is a small price to pay that.
I have just re-checked the website and it only says "We do not recommend coaching".
You don't need a tutor if you have a highly able child, do it yourself!
I think you need to follow their advice. Perhaps their selection process is geared up to look for wider signs of suitability for their school.
My 2 DSC's were both tutored to help with 11+ and I'm pretty sure it made the difference for them in getting into the grammar school (where they have been happy and got a good education) but a friend in a different area just spent some extra time with her son and there were past papers available, and went through them and he also passed the entrance exam to the local grammar. The tutoring helped to prepare my DSC's for the type and way questions would be asked, but it couldn't actually give them all the answers, but it certainly gave them a head start.
I have taken loads of exams over the years (starting with secondary school entrance, ongoing with professional exams). For pretty much every exam, you can improve your score by doing loads of practise papers and targeted preparation. There is definitely an art to passing exams, which may not have much to do with innate skill in the subject being examined.
There are exams where it doesn't really matter what your score is - you just have to pass, and then there are exams where it doesn't matter if you get 98% - if 30 other people have scored 99% your 98% will be meaningless.
If this school is honestly saying that they will take your word that your son hasn't received tutoring and add, say, 5% to his mark, then it might be worth not tutoring. If they are more interested in the interview than the exam, it might also be worth not tutoring.
However, if they are just making a general remark that they prefer children not to be tutored, but will still offer x number of places to the children with the highest scores, then tutoring (by you or another) will improve his chance of being in that number.
Indignation, they ALL say 'we do not recommend coaching.'And they all fill up with tutored DC. I'd strongly advise you to get a tutor. Not any old tutor, but one who is a specialist in that chosen school's exams. Even a dozen classes with a tutor beforehand will familiarise your child with the format.
Don't ever listen to advice which says, 'don't put your child at an advantage.' Because other people always do, and then reap the benefits.
As I said above, I often find out later that parents who say their DCs weren't tutored often a) went to a very academic primary or b) the village GS wasn't heavily subscribed to because it was a village GS or c) DC was way above average 'bright'.
So unless you fall into a, b or c I suggest you ignore the advice not to tutor.
I think that's quite true Poosh. I coached ds at 11 for entrance to a not hugely competitive school (though it was with the aim of a rather more competitive scholarship in mind), and he was at an academic primary and by his later achievements I guess he's above average bright too. So I'd say that even within those categories people may be tutoring too, though they may describe it differently.
We did some Bond practice papers and I made sure he could and would use the full range of punctuation correctly (sometimes children don't realise they need to show off everything they know when writing at that age). Some people will describe this as 'supporting the curriculum' and 'familiarisation' rather than tutoring, but really, what's the difference?
I also figured that being really good at punctuating and writing clearly and well was always going to be useful whatever school they ended up at. I don't think doing extra work in NC stuff is setting you up for a lifetime of extra coaching at all, why would it? More likely it will make your life easier over the next few years to have a firm grasp of the basics.
gelat - I liked what you said about supporting the NC not being any different from tutoring.
I read a post from a mum who was anti tutoring. She didn't believe in it. Instead, she would take her DC on trips to museums. She would read the newspaper with DC and then discuss what DC had read. But to this mum this was not tutoring <rolls eyes>
Of course its not Yellow.
And people who pay a property premium to get into the catchment area of a good state school aren't buying a better education for their kids either.
With the amount of eye rolling that I am doing it is only a matter of time before the eyes get stuck.
Although I think it completely wrong-the whole system is unfair-everyone is doing it (even if they won't admit it) therefore if you want a tutor I should get one.
Taking an interest in education and being generally supportive and encouraging is hardly the same as paying a tutor to grind a child down with tactics for eliciting every last mark out of a Bond VR week after week from Y4. The comparison is meaningless.
What is the difference between a mum taking her DC to the science or history museum and then discussing what they saw AND a professional teacher taking a child through a science or history text book and then discussing what they read?
The subtle difference escapes me.
Tutoring for grammar school entrance involves drilling kids with strategies to maximise VR, NVR, Maths and English scores, not discussing history or science. Which is why your comparison is meaningless.
Yellowtip - It just occurred to me that you aren't aware that some schools exam children on national curriculum subjects at 11+ and also at 13+ for Indies.
I am aware that some independents do but your talk about tutoring seems to focus heavily on grammars. Which don't.
Hello indignatio - I remember you from our long-ago long-running dreamers' thread, don't I?
If your ds is happy to practice/revise etc. without the extra-momentum of having a tutor, and the school (is it just the one?) is straightforward with you about what's expected as curriculum to be covered, and will provide past papers and so on, then I think it's quite likely you wouldn't find a tutor adds much.
I think tutors have their value when (a) a child finds it difficult to engage without the one-on-one attention; or (b) there are basics which for some reason haven't yet 'stuck' via school and need another method to register; or (c) it is not clear what the school is wanting and the tutor might have the inside track; or (d) parents aren't confident doing the supervision themselves - or any combination of those - but it doesn't sound like any of those apply to you. I suspect you would wonder a bit about what you'd spent the money for.
Ds has just done his 13+ and we wondered about a bit of tutoring but in the end what he needed was just enough regular practice of extended writing and time-management, starting at first with constant supervision (to click fingers when he went off in a dream) and working gradually up to leaving him alone to get it done. Getting (enough of - he's still Mr. Space) a grip on his own dreaminess was key, so a tutor was sort of the direct opposite of what was wanted.
Sorry - missed that the school won't provide past papers. Presumably they will though say what they expect as curriculum covered?
What magical strategies are you talking about? We took our DCs through some practice papers so they understood the format. The rest was them learning to concentrate for over an hour and to work to the clock.
This is what I don't understand about the Tutoring is Bad Brigade. If you as a parent can't handle the above then fine but then don't start complaining about how my child has an advantage over yours. It's not rocket science despite what you might think.
Or is that the problem? Is it rocket science to you?
Well, some grammars do..... :confused:
Metabilis I understood Poosh to be talking about CE type exams. Grammars stick to English, Maths and VR and sometimes NVR.
Poosh no idea what the strategies are, you'd have to ask a tutor, or someone with experience of one.
@yellow - I'm not really following the subtexts of this thread, I think....Im just refugeeing from the jubilee stuff on the Telly!
Colchester Royal Grammar has tests in english, maths and science at 13+ but it is for a very small number of boys eg 4. Maybe others do this too and this is what the OP is referring to?
Yellowtip - You are rallying against tutoring because you say that tutors are teaching their kids strategies. But you have no idea what these strategies are? If you have no idea what it is that tutors actually do then what are you doing on this thread?
I'm far too wearied by these tutoring threads to rally Poosh, that sounds like a big waste of energy to me. But it's a fairly daft argument to say that because a parent isn't feverishly tutoring their child or hasn't feverishly tutored their child they can't know what commercial tutors purport to offer/ do.
Me too Metabilis. I missed Land of Hope first time round, so I've just been catching up with it on the re-run. Shame about the rain.
That isn't my argument at all.
You are arguing that parents who hire a tutor have an unfair advantage but you don't seem to know what it is a tutor does. All you seem to be saying is that tutor = advantage. Case proven. End of discussion.
As you've said, it has become repetitive and pointless so live long and prosper Yellowtip.
I haven't 'argued' anywhere Poosh. I think I've merely observed that I find all the endless tutoring threads you start or comment upon quite wearying. I've not expressed an opinion either way about the value of paid-for tutoring on these recent threads.
Poosh - all children benefit from being educated, and this will contribute to their sum of knowledge, skills and, if you believe in brain plasticity, intelligence levels, whether that 'education' involves going to museums or swotting for an exam. Is it really necessary to quantify and separate one type of education from another?
Surely as parents it's our role to educate our child in every way - morally, socially, artistically etc as well as intellectually.
Some people - unaccountably - do feel that getting a tutor to swot for an exam is hardly the most fun or indeed effective form of education for a 10 year old.
But for parents unable or unwilling to educate more widely, then that is their choice.
Can't see the need to start endless threads on this...
All children benefit from being educated, but anything can be done to excess. Extra tutor sessions (either with a parent or a paid tutor) too often could be a problem and even too many stately homes/museum trips might be as well! As with everything the trick is finding the right balance and also remembering that what works well for one family might not be right for another.
You can practise papers at home. You can look at 11+ ones for similar schools.
(oOme Haberdashers' boys ones for 11+ are here - private school www.habsboys.org.uk/info/examinations/11plus/11plus.php )
If you don't have time or patience or not that kind of relationship with the child and can afford it a bit of tutoring might help. We had some with daughter 2 for 7+ exams as she was in a school working for 11+ papers not 7+ and that worked. (She went to www.nlcs.org.uk/)
We didn't tutor the boys for their 13+ exams as they were at schools preparing them for that and that ought to be enough.
breadandbutterfly, tutoring isn't about education, it is about jumping through a hoop to get an education.
Thank you all.
Sorry for the delay in responding, I've been away and so haven't checked this thread for a while.
Bink - Lovely to hear from you. Your name made me smile before I even read your post.
c is the issue for us!
My dreamer is great. Maths never a problem (except in the need to show working). Still has problems in deciding what to write - actual writing no problem - therefore I was slightly surprised by your thought that a tutor would not help with this. My SiL has two boys like this, both have been diagnosed with dyslexia - not spelling but ordering of thoughts.
Merrymouse - I just need to know which hoops to choose to push ds through!
Xenia - thanks for the links.
Racing.. I've taken what you have said to heart!
Gelatinous - I subscribe to your comments below:
"Some people will describe this as 'supporting the curriculum' and 'familiarisation' rather than tutoring, but really, what's the difference?
I also figured that being really good at punctuating and writing clearly and well was always going to be useful whatever school they ended up at. I don't think doing extra work in NC stuff is setting you up for a lifetime of extra coaching at all, why would it? More likely it will make your life easier over the next few years to have a firm grasp of the basics."
Pooshtun: DS is c - from a biased mother point of view.
Thank you all and apologies to those I have not addressed directly.
Tutoring re type of questions (on paper and in interview) does seem like the way to go - now how do I persuade DS?
Since my last posting, I've been reading about the particular school on Mumsnet. One poster is adamant that tutoring is frowned upon by the school. I have also read of another school which asks the parents to sign a form stating whether their child has been tutored or not.
So my latest thought - please tell me if you think it is completely off the wall - is to employ a tutor to tutor me, so that I can then best guide DS.
I think that's a great idea. Have little experience of the independent school system but know that DS1 has been hugely helped in SATs by the fact that I work at the school - I have 'insider' knowledge of methods, practice questions, techniques etc which have enabled me to support and reinforce at home much more effectively.
Sphil - Perhaps the reason the teacher's children are allegedly often in the G&T groups and acing the various tests at our school ?
I think you make a good point, those in the know often secure enormous advantage for their children. This is especially true if they work with them each evening for 20 minutes or so. Incrementally they get smarter.
indig - I think that's a pretty good idea. TBH I can see that the tutor is doing no more than I was already doing with my DC. The difference is: she's a tutor, so they can't tell her they're too tired, or yell from the TV to ask to do it later. they just do it. Every week, two practise papers. I still need to do a fair bit of back up work and explain stuff (esp maths) to DC2. Her input alone isn't going to get him through.
You could get a tutor 'assessment' which will test DC's suitability for a given school, and advise on practise papers. Massive fee round here for such a thing, but worth it.
OP I think that's a pointless idea.
Because if you have the time to get tutoring yourself from a tutor and then to impart the received wisdom to your DS, you'd be better giving yourself a break (financially and time-wise), cutting out the middleman and just helping your DS yourself. None of this stuff is rocket science. The answers to the tests are at the back of the books. The tutoring industry is just that: it feeds off insecurity and has nothing special to add.
The only case for buying in help is if your child has a rubbish primary education and needs extra to bring it up to an acceptable level, or if for some reason a parent hasn't the time to help a child by timing a set of papers in the run up to the tests him/ herself.
I have a child in a 'top 20' school and completely agree with yellowtip. You don't need a tutor if you have the time to set/mark/go through papers with your son. This stuff isn't very advanced (it's 11+) and there is no magic formula that a tutor can give you. We didn't use one and my DD sailed in.
Your DS sounds bright but will also need to be fast and accurate-only practice will help with that. I also think that good schools are very adept at spotting potential vs the over-tutored child; it's in their interests to do so after all.
It's difficult to resist the tutoring bandwagon I know, but from what you've said, you'd be wasting your money.
Spil I also work in my sons school (as an LSA), so I too have the SATS insider knowledge. My understanding of the entrance exams are that they are somewhat different to the SATS.
DS is happily sitting practise papers, becoming more accurate and faster. I am happy to mark and explain these in VR, Comprehension and Maths. We both love it when he gives a different answer to that in the back of the book and I cannot prove him wrong!
However, the one we haven't touched on yet is English extended writing. I am not at all confident with the marking for this type of work. If anyone has any pointers for me on this, I should be most grateful. I should add, I am really quite literate - oxbridge degree in non-numerical subject.
The other issue is the interview. DS is articulate, has a lovely turn of phrase, but is quite capable of "banging on" about a subject in which the listener has absolutely no interest. Despite eye rolling and yawning clues!
Shame on you indignatio, you must be very capable indeed of marking prose and comprehension for a 10 yo!
But the real problem with tutoring is not really relevant to independants. The real problem is on the macro level with grammars: the more that anxious parents needlessly buy in when their child is at a perfectly adequate school, the more less well off parents will become resigned to thinking their child doesn't stand a chance because they can't afford tutoring which they hear is a necessary prerequisite to success. HTs do their best to counter the myth - but if the prevailing view on MN is to be believed, only with very limited success.
I am also doing LSA work at the moment Indignatio - and agree it doesn't give me a clue about entrance exams. However, I am an English teacher by profession ( secondary) so may be able to help with extended writing if you want to PM me. Not sure I'd be any better than you though!
about your DS's interview technique - DS1 is JUST like this!
That's one thing I worry about, checking extended essays. Yes of course spelling and grammar is something we can do, but what is expected in terms of interest, narrative structure, richness of language and so on?
For Indies at 10+ or 11+ I would recommend the Galore Park So you really want to learn English book. Their books seem mainly designed for Indie and Common Entrance and are also geared towards home study. Lots of good exercises which enabled our DC to get some good supplementary practice in writing.
Our school seems to place great emphasis on ICT in English lessons. Lots of Powerpoint presentations, recording conversations, display, ICT for reports etc, etc. Is this the same elsewhere and does it place children at a disadvantage if so? Thinking of the traditional Preps that seem to concentrate far more on 3 Rs and rote learning of tables, spelling/grammar accuracy etc.
Thanks, Needmoresleep, I'll look into that.
Quick update. DS flatly refused to have a tutor. Just had the news today that he has a place at his first preference school.
Congratulations to your son indignatio
I am also not tutoring other than DIY ...paying $$$ already for prep school though that does do some 11+ familiarization for pretests...for me honestly, as long as DS puts the time in (which is a question of discipline) , i think he will be ok ...i guess a tutor gives the structure of having regular lessons and homework ...but for a Yr 5 ...I can't see any magic to it that I cannot deal with myself with help of off shelf books from WH Smiths...hope I am proved right, only time will tell, as DS is gong for highly selective 11+ pretest senior schools
Amber, if your DC is at prep, then there should be no need to tutor. They prep your child for 11+/13+. Hence the name. Should be fine. good luck.
Great news indignatio!
My friend's prep school does little prep for 11+. The cynics suggest that its because they want your money for another 2 years. However for 13+ they do spend the last lesson of every day on exam prep.
So don't assume that all prep schools will make a concerted effort to get your DC past the 11+
This may be a bit of a semantic selling thing. Perhaps not describing it as a tutor may help you sell it to him? Perhaps something a bit less formal?
Totally, you may be right but all the school round here get 13+ students to sit a pre-test at 11+. Not sure why, but it does mean the pupils are well prepped. A boy I know moved to prep in Yr 4, saw some Bond papers lying round on our table and said: Oh I did that one at school this week! They were already prepping them in Yr 4 at his school.
Slightly off topic but I don't see anything wrong with starting prep in Year 4. We started home prepping in Year 5 and during term time they did a paper a day. Now, that isn't too different from some parents/schools who do a paper a week in Year 4.
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