Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

(419 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Mon 05-Nov-12 17:16:02
EvilTwins Mon 05-Nov-12 17:27:08

Good. I sat next to a woman at a wedding in the summer who had paid for a tutor for her DS weekly for TWO YEARS to get him through the grammar school exam. We have one super-selective grammar in our area, then four (two girls' and two boys') selective but not super-selectives. She felt it was worth it as he had got a place at one of the boys' grammars. No idea how he's getting on as she's not someone I would otherwise have met. I was hmm and shock though. Two years?

pointythings Mon 05-Nov-12 19:24:06

I'm not sure it's possible, but it is a good idea - I would like to see a testing system which is purely based on merit, not on whether parents can afford a tutor.

Not that it affects me, no grammar schools in my area.

LaVolcan Mon 05-Nov-12 19:28:37

Maybe the grammar schools should be more strict and ask those who don't make the grade to leave at the end of the first year? Mind you, I suppose you would then get coaching post 11+ also.

It doesn't affect me either, but I don't want to see a system where large numbers of children are deemed to be 'failures' at 11.

picturesinthefirelight Mon 05-Nov-12 19:30:09

Dd has just been offered a place at a selective independent school based on her last two years results in some computer based tests called INCAS. This is the first year children have been offered places on the strength if these rather than the usual VR & NVR entrance exams.

I don't know much about INCAS other than the fact they are used in Ireland. Is interesting to see if anything can be definitely tutor proof.

Funnylittleturkishdelight Mon 05-Nov-12 19:34:46

Interviews and day exams would be better, surely? A bit like an interview for a job where you have different stages?

All a bit intense at 11 though.

exoticfruits Mon 05-Nov-12 19:38:13

I would think it absolutely wonderful if they could but I doubt it.
I would love them to all go in cold and not have a clue what was coming.

Theas18 Mon 05-Nov-12 19:41:39

Funnylittleturkishdelight I guess interviews would be great but locally there are 3 boys grammars 3 girls grammars and 1 co ed to fill each with at least 10 applicants per place. thy can barely find nough venues for all the kids to dit the 11 + at the same time. Interviews old be impossible!

These are superselectives and they believe the test is fairly tutor proof - no pat papers are released etc. however if you are training a child to take a test that assesses aptitude for grammar school then you can teach the skill that they I'll look for I'm sure.

weblette Mon 05-Nov-12 19:45:50

Bucks is in the process of devising a new selection test - the current Yr5 will sit it although no details have been made public of the actual format.

My oldest two had one term of tutoring, a local 'centre' advocates a year of pre-coaching from Yr4 with a year of specific 11+ coaching in Yr5. The reserve reserve list is usually full from when the children for that year are in Yr2. Utterly depressing.

Anything that makes this more equal would be an improvement.

gelo Mon 05-Nov-12 20:07:16

schools aren't allowed to interview I'm fairly sure. It's supposed to prevent them choosing all the middle class dc over the poorer ones.

If you must have tests (not at all convinced it would be a good idea) then it would be a good thing if they were tutor proof, but the current lot plainly aren't even though the schools claim they are, so I'm a bit sceptical that such a thing is possible, or that if it is, that it will select the right children (not that the current tests are all that good at selecting the right children imo).

BooksandaCuppa Mon 05-Nov-12 20:28:20

They definitely are not tutor proof at the moment. I know of some heavily coached (three years plus) level 3 children who have passed (vr/nvr) and many level 5 or 6 children who've failed without a single practice. That's not to say the nc levels are the be all and end all...

ReallyTired Mon 05-Nov-12 20:46:12

I think intelligence is far more complex than most people think. With the right experiences it is possible increase a child's cognitive ablities. The brain becomes more efficent with use.

A big issue is that private school children take a disportionate number of places. Partly because the richer experience of a private school makes children more intelligent and partly because of better prepation. It would help if private school children had to compete for say 7% of places at a grammar school. That way state school children would not have to compete against private school children.

Maybe grammar schools should have some financial banding. Ie. reserve say 10% of places for children in band C housing or below. That way children from poorer backgrounds whose parents cannot afford tutoring would have some chance. I'm being arbitary as it varies across the country what a band C property would give you.

I agree that there should be transfer of children who are blatently not grammar school material to the secondary modern and vice a versa.

Frankly the eleven plus system is fundermentally shit. Children vary so much in their development. I would rather have the divide made at 13. Less academic children may well choose the BTECs without someone saying they are failures.

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 09:30:59

Two years of tutoring isn't so exceptional EvilTwins (although I agree with you that is is mad!).

We live in an area where several super selective grammars are within commuting distance These schools take the top 150 of 1700 (normally heavily tutored) children who apply.
It used to be the norm to tutor in Year 5 because the exams were taken mid Year 6. Then as the applicant numbers per school topped 1000 and the exams got earlier, people started tutoring for 18 months or two years in advance. Now that applications per school are nearer 2000, people start in Year 2!

In Year 2 they want to ensure their child gets all level 3's (in case a future appeals panel ever enquires about a proven track record of academic ability!)
In Year 3 it is perfecting tables and learning lists of adverbs, collective nouns, homophones etc
Year 4 is perfecting the reasoning techniques, maths and English comprehension skills required and Year 5 is timed tests with the aim of reaching over 95% in each subject under timed conditions.
The 11+ is taken at the start of Year 6.

Not all children do all of this. Some 'only' have a year of tutoring sessions twice a week (plus homework) or some work through every book at home with their parents but one way or another it is virtually unheard for to enter the tests untutored unprepared.

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 09:39:24

Interviews aren't allowed for state schools.

I am sceptical that they can be made truly tutor-proof.
But it would be great if the tests could be made totally and utterly unpredictable instead so that tutoring could not be teaching to the test at all.

One year give the kids a business plan of a florist shop and ask for 10 ideas on increasing profitability with diagrams and maths demonstrated as appropriate, the next year give them a Shakespeare extract and ask comprehension questions, the following year all code breaking and sequences with an obscure essay to finish. A truly intelligent child will cope with whatever is presented and be able to demonstrate ingenuity as well as plain old academic prowess.

Of course though such tests are too expensive. With nearly 2000 children per exam, they just want something that can be fed into a machine and marked in seconds.
The schools have little incentive to change. They know that any of the top 400 or 500 scoring children in the exam are so exceptionally clever, they will do well at grammar school, get good GCSEs and in a sense they don’t really care therefore which ones they get allocated. The schools don’t suffer from not being able to differentiate between a truly gifted and completely untutored child and a moderately less clever but very well prepared one.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 09:43:38

An interview would be the only thing that could be worse than the current system!

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 09:48:20

LOL re the economic criteria - cue a rush by mc parents to rent one bed flats in band C at the beginning of Yr 5 wink . Thus putting up the price of one bed flats in GS areas...

I have an idea! Abolish them and make sure every comp has a good GS standard top set.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 09:49:56

What Blu said.

But whatever else not interviews!

ReallyTired Tue 06-Nov-12 10:38:14

Blu I see your point. I suppose we would have to have middle class parents list ALL their assets. Prehaps we could look at parental income, I don't know.

Anyway thank gawd ds is not in a grammar school area. (Except for Parmitars which is so selective as to be irrelevent)

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 10:42:31

Eton do a computer test at 11 that is apparently tutor proof.

singersgirl Tue 06-Nov-12 11:03:23

I don't believe in a 'tutor-proof' test. I'm sure there are some tests that it's harder to drill for, but the inequality in children's educational experiences in and outside the home is going to mean that even without extra paid-for lessons some children are better prepared for any test. Even if they're not getting specific VR and NVR question types preparation, some children will be signed up for online maths programmes or go to Explore Learning Centres, have books galore bought for them or be taken to the library every week, have educational games and apps provided for them at every opportunity. And others won't. People will pay for tutoring just to give their child the experience of sitting an exam or doing a timed test. Whatever form a test takes, there will be ways of familiarising children with elements of it or practising the kind of thing that comes up.

My sons and many of their friends were effectively 'tutored' just by living with their own parents, compared to some of the children in their class.

laughtergoodmedicine Tue 06-Nov-12 11:42:57

Yes, I agree, too intense at 11 years of age. We are not Chinese. Who according to Woman Hour do intense tutoring for 3 year olds. (If thats true I prefer our culture to theirs)

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 11:51:16

Singersgirl - I completely agree, I am only surprised that more don't seem to realise this. Bisjo - some preps prepare boys with computer tests, cognitive ability tests, NVR and VR all will mean that boys improve - some more quickly that others. You do enough of a similar sort of thing and most will quickly gauge what's required.

singersgirl Tue 06-Nov-12 12:09:14

And unless schools change the format of the test every year, as someone suggested earlier, people will start working out what's required or at least helpful. I think the idea of a different type of test each year is great, but it would of course be incredibly expensive and would also mean a very different cohort from year to year depending on what that year's test had selected for - problem solving or creative writing, diplomacy or fast maths facts.

richmal Tue 06-Nov-12 12:32:27

If interviews are used as selection, people will start tutoring for interview.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:40:12

They do already, richmal. Preps have special classes and many have tips on their websites, breaking it down for each individual school and listing past questions.

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 12:43:10

Interviews could never be transparent, quantifiable or accountable enough to be fair or acceptable for any school system which needs to be based on equal opps.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:45:01

Apparently a recent 7 plus interview question was 'which year was the Queen's coronation'?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 12:50:03

I would have known the answer to that at 7 but only because my parents had got married the year before and went to the coronation. That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became Queen.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:52:44

And most wouldn't know which year Elizabeth become Queen.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 12:55:15

"That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became Queen."


ReallyTired Tue 06-Nov-12 12:57:31

"I would have known the answer to that at 7 but only because my parents had got married the year before and went to the coronation. That is a difficult question for adults let alone dcs as most would assume it was the same year as when Elizabeth became !

It was the golden jubliee last summer so I expect that sharp seven year olds might be able to work it out.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 12:57:37

smile I think it's about the recent jubilee celebrations - with which they'd assume familiarity - and a maths question in disguise.

Then they'd be wrong - that's the point! Coronation was 1953 - 59 years ago.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:06:32

Travel that's my point grin. I'm surprised that others didn't spot it too.

gazzalw Tue 06-Nov-12 13:11:07

Bisjo I think in an ideal world all schools would have a year-on-year, uniquely computer generated test such as Eton uses but I think it's very, very, very expensive (which is why such a system is not more widespread).

This whole 11+ 'bunfight' has really opened my eyes and made me redefine pushy parenting! We did some 11+ practice papers with DS but as he's not naturally a diligent child he was not an eager student. "Yeah, I've got that Daddy" was the closest you got to an aknowledgement that he was even paying attention. Fortunately he passed and got into a grammar school where he is very happy and whilst not top of the form, he appears to be above average as far as we can tell but it is of course very early days...

But ever since he gained his place, we have had no end of parents from the primary school DD still attends, anxiously asking us how old DS was when we started paying for a tutor (which we didn't) for him. And the looks of disbelief when we say that we didn't even start looking at VR/NVR until six months before the exams. It really, really irks me!

Oh, and whilst DS reports that in his form no-one did attend a prep school (although I do recall the Admissions Tutor said the boys came from about 87 different schools of which about 15 were private sector ones), it is quite apparent that most are from comfortably middle-class backgrounds.

One of DS's best friends has just moved from the state sector to a prep school and it's quite obvious that their whole way of teaching is about maximising the children's chances of getting the places at the schools that their parents would wish them to attend....

I am one of those 'council house' children from the 1950s, 60s and 70s who was lucky enough to get into a grammar school without any encouragement from home or extra help/tutoring.

Quite what has changed that means that the 11+ exams of yesteryear (which did cut across the social divide in measuring intelligence) no longer seem to do so?

crazygracieuk Tue 06-Nov-12 13:12:17

I agree with what's been already said. I don't believe that there is such thing as a tutor proof test.
The best you could do would be to evaluate the child without them realising that they are being tested (testing by stealth) but obviously that's not going to happen.

Random test formats mean that children will simply be tutored even harder as they have to learn more just in case.

Interviews favour the confident, eloquent and tutored.

crazygracieuk Tue 06-Nov-12 13:13:25

Is the Eton test really tutor proof?osn't it Common Entrance? If so why do many pushy preps tutor for it?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:15:58

Common Entrance exam is at 13. Eton do a pre-test at 11 which is a computer test and apparently cannot be tutored for. If they pass that and the interview then boys get offered a place subject to passing CE at 13.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:17:15

A good interviewer will easily spot a tutored child.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 13:30:49

And a good interviewer will not choose based on personal prejudice, and will look for potential.

And we are going to find these good interviewers exactly how?

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:44:19

gazzal I went to a primary school that I would never dream of sending my dcs to. Back then there wasn't the internet. Our parents choose schools either by reputation or by not having a choice. I went to a primary school in the middle of a large council estate although I didn't live near there. I went to a grammar school that wasn't my choice either (my father refused to allow me to get the school bus to the one I wanted to go to but was quite happy for me to walk nearly two miles crossing dangerous roads to his choice). I also didn't visit any school I attended before I actually started at them (and didn't expect to visit either).

I did the first year of 12+ so wasted my last year at primary doing nothing and learning nothing. We did three practice papers in class and that was it. Looking back I would have easily passed any scholarship exam for independent school a year early, but that sort of education was completely unknown to my parents.

Everyone I know is talking about getting tutors for 11+ or confirming they have already booked tutors (some from year 2). They see it as investment in their child's future that will hopefully pay off by avoiding the need to pay expensive senior school fees. If they get into grammar and need tutoring to stay there then so be it. I think it is now a system that discriminates against those who don't have the money for tutoring. In my day there weren't tutors and the result was a far more mixed group of dcs at my grammar than are probably there now.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 13:49:13

If you are coached for interview but told to be honest and genuine, how can they spot the 'over tutored' child? Coached in that you are given a sensible head's up on what the likely questions are etc.

The consensus seems to be that children are passing the 11 plus but not being intrinsically clever enough to keep up later on? Interviews can apparently gauge whether a child is naturally clever by asking them challenging questions designed to independently assess natural intellect.

Someone asked about why tests worked well in the past - I think no one prepared as such so there was ore of a level playing field.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 13:53:01

People did prepare (in terms of practice papers in class) but it wasn't seen as a big thing. My parents said that if I failed I would go to private school. I was really keen to fail as I wanted to go to a school where I could have a pony (too much Enid Blyton!). I was genuinely upset that I passed.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 13:56:21

"The consensus seems to be that children are passing the 11 plus but not being intrinsically clever enough to keep up later on? "

Is there actually any evidence of this?

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:00:53

Seeker so much quoted by various heads in recent articles. Read something in times or Telegraph only the other day - both I think. There seems to be a feeling that schools like Tiffin etc should have much better results given their intake too - hence a movement to gauge more than VR/NVR etc. Independent schools have a composition & comprehension element etc.

I tend to think it's a myth bandied about by those who didn't get in/sour grapes but no evidence to back that up.

gelo Tue 06-Nov-12 14:07:52

I've seen studies that show that the borderline children that get into grammar schools are the ones that benefit (in achievement terms) most compared to those that go to secondary moderns/comprehensives. I suppose children rise to the expectations and don't like to be bottom whereas somewhere else they may have coasted a bit. It doesn't necessarily mean they are struggling, I'm sure many children can work a bit more conscientiously without too much effort.

LaQueen Tue 06-Nov-12 14:15:20

No test is tutor proof.

The children with well-educated, education-orientated parents are always going to have a massive advantage.

Growing up in a house where the parents are highly articulate and strive to include their DCs in conversation confers a huge advantage.

Growing up with a maths graduate parent, who is good at explaining maths problems to their DCs, gives them a huge advantage.

Growing up with affluent middle class parents who take their children travelling a lot, confers a huge advantage.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:17:39

The Durham tests cost almost four times as much as the standard tests. At £100 per applicant, it would be a crippling dent in the budget to cover the cost.

I can see that interviews are logistically difficult given how much time they'd take up, but a return to them after an initial whittling down of numbers would be good. I can't see any reason why it would be considered 'too intense' at the age of eleven. I was interviewed at that age by the HT of the school my parents wanted me to go to together with some man, for a direct grant place -they asked me lots of questions about current affairs and measurements and stuff but it wasn't in the least intense, just quite informal and friendly. I'm sure that 'coaching' for interviews can do as much harm as good.

LaQueen Tue 06-Nov-12 14:18:35

I think it's actually a myth, that children of below average intelligence can be coached sufficiently so that they can pass the 11+, and then struggle with the academic work required once at GS.

In reality, what happens is that already naturally bright/clever children are getting tutored, pass the 11+, and then don't really have any problems whatsoever with the academic work.

gazzalw Tue 06-Nov-12 14:19:45

But schools like Tiffin (and that always springs to mind because there seems to be so much spin surrounding how much prep needs to be done years in advance to stand any chance of getting a place there) maybe demonstrate what happens when your intake is generally a very highly tutored cohort (which doesn't necessarily make them the naturally most able of children).

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:20:29

gelo I think I was keener that my borderliners should get into the grammar than the ones nearer the top, for exactly that reason.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:22:36

Gelo, a rising tide floats all boats.

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 14:24:12

I wonder if there has been a change since independent school fees were hiked up hugely in the last 10-15 years? Previously a lot of professionals would send their dcs to private schools whereas now the majority can no longer afford to do so. That means there are more parents with all the advantages LaQueen describes are competing to get their dcs free good school places.

derekthehamster Tue 06-Nov-12 14:26:06

I am so glad I wasn't a member of mumsnet when my son sat an exam for a selective private school.

We did no tutoring at all! No vr/nvr. We did make sure he knew his times tables though. I had no idea that this is what parents did!

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:26:32

The consensus seems to be that children are passing the 11 plus but not being intrinsically clever enough to keep up later on?

No - I disagree. That is neither fair nor true.

The truth is that there are less grammar schools nowadays
And there are more people who want a grammar school education for their children. There are more informed parents wanting a more middle class, more traditional, smaller school education - as close to free private schooling as is possible.
And there are too many clever children for too few places which means about 50% of those taking these test are easily clever enough for grammar school but there is only room enough to take 10% of them.

Tutoring is all to do with how that 10% decided:
In many areas highest score wins (no sibling or distance criteria is used) so a clever child who can score 83% in a test they’ve never seen before would be trumped by another equally clever child whose 2 years of preparation tutoring has enabled them to improve their speed and accuracy to score not 83% but 91%. The children are equally clever but the tutored child wins the place. Of the 400 children who pass the 11+ test for each school (in and around London), ,most of them will be of pretty similar ability. They have each scored higher than 1000 other clever applicants to pass the test but that’s not enough. 400 must be whittled down to 150 and they are in direct competition with each other to actually get offered a place and that’s where tutoring comes into its own – every percentage point counts and pupils are increasingly having to aim for perfect scores.

charlottehere Tue 06-Nov-12 14:28:36

In this area, it is essential to get a tutor as the exam is based on work Dcs do in year 6 (state), the exam is in september at the start of year 6. Unless you know what the dcs need to lnow and tutor them yourself.

Mrskbpw Tue 06-Nov-12 14:29:25

I went to a super-selective school (I still don't really know what a super-selective school is - clearly I'm not as clever as they thought I was).

Back in the dark ages (1985) when I was applying to secondary schools, no one was tutored.

And I had an interview. I'd lost my voice completely and had to use a lot of gestures, though perhaps that worked in my favour as I'm quite common!

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:30:30

And the whittling down process cannot include interviews. It is forbidden by law (by the Admission Code)
All grammar schools have to go on is who scored 91% as opposed to who scored 83% regardless of how much tutoring went into either of those scores and regardless of how otherwise suitable a child might be.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 06-Nov-12 14:31:57

What is wrong with getting a tutor?

I am planning on it.

DD is year 4. She needs help though she is bright. I don't have much time when she gets home and I'm not a teacher.

If people think it's wrong because some can't afford it...well some people can't afford ALL kinds of things. I don't see why denying a child some paid for help is morally correct.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:32:06

Tiggytape and LeQueen I don't disagree but the Telegraph article and others say this sort of thing (from Telegraph article about reforms to the system):

*One survey found that just over half of families who put their children through admissions tests pay for tutoring to help them pass.
However, grammar school head teachers have complained that some pupils who get through the test with the help of intensive tutoring then struggle to keep up with lessons once they arrive.*

St Paul's say they don't want tutored children for much the same reason.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 14:33:15

But we're not talking about the Admissions Code as it currently stands tiggy.

Chandon Tue 06-Nov-12 14:34:22

Laqueen, I think that is a myth as wel.

I cannot see how anyone could be coached beyond their ability. To the top of their ability, yes, but not beyond it surely. And well done to any tutor or parent who get any kid to the top!

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 14:36:25

Just remember, all you grammar school supporters, that you are also by definition, secondqry modern school supporters too. I suspect you would be less happy with that tag!

charlottehere Tue 06-Nov-12 14:39:08

Agree with mrs can't. I think it is up to the parent to realise if your child is the sort that will thrive in grammar and not just tutored to within an inch of their life. hmm My DD1 has done well and looks likely to get offered a place but we have known since she was very small ahe is bright, also turns out to be academic, enjoys working, wants to do well, is very competitive etc.

DD2 is bright but very different to DD1, she is airy fairy basically. I am going to contradict myself but we will be letting DD do the exam if she wants and getting her tutored for the same amount of time as DD1 because I feel she deserves to have as much support as DD1. However, she says she doesn't want to do it, this may change she is 8. smile

Chandon Tue 06-Nov-12 14:39:27

Why do you think I/we are grammar school supporters?

Careful not to be fighting windmills again.

Hamishbear Tue 06-Nov-12 14:41:28

Chandon, I couldn't agree more! They don't seem to want the industrious at the academically selective school? Surely a super keen student with 'enough' intellect may even trump the academically gifted in time?

This is interesting - questions from St Paul's girls:

*1. Has your daughter received private coaching and in which subjects?
2. If yes, then for how many hours per week and for how long?
3. What were the reasons for tutoring?'*

'Incomplete information may prejudice a candidate's chances of being considered properly at the decision stage'

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 14:41:42

I didn't say anyone specifically was a grammar school supporter. But there q some on this thread!

difficultpickle Tue 06-Nov-12 14:47:09

This article from the Telegraph rings so true, sadly.

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 14:53:49

seeker - I am not really a supporter or otherwise but the happy side effect of a ridiculous shortage in grammar school places is that the comps aren't impacted at all and remain good with high academic standards.
You can get on a train near my house and be at a super selective grammar (no catchment area / top score wins) within 45 minutes but equally our local comp has a top set that comprises only children who scored level 5b and above in their Year 6 SATS. Many of these passed the 11+ but just never got a place.

If 25% of local children went to grammar school, instead of 3% or 5% or whatever it is, then the local comps might suffer. They might not offer separate sciences and further maths at A Level and would effectively be without a top group. But in many grammar school areas this doesn't happen. Grammar schools take so few local children that their impact on other schools is negligible (I appreciate in some areas though they do have 25% of children creamed off which may well cause problems for the others)

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 14:57:11

Does anyone really think it would be supportable to include interviews as part of the process?
One benefit of VR / NVR tests is that they have definable right / wrong answers.
Almost anything else needs qualitative analysis and is open to subjective judgement. Especially an interview. I suppose an interview oculd be recorded and then analysed fro number of similies and metaphores used, number of times an opinion is backed up by evidence, timing the pauses and lengths of hesitations...

They work fine for private schools and scholarships, presumably, because those schools are not by definition equal opps. They are looking for 'the right fit' - something which may be much more discernible in an interview. State funded schools must do all they can to assess on cognitive ability alone.

Can you imagine the appeals process? Suspicion of every kind of ism, discrimination against children who have EAL, not to mention an enormous disadvantage for children who have not had access to dinner part conversations and are not used to expounding their opinions to adults. The results would differ wildly depending on the skill, approach and personality of the interviewer, what sort of person a child finds easiest to talk to etc etc. Too many variables.

It just isn't workable, and is disallowed in the admissions process for a v good reason, IMO.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 15:04:14

Tiggytape- that is exactly what happens in our area, and it is the 25% type grammar school that I believe Michael Gove is looking at extending. It has profound educational and psychological impacts which nobody who has not actually experienced the system in action could possibly understand.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 16:49:15

Well it was allowed under the direct grant system Blu and it appeared to work.

Some universities interview. Is that wrong too?

The appeals thing is a separate issue but I can't see what's intrinsically wrong with interviews as a supplementary process to the exam.

dinkybinky Tue 06-Nov-12 17:20:15

One would assume that the most logical thing to do would be to open more Grammar schools.

figroll Tue 06-Nov-12 18:07:21

What makes me laugh is how grammar schools object to tutoring to get into the school, but are quite happy for them to be tutored right the way up to 6th form, once they are in. In fact, we have found that quite often the children getting prizes year after year, are those with private tutors. Round by me, they changed the test away from NVR and VR in the traditional sense and replaced the tests to avoid excessive coaching but I don't know if it worked.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 19:08:41

How do you know that, figroll? About the tutoring, I mean?

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 19:09:42

"One would assume that the most logical thing to do would be to open more Grammar schools."

And more Secondary Moderns?

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 20:00:53

Yup, yelowtip, I went to a direct grant school. And that would come under scholarships. Did it appear to work? I couldn't say. In the multi-cultural midlands industrial town I was in not one direct grant scholarship was given to a black or an Asian child, for example. And many seemed to go to the children of doctors, teachers etc.

crazygracieuk Tue 06-Nov-12 20:06:28

Dinky- Or scrap ALL state grammars and faith schools that use selection other than home address?

Anyone who thinks interviews should replace 11+ for grammar school entrance should watch the early episodes of 7up, to see the huge gulf between the articulateness and confidence of poor, working class children and middle class children. I'm not sure, to be honest, if the chasm between the classes is as huge now as it was back when the programme was made, but the differences in the children in the programme are certainly shocking.

pointythings Tue 06-Nov-12 21:43:21

NotGood I agree - interview would hugely favour middle class children with engaged parents over bright children from poorer backgrounds. Very bad idea.

And I think that in many ways the chasm between the classes is wider, not narrower, because those at the bottom have fallen so very far behind. How is an inherently intelligent child whose parents' every other word is f* ever going to move out of that environment? But that's a whole other thread...

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 21:55:00

Well my experience of direct grant, looking back, was that it worked very well. I lived on the southern edge of London and the mix of girls at the school was phenomenal. What's more, once in, the very wide range of girls all melded into one pot, socially. No-one cared who's dad or mum did what. I never thought about that stuff then because to me as a child in that place at that time it really wasn't an issue. I do think about it now. I do know that we had a particularly impressive Headmistress who's only concern was academic merit, not class. A bluestocking scientist from Newnham College, Cambridge. I couldn't say what influence that had in who was admitted. But it was good, verging on the ideal. That had to do with the time and place too I suppose, since my school was at the crossroads of the rich Surrey hinterland and the deprived areas of south London with the families of displaced wartime refugees as well as the indigenous poor. And a good representation of the truly middle class of course. So a microcosm of sorts. It was healthy and taught everyone wherever they were on the social spectrum tolerance and understanding of others.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 21:56:14

Interviews would only favour mc kids if you have little faith in the interviewers.

gelo Tue 06-Nov-12 22:02:18

yellow, I was also at a direct grant grammar in South London and everyone was very middle class. Not sure they put much weight on the interview - I was caught staring out of the window daydreaming in mine and still got a place, so I suspect it was more of a formality and the places were offered on test scores.

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 22:06:02

That is how GS is supposed to be, yes.

But I don't see how an interview enabled all that to happen. If the main criteria was academic then the exam paper should have sufficed.

What you don't know is who DIDN'T get into your school.

What is it that you think an interview will achieve that will improve the current situation?

I would have little faith in the interviewers if they were like many MNers and recoiled every time someone said 'aksed' or 'haitch'. But mostly it is the lack of accountablity in a fair process that concerns me.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 22:11:21

That's really interesting gelo but your school was clearly very, very, very different to mine. I think I engaged in my interview because I remember enjoying it and I remember the questions and who said what. Perhaps a lot was down to the calibre of the HT? Mine was extraordinary, I can see that, looking back.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:28:43

I am NOT of the opinion that DC's that have been heavily tutored to get into GS end up struggling. Mostly because the Deputy HT of the superselective GS that DS1 is more than likely headed for said to the parents at the open day that the DC's that have been heavily tutored for the entrance exams are the ones they find struggling and needing extra support in Y8/9 and above. And he said it becomes obvious quite early on which DC's were tutored to the test, and which were there on natural ability.

At which a blushing father asked what form that extra help would take. hmm

My DS1 started his 11+ prep in Easter this year. He sat the 11+ in September. Despite being quite ill, he achieved a mark that is likely to see him gain a place at the superselective. The only prep he did was practice papers at home. No formal tutoring.

Mostly because I can't afford it, as I'm a single mum on benefits. He doesn't get opportunities to go to outside school activities, the last time I could afford to take him to a museum was nearly three years ago, he is on FSM's.

I don't see that tutored DC's keep poorer boys out of GS's. If you have the natural ability, you will pass the 11+. Though maybe I get a skewed idea of that because my DS1 has done so well, given his background and lack of tutoring?

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:32:19

Argh! That first sentence should read :

I am NOT of the opinion that DC's that have been heavily tutored to get into GS won't end up struggling.

Typing error.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:34:16

And now a grammar error too. Double negative in a sentence. Shoot me now. <<sigh>>

I'll rephrase. I believe that DC's that have been heavily tutored to get into GS do end up struggling.

Now I'm going to go and poke myself repeatedly I the eyeballs, and I'll probably type better once I have...

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:37:17

And the reason for no interview is precisely so that DC's like me DS1 can gain entry to GS's irrespective of my income, class status, education level or anything else.

Whereas when interviews were still commonplace, DC's like my DS1 wouldn't have stood a chance. Because I would turn up on the bus, wearing head to toe Tesco style, and the moment FSM's were mentioned, you could kiss goodbye to a place at GS for your DC.

gelo Tue 06-Nov-12 22:40:28

Our head was an extraordinary character too but I don't remember her much from the interview, but she taught me for most of the years I was there. Looking back with hindsight my lack of engagement (over several years, not just on that occasion) was possibly my reaction to a family bereavement. I do remember the rather lame excuse I made up on the fly for my lack of attention, but that's all I recollect of the interview.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 22:42:03

Oh what complete rubbish Couthy. I don't want to patronise the less well off students at my school but there were a very significant number who were seriously disadvantaged. Life may have moved on (not in a good way) but back then it was fair.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:46:16

We don't have Secondary Moderns here, Seeker. Our GS takes just the top 96 pupils out of 800-1000 that apply there. From over the entire County and even into the neighbouring Counties.

I hardly see that as leaving the remaining Secondaries as Secondary Moderns. They all offer triple science to their top set or two, they mostly have some Oxbridge applicants, and RG applicants every year. NOT Secondary Moderns.

Kent and a few other areas that have GS's that take the top 25%, well, yes, they do leave Secondary Modern's for the pupils that don't pass the 11+. Those that are in areas that take the top 2% are quite different, IMO.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 22:50:40

You obviously weren't turned down personally from a GS because your SD had an 'entry level' job read manual labour yourself, then.

I was. Despite having a score well into the top 2% of those that took the test. I was turned down after interview stage.

And I'm only 31.

Sorry, but I feel that doing away with interviews for GS improved the system no end.

(Oh, I got into a partially selective Secondary, in the GS stream instead, and did just as well there, mind you. And that cow of a GS HT retired the same year that interviews were stopped. And not because she was retirement age, either.)

edam Tue 06-Nov-12 22:56:12

Lucy Cavendish mines her family life well but is talking bollocks about 'having' to drill and tutor your child for years to get them into a grammar in Bucks. I'm sure people do it, but dh's niece passed both Berks and Bucks 11+ despite no coaching, no tutoring and coming from a primary on a council estate. Although if you go beyond individuals to population groups, coaching probably does give the offspring of the better off an unfair advantage.

tiggytape Tue 06-Nov-12 23:08:40

The notion of tutoring can also extend to those who do practice papers at home and by definition have parents who provide these resources for their children and probably help to some extent with marking the tests / timing papers / explaining things they are stuck on.
I am not saying a parent is wrong to do this and many would say it is more familiarisation than tutoring. It definitely isn’t in the same league as the parents who spend thousands of £ on a three year master plan with professional tutors booked from Year 2!
But it is still preparation for a test with the aim of ensuring the child performs at their absolute best. And is an advantage that some other children don’t get.
Again – I am not saying it is wrong. I am just saying there are a lot of people who would define their children as untutored but they are far from unprepared for the tests nonetheless.

losingtrust Tue 06-Nov-12 23:16:51

Only when grammar schools are truly tutor proof would I accept more state funding and with a later age say 13 as I believe 11 Is too young to really see the benefit and this is the experience of the teachers who taught in the old grammar schools where the divide was too young and some kids at secondary modern should have swapped places. At 13 the motivated child will start to see the gains that an early bright but unmotivated child will leave behind, I was very much the latter.

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 23:27:54

Maybe the GSs should run 'test practice' sessions, free to all comers, based on local primary schools, possibly run by volunteers, so that children who do not have parents with the confidence or cash to support them in preparation can also get some preparation.

Yellowtip - are you enjoying some rose tinted nostalgia? There were many people who quite simply felt intimidated by the very idea of attending a posh school (for those direct grant GPDST schools were considered very posh indeed where I lived). Bright kids who went to GS on the basis of the 11+ but would never have considered putting themselves up for the scholarship test or interview. Of course some did, and made it... but why specifically, do you think an interview would IMPROVE the chances now of levelling the playing field for GS entrance?

I don't know why I am so engaged in this... I don't live in a GS area (thank goodness), did not put bright, top stream DS up for the super-selectives within commuting distance (becaue I favoured our good local comp over intense prep and long travel), and have no more children to put thorugh secondary transition!

SminkoPinko Tue 06-Nov-12 23:33:02

I think we should abolish the remaining grammar schools and then there will be no need to worry about tests and tutors.

losingtrust Tue 06-Nov-12 23:33:54

Blu I agree. I avoided grammars for my above average child but that was maybe because I grew up in non-grammar era and enjoyed the mix at the comp. it amazes me when people start tutoring so young - for me education is a long process and I would rather spend time reading to my kids and introducing them to authors politics and museums. A better education in the long run!

steppemum Tue 06-Nov-12 23:38:14

ds will sit 11+ next september. We visited school this year. HT asked parents not to tutor, just need to practise old papers to become familiar with questions and get up to speed (as test is quite fast)

we only need to do VR. I think in areas where you do other papers the tutoring is more of an issue.

ds did a demo paper online last week. very first paper he has ever seen. Got 100%, but took twice the time he was supposed to.
We refuse to tutor to the test. We will do some deliberate working on vocab and times tables, and will start doing proper old paper revision at easter (for Oct exam)

My attitude is that I only want him there if he can do the work comfortably, I don't want him there struggling at bottom of the class.

We loved the school, but it wasn't really for the academic qualifications that I would send him. We have a good local comp, which is a very good second choice. It was the atmosphere at the GS. They really liked and enjoyed boys, and they were so enthusiastic about education, the boys we met were charming young men, and I want that for my ds.

I feel very sad that the only way we will get that is GS with 30 min train ride, in a town miles away.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 23:44:40

No Blu I'm a gritty realist. Rose tinted specs would be great. Kids didn't used to put themselves up for the interview did they? It was down to the parents. All of us who got in presumably just turned up when we were told to turn up - no prior thinking involved. Posh/ not posh never crossed my radar, not once.

I've clearly let my kids down. I don't think I've spent my time at home fruitfully. I certainly haven't taken time out from feeding them etc. to introduce them to authors politics and museums. I was always quite pleased if they were all alive, fed, washed and asleep in bed at the end of each day.

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 23:47:15

Anybody who doesn't think the concepts of posh/not posh never cross children's minds is not a gritty realist.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 06-Nov-12 23:50:00

Now that I DO agree with, Seeker!

seeker Tue 06-Nov-12 23:51:50

Oops, double negative. But you know what I mean!

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 23:52:39

I am a gritty realist seeker and I never, ever, ever thought of whether the school I was trying for was 'posh' or not. Sorry. Fact. Perhaps it was my odd half foreign background. Though my mother was a mc Scot. Please don't tell me what I thought.

Yellowtip Tue 06-Nov-12 23:56:34

I don't think my own DC do the posh/ not posh thing either come to that. DD4 doesn't discriminate in any way at her own very mixed school. Is this a Kent/ Essex thing. It sounds utterly grim.

And I thought you were a man of the people too seeker.

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 00:01:10

To be fair at 11 I probably did not do the posh not posh thing but it kicked in a bit later but kids now seem a lot more aware. I do remember going to a friend's house when I was about 12 and they had napkins and brown bread which was the first time I thought somebody posh.

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 00:04:24

For me it was whether somebody used sterilized milk or not. When we switched I knew we'd made it!

Yellowtip Wed 07-Nov-12 00:06:00

losingtrust I think that when I was a child aged 11 it wasn't a deal. I don't think seeker is allowing for change over time. seeker's Kent today is very likely not going to replicate my Croydon back then. And it's a bit imperious and not very imaginative to suggest that it does.

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 00:11:44

Unfortunately my kids know all too well what is posh or not posh even the 8 year old but it is not about money and certainly my des who is 12 tends to choose like-minded people. He hates chavs all money and no brains!

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 00:16:46

Mind you they all did stories about the titanic and my dd kept asking what class we would be in if we were on there so now it would be very apparent but it could be then we all grew up in close communities and did not mix as much. My mom went to gs from a local community and hated it as she had no local friends so she was very anti when we were growing up and we moved to an area where nobody did the 11 plus. My dad also anti as he ended up in secondary modern but ended up doing better academically as more motivated hence my aversion.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Wed 07-Nov-12 00:22:03

My 9yo knows who's posh and who isn't. It's glaringly obvious we aren't posh, we don't have holidays, not even UK ones, we can't afford the 'school' coat (and this is a state school), we don't have the embroidered PE kit.

I talk in a very 'Essex' accent, unlike 75% of the parents in the playground.

Even my 9yo with SN's has his ideas about who is 'posh' and who isn't.

Blu Wed 07-Nov-12 00:22:05

It was a huge deal when I was at school!
LOL at the sterilised milk benchmark.

Of course the parents put the kids up for interview - or not - but as I say, you don't know who DIDN'T do it, due to feelings of intimidation. I can tell you that many people felt like that then, and do now. I was talking to some teenagers about it only last night, and how they felt intimidated and 'out of place' on a visit to an Oxford college. Some unpicking of the issues and some conversation made them realise it could indeed be for them - but it took someone to give that perspective.

Yellowtip - you haven't actually said why you think an interview is an improvement on a test.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Wed 07-Nov-12 00:26:35

It's hard to talk effectively about current affairs at 11 if your parents don't watch the news or buy broadsheet newspapers.

I first thought of one of my friends as 'posh' when I went to her house and she had a piano, a music room to put it in, AND a dining room too. None of these were things I had encountered on my council estate.

While it never altered our friendship, the differences between us WERE apparent.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Wed 07-Nov-12 00:27:57

And I'm talking about 20 years ago. So if it was obvious to me 20 years ago that my friend was 'posh' compared to me, then I'm quite sure it is obvious now. If not more so.

Blu Wed 07-Nov-12 00:37:25

The thing about direct grant schools was that while half the pupils were the highest achieving 11+ scholarship girls, the other half were 'merely' selective private school pupils, and some had been there since the prep school and hadn't even passed the 11+. There were non-posh students alongside the mc ones - and they were the really clever ones.

piprabbit Wed 07-Nov-12 00:43:08

How long would it take to interview the 4000 children currently sitting 11+ in my area? How would you go about recruiting and training enough, very high quality interviewers to be sure that it all happens in a fair and timely fashion?

sashh Wed 07-Nov-12 02:14:49

It was the golden jubliee last summer so I expect that sharp seven year olds might be able to work it out.

2012 - 50 =1962

It was the diamond jubilee, 2012 - 60 = 1952

Still not the year of the coronation

ReallyTired Wed 07-Nov-12 09:27:27

lol... I wouldn't get into scary selective school.

Imagine with seven year olds they are looking at a ball park figure rather than exact answer. Ie. they might cross off any seven year old who though that the queen was crowned last year or in 1066. I doult that any sensible school would worry too much if a seven year old said 1952 instead of 1953. Prehaps an intelligent interviewer would ask the child how they came to their answer.

A child explaining their thinking processes (even if they get the answer wrong) shows more about their intelligence.

gazzalw Wed 07-Nov-12 10:39:13

I am very uneasy about all of this and I say this as someone's whose DS now attends a super-selective.

I think the problem is that this whole posh/non-posh debate (which is not terribly helpful but unfortunately is the reality of the situation) has probably meant that the very socio-economic demographic whose children would truly benefit from a grammar school education (such as me when I was a child), tend to self-select themselves out of the running. Not always (before I am shouted down) but often....

It all comes back to this 'added value' debate. My DS passed three 11+ exams (but then we are educated, if not monied parents) whereas a couple of his classmates from less educated backgrounds did not, but only by a narrow margin. Now, I would not have wanted to do our DS out of his place, but it could be argued that given their relative backgrounds the others actually did better than DS - does that make sense?

Chandon Wed 07-Nov-12 11:56:16

yess gazzalw, and that is the problem some people have with grammar schools.

but at the same time nobody should blame you for doing the best for your DC.

and that is the root of the whole issue.

seeker Wed 07-Nov-12 12:13:04

Which neatly sums up why grammar schools should be abolished. It wouldn't matter if they were all in a comprehensive school.

LettyAshton Wed 07-Nov-12 13:02:39

The cleverest girl at my school (and she was exceptionally clever) was probably the poorest. And I don't mean playing at poor, either (you know what I mean here: the beat-up Subaru Forrester, the ancient Boden, etc etc), she came from quite a scary council estate.

BUT - her parents were behind her. They worked alongside her at home and helped her until she was helping them. She did very, very well.

You are never, ever going to level the playing field as long as children have different homes. Note - I did not say backgrounds . And, as in my example and in many others "poor" does not preclude success - what does is if your home life is not in any way aspirational.

gazzalw Wed 07-Nov-12 13:28:25

I wonder if you're aspirational from some homes and have a great sense of entitlement from others?

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 13:29:26

Let that is an interesting point and links in to my son's views on chavs. All money and no brains. When I was a teenager a sign of being posh was a tv in the bedroom. This was after strerilised milk!! However now probably not having a tv in the bedroom is a sign of coming from a nurturing background although not always. A family who may encourage reading at night and not tv. Therefore money should not be a barrier to progression and it redefines what posh is in terms of education. Research has shown that parents influence is more important than money. However the attitude that in order to get into grammar you need years of tuition or private primary links into money which still makes the grammar school system an issue. If everybody went to streamed comps the bright kids would flourish from any financial background but you would expect the poor kid with a nourishing educational parent to do much better as a result of taking away the grammar barrier of tuition and more expensive school uniform which like it or not was a barrier for my parents generation and even then my dad's sister was tutored for grammar by the local priest.

CecilyP Wed 07-Nov-12 13:29:36

There was a direct grant GPDST school a reasonable journey from where I lived in London when I was 11, and I thought it was posh. Even at 11, I was bright enough and knowledgable enough to know that it was a private school that offered a proportion of free places to pupils who had achieved exceptionally well in the 11+. I knew this despite having only one British parent. You also had to apply to the school separately; it was not part of the ILEA preference system. Some girls from my class in state primary school went on to this school - they were already quite posh before they went.

gazzalw Wed 07-Nov-12 13:30:00

I aspire for my DCs to go to grammar schools whereas my DW (very MC) would expect them too but without being arrogant about it....That is to do with background I'm afraid!

losingtrust Wed 07-Nov-12 13:40:01

The reason my clever dad did not pass 11+ I am convinced is that he was the youngest of four kids to a single widowed mom who spent all her time cleaning other people's houses. Even in the early fifties this was a barrier. His dad who was well educated was stll alive when his sister got to grammar but died after dad born leaving a great but uneducated mother who had started work in an Irish factory at 12. He only progressed on to get his exams after leaving school and getting an apprenticeship with more educated kids. It sounds harsh but the grammar school system did not help those sorts of kids in the 50s and it much more of an issue now so we should be concentrating on really pushing and mentoring the bright kids in inner city comps.

Blu Wed 07-Nov-12 13:57:18

My Dad was the first person to go to GS from his mining family and mining village..and spent his whole youth and working life having people making fun of him not doing a 'proper job'. (he went into one of the professions). It was a bit socailly isolating, within a small tight knit community.

Wry smile at gazza's aspiaration / entitlement perception.

seeker Wed 07-Nov-12 14:07:27
breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 21:25:26

Did anyone read the article linked to in the OP?

Interviews or improved exams were only 2 possibilities - another was for the German sytem of selective school place awarded on the basis of teacher recommendations not one-off exams - works well there.

I think over years, teachers and indeed pupils know very well who is top of the class - removes the pressure.

Agree that a return to interviews would be daft - far too much opportunity for abuse or picking mc kids.

yelowtip - your head was not typical then and certainly is not now.

breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 21:28:42

By the way, the CEM exams are no better - have been reading about the furore re my old school which has just introduced them - they have so few papers they used a paper set previously in a different grammar area - lots of kids were familiar with the texts even though it was the firt time the CEM tests had been used by that school - pathetic.

I could write them a new test - piece of piss.

Yellowtip Wed 07-Nov-12 21:41:12

But bread are interviews at Oxford and Cambridge an 'oppportunity for.. picking mc kids' ? I think that the overwhelming majority of current grammar school heads have a quite different agenda. I'd trust them to get it right.

breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 22:21:57

Big difference - interviews are only the last stage in the process - xbridge have lots of other 'hard' data to go on eg exam grades etc, and yes, teacher recommendations. The interview is only 1 factor and the individual tutors only interview a relatively small number so can put quite a lot of effort into it - unlike the thousands applying for grammar school places. Plus by 17 or 18, students could be expected to have come out of their parents' shadows and even if from an uneducated background, to have read up on their area of interest hemselves - you couldn't expect an 11 year old to have developed that ;evel of independence of thought (or means) yet.

So no, I don't think it is comparable.

breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 22:23:39

And yes, I think the temptation to pick kids who 'fit' by background, ethnicity or class would be overwhelming. Or even good looks! - ee the Eton thread.

breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 22:26:31

Don't forget that Oxbridge take far fewer from state schools than they should. Would grammars fill with kids from preps?

Ouluckyduck Thu 08-Nov-12 06:16:03

Most areas in Gemany have arrived at a system where teachers give recommendations for grammar school, but these are not binding for the parents. Th recommendations are based on the grades the children receive after sitting class-based abd teacher-assessed tests throughout the school year. Which always makes me a bit sceptical when I read on here that English children are the most tested in Europe!

richmal Thu 08-Nov-12 07:39:33

I would really dislike teacher recommendation also. Teachers could be biased. Being a quiet child, I wasted a year at comprehensive by being put in the wrong stream. If this were a decision for grammar I would have been in the wrong school.

Ouluckyduck Thu 08-Nov-12 07:53:02

Yes teachers always seem to favour the more outgoing and extrovert, often underestimating the abilities of quieter children.

ImaginateMum Thu 08-Nov-12 08:37:43

Agree with Ouluckyduck, I would dislike teacher recommendations intensely.

I have a son who always seems to fall below the radar and not get noticed - he is quiet, well behaved, and doesn't push himself forward. I was warned by his nursery teacher to watch out for this, and it has proved true! I think his teachers frequently underestimate him.

We can cater for this outside school - going to lots of extra lectures, courses, etc - which he loves. It would be terrible if he were penalised because of his personality not his brains. (not saying he's Einstein - just saying he is brighter than he is given credit for).

ImaginateMum Thu 08-Nov-12 08:38:21

Oh, and agreeing with richmal!

seeker Thu 08-Nov-12 08:55:21

"Which always makes me a bit sceptical when I read on here that English children are the most tested in Europe!"

Nobody who actually knows anything about education in continental Europe could possibly say this. You only have to tqke a cursory glance at the French state school system....

Ouluckyduck Thu 08-Nov-12 08:57:47

Nevertheless it has been repeatedly claimed on here.

seeker Thu 08-Nov-12 09:14:25

I know. Bonkers, isn't it!

BellaGallica Thu 08-Nov-12 09:39:50

With a bit of luck, a new 'tutor-proof' test might put the brakes on the tutoring industry and open up access.
A few miles from us is a super-selective where I believe it's not unusual for children to be tutored or put on tutor waiting lists from as early as Year Two. The names of popular tutors are closely guarded secrets and it's generally believed that with this level of competition, professional tutoring is absolutely essential. There are lots of tutors who have a commercial interest in maintaining a certain mystique around the exam and in reinforcing the idea that preparation requires well-paid experts. It's not surprising then that lots of less affluent or less educated parents never even consider the school as a possibility. The school has only 1% of children on FSM.

mummybiscuit Thu 08-Nov-12 19:24:28

In reply to Tired Mummy, saying that private school children should only compete for 7% of grammar school places. This makes me really angry , I am a teacher in a private school, fortunately my daughter could attend said school because of this. We do not have the funds to continue private education. Therefore we entered her for the 11+ . She is very bright , thoroughly deserves her place and received full marks. She had five lessons of "coaching" to familiarise herself with the format of the papers. Valuable time is lost if faced with a paper on test day that they have to spend time working out how to complete. A child, wherever they live or whatever background should be able to attend a school that is right academically for him/her. I do , however, feel strongly that a child who has been coached at length for more than a year possibly could struggle at a high achieving Grammar School and begs the question" is the school right for the child?" My daughter is amongst like-minded individuals at her Grammar and is being challenged academically. More importantly she has friends with very similar aspirations and personalities and is overall much happier than when she was the only "bright" one in the class.

somanymiles Thu 08-Nov-12 23:32:31

I had my DS and DD tutored over the summer, only to realise now that they are taking entrance exams how woefully inadequate that is. Given that DD is a straight A student and DS is gifted, it goes to show how extremely difficult it would be to pass the exams without tutoring. In my ideal world each child would take one non verbal reasoning exam, and then each school would have to take a percentage of children from each level of exam performance. School league tables would then more truly show how good the school was, not just how many bright children from motivated families attended. Streaming would mean that children learned at roughly the right pace for their abilities. Private schools would just be for people who wanted their children to go to school with other wealthy people, not a desperate fall back for people who can't really afford it but whose children did not pass grammar school entrance exams. If only they would put me in charge of the education system!

seeker Thu 08-Nov-12 23:46:39

"More importantly she has friends with very similar aspirations and personalities and is overall much happier than when she was the only "bright" one in the class."

She'd get that in a proper comprehensive too.

Mominatrix Fri 09-Nov-12 06:23:57

"Don't forget that Oxbridge take far fewer from state schools than they should."

Could you please give reasons why you think that Oxford and Cambridge are doing thing. I mean valid reasons, not just that half the student population come from private schools as this says nothing of the caliber of applications from either sector and how "deserving" they are of earning their place there. As far as I recall, the number do not point out that the private students there have not earned fairly the right to their places, unless you think that they should only represent 7% of the student body for "fairness" sake.

exoticfruits Fri 09-Nov-12 07:30:08

More importantly she has friends with very similar aspirations and personalities and is overall much happier than when she was the only "bright" one in the class.

My DSs were in a 'proper' comprehensive school and so it solves the problem-there isn't only one bright one in the class-there are lots of them and so just as easy to mix with similar aspirations and personalities.

She had five lessons of "coaching" to familiarise herself with the format of the papers. Valuable time is lost if faced with a paper on test day that they have to spend time working out how to complete.

I would love it if they all went in without seeing a paper-it would really separate out the intelligent-the first test being to work out unfamiliar questions. It wouldn't be a waste of time, it would be the most valuable part of the test.

ReallyTired Fri 09-Nov-12 09:32:30


I think you miss the point. Your child was lucky in being able to attend a private school for primary for WHATEVER reason. It gave her a flying start over a child in a rough primary who is a class of 30 and has to put up with distruptive children. A private school has the time and resources to give a broad education and make sure that the child knows mental arthimetic, has a good vocabulary and can spell. This a huge advantage of the test. I definately think that your child should compete with other children from a similar primary. The fact that you can't afford private secondary is irrelevent.

There is no way that a child from a rough primary without tutoring can compete with her.

I think with Oxbridge the situation is slightly different. A student can take a year out and reapply. There is loads on the internet to support the learning of a sixth former. A bright sixth former is less dependent on their school than primary school child.

Blu Fri 09-Nov-12 10:11:44

I think the big advantage that private primaries bestow is that they do prepare children for selective exams, whereas state primaries stick to SATS needs.

My DS's primary and secondary are in an area which I have seen described by MN-ers as 'crime-ridden' 'rough' 'notorious' etc. His peers in both schools span a very wide range of abilities and in no class that I know of in the 7 years that i was involved with the primary was there a class which did not have a representative number of very bright children. With a high number of premiums for children on FSM there was a high number of TAs, learning mentors, extra teachers etc, and so all children were in ability groups for maths and literacy and the 'hard to settle' children in a separate room with extra support. For the avoidance of doubt: the children on FSM were very well represented in the enrichment groups.

In DS's banded comp there are also children in the top stream who are exremely clever and with aspirational parents - from all classes and ethnic groups.

It isn't that state ed is a bear pit of feral nitwits, IMO, it is that extensive tutoring and private education give those children a head start in the particular selection process, coupled with the fact that many families in state primaries will be far less experienced and confident in putting children forward for selective exams. And in the case of super-selectives, which by definition are competed fo from a wide geographical area, the bus and train fares will be beyond the reach of many families.

tiggytape Fri 09-Nov-12 11:18:28

I think people over state the private school advantage when it comes to the 11+
Private schools don't generally prepare for the 11+ any more than state schools do. It would be silly if they did - they want to keep children until 13.

They intensively prepare pupils for the Common Entrance Exam but that is taken in Year 8 so the preparation is done Year 6 and Year 7 (far too late for state school 11+ exams). The preparation is also not reasoning skills or 11+ based - it is French and Geography and Maths and other subjects they have to do in the Comon Entrance test.

Maybe other areas of the country have prep schools that only go up to Year 6 but I know in our area, private schools aren't interested in pushing children for the state school 11+ exams.

ReallyTired Fri 09-Nov-12 11:32:59

"I think people over state the private school advantage when it comes to the 11+
Private schools don't generally prepare for the 11+ any more than state schools do. It would be silly if they did - they want to keep children until 13."

Lots of private primaries end at 11 and generally girls don't do common entrance.

State school grammars have a disportionate number of private school entrants. I doult that that private schools have such a high proportion of Britain's brightest children.

The reality is the the broader and richer education produced children who can work at a higher cognitive level.

tiggytape Fri 09-Nov-12 12:14:39

I guess it must vary. The prep schools near us go up to 13 so intensive tutoring starts not finishes in Year 6.
That may be because the private secondary schools near us start with Year 9 so there is no natural overlap between private and state. Also many of the private secondaries are co-ed so the girls also stay until 13 and also do Common Entrance.

Sometimes children who don't get a state secondary school place they like go from Year 6 to prep school for a year or two until they can get in to a local state secondary but I haven't heard of many going the other way i.e. coming out of prep school early to go to state grammar school.
The parents I know with children at private school seem to know very little about the state grammars as it isn't something their school prepare for and they like prep school because it keeps children in a primary setting for 2 years longer (secondary schools being viewed as a bit scary even if they are grammars).

If the prep schools finished at 11 though and they therefore had to find a secondary school to go to, I can imagine loads of prep school children would sit for the 11+. Perhaps more also sit for it when original plans to go to private secondary schools prove too expensive afterall.

seeker Fri 09-Nov-12 12:59:30

There is a private school near us that markets itself on its near 100% record at 11+. Prep schools go to 13- hence the name. Lots of other private schools finish at 10/11 like state schools.

Blu Fri 09-Nov-12 13:00:31

Round here the only prep schools going to 13 are the ones already attached to public schools. All the others are independent primaries which go to yr 6. And I know of at least one private school in Kent that prepares children for the 11+.

difficultpickle Fri 09-Nov-12 13:29:39

Ds's old prep finishes at 11 but doesn't prep for 11+ because they want everyone to go on to the senior school that starts at 11. Something like 80% do. There is also an incentive to move into the prep by year 5 as they offer a discount on fees at the senior school for those who were in the prep at year 5.

Ds's current prep goes to 13 and doesn't currently prep for 11+ but I think that is under review. Another local prep changed from 13 to 11 because they lost so many pupils at 11 to local grammar and other senior independent schools.

breadandbutterfly Fri 09-Nov-12 14:04:06

I don't really think that it is intensive tutoring that makes the difference, as long as papers aren't set on areas eg of the KS2 maths curricucum, that those at the start of year 6 may not have covered yet.

I think the real doifference is made years earlier - kids who learn to read early, read quality reading matter and have a strong grasp of basic maths eg mental arithmetic and times tables, are the ones who will do well with v little tutoring.

There is no reason why children from state schools should be at any disadvantage - but trying to 'cram' in year 5 or 4 or whatever is not only too late, it is just unnecessary, if the child has had the basics well taught years earlier. It is then a virtuous circle - the child who can read well reads more, so improves their vocab, general knowledge, speed of reading and thought etc etc ad infinitum. They will always be ahead. Children who have been ignored educationally and try to catch up jut before vthe 11+ are always going to be up against it.

losingtrust Fri 09-Nov-12 15:27:00

The private primaries near us and actively market their results at 11+. They continually practice the papers. We are over the border and in a good comp area but a friend have mine had bright son who she refused to coach. However she found out the tests cover things that state primaries do not cover. He did the test and failed. Only the ones who had been coached from year 4 got in and her son was fine about it. Another boy who was bright and had been coached and did not get in came into school crying. His parents had put a lot of pressure and investment in. How awful to think he had failed at 11! He has now got into a grammar 25 miles away with nobody he knows. So sad. The other boy is now in the top stream in comp and has kept his self-esteem as there was no pressure for him.

tersha Sat 02-Feb-13 14:55:40

This is back in the news, I see. Of course I want my kids to do their best but not by cramming them for exams. I want them to fulfill their potential by really understanding and enjoying what they do. I don't have a problem with them doing out of school activities that help with this - in fact I am all for it - I send them for extra swimming so why not extra maths or French? I do have a problem if it puts them under pressure and a big no no is a one to one tutor who exists to shoehorn them into schools that they might hate or where they might flounder. I also don't want them drilling to perform as automatoms against the clock. I read somewhere the expression real learning not rote learning. I wish I could remember where as it is spot on!

annach Sat 02-Feb-13 15:25:39

I'm a tutor, so I would say this grin, but:

Why try to make exams tutor proof? There's no such thing as tutor proof. Exams test knowledge and skill, which are learned.

Tutor-proofing's counter intuitive. No state school child will benefit from it. For the reasons reallytired lists so clearly, a state school child is likely to be at a big disadvantage against prep school children. Pace of work is far slower in state school, classes are larger, disruptive children are included in mainstream education, to the detriment of the quiet ones trying to learn. Tutoring evens the playing field somewhat.

Everything we do in life is learned. Everything. From learning to talk, walk, sit on a potty and eat with spoons, to gross and fine motor skills, we learn by imitation and practise. Instinct or innate ability is a tiny part of it all. And why prize innate ability over hard work? Hard working average pupils may do better than brainy laid back ones, long term.

No one says to sports or music prodigies: now, to make this fair, we want you to do no physical exercise or violin practise for the next two years, then we'll see who's the fastest/best able to pick up a tune by ear. It's accepted that talents are nurtured and developed via practise. Why not intellect?

Preps do get children ready for 11 and 13+ - that's what parents are paying for. Tutors fill in the gap in education for state school children. Parents who can't afford a tutor can buy or borrow books and do the practise at home. No one is excluded as a result of tutoring, except the few children who are bright and overlooked both at school and at home. G&T provision should be made for them by a school's SENCO. If I were to campaign for anything to level the field, it would be this. Give a leg up to the bright children whose parents don't give a toss.

'Cramming' in Yr 4 or 5 is not too late. It could be called 'upping the pace and preparing' or 'aiming hard for something you want'. Children don't wilt under a small amount of well-managed pressure. They thrive. They love to be stretched and see their work improve. They are not delicate little creatures who must be allowed to develop without intervention. Positive intervention at appropriate times in a child's life is what makes the difference.

mercibucket Sat 02-Feb-13 15:32:38

easier all round to take the top 5 girls and boys from each school imo

annach Sun 03-Feb-13 11:28:29

I'm not sure, Merci. I think that would result in really undue pressure on primary school children. the parents would have them tutored from Yr 1 to ensure they were in the top 5. What I like about the current system (not perfect by any means) is that it throws up some surprises. A couple of years ago two boys from our local state primary got into Tiffin. They were not top of the class. The school hadn't ever given them any special attention. They decided to give it a go and they succeeded.

I do't really understand EvilTwin's shock at a child being tutored for 2 years. It's only 1 hour a week, plus 1-2 hour's homework for most tutees. Hardly onerous. If a child can't cope with 2-3 extra hours spread over a whole week, then they are horizontally laid back. Tutoring isn't instead of hanging out with friends, sports, sleepovers etc. It doesn't deny any child their fun in life. It's probably just two hours out of the gaming or tv schedule. And in return they grow in confidence and ability.

All the middle class kids in dds class are being tutored. Just depressing. Hoping to get their kids into Kent grammars or private schools. My dd is bright but the only one who is not tutored. She even asked me for one the other day.

The brightest boy in her class won't be tutored and probably couldn't get a place in a private or grammar as a result. But then he's riff raff. I feel tutoring and exams that can be tutored are just yet another way of keeping the oiks out. Makes me v sad.

mercibucket Sun 03-Feb-13 12:15:51

what i like about my idea grin is that it allows all schools a chance - so in our system, it gives all children a chance. our schools are so segregated along class/money lines that it would give more children from poor backgrounds a chance
still a lot of very obvious drawbacks and still unfair on those at number 6, but fairer overall
i would still do an outside 11 plus type exam

April1st Sun 03-Feb-13 15:30:23

I wish I can be as relaxed as many people here but I just can’t. We are probably one of the small minorities who live in a gs dominated area. For us the choices are gs or failing schools. Only last week a mum told me she’s given up gs test for her very bright child as they can’t afford the bus fees anyway! TBH in our area I’ve known some mums they started preparing their babies for 11+ even before their babis start to stand up.

bowerbird Sun 03-Feb-13 15:48:55

Annach I couldn't agree more!

JuliaScurr Sun 03-Feb-13 16:27:39

April dd was a school refuser at 2 primaries before going to a failing school which she loved and left with Level 6 = all the kids good at exams have been creamed off to grammars so the 'comps' look worse. But those kids may well all be reaching their highest potential in things that don't show on tests

Copthallresident Sun 03-Feb-13 16:41:48

annach I can only conclude that you would say that because your views on ability and learned knowledge are seriously out of step with the theory and views I have heard elsewhere.

The 11+ was designed to ensure that the brightest benefited from schools that would especially nurture their academic talents. At my direct grant Grammar School in the days when tutoring for the 11+ was unknown I had many bright friends from working class backgrounds who were enabled to go on to university and on to rewarding careers, something then denied to most of my gender, let alone those from working class backgrounds.

VR and NVR are used precisely because they are tests of ability rather than learned knowledge. If schools invested in making the tests unpredictable as happens in blue chip companies who also want to recruit and promote those who are able as opposed to just having learned knowledge, then they would effectively select the most able without tutoring skewing the results. It is statistically proven that the tests can be made proof against all but the most minimal of preparation, as in a maximum of 10 practise papers, and businesses wouldn't buy them if they weren't.

11 is far too young to decide that learned knowledge is more important than potential and also far too young to write off those who are not good at exams. I presume you would write off all those with Specific Learning Difficulties too. Thankfully my DDs got into one of the most selective schools in the country because they could see from their NVR /VR scores that they were very able, their performance in exams reflected their SpLDs and that they had considerable potential. They have gone on to be A* students and one is now at an elite university studying Science.

I addition research shows that motivation and achievement follow ability, you can cram all you like but there will come a point, most definitely by university, when you cannot succeed without the ability.

Schmedz Sun 03-Feb-13 16:53:19

VR and NVR test certain types of intellectual ability and the sort that Grammar schools are looking for. My daughter is not particularly great at either of these sorts of tests, but has received an academic scholarship to an excellent Indie. As a teacher in a selective indie junior school I can also vouch for the high, future-A* calibre of many of the children who 'fail' the super selective 11+ tests.
Tutoring can be extremely successful in preparing children for the VR and NVR tests. So much of the process is to do with speed of answering and this can be practised. Given that the majority of children who 'succeed' in these exams have been tutored is surely evidence enough that it is less 'natural ability' and more other factors that are being assessed.
This doesn't take away from the fact that the children who are accepted into grammar schools will be above average intellectually and also have matured enough intellectually at the time they sit the tests. Thank goodness year 7 is only the beginning of the secondary school journey and intellect is not a fixed quantity (please read Carole Dweck if you're in any doubt!).
Grammars don't have the monopoly on able children, nor good GCSE and A grades and hopefully those many, many children who don't get in realise that!

April1st Sun 03-Feb-13 17:01:38

Julia the school that closest to us it is so bad to the point that it had to change its name and school uniforms. The pupils are just walk in and out of the classrooms according to how they feel on the day. The parents in our area just wish there is a reasonable school that our kids can go to after y6 as their natural progression. It is not too much to ask for the government is it?

exoticfruits Sun 03-Feb-13 17:13:52

I am sceptical that it can be done but the article I read said that it was all being changed, there would be no past papers or practise papers and the DCs would just get one session of a few practise questions and then do it. The even better thing was that it would be different the next year.
A great step forward IMO.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Feb-13 17:15:16

And luckily there are only 164 grammar schools left in the country and so it simply isn't relevant to at least 90% of children.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Feb-13 17:15:42

Scotland and Wales are even luckier with none.

Copthallresident Sun 03-Feb-13 17:27:35

Schmedz "Given that the majority of children who 'succeed' in these exams have been tutored is surely evidence enough that it is less 'natural ability' and more other factors that are being assessed." No it could equally be proof that the schools have allowed the tests to be predictable so that children could be tutored for them. Companies who buy these tests in buy a package of continuous improvement and changes that ensures that does not happen. After a maximum of ten practise papers you cannot improve your score. My DDs have sat these tests with Educational Psychologists as part of their assessments and get high scores without any practise (the tests of attainment are another matter)

It's not cheap though and I don't suppose the Grammar Schools, though they pay lip service to discouraging tutoring, have had much cause to make investment in the tests a priority as long as they get bright motivated pupils, until a politician comes along and makes it a priority..................

April1st Sun 03-Feb-13 17:29:57

exoticfruits That is I what I mean by that we are one of the very minorities who are affected the most and have very little voice. We don’t really have a choice but to take the 11+. Many of the people they only come into our area for the gs. They don’t live here or pay tax in our area. But if our dcs want to go to their decent local school our dcs have to fight their corner in the 11+ arena.

Schmedz Sun 03-Feb-13 17:58:36

So you agree Copthallresident...the predictability of the tests could be something other than 'natural ability' that is evidenced by tutored childrens' success wink
There will always be exceptions to the rule (untutored children who think in the ways tested). If your children are doing well in this sort of testing with the EP then they are obviously able in this type of thinking. There are also different levels to the standard of the tests and each GS will have different levels of testing according to how oversubscribed they are. Some are very secretive about their testing procedures and others very open, but there are only so many sorts of VR and NVR questions that are likely to come up.
Agree that any more than about 6 practise papers is unlikely to improve your ability to answer the questions, but familiarity with the question styles and practise in answering within increasingly tight time limits (famous tutor techniques!) will certainly make the difference when it comes down to the cutoff score.
There is no reason for GSs to change the test procedure unless they wish to consider other intellectual strengths (such as the ability to write well, do maths to a high level, or consider other intelligences that make a well-rounded, 'successful' person). The high scorers in VR and NVR are likely to have strengths in a number of areas and in super selective schools are going to be likely to get the grades that will keep the GS at the top of the league table, so there is no real incentive to find other types of student.
I think there should be more grammar schools around so entry is not quite so competitive because there are certainly many students narrowly missing out who would benefit from a GS education. There are plenty of boroughs that do not have GS which means the pressure on surrounding area GS entry is hugely increased.

difficultpickle Sun 03-Feb-13 18:12:33

We live in catchment for GS and there are already people trying to find tutors for this new 'tutor proof' exam. I can't see how it will work when the culture around here is to tutor. I was delighted when ds changed schools to one that finishes at 13, not least because it takes us out of the game where 11+ is concerned. Ds is in year 4 and everyone we know has already reserved tutors.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Feb-13 18:19:00

I think that the best thing would be to publish practise papers and then on the day do something entirely different!

Copthallresident Sun 03-Feb-13 18:31:30

schmedz I think we are in agreement. I am at the other end of this schooling process with DD1s peers in uni now and it has been reassuring that in the end whether they went to state (all outstanding though, and via outstanding sixth form colleges), grammar (just about the most selective in the country fed by a massive tutoring industry) or indie the bright ones, by the very subjective measure of me thinking they are bright wink, have all ended up at the best unis. What worries me is that this parental desperation feeding off the tutoring industry and vice versa leads to a lot of psychological pressure on pupils and damage to confidence and self esteem, not to mention it too often being a miserable educational experience (which it has no need to be of course) whilst making very little difference to the outcome.

I know many parents who regret having got sucked in, and schools have had a moral responsibility to do as much as they could to discourage tutoring. I do hope they now succeed.

Schmedz Sun 03-Feb-13 18:46:42

Copthallresident, we are most definitely in agreement! Wise words smile

Yellowtip Sun 03-Feb-13 22:22:39

Copthall I agree with a great deal of what you have to say usually but I do think your speculation on the motivation for grammar schools to make tests tutor proof incredibly shallow and dismissive.

Copthallresident Sun 03-Feb-13 23:38:35

Yellowtip Are you referring to my speculation about why Grammar Schools have not taken action to make entrance tests tutor proof until now? What other explanation is there since what is proposed is not rocket science, or new, the scientific rigour for instance, that stops VR and NVR tests become predictable and possible to prepare for has been around since at least the 1980s. Yet the Grammar Schools in this area have long had admission purely on VR and NVR, and an industry has grown up tutoring children in the minutiae of what tutors claim they can predict can come up in tests, fuelled by the fact that you have to score in excess of the 97th percentile to get in. The tutors stand outside the gates of the Grammar Schools on open evenings, though the names of the ones supposedly with the greatest inside track on success are passed around in secret. Whilst I am cynical about the extent to which these tutors can make a difference, especially as the magic preparation seems to consist of cramming as many around a kitchen table as possible doing endless repeat papers, and they have certainly failed to get some very bright children in, it does seem there is some effectiveness in their methods, and there should not be.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 04-Feb-13 07:57:42

@copthall you so realise the scenario you describe - worrying though I agree it must be - isn't common practice at all high achieving grammar schools, right? Tutors lurking outside school gates like pushers, I mean.....

As far as an untutorable test goes - from what I've read in the press about the proposals for Bucks, which might obviously be incomplete or just plain wrong - it sounds like it won't be untutorable so much as un-doable for anyone with dyspraxia. Which presumably wasn't the aim. VR, English tests, maths tests (although there are some areas which will always be a challenge but that is life) are fine, but pictograms? Visual transformations? Not ever going to happen. And completely irrelevant to most fields of academic ability. sad

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 04-Feb-13 07:58:44

DO realise. Not so realise. I haven't turned into a teenage due to the pressure of listening to DD1 talking to her friends. wink

April1st Mon 04-Feb-13 10:06:52

It is nice to hear from some mumsneters that the private schools their kids go don’t push children to do the state 11+.
However I was told that in our neighbouring borough all the private schools are pushing every child for 11+ regardless of academic abilities. Many parents they coach their state school dcs either by themselves or tutors are people with ordinary incomes not wealthy whatever class. These parents are not spending effort and/or money to gain advantage for their kids. These parents want to get some equality for their kids. By the way there are many wealthy people out there regardless middle or working class. So I don’t think class got anything to do with the gs issue.
We live in a very different world now. In general parents of all backgrounds have very different approach to parenting and education. We don’t live in the 50s,60s,70s any more. GS should be a thing in the past.

breadandbutterfly Mon 04-Feb-13 22:07:43

Don't think tutors do stand outside gs at open evenings trying to sell their wares! grin

Though it's a great mental image...

i agree that gss are keeping the system deliberately but that may be because they know that good results are not down to brains alone but also to hard work? A child who scores highly after committing to improve their maths or whatever and puts the effort in prior to the 11+ will be the same child who commits to studying prior to GCSES so not such a bad reason for choosing them over someone with greater natura ability but less work ethic. I got to Oxford based on lots of hard work but unexceptional ability.

That is also a fair criterion to choose someone for a gs place. As long as everyone has access to the 'work' eg I do think all schools should have 'intro to 11+ lessons' as happens in N Ireland.

By the way, as an examiner, i think the supposedly untutorable-for exams are nothing of the kind - the CEM exam which claims to be so is not and the schools which accept its claims are frankly lazy.

Copthallresident Mon 04-Feb-13 22:11:06

bread and butterfly go read the Tiffin threads!

exoticfruits Mon 04-Feb-13 22:13:33

Tutors don't have to make an effort to sell their wares- they are in great demand- word of mouth gets parents queueing up!

Yellowtip Mon 04-Feb-13 22:28:59

Over the past twelve years since DD1 went to the grammar I've known so many tutored kids who didn't get in and so many untutored kids who did that I think a lot of the time parents are kidding themselves and burning money while 'tutors' are growing fat. It's reasonably predictable who will get in and who won't and tutoring doesn't seem to alter the actual results. It seems to me to be the ultimate dupe.

Yellowtip Mon 04-Feb-13 22:30:25

Given a reasonable primary I suppose.

breadandbutterfly Mon 04-Feb-13 22:42:29

I largely agree yellowtip but the 'given a reasonable primary' is quite vague - a primary might be very good but just not have covered all the KS2 topics by the start of year 6 - that's where tutoring cab make a difference (esp maths). Plus of course a child who has never had the chance to try a VR or NVR paper will be at a disadvantage over one who has done several. (Though a child who has done 100 won't nec be at an advantage over one who has done 5 - so intensive tutoring is not required and it crtainly doesn't require a 'professional' to do so.

I wrote 'professional' as, contrary to some parents' imagination, there is no such profession and tutors need not and cannot have training in teaching in the 11+ - in reality, they are all amateurs and confer no 'special' knowledge.

Copthallresident Mon 04-Feb-13 22:55:58

bread and butterfly

I can't be bothered to go right through the threads but here is the google search on the subject

"Tiffin Schools Admission Arrangements (full thread) | Mumsnet ... › Topics › Education
100+ posts - 6 authors - 27 Apr 2012
Tiffin Schools (Boys & Girls) have issued their Determined Admission ... They only test children outside the catchment area if places cannot be filled by ...... It is common practise for Tiffin tutors to wait at the gates or lurk around ...
Wilsons, Wallington, Tiffin, Sutton – why so many applications? Are ... › Topics › Secondary education
100+ posts - 1 author - 27 Jun 2012
I went along to the Tiffin Open Evening last night and there were tutoring firms giving out leaflets outside the school gate on the way in."

Elsewhere there are comments that said tutors also lurk outside the gates to get feedback on what was in the tests after they have taken place ...

In addition *bread and butterfly I can't for the life of me see any value whatsoever in subjecting your child to this, picked at random from similar posts. Whilst it may hopefully be at the extreme, it does I can assure you reflect the sort of miserable educational experiences experienced by many of DDs' peers.

From the Tiffin School Admission Arrangements thread

"Mumzy Sun 29-Apr-12 10:17:09

I know someone whose ds got into tiffin this year and I have been utterly shocked by what he's had to do to get a place. He is a vey able child and top of his class in his state primary. From year 4 he was tutored very specifically to pass the allegedly untutorable NVR and VR tests. He went to a tutoring firm for one hour a week then he was given 3x 50 minute pieces of practice homework to do a week. He was given lists and lists of words to rote learn and if he got less than 90% in any test his tutors advised his mum to make him redo them aiming for a score of 95%. His parents were also advised not to go on holiday during the summer holidays at the end of year 5 but to spend the 6 weeks doing at least 5x 50 minute NVR and VR tests each day which they did. I think Tiffin school know the majority of its intake has been subjected to this sort of drilling drilling and should be concerned about the childrens' welfare and the quality of its recent intake due to the narrowest of its test."

Copthallresident Mon 04-Feb-13 23:13:28

Yellowtip I would love to agree with you and I do hope there are some Grammars out there who successfully discriminate but going on all the accumulated experiences of Tiffin it does seem that they have allowed the tests to be tutorable to some extent, pretty much accepted by those who go there as well as those who don't get in, shown in these threads as well as amongst DDs' peers.

And in recent years between my DB's older children going to their northern grammar, when there was no tutoring of any significance, and his now much younger DC trying this year there has been a huge growth in the use of tutors, and teachers have noticed a very definite change in the profile of the children getting in from local primaries. Again VR / NVR tests. Thankfully Grandma being a teacher herself stepped in to make it a positive experience, but very sad. There is absolutely no reason for parents to buy into the whole thing either because the town with the Grammar / sec mod is ringed by other towns with outstanding comps, some outperform some Grammars, it is not as though it is that or the sec mod. But then that also applies for a lot of those trying for Tiffin too.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 04-Feb-13 23:19:47

Tiffin is not the only grammar though. Tiffin is not the best grammar. Perhaps the huge numbers applying for Tiffin do make (both of them) a special case. But the answer to that is surely to consider whether the qualified demand is so high as to merit two additional schools somewhere in the vicinity.

With DD1s school - there might be small clusters of tutor activity. There might even be secret handshake tutor passwords. But with the school covering a radius of >50 square miles, most of which are rural, it's never going to be the same as the tiffin situation. A great tutor at one edge of the zone isn't going to be much use for someone living at the opposite end. I'm sure that some people do use tutors but I don't know anyone at the school who did (although I do know two kids whose parents are teachers who basically did the job themselves. But that's a slightly different deal I suppose).

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 00:20:17

Russiansonthespree If some schools are managing to admit irrespective of tutoring then clearly their tests are by definition tutorproof. No problem. However at the schools where this clearly is a problem, as in the case of Tiffin, and tutoring is skewing the playing field, and resulting in miserable and quite possibly psychologically damaging experiences for children, then the schools should make use of the means available to them to make them fairer. I hear of similar problems in Kent.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 07:33:48

I'm completely convinced that following the bucks model (ie using tests that, if the descriptions in the media are correct will likely be impossible for people with dyspraxia) is not going to 'make them fairer'.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 07:35:44

@copthall At least as far as our school is concerned I'm not convinced that they admit 'irrespective of tutoring' just that tutoring really isn't a 'thing' in this part of the country. I may be wrong. We do, of course, have a proportion of kids in each year who went to posh primary schools which is, in my view, rather worse. But the private school industry is, again in my view, a serious problem in this part of the country.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 08:36:35

Russiansonthespree If the proposals do discriminate against those with SpLDs then they have not made effective use of the means available to them, and I would have thought that they would be open to challenge at appeal if not in the courts, but certainly in the public domain.

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 09:13:15

I love the 'lurking' bit. grin

I have no personal experience of professional 11+ tutors but our violin teacher 'lurks' inside the exam centre. She could be there to snag potential pupils OR she could simply be there to show support for her students and to perhaps to pick up from fresh feedback which may make her a better teacher.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 09:56:37

TotallyBS I think the point is that they are outside the gates before open evenings handing out leaflets, and lurking to get feedback on actual questions fresh from the tests to feedback into tutoring more victims pupils. I don't doubt they are the loony extreme especially since the tutors with the supposed magic inside track have built a mystique around themselves which includes access only through chinese whispers and secret handshakes, and supposedly through the use of a certain hairdressers grin

It is ridiculous but if you saw the state of some of the parents in the school playground end of Year 5 / Year 6 you would see they are ripe for exploitation. I have developed the hostage rescuing skills of the SAS so quickly did I get my DD out of the miasma of desperation and competitiveness. To be honest as well as making the tests tutor proof they should give out Valium to the parents. I do know many parents who have come to regret it and feel a sort of madness descended on them to having even considered putting their DCs through it.

April1st Tue 05-Feb-13 10:15:47

Most people agree that there’s nothing wrong with doing practise papers at home. But why so many people object to paying for tutoring. If a parent hasn’t got the time, skill, a peace and quiet place to DIY assist their dc so why shouldn’t the parent pay for a trustworthy teacher to support their dc. Although I agree many parents are over obsessive about gss. If the state schools would prepare parents and kids for the tests there may be less need for paying for tutors. After all 11+s are state school exams and gss are state funded schools. Most tutors from reliable sources are qualified professionals not witches (I hope!).

Corriewatcher Tue 05-Feb-13 10:21:14

Russiansonthespree I live in Bucks and attended a presentation last week the County Council had sent out to all primary schools on the changes to the 11+. It said that special educational needs would be taken into account, and it is possible for parents to comment on the proposals via their website as part of the consultation process. There isn't much official info about what is going to be in the test (I suppose they don't want to give too much away), but there is an awful lot of speculation about the content (on fora and amongst mums) so that might have heightened your worries, hopefully unnecessarily.

One of the other interesting things that came out of the presentation was that the test would not include material beyond year 5, so there shouldn't be a need to get tutoring to cover year 6 maths.

FWIW, I attended some local gs open days last autumn and certainly didn't see any tutors lurking with flyers, so maybe that's a London thing. There is certainly an industry here though, and it is clearly unregulated. Some of the tutors who have been happily tutoring just for Bucks old-style vr exam will probably not be able to add much value when it comes to maths and nvr, but I doubt that will stop them charging worried parents.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 10:25:01

@April - some people are obsessed with trying to make sure nobody else's child has any teensy weensy 'advantage' over their child. It's a form of madness. When DD1 was at primary school, she had some one to one support from the SENCO because of her SEN issues. Another mother, whose child was also considering doing the 11+ made a huge fuss about this because she was convinced that DD1 was getting 'tutoring' from the school. In fact DD1 was having handwriting help and touch typing practice. And she was embarrassed enough about it as it was without this woman braying about it in the playground. sad

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 10:25:03

Copt - Some people just can't win with you.

You mock those tutors who get business by word of mouth and by a so called secret handshake. At the same time you mock those who openly and proactively look for new customers.

You mock these tutors for getting feedback to benefit future customers. You then mock the view that these tutors offer any added value.

Many parents place their kids in organized swimming classes because their DCs respond better to a non parent instructor. I know various people who refuse to give driving instructions to loved ones. Are all these people also being duped by unscrupulous instructors as well?

Just in case you are wondering, no I am not a tutor so no axe to grind.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 10:27:08

Corrie - I don't live in Bucks. But what has been reported in the papers as the plan does look worrying to me from a dyspraxia perspective and I would be concerned if they adopted that test where I live. And I'd be concerned for all dyspraxics - we are constantly discriminated against as it is, and things seem to be getting worse rather than better. sad

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 10:32:25

For clarification - it's the NVR that is particularly concerning. The sad fact is that the maths syllabus throughout the NC - right up to GCSE level - has been changed over the years to disproportionately disadvantage kids with dyspraxia but we do have to live with that, and it starts being an issue before 11+ anyway. But NVR can be (doesn't have to be, but very often is) completely impossible for dyspraxics and many of the skills are actually irrelevant to being intelligent or to many (most) careers. After all, what does it actually matter that I have zero spatial awareness. Yes, I can't be a designer or an engineer. Boo Hoo.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 10:33:27

I like the idea of not going beyond year 5 material in the test except for the fact that, again, that will disadvantage dyspraxics when it comes to maths.

April1st Tue 05-Feb-13 10:42:25

I don’t live in Burk but if one day when changes take place in our county I hope it is true that the questions will not go beyond Year 5. But if this is really the case there may be huge increase in pass rate won’t it? It still doesn’t solve the problem of shortage in gs places?

ByTheWay1 Tue 05-Feb-13 10:52:31

I'm a tutor - I do not lurk.... and do not see anything changing much - you do not tutor to the 11+, you go through types of testing, how to respond to verbal reasoning type questions, mathematical problems, linguistic quizzes, science puzzles....

you cover exam technique, how to drop a hard question , FORGET it and go back after if you have the time - this is by far and away the hardest thing to get into a child's way of doing things as it goes against the grain to not do things in order.

And you tutor a subject or 2 as well (mine is Maths) - you don't just tutor to the 11+ or you would run out of steam after a month.....

(my own girls did not go for the test - we are lucky enough to have the "choice" of 3 perfectly good comprehensives round here - we are in the catchment for all 3. My girls thrive on being top of the heap, not middle - so the local comp suits them well....)

April1st Tue 05-Feb-13 11:16:59

Russian – I am not surprised as I said before I have known mums started preparing the babies for 11+ before potty training ….. not an exaggeration! One of these mums is a state school teacher and now she is doing hours and hours of test papers with her ds every week.

Hamishbear Tue 05-Feb-13 11:27:06

Re: NVR does it not attach high status to logic? I speak to so many who tell me 'innate IQ' is all about NVR? Verbal reasoning is apparently all about exposure to words and no real skill needed.

When we talk about IQ we ascribe high status to ability to problem solve and complete maths puzzles.

April1st Tue 05-Feb-13 11:38:20

It is very difficult to define IQ ! Even men and women work and think differently. NVR may be fair in some ways because it doesn’t require so much understanding of the English culture as comparing to VR.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 11:46:48

Some aspects of NVR tests require spatial awareness and general visualisation skills which are usually (not always) an anathema for people with dyspraxia. Other aspects of NVR tests are completely fine - but so many people have such a poor understanding of dyspraxia that I would be concerned if my kids were taking such a test. When DD1 took her 11+ she was given an extra half hour to do the tests - that was the 'concession' for people with dyspraxia, same as for people with dyslexia. In fact, she didn't need extra time at all (the extra time worked completely against her) what she needed, for a level playing field, was some understanding of what dyspraxia actually is. Luckily she was fine even operating on a slopey playing field. But others might not have been.

People who tell you that IQ is all about the ability to visualise and work with pictures are either (a) ignorant about dyspraxia (and other conditions and indeed non visual forms of intelligence) (b) bad with words and/or numbers themselves or (c) both.

April1st Tue 05-Feb-13 12:11:06

For me I don’t think there is ever going to be a fair 11+ test no matter what the authority comes up with. I don’t like 11+! I don’t believe in selective education! I certainly don’t trust the politicians design and run the state school system especially those who d never even been it themselves.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 13:33:45

NVR is apparently the most easily coached for test and therefore the one under the most scrutiny atm.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 13:51:17

And yet bucks is moving to NVR? I'm confused.

Believe me, it may be easily coachable for most people but not for those of us who see diagrams and weep. sad

BeehavingBaby Tue 05-Feb-13 13:56:35

I just looked at some sample verbal reasoning questions using the alphabets and codes and couldn't do any of them! Worrying confused

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 14:00:40

Totallybullshit I made it quite plain down thread if you look, that I don't think tutoring does have to be a negative experience. Obviously if it is done to remedy a weakness, or cultivate a talent, in a way that is inspiring, caring and effective, then it can benefit a child academically and psychologically. I grew up with a heavily dyslexic brother, when most schools did not acknowledge a diagnosis, let alone provide support. I still remember the name , Mr Houghton, of his patent and caring tutor, and the way he worked with the then very sparse tools at his disposal to help him. I see no problem with parents, or a tutor with the right skills and knowledge, if the parents don't want to or can't for whatever reason, helping to prepare a child for exams providing it is a positive experience, and kept within reasonable and humane limits, and provided it is consistent with what is actually required.

However all the features I have highlighted are symptoms of an unregulated tutoring industry that around here exploits parents anxiety and as a result children are subjected to miserable and negative educational experiences. Mostly it seems to involve being crammed around a kitchen table with several others, doing endless practise papers for a year or two, most parents I know say they know it was miserable and they would have hated it. At worst it was what was described by the poster below. (my post 22.55 last night) If you think that was defensible then no, you won't win with me. All this is in response to a supposedly untutorable test?

RussiansonTheSpree You presumably have an Ed Psych report, do you not submit that along with your application to explain any underperformance in any tests which might disadvantage Dyspraxics? In some ways I think VR / NVR tests more than level the playing field for Dyslexics, my family has a long history of swanning into Grammar Schools only to mystify and frustrate the teachers ever after (before Dyslexia was remotely understood)

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 14:11:34

Our school hasn't until now done NVR. VR isn't a problem for people with dyspraxia per se, the other two papers were English and maths - well, the maths curriculum is these days somewhat disproportionately weighted against people with dyspraxia but, you know, what can you do, they have to do GCSE and so they have just got to accept that the 'easy marks' might not be the ones they get. And move on.

DD1 does indeed have an ed psych report (several in fact). While both schools she has attended have had all the reports I remain entirely unconvinced that anybody has ever read them. (there isn't a 'you have to laugh or else you' something else' smiley otherwise I'd use it here).

There was no reason deriving from the content of the tests she did, when she did her 11+, that her dyspraxia would have disadvantaged her (there weren't even any easy mark 'measure this line' 'estimate this' 'show that you can use a ruler' (she really can't, not even now!) type questions in the maths which was a result, as far as she was concerned). There were several reasons deriving from the conditions on the day that she was potentially, in my view (speaking as a dyspraxic myself) significantly disadvantaged. But it was fine anyway.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 14:34:03

It has Russsians. It ditched NVR about 13 years ago.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 14:37:42

I wasn't paying attention when DD1 was 2! grin We obviously had a lucky escape.

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 15:18:38

Copt: I tutored mine for 6 months. If a parent wants to hire a tutor for two years then why is that an example of unscrupulous tutors preying on anxious parents?

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 15:53:22

It is when they are advising anxious parents they need tutoring for two years to pass a test when there is no educational basis for that advice. It especially is when they advise, to repeat "one hour a week from Year 4, then he was given 3x 50 minute pieces of practice homework to do a week. He was given lists and lists of words to rote learn and if he got less than 90% in any test his tutors advised his mum to make him redo them aiming for a score of 95%. His parents were also advised not to go on holiday during the summer holidays at the end of year 5 but to spend the 6 weeks doing at least 5x 50 minute NVR and VR tests each day which they did."

Surely a scrupulous tutor will seek to reassure parents that, in the case of VR/ NVR, a couple of practise papers a week for around six months is going to achieve as much improvement as is proven by educational psychologists to be possible (actually probably less)?

When we were returning to the UK and my daughter was sitting selective school exams which tested a syllabus her International School would not have covered I sat down with an old teacher who agreed to tutor her (appropriately named Miss Smart) and she advised no more than a term of her working with her on literacy skills, a cosy hour with TV and cake in her living room, (her area of weakness, not diagnosed until later as dyslexia) and that we work together on some work books covering the Maths syllabus, her thing. She loved it and went into the exams confidant and got in everywhere. It is why I was so appalled by what I saw being done to my second daughter's peers when we went through the process back in the UK.

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 18:14:33

The tutor was pushing the child hard so that he/she was safe bet at 95%? What a bastard grin

We did what your tutor did except we condensed it into 6 months so i'm not rushing to condemn the guy.

Having been through it twice I tend to be hmm when people tell how their DC barely needed tutoring. One mum went so far as to name her school. I looked it up and it was ranked 200 places below mine. If mine did her 11+ they wouldn't need much prep either.

Are there tutors out there who take your money knowing that the DC only had an outside chance? Of course but it's a bit ridiculous to malign a whole group of workers because of a few that lack principles.

piggywigwig Tue 05-Feb-13 18:26:36

"His parents were also advised not to go on holiday during the summer holidays at the end of year 5 but to spend the 6 weeks doing at least 5x 50 minute NVR and VR tests each day which they did."

I don't wish to appear incredulous but if the boy had been doing 3 x 50 minute NVR and VR papers a week from YR4, with the occasional further 3 x 50 in bad weeks, then I struggle to see how his tutors or parents could have found enough papers to do 5 a day in the 6 week summer holidays? Somewhere on Mumsnet, I've done a number tally of all the VR books and I suspect there's around the same for NVR. There's surely not that many tests in existence for the regime you mention - unless the tutor has a huge bank of unpublished, self-written tests, ie the "W" ladies for Tiffin.
I'm happy to be shown the error of my thinking though, on this...have I got the wrong end of the stick?

I understand the competition level for Tiffin and having tutored my DD2 for a superselective in VR, Maths and English Comprehension, I know only too well the fears a parent can have. However I struggle to understand why it takes 2 years to bring an able, top-of-the-class child up-to-speed on NVR and VR?
I'd like to see the end of 11+ tests where only NVR/VR are examined - you can drill a child to pass. I'm not sure the CEM tests are the Holy Grail they're made out to be but they certainly seem to be causing stir in that they're harder and there's no practice papers out there.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:01:32

TotallyBS bit confused. "We did what your tutor did except we condensed it into 6 months so i'm not rushing to condemn the guy."

Is "Your tutor" these nutters that had some child doing multiple NVR/ VR for over two years and then 5 per day throughout the summer holidays of Year 5 for a supposedly untutorable (and certainly only tutorable to a limited extent) test? And you condensed that into 6 months? Sorry but if that is what you mean then no you can't win with me. That is bordering on child abuse.

If "your tutor" means the term of cosy sessions once a week with Miss Smart and 45 mins of a Maths work book on weekday afternoons (she got home at 3) if it didn't seem to be ridiculous to be calculating the area of a football pitch when the sun was shining outside and the sounds of her friends enjoying themselves were wafting up from the playground below, and you spread that out to six months, that sounds about right. Got DD into two of the day schools in the FT 2012 top 10 smile Similar regime also got DD's classmate a scholarship at CLC.

The most popular VR / NVR tutors around here test their would be victims first to determine who gets a place around their kitchen table , not sure if that is to make sure they don't waste the money of those with only an outside chance, or to make their tutoring into a self fulfilling prophecy. They still don't get everyone in though.....

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:03:52

piggywigwig I was quoting from another thread, and an extreme. I agree!

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:25

piggywigwig I do quote the exact poster and thread upthread but various people have come on thread doubting the existence of the likes of Mrs W, and I have been trying to explain the nature of the South West London tutoring industry that has grown up around the Tiffin tests in spite of what they actually involve.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 19:46:48

TotallyBS Come to think of it two weeks out of school for 9 to 5 tutoring, no other extra work at all, also got another classmate into RGS Guildford.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 05-Feb-13 20:07:37

We are not doubting that there are very strange goings on in that part of London. We are pointing out that you are making the same mistake as the folks from Kent in assuming that everywhere else is the same as where you are. smile

plenty of kids at Dd1s school were not tutored. DD1s school is not 200 places below any school.

annach Tue 05-Feb-13 20:23:20

Copthall, I suspect you are right that some parents tutoring for Tiffin are that extreme, and it borders on abuse. But that's really not typical of the tutored child. I can't help thinking though that the previous poster made a typo error and for 5 a day, it's more likely they advised 5 a week ie one a day. I tutor in the Kingston area (not a Tiffin tutor) and don't know of any tutor who advocates 5 papers a day.

My own DC were both tutored for selective schools. Didn't do it myself because I wanted them to have an outside influence - not just mum going on again. They did one paper a week with the tutor and one at home. Sometimes we did a bit of extra maths. If the sun was shining they played out with mates until it got dusk then came in and did 40 mins that would otherwise have been spent on Skype saying to all their classmates: 'wot u doin?' 'I'm on Skype with u. Wot u doin?'

We did this for a year for each of them.

Every weekend they had mates round for sleepovers or film nights or waterfights depending on the weather. They had loads of days out, trips to the circus, cinema, holidays, visits to and from relatives, messing around at the seaside and in the woods building dens, endless days at the lido splashing around.

No hardship. Not a jot of childhood lost. So much gained. The only noticeable difference it's made is that both DChas grew tremendously in self confidence. DS1 was weak at English and now loves it. DS2 was weak at maths and is now regularly top of the class instead wobbling between of bottom of the top group, top of the middle.

Looks like they did well in the selective exams. No rejections yet. But if they didn't, if they end up at the state school, they won't have miserable memories of a wasted year. They'll have memories of Minecraft and Warhammer tournaments and Nerf gun wars and Skyfall and cycling round to the corner shop with their gang, all pooling their pocket money to buy unspeakable drinks no parents would allow in the house. As children should. But they will get into the top stream, and they will feel able to cope with secondary school homework.

Copthall, please lay off this myth that tutoring is intrinsically a cruel and unnatural browbeating experience. Over-pushy parents are over-pushy whether they tutor or not. Excess parental pressure is cruel. Tutoring is not. Tutoring can be - and I know it to be for my pupils - a truly pleasurable experience. My pupils often hand-draw me Christmas and Thank You cards (sometimes even with 'I love you' in them!) because I build their confidence and help them achieve their dreams. Not their parents' dreams, their own. You do know some children fall for selective schools and long to go to them? My own DC both said they missed their tutor and bought her huge bunches of flowers when they parted. They felt a deep affection for her.

A friend and her son recently had their tutor over for lunch, they all got on so well. He was so glad to see his tutor again. It can be an intensely affectionate two way thing. I care deeply that my students make progress, that they get into the schools they are aiming for. If I don't hear, I fret and ring up. As did my own DCs tutor when we hadn't called her. Not to glean wicked insight into the questions so we can use the knowledge to further our financial gain, but because we are dying to know how our pupils did and how they are feeling.

Copthallresident Tue 05-Feb-13 20:57:34

annach See my posts at 1400 and 15.53. Yes tutoring can be a positive experience and what you describe is what it should be, but for the majority of my SW London friends, especially those that sat the Tiffins, it really was about being crammed around a kitchen table with 5 others doing endless practise papers because that is what the tutors that get passed about by word of mouth offer, a miserable experience that most of them now regret putting their children through, and quite possibly in the case of the Tiffins a waste of money too. And I do think that Tiffin is partly responsible but enough, I just hope at least one parent comes on here and thinks twice about getting sucked into the madness, and focuses on what will be a positive experience for their child.

piggywigwig Tue 05-Feb-13 21:31:14

"piggywigwig I do quote the exact poster and thread upthread but various people have come on thread doubting the existence of the likes of Mrs W, and I have been trying to explain the nature of the South West London tutoring industry that has grown up around the Tiffin tests in spite of what they actually involve. "

Please accept my apologies - I checked, re-checked and re-read before posting but with my migraine-debilitated brain but I somehow missed the earlier quotation of this. I don't usually make mistakes like that but to be honest, I was responding to your post of 05/02 15:53 where you don't quote or cite the original poster. You quoted the "Mumzy" bit on your posting of 04/01 at 22:55

I have no doubt whatsoever that there are tutors and DIY parents who pursue a relentless timetable for 11+ preparation. However, I echo Annach's sentiments with dirty-great bells on, that many tutored children gain so much...and the most importantly thing they gain, is confidence. Mine did - it was the making of them in many ways... and it was all down to the fact that they chose to sit and prepare for the 11+ There's no way I'd "out" myself by giving examples but believe me, every one of DD1 and DD2's teachers remarked upon the hugely positive changes in them, following my tutoring.

I feel sorry for any child who is introduced to hothousing and cramming at such an early age.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 22:40:35

annach I may well live in a parallel world but the idea that you think 5 a day is ok just makes me feel weak....

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 22:42:46

Aargh how annoying I've done it again.

I mean that you think 5 a week is ok.

That's just nuts tbh. IMO.

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 23:49:20

Copt - it is only madness in your judgy pants eyes. In the Land of the Tiger Moms this 'madness' is normal.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 08:09:42

I think it's complete and utter madness too. And unnecessary.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 08:19:48

TotallyBS And for why??? You do not need to do that sort of soulless cramming, far more effective to have your DC read a good book, or do something else that stimulates their intellect and feeds their intellectual curiousity and is part of their rounded education. They do not need to do that sort of cramming to get into the top schools, the Heads are very vocal about that, and they don't need to do it when they get there. DD an A* student and now studying Natural Sciences at an elite university, and on for a first, she works very hard but she succeeds because she has thinking skills, intellectual curiousity, and a genuine fascination with her subject.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 08:22:40

And Yellowtip has an entire tribe wink going through elite universities achieving at the highest level............

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 08:47:49

Copt- We all have anecdotes of DCs that either coasted or did the minimum and still went on to have a glittering career. What you don't seem to get is that some children do need this 'madness'.

I kept track of DS's progress during that 6month period and it was only at month 5 that his test score past the 'safe-ish' 90%. He wouldn't have past without the 'madness'. And no,he is not now struggling.

As for the reading a good book instead, why does the whole thing have to be mutually exclusive? I mean, my DCs crammed AND did music, read, play and watched TV.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 08:48:32

Copt- We all have anecdotes of DCs that either coasted or did the minimum and still went on to have a glittering career. What you don't seem to get is that some children do need this 'madness'.

I kept track of DS's progress during that 6month period and it was only at month 5 that his test score past the 'safe-ish' 90%. He wouldn't have past without the 'madness'. And no,he is not now struggling.

As for the reading a good book instead, why does the whole thing have to be mutually exclusive? I mean, my DCs crammed AND did music, read, play and watched TV.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 09:13:59

TotallyBS DD doesn't ever coast or do the minimum at anything! She throws herself into everything she does, and she does it with evident enjoyment and humour. Just recruited by the Science Museum to communicate that enthusiasm for Science to others. I am just glad no one ever took the joy out of it for her....

Anyway I have the joy of my own studies to engage with, you have actually made the procrastination more painful than the getting down to it. Thanks wink

The fault is partly with an exam that can lead to that sort of preparation increasing the mark. Lets hope the Grammar Schools do succeed in making the exams tutorproof .....

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:01

Yellowtip, you feel weak at 5 x 40 min practise papers a week? Get a grip. I don't actually advocate anything like that amount, but I can't see it hurting any child of 10 to do that in amongst an active and fun-filled life. After all, lots of them go onto secondary and have an hour's homework each night. I've never set a child anything like that amount and my own DC didn't do half that. I was pointing out that no one really recommends 5 papers a day and the quote was likely to be a very misleading misprint. That is just not likely. Unheard of. 5 a week is pretty intensive but it's not onerous. 5 x 40-60 min papers in 7 days during the summer holidays leaves untold amounts of time for play, fresh air, cavorting, days out. And of course it isn't at the expense of reading good books, listening to great music, going out into the world and exploring it. How short are days where you live? Sounds like they are only two hours long.

It isn't hardship to work hard. Especially for those DC and parents who want a Sutton grammar or Tiffin because the alternative is an unpromising state comp.

I didn't like Tiffin for my own DC. It wouldn't have suited my DC. We didn't try for it. But if we had, most importantly, if my DC had had a burning desire to go to that school above any other, and if getting in meant five practise papers a week during the summer holidays, we'd have done them first thing in the morning and then made sure the rest of the day was packed with fun of the DC's choice. It would have been water off a duck's back to them. As they went to bed each night, the papers would have been forgotten already and the kayaking, swimming, BBQs etc would be what they recalled of that summer pre 11+.

It hurts no one ever to work hard and play hard. The key is not to miss out on the play. It's a weakness in modern British culture to get so uppity about a bit of extra effort - I mean a tiny little bit - an hour a day at max (most tutors suggest 2 hours a week.) Our DC aren't fragile little critters. I do know that the marks needed to get into Tiffin even three years ago are now well below their pass rate. If DC want to go there, they have to work hard, because others who are prepared to will get in over them if they don't.

i suspect what is really damaging to them is the parental attitude, not the tutoring. Tutoring works best with the attitude: study a bit harder and you'll find your work easier, you'll feel confident, get better grades, and when you sit any exams you'll know what to expect. There's no guarantee you'll pass, but there's every guarantee you'll improve and that will help you wherever you go to school.

I have heard parents outside Tiffin school exams saying: 'Go in there and pass that exam. It'll save daddy £250000.' And 'You can beat all these boys' (waves arms around at the 1000s of Tiffin hopeful as his pale son looks on, frightened.) That is pressure. A few papers a week isn't. Don't blame the tutors for the parents' attitude.

Hothousing children is not fair. There are parents who sit their DC down after school to rigorous piano practise, Kumon maths sheets etc for three to four hours. We bought our house from such a couple. Their DC didn't have a single toy or book between them, just neat rows of 11+ practise papers in their bookcases. Heartbreaking. But it's not tutoring per se that is at fault. I'm just trying to put a fair and positive case for tutoring to those parents who are considering it.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:48

Copt - there is a lobby of MNetters that seem to think that their DCs didn't get a place because of pushy parents that heavily tutored their DCs to pass the 11+

Would you care to share with them your thoughts on how all that tutoring has no appreciative effect on their DCs' performance.

I guess that the inference from that is that their DCs simply weren't bright enough.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:09:30

annach I really feel I have a quite adequate grip and five of these timed tests a week is barking. Even if each and every one of these kids, subjected to this silly sort of pressure to allay parental angst (because it's the parents putting their own needs first on this, not those of their kids), lives a halcyon Enid Blyton cavorting type of lifestyle.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 10:10:13

Yes TotallyBS that's exactly the inference.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 10:14:30

Yellow - You appear to have a brood of very bright and driven DCs. Why do you find it so hard to accept that not all DCs are like yours?

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 11:04:33

I suppose my DC are pretty bright but none of them are driven by any stretch of the imagination. Some are woefully undriven in fact. Driven just isn't their thing (or mine. I'm far too lazy for driven).

And I'd be fairly thick if I thought all DC are the same. I have not the slightest problem in accepting that obvious fact readily TotallyBS.

But how that makes a grinding regime of extra tutoring ok I'm really not sure confused.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 11:13:13

One person's 'grinding' is another person's 'meticulous' smile

The 11+ isn't that difficult in itself. I mean, DS mastered the various formats after a month but he couldn't work to the clock. When he sped up silly mistakes would creep in. Hence the hours of mock papers.

If there is a 'fun' way of doing this then please share.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 11:35:57

... also.. assuming that I am not confusing you with someone else, most of your DCs are past/present/future medical students. You don't get to that place in life without being driven. Whether you want to acknowledge it to me or yourself is another matter.

OhDearConfused Wed 06-Feb-13 13:00:59

I have heard parents outside Tiffin school exams saying: 'Go in there and pass that exam. It'll save daddy £250000.' And 'You can beat all these boys' (waves arms around at the 1000s of Tiffin hopeful as his pale son looks on, frightened.)

please tell me that's a joke!

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 13:25:28

Sadly not. Both verbatim quotes from dads (not mums, interestingly) that I overheard when passing the school on exam day last year.

It's parental hysteria that thwarts a child, not practise papers. I used to grin when my DC were ill and lay on the sofa asking if they could do 'some of those puzzle books' (Bond NVR papers) to pass the time. They enjoyed them. It's all about how you present it.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 13:38:06

You may be confusing me with someone else TBS since only one of mine is doing Medicine. But he is just not 'driven'. I probably know DS well enough to confirm smile So far he's taken everything in his stride and is mega calm.

I agree about how a parent presents the 11+ and any prep for it annach. Those Tiffin mums sound nuts - poor kids.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 13:39:01

Dads? (just re-read). Blimey.

OhDearConfused Wed 06-Feb-13 13:46:04

No - it was "mums" - the sensible dads were those that overhead those nutty mums!

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 14:12:40

No Confused, it was dads saying these things. Dads are the worst in my experience. When DS went for his 11+ at one school recently I overheard a dad badgering his son to have a cup of coffee as it would improve his brain power in the exam. Kid didn't want one but his dad nagged on. I nearly intervened to say, it'll make him need the loo, but didn't.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 14:16:03

Mine have all taken wine gums into the exam (I didn't have to badger any of them though).

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 14:20:41

Why would they take winegums? Are these known for their brain enhancing powers? They aren't vegetarian/vegan so I wouldn't know and my kids will never get the benefit.

I know when DD1 did the 11+ she had to go in reeking of vomit as her sister had thrown up in the car on the way there, down DD1's back. I was actually in an aeroplane flying back to the UK from Budapest so I had no idea this had happened until I got home much later that day.

It's amazing DD1 got in, really.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 06-Feb-13 14:22:24

I'm not sure its possible to make the exam tutor proof, but agree it would be the fairest way.
For those of us who know our dc would not pass an 11+ test because they are just not bright enough, it would be a huge consolation to know that only the truely bright kids could attend Grammar Schools.
I think that GS have their place for bright dc whatever their background and if managed like this are fair and open to all.

However, what happens to those who gain a place through intense tutoring, do they immediately fall behind when they start y7.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 14:29:01

OhDearConfused In cafe opposite Kingston Grammar School before entrance exam when DD and I are having a hot chocolate and a gossip about anything but the exam the man opposite was testing his similarly pale son from a Key Stage 2 Maths book and saying "You have to remember this, there are 700 other children going to be in there and they will know all the answers"

I am sure it is not a joke, but lets hope it was the same man wink.

Mind you in our household we had the conversation, Dad "Please go to Tiffin. It will save me £12000 a year" DD " No, the labs were rubbish, the teachers were rude and who wants to go to a school where they throw your friends out if they don't pass the exams at the end of each year? I hated it." Dad has been moaning under his breath ever since.

TotallyBS Lets just say that I know many very bright DC who did not get into Tiffin, which actually requires a score in excess of the 97th percentile, some prepared and some did not (equally of those who got in some prepared, some did not, though none to the extent you describe), who went on to succeed in their alternative schools. That included state schools and some which , shock horror, don't appear in the top 200, and they still went on to good unis, including Oxbridge. They would do because you would expect those at Oxbridge and elite uni candidates to score above the 95th percentile (also the figure that LEH expect to see in their VR). Obviously this would be in tests of natural ability, not ones where you can spend months subjecting your child to endless rote repetition on the scale you describe, to push their score up to the 90th percentile, because they have clearly ceased to be tests of natural ability.

On a lighter note I now invigilate in the end of year exams at my uni (RG, and a venerable bastion of the establishment) and I come over all "in my day" because not only are they bringing in LITRES of diet coke, and having to be escorted to the loo every five minutes (Why? I needed every second'd writing time !!) but lunch, one actually whipped out a Subway last year shock I doesn't come naturally to me but I turned into one of those women of a certain age with a mouth like a cats bottom . Yellowtip wine gums? the start of a slippery slope...................

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 14:36:45

Those who gain a place through intense tutoring don't necessarily fall behind in Year 7. The very high pass mark is a reflection on how competitive it is to gain an offer. It is not reflective of the level that is expected of you once in.

Granted, if after intense tutoring you only scrape in by the skin of your teeth then yes you will may struggle but it's not inevitable.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 14:42:51

Russians wine gums are just nice. And they don't disturb other people because they don't have rustly papers.

DD3 was hugely sick actually into her exam paper at the start of this term (they couldn't mark it very easily, so her tutor is letting her sit it again).

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 14:46:51

Copthall I sincerely hope it was the same dad. (Sounds like him.) But I bet it wasn't.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 14:48:51

Copt - which one is it? Is the world ful of anxious parents duped into paying tutors from year 4 OR is it full of parents who don't tutor to the extent I described?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 14:54:35

BS - in some parts of the country many many parents are duped into paying for tutoring beyond the level at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. In some parts of the country most parents don't tutor. In no parts of the country can tutoring transform an average child into bright one, it can though help unlock potential.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 15:02:04

BOTH TotallyBS You don't get it do you? The extent to which you tutored is off the scale but even at lesser levels of tutoring the parents are being duped

morethanpotatoprints Wed 06-Feb-13 15:11:45

I haven't read all this thread but have picked up on the extremes. I am really interested as the land of private tutoring and Grammar Schools is completely alien to me, apart from threads I read on here.
So far I have concluded that the majority of the stories here are parents doing what they believe is in the best interests of their children and unless that was bordering on child abuse, was very commendable. I have experienced the complete opposite where parents couldn't give a stuff about their dcs education, or were supportive but expected their local state primary to suffice.
At present I am interested in finding a suitable education for my dd who won't be attending a Grammar school but maybe a specialist none selective school. However, many other children will have attended private school, prep school and be more academically advanced than my dd. She is very average in state school terms so no doubt would start from behind.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 15:54:53

Copt - I spent the Easter break familiarising DS with the various types of questions and he spent the next 5 months doing mock papers under exam conditions. That, to you, is off the scale ????

Are you/your children that delicate that 60 min of homework sandwiched between football, swimming, music lesson and practice (obviously not on the same day) plus usual tv and games console time is too stressful?

No doubt you would disagree but I find you very closed minded. You presume to be the norm. Parents that are less pushy than you are failing their kids. Parents that are more pushy than you are abusing their kids. You, on the other hand, is just right in your balance. grin

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 16:03:00

morethan - at selective schools the first two terms is spent getting everyone on the academic level. The French fir example was aimed at newcomers to the language so the prep boys were just revising while others caught up.

The only problem we had, coming from a non academic state school, was the homework. DS went from none to 2 hours a day. It was only term 2 that he felt relaxed enough to enjoy school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 16:14:52

BS - at DD1's school there was no 'getting everyone up to the academic level'. They hit the ground hard and fast. Obviously they follow the NC but since they accelerate they can't afford to lose two terms getting people up to speed! At the end of the first two terms they are already on the Y8 curriculum (in some subjects, perhaps not all). DD1 has also never had 2 hours of homework set in one night. Although she might easily spend more than 2 hours off her own bat reading round the subject, but that's as much a response to how annoying her siblings have the potential to be on any given evening as anything else.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 16:16:33

My point here is that nobody can talk about what happens in their child's school and present it as 'this is what happens at selective schools' (or indeed 'this is what happens at comps' or 'this is what happens at sec mods'). All you know for sure is it is what happened in your child's school, in the year in question.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 06-Feb-13 16:25:54

Many thanks for that. The school itself is not selective in terms of academic subjects so I don't think it is the same standard as the super selective schools.
It is super selective in a none academic subject, with many of the dcs having attended very good primary schools. Many coming from the indie sector.
My dd is H.ed atm, we did this so she could concontrate on her talent which is the only thing she wants to do in life. I know she will gain a place at this school, but worry so much that her peers will be from completely different walks of life and very academic. My dd is average at best and quite often struggles. I'm also pretty sure she is dyslexic and dyspraxic as I am severley and she shares my weaknesses, especially in maths.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 17:44:04

Russian - All the kids have passed the same rigorous entrance exam so I'm not suggesting that lessons were dumbed down so that the 'thick' state school kids could get remedial help.

The reality is that the prep boys will have covered more material than those coming from a state primary and the school is aware of this. I was simply assuring morethan that her DC won't be starting from behind.

At the risk of getting into a pissing contest, the two hours homework each night means that after two terms we are onto Y8 curriculum for all subjects as opposed to your some.

As for only being able to comment on the school and year ones child is at, I''ve noticed that this mantra doesn't stop you from commenting on a wide range of subjects grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 18:15:10

I only ever comment on my direct experience. I can't possibly comment about your school, for example. I expect it is a reasonable school. And you seem happy enough with it.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 21:10:02

TotallyBS it's pretty lame to feel the need to get into some silly contest about whose school is onto Y8 curriculum after two terms for what number of subjects. The most successful people don't feel the need to compete do they? That surely is just for the also rans?

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 21:31:07

TotallyBS You were earlier saying that the example quoted where a child was being asked to complete 5 tests per day throughout the summer after Year 5 as well as being made to redo lists of words until they had improved their score from 90 to 95 was not one you could condemn, and you had condensed the same into six months!! confused That is off the scale, and frankly so is even a VR /NVR test a day for six months, though it is certainly more humane.

However as piggywigwig says where did you get all these tests? I must say that it is interesting and indicative that when DD sat these exams ten years ago you could only actually get hold of a handful (that were consistent with the tests actually sat, other publishers had books of tests they had made up themselves that were clearly not developed by Ed Psychs and were a waste of time) from NFER, who develop the test actually used in schools, which I saved up to do one a month with a couple just before the exams.

I most certainly do not think the preparation that was appropriate for my DD is appropriate for every DD, clearly that should be tailored to the child (and most definitely not the parents), and the school they are applying for. DDs help was actually with the Maths and English she hadn't covered at school, I knew her VR would take care of itself.

My comment was based on my friends and my DD's peer group who did try for the exams that were solely VR/ NVR. None of them tutored to the extent of a paper a day for six months and even with a session a week around someone's kitchen table and a practise paper or two to do in between, which is actually what even the Mrs Ws and most of the specialist Tiffin tutors advocate, they now wish they had not got sucked in.

I suggest you read the article at the Head of this thread if you think I am in a minority of one in terms of my views on tutoring, quite a few Grammar School Heads seem to be in the same camp.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 21:37:59

I'd put money on all grammar school heads worth their salt being in that camp Copthall.

Are you serious, that 'tutors' take money off parents for group sessions around a kitchen table with the kids just doing papers? Tbh if the parents are that daft, I don't hold out much hope for the offspring.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 22:04:17

Yellowtip That is exactly the business model, no educational qualifications necessary, word of mouth promotion to give an air of mystique, privilege and an inside track and a target market of anxious parents facing an opaque process, anxieties whipped up by apocryphal stories and chinese whispers in the playground, desperate to buy some illusion assurance of advantage, or the avoidance of disadvantage.

Mind you, that might have been me if I hadn't been on the other side of the planet at the time and blissfully unaware..............

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 22:06:01

Although actually I suspect I could have relied on DDs to tell me not to be so silly..............

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 22:09:48

Yellow -

Firstly, I was merely responding to Russian's comment about how at her school they were too busy following an accelerated program to play catch up for kids of lesser ability and how they don't even need two hours of homework to achieve this.

Secondly as for competing being lame, you and Copt have been going on about how your clever your DCs (Oxbridge etc) and how they didn't need as much tutoring as others and yet manage to do better.

So do me a favour. Sort yourself out THEN you can lecture me on my tongue in cheek response to Russian.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 22:20:27

Copt - it has been suggested that the poster meant 5 papers a week as opposed to 5 a day. 5 a day is excessive but I was responding to it as if the poster meant 5 papers a week.

As I said. are your children that delicate that an hour a day of prep is inhumane?

Others have posted their positive experiences of tutoring. I have posted how my DC would have failed otherwise and today, far from struggling, he is thriving. You blot out all these posts and continue to insist that serious tutoring serves no purpose. That to me is being closed minded.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 06-Feb-13 22:26:24

BS as you know well, I was pointing out that your blanket 'selective schools do this' advice to another poster was not applicable to all selective schools. I don't think it is particularly helpful to people who are asking for information to tell them, pretending to speak with authority, that selective schools always set 2 hours a night homework. This is the sort of myth that people put around about the school that DD1 goes to, and it dissuades people from applying. And it's just a myth.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 22:42:55

Get a grip BS I haven't mentioned Oxford or Cambridge or any other university at all on this thread. An apology perhaps? Otherwise substantiate what you said. I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what anyone else might say. in fact it would be good if you could point to anywhere on this thread where I've said anything about my own DC at all, vis a vis brilliance/ lack of tutoring. You're getting far too worked up.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 23:00:16

Yellowtip The cult of Mrs W

Totally BS Woah! I haven't told you which school my DD got into, where she is at uni, nor what results she got in exams, I never devulge that info on Mumsnet precisely because I don't not think it appropriate to be comparing DDs' performance, or indeed bask in the reflected glory. I shared some details of my DDs preparation for the senior school exams, and her subsequent progress to demonstrate firstly that I do believe that tutoring can be useful and a positive experience and secondly, that you don't need to subject your DD to tutoring that crosses the line into a miserable negative experience that risks damaging their enthusiasm for learning and their self esteem, something my friends feel they may have done as a result of the pressures on parents around here. Immune by virtue of being on the other side of the world I can say that the extent of the tutoring of my DD and her classmates was about right to get a child who is bright enough to thrive there into one of the more selective schools from a school that does not prepare them, both in terms of getting them in and preparing them to succeed once they are there. I have also shared the experiences of other of DDs' peers. I hope I have given no more information than needed to demonstrate my points.

Anyway I am getting a bit fed up of being told I am this, that and the other, rather than focusing on the actual argument which let us remind ourselves is about the fact that there is a general feeling that the entrance exams to state grammar schools have become susceptible to tutoring and that as a result the playing field for children who do not have the benefit of ambitious parents has been skewed, and heavily tutored children are getting into the schools who subsequently struggle, a problem highlighted originally by the Grammar School Heads, not me.

Copthallresident Wed 06-Feb-13 23:04:45

Yellowtip BS Oxbridge was only ever mentioned by me in the context of those failing to get into Tiffin, subsequently getting there, demonstrating that plenty of bright applicants don't get in.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 07:20:37

Russian - I said that my DS initially had problems coming from a state school because he went from zero homework to 2 hours a night.

Where did I say that this was the norm at selective schools?

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 07:33:07

Yellow - May be not on this thread but you regularly mention your high achieving brood here on MN.

Don't get me wrong. You are right to be proud of them. If mine can achieve the same level of academic success then I would be happy.

However, I do think that it is off to tell others (ie moi) that it's lame to talk about their DCs academics when the whole of MN knows about your brood.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 07:52:35

Isn't that against the guidelines BS? My comment wasn't in any way directed at your DC (I've never ever done down a single DC on MN, nor would I). I said it was lame to get competitive about schools, and where a particular school is with the curriculum, because it is.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 08:06:56

Copt - you are projecting your experiences onto others. Just because YOU think that parents like me are subjecting their DCs to great stress doesn't mean that it's true. Children (and parents) are different. Mine really wanted to get in so to them one hour of prep was no big deal.

I accept that some parents push their DCs beyond their natural limits but a lot of kids go to academically undemanding primary schools. If I followed your parenting style mine would be going to the local unremarkable comp.

As for your assertion that such a routine isn't necessary, I told you that DS would have failed if he had taken the test in the first 5 months and that it only clicked in the 6th month. It clearly was necessary in.our case. Yet you persist in telling me that it isn't. confused

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 08:18:57

I do think that if primary education is seriously inadequate then there's a strong case for intervention and help. I think the tutoring spectrum is broad; when you move away from that end of it towards the middle and other end is where it seems to have gone mad.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 08:33:09

..also Copt.. Your DC got into 'one of the most selective schools in the country' and your A* DC is now studying Natural Sciences at an 'elite' university.

I must be psychic because you don't post about your children's achievements eh?

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 09:04:10

Yellow - You made your 'lame' comments directly after my exchange with Russian. It was not unreasonable of me to assume that it was directed at me/us.

And I disagree that school rankings are not relevant to this discussion. There are a lot of selective schools that aren't particularly selective. Yet some MNetters make the point that theirs got in with minimal or no prep. Therefore, bright kids don't need serious tutoring goes their argument.

I mentioned my DC's ranking to counter this argument which is that for highly selective schools being naturally bright with no prep just isn't going to get the job done.

orientalstudies Thu 07-Feb-13 09:19:18

target market of anxious parents facing an opaque process, anxieties whipped up by apocryphal stories and chinese whispers in the playground

It's this isn't it? Bolstered by regular newspaper stories about super-tutors, unfounded scare stories about 'state schools', (as if schools are homogeneous) and a deeply competitive culture we have at the moment.

I was a teacher and when we began working overseas as my children were about to begin school, 16 years ago, one of my major reasons for delight was that I could, like Copthall, avoid the mania, which I knew would be really hard to resist when in the middle of it. It is far easier to see the woods for the trees when your children are coming out of the other end. The differing pathways and attitudes of an international community also help one to see there is more than one way of doing things, but I really sympathise with people in the middle of a competitive areas whose children are clever but not shoo-ins for these schools.

I have young relatives who attend a provincial 'super-selective'. Their tutoring was short and sensible, but, bad luck aside, it was known from CATS type scores that they were very likely to succeed. It is harder on those who are borderline and I think an idea that is current that 'IQ can be improved' has an effect on the idea that more tutoring must be better as does a general mistrust of the education profession.

An oft quoted opinion that I am not at all sure about is the one about over-tutored children struggling. If a child gets through a selection process then fails to thrive, then it suggests the tests and the assessment of them are inadequate. More importantly though, I think it is a real failure on the part of the school: a child who can do sufficiently well to be selected on the basis of a test looked at by teachers can be supported without too much difficulty thereafter.

At one time, my children attended an overseas school which could be compared to a 'super-selective' in terms of intake and outcomes. Teachers' children did not have to pass the test, nor, I suspect did some others for community/social reasons. They sometimes needed extra support from school but they were never described as failing or struggling and they inevitably did well in the end because the school took responsibility for them. Some of these school in the UK don't as far as I can tell.

Like Yellowtip, I am also interested in why provincial schools with a far smaller pool from which to choose and a less febrile attitude in the community seem to do well in a kinder way than some of the schools in metropolitan areas with a huge pool of able children from which to choose.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 09:45:36

Oriental - a lot of parents in London and the SE post about how crap their local non selective is and how going private is not an financial option. The competition for the relatively few GS places is such that a single point can be the difference between getting a place and not getting a place.

Clearly parents are very anxious but why do some people persist on going about parents being unnecessarily anxious or how unscrupulous tutors are stoking the fear and how a bright child merely needs to show up unprepped and that their natural intelligence will allow them to sail through?

And why do you assume that parents are so weak minded that their negative thoughts on state schools comes from biased media reports. Could it be that their negative opinions comes from actually living down the road and knowing kids that go there?

Marni23 Thu 07-Feb-13 09:57:35

I live near enough to the Tiffin schools for them to have been possibilities as secondary schools for my DD and DS. In both cases I decided against trying for them.

Up until this year, both schools admissions tests consisted of VR and NVR only. It is well known that, in order to qualify, DC have to be scoring well in excess of 90% in both tests. This is because the tutoring culture round here is such that DC spend months, if not years, honing their technique in the different question types. Obviously, to reach these sort of scores, DC have to be bright in the first place, but after that it is a case of how many hours you/they are willing to put in.

The latest research by NFER (who set the tests in this and other areas) has found that prolonged practise of the tests does in fact lead to higher scores (previously they had claimed that after about 6 or so practice tests, any improvement was minimal/non-existent).

I think, where the Tiffin schools are concerned, the children who get places are bright, but not necessarily the brightest of their cohort (although, of course, some will be). That this method of selection does not translate to league table-topping performance vs provincial schools doesn't surprise me at all.

Tiffin Girls' School has now moved to an entry process that includes English and Maths papers, presumably because they felt the VR/NVR system, given the tutoring culture, has ceased to be an effective selection tool.

orientalstudies Thu 07-Feb-13 10:08:14

And why do you assume that parents are so weak minded that their negative thoughts on state schools comes from biased media reports

I didn't mean to give that impression: I accept that parents know their local schools, but I think the media distorts reality.

orientalstudies Thu 07-Feb-13 10:14:00

Clearly parents are very anxious but why do some people persist on going about parents being unnecessarily anxious or how unscrupulous tutors are stoking the fear and how a bright child merely needs to show up unprepped and that their natural intelligence will allow them to sail through?

I agree with this - I thought I had said that it is easier to see clearly when your children have gone through the system or if they are very clever. I am not criticizing parents - just the system. But some parents are undoubtedly daft in terms of the excessive pressure they put on their kids. A friend of mine at the overseas school I mention had her child spending lunchtimes in the primary school library doing practice papers for a couple of months before the test. The primary school was really wet to allow it.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 07-Feb-13 10:29:26

BS - I can assure you that school rankings are irrelevant to this particular discussion. If you don't believe that then that's up to you.

However there is an interesting point here - that being the highest ranked school doesn't necessarily mean being the most selective, we are all to a certain extent the victims of our geography. I think it might be worth asking, if Tiffins (say) is so very very selective at intake that the kids going there have to undergo what some of us suspect may be cruel and unusual levels of pre match coaching, then why does it not perform better in the ranking tables? Why does it not regularly annihilate what you describe as less selective schools?

Like you, and unlike some others in this thread, I come from a music background and my kids are used to doing serious stuff practically every day, so they actually probably wouldn't have automatically considered an hour a day doing academic stuff an imposition per se (although they couldn't have fitted it in what with all the other activities they do without junking some so that would have caused resentment - but for different reasons). You know, and I know, that an hour a day doing something that is designed to achieve an end you want definitely isn't undoable for kids that age or even younger. But I still think that the way the tiffins parents carry on (if the stories here are true) seems bonkers and I still think that surely the law of diminishing returns must play a part (you will know the phenomenon of over playing an exam piece until it gets stale, especially at a young age before you have realised that life can't always be new and exciting and sometimes it is just doing something again for the empty-thrumptieth time).

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 10:48:00

BS I only post this because you're being a bit dog and bone like, but the lame comment was directed at you quibbling about the point in Y7 at which a school is on to the Y8 curriculum. Is it the sort of thing which it's worth getting competitive about? Anyhow, obviously not directed at your DC.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 11:00:37

Russian - despite what you might think, I do not think that there is a direct correlation between a school's ranking and how selective it is.

If the posts about Tiffins and Co are true then one needs to score 95% to be sure of a place. My DC scored lower than that and yet he secured a place at a school that is higher ranked than the more selective schools mentioned above.

In anycase, I only mentioned rankings in the first place in order to make the point that a lowly ranked selective probably isn't that selective so of course a bright but untutored kid is going to pass. So the fact that this parent's DC got a place without tutoring does not prove that bright kids don't need tutoring to pass.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 07-Feb-13 11:09:41

But BS, some of the parents mentioning that their kids were not tutored are talking about higher ranked schools than Tiffins.

But I agree that it doesn't prove that bright kids don't need tutoring to get into Tiffins though. All it can ever be is an anecdotal refutation to the claims some people make that the only way to get into any grammar school is to tutor - claims which put bright kids and their families off applying.

The Tiffin tutoring seems to be very specific pavlovian response, muscle memory style tutoring (this is how you tick really really quickly) rather than anything academic. Which also seems a wasted opportunity - if you have the money, and a kid willing to learn, then let them learn some more advanced maths or start a new mfl or something like that, rather than how to tick really really fast.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 11:25:27

I've never quite understood the obsession about the rankings of selective schools- surely there must be barely a gnat's crotchet between them? 99% A*-C vs 100% A*-C, where in both cases in reality a C is practically unheard of?

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 11:38:47

Russian - a few days ago a MNetter was going on about how she wasn't tutoring her DD. She later went on about how her DD had a sickie from school and was curled up with a brain teaser puzzle book.

In the Real World I have a friend whose DD got into a super selective with no tutoring. Her primary school was mentioned in the Sunday Times education supplement as an example of a highly academic primary that was a feeder to several super selectives.

If you were to ask these people they would tell you that there DCs got in without any help and that tutors aren't necessary. Obviously doing brain teasers for fun isn't tutoring and having your DC going to a primary with a national reputation for academic excellence wasn't a contributing factor to her DC passing.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 11:47:13

Funny you should say that Russian because DD4 does now have a 'tutor' (the elder sibs' first teacher, now retired), who is teaching her french and more advanced maths smile

breadandbutterfly Thu 07-Feb-13 11:49:52

Why all the argument? Surely the commonsense view is that a bright child will get into most selective schools after some familiarisation, ie marginal tutoring. A child who is being tested in maths/English may need more subject-specific tutoring if their primary school has not covered all the curricuum before the exam - even the brightest child can't be expected to say calculate a perimeter if they've never learnt what a perimeter is.

Don't think anyone would argue with this. (Until schools introduce tests that only cover year 5 curriculum if such a thing is possible - know it is suggested but as schools teach in different orders a year 5 curriculum may not be standard.)

Surely everyone agrees that tutoring for years at hours per night is miserable for the child and not really worth it - even if they then get in, surely this is a sacrifice too far? Equally, surely noone believes that a child doing a vr or nvr 11+ should not be allowed to view a sample paper or a few to get an idea of what they will be expected to do?

I think two extremes are being peddled here - the reality is most people - tiffins thread aside =- are in the middle.

Copthallresident Thu 07-Feb-13 11:54:48

seeker You are so right, part of the culture surrounding the admissions process in this part of London is to foster the perception that the gnat's crochet is yawning chasm, when in reality we are served by a lot of very good schools. Whether they are 9th in the country or 75th or 200th, any one of them will enable your child to fulfil their potential and they do. It also causes parents to turn their noses up at outstanding comprehensives which in reality enable the pupils in the top sets to achieve as highly as the Grammar Schools, but just the sniff of a C in the vicinity of a school can induce anxiety.

It makes the schools completely focused on results too, SPGS's response to the deflation in GCSE grades, especially in English / English Literature, across the majority of schools, state and private? Make every girl who didn't get A* resit.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 11:58:02

I don't think it's just London- I think it's league tables generally. People only see %ages.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 07-Feb-13 12:02:46

Sigh. If only I lived nearer to you I could get her name using my secret Croydon handshake. grin Actually - we wouldn't have the time. what with 2 music lessons a week outside school,1 theory lesson, 5 dance lessons and 1 drama class I think she has more than enough to do as it is. Although I am concerned about how fast she can tick.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 12:09:25

A curriculum based test is even more unfair than the current VR NVR test.

Once a child is familiar with the format of a VR NVR test then the rest is just learning to work at speed and not to make careless mistakes. If a parent feels that they need two years of this with a paid tutor then that is up to them but it certainly shouldn't be used to make the argument that parents that don't do this are at a disadvantage.

A curriculum based exam on the other hand will penalize the bright kid that is going to a bad school or the kid that is very bright but has difficulty with his English. It will benefit the kid who has a tutor that will tutor them on essay writing techniques and the like.

Also, my prep school friend was on year 5 curriculum in year 4. If we were to switch to a curriculum based exam her school would be spending year 5 revising and prepping while your state school kids would be learning the material for the first time.

How can anyone think that this is a fairer exam?

April1st Thu 07-Feb-13 12:11:37

We have a number of gss in our area and many people from far away even outside our county travel to here to try their luck. Some parents make their kids do 11+ test in two or more counties. As not all 11+ exams are taken on the same date so some parents are able to do that to increase their chances or sometimes even gain more than one offer.
I feel that gss are very irresponsible for their role as state schools . They blame the children for not being the right materials. They complain it is all their parents’ faults for preparing dcs for the gss test. They put tutoring industry in very bad light. If they are really such brilliant educators why can’t they bring the kids to their standard? After all they create all the 11+ hassle to select the only kids they want into their schools from a very wide geographical area. Do Good / outstanding comps go on about things like that?

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 07-Feb-13 12:15:35

@seeker Personally I think the tables are ridiculous. But when somebody reacts to being told a child was not tutored to get into a selective school by commenting tat it can't be thats selective then and it's lower in the tables than their school - if you know that in fact this isn't the case it can be a bit annoying. But yes I shouldn't take the bait. As I say to DD2 who is experiencing some rather nasty competitive behaviour from a parent of an older child at the moment wrt one of her outside school things - we just have to know what we know and let the rest wash over us. grin

I am now though filled with french tutor envy. sad wink

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 07-Feb-13 12:17:33

BS you are generalising again. Some state primary schools will be teaching one thing in year 5 or 4 or whatever - others may not.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 12:27:32

I wouldn't worry about it, Russian, somebody once told me that a particular grammar school couldn't be very good because a child got in with a 4 in one of its SATs. "Just another infant rabbit keeping it's tiny end up". ( or is that for another thread!)

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 12:32:52

Russian - you are being ridiculous now (did you ever stop?)

I was making the point that some bright kids go to bad schools and that they would be at an disadvantage compared to my prep school friend who DC is a year ahead in terms of the national curriculum.

What has the fact that there are outstanding state primary schools that are also a year ahead got to do with this point ?

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 12:34:37

It would be interesting to know if the prep-school educated DCs, who go into the grammar state selective system, lose their advantage over their totally-state educated peers at some point in their secondary school careers? Anyone with any experience of this?

It would be interesting to know if the Heads at the super-selectives have any idea of the % of their pupils who have been tutored to get into their grammars. And also if there is any correlation twixt tutoring and the results the DCs come out with?

Does tutoring give primary school aged DCs a boost which has a long-term impact on their educational outcomes or not?

I think there is an enormous amount of spin (from very competitive middle-class parents) about tutoring. There is an urban myth that it's not possible to get into the super-selectives without being tutored for years. It simply isn't true if your child is naturally bright and quick-on-the-uptake. But people self-perpetuate the belief in their own DCs' interests IMHO.

Long-term, intensive tuition can however make a huge difference if your DC isn't particularly bright. One of DS's classmates (one of six in a mixed state primary which isn't top of the league tables) was always on table 3 or 4, never regarded as even vaguely clever by her classmates (although they were an exceptionally clever-for-state-school class with over 60% Level 5 or above in English and Maths at KS2). Year 3 the tuition started. She passed two of the super-selective 11+ exams and is at a s-s grammar now. But none of the parents, teachers or her peers could have seen that coming when she was in KS1.

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 12:40:45

PS Making the 11+ exams tutor-proof is about as likely as making financial transactions fraud-proof...there will always be people who find a way around the 'rules'.....

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 12:41:32

I asked the head of year 7 at dd's grammar school about the prep/state thing. She said that in her experience, prep school kids knew more, but state school kids had better tools for finding stuff they didn't know out. And it all evened out very quickly. One school, one person s opinion, obviously. But interesting.

Copthallresident Thu 07-Feb-13 12:49:06

Russians I am going to show off now and be terribly competitive wink but DD had French tutor too grin.

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 12:49:14

Interesting, Seeker....

Copthallresident Thu 07-Feb-13 12:51:54

gazzalw No experience in a grammar school but in DDs' selective indie any difference between state and private is soon lost, certainly by the end of Year 7.

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 12:57:15

An aside Copthallresident but is Copthall in Essex? It's been bugging me all morning! Near Ongar/Epping/Theydon Bois?

Yes that goes along with my thoughts, although I might have thought it would take more than a year for the advantage to be negated.

Copthallresident Thu 07-Feb-13 13:08:10

No, South West London, name I took up when involved in heated debate (4000 posts on here!!) on a local schools issue, (which is what got me involved in this wretched --excuse for procrastination--website) it's actually a street, but a slight diversionary tactic in terms of where I actually live wink

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 13:16:24

Got you, Copthallresident!

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:55

gazz - my state primary DCs are at Indies where the bulk of their classmates are prep school kids and things do pretty much even itself out after a term or so but that does depend on the child and/or parent. I mean, we couldn't afford prep AND secondary so made sure that we supplemented the primary school by putting our DCs into afterschool things like Spanish club and Latin club. On top of this we taught them KS level 5 stuff and a bit of L6. If we did none of the above then they might have struggled a bit more.

As for whether tutoring gives a long term boost, lets put it this time. I smile to myself whenever I read a thread about how the mom can't get her DC to focus on homework or exams. Studying an hour a day at secondary is not going to be a culture shock to tutored kids.

I agree that long term tutoring for bright kids serves no purpose. At 6months my DCs plateau-ed. If we had to go for another month I would expect their mock scores to go down. But the reality is that some kids can't cope with a condensed routine. They much rather do one mock paper a week spread over a couple of years.

Hamishbear Thu 07-Feb-13 23:38:19

Just remarking on the boy who had the audacity to pass for a super selective from a middle table in Primary after tutoring.

Two things: firstly perhaps he had the requisite ability - attainment in class doesn't always correlate with ability. Secondly maybe the tutoring improved & developed his intellect. This can happen.

gazzalw Fri 08-Feb-13 06:30:35

Ha! I get your point Hamishbear (it wasn't really the parents who were shocked with the outcome, it was the children actually! It offended their sense of 'order'). Yes, you are right. She was an excitable child so her over-exuberant manner might have just distracted her from learning earlier on in her school career. It is quite possible that the the three years of tutoring harnessed her abilities - maybe that's the point of it. But then by that token, all children with reasonable abilities could probably get to that level with tutoring? Certainly there were other bright children in the class whose parents couldn't afford tutors and whose DCs didn't get in...

Hamishbear Fri 08-Feb-13 06:45:30

Personally I think they probably could but appreciate not widely held or popular belief. Sadly not a level playing field for all.

TotallyBS Fri 08-Feb-13 10:07:23

gazz - at the expense of coming across as one of those posters who seizes one word or phrase from an entire post and makes a meal out of it...... Parents who can't afford to hire a tutor are not at an appreciable disadvantage. Is your DC at a disadvantage if you taught your child to swim compared to someone who hired a swimming instructor? Of course not.

Some schools don't publish past papers so, yes a tutor that has knowledge of that school's exam can give a parent an advantage but IME the majority make their papers available for download. It's as level as one can make it.

gazzalw Fri 08-Feb-13 12:50:56

I think you are probably right TotallyBS. At lot of it has to do with parental motivation IMHO. At the end of the day, I'm afraid the uber-competitive ones usually are the middle-class ones. I have witnessed it at school. Even if they know their DCs probably won't get in they still talk the talk, walk the walk - it's a tribe mentality!

OhDearConfused Fri 08-Feb-13 14:43:39

Since getting into at least the super selectives around London is nothing to do with ability (at least over a threshold "grammar school standard") but more about how motivated the parents are in getting the DCs prepped for the frankly useless VR/NVR tests, perhaps there could be another way of selecting which doesn't involve misery for the DCs. But equally tests the DPs motivation

Something like this:

1. Test kids to make sure bright (no tutoring needed for this since mark is set sensibly) a couple of years in advance.

2. Then the parents of those DCs who pass have to learn Navajo or some exotic language no-one will already know or something similar.

3. The parents that learn it best, get the place for their DC.

The parents then go through what otherwise the DCs would have gone through: a couple of years of weekly tutoring doing something useless (respect to any native Navajo speakers).

racingheart Fri 08-Feb-13 15:15:56

LOL Ohdearconfused! I suspect you'd get a pretty similar set of pupils to the ones that get in today.

seeker Fri 08-Feb-13 15:21:01

It's like my idea of the juggling test. 2 schools next door to each other. One takes all comers, the other asks that both parents be able to juggle before their child gets a place. Th juggling school will have significantly better results than the other one. This explains why oversubscribed faith schools appear to do better than non faith schools. Doesn't half p**s off the Christians when you tell them that, though!

Marni23 Fri 08-Feb-13 15:21:56

Lol, spot on ohdearconfused!

Marni23 Fri 08-Feb-13 15:23:40

grin so's that!!!

OhDearConfused Fri 08-Feb-13 15:47:58

Ah seeker, busted, yes indeed - just like that, and in fact, I probably did copy was inspired by you. I'm sure I've read your posts to that affect before.


RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 08-Feb-13 16:13:48

Yet more anti dyspraxia bilge. sad

seeker Fri 08-Feb-13 17:21:06

Nobody said it was fair, Russian- that is rather the point!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 08-Feb-13 17:31:36

It's a conspiracy. sad

seeker Fri 08-Feb-13 17:32:56

Life's not fair- as I am frequently told !grin

Maybe you could learn Navajo instead?

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 08-Feb-13 17:34:37

But joking aside - it's also wrong. The school that didn't take dyspraxics wouldn't have better results because all the super brainy next-evolutionary-step dyspraxic people would be at the other school getting better results.

Although actually - you wouldn't dream of using something mocking blind people as an example. Would you. Food for thought. The nepalese example was much better.

seeker Fri 08-Feb-13 17:43:38

I'm really sorry- I didn't intend to mock. I used juggling when I first used the analogy because it's something that loads of middle class adults I know do, and which is, for most people, possible but tricky to learn. And which you can learn to do by yourself, but which you can also be taught. And which you need time, and knowledge and space to learn. And which some people can do straight off, And which some people can't, however hard they try. And which has absolutely no bearing at all on how you do at school.

Just like the 11+ really. Or being Christian.grin

Copthallresident Fri 08-Feb-13 18:15:42

I have to say that back in the hippy 70s the borough I grew up in had a great scheme to attempt to level the playing field. The Primary School Heads nominated which pupils were best suited to the three different sorts of schools and four pupils who were borderline direct grant / grammar and grammar / secondary mod, who then went off to a gorgeous country house where we spent the day playing, building things with wooden blocks, doing puzzles, some tests, having discussion groups about things like whether God existed shock I know!!! but I am sure I remember right, juggling and learning navajo, actually I made the last two up, I think... I just remember it being enormous fun. They then decided where we fitted, it was called the Thorne scheme and though I remember being quite amused by it all, it was subsequently endorsed by the Plowden Report

"The Thorne system, so called from the neighbourhood where it was first tried, was designed to take account of these two observations. An initial quota of selective places is given to each primary school and is generally based on the results of the previous three years. The accuracy of this figure for the current year is checked by a careful investigation of all borderline pupils undertaken by a panel of head teachers. A further check is provided by the feedback of information from the secondary schools to the primary schools. The purpose of this system is to avoid distortion of the primary school curriculum by dispensing with an externally imposed test. It achieves this object without loss of accuracy. It is acceptable to teachers and parents and has led to cooperation between primary and secondary schools. We are impressed by its advantages and hope that authorities which continue to use selection procedures will study its merits."

The section of the Plowden Report on selection is itself interesting since written in 1967 it proves what goes around comes

What I do know is that my peers at the direct grant grammar came from all sorts of backgrounds, and it enabled girls from working class backgrounds to go on to university and successful careers.

Copthallresident Fri 08-Feb-13 19:13:05

Comment by from secondary school history "The old scholarship system of selection by examination in Mathematics, English and Verbal Reasoning itself became the subject of examination. In 1962 a pilot scheme was launched whereby certain children who were borderline cases were allowed to attend at a centre in Ilkley for one whole day. They were given tests in Mathematics and English and were able to pursue work in other creative media. Meanwhile experienced teachers with understanding had the opportunity to converse with the children in a relaxed and natural atmosphere and so discover about the personalities and characteristic qualities of the children. The Thorne Scheme of selection as it became known was established in the area and worked favourably so far as our school was concerned."

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 08:42:59

Loads of middle class adults in Kent juggle? smile

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 08:56:42

Copthall I had an interview after the 11+ tests for my direct grant place. A different method I know, but still useful I guess. The HT and an unknown (but very avuncular) man talked to me for quite a long time in the HTs office. They asked me what I'd read or heard about in the news and, interestingly, asked me to demonstrate with my hands how long certain measurements were. And I think also about the meaning of certain words. I think they asked other stuff too, but those are the things which I recall the most clearly. I'm assuming dyspraxics would have difficulty with the measurement thing.

I don't know whether the results these interviews threw up were good or bad. I got offered two direct grant places (to my first choice and to another London school mentioned often on this thread) - which leaves me none the wiser. But looking back at the kinds of girls who were offered places under the scheme, it's absolutely evident that there was no middle class bias.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 09-Feb-13 09:49:45

Yellow It's a scarily wierd place.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 09-Feb-13 09:56:37

Yellow As you know I was the first year after Croydon scrapped the 11+ and that year (and for at least 2 years afterwards) C had an interview as part of the admission process. We had to take a book and talk about it. I don't remember any measuring things with hands. But I fell over walking into the head mistress's office so the writing was pretty much on the wall. But they knew me anyway (and they knew I'd been offered a full scholarship to OP which my parents had turned down) so I don't think it was an issue. That year, 100% of the girls from RC who applied to C got in, which hadn't been the case under the 11+, and which certainly indicates that it was popery they cared about not poshness.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 10:14:12

Is it just me who knows loads of irritating people who can juggle? blush

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 10:29:16

Yes seeker, I really think it might be smile

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 10:34:21

Ok- everyone. I want you to ask every friend you meet over the weekend whether they can juggle and report back on Sunday night. I bet 50% will be able to. Nothing complicated- no swords or fire or anything- just 3 balls.

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 10:35:31

I think you'll find there are more in London, Seeker wink!

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 10:38:32

Seeker Yes grin

yellowtip Yes Given the backgrounds of my peers, there can have been no middle class bias, in fact I suspect that there was such a pride in the tradition of giving bright working class pupils a chance of Grammar School education, my mother had been one, that the bias may have been the other way (though there were of course fee paying pupils). Interestingly though in a city that had a population that was 30% bme, mostly Muslim, there was one Hindu girl and one Jamaican girl, though that subsequently changed. I don't know if that reflected a fairly recent immigration, it had happened in the last ten years, there were plenty of Eastern European girls from the previous wave of immigration, or bias but we were certainly conscious of it.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 10:43:19

Seriously- can you imagine the appeals if there were head tescher's recommendations and interviews? And the potential for nodding people through, and discrimination and......and.....and

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 10:57:13

I can imagine the appeals these days seeker but see no reason why they couldn't be given pretty short shrift. The system used to work and no-one railed against lack of headteacherly integrity then.

slipshodsibyl Sat 09-Feb-13 10:58:35

Seriously- can you imagine the appeals if there were head tescher's recommendations and interviews? And the potential for nodding people through, and discrimination and

It would be a nightmare for the school and.

slipshodsibyl Sat 09-Feb-13 11:03:31

The system used to work and no-one railed against lack of headteacherly integrity then.

Yes, but assuming the system actually did work (I have no experience) wasn't it a time of far greater deference to the likes of the headteacher? I really think that giving the appeals short shrift today would be hard. It is the attempt to be transparent that has led to this emphasis on exam/test results. Even higher up the scale, Cambridge is putting more emphasis on exam results and less on interview in order to screen in those which will perform best in the Tripos.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:04:23

seeker But would it be worse than the current system, particularly in terms of making sure the brightest had a chance of a Grammar School education regardless of parental skills, juggling or otherwise. The system had checks and balances in terms of the Head being called to account both by the assessment process and subsequent feedback from the secondary school. The problem of course is how you would enshrine it in appropriate process and wording of that process given that parental abiloity to challenge at appeal, even when it gains no obvious advantage, is now a factor in selection as well.

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 11:06:25

Copthall a significant tranche of that wave of East European immigration was intelligentsia, so the daughters may have won their places on academic merit fair and square.

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 11:08:15

Why does Cambridge bother to interview vastly more candidates than Oxford then slipshodsibyl? That seems a big waste of time.

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 11:10:22

In terms of headteacherly integrity I was referring to the interviewing of candidates by the secondary HTs rather than primary HT recommendations.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:14:58

slipshodsibyl There is a proven bias in the Cambridge interview process, the thorne scheme assessment process was more than just an interview precisely to avoid that bias. The more aspects of a persons skills and abilities you gather evidence on the less bias there is in the selection process, that is why many companies use the assessment centre model for recruitment / promotion.

I am not by any means sure such a process would work in the context of the 21st century, making it appeals proof for a start but also in the London context where you are having to discriminate the brightest 150 out of 1500 presumably already self selected to be bright enough I can't imagine any assessment process could be reliably that discriminating but I don't think it would work any less well than the current system.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 11:15:34

"I can imagine the appeals these days seeker but see no reason why they couldn't be given pretty short shrift. The system used to work and no-one railed against lack of headteacherly integrity then."
Did the system work? Or was that just a more deferential age when people didn't question so much?

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:22:05

yellowtip millworkers? Though actually a lot of my friend's families were intelligentsia. However the school did come to reflect the ethnic mix of the city, even after it became an indie. I think there were probably complex reasons behind it not doing so in the 70s.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:33:34

seeker I am quite sure middle class parents questioned, it's just there was no process via which to question. And remember the Thorne scheme was devised ti get away from an 11+ that clearly had both bias and judged pupils on the basis of their performance on the day, excluding many bright pupils who went on to achieve. I remember parents generally being grateful that our borough introduced the system. Interestingly where DB lives they only scrapped it for entry to a remaining Grammar School ten years ago, in favour of an 11+ using vr / nvr, the tutor culture is just beginning to take hold and primary school teachers say they have definitely seen a change in the profile of pupils getting in.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 11:41:27

Copthall-I suspect it wasn't the
Middle class parents who would have needed to question it though!

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:43:19

I should say that what was scrapped ten years ago wasn't the thorne scheme but a scheme where Headteachers recommended who went to Grammar based on test results sat in primary schools. I seem to remember DN being borderline on the tests but Headteacher recommendation, and dyslexia diagnosis, got her in on appeal.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:44:46

seeker The point is that the schools did have a wide social mix, certainly a lot wider than DDs peers at Tiffin.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 11:50:07

Do we know that there was a wider social mix? Did anyone gather the data?

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 11:50:15

If you read the Plowden Report I linked to it quotes studies showing that the Thorne scheme was the most accurate way of selecting in terms of eliminating social bias

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 12:00:22

But oh it was a much more innocent time quote from Plowden Report 'Where intelligence tests continue to be used as calibrators, great care should be taken in presenting the scheme to parents and teachers so that they understand its purpose and do not try to increase school quotas by coaching at home or at school." wink

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 12:02:20

Missed that. I'll read it when I get home. I like a good Report, I do!

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 12:13:26

Actually I may have over interpreted it but it does recommend the Thorne scheme as overcoming teacher bias. Report makes interesting reading though, especially in terms of implicit focus on making selection tests fair and eliminating bias. I wish our 21st century bureaucrats had the same implicit values .

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 12:17:02

I am not sure there was more of a social mix really. Certainly at my NE grammar I was very much in the minority as a working class boy on FSM!

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 12:22:56

Maybe the whole issue of social mobility wasn't directly correlated with grammar schools. Maybe a lot of it had to do with a whole cohort of young men having been killed off in two World Wars, leaving a social and professional vacuum which had to be filled?

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 12:36:56

In my class at my direct grant grammar out of 24 there were at least 4 on FSM , in that they told me, you wouldn't have known otherwise, and plenty came from the one and two up terraced housing that characterised the city. There were certainly only a small number paying full fees. (The direct grant system meant that those places that were not free by dint of being city or county scholarships which accounted for half the places were fee paying according to a scale which was determined by parental income, the rest being made up by a government grant).

Tiffin has 1.3% on FSM compared to 8.7% for the borough

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 12:46:56

Yes, it's about the same number in DS's super-selective....

8.7% for the whole borough is incredibly low though isn't it.... I know there are pockets of deprivation in Kingston, but you would never know it shopping there....It is a town exuding gentility to my mind!

so the direct grant schools worked on sliding scales - well that would have been more helpful.

I think again that maybe grammar schools in industrial towns/cities might have attracted higher percentages of disadvantaged children than those situated in leafy suburbs....DW went to one and although there were council house children at the school, the majority had parents who were professionals, academics or successful business people.

There is also an issue here about gender. I think that in the past it was very much more the case that parents would pay for boys to go to private/public schools and the girls would get sent to the local grammar (if bright enough) or convent (if not bright) instead.

So I am wondering whether this trend meant that there was a greater opportunity for boys to climb the social ladder than girls? That and the fact that the boys grammar schools were often larger than the girls ones so took a higher % of the boys despite the fact that boys did less well than the girls in the exams (I'm not making this up and have read documented research to this effect but sorry I can't quote sources).

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 12:50:27

gazzalw Well it hadn't sucked up enough women by the 70s for us not to be outnumbered 10 to 1 by men at uni!

Whereas my school had enabled my mum to go to college in the 50s and have a successful teaching career from a back to back house with two working parents , dinner lady and mill worker. Though it was also a very cultured home, especially in terms of music and books. The local cultural framework that enabled that sort of mobility had been in place since the Victorians.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 12:56:46

X posted but I think we are thinking on the same lines

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 13:03:46

Yes, I think there is a very middle-class misconception that being working class means that you don't give a damn about education. That is not the case and never has been. Although theoretically I guess I'm not working class any more, we are not well-off, but we are a cultured family and place a high importance on learning/developing a wide range of knowledge. I would not say I was brought up in a cultured home myself and my parents certainly did not have aspirations for me to go to the grammar school (but I was cussed enough to want to go and defied them on that!), but my Dad did sow the seeds of culture and of a love of learning which stood me in good stead.

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 13:14:06

Copthall I don't think there were too many job opportunities for East European intelligentsia after the War, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they took up work in the mill. Pretty much anything would do if it meant food on the table.

gazzalw Sat 09-Feb-13 13:22:42

Has it not always been the case with newly arrived immigrants? Certainly many of the Ugandan Asians who came here in the 1970s were professionally qualified but unable to get equivalent jobs over here so ended up running shops etc...?

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 13:23:12

Actually the impact of immigration is an interesting one too, my Grandparents were the children of Irish immigrants (married by Patrick Bronte!) and that was the source of their hunger for culture and education, yellowtip is right , there were many Eastern European girls at my school whose parents might work in lowly jobs but had very rich cultural lives, one mother spent every non work waking hour playing the cello, leaving us to party unsupervised below!! Tiffin has a much higher BME than the surrounding area, I doubt the Daily Mail considers that side effect of multi culturalism.

Yellowtip Sat 09-Feb-13 13:32:23

Of course gazzalw.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 13:48:27

"Yes, I think there is a very middle-class misconception that being working class means that you don't give a damn about education."

I agree. And it makes discussion very difficult. The reverse is also true- the misconception that being middle class automatically means you care about education.

However it is discussion that has to be had, because in general working class children do worse than middle class children, and something has to be done about it. I always say poor/disadvantaged- not ideal, but less generalising. In general poor/ disadvantaged children don't get into selective schools, where they exist, and do significantly worse than their cohort where they don't.

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 14:03:21

seeker But it does need to be a discussion that we have with reference to the sort of values that distinguish the disadvantaged children who succeed from those who don't. I work with a charity that seeks to link up bright West Indian children in poorly performing schools with positive role models who have succeeded in education and business. However for some teachers in those schools the idea that their bright pupils should be influenced by West Indian role models who have had success in the business world, as opposed to the negative influences many of them struggle with, is seen as unacceptable. Better that they are discouraged than made into capitalists.

seeker Sat 09-Feb-13 14:55:15

Really? How very bizarre of them. I'm not sure where that fits in to this- are you saying that teacher's expectations are significant ion poor/disadvantaged children's underachievement?

Copthallresident Sat 09-Feb-13 16:54:03

seeker The charity has encountered many bizarre attitudes amongst teachers, I am sure some would prefer a drug taking rap artist through their doors than an Oxbridge educated banker angry. It isn't the only, or the main, barrier but I am quite sure that teachers expectations and aspirations are affecting children's chances in poorly performing schools. When charities like this one, and universities go into poorly performing schools they almost always uncover talent that would go to waste without giving the pupils the role models, know how etc. to encourage the pupils to overcome their disadvantages, and when they are given support the pupils go on to achieve great things. Obviously there is the research down in universities that demonstrates that but the results are even more striking for those the charity has mentored. I would be surprised if there were not similar attitudes in primary schools affecting disadvantaged pupils chances of trying and succeeding to get into selective schools . Of course it can work the other way around, when DD was sitting Kingston Grammar, I got talking to a single father with a toddler in tow. His older son's teacher had encouraged them to enter for a scholarship, had given the son extra tuition and had paid their fare to get to the exam. I have always wondered if his son was successful, I hope so.

seeker Sun 10-Feb-13 07:24:08

I suppose that could be part of the reasoning behind the LEAs insistence that Primary schools should not prepare children for the 11+ at all-so that teacher's expectations don't influence who takes the test and who doesn't.

parent2013 Fri 16-May-14 22:31:32

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 07:35:10

The simple answer is to do what is suggested at the end of the Telegraph article: award places to children selected by primary schools in year six. Teachers who've spent a year with a child know if he or she is bright enough to cope and thrive in a grammar.

The grammars could offer a proportionate number of places to children from private schools (so if 5% of the borough's children were privately educated the grammar could allow private schools to select 5% of the intake).

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 09:54:05

Year 6 is too late.They'd only have had 2 weeks in school and I don't think schools do know.Many teachers wouldn't have a clue,not even having visited said grammar schools being far too busy with more important things.Several parents at our school try and get their kids into a non catchment comp near us,should teachers get involved with this too ie say who should and shouldn't apply?

Going down this route I am seeing how primary schools focus on quite different things than the 11+ requires.

I also think in classes of 30 bright quiet kids can easily fly under the radar.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 13:25:51

So a teacher who has marked a child's work for a year and spoken to them daily for a year wouldn't know if the child was bright enough to cope in a grammar environment? (Because if this system was put in place schools would have to find a way of drawing on the opinions of all the child's teachers over the period of time they'd been in the school)

But one test done on a single day, marked by a teacher who has never met the child can?


Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:26:19

They're looking for different things.Most of what my dc are doing are things they never do in school.

Also marking work isn't fallible.And marking what work?Maths,English,Maths&English,Science,Speaking and Listening...?Some kids are all rounders,some aren't but may well be just as bright.

Also can you image the fall out in the playground.Parents of those not put forward would quite rightly want concrete evidence as to why.The competition and upset throughout from re. would be above and beyond reading book debacles as a lot would be riding on it.

Schools have enough to focus on re the 95% of kids who wouldn't be going to waste time on a fraction who would.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 14:27:53

How lucky your kids must be to have had one teacher teaching them for the whole time in Y5 or Y6. My DD2 has had more supply teachers in the last 2 years than I've had hot dinners in that time (I'm not a big fan of hot dinners it has to be said. But I normally have at least one a week. She's had some weeks with two or three different supply teachers. Or even more).

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:35:50

With my children both are doing great.However the quiet day dreamer,never picked for anything who has consistently been placed in groups just below his G&T twin is the one rocking the 11+ prep so far with a slight edge on his twin- as I knew he always would.

Kids can get pigeon holed very early on.Bright but quiet,slow to mature or day dreaming kids not into writing can easily get overlooked.Says nothing about their intelligence or how they'd perform in a grammar school.My family have 2 or 3 fly by the seat of their pants kids who excelled at grammar- my dad for one.grin

I'd hate my son to be written off and denied a chance on the say so of one teacher who nay not even know him that well at all.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:36:56

And yes mine also have a job share,several teachers/assistants teaching different subjects and a shed load of supply.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:42:48

I'm amazed you all think that a teacher who has probably spent more time in your child's company in the last 3 months than you have wouldn't have any insight into their intellectual abilities.

And that a short written test marked by a stranger is the most accurate way of identifying bright children.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:44:11

"day dreaming kids not into writing can easily get overlooked.Says nothing about their intelligence or how they'd perform in a grammar school"

I'd wonder if a child who is 'not into writing' and can't keep their mind on their work might struggle a bit in a grammar school.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:46:05

Which teacher?

And the test mine have to sit is pretty comprehensive-an essay,comp,maths and 2 shots at VR over 2 weekends.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:46:43

Incidentally, you have ignored what I said earlier on about not leaving it to one teacher to suggest which children might be put forward for a grammar place. Of course it's not at all fair if a teacher who barely knew a child was asked to make such an important decision.

In their various efforts to introduce an exam where tutoring is less relevant, our local grammars have simply produced a system where my DD will have to sit two different 11+ exams within a week of each other. Two lots of exams to stress about, sit and potentially fail.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:53:52

Good luck with that Retropear.

It's just sad for those very clever kids at all schools whose parents aren't drilling them in 11+ skills.

I think the current system suits ambitious and involved parents very well, which is probably why most people defend it. It's just shit for bright children whose parents won't/can't do this, and whose teachers can't advocate for them. I can understand why someone who's doing what you're doing wouldn't want the power to award places at grammars put into the hands of teachers.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:54:45

Well his grandad and uncle didn't- quite the reverse.

And interestingly the 11+ material seems to be right up his street.He works very hard with a good work ethic- when he needs to.Often he doesn't need to as he's bright.That said he's in the top booster group(not led by his class teacher)now for writing anyway but so are several others.

Would love to see a teacher making that choice.grin Is she going to cross reference with their maths results,which maths,science,their speaking and listening,VR they don't even do,comp abilities etc?

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 15:02:27

Well I actually asked in order to get a second opinion if they were suitable and got told they were so we're alright on that

Also some kids with less interested parents may well be in better schools.Maybe if motivation is important with kids it's important to have motivated parents too.Who knows.

All sorts of things are unfair.My dc have had a pretty rocky time at their school in the past,the help they get from me is a bonus but they've had their share of negatives.You could say that with any kid.I actually think quality of primary education is the biggest benefit and lots of kids with disinterested parents may well go to better schools than mine.Plenty of disinterested parents send their kids to private schools so they can relax- I don't have that type of cash so do what I can.

Couldn't give a stuff if that offends.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:10:36

There is no teacher who has spent more time in Dd2's company in the last 3 months than I have. Most of the supply teachers they have had haven't been prepared to give appropriately differentiated work for her, either.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:13:16

mrscakes where I live there are two possible grammars! one 30 miles away in one direction, one about 20 miles away in the opposite direction. Two different tests with the same elements but tested slightly differently. It was fine. Almost all the kids I have known who have sat for both have passed at least one.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 15:13:36

I don't think there is any way at all to make the 11+ untutorable.

And as long as it's decided on the basis of a test which parents have to opt into, bright children whose parents aren't ambitious, or whose parents aren't knowledgeable or confident about a grammar school education for their child, will be left out.

Schools whose intake is shaped largely by the church-going, private school fee-paying, tutoring, pushing behaviour of parents, rather than on the innate ability of the child, will always have their doors closed to a proportion of very clever children.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 15:17:50

"Couldn't give a stuff if that offends."

No worries. We're allowed to disagree.

Without wanting to be a pedantic old cow, thought it might interest you (given that it's the sort of thing which crops up in 11+ tests) to know that 'disinterested' means 'impartial', and not 'uninterested'. here

Hope that doesn't offend! ;-)

(ps - don't mind comments on my grammar, always wanting to learn. I have a particular problem with 'which' and 'that'....)

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:21:07

The thing about which and that is that US English (which is increasingly the thing that informs style guides) and real English don't completely agree on their correct usage. I think - but am not sure - that the popular US usage of momentarily is in fact as wrong wrong wrongetty wrong as it is in real English, though. Regardless - it's gaining currency. Especially with younger people. sad

Thanks for the reassurance about sitting 2 exams, Herc.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:35:05

mtprscake at the end of the day! maths is maths whether it's examined in long or short form questions! or by multiple choice. There are only so many permutations of VR questions. For English, yes, one test might have a written essay and written comprehension, the other might be more multiple choicey - but again, it's all about comprehension and if you comprehend then you will be able to cope with different structures of question. For both my girls the school they wanted most was the first exam, but for others they were able to use the first exam as a dry run for the one they cared most about. Honestly - if you downplay it, make sure that they understand the world won't end whatever the result is, and don't make them so shitloads of unnecessary work for months or years beforehand, they will be fine. It's the ones who have been wound up by their parents who can implode. Not all the calm cool ones pass, of course - but they are better placed to cope with not passing/being selected than those for whom it has been escalated to the most important thing in the world. When Dd2 did the 11+ exams last autumn! she was preparing for two music exams, a ballet exam, and to have a reasonable sized part in a big show at our local theatre (in the half term straight after the 11+). We encouraged her to regard all those things as more important (didn't take much encouraging, it's how she is) so she was able to view the 11+ in perspective. She had one friend for whom the 11+ was the ONLY thing of note happening between probably this time last year and Xmas. The friend imploded, totally. sad

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 18:56:34

Mrs I actually think 2 is preferable as if they bottle it on the first they can pick up points on the second when they've got used to it.Telling myself that anyway.

We're dealing with it by making them presume they'll go to the feeder(bigging it up accordingly),giving the grammar a punt but looking forward to secondary as a whole wherever they go iykwim.

At the moment tbh with one of mine the idea of a lunch card and mobile phone next year regardless of where he's going is causing a lot excitement.That said a lot doesn't ride on them getting places,alternative is absolutely fine and actually has some benefits.

Tbh nobody is guaranteed a place and anything can happen on the day so it's pointless planning on preferences and best to not put too much stock into it.Knowing my luck I'll over cook the alternative,they'll get grammar places and be gutted.grin

The not knowing for me as a mum is a pita though.grin

Hoppinggreen Sat 17-May-14 20:48:01

Quite a few of my friends children are getting subsidised tutoring as they receive tax credits whereas we pay in full for ours - seems pretty fair and evens the playing field a bit

Ewieindwie1 Sat 17-May-14 21:00:09

Pardon? Taxpayers' money subsidises tutoring for grammar schools??? Oh for God's sake the whole system is skewed towards the middle classes. Let's simplify the system and dismantle it. Here's a thought: no schools to discriminate on the basis of religion, parental income or some ridiculous attempt to divide kids. Let's have every kid at their local school - and the poorer the intake, the more staff they get. When will the parents of this country stop scrambling over everyone else? We are a nation. Our children all deserve the best....

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 21:57:14


<wild applause>

Hoppinggreen Sat 17-May-14 22:56:59

Yes that's right, people in receipt of tax credits can get help with extra tutoring - not sure how that means the system is skewed towards the middle class? Surely it's the opposite and means that not only children who's parents can afford tutoring have a shot at a Grammar school.

missinglalaland Sun 18-May-14 21:35:12

Just thinking of the original post, yes I think the test could be tutor proof in theory, but not in practice.

In practice, a single grammar school in London may have around 1000 applicants! That's a lot of marking. It makes more creative, subjective type stuff pretty near impossible. It definitely drives multiple choice style questions with specific right answers.

Meanwhile, because of the small number of grammar school places compared to a rising population, the grammar schools are left trying to distinguish the top 2% from the mere top 5%. A difficult thing to do in the long right tail of a standard normal distribution. In an effort to "spread the field," the questions get harder and harder. They effectively go beyond what the children are normally taught. This makes tutoring a distinct advantage. And once everyone starts doing it, a necessity.

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