Does anyone regret tutoring to get their DC's into private school?

(50 Posts)
wheresthebeach Sun 17-Mar-13 19:30:54

I keep hearing about children crashing out at private school if they've been 'over tutored' to get there. Some people seem to think any tutoring is too much; others that a couple of sessions a week is sensible.

So...those who tutored their DC's please tell me how secondary is going!

MTSgroupie Mon 18-Mar-13 10:16:21

It's going great. I tutored mine, some might say quite heavily, and they are on track for GCSEs A or, on a good day, A* so no regrets here.

I suspect that the crash and burn kids are those who were heavily tutored and even then just managed to scrape in or were on the waiting list. However this isn't an indictment on tutoring itself. I mean, it's like taking someone with two left feet, subjecting them to hours and hours of tennis coaching and then blaming others when the kids burns out from all the stress and pressure.

MTSgroupie Mon 18-Mar-13 10:55:21

I think that it is the homework and constant tests that stresses out some kids as opposed to being unable to keep up in the classroom. I mean, typically in year 8 you get streamed so keeping up in the classroom isn't an issue.

However, mine get between 1 to 2 hours homework 7 days a week with at least one test each week. On top of this my kids attend after school clubs like netball, swimming, athletics and rugby. Then there is the music obligations. They still have time for hanging out with mates and playing on the PC.

However, reading threads about homework, I see that many parents rolling their eyes at a couple of hours homework a week. If a kid is pushed to his/her limit, just to pass the test then the routine I described above is going to sooo stress them out.

poppydoppy Mon 18-Mar-13 11:20:05

It depends on the child. Two of my children are very academic DD is on for A* without tutoring and the other one is doing work 3 years ahead without tutoring. My other child needs extra help as he needs to do things a couple of times before it sinks in.
I would never tutor a child extensively I want my children to have fun and enjoy their childhood. There is soooo much more to life than academics.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Mar-13 14:07:17

I do know a lot of parents who regret tutoring because they fell for all the pre selection angst and signed up to the tutoring factories around here where they have waiting lists, test pupils before accepting them and then cram them around a kitchen table, and it turned out to be a pretty miserable experience for the child, and they are not convinced it even made a difference. There is a world of difference between that and getting a child some extra individual help with things they are weak on or haven't covered or doing it yourself, whilst keeping it a positive experience.

My DDs were at a very selective indie, a bit of a hothouse frankly but I was not aware of anyone crashing and burning. They seemed pretty good at seeing through tutoring and selecting the pupils who should be there, and where pupils have weaknesses they get lots of support.

MTSgroupie Mon 18-Mar-13 14:35:16

Each year thousands of kids get into selectives. Going by personal experience and what gets posted here, a significant proportion were tutored to some degree. I suspect that only a small number actually crash out. Those that do, I further suspect that they realise that a couple of hours of homework a day plus a test most weeks isn't what they want as opposed to them not being able to cope with the academics because they were 'over tutored'

wheresthebeach Mon 18-Mar-13 19:08:29

Admit that the sound of preselection and group lessons sounds fairly horrid and can imagine that the benefits must be much less than an individual tutor. People here (SW London) seem to do specific tutor for poor subject; then group lessons for exam practice.

If we sit DD for 11+ then I think we'd only accept a place if she got in comfortably rather than just scraping in....

MTSgroupie Tue 19-Mar-13 11:39:05

My friend has a regular tutor group that meets around her kitchen table. I've dropped in a few times when lessons was in progress and I didn't notice anyone looking miserable. And at the end she got a lot of thank you cards from parents who saw a marked difference in their DCs mock marks.

Who is to say that your anecdote is more representative of reality than mine.

And what is wrong with testing them before accepting a DC? If a tutor took your money knowing full well that your child didn't have the potential to pass then you wouldn't be very happy. Jeeze, with some people you just can't win.

wheresthebeach Tue 19-Mar-13 19:34:41

I don't think tutors pre-test children to do parents a favour - they do it so that they are tutoring the top kids so they can tell other parents that all the kids they tutor get in. Besides - how many tests do they do before rejecting a kid? Surely best to tutor the child and once you really know them have an honest conversation with the parents if you think they won't cut the mustard.

Elibean Tue 19-Mar-13 20:43:12

The tutor we used for dd (not to get in to anywhere - just to help boost confidence in specific maths areas) certainly doesn't test children to decide whether she's taking them or not. She does test - all kids - but only to assess where they are re levels and knowledge.

I would imagine most parents, like the ones I know who are using the same tutor we used but for entrance exam purposes, would prefer to have the tutor get to know their child a bit then give feedback on chances of getting in. Or, as dd's tutor very kindly and accurately did, give feedback on what sort of school she thinks would serve that child best.

But then, I would never use a tutor with a specific aim to get a child in to a specific school anyway.

MTSgroupie Tue 19-Mar-13 20:43:49

Before I started tutoring my kids I sat them down and gave them a past paper to do. One scored 60% and other 65%. If either had scored less than 50% then I wouldn't have proceeded with tutoring.

So I can hardly blame a professional tutor for taking the same attitude.

Elibean Tue 19-Mar-13 20:45:48

Re the dropping out after getting in to highly selective schools - I tend to think MTS is probably right: kids may not realize what the expectations are going to be once in, and then just find its not for them. Especially, though not only, if the parent wanted it more than they did in the first place.

As opposed to 'not being bright enough' and tutoring having squeezed them in when they shouldn't be there. Which sounds pretty unlikely to me, tbh.

Elibean Tue 19-Mar-13 20:49:08

Yes, but MTS you did that because you wanted to get your kids into a specific school - or were finding out if that was an option, I presume.

To my mind, the best professional tutors won't take on kids promising to get them in to anywhere - they will just do their best to support/teach kids and advise as to likely positive choices for them.

At least, that's what I wanted from one - and what I got.

tiredaftertwo Wed 20-Mar-13 13:34:35

Surely this depends on the area?

If you have a range of selective schools in your area, then sure, you work with the child and then help them go for the ones that are right. I'd have thought tutors in London and other big cities are in this position.

But if you live somewhere with one, very highly selective school, surely it would be wrong to take money and raise hopes if there is no chance?

11+ exams are not knowledge-based so I to think the crashing out thing is unlikely. Once you've been helped to develop your maths skills so you can work fast and accurately, then you can go on from there.

ArseAche Wed 20-Mar-13 14:42:49

Depends on the child, and the amount of tutoring.

I believe if a child just needs that extra help, but has the natural ability, then tutoring is fine to get into a school.

Parents who are determined to get their children into the best school without regard to their emotional wellbeing, as well as capability are beyond cruel. Do they not realise that if said child makes it through the entry tests, there will be children there with a huge talent and this child will be languishing at the bottom of the heap, coming last in tests, and the end result can be a psychiatric hospital (worst case scenario) or at best a miserable 7 years ahead.

mungotracy Wed 20-Mar-13 14:46:40

If you tutor your own child to that level then you are more than capable of getting them multiple As at GCSE in a normal school without the price tag. A majority of private schools are actually little better than states in the same area yet they have more leeway to skew their results......

Elibean Wed 20-Mar-13 15:40:30

Yes, tiredaftertwo, it probably does make a difference where - sorry, was speaking in London terms. Although I'd think there was some choice in most places, hopefully - whether people accept it as choice or not!

tiredaftertwo Wed 20-Mar-13 16:40:21

Oh yes, Elibean, absolutely. I agree with you about London - you can apply for a range and for most people it seems to shake down fine. It is just there may be good professional tutors working in areas where there is only one selective option, so they will have to adopt a different approach.

MTSgroupie Wed 20-Mar-13 19:44:23

mungo - there is a vast difference between tutoring a 10 year old for 11+ and tutoring a 16 yr old to GCSE A* standard in 10 subjects.

wheresthebeach Thu 21-Mar-13 15:01:33

I think when tutors cherry pick the children they are probably getting a group that is already very close to where they need to be to get in. It's lazy to just pick 'the best'.

Sure there are super selective schools where only the top 2% get in and yes, a tutor should be clear with a parent about their opinion of the childs chances but surely in the end it's the parents decision to go ahead and try if they want to.

MTSgroupie Thu 21-Mar-13 16:02:02

confused Presumably we all want our kids to go to a selective because we want our kids to be educated in an environment where all the kids are of a similar (high) ability. Yet, we want the 11+ tutor to take kids with varying abilities to form a tutor group???

Startail Thu 21-Mar-13 16:17:24

Bright DCs leave state schools with As and A*s, having never been tutored and doing sensible amounts of HW.

I really don't get it.

MTSgroupie Thu 21-Mar-13 16:34:38

Not everyone is as bright as your DCs OR go to a school that is as good as yours

Copthallresident Thu 21-Mar-13 19:13:47

MTS I didn't want my DDs go to a selective, I wanted them to go to the best school for them, and it just happened the selective was the one they felt was right for them. If I had suspected they wouldn't cope academically I wouldn't have put them through the exam, let alone tutoring.

And to answer your remark earlier, jeez it is the factory tutors who want it all ways, prey on parents anxieties by fostering the idea that their one size fits all approach is the magic bullett that will get your child into these schools regardless of how clever they already are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what parts of the curriculum they have covered and haven't etc etc etc etc. then only select the cleverest, and even then some of them don't get in because I do not know of a selective school that doesn't frown on kids being crammed in that way, and are focused on ability, and are better and more thorough at identifying it than any tutors pre test, which is why few DCs do actually crash and burn at the good selective schools. I was fortunately abroad the first time around so just focused on my DD's needs, and so was never prey to the playground chinese whispers but I do know a lot of parents who in retrospect feel they were wound up to the point that they lost touch with what was right for their DCs. They look back at delivering a tired child who hated going, to a kitchen table where they were given repetitive and boring work with little personal attention for week after week through Years 5and 6, though now I gather these tutors are taking them in Year 4............ I think parents will come to regret any tutoring that isn't child centred and a positive experience

Belltree Thu 21-Mar-13 19:17:23

To be fair, parents whose DC go to a private prep school may well not tutor their children (although many do this as well) - but the whole purpose of those schools is to prepare children for selective secondary exams. Any parent hoping to get their child into these secondaries from a state primary is at an obvious disadvantage - for a start quite a bit of the maths won't have been covered at school. Tutoring these children is not about cramming them for an exam they don't have the intelligence to pass - it's about trying to create some kind of even playing field (in my view!)

Copthallresident Thu 21-Mar-13 20:01:13

Belltree Absolutely, that is exactly what I did for DD, her International School was the equivalent of a state school and didn't prepare the for exams so we identified what she hadn't covered and came up with a mix of formal tutoring and work at home, for one term before the exam. I have no problem with tutoring structured around the child's needs, it is when it structured around the tutor's needs and income................. DD was at a prep but even there though they were beyond well prepared, stressed parents were panicing and employing tutors, it verged on child abuse especially when it was based on unrealistic ambitions for children and ridiculous perceptions that only the top school would do. That sets up a small margin for success and a huge chance of perceived failure, with attached fear that parental love rests on that success. I have seen the aftermath in DDs who suffer from low esteem and insecurity, at least one in the Priory with an eating disorder and drug problem by 14. So you will forgive me if I feel strongly on this topic.

shoutymcshoutsmum Thu 21-Mar-13 20:50:25

My kids are in a non-selective pre-prep. MY DH says absolute no to tutoring because our school's job is to prepare them for the 7+.

My concern is that if you have two kids from our pre-prep who are of the same intelligence who are both sitting an exam for a selective school where there is not enough places in the school for both these kids, then surely they will end up taking the kid who has been tutored because they are more likely to do better in the exam..... surely?

Copthallresident Thu 21-Mar-13 21:22:38

Not necessarily, one may have a sibling, or a talent, or have come over as more motivated and articulate in the interview, and the entrance exam isn't just one mark, they may have marks for numeracy, literacy, reasoning, general knowledge and within the numeracy and literacy exams they will have different measures of ability, did they make silly mistakes but show real ability in the way they approached the questions or were they accurate but stumped when it came to applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar contexts. They may have shown flair and creativity in the story writing. Different schools are looking for slightly different qualities in terms of knowing what they are looking for and what it takes to succeed at their school. The student that doesn't get in may have actually scored a higher absolute mark in the tests but the school judges they have not got the qualities they need to be happy at that school.

I queried why they were taking DDs, entirely different reasons, now one is a Scientist, one doing an arts subject and they had identified those talents at 11.

When parents are looking for the right school for their child, the schools are looking for the right child for their school. If there isn't a fit it isn't because the child "failed" it just wasn't the right school.

MTSgroupie Thu 21-Mar-13 22:16:20

Shouty - I suspect that a lot pushy moms are glad that other kids have dads who has your DH's towards tutoring.

Ideally your DC's school should prep them for the 7+ but it's kind of silly to sit back, cross your arms and say that you are going to do nothing because it's the school's job.

Startail Thu 21-Mar-13 22:25:04

You pay a private prep, then you pay a tutor confused.

I'd want my money back

And no, my DDs don't go to an outstanding school, just a comp in SM. despite that my dyslexic DD will get As and Bs (she won't get an A in English anywhere) and DD2 As I expect and I won't have parted with a penny.

Startail Thu 21-Mar-13 22:30:54

And ok I accept they are the bright DCs of parents with good degrees, from very good universities, who do tutor them a bit.

But surely most DCs that attend private schools have clever graduate parents. The ones I know do!

MTSgroupie Thu 21-Mar-13 22:53:05

Start - My DD goes to a private secondary AND we also pay for a French tutor. She has a flair for languages and we felt that she would benefit from a weekly 121 where she would just chat in French for an hour.

Her friend is being tutored in Maths. Apparently she is a maths geek and she is way ahead of her classmates. Hence the tutoring.

Two examples of private school kids receiving extra tuition on top. To us it's money well spent and it's not as if we are going to miss the money. In a way it's similar to a DC that plays football at school yet goes to a after school club as well.

MTSgroupie Thu 21-Mar-13 22:53:58

... Just realised that you was talking about prep schools so ignore my post.

adeucalione Fri 22-Mar-13 13:06:52

OP, if children are crashing out then I would question the application process for the school in question because, as others have said, most schools put a lot of effort into finding children who will do well at their school, and can recognise an over-tutored child a mile off. My DC all now attend a private secondary school and they were asked several times whether they had received any private tuition - not just direct questions, but asked in all different sneaky ways, to catch them out. They don't just look at the score, but at the whole package.

startail, it sounds like your DC are doing brilliantly, but I don't know any parents who chose to go private because they were worried about their DCs getting enough As, I don't think that's the only measure of a successful education at all.

Startail Fri 22-Mar-13 13:33:37

Very specific talents are different, DD1 sings and we've always paid for singing lessons.

It's general maths, English and 11+ type stuff that puzzles me.

I may well end up paying for French for DD2, state language provision is patchy.

Yes I understand private for all the nice extras, but paying for private primary and still tutoring to get into secondary or pass ordinary GCSEs does not strike me as value for money.

Copthallresident Fri 22-Mar-13 16:48:34

Startail It is when anxiety takes over from sense, usually around mid Year 5 parents start stressing that the school isn't doing enough (or start Year 2 when it comes to 7+) to prepare and decide they know more about what is required to get in based on very little actual knowledge, Chinese whispers and a lot of ignorant preconceptions . The leavers destinations are forensically examined for any signs that the school is failing in any way, completely, it seems without any willingness to acknowledge that there is only so much a prep can do, if the DCs don't have the qualities to get them in they won't get in. Tutors are only too happy to pander to all the anxiety. I have the skills of an SAS hostage rescuer so quickly did I extract my DD from the miasma of competitiveness and desperation that pervaded the school gate. A sort of madness descends, then everything is normal again, until the Year 6 musical......................

MTSgroupie Fri 22-Mar-13 17:33:43

adeu - Well, you met one now smile (a parent that went private because of concerns that DCs weren't going to get enough As).

As for catching out kids that had been tutored I suspect that schools expect you to tutor your kids for the test. However, in the interviews they seem to try to trip up kids that have rehearsed for the interview by avoiding stock questions. DS for example was asked - if you could cross breed two animals which ones would you choose and why? Another one was - here are two toilet rolls and an egg box. How many 'gadgets' can you make from these items? There is no way you could be prepped for such a questions.

wheresthebeach Fri 22-Mar-13 18:13:44

"A sort of madness descends, then everything is normal again, until the Year 6 musical...................... " Copthall that's a wonderful description!

One of the problems is that selective schools expect level 5; and many state schools only teach to the NC levels which means parents have to tutor their kids in Maths or they just won't know the stuff.

Shame the tests can't be designed differently so tutoring above NC level isn't needed. That would stop the cycle of craziness (or perhaps it would just generate a new type of tutoring....)

Copthallresident Fri 22-Mar-13 19:49:34

beach I did the costumes for both DDs Year 6 productions, I bear the scars, someone even whipped my bouquet at one of them so miffed were they that their DD was not attired like a Hollywood star grin. I lost count of the phone calls from parents cajoling, demanding and even weeping to make sure their DDs got the best costume but of course only a handfull forking out for or making them themselves, let alone helping with the others. I really feel for the teachers putting up with it full time.............

wheresthebeach Fri 22-Mar-13 22:00:09

Oh no no no ..... The madness ... Run run away...

MTSgroupie Fri 22-Mar-13 22:41:24

grin at all the hitching about private school parents.

All those MN threads about school gate politics and pushy netball moms etc must have been about private schools coz stuff like that don't happen in the state sector.

MTSgroupie Fri 22-Mar-13 22:48:08

wheres - of course they can design a entrance exam so that tutoring above NC level wouldn't be necessary but what makes you think that this won't give prep school kids an even bigger advantage?

Mine went to a state primary but my friend sent hers to a prep. Her DD was a year ahead of mine NC-wise which meant that, had the 11+ be NC based hers would have spent a year revising and practicing exam technique while mine would be learning the material for the first time.

The 11+ exams as they stand are not perfect but its a lot less untutorable than a NC based test.

AyeTooZee Sat 23-Mar-13 14:30:17

Hi. I tutored my twins - to start with was fine but inevitably became difficult to get the balance right so eventually found a fantastic and better qualified if I'm honest tutor through personal recommendation.

The schoolwork conflict ceased.

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 15:05:06

I don't understand how a child can be tutored beyond their ability? Many exams require them to apply their knowledge and maths questions don't just require rote learnt answers etc?

For example this is a St Paul's question: Using all the opinions and your own knowledge, explain how far you agree with the view that “There is
enough evidence to prove that there is a link between food and happiness”.

No amount of rote learnt vocabulary is going to help you with that or to draw the charts and graphs that follow. You either have the native with to extract the information from the comp passage and the agility of mind to add your own opinions at relative speed or you don't?

wheresthebeach Sun 24-Mar-13 11:42:37

That sounds like quite a good exercise. The tests I've seen on school web sites seem much more like 'standard' math and English exams. Something that show how the child extracts and analyses information is, I think, much more telling.

Yellowtip Sun 24-Mar-13 18:23:34

Or is the crashing and burning of heavily tutored kids because the parents of those kids are exactly the type who just won't let up on the pressure, not until they think they've maximised their child's chances of 'success' at every step of the way?

wheresthebeach Sun 24-Mar-13 20:03:23

There's a thought....

Copthallresident Sun 24-Mar-13 20:12:14

yellowtip Absolutely, see my comment Thu 21-Mar-13 20:01:13 sad

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 13:08:04


I would third that, Yellow and Copt.

(ps - Copt, am slipping valium into the local water supply as I type)

mumteacher Thu 28-Mar-13 23:31:39

Op I only tutor younger years not 11+ but I do like to keep in touch with the parents and have not had anyone (yet) regret their time with me.

It is a tricky situation - do an initial assessment of the child to make sure the school the parents/child have chosen is suitable to the ability or teach the child for a few lessons and then advice parents. The later (I find) makes parents think the tutor is money motivated.

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