MUMS - were any of YOU tutored for competitive London schools?

(49 Posts)
LePetitPrince Sat 15-Jun-13 22:54:56

I keep hearing about extreme tutoring/prep for selective state and independent schools, particularly in London and surrounding areas and how it is a recent phenomenon..
But recently I have met some mums who went to those same schools and they admitted that they had been tutored even back then (which must be 30+ years ago in some cases), one of them for the 7+.
So, were you tutored for entry to competitive London/surrounding schools as a child and would you put your own child through the same process?

megsmouse Sat 15-Jun-13 23:42:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tanith Sun 16-Jun-13 00:24:43

Further back than that, I should think. I once picked up a book of Scholarship practice exercises and papers at a book fair. It had English, Maths and Intelligence Tests sections with answers in the back and talked about the scholarship exam that the child reader was preparing for.
The Maths was in pounds, shillings and pence and the book dated from the 50s.

madaki Sun 16-Jun-13 07:09:42

I went to a selective grammar school and I wasn't tutored at all, as far as I know, nobody else in my year was tutored either (started in 1995)
Now, it is practically impossible to get into that school without extensive tutoring.

Kitchencupboards Sun 16-Jun-13 07:36:10

Yes, I was 30 years ago and so was everyone else I knew, I also did Bond books or whatever they were at the time. Tutoring has always been there.

JoyMachine Sun 16-Jun-13 07:47:48

Yes, Manchester Grammar though, was tutored by parents, gained a place 7+ a chronological year early, then parents wouldn't allow me to take up the place confused

We got ours into highly selective pre-prep at 3+, and 4+.
We didn't coach them, as we felt if they were coached they'd not manage in the school if they got a place.
We did have a major wibble about DS' assessment, but he amazed us on the day- he definitely hides his light under a bushel!

Kikithecat Sun 16-Jun-13 07:50:41

I went to a South London grammar. I wasn't tutored and neither was anyone else as far as I know. It was pretty much unheard of. (70s)

Eastpoint Sun 16-Jun-13 07:55:28

A school friend of mine told me recently she had been tutored throughout our school days, having been tutored to get in. She started at the school in 1977. Since she finished university she hasn't read a single book. Both of her siblings have moved as far away from their mother as is physically possible; I presume they were treated similarly.

PseudoBadger Sun 16-Jun-13 08:00:36

I was tutored for Henrietta Barnett (1990). However, the contrary 10 year old that I was decided to fail the exam on purpose as I didn't want to go to an all girl school blush

I had six months of weekly Maths tutoring for Haberdashers (the one in Elstree). I realise it's not exactly in London, but it's a school of that ilk.

My parents arranged the tutor because they were concerned that my primary school hadn't fully covered the Maths topics that were included in the test.

The tutoring itself wasn't onerous as I enjoyed Maths anyway. Once I started at the school, I didn't struggle because the tutoring had stopped; I was in top sets for everything, including Maths.

It was absolutely the right school for me, so I think my parents did the right thing.

I did not send DS1 and DS2 to a professional tutor, but I did put in a lot of time and effort towards preparing them both for the entrance test for their secondary school.

My mother told me that she and some other classmates were given weekly verbal reasoning practice at primary school before their entrance tests. This was in the late 1940s.

My father got a scholarship to secondary school and was tutored in preparation for sitting that (mid 1950s).

Gigondas Sun 16-Jun-13 08:28:28

Yes I was tutored 30 years ago - it wasn't uncommon then.

horsemadmom Sun 16-Jun-13 08:34:43

Prep school did all the work. No tutoring needed.

Porka Sun 16-Jun-13 09:50:20

No tutoring here and I went to a high flying London grammar in the 1970s (it changed to comp when I was there). There were quite a few grammar schools in the central London area so overall it was less competitive and they interviewed as well, so naice posh (but poor) kids like me would tend to get a place. Thinking about the other grammars I could have gone to, Greycoats also turned into a comp and Godolphin became independent.

KingscoteStaff Sun 16-Jun-13 11:53:28

No tutoring for my JAGS entrance exam back in the 70s.

I think my best friend had maths coaching for the St Paul's scholarship paper that year, though, as I remember she couldn't come to Brownies for a couple of weeks.

TheEarlOf Sun 16-Jun-13 18:05:18

I went to a private selective girls school in Hampstead at 7 (Y3) in the 1990s [I applied for a lot of the selective girls London schools] I wasn't tutored for them and I got places in all of them

teacherwith2kids Sun 16-Jun-13 20:01:57

I got an 11+ full scholarship to a highly selective girls' boarding school having never seen an exam paper in my life, let alone had any tutoring - and then skipped Y7 as it was believed that I would find it a waste of time.

HOWEVER, there were probably only a coupld of hundred scholarship applicants, enabling the papers to be marked 'in context', taking into account each child's background and needs (I would not have gone without the 100% scholarship, and the school knew that), and allowing most children to be interviewed. So the playing field could be more actively 'balanced' between those straight from state primaries with no tutoring, and heavily-tutored or prep-school prepared girls.

LePetitPrince Sun 16-Jun-13 20:09:32

The mixed bag of replies are even more interesting than I expected so thanks for that.. Exam papers and tutoring from the 40s and 50s - unbelievable, you'd think we'd just invented such a thing - and then others for whom tutoring was unheard of. Why the difference I wonder..

Lol at PseudoBadger for failing HB entrance exam on purpose! I can imagine mine doing the same..

basildonbond Sun 16-Jun-13 21:30:50

I took exams for 4 very academic girls schools in west and southwest London (mid 70s) - I got into them all from a big-standard primary having had no tuition at all. I think my mum showed me a past paper the week before but other than that there was no special preparation, however I had grown up surrounded by books and music and was just 'expected' to do well. I passed all four with flying colours and chose the one where I'd felt most at home during the interviews

basildonbond Sun 16-Jun-13 21:31:24

Bog-standard even ...

scottishmummy Sun 16-Jun-13 21:36:05

as you'd expect no I didn't attend fancy London school
lol,guess I'm not the target audience

Yellowtip Sun 16-Jun-13 22:59:38

No, no tutoring, nothing except ordinary school.

Yellowtip Sun 16-Jun-13 23:02:40

And got the offer of two direct grant places at South London GDST schools

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 10:00:44

DH went to QE boys Barnet. No tutoring. He just rocked up to his primary school one day and discovered it was 11+ day. Didn't even know what the 11+ was, because his brother (who went to a sec mod) was 8 years older than him. DH likes to cite this as an example of how amazingly brilliant he is. I like to cite it as an example of how flukey luck can be sometimes grin

PseudoBadger Mon 17-Jun-13 10:17:29

When was that Russians? When boys from my primary were looking at schools in 1990 QE boys wasn't even a grammar, it wasnt anything special. I was really shocked when I realised it's now successful!

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 10:32:20

In the Stone Age. (The 60s). It was THE top superselective in that part of London at that point. The regular 11+ passers went to regular grammar schools. The tip top whizzy zippy boys went there. From quite some distance too.

Incidentally I'm loving that someone thinks I might be young enough to be married to a man who took the 11+ in the 90s. grin

ParsingFancy Mon 17-Jun-13 10:51:30

My very ordinary primary school prepared all children for the 11+ as a matter of course in the 70s. And we weren't told till afterwards that the paper we'd just taken was the "real" 11+ and not just another practice.

Made for a rather leveller playing field than leaving it up to individual parents.

Copthallresident Mon 17-Jun-13 10:53:48

Late sixties and at the prep for my northern direct grant grammar school I got called in by headmistress and told that my entrance exam paper for the senior school had been careless and full of errors but as usual there were signs that I was bright enough to succeed if I tried harder. They were therefore going to offer me a place but I had scraped in and I would have to start concentrating and to work hard, a refrain that went on for the next seven years really.

I was a bit bemused as I didn't realise I had sat an entrance exam paper.

A couple of weeks later I went for a day at a nice country house where we played on some really amazing climbing frames, did a few tests that consisted of interesting puzzles to solve, built Lego towers and had cosy chats with a few teachers including debating whether God exists with one. It was called the Thorne Scheme and as a result the County Council offered me a scholarship to my school, which threw my headmistress a bit.

(Quote from school history: 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. )

I'm dyslexic.......

Elibean Mon 17-Jun-13 11:14:08

I sat the 11+ 40 years ago, and it was in Oxford....but no tutoring whatsoever back then. No preparation in NVR, either.

As far as I remember, the whole class sat it (small Montessori-ish indie) and a few of us were then offered places at Oxford High. Which I didn't take up.

It was low pressure, quite fun (for me, anyway - I liked logic puzzles), and didn't seem very important. I don't think any of the children offered less academic schools were upset about it, nor do I remember parents talking about it much - though I do remember 'getting into the High' was deemed a good thing.

Bluestocking Mon 17-Jun-13 11:18:11

I had no tutoring at all for the JAGS entrance exam in the mid-1970s and went there on a full scholarship.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jun-13 12:53:35

When I moved from primary to secondary school I had to jump a year so was intensively tutored
but before that my junior school had put me in for the scholarships at lots of the big schools with no tutoring (I got several of them but then family circumstances changed)
THis was in the mid 1970's

yumskimumski Mon 17-Jun-13 13:23:30

Well Russians, I also think your DH is clever because I had no tuition (this was in the 70s ) and duly failed my 11+. Bang went my parents' dreams of sending me to one of the then-existing London grammars. However, they could afford to send me to a quite well-regarded private central london girls' school and that's where I went. These days I'd never get into it, but in those days it was just a question of whether you could afford it, AFAK, and it was more affordable in those days, relatively speaking. I thought - and I'm talking about 40 years ago - that it was a nice, safe school but academically meh. I remember the careers advice in the Sixth Form tended towards the "learn secretarial skills and try and find a rich husband" school of thought. I cocked up my O Levels, did well in my A levels, went on to Oxford Uni and got a First (sorry, very unstealthy boast) but I mention it to make the point that being judged and sorted at 11 is very harsh for those of us who are late blossomers. Gove, I'm looking at you. Because of my own experiences, being a late blossomer and all, I did not tutor my dreamy, arty, rather uncompetitive DS for competitive entry - as neither of us coud face it - and sent him instead to our local outstanding comp. DS2 will go there too.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 17-Jun-13 13:30:45

Yumkimumski I think that if you thought about it for a few moments longer you might recognise that actually, there are worse things than being sorted at 11. Not being able to buy an education, for example. Or not having a 'local outstanding comp'. Or not having decent Grammar Schools nearby.

yumskimumski Mon 17-Jun-13 13:48:32

All very true Russians.

OnFoot Mon 17-Jun-13 14:03:00

I did the entrance exams for the various W & SW London selective secondary schools in the 80s. Went to a deprived, poor-performing state primary and had no tutoring at all. Not only would it have been impossible for my parents to afford it, they would have assumed that if you needed tutoring then you weren't clever enough. It wouldn't have occurred to them to do it. I got offers for 100% burseries, scholarships or Assisted Places at every secondary that I applied to. My dad was so proud!

It seemed to me at the time that any of the applicants from private prep schools who were thought to be borderline were tutored. The brighter ones weren't, though many of those got some extra work from their parents (my mum was barely literate so that wouldn't have happened with us either!). Those from state primaries weren't usually. I was amazed at the time that the prep school kids had studied so much stuff at school that I hadn't and yet they felt the need to have extra tutoring on top in order to sit the same exam I was sitting.

So yes, I think it happened back then too. But it does sound as though it happens more now and it seems more competitive now. I don't know if the numbers of applicants per place have gone up in reality though.

I don't think I would have my children tutored for the 11+ (we're no longer in London though). I would worry that it would falsify their level and result in them getting into a school they couldn't then keep up with. I have friends who were always at the bottom of the year in such schools and it was hugely unhealthy for their self-esteem. I wouldn't hesitate to tutor them for GCSEs if needed though as I think having decent GCSEs on your CV is a life-long need so I would supplement that teaching if there was any doubt.

Pyrrah Mon 17-Jun-13 15:55:43

I went to a selective grammar in the mid-80s - but as a boarder which required a much higher mark. It was also 13+ not 11+.

Rather than tutoring us, my parents sent us all to a very academic hot-housing prep school that sent a lot of kids to Eton, Win Coll etc every year.

Of the other boarders in my year, over 90% came from preps.

My DH went to a super-selective in his home city and was at a local state primary. He and his brother were tutored for 3 years. Since both got a clean sweep of A's at GCSE and A'Level and both went to Oxbridge it wasn't that they weren't bright enough without the tutoring.

We intend to tutor our DD for entrance exams.

Both for us, and our child, this isn't to try and gain entrance to a school that we weren't/aren't up to the standard of, but because you need to have the extra edge in terms of timing, familiarity to make sure you do well on the day.

Personally I thought the old-style CE was a much fairer way of applying for schools - papers in every subject, with a week of exams. Less chances of someone getting nerves on the one day, better for children who were better than humanities than maths, basically a much more rounded view.

mrsshackleton Mon 17-Jun-13 17:38:58

My bf and her brother were intensively tutored 30 years ago for 7+. I wasn't at all for my very selective schools, though I was sent to a prep school for two terms - I guess to get me up to scratch, the idea of being tutored on top of that would have seemed insane.. The other day I heard every girl in a schmancy selective girls' private prep in London received extra tutoring for the 11+. A world gone mad.

HarumScarum Mon 17-Jun-13 17:47:41

I went to SPGS and had no tutoring. But it must have happened then (early 80s) because when I got in, other parents asked my mother which tutor she had used and were surprised when she said none. My brother went to Latymer Upper (no tutoring for him either). We went to a very ordinary state primary.

wineoclocktimeyet Mon 17-Jun-13 21:47:29

No - took the 11+ and entrance exams for a couple of schools without any tutoring, this was 1976 though - and no we didnt have to carve the answers out of stone!

EcoRI Mon 17-Jun-13 21:51:15

Got into NLCS at 7, no tutoring. Didn't get into Habs though.

Eastpoint Wed 19-Jun-13 05:18:00

Pyrrah girls who apply to boarding schools at 11 & boys & girls who apply to independent schools at 13 still sit Common Entrance or similar exams with a slightly different name. The 13+ exams required are English, non-calculator maths, calculator maths, MFL, Latin (& Greek if more able/willing), Geography, History, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, RS & MFL oral & MFL listening paper. Standard for lower level common entrance is higher than foundation level GCSE & uses more technical terms than GCSE in some subjects.

charitygirl Wed 19-Jun-13 05:51:47

I had (not very intensive) tutoring 25 years ago to get into a W London day school. My primary was just so bad, don't blame my parents for not wanting to chance it...

Pyrrah Wed 19-Jun-13 16:25:15

Thanks Eastpoint.

For some reason I keep hearing people talking about CE and only mentioning papers in Maths and English (and occasionally Latin) rather than the whole lot (and multiple papers in many).

I'm rather glad it's still the same as it was, since I think it shows a more rounded view of a child.

CE was definitely harder than GCSEs if I think back. I know that there were quite a few problems at the GS as the boarders had all been prepped for CE and most of the day students were local children who had passed the 11+ and then spent 2 years at the local comprehensive. There was a gulf between what each cohort had studied.

I believe only 11 students got in under the 11+ last year and the majority day and boarding were all from preps.

Of course today, there is so much more competition - huge increases in private school fees, much larger population and hugely more competition for university places, especially on certain courses and at certain establishments have all made a massive difference to the lengths that parents will go to in pursuit of a place.

Eastpoint Wed 19-Jun-13 17:13:14

I think it's a much fairer way to assess a child's potential and the curriculum is far better than that for KS2 & the start of KS3. History is taught logically & in far greater depth than the KS2 jumping around - Ancient Egyptians one term followed by the Great Fire of London & then Florence Nightingale in subsequent terms. It is easier though for the schools as you have to declare which school you would like them to attend so you don't have children applying to 5-7 schools.

Pyrrah Wed 19-Jun-13 21:41:11

I have nasty memories of a timed, closed-book essay on the pre-WWII financial state of Germany and the extent to which it led to the rise of Hitler... at the age of 11 and set by our super-keen Oxford neo-grad history teacher!

Far worse than anything I did at GCSE - but I could probably still talk about the subject today.

Given the shorter terms and the exams every term, I don't understand why all schools couldn't prepare children adequately for a test that covered the whole spectrum of subjects rather than merely concentrating on Maths and English.

I went to an independent primary and was tutored for my 11+ entry to a more academic independent secondary. The tutor said that I didn't need tutoring, but I enjoyed it as I had one-to-one teaching and it demystified the entrance exams I was going to sit and gave me (and my parents) confidence.

When I got to secondary school I found that I had already covered the first years maths syllabus. So at least the maths tutoring wasn't necessary.

If my DD seems like the kind of pupil who would enjoy being tutored and would fit well into the school, then I would certainly offer it to her. However I would probably prefer her to be in the middle of a non-selective school than at the bottom of a selective school. So I would not push her if the outcome would probably be scraping into the school.

TooMuchRain Wed 19-Jun-13 22:18:42

Not London, but we practised for the 11-plus in primary school in the early 1980s - I quite liked it (no idea what that says about me!)

breadandbutterfly Thu 20-Jun-13 18:24:26

I had a few sessions (4? 5? 6?) of maths tutoring for 11+ in the early 80s. But was the kind of swotty child who did IQ puzzles for fun and read non-stop. Came top in entrance exam for English - and stayed top throughout my time there. Was in top maths groups too,so obviously not that bad at maths.

I tutored my dd for the 11+ - basically maths, again, as her bog standard primary was fairly behind at maths and there was no way she'd have finished the curriculum before the exam. She's now G&T at her grammar, so presumably my tutoring didn't distort the scores too much. (Or I'm such a fabulous teacher it's improved her performance for good! grin )

castlesintheair Sun 23-Jun-13 16:42:49

'79 and I sat the 11+ for a grammar school and 2 independent girls' schools from a state school. No tutoring or preparation at all. Think I had a day's notice for the independents. Got into all and was even put a year ahead in the school I went to. Must have been pretty easy in those days.

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