What age to start 11+ preparation?

(55 Posts)
PeppermintScreams Mon 21-Oct-13 14:13:43

DS is in year 1 shock and already other parents are talking about preparing them for the 11+ and doing workbooks. (I'm guessing the Bond aged 5-6 ones) While obviously I'm not going to sign him up for a tutor just yet hmmgrin what sort of things should I be doing now or making plans selling a kidney for in the distant future?

Forewarned is forearmed.

LaQueenOfTheDamned Wed 23-Oct-13 13:16:15

That's so sad shelley.

DD1's tutor rarely accepts pupils unless they have high Level 4s/Level 5 at the end of Yr 4. And, then he provisionally tutors them for a month, before deciding if he thinks they are suitable grammar school material.

He isn't remotely interested in taking on average/below average ability children and drilling them, in order for them to scrape a pass - and sweat blood and tears in the process.

LaQueenOfTheDamned Wed 23-Oct-13 13:22:43

I do think it rather disingenuous though to think that if a child is already quite clever, then all you need to do as a parent is ensure they do their school homework, take an interest in the world, and maybe just casually peruse a a few past papers in the month before the test...

This is quite a risky approach - but they're going to be up against children (like my DD1) who are already clever, have always been encouraged to complete all their school homework - and they've been on plenty of cultural family trips/holidays...but, and it's a very big but ...

DD1 has also been trained in 11+ technique. She was taught how to time herself properly. She was very, very familiar with the format of 11+ papers. And she could cut through a NVR paper, or a VR paper, like a knife through hot butter, and not even break a sweat.

PastSellByDate Wed 23-Oct-13 13:57:17

Yep - there are LaQueen's out there.

It's a personal choice and can be cultural as well. I think if you're going for the 11+ you do need to be aware it is competitive in some areas (sometimes crazily so - as here) and you have to decide what you're content with doing personally and in terms of your child's personality.

Parents want the best for their children and I don't think we should criticize anyone for their approach to the 11+ (choosing not to take it/ choosing to take it but not go wild studying and/or choosing to take it and study every spare minute) - I suspect all of these decisions are coming from the same place & who's to say who will ultimately be right. Life is full of so many chance opportunities, twists and unexpected events. We're just all trying to do our best by our children.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Oct-13 14:05:41

The 11+ is supposed to be a test of academic potential. Those parents who tutor their kids for months and even years beforehand are skewing the results away from the inherently most able to the most polished. I think that is wrong anyway, especially as only the wealthier families can afford tutors for their children.

But I also think putting lots of extra pressure on children in the run up to the 11 + is wrong from the perspective of that child. If your child is intelligent then it should not take too much for that to shine though. If they are not that intelligent then it is right that they don't take a grammar school place away from another, more academically able child.

Elibean Wed 23-Oct-13 14:40:04

I tend to agree, Ghoul. I wish the schools themselves would take some responsibility - not sure how, but I know some independents actively try and discourage tutoring before selective tests.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Oct-13 16:13:26

That's a good point Elibean. I know in our area they are trying to tutor-proof the exams. Not sure how effective it will be though. The schools want the most academic children, not the most pushed, so it's in their interests too.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 23-Oct-13 16:25:50

>This is quite a risky approach

How risky depends on exact circumstances - whether there is a good Plan B, just how competitive it is in your particular area etc.

>She was very, very familiar with the format of 11+ papers. And she could cut through a NVR paper, or a VR paper, like a knife through hot butter, and not even break a sweat.

yes, mine too - really didn't require doing them for more than a few (not too casual) months ahead.

LaQueenOfTheDamned Wed 23-Oct-13 17:00:12

"Those parents who tutor their kids for months and even years beforehand are skewing the results away from the inherently most able to the most polished. I think that is wrong anyway, especially as only the wealthier families can afford tutors for their children."

I have to disagree ghoul. IME, the inherently most able are also being tutored.

My DD1, was already on Level 5s, by the end of Yr 4, before she even met her 11+ tutor. And, she was by no means, the cleverest little girl in her class - yet, every girl in her class had some form of tutoring.

Although the tutoring wasn't necessarily expensive - as many parents tutored themselves, and bought the books. Neither DH, or I, have the patience for this, so we paid a professional tutor.

Though DD1 probably ended up doing less preparation/11+ homework, then many of her friends, who were home tutored. But, our tutor knew exactly what he was doing, and could pin-point specific areas, and stream line her homework, to exactly suit her needs.

However, I agree - it does skew the results when you have inherently clever children, then being given further polish with professional tutoring.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 23-Oct-13 17:12:22

>the inherently most able are also being tutored.

not necessarily. Maybe every child in your DDs school was tutored one way or another - but an inherently able child from various socially deprived backgrounds probably wouldn't be.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Oct-13 17:14:14

LaQueen - That might be true of the primary school that your DD goes to (where tutoring sound endemic) but it won't be true of a lot of schools which have a more disadvantaged intakes. There might be many potentially academic children at those schools who won't be getting any tutoring and may well be only getting minimal support with normal homework. Those children might well deserve a place in grammar school based on academic potential but instead their place goes to a good but not excellent child who's had many hours of tutoring. That simply isn't fair and it isn't what the schools want either.

You DD sounds naturally bright; she probably didn't need the tutoring to get into grammar school. But some of her tutored classmates may well have taken places from more able but less supported children.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Oct-13 17:15:55

X-post with Errol who makes my point far more succinctly!

Hamishbear Wed 23-Oct-13 17:46:28

Most seem to think that NVR, puzzles, VR and brief English and Maths aptitude type tests are good predictors of IQ. Eton have some sort of computerised test apparently which differentiates the bright from the tutored progressively getting harder until children consistently get questions wrong. Why can't Grammars come up with something like this to make things fairer? Not perfect but may be better than now? Something that separates raw ability from current attainment? I thought there was a movement to do this now at some Grammars?

LaQueenOfTheDamned Wed 23-Oct-13 21:33:49

Obviously, I can only speak from my local experience here, where some form of tutoring for most children seems very common.

I don't agree with it, necessarily - and I resent feeling I have to provide some level of tutoring for DD1, when she had Level 5s at the end of Yr 4 FFS hmm

But to not have done so, would have disadvantaged her. She wasn't the cleverest little girl in her class. Girls I would consider more clever, also had tutoring.

I agree it's unfair. But I don't agree that children like my DD1, and her close friends would have lost their grammar places, without tutoring. We are talking very clever little girls here (all Level 5s in Yr 4, exceptionally high reading ability etc), before they even sniff a tutor.

And, that's the silliness of it all - around here, you get already very academic girls, who already have lots of advantages (graduate parents, home filled with books, lots of support) getting even more polish and technique from tutoring hmm

It really annoys me, and I wish it could be stopped but I don't see how? Too many parents are hooked into it.

LaQueenOfTheDamned Wed 23-Oct-13 21:45:07

Sorry, and meant to add - and then even more silly, is that you end up with these girls (don't know about boys), already clever, already academic, but with the extra tutoring - then ace-ing the 11+ and getting scores in the high 270s.

It's just not necessary. I wish it was a far more level playing field a la 25-30 years ago. Then DD1 could have wandered into the exam, and she would have been absolutely fine, only ever having done 3 past papers in school (just like her Daddy did) and easily passed.

The only preparation that needs to be done prior to Y5 is making sure that your child is confident with their multiplication/division facts and that they develop a wide vocabulary through reading a variety of books by different authors.

Notcontent Wed 23-Oct-13 22:03:44

I feel really upset reading this, in fact I feel like crying. Because actually, so many quite bright children don't stand a chance do they? I am not from the UK - I was educated in a system with no ability groups, no exams to go into secondary school. The UK education system really sucks.

MacaYoniandCheese Wed 23-Oct-13 22:27:24

Sorry to go off-topic but I have a burning question after lurking on this thread. I don't live in the UK so am not familiar with the system...what happens to the kids that live in grammar areas that don't pass the 11+?

MacaYoniandCheese Wed 23-Oct-13 22:40:40

...because it kind of reads like tutoring children for this intelligence/aptitude test is a bit like cheating, or am I misunderstanding? I'm trying to get my head around telling an eleven-year old that they have failed an exam required for entry into the 'intelligent' stream. How does that work, and what are the prospects for kids who (presumably) then must go to a sub-standard secondary school?

PiqueABoo Wed 23-Oct-13 23:01:05

MacaYoniandCheese: "what happens to the kids that live in grammar areas that don't pass the 11+?"
--
Statistically the grammar kids do better and the non-grammar kids do worse.

MirandaWest Wed 23-Oct-13 23:02:42

I am very glad I don't live in an area where there is the 11 plus. DS is in year 5 and I know I would have been torn between feeling I should get him tutored and feeling I could do it myself. He is pretty clever but not at the level of level 5s at the end of year 4. Should be getting level 5s by the end of year 5 though so generally OK smile

PiqueABoo Wed 23-Oct-13 23:02:44

...AKA robbing Peter to pay Paul.

MacaYoniandCheese Wed 23-Oct-13 23:37:30

Thanks PAB.

This must be incredibly stressful for families. I don't know what I'd do confused.

Norudeshitrequired Thu 24-Oct-13 08:23:56

Does anybody know how a super selective us differentiated from other grammar schools? What scores/ levels are usually required to define it as a super selective?

Retropear Thu 24-Oct-13 09:17:58

In our area the ones that don't go just go to the huge amount of other alternatives(many of which are very good).

The vast majority of parents with bight kids aren't bothered and don't even put their kids in for it.

Not sure how a tiny fraction of kids children have never met going to another school have an impact on their results.

There was research recently saying grammar school areas produce better A level results even in areas with social deprivation.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 24-Oct-13 09:20:56

Maca - Super-selectives take all applicants simply in order of 11+ score, they don't prioritise children that live closer to the school. Normal grammar schools usually apply proximity to the school or other catchment area criteria for all children that have passed the 11+ regardless of how high their score is. Often children commute a long way to get to super-selectives (even from differ LEAs) leaving local children who have passed the 11+ at slightly lower scores without a grammar school places or with a grammar school place a long way away.

In terms of the scores that can depend massively on lots of things. The best thing is to ask any potential super-selectives what their threshold scores have been in the recent past.

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