11+ are we tough enough?

(36 Posts)
Hoppinggreen Tue 19-Aug-14 15:17:21

We plan for DD to do the 11+ in 2015 for entrance to one of 2 local Grammar school. According to her teacher in the last assessments she was 1/92 in literacy and 5/92 in numeracy so it seems she has the ability.
To familiarise her with the exam we have booked weekly 1 hour tuition from September with a local tutor with a really good reputation for success.
However, she has already set homework to be done over the holidays and says she expects at least 1 exercise to be be done from the Bond books 5 days a week. When I questioned whether this was a bit much I was told that this is what the other children we are " in competition" with will be doing and if we aren't prepared to put the time in then maybe we aren't dedicated enough. Apparently some children have been preparing since age 6????!!!!
DD is very academic and has says she does want to take the exam and we want to do everything we can to help and support her but I can't help wondering if extra work 5 days a week on top of school and a couple of out f school activities is a bit much?
I want my daughter to achieve her potential but I want her to enjoy being 10 as well. Unless we dedicate the next 18 months solely to this exam are we wasting our time? Is it possible to do both?
Any advice would be great, thanks

CookieMonsterIsHot Tue 19-Aug-14 15:24:12

Getting into the grammar school is the first hurdle.

Then the real work starts.

If she needs coaching to within an inch of her life to get in, then she may well struggle when she is there. And I seriously doubt it helps much anyway.

My rule of thumb is max one hour a week practise in the 6 months running up to the 11+. The purpose is to familiarise the child with the exam, to give them confidence with the question style so that on the day they perform according to their true ability.

So, yeah, what you have described is waaay too much IMO.

tiggytape Tue 19-Aug-14 15:27:03

It depends where you are.
If you are in part of the country where the top 25% - 30% of children go to grammar school and where your address will give you some priority, I'd have thought your DD was fairly certain of a place with just basic preparation.

If you are in part of the country where the grammar schools have no catchment area and 2000+ apply for less than 200 places then there will be equally bright children within a 50 mile radius preparing hard for those tests for at least a year and probably much more. In those exams it often comes down to speed and accuracy and confidence as much as brains because, of the 2000 that apply, several hundred will be very bright and of the right standard but the competiton comes down to who can score the extra 1 or 2 points on the day to pip the others to the post.

alwaysdoinglaundry Tue 19-Aug-14 15:58:51

Also, many of the children she is competing with will be at prep schools which spend a lot of time in school preparing for the test, and all those children will be tutored too.

Why do you think your tutor has such good success rates?

If she needs coaching to within an inch of her life to get in, then she may well struggle when she is there. And I seriously doubt it helps much anyway.

That may have been true in years gone by, but tutoring (and the associated homework) is the norm now.

stealthsquiggle Tue 19-Aug-14 16:04:57

How long does an exercise from the bond books take though? If it's 10 minutes then is would say that little and often is a good approach. If we are talking 30 mins or more, then that is a high price to pay, especially if your DD already has school homework.

I speak as the parent of a child who will be taking scholarship exams for Y9 entry in a year and a bit, and who is already making such a meal of his (not huge amount of) holiday work that I am completely dreading next year and contemplating letting him coast through CE instead (not seriously - apart from anything else the school would have a fit) hmm

rollonthesummer Tue 19-Aug-14 16:17:27

I'd it the 10 minute Bond exercises or the full papers? If it's the former, then no problem at all.

Is the school you're going for a super selective?

Hoppinggreen Tue 19-Aug-14 16:31:29

I'm not sure if the schools are super selective - I think so as there is no catchment. There are 3 Grammars in the area which serves 2 large towns so about 3000 children competing for 300 places I guess they are.
DD IS very academic and wants to do the exam but I don't want to ruin the next 15 months of her life, she tends to get a bit stressed if she can't achieve really highly and I want her to enjoy being 10!!!
When I mentioned that DD did other activities it was suggested she give them up by the tutor.
The tutor has a good rep when I asked around locally plus her references are excellent and she is over booked, which I am taking as a good sign?
To be honest the ideal is that DD gets a bursary for our local Private school, which is a 5 minute walk away so we re looking into that too ( we could just about afford it but both of us being self employed means I would worry about fees and we also have DS to think about later)
I suppose I am asking how much extra tuition a very academic child really needs but how long is a piece of string? I would never send her to the exam with NO preparation but I am concerned about burn out.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:37:12

As others have said, factors such as whether the area is super selective (so the bar can be higher) makes a difference. Also a number of other areas are moving away from purely VR and non VR testing to something which is considered 'tutor proof' and tests a wider range of understanding in terms of literacy and numeracy. I have 2 dc's who have passed the 11+. One has a friend who was v heavily tutored to pass, got through on appeal and is struggling at the grammar. There are other heavily tutored children who probably would have passed anyway so the money didn't need to be spent. Then there are those tutored by parents who could not afford the tutoring fees.
I agree that passing the 11+ is the first hurdle. Then there are the 'setting' hurdles ie which set your child is put in for eg maths and the sciences. This was impt for dc1 because we know he's leaning towards these subject areas. Luckily dh is a bit of a whizz and could help him with the significant amount of extension work that got him into that top set. Other families paid for private tutoring (we didnt because we knew he just needed a bit of confidence in his own abilities). It wasn't a struggle for dc1 but that extra time discussing the principles and theories helped those 'light bulb' moments needed to move on.
I'm saying, check the 11+ criteria in your area and what your dc face beyond.

VestaCurry Tue 19-Aug-14 16:38:41

Go on 11plusexams.co.uk to check the exact criteria for passing in your area. There are threads for each county/area that runs the 11plus.

Theas18 Tue 19-Aug-14 16:43:30

just a daft question " we plan for DD to do 11+ on 2015"

Has DD looked at secondary school or even thought where SHE wants to go? I am probably teaching my grannie to suck eggs, but if your DD chooses the grammar and understands why the 11+ is there (to find out if it'll be the right school for you) then she's likely to be much more engaged and focussed.

We have no issue with 11+ " work" after DD went and saw the science demos at open day ( and the others saw the great stuff that DD did and wanted a sliced of that pie!).

Open days will be soon. Take her! Good luck to you all.

Hoppinggreen Tue 19-Aug-14 16:52:53

Theas18
If you read my comments again you will see that she DOES want to do the exam. She is not keen on the 2 possible comprehensives she might get into ( not due to us but due to what people at her school say)
We will be going to open days for all the possible schools and I take on board what you mean about her being more engaged if she has seen the school she wants to go to.
DD is fully committed to the tutoring ( as much as a 9/10 year old can be) and there is no forcing, although possibly a bit of persuasion admittedly to do the work.
To be honest it's our commitment as a family and whether I can conquer my misgivings about making her work when all her friends are playing out that I am questioning really.

Ladymuck Tue 19-Aug-14 17:06:38

I suspect that you haven't got anything to lose by checking out a couple more tutors in your area. I find they all have different approaches, and it is a matter of finding one who works well with your dd and you. I'm sure that your tutor has a good track record and reassures parents who want to see a lot of work being done, but you may find someone out there who is willing to look at what your dd already knows, covers any gaps and then works on exam prep. One of the most successful tutors locally didn't seem to set any homework at all - he just worked with the child for the hour each week.

MinimalistMommi Tue 19-Aug-14 17:27:49

I guess it depends if you want to take the risk of her not getting in. She will be up against a lot of children who have done heaps of preparation. It's not the cleverest children that get in, but the most prepared. Your tutor wants your child to be successful and has set homework accordingly. It's up to you if you listen or not, but the 11 + is really an area you can be half hearted in really. How would you feel if your DD missed out by one point?

rollonthesummer Tue 19-Aug-14 18:02:34

I agree with the previous poster. DS had three friends last year who just missed the pass mark of 303. One got 302.5, one got 301.48 and one got 301. The children-and parents-were gutted.

tiggytape Tue 19-Aug-14 18:30:10

Unfortunately being highly academic isn't always enough when applying to schools with no catchment area and thousands of applicants. Each primary school within a 20 - 50 mile radius will have 2 or 3 children very clever children and many of them will be applying too. Obviously not all of them can get a place even if they are of grammar school ability since there are far fewer places than there are intelligent children applying. It isn't the same in areas where children of all abilities take the test. The opt in system in a highly competitive areas tends to lead to mainly top group children applying and fighting it out for relatively few places.

The tutor has a high success rate and presumably knows the local system well enough to be able to get children through it.

MinimalistMommi Tue 19-Aug-14 18:41:54

Sorry about typo is my post, meant 'you can't be half hearted in'

kilmuir Tue 19-Aug-14 19:01:29

Better too much than not enough!

Hoppinggreen Tue 19-Aug-14 20:06:29

But by doing so much so early are we risking burnout?
I think I will take the tutors advice ( not about stopping all other activities though) but if DD seems to be finding it too much we will have to review it
Thanks All

VanillaHoney Tue 19-Aug-14 20:34:29

I can't see why hobbies or clubs have to make way for 11+ preparation. One could argue that keeping things as normal as possible reduces stress. There is a lot of revision you can sneak in without getting books out. Maths, problem solving, synonyms & antonyms etc... can all be practised during car journeys or walking to school. Reading, encourage to read widely. There is so much revision one can sneak in without cutting out fun time. Every little bit helps.

stealthsquiggle Wed 20-Aug-14 07:42:27

It's an interesting compare and contrast with the things that I am being told about 13+ scholarships for independent schools - there, whilst there is obviously a high academic requirement, it seems that a lot rests on the interview and they have to be interesting people with stuff to talk about - so giving up all extra curricular activities in favour of tutoring would be a really bad move.

...but I guess for a state school transparency in their admission process is all - hence the overwhelming focus on the exam because that is objectively measurable. I still wouldn't, personally, be prepared to do it if it meant dropping everything else - as the OP said, it would be getting a school place at the cost of the child getting to enjoy being 10.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Wed 20-Aug-14 09:56:05

Having been through it with success (albeit indie not grammar), there is a sort of hysteria surrounding 11+ that you should avoid at all costs. The stress will get to your daughter and may mean she doesn't shine on the day.

My gut it that your tutor is one of the following:

1) not as good as you or they think they are at tutoring if they think all that prep is needed
2) just running a business and trying to maximise their income across the year, when only the 3 months before the exam is needed (i.e. they have a lull for 9 months
3) perhaps indicating that your daughter isn't where she needs to be to pass (I doubt that given your school's assessment)

I would consider finding another tutor that has a 3 (max 6) month programme leading up to the exams.

A tutor can be best used to give candidates "exam technique" - in other words, how to get what's already in their head onto the page and to get maximum marks along with teaching any non-curriculum stuff if needed (VR, VNR).

I would recommend that you focus on

- lots of varied reading to support creative and imaginative thinking
- lots of extra curricular activities, including sports, music, drama and going to events and the theatre to give your child a rounded character (if that is even possible in a year!)
- making sure they get all their school homework done to the highest possible standard
- making sure they have "downtime" and play time to ensure they aren't stressed and over worked
- make sure you have a number of options for your child - from the most to least academic and make sure they know it too - don't just focus on the grammar schools

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Wed 20-Aug-14 09:59:03

.... plus what ladymuck said - shop around

anamenotanumber Wed 20-Aug-14 12:54:21

I agree that stopping other activities will merely add to the pressure on her and make it a massive deal to pass.

She is clearly very bright so perhaps the tutor has a one size fits all approach for all pupils that your dd might not need as much as she is so academic?

Can I ask Op what nc levels she achieved - I'm curious.

Hoppinggreen Wed 20-Aug-14 17:18:46

Not sure about the levels ( can't find her report just now), sorry
From memory of last parents evening she was at the level they would expect for year 6 by the start of year 4 if that helps?

anamenotanumber Wed 20-Aug-14 18:41:54

A level 4 then at the start of year 4? So she might have ended it at 4a or 5c if that sounds familar?

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