Tutoring for secondary - is Y4 really the right time?

(45 Posts)
FlumePlume Mon 18-Jan-16 19:48:26

I've had a few chats with parents of older kids who are tutoring their kids for the local super selective grammar or selective private schools. They seem to start in Y3 or Y4. Most recently, one said that starting January Y4 only gave you a year and two months of tutoring, which seems completely mad to me as surely the exams are in the autumn of Y6? Do people really start that early?

Dixiechickonhols Mon 18-Jan-16 20:45:52

We are in 11 plus area but not super selective. People seemed to start spring/summer year 4 at earliest. Year 5 seems norm. I booked tutor for DD towards end yr 4 to start after October half term year 5.

11 plus exams are mid September year 6, private seem to be later November or January year 6.

I think part is fear of decent tutors booking up, I called when I heard some of dd's classmates had started tutoring.

Also if you are concerned child wont have covered all the yr 6 syllabus by time of exam (yr 6 has only just started at time of 11+) so tutor is also needed to teach syllabus not just exam technique.

FanDabbyFloozy Mon 18-Jan-16 20:48:15

Year 5 is the norm I think. Otherwise you risk turning off the child completely.

FlumePlume Mon 18-Jan-16 21:16:19

Y4 did sound early to me, but the gossip was that Y3 was normal and Y4 was late! I do see that covering the full Y6 curriculum in advance takes a bit of time, plus presumably exam technique and a decent amount of practice on the VR /NVR stuff if relevant, but surely that's doable in Y5?

Greenleave Mon 18-Jan-16 21:34:03

I had a look around too last year and couple tutors I found dont start until year 5, no one starts from year 4. However my friends live in North London and Sutton are going to start from year 4 and apparently these tutors are very popular and well booked(they had older children so they knew in advance)

sunnydayinmay Mon 18-Jan-16 21:40:20

I was told by a parent at another local primary that EVERYONE had their tutors booked by Easter Year 4, and if a parent hadn't sorted it by then, they were a negligent parent and it practically child abuse. hmm

I did buy some 11 plus books at that point, and we looked at them in a very low key sort of way. I actually think it was the best way, because we never had that pressurized panic that friends did, and it didn't really feel like work.

We didn't hire a tutor, though.

steppemum Mon 18-Jan-16 21:59:52

if you are in the area for a super selective then yes people do start in year 3 and 4.

It is controversial, and very much depends on your view of grammars and how much you want your child to get in.

London is very, very competitive, without the tutoring you would struggle to get in.

But the schools consistently say that if you need loads of tutoring you will struggle once you get there.

My son goes to a super selective and dd1 will join him next year. But the area we are in in not nearly so competitive as London. Also, round here, you have to opt in to the exam, so our comps are not secondary moderns.

I didn't employ a tutor, I did it myself, we started in year 5 and got serious after Christmas. We did do a lot more than just practice VR etc, we went through the CPG books and went over everything.
I have to say (not boasting) that I had to teach them very little as they all ready knew it, and had covered it at school. If I had had to really teach it, they wouldn't have passed.

Ds says there are kids who passed the test with high scores who are now struggling at school - I would guess that that is too much tutoring.

Dungandbother Mon 18-Jan-16 22:00:32

11+ here of all types of selection. Even all our comps now 'select' via banding tests.
We could sit 3 different 11+ and have all four of our comps to sit a test at as well. The world has gone completely mad.

Tutoring has been going on since Y1 for maybe 3 of 30 of DC class mates.

Y3 maybe saw 5 or 6.
Y4 was around 12 of them
Y5 is around 18 of them.

I wish I didn't live here.

FlumePlume Mon 18-Jan-16 22:03:29

Fascinating, thanks for all the info. Lots of food for thought.

Greenleave Mon 18-Jan-16 22:14:25

We are in SW (london) and noone in the class speaks about tutoring at all(must admit that working full time I dont mix very well with everyone). We wont have one until Oct year 5. To be honest I dont know if we could do tutoring now or even year 4. She has a long day and during the week its impossible having the nanny pick and drop. Weekends are full too. Thinking of cutting her time in the park, playing at this age, the feeling is its just wrong. Well, I might change my mind next year.

tiggytape Tue 19-Jan-16 10:38:19

It depends what you mean by tutoring - preparation or actual exam coaching.

In recent years application numbers have shot up. So 5+ years ago, people tutored from the stat of Year 5 with a few months of filling in knowledge gaps and a few months of practice work.

Now several thousand children apply for grammars and the stakes are higher in terms of less room for errors either knowledge gaps or slips in exam technique.
So parents seem to be doing extra English and maths at home from Year 3 and 4 to build up a really solid base for more formal 11+ coaching in Year 5 when they'll have one or two tutors per week (or a with a parent with enough time and ability) solely focusing on the elements of the exams (wordy maths, English comprehension or whatever it may be), loads of past papers and timed mocks.

tiggytape Tue 19-Jan-16 10:40:29

(I'm London based so appreciate that it may not be this crazy elsewhere)

Funandgamesandfun Tue 19-Jan-16 12:26:31

Mine is going to a comprehensive which sets from day 1 and they test in April of year 6. She's in a prep who will do the bulk of the work but I've just started verbal and non verbal in Jan of year 5. Eldest is already there and in top sets, started a bit earlier with him, there is very little movement between sets, she's easily as bright as her brother but won't get into top sets if she's not totally up to speed on verbal and non verbal. If I was starting from state primary I would start mid year 4 as I did with eldest.

CookieDoughKid Tue 19-Jan-16 12:39:59

Really depends on what you mean. Exam coaching vs building a solid foundation of English and Maths, Comprehension etc.. If the latter, you needn't have to wait till year 5. I do a few bond books and Schofield and Sims for my yr 3 dd to keep her interested and to ensure gaps are suitable identified. She's top set in her year and I feel she's very able. There's absolutely no pressure at this stage. She enjoys it. We go to a state school and there isn't ever enough time to focus on things like 10mins of spelling or handwriting so we complement at gome.

It's about building a solid foundation so that when you get to year 5, it's much easier and you can focus on exam technique in the run up to the exam..

I got my advice from a mum who's three dc's got offered places at a whole clutch of super selectives including Tiffins, Trinity, Wilson Grammer, Sutton Grammar andWestminster boys school. A little and often is the key and making it age appropriate and fun. Timestables by heart is an absolute must and all three of my mum's dc's knew them inside and out by age 7.

CookieDoughKid Tue 19-Jan-16 12:46:48

home not gome. I don't employ a tutor. See it as complementing the work you do at school and ensure lots of reading everyday. Whether we get into a superselective or not is beside the point for me. I didn't go to grammar. I went to a shitty inner city in London (that got closed 20 years ago because of the violence on teachers and pupils). I was just two out of 100 pupils who left that school with more than 5 GCSES above grade C (I actually left with 5As and 4Bs at GCSE and a D (!) but never even got anywhere near the level of support I got at home or school as with my dcs. So I take this whole grammar school thing with a pinch of salt to a degree because if your dc is bright enough - they can do whatever they put their mind to it. My motivation really is for my dc's to get into a good school (and that are some rough comps out there let's be honest) - so that they don't mix the rough kids.

CookieDoughKid Tue 19-Jan-16 12:48:07

I mean my friend's dc's knew their timetables inside and out by age 7. Sorry, crappy iphone...!!

Toomanycats99 Tue 19-Jan-16 12:54:50

I'm in Sutton. About 6 months ago I booked a tutor for my daughter. She starts beginning of y5. She is currently y4. She will have one hour of 121 a week. I recently rang another centre and they run groups. In y4/5 she would be doing 4 hours of group tutoring a week! I am really uncomfortable with putting her through that level of work load. But yes I remember being in antenatal excessive class and being told some if tutors are booked up by y2. Also i don't think people like to share tutor details.

Buttwing Tue 19-Jan-16 12:57:26

The problem in our area is that a lot of what is in the grammar school entrance exam papers is just not taught be state primary schools. My dd had a tutor for three quarters of y4 but only for maths as she had gone from being in the the top 10% to three quarters of the way down the year group.
She started with her tutor for entrance exam prep at the start of y5 but we had kept a close eye on any areas that she was weaker in throughout y4 and helped bring her up to where she needed to be.
We put her name down with the tutors we wanted her to use at the start of y3 as we had heard that the had a big waiting list. We were one of the last ones that got a place which is ridiculous but I have to say they were great.

Dd is naturally very bright and though she moaned like hell at having to do practice papers over the summer of y5, she was over the moon when she passed for every school she sat for and got to chose where she would like to go.

Toomanycats99 Tue 19-Jan-16 12:58:31

Incidentally I have been told by teachers she is grammar material so my main aim with tutoring is exam technique not knowledge.

FlumePlume Tue 19-Jan-16 13:06:33

Dd is bright - there's nothing she's done at school that she found hard or didn't understand. She decided to learn all her times tables one weekend and now knows them inside out. So I'm struggling to see what tutoring (either me or a tutor) could add other than exam technique, Y6 curriculum and the VR / NVR stuff if necessary. And I can't see that those things require two years run up. But perhaps it's about the tutor identifying gaps that I can't spot? Or about retaining the place with the tutor - maybe they want the two years worth of fees so we'd need to do Y4 to also be able to get the tutoring in Y5?

I certainly don't want to close off her options by under preparing, but equally she reads (by choice) for at least an hour a day and does maths workbooks for fun, so I'm not sure there is any point us doing more than she naturally is doing.

steppemum Tue 19-Jan-16 16:00:38

this is what tutoring or preparation will add (and you can do it all yourself, and it doesn't need to be from year 3/4)

1. increase her vocab. This is key, it has been said that 11+ is lost on vocab. Lots of 'old fashioned' words too, so reading older books/classics is good. As she reads a lot, get her to keep a notebook and write down any new word, or post it note on the page. Then once a week make a list and add definitions. I find adding antonyms helps too. Then learn them.

2. make sure she is up to quick fire speed on mental maths. This means times tables, including inverse (so 12 divided by 3=4) and also quick addition and subtraction 100-46= etc.

3. Going through the curriculum (and pretty much everything in 11+ is now in the year 6 curriculum so SHOULD have been taught, but may not if you have a bad school) Make sure she really knows it.

eg internal angles of triangle add up to 180
definition of mean median and mode
can do long multiplication quickly with paper and pencil
definition of noun, verb, etc alliteration, simile,

4. exam practice with playing with words (finding synonyms, find the word hidden in the sentence etc - VR)

5 exam technique. Things like always filling in an answer, practice being timed, knowing that if you get stuck you must move on.

You can do it yourself.

BUT my ds HATED doing any preparation at all with me, and fought against it all the way. Doing a little and often from year 3 was not going to happen with him. So we did it from Jan year 5, once a week, and it was non negotiable time. He is very bright, he could do it all, he didn't want to do it at home with mum. That is when a tutor would have been amazing.

PerspicaciaTick Tue 19-Jan-16 16:08:11

DD's teacher identified her as grammar school potential in October Y4 and suggested we consider tutoring as the school didnt do any 11+ prep. We went to grammar school open days in June of Y4 to see if they appealed to DD. Then she had an assessment with a Tutor in June Y4, who said DD was a good candidate and we booked her place from Sept Y5. Knowing what I know now, I suspect we could have delayed until January Y5.

Buttwing Tue 19-Jan-16 16:39:10

Steppemum that's really interesting what you say. I'm wondering if different areas have different things in their 11+/entrance exams? Where I am (Trafford) each school has its own entrance exam and each school paper was very different for example some schools have non verbal reasoning in their paper. Without a tutor (or me teaching it) my daughter wouldn't have stood a chance as this subject isn't taught at her primary.
Also for one of the schools we were advised that the maths in the exam paper was equivalent to y8 maths so again without a tutor (or again me teaching it) she would have struggled. This school is particularly hard to get into though.
That said one of the other schools I think with a bit of exam practice she would have been fine without a tutor. They take the top 30% opposed to the other school which take the top 10%.

It's not all about getting them into the "best" grammar for me though. She passed the especially difficult one and would get a place as we are walking distance but she has chose to go to the easier one to get into. We felt it was a much more caring school and felt the pastoral care seemed so much better.

sunnydayinmay Tue 19-Jan-16 17:05:18

The place to find out about the actual content is the elevenplusforum. They break it down into geographical areas, and know their stuff. You can buy resources too. Slightly scary at times, though.wink

FlumePlume Tue 19-Jan-16 18:17:01

Thanks, all. I'm looking at private too, as we're in SW London so there's just one super elective grammar. I'd like to find somewhere that is a good fit for her - it's not just about the academic side, though I do want her to go somewhere where she has a peer group that means she gets used to not being top of the class. I know peoplewho had a massive shock when they got to Oxford and found they weren't the brightest person around for the first time in their experience

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now