Bromley/Bexley/Kent parents - talk to me about the 11+

(9 Posts)
KathyBeale Tue 17-May-16 11:21:13

My son is in year 4, and I have just discovered that some kids in his class are already having tuition for the 11+ and lots of the others are doing those practice books and exercises.

We live in Bromley, so we have St Olave's locally, and the option of doing the Kent and Bexley tests. I actually grew up in the area, and went to a super-selective school myself but it seems like another world now. In my day, if you were quite clever, you just rocked up on the day, did the test for Newstead/St Olave's, then there were some interviews, and that was it. Only a few people were tutored and those that were tutored were always seen as a little bit less clever than those who weren't.

Now, there seems to be this massive competition for places, tuition is big business, and all around me kids are hunched over practice papers. So, I thought I'd have a look at the books in Waterstone's - and there are a gazillion different types of test, and I haven't a clue what I should be doing with my son - if anything!

My son is clever, but not a genius. He's keen and eager to learn, and he's also got a hobby that he's very good at and spends a lot of time doing. I think he'd do well at a grammar, particularly an all-boy's grammar, and I don't want to let him down by not helping him, if all the other parents are helping their kids! BUT I also don't want to put him off learning for life by forcing him to study endlessly (one of his friends isn't allowed to do any after-school activities from September because he has to study) or tutor him to pass a test, only to have him struggle at school. I'm not keen on paying for tuition as we don't have a lot of spare cash and I don't really 'approve' of it anyway. But then if everyone else is doing it...

So, wise people of Mumsnet, tell me what to do! Shall I just buy some practice books and start there?

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 17-May-16 11:33:56

I live in deepest East Kent - we don't have super-selectives down here, so the 11+ is simply a pass/fail thing.

In general, very few children will pass without a fair amount of familiarisation... but loads of people manage this over the summer before the test. This is still the case even with the new, allegedly non-tutorable, test.

As to whether you go for a tutor or use books, I'd consider two things.
1. Can you find a good tutor?
2. Will you, or your child, commit murder if you attempt to teach them?

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 17-May-16 11:37:40

Oh, and we got a tutor for my eldest (he moved away before dc2, but not before giving us all his teaching materials.... and load of Kent Test past papers, which are a closely guarded secret and are not meant to be available to anyone).

He told us to ignore anyone who claimed you needed to start preparation before year 5. He believed 10-15 sessions was enough to ensure children got the highest mark that the individual child was capable of - obviously assuming that they practised outside the sessions.

Chalk2000 Tue 17-May-16 11:45:53

I've heard of people who have had one child tutored then failed to get offered a place. Then the other child who just sat it without any coaching and passed....

chameleon43 Tue 17-May-16 12:17:59

just been through all of this with ds.

there is no absolute right or wrong in any of this. some of the v bright kids at our school sailed through everything with no tutoring, and some others (who are also bright) got nothing even with extensive tutoring.

DS definitely benefitted from familiarization with the VR/NVR formats. There are loads of books out there and some grammars have familiarization papers online.

If going for Olave's I think it's also worth practicing English comprehension and composition - as well as some more obscure maths problems - for the second round exam. The school itself sells (!) examples but again you can download similar ones for free online.

KathyBeale Wed 18-May-16 12:44:28

Ooh thanks. That is reassuring and I feel more in control now.

I've just been looking at the various websites. Newstead says it prioritises girls who live within a nine-mile radius of the school but Olave's doesn't mention this. Anyone know if there is a similar 'catchment' for StOGS?

It seems very unfair if local girls get priority (as it was in my day when we had to live in Bromley to go to Newstead or Olave's) but local boys don't.

chameleon43 Wed 18-May-16 13:18:51

Olaves has no catchment - when I chatted to other Mums at pick up after the exam, it was clear that people had come from all over the country - planning to move if their son got in!! Agree it's unfair that Newstead doesn't operate the same way.

KathyBeale Wed 18-May-16 15:28:09

When I was at school we all thought it was terribly unfair that the boys had a swimming pool - but this is even more of a discrepancy!

PettsWoodParadise Thu 19-May-16 18:38:42

We did the local tests of Newstead, Bexley and Kent last year. Yes it is competitive but if you have a naturally bright child it is more about timing and familiarisation. We home tutored and DD sailed through. St Olaves though have tough maths that won't all be covered by a state primary. Check out the Elevenplusexams forum which has a host of information. We found mock tests helpful to identify weak areas. Pay attention to catchments for likes of Kent grammars as these have changed a lot recently and the likes of Wilmington that used to come out our way has got so much smaller so it does mean it is the grammars that have out of county places and rank on score that are accessible like Dartford and Skinners. The single sex Bexley grammars come out a surprising distance, 8 miles this year I think. Good luck.

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