Is it possible to get into private school without a tutor

(46 Posts)

Dd is very bright. Top of her class in Maths, English. All of her friends have tutors with the aim of trying for private schools, some hope to get bursaries etc. we couldn't afford private school fees but might if we got a bursary or scholarship. She's not good at music or sport just clever.

I don't really want to go down the tuition route as it just heaps on the pressure. But people say you can't get in without tuition as ss don't teach the skills for the tests.

Has anyone got in to competitive private schools without tuition? Sure this has been asked before so sooty. Would love to hear from anyone who hasn't tutored.

TheRevengeOfMrGrumpy Fri 08-Mar-13 12:57:17

I suppose it depends on what you mean by competitive. Our DD got offers from two top twenty schools without using a tutor (from a state school). The only thing we tutored her on was not to wipe her nose on her sleeve during the interview.

Kenlee Fri 08-Mar-13 13:04:10

Ha ha I like that not wiping your nose on your sleeves.. My DD got into a private school without any problems. She never had a tutor apart from Chinese...which ia quite difficult to do without...

BeckAndCall Fri 08-Mar-13 13:16:36

Both my Dds went from state primary to private sector without tutoring.

But, their primary school was/is Sunday times top primary school in the country - so really strong academic background.

On the other hand, their senior school is also ST top independent school, so really tough to get into.

I think the answer is probably "it depends".

hardboiled Fri 08-Mar-13 13:30:25

paddy, I guess you count being prepared by your parents as being tutored?
I never paid a cent for tutoring but did put in the time and effort to prepare DS ourselves - I guess we did have to pay for the books!

It will depend on the level set by the school and how competitive it is but you say you need a bursary... One thing is to get an offer from a school, another very different is to get the school offering you the fees. Your child will have to score pretty high up in the exam. Have you had a look at some of the 11+ exams? Has your DD ever seen a reasoning test before? Verbal and nonverbal? Has she ever been told how to fill in a multichoice separate answer sheet? Has she ever been taught how to manage time in an exam when under pressure? Has she ever encountered simple algebra plus many other Level 6 maths topics? Does she get enough practice re creative writing in her ss?

If the answer is no, then I think it would be unfair to make her sit the exams hoping for a bursary against a cohort of children for whom the answer to these questions will be a big yes. Unfortunately, it's like this. If you want her to have a fair chance then you have to prepare her in one way or another. This doesn't mean heap up the pressure, pressure comes from parents attitudes to the outcome, not from preparing and trying. My DS would've felt a lor more under pressure if he went to the exams not knowing how to ride them.

amidaiwish Fri 08-Mar-13 13:38:54

Do any of your local private schools offer a 10+ deferred entry?

I am tempted to try dd1 for Kingston grammar 10+ without any tutoring, to see how far off the pace she is. (But I will do NVR/VR practice with her myself I guess you can just buy the books & practice papers)?

Our local privates are Alleyns, jags, st dunstans. All v competitive. Good to hear it is possible for some.

Tbh we wouldn't be able to afford fees without massive discount so we are probably ruled out in any case. Most of me thinks she'd be better off not trying as it would be awful to get in and then not be able to afford it

Hardboiled I wouldn't count help from parents as tutoring. We try to help and encourage all the time. I don't even know where to start re the types of exams these schools do. Why are they testing different things from sats?

hardboiled Fri 08-Mar-13 14:21:05

They do, don't ask me why. DS sat a superselective grammar that only tested on maths and english but even they now have included a stage 1 based on reasoning. Grrrrrr.

I know it has been vilified on MN, but the elevenplusforum is a very good source of information, especially in terms of the reasoning. And a visit to your local WHS will give you an idea of what it is required - Bond and GL the best publishers of 11+ papers and "How to" books. Then you have to choose schools and see what type of exams they each do - many will have samples in their websites you can print. Then the best is to do a planning, set a time in the week when it is good for everyone and just start. We just did it as in "this is part of the transition", not a big deal. We were all learning together. I could now tutor anyone, gosh did I learn!

Only you can know how academic your DD is and whether it's worth trying for the bursary. You did say she is top of her class. Have you asked her how she feels about all this? Does she want to try?

tiredaftertwo Fri 08-Mar-13 15:53:28

Look on the websites of the schools for details of the exams. IME, and we are not a million miles from that area, they try hard not to include material the kids won't have covered at state primaries, unlike SS grammars. You can also ask all those schools what their % intake is at 11+ but make sure you allow for junior schools if relevant.

The formats and speed and expectations are a bit different - you need practice. It can be more or less stressful using a tutor compared with a parent, depending, but if you can afford tutoring you may be out of the running for a bursary. You should talk to the school first about the income level at which a bursary might be offered, and depending where you live perhaps check out the Whitgift Foundation schools which have generous schemes I gather (they may look far away but trains can be fast).

Honestly though - you need to go to the schools for up to date detailed info. If a bursary is not going to happen, and you can't afford it otherwise, there really is no point in putting yourselves through the mill.

LadyPeterWimsey Fri 08-Mar-13 16:06:03

Same as hardboiled here, and have got maximum bursaries and scholarships for two children now with parental help but no tutors.

The most helpful thing one school did was give us the bursary form to fill in as a sort of trial run, and then they gave us an idea of the level of support we would qualify for. That meant that we knew if the DC did well that we would be eligible; otherwise it is hard to know if it is right to put them in for a school they may get in to but then you can't afford the fees.

Our experience is that bursars have been very helpful, and at the schools we applied for (3 different ones now) they genuinely wanted to give places to bright children who couldn't otherwise afford to go. It is in their interest after all.

castlesintheair Fri 08-Mar-13 16:08:02

My DS was only "tutored" by us for a few months and got into a selective school. I think he is quite bright though a late developer but it is hard to tell in the highly competitive area we live in. I do think their maturity at this age plays a big part in it all as well as ability and preparation. The DCs from his state school who got into schools that are in top 10 of league tables are all bright too but have all been tutored for a minimum of 3 years prior to the 11+.

If you want to find out what they test on, have a look at their website under admissions and it should give you a good idea. Many have sample papers. The standard for the competitive London ones seems to be maths, english - comprehension and essay, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. IME they should be at least a 5 in SATs by time they sit the exam (January of Year 6 usually). My DS is a 6 in Maths and was told he wasn't strong enough for one of the selectives he sat so, like others have said, it depends on so many things.

shikin Fri 08-Mar-13 16:34:50

Hello, I was where you are about a year back and yes, it is possible not to go the tutor route. However, I will not recommend sending DD without any sort of preparation. Competition is really tough for spaces in good indies/grammars and in most cases, other DCs tend to sit for quite a few schools to spread their bets.

We didn't have the funds to go the tutor route and tried supporting DD by giving her past papers, VR and NVR. Some of the books have answer sheets which is fine although I did struggle trying to explain some of the NVR stuff. The past papers comes without answers so to mark them and feedback to DD, I had to brush up on my own stuff!

The prep is really a two-prong approach - to make sure DD covered all the subjects needed plus get used to exams conditions. Interviews are another hurdle, of course.

Now about the bursaries, it is also pegged to DD ranking on the entrance exams; something which didn't occur much to me when we started. We tried very hard because we are aiming for scholarship/bursaries and although I think DD is bright (level 5a end of Yr 5, now level 6 in year 6 in Maths and English), the competition is so so tough for bursaries, we only got fee-paying offers in two selective indies. Luckily we had an offer for a bursary for a 3rd one.

IndridCold Fri 08-Mar-13 17:10:23

It's such an incredibly competitive environment, and if you are looking for a bursury as well, even more so.

I think you should keep in mind other factors such as outside interests, which can sometimes swing the balance in favour of a particular child in the case of a close 'tie'. Schools like children who will do well in a regional or even national arena, which will in turn reflect well on the school.

You mention that sport and music are out, but you might want to look at things like essay, spelling or maths competitions. Keep an eye on the local papers for things that your DD might get involved in to raise her profile a bit.

crazycarol Fri 08-Mar-13 21:06:08

I didn't even think about tutoring, or even realise that people do it! However I did some preparation on the types of papers with dd myself. She got in (to a selective school) and got a bursary. She isn't smart enough for a scholarship but we are poor enough to get some bursary funding.

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Wed 13-Mar-13 22:23:20

You put your child at a disadvantage by not having him/her tutored at all, since everyone else is being tutored. If your child is in a state school, they have to compete for places with children from prep schools who are being prepped 5 days a weeks for months on end, just to pass these 11+ exams. If you are already in an independent school, you are better placed for an 11+, due to the prep work that the teachers there do. How much tutoring needed depends, of course, on the ability of your child. Yes, it is true that some children seem to have no private tuition at all and still pass these tests, but they have probably had a lot of parental input and support and 'coaching'.

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Wed 13-Mar-13 22:24:03

You put your child at a disadvantage by not having him/her tutored at all, since everyone else is being tutored. If your child is in a state school, they have to compete for places with children from prep schools who are being prepped 5 days a weeks for months on end, just to pass these 11+ exams. If you are already in an independent school, you are better placed for an 11+, due to the prep work that the teachers there do. How much tutoring needed depends, of course, on the ability of your child. Yes, it is true that some children seem to have no private tuition at all and still pass these tests, but they have probably had a lot of parental input and support and 'coaching'.

MTSgroupie Thu 14-Mar-13 09:53:03

crazy - doing preparation with your DC is tutoring.

I am constantly confused by what parents consider to be not tutoring. One such parent went on to say that, instead of tutoring, she preferred to spend quality time with DC and do things like brain puzzle games on the iPad???

But to answer the OP's question, we successfully home tutored all three DCs. If we hadn't they still could have passed the 11+ at a non competitive selective. For their schools however, the 'safe' mark was 90% plus. Without tutoring they wouldn't have been able to pass.

ariane5 Thu 14-Mar-13 14:18:09

It is possible to do well in 11+ with no tutoring.

My dd managed to get an offer at an independent school and had no tutoring. I got her some bond workbooks but she sat and did them herself most evenings so not sure if that counts as 'tutoring'. All her friends had extensive tutoring. Dd has always read a huge amount of books though and is very good at english, her maths is not as strong but she tries her best.

She said she found the verbal/non verbal tests ok, that it was almost like doing puzzles and not hard to understand so I am not sure why it is seen to be so important to have tutoring for those type of tests?

OhDearConfused Thu 14-Mar-13 14:55:13

I don't know anyone who got into a selective secondary school in SW london without tutoring. Even friends who sent their DCs to prep schools tutored. (That alwasys puzzle me!).

I know people who have successfully got bursaries for their DCs but also tutored to get them up to the standard.

But agree also that a tutor is not necessary if the parent is motivated/competent themselves to help preparation and the DC doesn't mind getting down to it with the DP (some kids benefit from outside help simply because they have less resistance to putting the effort in if not being asked to by parents).

sue52 Thu 14-Mar-13 19:26:36

I can't think of a single state or prep school educated child at DD's old west kent grammar who did not have tutor for her 11plus.

amidaiwish if you are going for KGS 10+ they only do VR not NVR so don't waste your time on NVR. DD did it this year - said the maths was hard, English ok and the VR was very easy, she did it in 10 mins and had time to go over it 3x

She has just started small group tutoring (ie 6 of them in a class 45 mins a week) and got in to KGS without being tutored. I bought a couple of VR books and we looked through them just to see if there was anything that flummoxed her the weekend before the exam.

Farewelltoarms Fri 15-Mar-13 11:57:44

ODC - I am also puzzled by all the prep school kids who get tutors. I have always thought the appeal of a prep school is that they would, er, prep your child so that you could subcontract out all that anxiety and just enjoy your children outside of school. But, yes, they all do seem to have tutoring on top which is why the average state school child is at a disadvantage if they have no preparation (parental or otherwise).
We have relatives who are very smug about the fact that their boys got into QEB 'without tutoring'. They went to a prep school and their dad is a teacher who trained himself up in VR etc...

amidaiwish Fri 15-Mar-13 13:46:21

Thanks Countess. Sounds good. do you know what tests LEH and surbiton high do? Have been to SHS but waitingfor all the open days this autumn to get all the info.

newgirl Fri 15-Mar-13 14:12:38

Yes my dd got selective place w no tutor though I did two test papers w her. But scholarships might not be as valuable as you think - my dd got one for 10% which barely touches the fees! Bursaries only avail to those earning combined less than 40k.

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