Grammar school - tutor or not?

(30 Posts)
KitZacJak Thu 26-Sep-13 13:41:53

We looked around the local grammar school and my son really liked it. I think he could pass the 11+ but less than half that pass get in.

I was planning on just familiarising him with the papers so he knows what to expect. But part of me feels that by not tutoring I am not giving him the best possible chance especially as a lot of grammar pupils come from local prep schools that provide in school tutoring. On the other hand, I don't want him to feel under pressure.

What do other people think?

Kenlee Thu 26-Sep-13 13:54:51

If you think he can survive in grammar then tutor him..

BlackMogul Thu 26-Sep-13 15:23:40

It is an odd concept to me that a pass to a grammar school is not a pass if only half get in. Where do the other half go? Why is the pass mark too low? Would the alternative choice of school be poor or is it a good alternative? I think tutoring can help for academic subjects, but is less successful for verbal and non verbal reasoning but can help with use of time during the exam. I think you know if your DC would be responsive to tutoring and probably everyone else will be doing it. You also need to make an honest judgement about whether he is suitable for your grammar school. Would he cope with a much faster pace of work or have to spend hours on homework because he is struggling? Is he currently in a school with lots of average children, or is he working with very bright children? I have known some people to greatly over-estimate how clever their child is. I am not accusingyou of this, by the way. Over coached children can have problems and loss of self-esteem. Some grammars are way more difficult to get into than others, eg a tiny percentage of children as opposed to 30% of all the children at all the schools,not just the ones put in for the exam.

Ladymuck Thu 26-Sep-13 16:05:32

"a lot of grammar pupils come from local prep schools that provide in school tutoring"

Which grammar school are you looking at? In my experience this is an assumption that is made but in reality the majority of grammar school pupils come from state primary schools.

Kenlee Thu 26-Sep-13 16:18:53

I agree with Black mogul ....

LaQueenForADay Fri 27-Sep-13 21:18:28

Kit could you get an experienced tutor to perhaps asess him, to see whether they feel he is genuinely grammar school material?

We sent our DD1 to a very well respected local tutor, who pulls no punches when it comes to telling it to you straight. Every year he turns away children, whom he feels simply wouldn't thrive in a grammar school environment even though he probably could tutor them to scrape a pass.

Luckily DD1 was deemed suitable, and she's just finished her 11+ exams. She sailed through with a smile on her face, and didn't lose a moment's sleep - her tutor gave her so much confidence.

Fingers crossed she's passed smile

racingheart Fri 27-Sep-13 21:24:24

Mogul, the pass mark reflects the fact that the child is bright enough to cope with and thrive at a grammar school. The half who don't get in are the ones who got the lower end of that score.

Depends on the school, but if it's very popular or super selective, I'd get a tutor. It's not just familiarisation with VR and NVR papers, it's about speed of completion in some schools. If you are really confident about going through the papers with him and helping him pick up speed, no need to pay, but some prep will be an advantage as he will be competing against children who have been tutored extremely hard for ages, who may not necessarily be as bright as him, but are primed for the exam.

I prepared DS1 for the 11+ myself. He isn't superbright so I don't think he would have got in without my coaching. He is now in Y9 and really happy there; not struggling at all, probably in the top 30% of the year but not in the top 10%.

DS1 is highly able and needed no coaching, just a bit of familiarisation that he did himself really. He has only just started Y7 so too early to tell where he sits within the year group.

ShellingPeas Fri 27-Sep-13 21:33:33

Why wouldn't you? You wouldn't sit a driving test never having driven a car would you? I'm not talking about endless hours of drilling and practice, just familiarisation so that they know what to expect in the tests and can perform under time pressures. If you have a realistic assessment of your Ds's ability and think he could cope then do it.

Teaching a ten year old exam technique is never wasted anyway; it is a useful skill for secondary school assessments and public exams.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 27-Sep-13 21:38:07

>It is an odd concept to me that a pass to a grammar school is not a pass if only half get in.

in our area there are very few grammars. These have a catchment; anyone within it who gets the pass mark will get a place, but then there are a certain number of residual places which children from out of catchment can try for. So most of these will pass (you'd be daft to try for a residual place with a child who wouldn't) but only a small number get places. This probably isn't the scenario the OP has, but its one way that it happens.

Slipshodsibyl Sat 28-Sep-13 12:21:05

Some practice at home supplemented with 6 or so weekly sessions with a reputable and experienced tutor seems like common sense to me and certainly wouldn't count as over tutoring or excess pressure.

dopeysheep Sat 28-Sep-13 12:31:10

I would definitely say yes. Get a tutor assessment and then some tutoring. Seems logical.

teacherwith2kids Sat 28-Sep-13 13:19:10

It depends on your outlook and other options, really.

DD is doing the 11+ for a superselective. She has not been tutored - because the pervasive tutoring industry locally has completely perverted the grammar school entry, making it much more about who can afford the tutoring rather than who is actually the brightest.

I can't, ethically, square it with myself that I should give DD even more advantages (she already comes from a MC, well-educated home full of books, and goes to one of the 'better' state primaries due to where in town we live) by also buying her tutoring - which the equally bright kids from other areas, from less privileged backgrounds [indeed, the very children for whom the gramar was first endowed] cannot afford.

She is thus learning, the hard way, that depite being one of the very brightest children in her year group, with a Y5 CATs score which is very rarely achieved, she is unlikely to get a place at the grammar - and thus learning that in some cases, for us as a family, ethical principles are more important than personal gain. DS had the same experience at the same age, although his Y5 CATs were slightly less statospheric so he probably stood slightly less chance in the first place.

BetsyBidwell Sat 28-Sep-13 13:20:42

Heres the thing.
If he belongs there and is clever then tutor, all it means is he practices the weridy questions.
If he is not clever enough OR doesnt want to go then DONT do it.

silk purse sows ear etc

SacreBlue Sat 28-Sep-13 13:32:09

I think choose a school that is suited your child's ability/interests and be wary of tutoring if it has the effect of putting your child under a strain that is unnecessary or puts them off learning.

Kenlee Sat 28-Sep-13 13:55:00

All I can add is that if he is suited to a grammar then for goodness sake tutor him. Grammar school is for the bright be they from rich parents or poor parents.

I dont agree with the tutoring system that is fast becoming a part of Grammar entry. Although Im not agaisnt tutoring for understanding.

I do understand that if you dont you do run the risk of being on an unequal footing.

The main criteria then is not about tutoring but if he is suitable for that school. Will he enjoy it and is he bright enough to keep up with the academic work so he can utilize the other options available. If so tutor if not save the money and go on holiday...

summerends Sat 28-Sep-13 14:40:11

Teacher, your principles are commendable but you may be comfortable pursuing them because it is not too much of a risk for your DD since you have a strong alternative school and / or she is one of the brilliant ones who probably won't be phased by exam conditions and she has the advantage of a parent who is a natural didactic. Some might think that your principles will also give her an excuse if she fails.
Most people end up tutoring ( whether by parent or other) to give the child who might be anxious or careless in the exam a comfort margin by learning exam technique.
You could always consider setting up a free post school tutoring class for some of these less privileged kids. That would be a principled action with real impact.

Bemused33 Sat 28-Sep-13 15:41:43

There is a ridiculous level of tutoring here. From year 3 in some cases.

Dd asked to do the eleven plus and we said yes and did about three hours of practice papers.

She passed. Not comfortably her marks are close to the cutoff but we are 97% sure we should be ok should she choose to go. Open morning is on Wednesday and she liked it last year.

Bemused33 Sat 28-Sep-13 15:42:24

I have decided of ds wants to do I will tutor from a bit earlier but not year 3

teacherwith2kids Sat 28-Sep-13 15:49:24

Summerends,

That assumes that I would be any good at teaching Verbal reasoning in a totally isolated fashion - which I suspect I wouldn't be (just because I'm a teacher doesn't mean that I can teach everything equally well)....

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 28-Sep-13 16:05:50

I think grammar schools are a dreadful concept and should be shunned by all right thinking people. However, if I felt differently and wanted my child to take and pass the 11+, I would certainly get a tutor unless I felt supremely confident that I could offer similar help myself. Most kids seem to spend years (well, about 2 years anyway) doing practice papers and being drilled on how to pass the exam so presuambly this makes a difference. Children who fail the 11 plus generally feel utterly crushed and crap and think they have failed their parents. I would want to avoid this at all costs so would get a tutor.

summerends Sat 28-Sep-13 16:28:02

Teacher, I was n't thinking you would necessarily be the tutor but might combine your principles and contacts to set one up whilst everybody waits for a tutor proof system.
One could however argue that it can't be too difficult for anybody with natural teaching skills to teach a bright kid since theoretically we would be expecting them to teach themselves during the exam if nobody was tutored

teacherwith2kids Sat 28-Sep-13 16:53:14

Summerends,

As the 11+ in our area is VR, which is meant to be a measure of 'ability' rather than 'knowledge', then theoretically there is nothing to 'teach' during the test itself as it should come down to the ability of the child IF the playing field is level.

NVR - classic 'IQ' testing - would, I agree, probably be a better discriminator in this regard. I don't know why it isn't used locally - perhaps it is [contracry to popuylar belief] even more tutorable. Or perhaps it does not discrimiate between the 'top' 0.1% and the rest - I really am talking a very superselective here, with an effective catchment up to 40-50 miles, covering parts of at least 5 counties.

LaQueenForADay Sat 28-Sep-13 17:07:56

I disagree with any child being intensively tutored from Yr 4 onwards, if they need this sheer amount of help then I would argue they simply don't have enough raw ability to begin with?

Our DD1's tutor told us he only selected pupils who could pick up ideas and concepts very quickly, as this differentiated them from average ability pupils who would need drilling over, and over, and over agaon to grasp the same idea/concept.

Sadly, not all tutors are as ethical as him, and I know of children who have been tutored for 2 years. Passed. But were only Level 3s when they sat the exam.

Grammar school is not the right environment for these poor children.

Grammar schools want children with raw ability and bags of aptitude. They don't want average ability children, who simply been drilled to within an inch of their lives - and once at grammar school need everything explaining to them over and over again.

It's miserable for them. And unfair on the teachers. And unfair on the other pupils.

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