If your child is at a grammar school what did you do to get them in there? And when did you start? And do you have any tips?

(129 Posts)
WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:06:43

Ds is 9, will be 10 in October and is about to finish year 4 and go into year 5.

We are in catchment for a grammar school. I really want him to go there.

So, what do I have to do to get him in? Happy to sell my grandmother, soul etc to do it.

Am I too late already? Is tuition to get him through the 11+ a good idea? I think he's probably bright enough so I don't think it's a risk coaching to get him in and then him floundering but all and any advice much appreciated. Thanks.

EnidJane Sat 07-Jul-07 13:12:00

hmm the only people I know who have grammars nearby are sending their dcs to private prep to 'ensure' entry

worth taking him out and sending him to prep for last years?

Carmenere Sat 07-Jul-07 13:13:19

Dp's eldest dd went to grammar and they had tuition for her, they also had it for ds but he didn't get in.

EnidJane Sat 07-Jul-07 13:14:51

god I am so glad we dont have grammar schools here

would be so tempted to send the dds and dd1 would never get in in a million years without a long hard struggle

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:17:33

There is a mum at the school whose oldest son ( age 13 I think) goes to one of the King Edwards Grammar schools in Birmingham. She also has an eight yr old in yr 4. She told me that she had saturday tutoring from the beginning of yr 4 for both of them. Obviously it payed off with her ds1 - has to wait for the exam for ds2 but apparently the tutor has set him 'mock' entrance tests and he scores high- so she is sure he will get a place also ( this is what she tells me)

We have about 7 grammar schools in birmingham though so im sure that there are more places to go around.

Freckle Sat 07-Jul-07 13:18:06

DS1 got there with no additional help. We did hire a tutor for DS2 but that was more to boost his self-confidence as he clearly had the ability.

Some people start in Y4 with the extra tuition. DS2 started partway through Y5 (Jan), so had a year's help before the actual exam. He passed with 100% in two papers and 98% in the other.

Alternatively you could just try purchasing the practice papers from WHS, etc., and get him to do them at home. It's useful as the style of question is rather different from anything he will have met before and it is helpful to learn how to time himself, to learn strategies such as if struggling with one question to leave it and go back if sufficient time at the end, etc.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:18:34

We have just done some sums and worked out we could afford a private prep, one of the feeders. But I know ds doesn't wnat to move schools again so wondering if the money better spent on private tuition.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:20:21

Oh just saw these other two posts, blimey, I did wonder if people started working on it at beginnning of yr 4, we're too late for that now but I could do from beg of yr 5 in Sept. When do they take the exams? How long from beg yr 5? Eeek.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:21:38

Lots of competition for places here too.

I could easily do 2 nights a week tuition, is that too much d'ya think? HE goes to after school club so I think he would actually quite like it, doing something different on 2 days.

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:22:18

I think its the November before ( thats what they are in bham)

How does he do at school now? Is he a 'star' pupil so to speak?

Freckle Sat 07-Jul-07 13:23:13

I think it depends on where you are. In Kent, the exams are taken in January. However, I have heard rumours that they are thinking of changing the timing so that you know the outcome of the exam before you have to select secondary schools - which seems sensible.

Not sure though, whether they are bringing forward the date of the exam or pushing back the deadline for secondary applications. It might be helpful to check with your local LEA.

Starting at the beginning of Y5 should be OK because it gives you at least a year even if the exam is taken in the Autumn term rather than at the beginning of the Spring term.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:23:37

So that would be Nov 2008 then I think wouldn't it? So we've got a year if I start now ish, well next term anyway.

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:24:07

Dont know if this would give you any pointers?

entrance info

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:24:44

It would be the nov before he starts secondary school.

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:26:19

He got a 1 for effort so top marks, but a 2 for attainment which does worry me slightly. But apparently since the school has above ave results (according to them) a 2 for this school is still v good. <sigh>

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:31:58

whereabouts geographically are you www?

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:32:46

home counties tiredemma.

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:34:42

this is a really good site- gives you an idea of each schools entrance exam.


WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:37:59

fantastic tiredemma, thanks, there are tutor lists and stuff too so I think I'm going to ring round a few and see if I can find one from Sept.

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 13:52:09

Good Luck!!

( can you tell its something that im itching to do with ds1? far too young yet though- he is only in yr1!)

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:53:45

Well, they start in yr 4 NOW TE, it could end up stretching to yr 3 by the time he gets there

Marina Sat 07-Jul-07 13:56:28

www, have you talked turkey with the head of ds' current school? Hopefully he or she will be able to give you an honest view on your son's chances, with or without coaching?
General tips are good, but every thread I read on grammars on here reminds me that the competition for places and the demographics of the grammars' intakes really do vary around England.
Advice that would hold good for the Bexley & NW Kent selection system might be completely wrong for your local setting
Good luck

WideWebWitch Sat 07-Jul-07 13:57:08

Good idea Marina

Marina Sat 07-Jul-07 13:59:09

(and mail tigermoth as well)

WakeUpCall Sat 07-Jul-07 16:15:59

Does anyone know if 120 is the average entrance/11+ pass mark? I thought it was a lot higher but my sil is sure that anything over 120 is a dead cert for selective schools.

Freckle Sat 07-Jul-07 16:18:54

We were told 120 (out of 140) is required in all 3 papers to be guaranteed a place. Two papers over 120 and one just under is pretty good, but two papers under 120 and your chances are rather slim.

UnquietDad Sat 07-Jul-07 16:26:45

Well, first of all you have to live in an area which has them. Which means I can't give any advice, because I live in a city with a chip-on-its-shoulder, pinko, inverted-snob council which scrapped its grammar schools in the 1980s.

frogs Sat 07-Jul-07 20:21:09

Whereabouts are you? Some grammar schools are hugely more oversubscribed than others -- the North London schools are typically taking the top 1% of the ability range (I was told this by a head, off the record). So if that's not your child, it's best not to go there. Others are taking more like the top 20-25% of the range, which is always worth a punt.

First step is to find out the format of the papers, ie. is there English and Maths as well, or is it just VR/NVR. Also, are the English and Maths papers multiple choice or written answers?

If the English is written answers (esp if essay) the standard is likely to go someway beyond the usual primary curriculum, so you need to prepare for this in some way. A modicum of specialist input may be required, and lots of practice. Ditto maths, but probably more preparation needed, even if multiple choice. IME selective school maths papers go considerably beyond what most state-educated children will have experienced by the autumn term of Y6. You should aim to have him confident with eg. operations involving fractions as well as simple expressions and equations, squaring/cubing, square roots and cube roots. The Bond papers are a good place to start -- if he can consistently manage one year group above his actual age, you're doing well; if not, some rather more intensive practice is called for. Wrt VR and NVR, you can't really teach these, but they certainly need familiarisation with the different types of questions and doing papers under time pressure. Again, Bond papers are good, but there are other publishers as well, so get hold of a range (Athey, Nelson etc). Bookshops in grammar school areas will usually stock this stuff.

If you're doing it yourself, 15-20 mins a day most days should be enough, if he's doing well. If there are obviously weaknesses, or you're not confident about teaching it yourself, then get some help in.

WideWebWitch Sun 08-Jul-07 12:48:42

Thanks frogs.

I think I can see his teacher this week and so will ask her what she thinks hs chances are.

harman Sun 08-Jul-07 13:34:19

Message withdrawn

WendyWeber Sun 08-Jul-07 15:29:56

Def ask teacher but it may be too early for them to say reliably. I would just go for the tuition anyway

Having said that I didn't with any of mine, but the alternative school here was perfectly OK

fillyjonk Sun 08-Jul-07 15:32:50

this is so mad

in 1989 I too the exam for the grammar in the next borough, passed, and then went there

that was the utter limit of my preparation. Prior to that I attended a music-orientated primary which basically didn't teach much except music and English.

A lot of kids WERE tutored through the exams but they then mostly continued to need tutoring for their whole time there

I don't blame ANYONE for doing this, I have crappy crappy local secondaries and I really do understand. I am just sad that it seems like its all gotten very competative.

WideWebWitch Sun 08-Jul-07 15:36:30

Oh I agree Fillyjonk, I went to a grammar too and it was easy to get in, we all took the 11+ with no prep and got in. These days that same school is VERY competitive, a friend's dd just got in there and it wasn't easy.

fillyjonk Sun 08-Jul-07 15:38:35

WHY is it like this?

What has changed?

It just seems mad

Sorry, not trying to hijack your thread. If I am honest, if the grammar school option was open to me round here, odds are I'd be starting this thread in 5 years time, committed socialist though I am. My local schools are APPALLING and I'd challenge anyone to send their kids to them (think over 50% exclusion rate)

katelyle Sun 08-Jul-07 15:39:32

we've just gone through this. The 11plus success website is a mine of information but also of fairly obsessed uberparents (IMHO) I think the degree of preparation depends a LOT on where you live. In some areas you don't just have to pass, you have to pass with top marks to get into the most sought after schools.In others if you pass you get a place. I think you need to find out what the system is in your area. The LEAs try to level the playing field by forbidding primary schools to do any more that basic familiarization, but of course, some schools ignore this, and some parents tutor like crazy, so the playing field is pretty hilly in places!
Even if you don't tutor, I suggest you buy some past papers and do some practice. The big problem for most children is simply doing it fast enough - they have to do 70 or 80 questions in 45 minutes, and they simply haven't done anything like this before. Happy to blether further if it's helpful.

we just did practice papers with our DS and started no more than 6 months before the exams and it was fine. That said, he's pretty bright and the papers were "right up his street".Our DD is also 10 in October, I think we'll be starting a bit earlier with her because I think she'll find the papers a bit tougher.
They definitely need to do practice papers for all the reasons others have mentioned already, no matter how bright. Whether that's with you or with a tutor depends on whether they will listen to you if you need to explain something. You also need to make sure you get the right practice papers. We used the NFER NELSON papers from WH Smiths last time, but that was 4 years ago so they mightn't be the most accurate these days. We bought another set which were nothing like the actual papers, so could have confused rather than helped if we hadn't realised. Your Yr6 teachers should have a good idea about best practice papers for 11+ in your area.

katelyle Sun 08-Jul-07 15:43:59

6h fillyjonk, don't start me! It's an insane unfair, divisive system and I hate it - but I wans't brave enough to stand out against it - for my musical dd it was the difference between going to a perfectly adequate school with no noticable music to going to one with 3 choirs,2 crchestras, a chamber group, a jazz band and a rock band!. Oh, and a perfectly adequate school where the loos are locked all the time and a school where nothing is ever locked except the labs and the cleaner's cupboard.

evenhope Sun 08-Jul-07 15:56:16

harman you do need to do at least a few practice papers with her because they don't do much practice (if any) at school. If everyone else has practiced then your DD will be at a disadvantage. The format (particularly of the non verbal reasoning) is so bizarre it could throw her if she hasn't had a chance to practice.

If a child needs a lot of tutoring to pass then they will struggle at the school, so shouldn't be there.

agree Evenhope. Even the brightest child could fail if they're not familiar with the papers/types of questions.

harman Sun 08-Jul-07 16:17:08

Message withdrawn

mumblechum Sun 08-Jul-07 17:58:55

ds got in last year. No tutoring, just bought him some papers, showed him how to do them and then let him practice getting faster.

Started about 9 months before the exam, and built up the frequency to about 3 a week just before the exams.

The school were really negative about it even though, at age 9 he was tested by the school as having a reading age of 15, he got level 5 sats in year 4 etc etc .

He loves grammar school and is in the middle of his class at everything.

Judy1234 Sun 08-Jul-07 18:10:05

Why is it harder now? I'm not sure. Are there more children? Are parents more concerned about their children's education?

Many areas don't have grammar schools. In the NE in the 1960s the local labour controlled councils got rid of them all. I think I remember the last year who did the 11+ there over 30 years ago. But in areas that still have grammar schools I'm not sure why it's harder now unless the other state schools have got worse perhaps?

themoon66 Sun 08-Jul-07 18:15:38

DS has just finished GCSEs at the local comp. He has applied to the grammar for A-levels because, after looking around, he felt he wanted to go there. He filled in the application himself. They told him he needs to get a minimum of 6 Bs at GCSE to get in. We are not doing any tutoring... I wouldn't want him to go there unless I know he can keep up without ongoing extra tutoring, which I cannot afford.

codJane Sun 08-Jul-07 18:16:51

apprently OO MCUh coaching cna thave the reverse effect
we wil start wiht ds1 at the easter

codJane Sun 08-Jul-07 18:17:22

our state primary runs an 11 plus club too
mayeb ask the head abotu that

filthymindedvixen Sun 08-Jul-07 18:18:20

bloody hell. things have changed. When I did 11 plus we did nowt except some practice questions in the term before. Everyone in my class took the exam but only 5 of us got in.

Marina Sun 08-Jul-07 18:23:47

I'm the same Filly and www. As far as I remember I just ambled into my grammar school place - selection was by SATs style testing, I think (done at primary school without us realising AFAIK), and an interview.
Even round here, where there are four large grammars in the locality and several more in NW Kent, plus a handful of really good nonselective state schools, I know the 11 plus is a source of angst for parents and supplementary income for canny moonlighting teachers.

GrowlingTiger Sun 08-Jul-07 18:34:16

Coaching/tutoring in exam style and technique must be of potential benefit to any child. Coaching/tutoring because the primary school hasn't covered certain topics (eg layout of essays, ormultiplying fractions or whatever) could benefit pupils depending on their primary school. Coaching/tutoring lots of basics is a mad move imo as it indicates that they may struggle.

11+ club sounds an excellent idea. But I kmow of areas where primary schools seem to be really anti 11+, which is a shame.

WideWebWitch Sun 08-Jul-07 21:48:30

Hey, socialists, I used to be one too, thought my son would go to where ever was nearest, we needed me to support local schools, blah blah, people who used private education should be shot, etc. I really didn;t think anything would compromise my strongly held priniciples.

Ahem. If he doesn't get in, we'll pay.

miljee Mon 09-Jul-07 17:15:01

Of course it's harder for a child to get into many GSs these days. The competition is much more fierce because many GSs have abandoned catchments altogether(eg 'reasonable travelling distance', girls grammar, Salisbury) and your child will be up against many whose parents have lived, breathed and PAID for this moment for YEARS. If you can't afford to pay or don't have the tutoring ability yourself, your child will have to be exceptionally bright and quick to get a grammar school place.

I went to GS in 73. We all took the 11+. In my class of 30 there was ONE privately prepped girl. Wonder what the percentage would be now??!

Milliways Mon 09-Jul-07 17:18:43

DS started at Grammar last year.

I passed him my intelligent genes & filtered out DH's

Seriously, we bought papers from WHSmiths & worked through them in Yr5. Any Maths that I couldn't explain his Primary teacher would show him at Lunchtimes (Level 6 stuff was appearing).

We found a great book "How to do Non-Verbal REasoning" that gave good tips on how to approach the questions.

DS was really motivated. He saw the school & decided that was where he wanted to go, and he asked to do the Papers.

No outside Tutors - too expensive!

fircone Mon 09-Jul-07 17:46:07

Nowadays people are much more competitive about everything. My cousin had his son tutored for 3 years for 11+, despite being told by the school that he was not grammar material, and he did not get in. My cousin and his wife were livid - they and many others do not get that just because you have a big house, a big car and big holidays your offspring have great big brains.

fircone Mon 09-Jul-07 17:58:58

I mean, 'do NOT have big brains'.

fircone Mon 09-Jul-07 18:00:24

do I mean that? I don't think I'd pass the 11+ any more!

WideWebWitch Mon 09-Jul-07 18:42:25

Hi miljee, I went to girls grammar in Salis, expect it was the same one...

Judy1234 Mon 09-Jul-07 19:47:30

So the reason there is more demand for grammars now is because they have broader catchment areas? Why don't they reduce them then?

If you have a county like say Kent or Bucks which has grammars surely there are the same number of grammars there ever were and as many children as there ever were living in the counties so why is it harder now to get in?

katelyle Tue 10-Jul-07 07:29:18

Grammar schools don't have catchment areas at all. That's the problem with the grammars in, for example, Tunbridge Wells - they take the top 11+ passes, regardless of where they live - so a child could live next door to the school, pass the test and not get in because a child 2 hours drive away got a higher pass park. It's another example of the utter unfairness of the system - but con't start me on the subject, or I'll get nothing done today!

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 07:38:14

Katelyle - you're wrong. TWGGS for example has a really tight catchment area. The grammars are always about 4x oversubscribed with people who have passed the 11+, so they have to move on to other criteria such as where you live.

fircone Tue 10-Jul-07 07:39:56

And many grammar school areas have become a lot more poncey - Bucks and Kent are commuter counties. The village primary school I went to was very socially mixed, and three of us passed the 11+ in my year out of 20-something children. But now you can't get near the school for 4X4s, and I bet most of the parents are determined their child will pass the 11+.

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 07:41:27

To answer the op, it's not too late. Most people who are doing coaching start in year 5. The point of the coaching is to working on exam technique - ie looking at past papers and working out what kind of questions might come up.

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 07:42:27

Oh God, now people with 4x4s are stopping your children getting into the best schools??? When did this turn into that kind of discussion?

fircone Tue 10-Jul-07 07:48:16

There's room on every thread for a pop at 4X4 people - even 'recipes'.
Anyway, if your child is very bright, they will pass. If your child is quite bright, they may pass but get on with the coaching.

Anna8888 Tue 10-Jul-07 08:11:30

I went to a presentation at Tonbridge Grammar School not long ago and the head was very clear that the school had no catchment area in the last two years (not sure about earlier) - there were pupils who commuted from London to Tonbridge every day.

swedishmum Tue 10-Jul-07 08:28:56

DD1 is at Grammar School and dd2 starts in September. I didn't pay for any coaching, but I am a teacher so I'm not sure if that counts as we did papers, looked at techniques but not till Y6. Doing a bit of work with ds but he's dyslexic and not v good at verbal reasoning (Y5 already).

swedishmum Tue 10-Jul-07 08:30:54

London to Tonbridge by commuter train at 11? Sounds mad!

dayofftomorrow Tue 10-Jul-07 08:34:29

The children from DD's class who got the grammar school places (or scholarships at local independents) all had at least one parent who was a teacher (not many places as just two grammars out of more than a dozen schools in the area)

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 08:50:57

Anna, you are right - Tonbridge take the people with the highest scores, so they come from a much wider area. They are stopping the sibling policy next year though. (They previously gave places to siblings with a bare pass regardless of scores.)

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 09:06:41

WWW, I think you have to be guided by your ds's primary school. They should tell you in Y5, whether they think it's worth applying to grammar schools. You really need their support as if, for example, he's ill on the day and messes up the papers, they can appeal and send in examples of his work as evidence. If they don't feel they've got the right kind of evidence that he's working at a high level, they won't recommend you go forward.

Of course, there are plenty of children who get in to grammar schools without tutoring, but most parents jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is, and that kind of raises the bar! All school will do SOME kind of 11+ practise, but it may be rather limited. You can always do it yourself at home though. Buy some papers from WHSmith and have a look.

frogs Tue 10-Jul-07 09:35:50

Xenia, the reason there is more demand is that there are fewer grammar schools overall. Even in those areas that have grammar schools right across the LEA, I'd bet there's a large intake from neighbouring LEAs. And in Kent and Bucks there are grammar schools that are considered more and less desirable, so the oversubscription is not even. For the North and South London grammars, there are at least 10 applicants for every place, largely because there are so few realistic alternatives that don't involve the blunt end of £12K a year.

frogs Tue 10-Jul-07 09:38:26

Pyjamaqueen, the opinion of the primary school is not necessarily a guide, since some primary school heads are strongly ideologically opposed to grammar schools. We were told we shouldn't send our dd1 to grammar school -- there was a stony silence on the part of the head when the results came back and she'd actually scored the highest mark of all the candidates. And there were several other girls in her year who would have comfortably got in, but succumbed to pressure from the school not to apply.

dayofftomorrow Tue 10-Jul-07 09:42:56

we must be very lucky in our borough in that the alternatives are very good, the grammars are the only available single sex option and there are quite a few parents who want that

katelyle Tue 10-Jul-07 10:28:01

Sorry - I mst have got my Tonbridges and Tunbridges mixed up!

pyjamaqueen Tue 10-Jul-07 12:30:48

Frogs - I know it's ultimately down to you if you want to put your child in for the 11+, it's just easier if you have the school's backup. Luckily I haven't come across Heads who are anti grammar schools - you'd think it would be good for their image if pupils got in!

clerkKent Tue 10-Jul-07 13:01:33

DS had a private tutor once a week in year 5, plus Saturday school. He also did practice NFER papers at home. Most of his friends at primary started private tuition much earlier. Every single parent we spoke to had taken some measure to prepare their boys for the grammar school entrance exams (SW London). DS ended up with several offers.

The main reasons for extra tuition is to get practice with exam conditions, and to put your kid on a level playing field with all the others.

MummyPenguin Tue 10-Jul-07 16:02:06

Not going to read all the posts, have read the first few and will add my experience.
DD is starting grammar here in Bournemouth in Sept. She started going to a tutor who is just a retired teacher who lives locally, in the December of year 5. However, the tutor spent the first few months building DD's confidence in her work, particulalrly maths. Soon after starting with the tutor, DD moved into the top Maths set at school. She was already in top sets for other subjects. They started working on 11 plus subjects around the June time. I worried that this may be a little late, but thought the tutor must know what she was doing. DD sat the 11 plus in the November, and we heard that she'd got a place at the grammar school on the first day of the Easter holidays.

In my experience, I would say it's really not necessary to change schools or anything as extreme as that. That could really work against you if your DD/DS wasn't happy in the new school. Just find a good tutor and get your child coached in 11 plus. Some people are against tutoring and are of the opinion that the child should be able to get in to grammar schools 'on their own merits.' I don't agree. My philosophy is that you wouldn't sit a driving test or any sort of test without first being 'coached' in what the test is for. Besides, a lot of schools don't teach verbal reasoning.

Also, I might add that I think year 4 is too early to start 11 plus tuition. You don't want to end up with over-kill and a child who is heartily sick of it by the time the 11 plus exam comes around.

WideWebWitch Tue 10-Jul-07 19:12:10

I spoke to ds's teacher today who said he thinks he would have a decent chance if I get him some tuition. She said his work ethic is excellent and his attainment is very able for the school, (which is apparently above ave standard, so doing well for this school is supposedly better than well in some other places) although not 1 (which is G&T) So we're going to go for it from Sept.

katelyle Tue 10-Jul-07 19:23:51

We started in a very low key and unobtrusive way in the summer holidays before the test i January. The big problem for a lot of the children is time - you have to work very fast indeed, and you have to learn to leave the questions you don't know and try to come back to them later. That's very difficult. Also, most of them won't have covered all the necessary maths in time, so a bit of work there is needed. I took the view , though, that it dd needed tons of coaching to pass the test, she wouldn't have been able to handle grammar school anyway, hence the low key approach.

Judy1234 Tue 10-Jul-07 19:45:40

So fewer grammars in grammar areas than there were say in 1960 or 1970 then? That still surprises me because I thought grammar areas had retained all their grammars and those areas (most) with no grammars got rid of them all. So the competition should be the same as ever. Perhaps it was always as bad but as children posters never realised.

My parents went to grammar schools in about 1940, both of them in the state sector. I wonder how different our lives would have been had they failed the 11+.

WideWebWitch Tue 10-Jul-07 20:12:26

There is a catchment area for our grammar btw.

dayofftomorrow Tue 10-Jul-07 20:45:51

most areas abolished completely in late sixties especially if local authority labour controlled
the area where DD goes to school had several grammars plus the secondary moderns now just two - one for each sex plus lots of very good comprehensives

frogs Tue 10-Jul-07 21:33:30

No, Xenia, fewer grammars overall, so grammars in eg. Kent and Bromley will be importing children from over the borough boundary, with people being prepared to travel much further than will have been the case when grammars were universal. And in fact the grammars in the less salubrious parts of Kent are not always massively oversubscribed, generally taking the top 25-30% of the age group.

The places where the over-subscription and hence the competition has got really out of hand are areas where there are one or two grammar schools set in a huge swathe of indifferent to mediocre non-selective schools, eg. QE boys, Henrietta Barnett and Latymer in North london, Tiffin Boys' and Girls' in south London. For schools like that you really do need to be in the top 1-2% of the cohort to be confident of getting in (and staying afloat once in).

Judy1234 Wed 11-Jul-07 06:54:08

If those areas politically like grammar schools why not make a second tier then in Kent/those bits of London. My ex husband went to a grammar school - most children did in that area - there were 4 of them. Some of them were really pretty appalling schools and I suppose they probably had a pecking order.

figroll Wed 11-Jul-07 08:36:04

Discussion about the number of grammar schools: In Birmingham I think there are 8 left - 3 for girls, 4 for boys and a mixed one. I know that a lot became comprehensive in 1977/78 (because I was in one at the time that became a comp), and these are all we have left. Competition for these places is very strong - much stronger than it was in the 60s - it has to be as there are fewer grammars and more kids.

Anyway, I digress. I have 2 kids at grammar and we had a tutor every other week for about 8 - 9 months before the test in November. She was a little old lady who had been a primary school teacher and she was lovely. I did the maths and English with the children and she did the verbal and non verbal reasoning, because I felt she knew more about it than me. In Birmingham most children have tutors to get into grammar school, so I wouldn't worry about it. If everyone else does it, you feel you have to do it yourself to level the playing field.

We used Bond books and also NFER papers.

By the way, neither of my children struggle at the school because of the tutor. They are both quite near the top of the class. It makes you feel that you didn't need a tutor, but I think having employed one just gives you a bit of extra peace of mind.

Good luck - and no you are not too late!

Freckle Wed 11-Jul-07 09:06:22

What absolutely stuns me, looking at all parties' attitudes towards grammars, is that they are all calling for the status quo or for abolishing grammars when parents are fighting tooth and nail to get their child into the remaining few. Why can't the politicians see that, where they exist, grammars are absolutely the school that parents want for their children, so why try to get rid/stop further creation of them??

And I really don't understand the argument that high schools "support" grammars or that grammars take funds from high schools. As far as I am aware, all schools receive the same funding per capita and we would always have the same number of children in school (regardless of what school they attend), so how does that work?

dayofftomorrow Wed 11-Jul-07 09:20:50

The grammars don't have any stage 1 or 2 special needs which cost extra in learning support staff but do not attract extra funding, there is no need to provide such a wide curriculum post 14 as there is less call for the practical subjects which comprehensives provide for their less academic children.

There are very few children with behavioural problems with unsupportive parents so less need to spend out on this.

Overall the cost per child therefore less

Freckle Wed 11-Jul-07 09:27:08

But many of the high schools have had extra funding thrown at them to boost their profiles. I know this is true of our local high schools. The equipment they have is just amazing compared with what the grammars have.

DS1's school many years ago was underperforming and consequently student numbers dropped. There was talk about merging it with one of the girls' grammars. However, they decided to turn it around, but pro rata over the years, because of the very low student numbers (down to only 40 at its worst), it has had very little money and what they did have could only be spent on teaching staff. So the fabric of the building and the equipment available to students is very much poorer than that at local high schools. But still parents fight to get their children into the school because of how it is performing now.

evenhope Wed 11-Jul-07 10:23:42

dayofftomorrow I am a Governor at my DSs Grammar school and we do have SEN pupils, plus pupils with behavioural difficulties (incl my DS3 but we won't go there ). We have also just acquired a large number of EAFL students as well.

dayofftomorrow Wed 11-Jul-07 10:34:09

In my ignorance how does a child with SEN pass the exams or are their needs very specific,

and most people I know with EAFL have much better english than my dyed in the wool english speaking neighbours

Piffle Wed 11-Jul-07 10:41:12

Find out what 11+tests they do
In our area they only did non verbal reasoning which ds1 aced.
We moved into the area with no coaching a week before the 11+
but we had the luxury (?) of an excellent tech college high school as well if he did not pass.

WWW am about to email you re where you live...

Piffle Wed 11-Jul-07 10:46:41

also would like to arm about too much coaching to just get in

DS is about to start yr 9 and several boys have fallen behind since halfway through yr7 and are now really struggling, many of these were coached for the exam.

Familiarity with the test atmosphere and ask teh school what prep if any they do with the children? Ds1's school did no pressure mock ups

evenhope Wed 11-Jul-07 17:06:51

dayofftomorrow it depends on the SEN. A lot of the kids with HFA spectrum disorders do well at tests and have high IQs but struggle in a classroom situation. Our EAFL students are from Nepal and a lot of them arrive with no English at all.

Milliways Wed 11-Jul-07 17:54:28

At DS's Grammar there are a few children with Aspergers (one in his class who he is friends with).

They have just had an (Outstanding) Ofsted report, and I was surprised to read that they do have SEN children (below average numbers) but have GREATER than average numbers of children with English as a second language. There is a large ethnic mix.

SparklePrincess Wed 11-Jul-07 20:11:29

Tonbridge Grammar school has 25 places reserved for out of area students, the rest go to children living in Tonbridge. Ive looked in to this because we live in East Sussex & TGS is the only one my dd`s have a chance of getting into. TWGGS is only 25 minutes away, but they virtually never take girls from our area.

Freckle Wed 11-Jul-07 22:04:53

There are children with SEN in DS1's school. In his class alone, there are 3 boys with severe dyslexia and one who is profoundly deaf.

hatjam Thu 12-Jul-07 15:32:42

i live in an area where there are 3 good grammar schools - and very hot competition to access them. the 11-plus system here has recently been shown up as a total sham: only 8 different question papers recycled year after year, tutors also acting as invigilators, a headteacher of a prep school instructing his secretary to photocopy the papers, pupils who haven't finished in the allotted time being given extra time in prep schools, pupils leaving the exam overheard to say 'i did that paper yesterday'.

the whole thing is a shambles, and for many years local primary heads have challenged the lea to address these problems. nothing was done until the local paper was involved in a expose.
(meanwhile, creaming off kids who do best at this sort of exam reduces the local comps to the status of secondary mods)

who could have confidence in such a system?

can't read all the posts to answer original question - but we had a tutor once a week fo one hour for one year - to ensure he had covered material asked in 11+.

Closer to the test we did bond assessment papers to improve his speed.

BTW ds1 is only boy from his state primary to get into a selective school without tutoring I don't think he would have made it - simply the competition from private preps is very tough.

my elder two go and the third is due to take 11+ in september
our grammar schools are small and very high achieving academically thus huge demand for places and stiff competition
i do not believe in tutors but do think they need to know ow to do papers particularly non verbal reasoning which can be hard (shocked at papers and still cannot do some questions)
my experience is that they ARE worth the stress
I know league tables are reviled BUT...... our boys grammar is something like 20th or 19th in the country and for many children the opportunity to be in such a fab learning environment would never arise...
also its about behaviour/attitude/ethos and i truly believe that a school with amazing academic results echoes the amazing results in these areas

sorry about the essay - buy the test papers - work through the summer before!

also private prep kids often dont cut the mustard - over prepared but under achieve

Walnutshell Thu 12-Jul-07 20:55:13

Minor distration: does anyone know how you find out where a grammar gets it's primary pupils from, ie which schools dominate?

Walnutshell Thu 12-Jul-07 20:55:59


Oops, obviously didn't go to grammar school then!

WideWebWitch Thu 12-Jul-07 20:58:28

no apostrophe in 'its' either Walnutshell!

I asked ds's school what percentage of its pupils went to the local grammar but I don't know how you'd find out the other way around. It would be intersting though, wouldn't it?

Walnutshell Thu 12-Jul-07 21:02:56

Crappy co-education system leaving me floundering with apostrophes, grumble, mumble. And mine were their top GCSE scores that year.

WendyWeber Thu 12-Jul-07 21:08:29

Ours used to tell us - when DD1 started (in 1993 ) we got masses of bumf including a list of names of all the new starters and which schools they'd come from.

Ours doesn't do it any more but obv the info is there - you could ask!

WendyWeber Thu 12-Jul-07 21:09:03

(They'd probably quote data protection and refuse to tell though )

Walnutshell Thu 12-Jul-07 21:43:05

Yes, I expect they can provide percentages at the very least. Thanks.

Alison2507 Fri 13-Jul-07 09:40:39

My ds is starting Grammar School in September. I coached him myself, but dd is having a tutor from September (year 5) because it was far to much like hard work! Its debatable how far you can increase their marks in Verbal and Non Verbal Reasoning, althought practice obviously helps, but I was told quite definitely that they would not have covered all the maths in school.

Now a Maths lesson. The NFER 11+ raw test scores are standardised around the mean, and the pass mark is set at a point above the this mean score. This means that if a high percentage of the children are tutored to a higher score the pass mark is effectively higher. Also in Trafford you now have to opt in to the test, and its on a Saturday morning, so quite a lot of the less able children don't bother. This will also push up the mean, raising the pass mark. Thats why its getting harder!

swedishmum Fri 13-Jul-07 09:53:56

Quick hijack for Freckle - don't suppose you know if the dyslexic children got extra time with tests? No-one in our LEA seems to know what happens round here! Anyone on here with dyslexic children at Grammar School?

helmum Fri 13-Jul-07 17:33:42

Well we've got 5 kids, and the oldest is in Grammar. The others we are sending to private prep. school - but we wonder if it's a waste of money. The Bond papers are brilliant, and the series includes How To Do It books which are very good. If you've the time, and a co-operative child, then you could easily do the preparation yourself. Start early in year 4, and remember that you leave it too late you can catch up with everything except reading! DS2 does his 11+ in November. Fingers crossed

helmum Fri 13-Jul-07 17:36:33

Forgot to add - Our LEA allows extra time and opportunity to have LSAs and quiet room to work in for kids who need it. I think all LEAs do - otherwise they fall foul of the Disability Discrimination Act.

smallone Mon 16-Jul-07 09:53:46

I was borderline on my 11+ and went to a secondary school. One of my friends, also borderline was sent to the grammar. I got on very well at the secondary school, got 10 GCSE's A-C and she got 8 below C. I know this is only two people but I think it illustrates that if you aren't at a level to get in you will struggle and would be better off at another school.

Also I went to the grammar for my A-levels coz my school didn't do the ones I wanted and found it to be complete rubbish! The rest of the girls had no common sense and the teaching was dictation. IME Grammar schools are worse at teaching as pupils are already more gifted and therefore the teaching staff can get lazy.

Obviously this is only one school but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the good grades achieved at grammars were purely down to private tuition and natural ability rather than teaching standards.

TheCodDelusion Mon 16-Jul-07 09:54:49

early in year 4 means 18 months/2 year of cramming
its far too early
researchc hsows that they peak at a cetina stage so too logn ispointless

tigermoth Tue 17-Jul-07 07:50:28

www, lots of really useful stuff on this thread. I will come back later to it. Seeing Cod's last post, I do feel my august born son who'll be in year 4 in September is still too young to have any coaching at the moment. I am not at all sure at this stage that we will even put him in for the 11+ even though if he passed he would be able to get a place at his brother's school. He is so different to ds1. Time will tell.

My older son did not get any coaching till 7 or 8 months before the test and that seemed about right for him. TBH, neither the teachers nor I would have seen him as potentially in with a good chance of passing the 11+ in year 4. He was not focussed at school and was not getting brilliant results, but then he did knuckle down to work more in year 5 and year 6.

A good first move would be to get your son assessed. My oldest sat some test 11+ papers set by a private tutoring school. The teacher marked them according to 11+ standards, taking his younger age into account ( he was 10 at the time). Then they told us the results, so we could see how far off ds1 was to achieving the necessary standard. Having a tutor do this and not us meant there was an outsider's perspective and this was really helpful. Can you find out if any of the private tutors or tutor groups will assess your son?

Tessiebear Sat 28-Jul-07 13:52:33

WWW - i feel EXACTLY the same as you (even planning how i could possibly disguise myself to sit the exam for him on the day)
DS1 has a tutor for 1 hour a week for maths, i do Bond papers and various other Letts books with him. Out of interest - how did your DS do in his yr4 optional SATS. I ask because these seem to give quite a good indication as to whether they are on track for the 11+. The reason i do quite a bit with my DS is because i feel he is boarderline - but with a bit of effort and practice he could do well. Really bright kids only need a bit of help with the whole layout of the paper etc. The style of questions is really different to anything they have come across in class.
Some parents have told me that they did the 11+ practice papers from beginning of year 5. Some dont do them until the beginning of year 6. I personally find the Bond papers really hard and think it is a lot of pressure for DS. But i almost feel that if i do nothing i am letting him down - by not giving him the opportunity.

Tessiebear Sun 29-Jul-07 17:25:13


prettypurpledaisy Mon 30-Jul-07 09:16:25

dd had coaching from year 6, only one hour a week for confidence more than anything, she fluffed the practice paper at school so I thought it would do her good, she got to grammar easily. ds is about to start year 6 in september has been having maths coaching for about a year as i was unhappy with primary school not for 11+ will start with tutor this holiday for confidence and just so he knows what the papers will be like. It doesn't do any harm but try not to put too much pressure on them they are only young. I am lucky in catchment for high performing non selective school but would prefer grammar for him if possible as local school so huge! It really depends on your child and whether too much pressure will have a negative effect. Do what is right for you and your son.

woodyrocks Sat 01-Sep-07 17:04:45

Have stumbled upon the thread via google and so glad I did. My DD is going into Yr.2 at Marian Vian (an over subscribed high achieving state school) but I am already thinking about 11+ (no, I am not one of those uber parents I swear!).

She already has the reading age of a 9yr old at the age of 6 and is articulate beyond her years. I am hoping for a scholarship to Babington house but also have my eye on Newstead wood even though we are currently 1.4miles outside the catchment area. Shall not start tutoring until Yr.4 whatever the case but have started extra curricular such as language (Spanish) and music (2 instruments).

bubblesbabe Fri 19-Oct-07 21:20:42

I agree with smallone - i teach children from the grammar and find they are not creative thinkers at all - have been spoon fed exam info and find it very difficult to work independently. Kids from local comp are much better able to tackle tasks alone and in groups - they seem to have been given the skills to think outside the box more effectively. Obviously depends on the child but unless they are already high fliers academically with a creative mind I would always go for a good all-round comp.

CowsGoMoo Mon 22-Oct-07 21:45:52

Just to add regarding catchment area's... I live just outside Hastings (East Sussex) and know of three girls who live locally to me who are at TWGGS(Kent) and 2 boys at Judd(Kent) and one girl at Judd (A- levels). They travel in by train and often with our train services do not get home until past 6 having left at around 7 in the morning.

alycat Mon 22-Oct-07 22:23:04

tigermoth, August born children are awarded extra points for the 11+.

The Judd School (Tonbridge) has many boys with SEN, I know at least 2 boys with Aspergers who go there.

Cowsgomoo, a Govenors Place at TGG can be awarded to out of area students with a (virtually) perfect score.

Rosetip Tue 30-Oct-07 21:13:08

Just a quick question alycat, and sorry if it's been asked before as not able to read whole thread.

Is it just August born children who are awarded extra points or May/June/July as well?

Also I've heard that boys indirectly benefit from the test as more girls pass but they have to allocate equal grammar school places between the sexes. Any truth in this or an urban myth?

Milliways Tue 30-Oct-07 22:51:15

In Reading, there is no longer any age weighting, which was gutting for DS as he is August born.

But he got in anyway!

TheDucHearseOfCorpseBride Tue 30-Oct-07 23:31:56

sparkleprincess - I asked around friends about primary schools local to Heathfield but they weren't able to answer - and I couldn't find the your other thread.

I thought TOGs gave 35 places to outside area? From our state primary this year, 4 went to TWGGS and 4 to TOG, 2 went private and 2 went to state. That's pretty good for East Sussex although the girls who went to TWGGS had all moved into TW in last couple of years. I don't know where the boys went - but everyone seems to think it's easier to get a boy into Judd or Skinners than it is to get a girls grammar place. Our school does not support the 11+ as there are no grammars in our county.

I'm only Reception and Year 1 so far and will consider private v grammar much later!

tiredout Thu 01-Nov-07 19:30:28

Of course Rosetip's right. Or at least, they have to allocate as many passes as there are places. If there are 100 places at grammar schools, 50 each gender, then that's how many pass the 11 plus. If the cohort in one year is particularly 'slow' a child could get in with a pass which would fail them in another year if the cohort is particularly bright. Either way, if the boys' marks are a little lower than the girls, then they will pass with a lower mark in order to get the full alllocation of boys in grammar school.

I can't understand why people still think it's a good idea. But then, you see, I failed my 11 plus and I've never forgotten it. Even though it was obvious to me, and my parents, that I was (am) bright and destined for university. Good job we didn't stay in the Hampshire hell-hole and moved back to London that's what I say.

nals Thu 15-Nov-12 09:45:44

Could anyone help me with names of tutors for Henrietta Barnett ? Thanks

Moominmammacat Thu 15-Nov-12 10:47:57

If it's any help to the idle amongst us, I didn't start with my DS until the Sept of Y6 ... for Nov exams. But he did a whole paper before school every single day for ten weeks, and more in the evening. He was co-operative but there was a reward (of sorts) for every paper. Horrid business but it did pay off for us.

Startail Thu 15-Nov-12 11:07:07

Practice papers at home until they do them quick enough is what DDs friends did.

If you are bright enough the actual questions shouldn't be a problem.

DD1 can do NVR with no practice at all.
Unfortunately being dyslexic she couldn't have read the VR paper accurately at 10

averageparent Fri 16-Nov-12 16:43:53

We don't know until March 2013 but it appears DD1 has got good enough marks to have a very good chance of getting into a good ( no 33 on the Sunday times list) partially selective secondary school.
Lots of people apply for a place from our area, including a lot of DD's class mates. We did a years pretty laid back tutoring for her year 5, spent the summer holidays doing maybe a paper a week, then did a paper a day for the two weeks before the exam.
A lot of the other girls who sat the exam were tutored for at least a year longer than DD, went to summer school over the holidays and some even took a week out of school prior to the exams! A couple got higher marks than DD but not as many as you'd imagine.
I think you can definitely over tutor!

NAR4 Sat 17-Nov-12 14:08:23

My oldest 3 are all at grammar schools (the others aren't old enough yet) and all I did was buy a set of practice papers from WHSmiths for them to familiarise themselves with the exam paper layout. This was what the grammar school recommended (they told us which type of papers to buy) when they had their open day for prospective parents.

It is worth getting a private tutor to check where they have been taught up to in Maths and what level they will need for the exam. We did this also and found a massive gap in their education. My husband taught them the maths that they hadn't covered at school, as he is a physicist (which involves a lot of maths).

I do know some parents though that have had private tutors for their children for up to a year before hand. I think this runs the danger of your child maybe getting in and not being able to cope, or feeling really upset about not getting in after the effort they put in.

Good luck.

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