Advanced search

To ask why children need to sit 11 plus to determine eligibility for grammar schools- why can't their SATS results be used?

(28 Posts)
Hercule Mon 29-Apr-13 13:23:20

Apologies if I'm missing something obvious. My children are much younger at the moment and anyway we haven't got grammar schools in our area. I am just curious - a friend lives in a grammar school area and really hates the ultra competitive tutoring that goes on. I was just wondering why with all the pupil assessment that takes place in primary schools ( and results are published so presumably they are robust) why can these assessments and SATS results not be used to identity the 'top 10%' who would benefit from a grammar school education? Rather than sitting an exam which certain pupils can be hot-housed to sit?

LemonsLimes Mon 29-Apr-13 13:27:40

Good point, although doubtless children would then be hothoused in the SATs curriculum instead.

When i was at primary i never heard of anyone being tutored to pass the 11+. I think this was because we had plenty of practice at verbal and non verbal reasoning during class time, so there wasn't the need for tutoring and everyone had a fair crack at the whip.

LemonsLimes Mon 29-Apr-13 13:29:49

PS. Some grammar schools seem to be moving away from verbal and non verbal reasoning and moving towards tests in the normal primary curriculum (maths, writing etc) although still doing their own tests rather than using sat results.

LemonsLimes Mon 29-Apr-13 13:30:53

The ones i am thinking of, say they are doing this because children are being tutored to pass the verbal and non verbal reasoning who shouldn't be in a grammar school

ernesttheBavarian Mon 29-Apr-13 13:31:19

In germany the secondary schools are still 3 tiered, so grammar school, middle (sort of comprehensive) and a technology type school where the kids generally learn a trade.

All children get random tests throughout their last year at primary in Maths German and HSU which is like general studies, a bit of science, a bit of history a bit of biology etc. The average is taken for these 3 subjects. Above 1.66 goes to grammar, above 2,33 goes to the middle school, under this score goes to the other school. so no tutoring or swatting just steady work throughout the year and I think a fair reflection of the pupil's ability.

I think it's much fairer.

But then there also other drawbacks. Pity they can't sit down and take the good bits from one system, drop the crap from the other system and come up with a fair and good system for all.....

parachutesarefab Mon 29-Apr-13 13:33:16

Children take SATs after school places have been allocated, so the schools wouldn't have results in time.

Children would be as hot-housed for their SATs, as for the 11+

Grammar schools are looking for some different skills to SATs, that their papers are designed to test.

Hercule Mon 29-Apr-13 13:37:51

The German system does sound fairer.

It just seems daft-the primary schools would obviously know which pupils are academically more able from their ongoing performance. Surely this is is a better indication of their ability than how well they do in a 'verbal reasoning' test for which if you haven't had any practice ( because you haven't been tutored) you're going to struggle to do well in.

Hercule Mon 29-Apr-13 13:40:24

But surely the skills that the grammar school exams are actually testing is how well you've been tutored to perform in this particular type of test ie how proactive your parents are ( and how much they can afford to pay for this tutoring)

Finola1step Mon 29-Apr-13 13:49:54

It's dictated by timing. Secondary school applications are submitted in the autumn term in the year before the child is due to start. Parents need to know if their child is eligible for a grammar place before the application process closes.

In my local authority, the 11+ is sat in the early part of September and the results are sent to parents a few weeks later. If a child has passed, then the parents can name grammar schools on the application. If not passed, you do not name grammars.

The process does not take into account school based assessments because there is no legal requirement for schools to administer standardised assessments in Year 5. There are optional assessments but there is no way if knowing if these have been administered consistently.

So grammars expect an independent, consistent assessment to be sat which can not be influenced by primary schools. My LA is reviewing its current 11+ content to bring it in line with the new curriculum due to be launched in schools in Sept 2014.

Thymeout Mon 29-Apr-13 14:22:27

The 11 plus is designed to test innate ability. SATs test levels of achievement. We were always told that after 3 practice sessions, you were unlikely to improve your 11 plus score, because doing the test can't make you more intelligent. SATs are testing schools not pupils - how well they are teaching basic skills.

Grammar schools want the brightest pupils, not necessarily those that have attended schools in 'good areas' or that have spent most of the last two years teaching to the tests.

Hercule Mon 29-Apr-13 14:23:55

Thanks for that explanation Finola. I didn't think about the timings,I can see how grammar schools may not wish to rely on teacher assessments from Y5.

thecatfromjapan Mon 29-Apr-13 14:34:01

That's an interesting viewpoint.

In our area, the head teacher does have an input into the stream that a child will enter into at secondary school. Child may score 97% on the test but find themselves in the lower stream on the head of primary's say-so.

All of which is, of course, fine if the head is correct in their assessment. Rather unfortunate if the child has been incorrectly assessed for years, however, for whatever reason.

And the 11+ in some areas did have a recommendation component. All of which works admirably for children who are have parents beavering away making the right impression. Not so good for the child told: "Well, you passed, but we felt a grammar school place would be wasted on you."

SATS may seem more objective than all that but they are terribly reliant on schools really aiming to get high SAT results for all their pupils. Not all schools have that as their objective. Read around on mn - not all parents think that should be a school's objective.

Animol Mon 29-Apr-13 15:09:01

Just another perspective from Germany here - the tutoring industry over here is MASSIVE

I think there are some advantages to the German system but to really think it's all down to kids 'natural ability' is just wrong - study after study has shown that rich kids with educated parents get into grammar school and poor kids whose parents went to the bottom type of school - Hauptschule - also go there.

FreyaSnow Mon 29-Apr-13 15:36:21

The SATs are not age standardised; the 11 plus is. Summer birthday children are hugely over-represented on lower ability tables and amongst children who need extra help etc in primary school. When age is taken into account they may actually be more capable than an older, supposedly able child. Hence my Summer birthday children being in grammar school when children with better SATs results failed to gain a place.

Midlifecrisisarefun Mon 29-Apr-13 15:59:10

Its not necessarily true that primary teachers know the children better to judge their abilities, a close friend was advised not to put her daughter in for the 11+, as it would be too stressful and she would struggle if she passed. Her parents ignored it and entered her for grammar 11+ and scholarship entries for the local indie. She passed both with top marks took the scholarship, roll on a few years, 11 As at GCSE, 5 As at A level, a first from Cambridge, and Masters abroad! Not bad for a kid that would struggle!
My own DC also all ended up in indies on scholarships/bursaries after being told they were 'average' in primaries. 2 'failed' the 11+. All did well academically and exceeded expectations of primary teachers.

50shadesofvomit Mon 29-Apr-13 17:06:07

Not all schools assess their children equally. Some schools may be more generous with grades than others so they can boast that x% went to GS last year.

lljkk Mon 29-Apr-13 17:13:57

"We were always told that after 3 practice sessions, you were unlikely to improve your 11 plus score"

Can that be true? Because then why do so many parents get tutoring for the 11+? confused

greenformica Mon 29-Apr-13 17:19:02

I think a child can be a 2B in one school but if the same child moved to a different local school, they might be a 2A or 2C. Teachers mark differently.

letseatgrandma Mon 29-Apr-13 17:29:12

The SATs are not age standardised; the 11 plus is.

That's certainly not true in my LEA.

Flappingandflying Mon 29-Apr-13 17:30:05

Because SATs are crap. They are often incorrectly marked and teacher assessments can be incorrect. My youngest was given a Teacher assessment of 3 for Science. That's really really weak. He doesn't have SEN. Needless to say, now in year 8, he is in top set science and getting level 6. Now he's no genius or boffin and not working as hard as he could but to go up three entire levels is daft. The primary teacher got it wrong. He should have been a level 4 end of. As. Teacher myself I have taught English to kids with level 5 who can't string a sentence together and other kids who are weak level 4 on entry who leave with A grades at GCSE. Personally I have come across so many children who did not thrive at primary but came into their own at secondary that actually what is most important for academic success is possessing self discipline, an elasticity of mind, a reasonable vocabulary and functional literacy and numeracy skills. Inate ability is more important than being able to pass a flawed exam, marked by non specialists with a rigid mark scheme in front of them and reliant on a schools approach. Some hot house and virtually tell the kids the answers, others don't give it the time of day.

Suzieismyname Mon 29-Apr-13 18:30:53

Letseat, do you mean that the SATS are age-standardised or that the 11+ is not in your area?

CruCru Mon 29-Apr-13 18:31:43

I think that many prep / private schools don't bother with SATS. Perhaps the 11+ allows all children to compete.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 29-Apr-13 18:35:37

SATs test schools more than they test children.

Children really don't have to be that bright to get high SATs scores, and some schools don't like to put children in for level six papers even when the child would be capable.

Thymeout Mon 29-Apr-13 19:36:52


Why do parents pay for coaching for the 11+ when you can't teach IQ tests? If 'everyone else is doing it', it takes a very tough-minded parent to buck the trend. The whole point of the Verbal Reasoning/Number/Non-Verbal Reasoning tests is that they are as independent as possible of quality of teaching. They test ability, not what children have learnt. You can familiarise a child with the format and type of question, but you can't teach e.g. verbal reasoning.

Admittedly, some grammars have been including more conventional English and Maths tests, including material not taught in state primaries. As a result, some LEA's, e.g. Kent, are concerned about the influence of coaching on selection in these schools and want to revert to the 'purer' !Q test.

When it comes to predicting future academic success, SAT's are a very blunt instrument. Which is why many non-selective secondaries use CATs in year 7 for streaming purposes.

Hulababy Mon 29-Apr-13 19:41:40

Not all schools do SATs.

Not sure SATs are precise enough to determine a top 10% either.

Join the discussion

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

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: