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How is DS going to stand a chance at the 11 plus exam if I can't figure it all out?

(55 Posts)
DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 19:49:54

Aibu? Why is it so difficult to figure it all out! It's like a test for parents, and I think I'm failing!

I have had mixed feelings about the exam, but ds is adamant he wants to give it a go. He's a bright child (he would be, I'm a mumsnetter wink) but I don't know if he's superselective bright. I guess there is one way to find out.

So I've said no tuition but I would help him over the summer to prepare for the exam style and timings and stuff because it feels like a good compromise. So I'm googling away, ready to spend £50 on the books and stuff and I'm bamboozled!

What's cem, cgp, cloze? I could spend hundreds on the books and just can't figure out what the fuck to buy. Or download. It's the birmingham exam, so I have figured out its cem, but seriously am I being a struggler?

Any seasoned pros fancy guiding me through this? smile

TheFirstOfHerName Mon 22-Jun-15 19:51:50

Try lurking on here

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 19:54:05

Hello! Thank you. I feel really underprepared and I'm worried I've left it all too late! I'll check it out. smile

TheFirstOfHerName Mon 22-Jun-15 20:32:01

I have no knowledge of the Birmingham area, but both my older two children asked to do our local equivalent of the 11+. A tutor wasn't feasible, so I prepared them both myself using information and advice from my local section of that forum.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Mon 22-Jun-15 20:38:36

We used that forum a bit as well, but initially called the LEA who were super-helpful and told us exactly what style of test it would be (vr in our case). They have nothing to hide, no harm in calling them.
But haven't you been to an information evening at the grammar school? If you missed it, I'm sure they'd point you in the right direction for books, practice papers etc. Again, they have nothing to hide, and they do want to find the most ble pupils so why wouldn't they tell you?
Just don't expect any input from his primary school grin.

RosesareSublime Mon 22-Jun-15 20:54:03

so if your struggling to work it out why on earth arn't you asking a tutor with intimate knowledge of whats needed to come and help you?

Tell you where his weak spots are, tell you what you need and help?

Loads of threads on here, 11 + forum, as pp said call lea etc.

I hope you have not left it too late, I think if your son has decided to do this you owe it to him to support him as much as possible.

EastMidsMummy Mon 22-Jun-15 21:14:08

Of course it's like a test for parents. Selective education is a grossly unfair system designed to weed out those without a decent bank balance (get a tutor) or the resources or ability to game the system.

Please don't buy into the myth that your child is bright enough or not to be picked. Most children are bright enough if they get the help and guidance to pass the exam.

esiotrot2015 Mon 22-Jun-15 21:16:22

This is why we went for a tutor a year before so we & ds didn't have a panicky summer

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 21:17:53

I've been to the open evening and the entrance exam wasn't talked about in detail.

I've been on the LA and individual schools websites and I'm looking at the forum now. But I just hadnt banked on how confusing it is for a complete novice. I wasn't grammar educated and simply have no prior knowledge or experience at all in this area.

We haven't used a tutor for a couple of reason Roses, the expense being one but also because I just don't want to put pressure on ds. I've always been of the opinion that bright kids will do well if they are driven and given support no matter where they go to school. So we support ds at home by unlimited access to books (well kindle downloads now!) and taking time to explain and expose him to things he may not get at school (African fiction, a love of music, humour, conversation, the outdoors, plant and tree ident knowledge). But the time has come to give him a fighting chance in the exam with a summer of prep. I don't want to hot house him, but equally I don't want to disadvantage him but not getting him used the time pressure and style of exam he will be sitting.

If it was up to me, I'm not sure I'd even register him for the exam, but he very much wants to do it, so here I am: he can but try!

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 21:23:24

X post with EastMids. I don't think he is bright enough to waltz into an exam room and sit an unfamiliar test and pass, especially with his chosen school: it is superselective and a 'pass' mark won't get you a place.

I'm conflicted re the tutoring, but thought that this was happy medium. I have just booked him onto a week long preparation course with mock exams.

esio I'm hoping it won't be a panicky summer! Just one where we hit the books a bit!

Aermingers Mon 22-Jun-15 21:25:56

Honestly? I think you should go for the tuition.

My brother got into one of those schools, but he was coached by two very highly educated parents. If you feel that your son is capable of better than you are and that he could do better with tuition then just do it. A lot of children will effectively be getting the same tuition from their parents.

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 21:52:35

I think I've missed the tuition boat. I hope he's capable of better then me, I always just missed the mark, even though I have a (Russel Group none the less grin) degree and a decent professional career, I'm by no means one of life's high achievers.

Artandco Mon 22-Jun-15 21:57:04

Honestly I don't think you need all the tutition. I went to grammar and don't remember even being told it was an important exam beforehand. Many of my friends there came from poor families with little education also and were def not tutored beforehand. I'm sure a few were but it was about 80-90% not tutored and 10-20% tutored max.

The idea is they need to just pass the exams naturally, if they have been overly tutored they will really struggle the next 8 years of schooling in that type of environment.

Gemauve Mon 22-Jun-15 22:14:23

Many of my friends there came from poor families with little education also and were def not tutored beforehand.

I rather suspect you're talking about Kent-style 20/80 grammars, not the Birmingham super-selectives.

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 22:20:32

I know what you mean about not setting him up for school life if you tutor to pass an exam he's not capable of passing without hours of extra tuition. But I can't see that there is any harm in preparing ds over the summer for the exam.

I'm just trying to figure out the best way of supporting him at home, what resources I should be looking at, is it best to just do the practice papers, or better to work through the different work books or a combination of both?!

The basic stuff like vocab, times tables and a natural aptitude for maths are all there, it's the VR And non VR that I have no idea where he's at with.

DoItTooJulia Mon 22-Jun-15 22:21:54

Gem are you a seasoned pro? <hopeful>

missingmumxox Mon 22-Jun-15 22:43:15

don't worry, you have to remember people who bang on about tutition have paid a fortune for it and need to justify it, my admin at works daughter pasted with no tuition and went to a super selective and my best friends dd is also in a super selective without the benefit of tuition, her daughter is in the top sets of year 9 now and in the top half of her class, her best friend who was tutored has had to continue with tutoring to keep up, that is no life for a child.

the advice people I trust have given me is practice the papers so it is not a shock doing the test at the time.

I have twins and I have entered them both this year, as it is just under 3 months away, and they change so much in that time, I feel that one might do it but we will decide on the day if he is going to do it, the other is ASD and been fixated on going to the super selective down the road from us for years, from my point of view it would be the very best choice for him as they have an ASD unit, but he does sometimes meltdown at new experience so might not comply with doing the test, thems the breaks and we will roll with them smile

funnily enough tonight was the first time I broke open our test books (boy this is one area where having twins...(and a copier) pays off smile DT1 was just off at a pace, (he with ASD) he loved it, got them all correct, his brother found it hard going, as I did,

my only worry is how dt1 willl cope if he fails, but I am not worried otherwise, I failed my 11 Plus back in the day and the day I realised all my reports (we where all within a couple of years in age) had passed was the day I realised that its about life long learning and enjoying that, rather than a test you took at 10.

good luck he sounds like DT1, help him but in a calm it really isn't the end of the world if he fails but nice for him if he gets to the school he wants.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Mon 22-Jun-15 23:19:42

If the LEA website confuses you, give them a ring & ask them to explain what you don't understand. Or call the admissions officer at the school - it won't be a new experience for them!
I know a fair few who've had the expensive tuition but still not got a place; we coached our three (not at the same time though!). Maybe start with the books to learn the basic methods, then just plough on with same papers. You'll get an idea of where he needs more practice soon enough. Don't forget to start timing as the test gets closer.
< whispers > One thing that helped ours but was time-consuming: either myself or DH would do the paper alongside and cash rewards were doled out if they scored more highly than us. Proved a nice earner for DD!

Mushypeasandchipstogo Mon 22-Jun-15 23:20:34

Sorry OP but you don't stand a cat in hells chance of getting to a Grammar around here unless you are tutored by a parent or privately. Also private prep schools spend a lot of time doing practice papers. Go to WHSmith and see if you can buy the appropriate ones. You might be lucky with your child's class teacher, they might advise you if specifically asked but I don't think at a state school that they are supposed to. I am afraid gone are the days when you only had to be just bright to pass your 11plus, we'll certainly in this area that is the case. (We are not Birmingham though.)

Mushypeasandchipstogo Mon 22-Jun-15 23:22:03

well not we'll !

CocktailQueen Mon 22-Jun-15 23:23:44

We got practice papers for the NVR paper and did them. I had to google to work out which were the right answers, and why, sometimes... Did a couple of maths papers but didn't bother wi English as that's dd's best subject. I'd contact the school or the council and ask them - make sure you know what exam he'll be sitting, then take it from there. Good luck!

DoItTooJulia Tue 23-Jun-15 07:06:03

Thanks all, I'm getting there with it all! It's just a minefield!

Gemauve Tue 23-Jun-15 07:15:35

I've PM'd you.

Artandco Tue 23-Jun-15 07:31:27

No it's a super selective, 100% passes at GCSEs and alevels pretty much since they were introduced. All grammar schools have the same pass rate, it's a pass or fail, the % doesn't count. I now know friends children going there. The ones that get in and succeed throughout are naturally passed still. Most tutored leave after a year or so to local comprehensives as struggle to keep up. There's hardly ( if any) private schools in the area so nobody has been prepped through school.

My sons attend a pre prep school now. They are very hot on not tutoring your children as they expect the school standard alone plus parental guidance to be adequate.

BirminghamNameChange Tue 23-Jun-15 07:46:53

Most tutored leave after a year or so to local comprehensives as struggle to keep up.

I'm not aware of anyone leaving a Birmingham super selective for a local comprehensive, and I don't know anyone who wasn't to some greater or lesser extent tutored. I've had children at one of the other of them for approaching ten years. Across the Birmingham super-selectives, the turnover of pupils is about one or two per year per school, mostly due to people moving out of the area. A high proportion of the pupils come from private primaries, and there is a view amongst many that it's cheaper to pay from 8 to 11 than pay from 11 to 18.

There's a lot of snobbery in which middle class parents in a position to tutor themselves, often one or the other of them a teacher, are smug about the lesser people who have to pay for the same service, of course. I'm not aware of anyone who got in without tutoring either privately or from parents who were in a position to do it well. There will, of course, be exceptions, but they are just that. With around 10 applications for every place, this is hardly surprising.

I don't know where you are, but your experience is entirely unlike the schools the OP is talking about, or you have an outsider's unrealistic view. The reality is:

+ Most successful applicants are to some greater or lesser extent tutored, particularly those whose parents aren't the university/QEH mafia that dominate the demographic;

+ Very few pupils leave once having arrived;

+ Anecdotally there is a very low level of in-year tutoring (the "they were tutored to be got it and need a tutor after that" is more myth than reality);

+ The test is supposedly tutor-proof, but that's a gamble few are willing to take; a few middle class parents have tried the "oh, they'll just turn up, if they deserve to get in they'll get in" and not got in; again, there will probably be exceptions.

* This year's changes to the admission strategy (extra class, FSM prioritisation) still hasn't worked through and no-one outside the school's admission people know what 2015/16's Y7s will look like. The pass mark has definitely dropped, which changes the situation.

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