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To be frustrated that Grammar schools are full of private tutored kids?

(507 Posts)
Sammyp235 Thu 17-Oct-19 20:39:22

So my DC sat the 11+ and passed it and was placed on a waiting list (number 10) to get in to local Grammar school.

490 kids sat test and there were 150 places provisionally set aside for the kids who scored the highest.

Now of it was an even playing field then that absolutely fair enough, but I know that it’s not. Many parents ‘prep’ their kids with a private tutor for years in some cases.

I know this as I have a couple of friends who are private tutors and we’re surprised when I said DC was going to sit the entrance test without any previous tutoring. They both advised they’ve tutored kids for up to 2 years prior 😳

There’s a child in DD’s class who’s had years of private tutoring and secured a place (it’s common knowledge and said child happily discusses it with other classmates and it was with the purpose of getting in to this grammar school)

I’m frustrated that the schools website says you don’t need any extra tutoring. The reality is that should be the case, but that leaves those that can’t afford it at a disadvantage as there are definitely plenty of kids that get the extra help then get the places.

There’s 3 kids in DC class that all have private tutors and all secured a place.

I’m of the opinion that if you need a private tutor for you DC for several months/years to pass the 11+ then perhaps it isn’t the school for your DC.

I find it annoying that so many kids have the advantage over others and take up the places. Of course if you have the money then fair enough, why wouldn’t you get private tutors in. I don’t blame the parents, but I feel that school should not have stated you don’t need extra tuition. You absolutely do as your up against it if not!!

I just feel frustrated for those kids that have a natural aptitude and academic ability, but are up against those who have been tutored to the max. It’s not an even playing field at all.....

Oh and I had to laugh to myself when one of the said mums asked me what ‘rank’ my child was placed in (none of her business) and said ‘oh so out of 500+ places your DC is 160th most intelligent 😳..... I was dying to say ‘erm actually it wasn’t an even playing fiend though was it?’

MyDcAreMarvel Thu 17-Oct-19 20:43:55

Surely it’s obvious that you would need to tutor your dc unless truly exceptional. Have you been living under a rock?

Manicpixiedreambitch Thu 17-Oct-19 20:45:10

The whole system is a joke, what do you expect. At least your child is bright and has done well without being tutored.

Fucket Thu 17-Oct-19 20:45:33

I have spoken to colleagues about this (teachers) because I don’t want to pay for tutors. They think my kids will be at a disadvantage. But conceded if I practiced a few papers with the kids before they sat the exam they’d be familiar with the formats and won’t be any worse off.

Really you are either intelligent or you are not. I would hate for my kid to get to grammar and struggle, best to be at a comp.

People have gone on to get top grades and top university places from comprehensives too.

Tellmetruth4 Thu 17-Oct-19 20:47:36

I assumed most tutored for grammar for at least a year. You’re right that it’s not fair but it’s an arms race at the moment. Maybe many of the kids didn’t need tutors either but it’s a bit of an insurance policy I guess.

AllTheCakes Thu 17-Oct-19 20:48:37

It’s a shame, but it’s been the same for a long time. DH and his siblings are all in their thirties and attended a very well regarded grammar school back in the day after private tutoring.

seaweedandmarchingbands Thu 17-Oct-19 20:49:31

Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much you can do about it. People have that right.

LoonyLunaLoo Thu 17-Oct-19 20:50:50

It doesn’t always work though. DS wasn’t tutored (well except by me but I’m not a tutor). 4 of his classmates were. DS and 2 others passed (one tutored, one not).


2 that weren’t tutored passed.
1 that was tutored passed.
3 that were tutored didn’t pass.
1 that wasn’t tutored didn’t pass.

onlyoneoftheregimentinstep Thu 17-Oct-19 20:52:54

Of course YANBU. Politicians are very fond of pretending that grammar schools allow bright but poor children the chance of an academic education and that was certainly true in the past, but not any more. I went to a grammar school in the 60s - all my classmates sat the 11+ and the brightest were offered places - tutoring was unheard of. Nowadays if you can afford it you can pay to train your child to jump through the hoops. Totally discriminatory.

spanieleyes Thu 17-Oct-19 20:54:06

Fourteen of our year 6's passed, 4 had tutors for up to a year beforehand, the rest just had a few practice sessions at school beforehand. In my area, familiarity with the question types helps to a certain extent but it's not the be all and end all!

TimeforanotherChange Thu 17-Oct-19 20:54:24

It depends entirely where you live. We have the grammar system in Lincolnshire. I don't know of any child who was tutored to get in - and I have had 5 children through the system. This is not a stealth boast - all my children went to a small village school and I don't know of any parent who paid for private tutoring. As you say, children would mention it. I have just googled it and the nearest tutor I can find for 11+ is 60 miles away from us. Lincolnshire is large and rural.

Tolleshunt Thu 17-Oct-19 20:54:30

YANBU OP, but unfortunately that is the way of it. It’s hard as a parent, as if you stick to your principles? you risk your child being left behind/disadvantaged. Once a critical mass are being tutored it becomes a must.

You are 100% right that your child is not 160th in the intelligence rankings - if she achieved that placing without tutoring, chances are she is one of the very brightest. Fingers crossed a place comes up.

Velveteenfruitbowl Thu 17-Oct-19 20:54:35

Grammar schools are just looking for middle class children who will be supported at home if they fall behind though aren’t they? They teach at a higher level without the resources to deal with the problems that will inevitably cause. Unless there is a massive reduction in numbers as children progress I would assume that private tutoring supported the in school learning.

JamesBlonde1 Thu 17-Oct-19 20:57:37

Completely agree OP. Don't know how to fix it.

It'll get worse as no-one wants their kid to leave school and work in the factory down the road (there aren't any!) to bring some money in. Education all the way.

Grammar (for those who want to learn) is the bees knees and kids will do better there than in the local comp, hence the desperation to get in.

We don't have that option where I live, no Grammars. So private school it is......

StuffYouAllInTheCrust Thu 17-Oct-19 20:59:00

We’re not tutoring our DC either, I think kids have enough pressure as it is. It’s so wrong though that those that are tutored seem to get the places at grammar. Surely natural ability should trump those that had tutoring to get through the 11+?

MereDintofPandiculation Thu 17-Oct-19 20:59:55

This is why we'd do better without grammar schools. If everyone is in the same school, it's relatively easy to move up a set or down a set. If you've got into a GS through intensive coaching, and are struggling, or have failed because you didn't have any tutoring, it's more difficult to switch schools.

Panicmode1 Thu 17-Oct-19 21:01:06

Here (Kent) the private school children are taught VR and NVR from about Y2, and are also tutored. The state schools are not allowed to do ANY 11+ prep with the children, so inevitably parents who can afford to, will tutor to give their children a chance to compete. It's a crappy system which isn't remotely fair, particularly for bright children who don't have family who can afford to tutor - but I don't know how you can make a truly tutor proof test....

NailsNeedDoing Thu 17-Oct-19 21:02:12

I agree that the school shouldn't say that no tutoring is needed, it would be better for them to say nothing at all. Primary schools don't routinely do the sorts of reasoning tests that are part of the 11+ unless they're in a grammar area as far as I know, so of course a child needs to be exposed to the sort of test they're going to take if they're to stand a chance. It's not necessary to pay for a private tutor though, free practice tests are widely available and motivated parents can do it themselves if they choose to.

I’m of the opinion that if you need a private tutor for you DC for several months/years to pass the 11+ then perhaps it isn’t the school for your DC.

I disagree with this though. Children do have to put in extra work and effort to be tutored well enough to get a place, and being willing to do the extra is probably exactly what's needed in a grammar school. Also, when places are only given to the highest scoring children, there are still likely to be plenty of children that pass th test and don't get a place. Therefore the children that do get a place will have got the place because they do have the ability, and like you said, children do need some form of tutoring to stand a chance. They won't have got their place on tutoring alone.

Sammyp235 Thu 17-Oct-19 21:04:31

Thanks for replies ladies. My DD is bright, not gifted or anything but she just gets it, always has done. We laugh and say she’s the teachers dream lol. Works at a higher ability in some areas and gets like 70-95% in tests (teachers words) and in the class of about 30 is in about the top 6 (2 of them are tutored privately have been for years)

I felt under pressure to let her take the test as I knew other kids in the class that struggled but we’re taking it so I thought I’d give her the opportunity. I felt she had a fair chance of passing.

I wasn’t too bothered whether she got a place or not as I felt )as pp said) she’ll do fine wherever she goes.

When I found out the amount of tutoring that was going on I was quite shocked!! Yeah it seems I was under a rock 😂 but now I’m annoyed that I didn’t prepare her more. She done it with no support whatsoever poor little thing and now I feel bad. We could have afforded an hour a week fir a year but I thought no way, if she’s bright enough she’ll pass.... which she did but now I feel shit that I didn’t push her and get er that’s support as I do believe that she’d have secured a place.

I feel a bit sick now and I actually thought I wouldn’t care. I think I’m some wats if have felt better if she’d not passed but to know she did I feel bad.

Just seems so unfair. Surely the grammar schools themselves would want kids that have passed with no extra support!

batvixen123 Thu 17-Oct-19 21:06:38

Honestly, I think it makes a joke of the whole grammar school system. They aren't remotely meritocratic. I'd like to see the 11+ abolished everywhere.

CherryPavlova Thu 17-Oct-19 21:07:09

Grammars are hugely unfair, create divisions that are unnecessary, reduce social mobility and provide worse results overall compared to non selective systems. The question isn’t about the advantage of those offered places but the disadvantage of those relegated to non grammar schools.
Of course parents pay for tutoring. It’s much cheaper than independent school fees throughout secondary.
The Tories know grammars supply votes and seats in Parliament because the aspiring middle classes in grammar areas are always going to vote for them. Sadly this leaves the less well off at a huge disadvantage.

Breathlessness Thu 17-Oct-19 21:08:18

You can do private tutoring but with some past papers parents could do it themselves. A lot of it is learning exam technique - read the question carefully, be sure of what they’re asking, answer in the right units, pace yourself so you don’t run out of time, check your answers when you’ve finished the paper.

arethereanyleftatall Thu 17-Oct-19 21:08:30

It is ridiculous.
But it's also totally dependent on where you live. So, round my way, there is literally no way you'd get in without tutoring, no way whatsoever; you could be Einstein, it wouldn't be enough. But where I grew up, Kent, any bright kid will get in, tutoring or not.

AngelsWithSilverWings Thu 17-Oct-19 21:08:53

Where we are almost every child has a private tutor for the 11 plus or the parents do the tutoring themselves.

I had always thought that we wouldn't tutor DS but then we discovered that the state school curriculum doesn't cover everything in the test.

We were also advised by the school that they are not allowed to specifically prepare children for the 11 plus.

My DS had the natural academic ability but needed a tutor to cover the gaps in the state school curriculum and also for some confidence boosting and exam technique.

We knew he would be competing with children from the local private schools who are supported through the 11 plus preparation.

He passed and is now on his third year at grammar school and is keeping up fine.

autumnmum Thu 17-Oct-19 21:13:35

In my experience (2x kids at grammar school) those parents who say they have not had their kids tutored fail to mention the primary schools their kids attend do tutoring sessions. My children's primary schools didn't and so I did go through papers with them. This was more to teach them exam technique to do with timing than anything else. We are also in Lincolnshire where there is a lot of grammar schools so I don't know if it is different in other counties.

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