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To Tutor or not to Tutor - That is the question....

(68 Posts)
indignatio Mon 28-May-12 19:11:43

Yr 5 boy, in state school, bright, willing to do practise papers, aiming for a place at a local, highly selective school in the top 20. Exams in Jan. Will be sitting both level 6 sats papers in May next year - unless they are scrapped again. Would achieve Maths now, has a fair chance (with work) on achieving English. Bright, reasonably patient parents. Past papers not available through the school or on line.

School will not prepare him for the exams and interview - nor should they, it is not in their remit.

It seems to be taken into account from such selective schools if a child is state educated and has not had a tutor.

DS is happy to sit the exams, do practise papers, but does not want a tutor.

So, do I negate the possible allowances made for his education to date by employing a tutor. If asked, he will not lie - nor would I ask him to-. Or, do I ensure he has the best chance possible by arranging tutoring for the interview and exams?


TotallyBS Mon 18-Feb-13 21:17:11

Slightly off topic but I don't see anything wrong with starting prep in Year 4. We started home prepping in Year 5 and during term time they did a paper a day. Now, that isn't too different from some parents/schools who do a paper a week in Year 4.

racingheart Mon 18-Feb-13 16:00:55

Totally, you may be right but all the school round here get 13+ students to sit a pre-test at 11+. Not sure why, but it does mean the pupils are well prepped. A boy I know moved to prep in Yr 4, saw some Bond papers lying round on our table and said: Oh I did that one at school this week! They were already prepping them in Yr 4 at his school.

TheFallenNinja Mon 18-Feb-13 10:53:41

This may be a bit of a semantic selling thing. Perhaps not describing it as a tutor may help you sell it to him? Perhaps something a bit less formal?

TotallyBS Mon 18-Feb-13 10:09:55

My friend's prep school does little prep for 11+. The cynics suggest that its because they want your money for another 2 years. However for 13+ they do spend the last lesson of every day on exam prep.

So don't assume that all prep schools will make a concerted effort to get your DC past the 11+

racingheart Fri 15-Feb-13 19:01:27

Amber, if your DC is at prep, then there should be no need to tutor. They prep your child for 11+/13+. Hence the name. Should be fine. good luck.

Great news indignatio!

Amber2 Fri 15-Feb-13 16:02:55

I am also not tutoring other than DIY ...paying $$$ already for prep school though that does do some 11+ familiarization for pretests...for me honestly, as long as DS puts the time in (which is a question of discipline) , i think he will be ok ...i guess a tutor gives the structure of having regular lessons and homework ...but for a Yr 5 ...I can't see any magic to it that I cannot deal with myself with help of off shelf books from WH Smiths...hope I am proved right, only time will tell, as DS is gong for highly selective 11+ pretest senior schools

Copthallresident Fri 15-Feb-13 13:25:12

Congratulations to your son indignatio

indignatio Fri 15-Feb-13 11:54:44

Quick update. DS flatly refused to have a tutor. Just had the news today that he has a place at his first preference school.

OhDearConfused Mon 11-Jun-12 13:10:05

Thanks, Needmoresleep, I'll look into that.

Hamishbear Sun 10-Jun-12 11:41:01

Our school seems to place great emphasis on ICT in English lessons. Lots of Powerpoint presentations, recording conversations, display, ICT for reports etc, etc. Is this the same elsewhere and does it place children at a disadvantage if so? Thinking of the traditional Preps that seem to concentrate far more on 3 Rs and rote learning of tables, spelling/grammar accuracy etc.

Needmoresleep Sun 10-Jun-12 09:53:39

For Indies at 10+ or 11+ I would recommend the Galore Park So you really want to learn English book. Their books seem mainly designed for Indie and Common Entrance and are also geared towards home study. Lots of good exercises which enabled our DC to get some good supplementary practice in writing.

OhDearConfused Sun 10-Jun-12 09:33:35

That's one thing I worry about, checking extended essays. Yes of course spelling and grammar is something we can do, but what is expected in terms of interest, narrative structure, richness of language and so on?

sphil Sat 09-Jun-12 19:16:51

I am also doing LSA work at the moment Indignatio - and agree it doesn't give me a clue about entrance exams. However, I am an English teacher by profession ( secondary) so may be able to help with extended writing if you want to PM me. Not sure I'd be any better than you though!

grin about your DS's interview technique - DS1 is JUST like this!

Yellowtip Sat 09-Jun-12 12:18:54

Shame on you indignatio, you must be very capable indeed of marking prose and comprehension for a 10 yo!

But the real problem with tutoring is not really relevant to independants. The real problem is on the macro level with grammars: the more that anxious parents needlessly buy in when their child is at a perfectly adequate school, the more less well off parents will become resigned to thinking their child doesn't stand a chance because they can't afford tutoring which they hear is a necessary prerequisite to success. HTs do their best to counter the myth - but if the prevailing view on MN is to be believed, only with very limited success.

indignatio Sat 09-Jun-12 11:04:25

Thanks all.

Spil I also work in my sons school (as an LSA), so I too have the SATS insider knowledge. My understanding of the entrance exams are that they are somewhat different to the SATS.

DS is happily sitting practise papers, becoming more accurate and faster. I am happy to mark and explain these in VR, Comprehension and Maths. We both love it when he gives a different answer to that in the back of the book and I cannot prove him wrong!

However, the one we haven't touched on yet is English extended writing. I am not at all confident with the marking for this type of work. If anyone has any pointers for me on this, I should be most grateful. I should add, I am really quite literate - oxbridge degree in non-numerical subject.

The other issue is the interview. DS is articulate, has a lovely turn of phrase, but is quite capable of "banging on" about a subject in which the listener has absolutely no interest. Despite eye rolling and yawning clues!

Marni23 Fri 08-Jun-12 20:25:01

I have a child in a 'top 20' school and completely agree with yellowtip. You don't need a tutor if you have the time to set/mark/go through papers with your son. This stuff isn't very advanced (it's 11+) and there is no magic formula that a tutor can give you. We didn't use one and my DD sailed in.

Your DS sounds bright but will also need to be fast and accurate-only practice will help with that. I also think that good schools are very adept at spotting potential vs the over-tutored child; it's in their interests to do so after all.

It's difficult to resist the tutoring bandwagon I know, but from what you've said, you'd be wasting your money.

Good luck!

Yellowtip Fri 08-Jun-12 20:02:29

OP I think that's a pointless idea.

Because if you have the time to get tutoring yourself from a tutor and then to impart the received wisdom to your DS, you'd be better giving yourself a break (financially and time-wise), cutting out the middleman and just helping your DS yourself. None of this stuff is rocket science. The answers to the tests are at the back of the books. The tutoring industry is just that: it feeds off insecurity and has nothing special to add.

The only case for buying in help is if your child has a rubbish primary education and needs extra to bring it up to an acceptable level, or if for some reason a parent hasn't the time to help a child by timing a set of papers in the run up to the tests him/ herself.

racingheart Fri 08-Jun-12 19:49:42

indig - I think that's a pretty good idea. TBH I can see that the tutor is doing no more than I was already doing with my DC. The difference is: she's a tutor, so they can't tell her they're too tired, or yell from the TV to ask to do it later. they just do it. Every week, two practise papers. I still need to do a fair bit of back up work and explain stuff (esp maths) to DC2. Her input alone isn't going to get him through.

You could get a tutor 'assessment' which will test DC's suitability for a given school, and advise on practise papers. Massive fee round here for such a thing, but worth it.

Hamishbear Fri 08-Jun-12 16:26:02

Sphil - Perhaps the reason the teacher's children are allegedly often in the G&T groups and acing the various tests at our school smile?

I think you make a good point, those in the know often secure enormous advantage for their children. This is especially true if they work with them each evening for 20 minutes or so. Incrementally they get smarter.

sphil Fri 08-Jun-12 14:23:24

I think that's a great idea. Have little experience of the independent school system but know that DS1 has been hugely helped in SATs by the fact that I work at the school - I have 'insider' knowledge of methods, practice questions, techniques etc which have enabled me to support and reinforce at home much more effectively.

indignatio Thu 07-Jun-12 12:47:37

Since my last posting, I've been reading about the particular school on Mumsnet. One poster is adamant that tutoring is frowned upon by the school. I have also read of another school which asks the parents to sign a form stating whether their child has been tutored or not.

So my latest thought - please tell me if you think it is completely off the wall - is to employ a tutor to tutor me, so that I can then best guide DS.

indignatio Wed 06-Jun-12 18:02:03

Thank you all.

Sorry for the delay in responding, I've been away and so haven't checked this thread for a while.

Bink - Lovely to hear from you. Your name made me smile before I even read your post.
c is the issue for us!
My dreamer is great. Maths never a problem (except in the need to show working). Still has problems in deciding what to write - actual writing no problem - therefore I was slightly surprised by your thought that a tutor would not help with this. My SiL has two boys like this, both have been diagnosed with dyslexia - not spelling but ordering of thoughts.

Merrymouse - I just need to know which hoops to choose to push ds through!

Xenia - thanks for the links.

Racing.. I've taken what you have said to heart!

Gelatinous - I subscribe to your comments below:

"Some people will describe this as 'supporting the curriculum' and 'familiarisation' rather than tutoring, but really, what's the difference?

I also figured that being really good at punctuating and writing clearly and well was always going to be useful whatever school they ended up at. I don't think doing extra work in NC stuff is setting you up for a lifetime of extra coaching at all, why would it? More likely it will make your life easier over the next few years to have a firm grasp of the basics."

Pooshtun: DS is c - from a biased mother point of view.

Thank you all and apologies to those I have not addressed directly.

Tutoring re type of questions (on paper and in interview) does seem like the way to go - now how do I persuade DS?

merrymouse Mon 04-Jun-12 14:52:33

breadandbutterfly, tutoring isn't about education, it is about jumping through a hoop to get an education.

Xenia Mon 04-Jun-12 14:41:24

You can practise papers at home. You can look at 11+ ones for similar schools.
(oOme Haberdashers' boys ones for 11+ are here - private school )

If you don't have time or patience or not that kind of relationship with the child and can afford it a bit of tutoring might help. We had some with daughter 2 for 7+ exams as she was in a school working for 11+ papers not 7+ and that worked. (She went to

We didn't tutor the boys for their 13+ exams as they were at schools preparing them for that and that ought to be enough.

gelatinous Mon 04-Jun-12 13:23:35

All children benefit from being educated, but anything can be done to excess. Extra tutor sessions (either with a parent or a paid tutor) too often could be a problem and even too many stately homes/museum trips might be as well! As with everything the trick is finding the right balance and also remembering that what works well for one family might not be right for another.

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