How much time does your Year 5 DC spend working for this (either tutoring or homework)?
Just want to get an idea of the time commitment...
I honestly don't know, but DD4 seems as bright as all of her sisters and brothers, and they're all at a grammar (superselective). Her school is quite slack with info re. levels, so I just go on whether she seems sparky enough to try the test, which I think she is. Apparently we're due reports next week, but last year these didn't give levels.
Just to say that having seen what dc are being put through to pass the "untutorable" Tiffin tests I shan't be giving out names of tutors as I don't agree with the methods they use. Also for the record I think the current Tiffin boys exams, tests for a very narrow range of abilities and it's a crying shame to put very able dc through it and for the vast majority of them to fail because everyone is tutored so hard for them now. I think Tiffin Girls new test is better and looks for a broader range of ability. Rant over!
DD2-just10 is spending 1 hour a week with a tutor and does at most 45 minutes a week on practice as well. She started with the tutor in January but has just started to do the extra paper a week in the last month or so. She sits the 11+ in September for the superselective that DD1 goes to. She is at least as strong as her sister was in reading and verbal reasoning, but weaker in maths. She is currently probably level 5a or b in Literacy and 4a-5c in maths.
I'm not sure about levels atm - might know more in the next few weeks with reports/parents evening. DS2 (year 5 age 10) said he had a reading age test last week and got the highest you can get in year 5 (??? 13 years and 9 months? something like that?? -a friend said that was right although tbh I have no idea).
I would say the main problem with the 11 plus now (other than the fact it really is a stupid exam) is that they're tested on year 6/even year 7 work (esp in maths) right at the beginning of year 6. So there's a lot of new ground to cover very quickly.
For me the problem with the 11 plus has always been the process. DS2 is a bit of a stressy head and it's seemed to me to be 'wrong' at times to be putting him through it and I have wondered a few times about just withdrawing from it - even though he supposedly has a good chance of passing. However, since seeing the local comp and deciding he really likes it, he's relaxed a lot about the 11 plus. He seems happy to just give it a go, which is fine by me as I really liked the local comp as well.
I wish this didn't go on - it's such an arse. I barely remember my 11+; I mainly recall it as showing up at school one day and getting to do some fun tests. I remember the blocks where you had to say what came next. I vaguely remember the literacy and numeracy test. Before the day I don't think I'd ever seen these kinds of test.
It annoys me because training does work and could make a child with less natural aptitude appear brighter than another (who perhaps can't afford tutoring). DH sees a lot when recruiting - grads passing all the pre-selection tests and then getting woeful marks for the tests they have on the day.
Yes it's crazy Eugenes. But the tests are no longer designed to be ones that people could pass without tutoring. Maths for example, because a lot of questions are on topics ds2 hasn't done at school yet.
I expected to be fairly neutral about the whole 11 plus process, but have found myself really disagreeing with it, and wishing we didn't live in a grammar school area.
Ohdearconfused -The GS consortium Exams I am referring to contain Comprehension, NVR, Synonyms, Antonyms, Long and Quick Maths sections and English. Children generally find the comprehension v difficult as well as the lack of time available to them to answer all the questions, so they have to think very quickly. Exams are set by the Univ of Durham who do not give advance notice of content. There are no practice papers available and there is no guarantee that the sort of questions appearing one year, will appear the following year. From what you have said about Tiffin exams they differ from the ones I am referring to. I understand some of the content is Year 6 level and as the exams are held in the autumn of year 6 (soon to be Sept of year 6) and content not covered at school, tutoring (by parents or tutor) of year 6 work and NVR plus familiarisation of the type of questions that may come up would appear to be a sensible approach for candidates who are serious about succeeding.
I was tutored for my 11+ 21 years ago, it has always happened. I missed out by one mark on the day, mostly because I had gastroenteritis and insisted on still sitting it as there were no resits allowed.
It didn't help that they had to wipe vomit off my answer paper.
I still got offered a place, but turned it down on the basis that the school was Catholic, and my local Secondary was the best performing in the County back then.
If DS1 wasn't at least familiarised with the test, he would stand NO chance of getting into the local Grammar, which is super-selective, and takes only the top scoring 90 boys in the County. He is up against boys that have been formally tutored (rather than doing things with their parents like my DS1) for hours every week since Y3.
Why would I put him at even more of a disadvantage?
Our son got into St. Olaves (Orpington) supposedly one of the best grammar schools in the country but he is extremely bright. Even so without preparation he wouldn't have got in as things like non verbal reasoning just aren't taught at state schools. He did bond papers for 9 months but he was doing them very regularly and is highly motivated. Olaves has a big problem with children who have been so heavily tutored they struggle with the work so unless your child is naturally academic wouldn't consider one of the super selectives. Even so we are looking to take him out of the school and go elsewhere in year 9. Exam factories don't do bright kids any favours and at the end of the day a bright child will (in theory at least) thrive academically wherever they go. Also remember it is depth quality universities look at not breadth. Cambridge will automatically interview someone with 7A*s but not someone with 12As. Also most grammar schools are not co-ed and many like Olaves have major issues with bullying.
I won a place at grammar school back in 1985 - I was at a hot-housing prep so didn't have tutors but I still did at least 3 hours revision a day during the holidays for a year before the exams. DH won a scholarship to his indie, and was tutored for 3 years beforehand as well as his mother being a teacher.
I did CE though rather than 11+ - I do think CE is a rather fairer exam, and as we sat at least 1 paper in about 10 subjects, and 3 papers in things like Maths and English, plus optionals like Ancient Greek, the exams were spread over the course of a week so not so much pressure to perform on a single day.
Also meant that if you were a whizz at the sciences and maths and less good at English and humanities it was obvious to the examiners at the schools.
We are hoping to sit DD for the London all-girls super-selectives at both 7+ and 11+. I did ring one of them the other day with a number of questions, one of which was what to do regarding tutoring if your child was at a not great primary in an area with significant problems and with no experience of children sitting for these kind of exams - and where only 12% get Level 5 at KS2. There is no way that DD will have covered the curriculum required for the maths papers for the 11+ and there will be gaps even at 7+. The admissions tutor said that they would take the school into account when marking, but if the child couldn't attempt a question then they would obviously loose marks. Therefore , although they ask parents not to tutor it would be perfectly acceptable to do so in our case.
Even though DD is only 3.5, it is pretty clear that I will not be attempting to tutor her myself: parent-teaching-child-to-drive scenario for definite!
"Our son got into St. Olaves (Orpington) supposedly one of the best grammar schools in the country but he is extremely bright. Even so without preparation he wouldn't have got in as things like non verbal reasoning just aren't taught at state schools."
The point is not to be taught. Ok, it's nice if you've seen one or two examples before, but if you 'get it', you get it.
" He did bond papers for 9 months but he was doing them very regularly and is highly motivated."
9 months? How many practice papers can there be....
"Olaves has a big problem with children who have been so heavily tutored they struggle with the work so unless your child is naturally academic wouldn't consider one of the super selectives. "
"Even so we are looking to take him out of the school and go elsewhere in year 9. "
Where are you planning to go?
"Exam factories don't do bright kids any favours and at the end of the day a bright child will (in theory at least) thrive academically wherever they go."
Not really true. GCSEs are very easy for bright children, and a school with many bright students should be able to take them well beyond the syllabus.
If you've been selected from the top 2% or whatever at 11, then you really shouldn't face any difficulty getting an A* in maths or whatever.
On the other hand if you only got in because of drilled learning specific relatively useless skills, such as spotting that 'kind' and 'sort' go together in a verbal skills, then you might not necessarily be hugely bright.
" Also remember it is depth quality universities look at not breadth. Cambridge will automatically interview someone with 7A*s but not someone with 12As."
Cambridge won't automatically interview or not, anyone.
" Also most grammar schools are not co-ed and many like Olaves have major issues with bullying."
Many schools have issues with bullying.
"9 months? How many practice papers can there be...."
Here's some of the many VR papers there are...to my knowledge but there's no doubt more provided via on-line tutoring sites
GL Assessment - 8 papers
Bright Sparks - 8 papers
Walsh - 12 papers`
Susan Daughtrey - 20 papers
IPS - 10 papers + 1 free downloadable
Bond - 8 papers
Bond Assessment Papers Books - > 65 in 10+ range + free downloadable
Lucky Gecko - 4 papers + 1 free downloadable
Dynamite 4 papers
Learning Labs - 8 papers
Learning Together - 20 papers
Nelson Thorne's Personal Tutor - 4 papers
11 Plus for Parents - 5 papers + 1 free downloadable
Letts/GL Assessment - 4 papers
Athey - 18 papers
AFN - 8 papers
Alpha - 12 papers
MW Educationsal - ?
CGP - 4 practice papers
Visuteach - 24 downloadable + 1 free downloadable Essex-type
11 Plus Exams Shop - 175 downloadable papers from various publishers
First Past the Post - 4 papers
CSSE - 1 paper
You could possibly fill 9 months with that list and it largely depends on what "very regularly" means - some people may mean every day, some every other day, once a week, once a month
"Olaves has a big problem with children who have been so heavily tutored they struggle with the work so unless your child is naturally academic wouldn't consider one of the super selectives."
It can't be such a big problem as, according to the 2011 GCSE stats, 100% of pupils had entered the school at NC level 5, which isn't the case for every grammar school.
I'm not sure I would agree on the struggling at Grammar if you are tutored. I and many of the other prep-school kids were bored rigid for the first year of the grammar I went to.
Most of us had been to schools that were aiming for top scholarships at Eton, Westminster, Winchester etc and so were working at high pressure level for several years in the run-up.
The grammar I was at took 25% of kids who passed the 11+ in the local area. The prep-schools were sitting for the boarding places that were much more competitive. As a result we spent a year waiting for those from the local state primaries to catch up as there was no setting until the next year.
I don't recall anyone leaving because they were struggling.
When it comes to the super-selectives, the vast majority of children sitting (if they have sane parents) should be capable of surviving whether tutored or not. You are talking about picking the best scoring of a very bright cohort, not the good from the also-rans.
Pyrrah 11+ tutoring is not the same as prep school tutoring.
Prep school children will be being tutored for the CE+ which covers French, Science, Latin.
The 11+ in many cases covers only covers a few silly 'which shape comes next'-type questions.
I think with the super selectives you need to be naturally bright anyway just to reach the basic pass score - tutoring can help a bit but it won't turn an average kid into super selective material. you need to be quick and accurate and think on your feet to be in that top 120 out of 1500 children.
There is of course a difference between being good at exams and clever - DD is highly conscientious, will study without being prompted and loves getting things right. She is also highly logical and loves puzzles. DS thinks and reads more widely and may well be the more original thinker, but will easily flunk the exams as he is much less focused.
Prep school is different. My son knows kids from prep schools from his out of school activities (not many at Olaves) and most spend at least a lesson a day on exam prep, plus it is expected they get into a good school. Of our 3 local state primary schools only 2 children got into grammar school - my son being one of them. The emphasis is on bringing up the lower performers to an acceptable level not pushing the top performing few - unfortunately they have to cater for the many not the few - we understand that and haven't got a problem with it. Parents with academic / bright children will of course want them to go to an academic school - we certainly did and we, as was my son were over the moon when he go in to Olaves.
He wants to leave not because he's not doing well, far from it, but because he doesn't enjoy it - too much bullying which of course the school will never publically admit there is a problem with, too many kids who are struggling and disrupting the learning of those who want to learn - like my son who loves learning, poor discipline to name but a few. Will he enjoy another school better? Maybe not but we (and he) live in hope.
As I said earlier based on what we knew at the time we would have still chosen Olaves over and above all the other schools he could have gone to. Perhaps our expectations of what a school should offer are too high - home schooling is looking ever more tempting!
I think a lot of parents believe that having got their child into a selective school that the education will stretch and challenge their child and that the pastoral care and cracking down on bullying will be equally good.
I think the super-selectives do provide an intensive educational experience - whereas many of the less selective can have a wide ability range within a class. There were still 30 pupils per class at my grammar (compared with 12 at my prep) and the difference between the students at the top of the class and those at the bottom was pretty wide.
All schools can have bullying issues - I do think that a lot of selective indies don't do enough in this respect. Maybe too much complacency over their popularity and the huge competition for places. I can only think of one school that I attended (out of 6) that didn't have bullying issues and that was The Maynard School in Exeter - they just seemed to get that little girls are inherently nasty if not kept firmly in check.
The ethos of the HT and/or housemasters/mistresses also play a big part. Schools that prefer confident good all-rounders that like sports often find the more eccentric or socially awkward children very hard to deal with and advising the child to change themselves to fit in rather than dealing with the bullies.
Agree also that children who like exams have an advantage over equally bright children who don't. I loved exams and was a child who would do the minimum all year and then revise like mad a week before and do well - compared with my sister who was super conscientious and worked hard all year and would then spend a week vomiting before an exam and do badly. It's one of the reasons why giving children a lot of exam paper practice is helpful - cuts down a lot of the anxiety.
joanbyers - I guess I'm going to have to get familiar with a whole different ball-game for 11+. I do think it is rather unfair to have such big decisions based on such a narrow breadth of exams. CE is a lot fairer to the individual in my mind. However since DD is going to a run-of-the-mill primary I guess I'm glad we only have a couple of subjects to tutor for rather than getting up to speed for the number needed for CE!
We started at the end of year 4. DC did one, sometimes two hours a day during the week and about three hours a day on Sunday. Saturday was his day off. He passed 5 exams, scored in the top 1-2% in all of them. At the end we ran out of tests and DH had to write him his own versions of maths and vr tests.
Have just read this thread out of curiosity and nostalgia, as we don't have State grammar schools in our county. I'm at all this talk of extreme tutoring.
I did the 11 plus (and passed) in the late '70's and I'm not aware that any of us who sat it did any preparation at all. The first VR and NVR tests I saw were on the 11 plus paper. Does this tutoring lead to children getting in who have been taught to pass the exam, but can't thereafter hack it in such a selective school, or is it just that the bar is raised higher because everyone does it?
Depends if you are talking about the super-selectives or the selectives.
With the super-selectives they may just take the top 60 or whatever scorers. If you've got 600 kids sitting the exam then a question missed out, a few minutes wasted working out what the question means - these can mean the difference between getting a place or not.
Parents therefore tutor a child so that they know exactly what type of questions come up, how to tackle them and how to pace themselves to finish the paper.
With the selectives it's generally a case of achieving x points in which case the extra-tuition does the same thing as above but isn't needed to the same degree.
The competition for grammar schools is far greater today:
- there are fewer of them
- in grammar school areas such as Kent, the cohorts in the non-grammar schools will have a very different ability mix than those in non-grammar areas so parents are extra-keen to secure a place.
- the current economic climate and the incredible cost of school fees today means that parents who would formerly have chosen Indies and now realising that a few £thousand invested now in a prep or tutoring and a place at a grammar will save them a small fortune.
- parents have often made a significant investment in terms of an inflated house price in a grammar school area and are determined to get the return on that.
- everyone else is doing it so you need to make sure your child is prepared just as well.
It's a whole different ball-game and demographic to the situation in the '70's and '80's.
Just a shame that all state secondaries can't perform well. Our local one (which is CofE so selective by the back-door) only gets 39% of their students to university of which only 4% to RG. I went to a grammar where 99% went to university and over 50% of those were Oxbridge or RG. I remember the shock on everyone's faces when one boy came in to say that he was leaving to go into the city after A'levels rather than applying to university. Many aspirational parents would look at our local school and decide that a school where less than half the students aim for university will not have the ethos, drive or aspirations for their pupils success that they want. So you max out any means you have of getting that grammar place.
I don't think it means that students who are not grammar school material are getting in because they have been prepared - you still have to be bright enough to make the most of the preparation. But it does mean that some very bright students won't get in because they haven't had the same preparation.
Interesting Pyrrah. Your Gs sounds like the one I went to - lots of resistance if anyone had the temerity to suggest not going to uni/going to anything other than RG or Oxbridge.
We've resigned ourselves to a v selective indie for the time being, as the State 11-14 provision round here has a mixed reputation and we don't have the option of State GS's in our area. Having said that, there are good indies round here for up to £8k per annum, so it's not quite as painful as it can be in the South East.
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