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How exactly do you know that your DC should go to grammar school?

(318 Posts)
plus3 Fri 05-Oct-12 11:06:38

Sorry for the ridiculous question, but I am going slightly bonkers.

DS is in yr 4 and has unspecified learning difficulties - mainly with attention and processing instructions. He is bright & remembers incredibly well. Literacy & science are his favourite subjects, and thinks he struggles with Maths but is actually above average. He craves structure and routine

My problem is that I am aware of some children in his class already doing extra work out of school (such as explore & kumon etc) and I now feel like I am letting him down hugely.

Should we be jumping on the treadmill of extra work etc to give him an even playing field? I don't really believe in excesses coaching to pass the 11+

So how do we tell if Grammer could be the place for him? When I have spoken to school, they always imply that academically he will be fine (whatever that means)

Sorry if this long & rambling, it all seems so very competitive around here (Bucks) thanks.

losingtrust Tue 20-Nov-12 20:35:48

Seriously though if you asked me whether my ds who did not really learn to read until 7 would have been suitable before year 5/6 I would have said no but now he is level 6s in etg at the beginning of year 8 which is grammar school level. Some kids are late developers. He was in all special low groups from reception to year 3. My dd still is in year 4 but now coming on both me and my ex were high academic achieves but again he was considered a special Ed kid in infants. It is impossible to tell really.

losingtrust Tue 20-Nov-12 20:30:53

He is only four though you may be lucky and grammar schools in your area will be abolished.

mrsbaffled Tue 20-Nov-12 20:24:34

If only we had the money to move!

losingtrust Tue 20-Nov-12 20:09:59

I would move out of any grammar school area if I was you. Children change so much over the years and can move up and down sets in a comp but once down the grammar or secondary modern they are limited.

losingtrust Tue 20-Nov-12 20:03:22

If you have a crystal ball!

mrsbaffled Tue 20-Nov-12 17:27:39

Hello! I know this thread is a little old now, but I am rather confused my the whole grammar thing.
We live in North Bucks. I understand the system is changing? Do we know how it will be administered? Does anyone know roughly what % get into grammars?

My DS (yr 4) has SpLD (dyslexia affecting writing and spelling, not reading) and I am concerned how it will affect his chances of getting in, and whether he would benefit from this environment. He is extremely bright, and both DH and I are academic, so went to similar schools and thrived in them.

Yellowtip Wed 14-Nov-12 21:55:17

When I sat the 11+ long, long ago no-one had tutoring. Tutoring was never mentioned. I remember vividly sitting the test (just another day at school, except for the test). I can remember where I sat, the not so great view from the window, everything really. I also remember the questions. Or at least the type of queston: exactly the same as now. I can't see why so many parents seem to think that children have to know how to 'interpret' each type of question. And that their child 'wouldn't stand a chance' without tutoring. I certainly recall really enjoying the test and finishing very early (which is why the already boring view got even more boring).

It would be great if a survey could be done to show which childen would have got into their chosen grammar had they not had tutoring and which children would have got in had they only had tutoring. I would expect that the results would overwhelmingly stay the same. I'm guessing that the main difference if tests could be made tutor-proof would be that more of those not currently able to afford tutoring would come forward. There seems to be quite a push for this at the moment, and right across the country, which can only be healthy.

MillyDLA Wed 14-Nov-12 19:35:27

You could also use the tutoring clips on youtube, available for each 'type' of question that the 11+ will consist of. There are only so many possible types of question that are set. This is easy for a child to watch and gives the parent the relevant information.

I used this (free of charge of course) and followed it working with my child myself. I am a primary school teacher but the concept for the questions are not beyond the understanding of most adults. The preparation gave my child an insight into each type of question and how to answer it. He needed to be able to interpret this for the exam.

NWThreeMum Thu 08-Nov-12 02:10:30

I used Hippocrene Tutors because a couple of friends had raved about them and I know they have exam papers on the resources bit of their website, I tell everyone how amazing my tutors were but they were also mega expensive, so I used them more for guidance and the odd session to go over problem areas instead of intensive coaching, and I got my son to go through their papers in between sessions. I honestly don't think he'd have stood a chance if he hadn't had tuition, even though he was bright... Partle because it gave him a lot more confidence than he'd have had otherwise. All the mums I know get tutors in for their kids and it artificially raises the bar, so you have to start doing it to keep up (and keep away the guilt). I went to a grammar school and had some tutoring beforehand (and did some practice on my own) and I didn't struggle when I got there, but I can tell you that if I hadn't been through those types of questions before there's no way I'd have got in... So just because a child has tuition it doesn't mean they're not meant to be there, it just helps them to fulfil their potential.. It's worth having a word with your child's school and put a bit of pressure on them to target lessons to 11+ stuff. A group of friends and I approached my son's head together to suggest the school adapt its priorities in the run up to the exams and they were pretty amenable

notanotter Mon 15-Oct-12 19:40:47

se4nd the brightest kid in the county into an 11+ with NO prior knowledge of the paper and hewould fail to score in the top 20%

in some areas schools do some work so it smooths the way for less 'advantaged' kids

people paint this whole thing as so black and white and really it's not

HappyTurquoise Mon 15-Oct-12 09:06:25

Plus3, don't be too quick to rule out GS for your son. Haven't read the whole thread here, but there is a great elevenplusexams website, go to the forum, and regional pages, Bucks. Get the right types of papers for the Bucks exam! Don't use Bond, they are the wrong question types, they are too easy and will not help. (The forum will tell you which publishers to use for Bucks).

I know of extraordinarily bright children in Bucks who didn't get into gs because they were not as prepared for the papers as everyone else. That's exactly why parents are cagey about having a tutor in Bucks, and it really sucks, imo! If children haven't practised the question types, they will waste time in the exam working out what is expected, and slow ways of answering.

You can do it yourself, without a tutor, but treat it as tutoring and put aside an hour a week. As you go through the questions you will discover what your ds needs some extra practise on, such as speed of recall of tables,telling the time, basic algebra, and a good, sound vocabulary.

I recommend you also get him reading (for pleasure) every day, if he isn't already.

tiggytape Mon 15-Oct-12 08:28:49

... and of course the tutoring arms race means that this year a 247 might not be enough, it might be 250 that's the cut-off between passing without an offer and passing with a grammar school place. The aim of tutoring in many parts of the country isn't to get mediocre children to pass but to get very bright children to pass with as near to a perfect score as possible so that they actually get an offer.

tiggytape Mon 15-Oct-12 08:26:02

ibiziagirl - it depends where you live. Some grammar schools only take the top 2% - 8% of children. In truth probably at least 10 - 15% are bright enough to do well at grammar and will pass the 11+ but there isn't room for all of them.

Out of all those who pass, the school decides who to take and who to reject based on their score. So a pupil on 245 might pass the 11+ but get no offer whereas one on 247 might pass and get accepted into the school.

It isn't the case that one is brighter than the other - they are roughly equal but with too many bright children chasing too few places, the line has to be drawn somewhere. Tutoring improves speed and accuracy and makes the difference parents feel between a potential 245 and edging it up to a 247.

Not all grammar schools work this way but an awful lot do and they turn away many children who are easily of selective ability and pass the test so parents need their children to not only pass but to pass brilliantly on all papers.

ibizagirl Mon 15-Oct-12 05:48:44

Sorry but i have one small question. Why do children need coaching/tutoring? Surely if they are not bright enough to get into a Grammar school without tutoring then they are not bright enough and wouldn't belong there? Would they be able to do the work once they are in? A new girl started at dd's school recently from local Grammar (non 11+ area). Dd said she is very bigheaded!. Someone asked why she is not at Grammar any more and she said the work was too hard. Dd is in all set 1 for her subjects but this girl is set 4. How did she manage to get in?

KitKatGirl1 Sun 14-Oct-12 12:12:31

Agree totally with seeker, attitude to SEN can depend totally on the school not the sector. Some grammars can be a very good place for dcs with SEN because there are fewer SEN dc they can get very good provision. I know of children who get excellent additional support in the grammar where I work who simply wouldn't in the comp where dh works because they just wouldn't be 'bad enough'. IFSWIM. Look at each school on its merits.

KitKatGirl1 Sun 14-Oct-12 12:10:18

And for the record, TalkinPeace, Lincolnshire is really, really not wholly selective/grammar. The city of Lincoln itself has purely comprehensives. The market towns have 14 grammar schools (and attendant secondary moderns) amongst them, each of which is a minimum of 20 miles from Lincoln.

So the bulk of the county's population who live in the city and surrounding suburban sprawl/villages go to proper comprehensives. (There is of course some overlap of 'catchment' available to some dcs in some villages). The comps with the best results can be those where the dcs have the ability to choose grammar (just on edge of catchment) but many of them don't because the comps are very good/not single sex/whatever else.

And even in the grammar towns many parents prefer not to use the grammar schools - particularly in the single sex towns - because many parents prefer a mixed sex schooling for their dc (unless the sec mod is very bad). You can tell there's a tipping point in some towns of enough dcs choosing the sec mods (often they call themselves comps now) so as to dilute the system.

It's nothing like Kent or Bucks.

RiversideMum Sun 14-Oct-12 07:46:55

I have family and friends in Bucks and would agree with what others have said about most children being tutored for at least a year before the exams. One of my friends got her child into grammar school on appeal and the basis of the appeal was his SEN. He has had a very difficult time at grammar school to the extent that some of the teachers have broken the law (DDA) in terms of how he has been treated. OK - so that is one anecdote. But this child has a diagnosed and obvious SEN. If the OP's child had undiagnosed difficulties, I'd also advise to be very careful about choosing a school indeed - grammar or otherwise.

PropositionJoe Wed 10-Oct-12 16:49:49

I didn't say you only care about Kent either. I said you only know about Kent.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 16:33:11

I did not say you only cared about Kent. But the Kent system is one of the most dysfunctional (and that is per DH's work there long before I discovered the joys of Mumsnet)
Lincolnshire make it work - I suspect because they are NOT next door to London.
Bucks are teeny
and everywhere else the grammars are a comparatively minor fly in the ointmnent
but in Mid and southern Kent (not sure where you are) the schools are very distorted - and you are caught in the middle of it.

That is one of the reasons I suggested to plus3 that she moves OUT of a grammar area in the next couple of years to alleviate that area of stress.

seeker Wed 10-Oct-12 16:25:42

Indon't only care about Kent. I object very strongly to all selective education, although I have been persuaded by people on here that there is an argument for the super selectives.

But I''m not up for a kicking at the moment, so I'll be off. With a reminder to the OP that, particularly when it comes to SEN, it's the individual school you have to look at, not the type of school.

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 15:22:58

OP the SEN provision is excellent at Dd1s grammar. Apart from the rugby thing (now resolved. Although we have had a lab accident this week resulting in burned fingers and a minimum of 5 missed music lessons which I am very pissed off about - however the upside is that the boy who caused Dd1 to have the accident has zinged himself more than her as she will not not be able to help him with his ensemble piece for GCSE music). It sounds to me as if your DS might actually need more stretching? If he is frustrated and depressed at school that might be one reason?

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 15:22:55

I have to admit that your view of comps is very distorted by the lens of Kent.

Here in Hampshire each of the comps has a catchment, from whence between 60 and 80% of its kids come.
The remainder come from neighbouring catchments (especially on the Southampton and Portsmouth borders)
I've no idea what percentage of each school would pass a random academic test to get into a Grammar (superselective or otherwise). Its irrelevant.
Because the top sets for each subject are NOT the same kids (that would be streaming).

My kids happen to be at the top academically. So they are in sets with other bright kids most but by no means all of whose parents are middle class or upper class.
But PE, Art, music, drama, design, computing - the top sets are often full of kids who would never have passed any sort of 11+

The only weirdie of the schools round here is that they do not have Sixth Forms - Hampshire use Sixth Form colleges. But that's another issue!

Have a look at the websites for Bohunt, Thornden, Kings Winchester, The Petersfield School and Ringwood School to get a feel for how access to all schools work ...

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 15:18:42

She only cares about Kent. Which I can understand - what I can't understand is her refusal to accept that Kent isn't an analogue for anywhere else.

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 15:17:08

You are missing the point that the SS kids would form a tiny proportion of the top set (if the kids who go to DD1s school were at the comps they would have gone to without the SS, there would be at most 4 at DSs school. The other 6 would be spread between the 4 other comps). 4 kids doesn't make a top set. And that's assuming that none of them went to the posh schools (and at least 2 would). It might be slightly different at @yellow's nearest comp because more kids go to the SS from near her but not, I think, 30 in any year group.

PropositionJoe Wed 10-Oct-12 15:14:29

Seeker - you are very keen to tell us ad nauseum why grammar schools are a bad idea. But have you considered learning about the ones outside Kent? If you look at Trafford or North Yorkshire you might see that some of the secondary moderns are excellent and the overall standard extremely high.

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