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Grammar school tests to be made 'tutor-proof'

(419 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Mon 05-Nov-12 17:16:02

missinglalaland Sun 18-May-14 21:35:12

Just thinking of the original post, yes I think the test could be tutor proof in theory, but not in practice.

In practice, a single grammar school in London may have around 1000 applicants! That's a lot of marking. It makes more creative, subjective type stuff pretty near impossible. It definitely drives multiple choice style questions with specific right answers.

Meanwhile, because of the small number of grammar school places compared to a rising population, the grammar schools are left trying to distinguish the top 2% from the mere top 5%. A difficult thing to do in the long right tail of a standard normal distribution. In an effort to "spread the field," the questions get harder and harder. They effectively go beyond what the children are normally taught. This makes tutoring a distinct advantage. And once everyone starts doing it, a necessity.

Hoppinggreen Sat 17-May-14 22:56:59

Yes that's right, people in receipt of tax credits can get help with extra tutoring - not sure how that means the system is skewed towards the middle class? Surely it's the opposite and means that not only children who's parents can afford tutoring have a shot at a Grammar school.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 21:57:14


<wild applause>

Ewieindwie1 Sat 17-May-14 21:00:09

Pardon? Taxpayers' money subsidises tutoring for grammar schools??? Oh for God's sake the whole system is skewed towards the middle classes. Let's simplify the system and dismantle it. Here's a thought: no schools to discriminate on the basis of religion, parental income or some ridiculous attempt to divide kids. Let's have every kid at their local school - and the poorer the intake, the more staff they get. When will the parents of this country stop scrambling over everyone else? We are a nation. Our children all deserve the best....

Hoppinggreen Sat 17-May-14 20:48:01

Quite a few of my friends children are getting subsidised tutoring as they receive tax credits whereas we pay in full for ours - seems pretty fair and evens the playing field a bit

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 18:56:34

Mrs I actually think 2 is preferable as if they bottle it on the first they can pick up points on the second when they've got used to it.Telling myself that anyway.

We're dealing with it by making them presume they'll go to the feeder(bigging it up accordingly),giving the grammar a punt but looking forward to secondary as a whole wherever they go iykwim.

At the moment tbh with one of mine the idea of a lunch card and mobile phone next year regardless of where he's going is causing a lot excitement.That said a lot doesn't ride on them getting places,alternative is absolutely fine and actually has some benefits.

Tbh nobody is guaranteed a place and anything can happen on the day so it's pointless planning on preferences and best to not put too much stock into it.Knowing my luck I'll over cook the alternative,they'll get grammar places and be gutted.grin

The not knowing for me as a mum is a pita though.grin

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:35:05

mtprscake at the end of the day! maths is maths whether it's examined in long or short form questions! or by multiple choice. There are only so many permutations of VR questions. For English, yes, one test might have a written essay and written comprehension, the other might be more multiple choicey - but again, it's all about comprehension and if you comprehend then you will be able to cope with different structures of question. For both my girls the school they wanted most was the first exam, but for others they were able to use the first exam as a dry run for the one they cared most about. Honestly - if you downplay it, make sure that they understand the world won't end whatever the result is, and don't make them so shitloads of unnecessary work for months or years beforehand, they will be fine. It's the ones who have been wound up by their parents who can implode. Not all the calm cool ones pass, of course - but they are better placed to cope with not passing/being selected than those for whom it has been escalated to the most important thing in the world. When Dd2 did the 11+ exams last autumn! she was preparing for two music exams, a ballet exam, and to have a reasonable sized part in a big show at our local theatre (in the half term straight after the 11+). We encouraged her to regard all those things as more important (didn't take much encouraging, it's how she is) so she was able to view the 11+ in perspective. She had one friend for whom the 11+ was the ONLY thing of note happening between probably this time last year and Xmas. The friend imploded, totally. sad

MrsCakesPremonition Sat 17-May-14 15:26:44

Thanks for the reassurance about sitting 2 exams, Herc.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:21:07

The thing about which and that is that US English (which is increasingly the thing that informs style guides) and real English don't completely agree on their correct usage. I think - but am not sure - that the popular US usage of momentarily is in fact as wrong wrong wrongetty wrong as it is in real English, though. Regardless - it's gaining currency. Especially with younger people. sad

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 15:17:50

"Couldn't give a stuff if that offends."

No worries. We're allowed to disagree.

Without wanting to be a pedantic old cow, thought it might interest you (given that it's the sort of thing which crops up in 11+ tests) to know that 'disinterested' means 'impartial', and not 'uninterested'. here

Hope that doesn't offend! ;-)

(ps - don't mind comments on my grammar, always wanting to learn. I have a particular problem with 'which' and 'that'....)

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 15:13:36

I don't think there is any way at all to make the 11+ untutorable.

And as long as it's decided on the basis of a test which parents have to opt into, bright children whose parents aren't ambitious, or whose parents aren't knowledgeable or confident about a grammar school education for their child, will be left out.

Schools whose intake is shaped largely by the church-going, private school fee-paying, tutoring, pushing behaviour of parents, rather than on the innate ability of the child, will always have their doors closed to a proportion of very clever children.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:13:16

mrscakes where I live there are two possible grammars! one 30 miles away in one direction, one about 20 miles away in the opposite direction. Two different tests with the same elements but tested slightly differently. It was fine. Almost all the kids I have known who have sat for both have passed at least one.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 15:10:36

There is no teacher who has spent more time in Dd2's company in the last 3 months than I have. Most of the supply teachers they have had haven't been prepared to give appropriately differentiated work for her, either.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 15:02:27

Well I actually asked in order to get a second opinion if they were suitable and got told they were so we're alright on that

Also some kids with less interested parents may well be in better schools.Maybe if motivation is important with kids it's important to have motivated parents too.Who knows.

All sorts of things are unfair.My dc have had a pretty rocky time at their school in the past,the help they get from me is a bonus but they've had their share of negatives.You could say that with any kid.I actually think quality of primary education is the biggest benefit and lots of kids with disinterested parents may well go to better schools than mine.Plenty of disinterested parents send their kids to private schools so they can relax- I don't have that type of cash so do what I can.

Couldn't give a stuff if that offends.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:54:45

Well his grandad and uncle didn't- quite the reverse.

And interestingly the 11+ material seems to be right up his street.He works very hard with a good work ethic- when he needs to.Often he doesn't need to as he's bright.That said he's in the top booster group(not led by his class teacher)now for writing anyway but so are several others.

Would love to see a teacher making that choice.grin Is she going to cross reference with their maths results,which maths,science,their speaking and listening,VR they don't even do,comp abilities etc?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:53:52

Good luck with that Retropear.

It's just sad for those very clever kids at all schools whose parents aren't drilling them in 11+ skills.

I think the current system suits ambitious and involved parents very well, which is probably why most people defend it. It's just shit for bright children whose parents won't/can't do this, and whose teachers can't advocate for them. I can understand why someone who's doing what you're doing wouldn't want the power to award places at grammars put into the hands of teachers.

MrsCakesPremonition Sat 17-May-14 14:50:12

In their various efforts to introduce an exam where tutoring is less relevant, our local grammars have simply produced a system where my DD will have to sit two different 11+ exams within a week of each other. Two lots of exams to stress about, sit and potentially fail.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:46:43

Incidentally, you have ignored what I said earlier on about not leaving it to one teacher to suggest which children might be put forward for a grammar place. Of course it's not at all fair if a teacher who barely knew a child was asked to make such an important decision.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:46:05

Which teacher?

And the test mine have to sit is pretty comprehensive-an essay,comp,maths and 2 shots at VR over 2 weekends.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:44:11

"day dreaming kids not into writing can easily get overlooked.Says nothing about their intelligence or how they'd perform in a grammar school"

I'd wonder if a child who is 'not into writing' and can't keep their mind on their work might struggle a bit in a grammar school.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 17-May-14 14:42:48

I'm amazed you all think that a teacher who has probably spent more time in your child's company in the last 3 months than you have wouldn't have any insight into their intellectual abilities.

And that a short written test marked by a stranger is the most accurate way of identifying bright children.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:36:56

And yes mine also have a job share,several teachers/assistants teaching different subjects and a shed load of supply.

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:35:50

With my children both are doing great.However the quiet day dreamer,never picked for anything who has consistently been placed in groups just below his G&T twin is the one rocking the 11+ prep so far with a slight edge on his twin- as I knew he always would.

Kids can get pigeon holed very early on.Bright but quiet,slow to mature or day dreaming kids not into writing can easily get overlooked.Says nothing about their intelligence or how they'd perform in a grammar school.My family have 2 or 3 fly by the seat of their pants kids who excelled at grammar- my dad for one.grin

I'd hate my son to be written off and denied a chance on the say so of one teacher who nay not even know him that well at all.

HercShipwright Sat 17-May-14 14:27:53

How lucky your kids must be to have had one teacher teaching them for the whole time in Y5 or Y6. My DD2 has had more supply teachers in the last 2 years than I've had hot dinners in that time (I'm not a big fan of hot dinners it has to be said. But I normally have at least one a week. She's had some weeks with two or three different supply teachers. Or even more).

Retropear Sat 17-May-14 14:26:19

They're looking for different things.Most of what my dc are doing are things they never do in school.

Also marking work isn't fallible.And marking what work?Maths,English,Maths&English,Science,Speaking and Listening...?Some kids are all rounders,some aren't but may well be just as bright.

Also can you image the fall out in the playground.Parents of those not put forward would quite rightly want concrete evidence as to why.The competition and upset throughout from re. would be above and beyond reading book debacles as a lot would be riding on it.

Schools have enough to focus on re the 95% of kids who wouldn't be going to waste time on a fraction who would.

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