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Changes to 11-plus to stop middle-class parents 'buying' access to grammars by hiring tutors

(1000 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Sat 01-Dec-12 21:48:28

Similar article in the Times apparently but paywall.

Ponders Sat 01-Dec-12 21:51:06

hmm - good luck with that

(I am very much in favour of disabling the tutoring advantage but I can't imagine how you'd do it confused)

SherbetDibDab Sat 01-Dec-12 21:58:30

I've not read the article - but some children can just as easily be tutored by their degree educated, system savvy, parents - some can't.
At what point do you say an advantage a child has in nature, not nurture.

AMumInScotland Sat 01-Dec-12 21:59:30

I certainly think they should try to make the test one which can test for innate abiity rather than what has been taught. But it will be hard to take away the advantage of being tutored completely - even teaching a bit of 'exam technique' can make a significant difference to how people do in any exam, whatever it is testing for.

I've just done a course at work with an open-book exam at the end. We spent a whole day practicing different types of questions and talking about strategies!

NotGoodNotBad Sat 01-Dec-12 22:02:32

I'd be very interested to see a test for which you couldn't improve your results by tutoring and/or practice. I don't think there's any such thing as a test for "innate ability".

NotGoodNotBad Sat 01-Dec-12 22:07:00

Besides which, brains are pretty plastic. If you look at the extremes of failing families, the kids often stand no chance, whether they were born intelligent or not. (Indeed, is there any such thing as 'born intelligent'?) You can't tell whether a child has any innate ability if they are brought up in a chaotic household with no books and parents who cannot read, don't feed them properly and spend their time with drink/drugs instead of playing with their children. The kids just don't develop the skills they need to succeed at school.

rabbitstew Sat 01-Dec-12 22:18:27

If achievement were all about innate ability, we wouldn't need schools in the first place. grin

Takver Sat 01-Dec-12 22:33:20

Well said, rabbitstew. Its a serious point, and one that isn't discussed enough.

Its a bit like the debates about retakes on exams - is the point to assess whether students have reached a specified standard in a subject, or rank them in order of some notion of innate 'ability'?

Sometimes it feels like education in this country has become almost entirely a positional good, and that any actual useful skills the pupils learn are an unexpected side effect . . . And that politicians are not only accepting but actively happy with this situation confused

difficultpickle Sat 01-Dec-12 22:49:37

The Eton pre-test in year 6 is supposed to be tutor proof.

seeker Sat 01-Dec-12 22:55:44

That's why the 11+ should be abolished, the whole hideous, iniquitous idea of judging children as successes or failures at the age of 10 should be outlawed, and all available resources should be put into the least worst option- proper comprehensive schools.

ChristmasSALutations Sat 01-Dec-12 23:00:45

I consider the middle class children in the nice primary schools already at an advantage to my dc, who go to school in a disadvantaged area.

I am counting on a tutor (and I will skimp and scrape to pay for it) to bring them up to a level so they stand a chance in the 11+ exams.

Scrapping the tutors will not help the children in this working class household.

Ponders Sat 01-Dec-12 23:18:39

In the bad old days of the national 11+ - before comprehensives, when all children in what is now Y6 sat the exam - there was no tutoring, all schools taught more or less the same curriculum, & afaik apart from a few anomalies (both ways) the children who should have passed did pass. I'm not saying selection is a good thing, but as far as it goes it used to work.

I agree with seeker that proper comprehensives is what we should have, but until we do, it should be possible to just ban tutoring. Schools will always know - kids will always talk.

difficultpickle Sat 01-Dec-12 23:26:24

How do you ban tutoring? confused

I sat the 12+ (first year they did it and it didn't last long as it meant we spent an extra year in primary learning nothing).

We did three practice papers in class. No tutoring. Not sure tutors or Bond books even existed then (mid 70s). It was viewed as no big deal. Schools had different pass marks so the higher the pass the more choice you had. Some children passed unexpectedly, struggled for a term in grammar and then went to the secondary where they excelled.

I still live in a grammar school area but the landscape now is unrecognisable. If you haven't booked a tutor by year 2 then you have little hope of getting one. Everyone tutors for 11+. I don't know anyone who isn't/hasn't. Thankfully we ds's school goes to 13 so we won't have to deal with 11+ (I think CE is much more straightforward).

seeker Sat 01-Dec-12 23:33:58

You can't ban the tutoring. That's why you have to ban the system.

rabbitstew Sat 01-Dec-12 23:41:01

So, what changed, then, because the move from no preparation to the current situation was far too slow to be because of the abolition of most grammar schools - and it has even spread to areas which still run a grammar school system without super selectives in the locality.
Was it the move to GCSEs and more people going to university? Did that result in the mad rush to get your children into a school with a "reputation" for excellence? Or did the standard of education drop so dramatically that people are these days having to make up for inferior primary education? Or are a higher proportion of people generally more neurotic, competitive and insecure these days and taking it out on their children, who 25 years ago would have breezed into a grammar school without years of intensive tuition in exam technique, first?

Ponders Sat 01-Dec-12 23:47:52

the latter, I think, rabbitstew

we live in an area with a grammar school & my eldest took the exam 20 years ago. To my knowledge only one child in her class was tutored (& that child subsequently went to medical school so was pretty bright anyway - it was the parents who felt the need confused)

From the following years I know of children who scraped in without tutoring & went on to do brilliantly, & children who got in with tutoring, & then floundered.

I don't see why tutoring couldn't be banned. I know plenty of primary school teachers make a lot of money on the side from doing it, but that's not a reason not to ban it.

Ponders Sat 01-Dec-12 23:52:51

also, fwiw, the introduction of the national curriculum did make a signifcant difference (locally) to those primary schools which had previously struggled a bit when it came to getting their kids up to passing for the grammar school - so in fact the standard of education actually increased, making it harder for a child to pass.

Which should be a good thing, no?

AThingInYourLife Sat 01-Dec-12 23:55:45

"the children who should have passed did pass"


I can't get my head around this.

If there are children who should be passing and we can identify them even if they don't pass, why do we need the test?

rabbitstew Sun 02-Dec-12 00:00:55

If you don't have a test, then the people who used to pay tutors to help their children pass the test will spend the money on bribing the headteacher for a good reference, instead. grin

Spockster Sun 02-Dec-12 00:05:14

It would seem odd to try to ban or even discourage tutoring without a ban on independent primary schools or prep schools, which are surely just full-time tutoring establishments? In Bucks, the private primaries have approaching 90% succes in 11+ compared to 10-15% for the local state primaries. This is just as unfair, arguably more so, than tutoring.

seeker Sun 02-Dec-12 00:12:14


Spockster Sun 02-Dec-12 00:20:52

The bum hole that is Michael Gove will not let that happen. And even if he turns out to be allergic to something, shiny pink potato face Eton man won't let it happen, either.

LaVolcan Sun 02-Dec-12 00:21:26

I can't see how they can abolish tutoring. The only way I could see would be for them to keep changing the style of tests, so that you didn't know exactly what to prepare for.

I don't agree fully agree with those who say that people weren't tutored in the old days. I went to a grammar school in the 1960s. I went to two junior schools because we moved house, and both schools were streamed rigidly. If you were in the A stream I think you got more push and more practice at the sort of exercises you would meet in the 11+. Your chances of passing from the B stream were extremely slender, as far as I recall. Some children were put in the B stream at age 7, so effectively got written off then.

Nor do I agree that on the whole the right people got into the grammar school - a lot of perfectly able children were deemed to be failures. The whole system was deeply unpopular because of this. You were tested on arithmetic and English and those funny shape matching sorts of questions. If you passed you were deemed capable, for example, of learning languages, but not if you went to the Secondary Modern. Now the sort of absurdity you got is the example of a close friend of mine 'failing' i.e. deemed to be unsuited to learning a foreign language but who already spoke Dutch because her mother was Dutch. (She later went to university and got a 2:1 and I could think of a good few more people like her too.)

seeker Sun 02-Dec-12 00:24:10

I know. And they want to spread the hideous, divisive, unfair process to other counties. And the smug, smooth faced , red cord wearing Tory lackeys will agree, because even of their children fail, they will whisk them off to private school. And obviously nobody cares what happens to the poor and disadvantaged.

rabbitstew Sun 02-Dec-12 08:04:36

I was most interested to turn on the radio this morning and hear the end of some piece about a Catholic voluntary aided school being set up that has been allowed to favour baptised Catholics for 2/3 of the school entry over anyone living nearby, and which then plans to become an academy, so bypassing the requirement for academies not to be so selective of their intakes!!!..... The smug, smooth faced, red cord wearing Tory lackeys and the insane Michael Gove have absolutely no problem with encouraging communities to become ever more divided and divisive.

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