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How to get child from failing primary into super selective??

(39 Posts)
Worriedaboutchances Fri 11-Jan-13 19:24:31

Hi. Name changed as don't want to be outed.
Dd is y4, top of her class and v bright. Her primary school has done very poorly for the last few years and things have reached a head now with the LA involved and far more visits by Ofsted. Her teacher has been off with stress for several weeks, is back now, but struggling and likely to be off again which means a string of supply teachers.
The school has seriously failed getting pupils to make progress and there is a chance it could close eventually, be taken over as academy and/or current head
kicked out.
It's pointless discussing things with her teacher as he is so fragile and the LMT are refusing to engage with parents over these issues.
In the short term I can speak to governors but changes will take time.

Does she have any chance to get into super selective?

She achieved all 9 s with a couple of 8s in reception (externally moderated), got L3s ks2, knew all her tables end of y2 and is I believe L4 for everything now ( Don't know accuracy of this as huge issues with assessment in school).
She has never been set appropriate work ever ie work based on where she is at and this lack of differentiation is a big part of school's failings. Her homework is ridiculously easy and is stuff she could have done in reception. I have complained over the years and nothing has changed.
I work full time and do what I can with her and have started the odd hour of tuition but hadn't intended to increase till y5 and I'm not sure whether even weekly would be sufficient to make up for her schooling.

It is not possible to change school for reasons that I don't want to post for fear of bring outed except to say it can't happen.

It feels so unfair as its not her fault she can't change school and is at such a huge disadvantage to others. Our alternative secondary would be an awful choice for reasons not just related to their very poor academic record.

Any advice or experience to share?

loveyouradvice Sun 27-Jan-13 11:46:30

Agree... and if you are looking at the independent sector, definitely flag up to them that her primary is underperforming - they do look at them differently! We told all of ours.....

Chandon Sun 27-Jan-13 11:22:40

I think it is really helpful to visit the school you would try to get her into, and ask them what they are looking for. Lay your cards on the table, they should give constructive advice.

loveyouradvice Sun 27-Jan-13 10:53:42

Firstly YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

My DD is at a school in special measures - we started later than I would have liked but IT IS WORKING - has interviews with Superselective Indes lined up - and I know if we had started earlier she would have been able to do the top London grammars too. What worked? She shot up 3 levels in Maths in 3 months just by working through the Bond all you need to know for 11+ Maths book (end y5) - and having done more work since (lots of inde papers and L6 from websites) is approx L6 (not quite covered whole syllabus). English was slower - definitely worth getting some of the books and studying worked examples on teachers' websites - I hadnt understood what punctuation for example was needed at each level. Bond NV & V we did "for fun" since year 3 and then upped her game in last year with wider variety of sources, including ipad downloads which she enjoyed. Mathletics was a great boon in ensuring she covered all the info she needed - and was fun - from y2 (fab website you pay a subscription to). She has had a weekly tutor group - which is really graet for confidence and working with others at this level, spurring each other on. BUt I have also had to put a huge amount in.... if your DD is keen, Id suggest doing a fun joint session each weekend (20 min bursts of different things, comprehension verbally for example) as well as the 10-20 mins a day ideally during the week. I didnt do this but wish we had - that said DD was not keen until almost the end of y5, thinking cos she was on top tables she was fine.... Most important is that you keep up your DD enthusiasm and find fun stuff to do (eg BBC just launched short story competition and lots of great entries from last year on their web to read together and discuss with DC - what liked and what might have done differently. And do recognise unless you're made of money this is going to be a huge project for you - I loved doing it, but was shocked about how much time it took! Do feel it was the best investment I've ever made in my DD - she is now really enjoying learning and writing quite extraordianry imaginative stories, and dead chuffed with herself for doing so well! Fingers now obviously crossed that some of those interviews will translate into offers...... but the fact she has been selected for interview by all so far to me speaks volumes!

Pyrrah Sat 26-Jan-13 22:40:31

Talk to the schools. No decent selective school wants to miss the really bright and willing to learn. The fact that your DD is doing as well as she is in a crumby primary is going to make them even more interested. They will give you as much help and advice as they can.

I rang one of the schools that I am interested in DD attending at 11+ (a London super-selective) to enquire about what I should do regarding 7+ should we get allocated a primary school that I don't like and will probably get. They were so helpful and reassuring.

A friend's daughter got offers from 5 super-selectives including scholarships to 4 of them and is now at SPGS - and she was at a pretty dire primary. Her mother is a bit of a tiger mother and she got the Bond Books and did tutoring herself. She's not from the UK either so not versed in the joys of education over here.

Regarding the private sector - check out the bursary schemes. Some are very generous (up to 100%) and your income is assessed on disposable income after mortgage so you never know. They are always very keen to bring in students who will help maintain their position in the league tables!

Good luck to you and your DD.

Schmedz Sat 26-Jan-13 21:14:13

Have you considered applying for a bursary at one of the independent schools in your area as well? If you don't have the means to pay fees, there are many bursaries available at a selection of excellent schools...nothing to lose by investigating and applying!

Worriedaboutchances Sun 13-Jan-13 22:23:19

It says so in the parent's guide.

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 22:21:50

What makes you think Bond Maths for 9-10 year olds is level 3?? I didn't think Bond Maths followed the National Curriculum levels?

Worriedaboutchances Sun 13-Jan-13 22:05:03

Did some testing using the bond book. I would say, based on her having a go at L3 and L4 English, verbal r and maths that she is L4 for English and verbal r and L3 for maths. She can easily do bonds book 9-10 maths 10 minutes papers which I think is L3 so confirms this. L4 maths stuff in the bond parent's guide has stuff she hasn't come across before.

mumzy Sun 13-Jan-13 19:11:59

I would assess your dd yourself using the bond book. Fwiw school told me ds1 was level 4 in all areas at end of year 4 but when I assessed him his grasp of grammar, punctuation was shaky and his spelling and maths wasn't good enough to pass the exam.

Worriedaboutchances Sun 13-Jan-13 16:54:47

She isn't a L5 yet. Her tutor says she is a good level 4 now and will be L5 by end of Y4. She certainly isn't getting maths work set at this level in school but does it at home and in tutoring. I only have tutor's word re L5.

OhDearConfused Sun 13-Jan-13 12:49:44

You DD is not bright if she is level 5 in year 4; she is super bright!
Good luck

piggywigwig Sun 13-Jan-13 12:07:03

"I think the school you are talking about is in a grammar area - so you would not expect the same numbers and I think it would be called selective."

I think we'll agree to disagree on whether the Colchester schools are "selective" or "superselective" and whether they meet the criteria wink

OP - I'd agree with those who say don't be disheartened.

mumzy Sun 13-Jan-13 09:39:39

OP don't be disheartened I coached Ds1 and he passed 11+ for selective indie. His inner city primary school wasn't great and it was a lot of work to make up the difference. Also make sure you practice exam technique with her as this can make a huge difference if lots of dcs sitting exam.

twoterrors Sat 12-Jan-13 21:40:52

Hi Piggy

I don't want to divert the thread, but what I meant was that the ridiculous ratios associated with superselectives are because the area is not wholly selective and/or there are no distance criteria. So these schools may be the only, or one of the very few, schools with selective admissions criteria in a very wide area (eg three Sutton grammars, with people from Sutton, Croydon, half of South London etc) trying to get in. It means getting in is more of a lottery as so many very clever children do not - the number of places is a fraction of the number that pass.

I think the school you are talking about is in a grammar area - so you would not expect the same numbers and I think it would be called selective.

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 18:53:51


I'm so sorry, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying lol!
But in case I've confused anyone with my figures of 570: Colchester Royal Grammar School and Colchester County High School for Girls are superselectives ie have no catchment and only take the top 98 and 112 scores respectively. They just don't attract the same number of candidates as some superselctives, and that isn't unique.

twoterrors Sat 12-Jan-13 18:34:27

Ah, I meant something slightly different by superselective, thank you piggy.
Yes, I did mean schools with no distance criteria and not in a selective area, so they attract vast numbers from all over, which have substantially worse ratios than 5:1 (given people apply for three to six schools anyway, say). The figures I gave were examples only - absolutely, everyone should find out the stats for themselves. If it is "merely" highly selective - goodness what a world we live in smile- then I think you can predict a little more accurately and her levels sounds very good.

OP, yes, I would have a good rummage around admissions brochures of your area and neighbouring ones, and think creatively about transport options. Don't believe anything anyone tells you - get all the facts and figures for yourself. There are loads of rumours and inaccuracies around and also policies change.

It is a very unfair situation but your dd sounds very keen to learn, which is perhaps the most important thing.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 18:33:44

Fee paying school is out of the question. No way could we pay and earn too much between us for any sort of support. I will have to work out travel time etc to other selectives.

Xenia Sat 12-Jan-13 18:30:04

I would also sit her for 4 or 5 selective schools if you can so there are lots of back ups.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 17:56:52

And I also bought some books today too including the bond one recommended so thanks for that. Off to look at your one "reallytired".

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 17:55:26

Thanks again for replies. Unfortunately her school isn't even average sad. She had tuition again today and the tutor said she should be level 5 by end of Y4 so I guess there must be hope. It is a highly selective school we are aiming for but I take on board comments about competition. I will do some more research re local schools.

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 17:30:58

"OP, I am sorry to sounds gloomy, but if it is a superselective then the odds would be against her even if her primary school was not put all your eggs in the 2000 applicants for 130 places basket."

Whilst it's no doubt true that the figures you give of 2000 candidates chasing 130 places for some superselective schools are accurate for say, Tiffin, it isn't necessarily the case for all superselectives. I'd hate people to think those odds apply across the board and thus be scared off, on that basis alone. For example in Essex, I believe the figures sitting the 11+ and hoping to achieve places at the Colchester County High School for Girls, was 570 for the 2012 intake of 112 places.

If OP's daughter has L4's in YR4 then it may not be all doom and gloom but of course it depends on the exams to be sat and the school. If she's achieved those levels despite the situation at the school, then there may be a glimmer of hope and positivity smile

In DD2's very average state primary, 4 out of 30 children appear to have passed for the superselectives, based on their standardised scores.

Two of my children got into a superselective grammer from a very indifferent junior school. Both had a private tutor who was a lovely retired teacher in her 70s who came every fortnight from about the end of year 4 to the tests in early year 6. So it may be possible to get into the superselective but do check out other options as two terrors suggests and I hope that the situation in the school improves soon.

twoterrors Sat 12-Jan-13 16:53:55

OP, I am sorry to sounds gloomy, but if it is a superselective then the odds would be against her even if her primary school was great. Go for it with the practice and so on if she will enjoy it but I would also look really long and hard at every other school that is even possible - do not put all your eggs in the 2000 applicants for 130 places basket. Any aptitude places? lotteries? Don't assume you won't get into to more distant schools - admissions criteria are sometimes not distance-based.

If you are able to say where you are, people may be able to offer specific suggestions.

On the upside, my kids were at a perfectly decent state primary and I am not convinced they learned much on the academic front (in narrow 11+ terms) - everything seemed to take ages to get through and methods kept changing. A few hours one to one with a good tutor can achieve a lot.

I wish you lots of luck in what sounds like a very stressful and difficult situation.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 16:49:36

I have never attempted to get a child into a superselective. Sad to say I don't think you have a snowball's chance in hell without a decent tutor if your daughter is at a rubbish school. However children have overcome greater obsticles in life. A lot depends on how much your daughter wants to work. However getting into a super selective grammar school from a private school is hard enough. Lets be positive, your daughter has one advantage over the excessively coached in that she is actually bright enough.

This book will help your daughter prepare for any verbal/ non verbal reasoning tests.

There are loads of books you can get from WHSmith/ Amazon/ Wilkinson to practice maths and English.

BBC bitesize is brilliant for improving general academic knowledge. It explains all the complex maths methods that we were never taught. It has lots of games to explain concepts.

Another good site is

Xenia Sat 12-Jan-13 16:38:32

Prep schools around here do not want to lose boys at 11 so do not prepare for 11+ tests although the children are doing pretty well then so most would probably do fine. They teach for the 13+ exams.

Anyway on the point on the thread - yes if it's a private selective school try to get copies of their papers, also encourage her to read a lot, perhaps develop some interesting hobbies for relaxation, learn a couple of instruments, do some sport.

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