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How much tutoring?

(59 Posts)
wheresthebeach Fri 01-Feb-13 19:36:22

Our DD is at a good state school. We're in London and the area has a poor state secondary, with an couple of good faith secondaries. A fair number of children go private at secondary.
My question is this - if you moved from state to private for secondary how much tutoring did you do? We hear that people are doing 3 to 4 sessions a week which seems mad to us. Is this really necessary? Are standards so high for the selective that this amount of extra work has to be done?
I'd appreciate hearing from others who have done the switch about how much extra work then needed to do to pass the 11+.

TotallyBS Fri 01-Feb-13 22:27:32

Some parents will talk about how their DC had no prep at all and still passed with flying colours. These parents usually omit the part where their DC went to a highly academic primary or prep that did the work for the parents.

Some parents will talk about how they know kids that had been tutored for years. Strangely no one ever admits to being that parent so its always "I know someone who ....". I suspect that it's an urban myth.

With regards to how many sessions, three to four tutoring sessions a week is a bit outside the norm (I am assuming that you are referring to professional tutoring) Going by past discussions here on MN, one tutoring session a week seem to be the norm. How much 'homework' the DC does in between the session varies.

We didn't use a tutor for our DCs. It was strictly DIY. We spent year 5 Easter break going through the various types of questions. Once back at school they did about a hour a day on practice questions. During the summer break this went up to 2 hours a day and during the Christmas break this went up to 4 hours a day.

No doubt others will turn up to say that they did more or that they did less.

JoanByers Sat 02-Feb-13 01:05:52

It would depend on the specific private school.

There are private schools for everyone. Obviously if you are targeting a highly selective school, then it's going to be more difficult to get in than a private school which takes a lot of children with SENs.

What area of London are you in?

I know a parent at an Ofsted outstanding London primary and she was very disappointed because they did literally nothing to support the 11+ process (religious school so they don't care, even though as I understand it he is not eligible to go on to their linked senior school), and he failed his 11+'s although is IMO very bright.

From what I've seen of the boys the private school 11+ exams are hugely competitive in London, although obviously there are less sought after schools where you could get in easily.

I don't think you actually need to tutor at all, I would say my son did a lot of verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning tests at school, but these are straight forward to do at home if you are disciplined, and one-to-one work as a parent is very effective. For maths, my son is very able and we did nothing at all. For English a tutor probably would have helped, as he is weak in this area, and really needed one-to-one professional help, but he appears to have got through on his maths.

No school will fix big problems with your child's abilities - this requires one-to-one help, what you get from the prep school is:

* lots of exposure to the 11+ tests (but you can do this at home)
* a good, detailed reference (the senior school should write to your primary school - there is no guarantee that your head will reply)
* limited interview prep (DS was told some of the questions asked of previous candidates, given tips such as sit up straight, tuck your shirt in and so on) - again, this is not really rocket science.
* good general academic progress

You will be assessed, probably (check with the schools), in January of Y6, essentially on maths, English and probably some silly IQ tests. If you know that your daughter's maths or English are poor, then by all means get her a tutor now. But if they aren't, then I would leave it till Y5 when you have visited the schools in the Autumn Term, and then you will have a very solid four terms to prepare the VR/NVR nonsense, which is much longer than I spent with my son.

wheresthebeach Sat 02-Feb-13 09:28:48

Thanks Totally and Joan. That's really helpful. Our school does nothing to support the 11+; it leaves everything like this to the parents. We're SW London so the Wandsworth test is VR/NVR. I think it odd that the school does nothing to help the kids with this as they have to take the test. I guess it's chicken and egg...parents hire tutors so the school doesn't have to do practice paper/because the school does nothing the parents hire tutors.

newgirl Sat 02-Feb-13 10:57:03

My dd has been shortlisted for scholarship at very academic private school with no tutoring. She goes to a state primary that does no specific prep for 11plus. She is young in her year but has always been bright, loves puzzles, reading. I printed one sample paper from school site so she knew what she would be asked to do. Because we have good state secondaries it was not as important as it might be for you but I now think the whole tutoring thing is a bit of a racket - lots of kids might have been fine without any tutoring but parents feel they can't take the risk

tiggytape Sat 02-Feb-13 11:08:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Sat 02-Feb-13 11:14:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annach Sat 02-Feb-13 15:05:28

You'll learn a lot from googling the 11+ forums and asking on there. I tutor and can assure you that some parents do tutor their children for three years beforehand.

Most do a year of one or two papers a week, with breaks during the holidays. This helps state school children become acquainted with any VR and NVR papers they may have to sit (which aren't covered by many state schools.) It also helps fill gaps in their maths and English. State schools often don't have a programme in place for the more able pupils to complete level 5 maths by the end of autumn term, and test papers may well draw on topics the schools haven't covered.

Also, this may not be true in some areas, but where I tutor, the state schools are way behind in preparing able Yr 6s to plan and write structured essays and stories within a short time frame. Your DC may well need practise in all those areas.

People who say they did nothing are almost certainly kidding themselves. It's a rare child who could gain 90% or more in an 11+ NVR paper without some explanation of what is required. That's why preps and tutors teach NVR techniques.

annach Sat 02-Feb-13 15:07:21

I'd agree with the Head who says 'a dozen sessions'. My caveat is: a dozen on each time of paper, so one of each a week for 12 months - i.e. a year's tutoring at home using Bond or similar and past exam papers, or with a skilled tutor, should be just right.

newgirl Sat 02-Feb-13 16:05:21

I'm not kidding myself - my dd just did well with no tutoring - fact - her state primary has done a good job

projectsrus Sat 02-Feb-13 16:10:35

I agree with annach.

We know quite a few children who went to selective independents at 11+ and all had tutoring since Y5. A couple since Y4. Things covered were:
- English, Maths, NVR and VR.

If you are lucky and your school covers L5 in Y5 then that's great. Also great if they cover NVR and VR. If they don't (ours doesn't until Y6), they will have a slim chance in a competitive 11+ school at L4 and no practice of NVR and VR.

tiggytape Sat 02-Feb-13 16:26:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

newgirl Sat 02-Feb-13 16:52:50

Yes I do agree that being fast and accurate are skills that will help. It's just a shame that parents try so hard and spend money on tutors when maybe the kid would have been ok. If we didn't have good state secondaries I probably would feel very different!

tiggytape Sat 02-Feb-13 17:13:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

soaccidentprone Sat 02-Feb-13 17:39:09

I think it depends of your child.

you probably have a good idea as to what level your dd is on now, and where she is expected to be at the end of y6 when she takes her SATs.

you need to look at the entrance exam structure for the schools you are interested in, and the work out where additional help is needed.

ds2 has just taken his entrance exam for private school. the state primary he goes too is excellent. his teacher is brilliant - inspiring and motivating. ds2 plus 3 others in his year have been receiving teaching at level 6 for maths for 1 session per week since October half term.

I am pretty sure ds2 will be getting 6b for maths, 5a for English and 5a for science in his end of year SATs. he is very motivated, and very bright. we don't particularly push him, except for his spellings (he can't spell for toffeegrin ). I don't know why he is like he is. he has always been like this. but he does get very angry with himself when he doesn't get things right. he gets really stroppy. we tell him it doesn't matter, all we care about is that he has worked to the best of his ability, no matter what the outcome.

so I suppose what I am trying to say is, if your dd genuinely wants to go to private school, then be prepared for it to be competitive. there were 200 children for 72 places at ds2's entrance exam.

find out what the tests are. for ds2 these were maths, English and reasoning. each test was an hour. work through past papers. work on areas where your dd is weak. I think it is better to do fewer questions and get 100% than finish and only get 90%.

pm me if you need any further help or advice smile

mumteacher Sat 02-Feb-13 21:55:20

The 11+ is very competitive (depending on where you are) and when you only have one shot at securing a place parents feel they have to do whatever it takes.
3/4 sessions a week seems a lot. Most children will start with maths and English once a week.

Tutoring can also be translated to a parent teaching the child not just a trained teacher.

Newsgirl it's great your DD has done so well, although I have to agree with annach that someone has to have sat down and told your DD the forum. Someone would've needed to time her to make sure she can complete the exams in the time frames given. A state school with 30 chn (approx) in each class couldn't have done all that alone.

Good luck x

Yellowtip Sun 03-Feb-13 10:12:49

tiggytape that HT was simply a single HT (Sutton) giving his own personal view. Other grammar HTs are vehemently opposed to any advocacy of any outside tutoring whatsoever.

You also say that in other parts of the country outside London state primaries help prep for the 11+. I can tell you that in my area at least they absolutely do not!

According to the Telegraph today Russian oligarchs in London and others too are paying tens and tens of thousands a year for Oxford and Cambridge graduates to prep their kids daily. But I'm guessing that's towards the upper end of the spectrum.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 10:29:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Sun 03-Feb-13 10:40:42

But I wonder where this 'quote' derives from tiggy? Do you know? I'm interested to know if it was a half quote or perhaps in answer to a leading parental question at an open day? He's certainly swimming strongly against the political tide if he champions tutoring.

Perhaps in some counties kids are given a familiarisation but that's definitely not true in ours.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 10:56:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Sun 03-Feb-13 11:07:21

I thought it would be an anti tutoring message in essence tiggy, that makes more sense. Are numbers applying to the Sutton grammars as high as those for the Tiffins?

newgirl Sun 03-Feb-13 11:10:24

Me! I familiarised her by printing out one maths and one english from the school website. She sat down and did them and I timed her. She took under the time allowed.

Yes I agree that lots of practice will give kids a huge edge I'm not denying it but I do think it is madness when kids might have been ok on their own.

I think it is hugely depressing when parents are considering tutoring for a couple of hours a week three years before the tests. Not much fun for the kids.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 11:15:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annach Sun 03-Feb-13 11:20:39

Yellowtip, I think the Sutton grammars and Tiffin overlap a little. Sutton Grammars have very high number of candidates but there are 3 boys schools to choose from, so may accept candidates with lower marks than Tiffin does (still very high achieving, bright children though.)

I like what Bucks say. That is fair and so true.

Newgirl - did you or her teachers at school really never show your DD a single VR or NVR paper or puzzle before the test? Did she just stroll in, work out codes and sequences in record time with zero prep? Did her school help her cover the entire syllabus up to level 6 in maths before her exam? That's a rare and wonderful state school. Did you not even tell her to answer comprehension questions in full sentences? How can she instinctively know what's needed with no input from anyone?

Most people aren't that lucky.

I do get frustrated at this notion that tutored children aren't otherwise bright enough to get into selective schools and will fall behind the minute the tutoring stops. Bright children need to be taught what is expected - from parents or otherwise. They are taught what to expect on the day of the exam so they can do their best. No one says bright children don't need to revise for GCSEs. 11+ is an exam. Candidates prepare for it. No big deal.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 11:25:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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