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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+.

JoanByers Sun 03-Feb-13 12:52:29

It's not as bad as it sounds because only about half of those offered accept a place, so your chances are more like one in seven than one in thirteen.

newgirl Sun 03-Feb-13 14:36:22

School has a maths club for about 8 able maths kids and they do puzzles - we did not do any more tests with her. Her pred level for Sats is level 6. Now feeling very proud of her and her state school. I don't think our area is anywhere near as competitive as those described. I guess my point is if someone out there has a bright kid but not the means to pay for tutoring etc do apply for schools w burseries - you may be pleasantly surprised.

wheresthebeach Mon 04-Feb-13 11:30:00

The numbers are scary and I think it adds to the pressure. The vast majority of kids from state schools will need some tutoring to bridge the gap between what state schools offer and the advantages (academic) of fee paying schools. Fee paying schools select kids and don't have to cater for all abilities and behaviours. It's an academic advantage (although perhaps not a life skills one).
Thanks soaccidentprone for the advice and offer of help. Funnily enough my DD can't spell either! (although we are working on that...) grin

TotallyBS Mon 04-Feb-13 11:50:08

It does add to the pressure but the way I see it, if a DC can't cope with the prep then imagine their response to 2 hours homework a night, a test most weeks and a battery of exams at the end of each term.

It's better that the parent and/or child get a taster now.

I also like to dispute the life skills comment. To me it's reverse snobbery to think that a child has a more rounded education if he goes to a state school and mixes with the salt of the earth.

I know that you didn't mean it in a snipey way so apologies if I came across as confrontational.

piggywigwig Tue 05-Feb-13 18:39:53

"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. "

Annach: you know, this has to be one of the best posts I've ever seen on the subject of the 11+. I thank you for encapsulating everything I believe in, in such a perfect way thanks

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:30

There is no magic recipe as to how much tutoring is necessary for a child to gain entry to an independent secondary from a state primary. The truth is - it depends on how 'able' your child is and how selective a school you are applying for.

If your child is in the top band of his/her class, then perhaps one 60/90 minute session will suffice. If your child is applying to one of the very competitive London day schools, then probably up your sessions to 2 a week for at least a term or two before the tests.

If your child is 'average', definitely 2 sessions are week will be needed, as independent schools mostly select children working at Level 5 in all subjects and an 'average' student is usually working at a Level 4...

If your child's writing needs lots of work...certainly 1 session a week will not make a dent...

Hope you get the drift...

Good Luck!

annach Tue 05-Feb-13 19:59:43

Thank you piggywigwig.

Good luck to your DC in their exams - tutored or otherwise!

wheresthebeach Wed 06-Feb-13 09:09:30

I agree Piggy...Annach has summed it up perfectly.

Thanks's the writing we're concerned about and I think you're right that it takes a fair bit of work to improve it. Maths is so much's right or it's wrong - no debate.

Farewelltoarms Wed 06-Feb-13 10:13:26

Where do you think these standards might correlate to y4 levels? I'm in two minds as to whether to go for selective secondaries because my ds is doing well and is happy, but we'd have to think about some sort of tutoring (home or otherwise) if we're to do the papers. I don't want to embark on this road if he's not going to make it. He got 3s in yr 2 sats and is now in y4 and I think 4c in maths and reading, 3a in writing (if he's lucky, I think his writing is noticeably poorer than his other skills). He plays no musical instrument, is v sporty and pretty inarticulate. Oh he's absolutely lovely, obviously...

Farewelltoarms Wed 06-Feb-13 10:14:28

PS he's at a good but not outstanding state school with a v mixed intake.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 10:39:57

Farewell - some private schools have a knowledge based exam. In that instance a KS level 5 at the end of year 5 is IMO a safe place to be.

However, where the exam is VR and NVR which KS level your DC is at is largely irrelevant. Levels are a reflection of what they are taught at school. Some teach to the national expected average. In our case my DCs left year 6 on level 5 but that was only because we taught them the extra material. If we hadn't they would have finished year 6 on a rather unremarkable L4.

I suggest that you get a few sample papers and spend a few weekends going through them with DC and see what happens. We didn't start until the year 5 Easter break. By that measure you have a lot of time before you have to get serious.

Farewelltoarms Wed 06-Feb-13 10:53:11

That sounds sensible TBS. If he finishes y4 on a 4b ish, then a level 5c at the end of y5 sounds like that would be within his grasp (whether he is taught to that level is a different question). He is pretty good at maths and his teacher has said he could be doing higher level stuff but they don't teach it yet.
Sigh at the thought of getting onto all this when I'd rather let him play football...

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 10:57:38

Just in case it's of interest, I recently went to a meeting with the head of a top independent S London selective, for parents of children who had passed the exam to get in. He congratulated us all on having bright DC and then chuckled, 'who of course none of you tutored at all'.

He knew about the tutoring. He was fine with it. What concerns me is that these schools openly protest that tutoring is not required and there are some well-intentioned parents out there with DC at state schools who believe it. Their DC are very unlikely to have covered the whole syllabus in Maths and English, and they are up against prep school DC who do VR and NVR papers every day before assembly. Some, like Newgirl, may be lucky enough to have a maths club that does 'puzzles' (aka NVR familiarisation or tutoring, at school) but most don't.

What's important is to know what the school you're applying to asks for in its exam, what level of attainment is needed to secure a place, whether your DC can realistically reach that with or without help, and if with help, what are the gaps that need plugging in their knowledge or skills. Then work out a schedule of practise that suits them, with tutors, or through school or through home tutoring. Dead simple.

I strongly recommend people ignore the posters who gush: 'My DC got in with no effort at all.' It's stealth bragging. Yes, some DC are natural born geniuses. These schools are not filled with such DC. There truly aren't enough fo them to go round. They are filled with top set, level 5 & 6 bright kids who work hard and have been well prepared for the exam.

My DH is off the scale clever - got top marks in 11= when he was small, then got off the scale marks in the US scholarship NVR style testing when he applied for a Fullbright. I'm nowhere near that clever, but sharp enough to get into Oxbridge. Our DC have grown up in a naturally inquisitive and academic home and were both in top sets with anticipated high 5s and 6s at end of Yr 6. They both needed tutoring.

Farewelltoarms Wed 06-Feb-13 11:16:34

I was told that the head of UCS recommended that state school boys had some tutoring to cover the ground but they'd take a dim view of boys from preps who were. That sounds reasonable to me. Certainly I don't feel too cruel forcing my ds to go to a tutor once a week given that he has a lovely life, two minute walk to school, no homework etc. We don't spend hours in the car like the neighbours who go to prep schools do.
It's working out where that line comes between familiarisation of papers/catching up with ground covered and pushing a child for years above and beyond that. Tutoring gets a bad name when it's done to y1 children in private schools (friend at the UCS pre prep said this was the case with 80% of her dcs' classmates. One even took a tutor on holiday with them).

newgirl Wed 06-Feb-13 12:57:49

stealth bragging is a bit rude! My point is that some kids might have been ok without tutoring, but will never know. Not every parent can afford to do tutoring and its a shame if their kids dont get every chance. Each to their own.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:58

Why is it stealth boasting? Annach was simply making the point that despite having highly academic parents her DCs still needed tutoring.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 13:17:11

.. and why is it different to your posts about your DD's maths ability?

JoanByers Wed 06-Feb-13 13:26:12

It's foolish to go into any exam having done no prep at all.

That prep might amount to one practice paper at home, 100%, job done, move on, or it might involve months of tutoring, it depends on your child.

But no parent should feel proud that they sent their young child into an exam completely unprepared. Yes the child did well, but the parents let them down!

legallady Wed 06-Feb-13 13:30:33

We have just been through this 11+ process for the third and thankfully last time and I have learnt alot along the way! I hasten to add that we are in South West London and this is only really relevant for the Kingston/Sutton grammars which we all know are horrendously competitive.

Tiffin boys is an entity unto itself (now that TGS has changed its entrance test.) I would actually put money on the fact that there is not a single child in that school that has been successful without tutoring - and I include familiarisation as tutoring whether it be by parent or "professional." You cannot get the requisite marks in these tests without being fully aware of the type of questions you are going to be asked in advance. You just do not have the time to figure out what's being asked of you. Being bright just isn't enough - I know of several level 6 boys this year who didn't even get close to the likely cut off mark and some of these boys are scary bright. I do stress though that it is perfectly possible as a parent to do the familiarisation yourself and there is no need to hire a professional. I would also suggest that once a child is familiar with the type of questions (particularly NVR) there isn't a huge amount of improvement in scores (though speed work will help.) The other thing to always remember is that no matter how bright your child is and no matter that he/she is getting 100% in the GL Assessment papers just before sitting the real thing, they are still likely to be unsuccessful - the odds are just against you and be prepared for that!!!!

As for the Sutton grammars I think there is more scope for an extremely bright but "untutored" child to be successful but again this is very very unlikely. The scope is there, however, because the tests focus more on curriculum based subjects. If you attend a mediocre state primary, however, it is likely that your DC will not have covered enough of the syllabus in maths to have a fair stab at the maths paper and may well have had very little comprehension experience or timed essay writing experience. These are all areas that I would suggest a state educated child would need some assistance with. Reading, reading and more reading seems a pretty good way to "tutor" for the English aspects of these tests though and there are plenty of workbooks that can be looked at to get up to speed in maths. In fact one of the Sutton grammars (girls) is consulting on changing its test this year to just VR and English - no maths or NVR at all. Presumably, they feel that skills in English are essential (and possibly the hardest thing to tutor for) and perhaps restricting the test to these aspects is more likely to weed out children who have been "taught to the test."

newgirl Wed 06-Feb-13 21:31:40

Annach said others were "stealth boasting" - I'm not calling anyone names.

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 21:31:47

legallady yours is a remarkably wide definition of tutoring. I can't see any reason why parental familiarisation should be used in the same sense as paid for 'professional' tutoring as it's the fact of paying, or rather having the disposable income to pay, which is exclusive. The breadth of your definition renders the argument about the social divisiveness of tutoring pointless.

If the Kingston and Sutton grammars are so 'horrendously competitive' then why aren't they further up the league tables? Is it partly down to the fact that it's 'very, very unlikely' that an 'extremely bright but "untutored" child will be successful'. In other words, the tests are at fault and droves of pretty mediocre but massively tutored kids get in?

newgirl Wed 06-Feb-13 21:32:49

And why "let them down" if they were relaxed and did well? Much better than stressing them out for years

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 22:34:05

Yellowtip - there is a flaw in your reasoning. There are a lot of 'horrendously competive' schools that attract a lot of highly tutored kids AND they are highly ranked.

A more likely reason is that these schools that you mentioned aren't as good as people think

Yellowtip Wed 06-Feb-13 22:37:26

I don't think there is a particular flaw BS since I referred only to Kingston and Sutton which were the two schools mentioned.

Shaded Wed 06-Feb-13 22:46:52

This tutoring vs non-tutoring debate always does my head in. Those who are against tutoring usual do not consider time spent by parents working with their kids as tutoring. I believe it is. Some parents either because of time or ability cannot help and I do not see why those kids should be at a disadvantage. I always hear my kids do no extra work for exams yet there are piles of bond books etc in the home.

It is also not a state vs private debate either. Private schools like state schools are of differing quality.

The other myth is of the tutored child who cannot cope in secondary. I live in grammar and selective independent obsessed area and rare is the tutored child who has failed to cope.

So do what is reasonable and right for your child and gives you peace of mind.

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