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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+.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 10:23:39

legallady of course top 50 is a great ranking but if you look at my post I wasn't directing the comment at either of the Tiffins, or Wilsons or Nonsuch, so your post is a little irrelevant.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 10:19:06

I merely suggested one explanation BS. Just as valid as making a leap the other way to your suggested explanation that the teaching may not be all that.

irregularegular Thu 07-Feb-13 09:55:56

Like the others said, that's really impossible to answer. It depends entirely on the child and the competitiveness of the school. FWIW I've not heard of anyone having more than a weekly tutor, but my samples not that big as most children I know have gone to non-selective state schools.

I think some degree of familiarisation with the type of tests is essential and it would be unfair to send a child in with at least a practice run, but it doesn't necessarily need to be much more than that.

My daughter has (almost certainly) got a place at Kendrick grammar school, which is not quite Tiffin, but not far off. It was a last minute decision to apply, so she only started to practice about 3 weeks before. They don't do these tests at school (quite rightly, there are better things to spend time on) so she hadn't seem anything like them before. She probably managed the equivalent of 4-5 practice tests of each type in that time, but often broke down into smaller parts. In retrospect i wouldn't have done much more practice, but I would have started a little earlier so it could be more spread out. 2 months rather than 3 weeks. We didn't have any outside help, but I'm quite good at that kind of thing.

Why not just get hold of some practice tests and give them a go, then you'll see how much you need to do? Or ask an experienced tutor to do an assessment if you're not confident.

legallady Thu 07-Feb-13 09:44:17

I'm not sure why calling the entrance tests for Kingston and Sutton "horrendously competitive" is at all contentious. Of course they are competitive. What else would you call it when you have 1800 children sitting for each of the Tiffin schools and nigh on 1600 for each of the Sutton schools (well boys anyway.) I singled those areas out as they are the ones I have experience of.

At no point was I insinuating that just because they are competitive tests that the schools must be better than others. They are situated in densely populated areas of London and, with the exception of the girls grammars in Sutton, have no catchment of any sort and so are open to all and sundry to apply. Thats what makes them horrendously competitive.

And Yellowtip, what would you call a decent ranking in the tables? Both Tiffin Schools, Wilsons and Nonsuch are all in the top 50 schools in the entire country (including independents) based on AS/A level.

wheresthebeach Thu 07-Feb-13 09:33:36

What am I missing? KGS got 100% 5 good GCSE's, Surbiton got 96%...what's not to like?

wheresthebeach Thu 07-Feb-13 09:27:22

Off to look at where Kingston is in the league tables...

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 09:26:00

It was a valid query Yellowtip but my point was that it was invalid to conclude that their relatively low ranking was due to an intake of highly tutored kids.

The quality of teaching varies from selective to selective. You can select the brightest kids in the catchment but if the quality of teaching isn't correspondingly high then of course your rankings won't reflect the competive selection process.

You are making a valid comment but it belongs in a thread about how quality teaching can make a great difference even with bright kids.

Yellowtip Thu 07-Feb-13 08:10:26

Yes I am being selective in my sample BS, with reason:legallady singled out Kingston and Sutton which she labelled as 'horrendously competitive'. So I queried why their ranking seems not to reflect that particularly. A perfectly valid query I should have thought. Indeed if one wants a discourse on the correlation between levels of competition at entry level for grammars and their success in terms of results one would have to look at the less competitive ones who keep right up there with the Tiffins' as well as the Tiffins' themselves.

TotallyBS Thu 07-Feb-13 07:12:36

Yellow - aren't you being a bit selective in your sample?

I mean, you are holding up two schools as examples that a highly selective intake doesn't result in a similarly high ranking. Your conclusion is that the 11+ selects kids that are not rvery academic but are merely good at passing the 11+ because they had been highly tutored.

I responded that other highly selective schools attract high number of highly tutored kids and are highly ranked.

Your response is that you was only talking about two schools. You are basing your opinion on just two schools and refusing to consider other schools that debunk your theory???

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.

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.

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

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

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 21:31:40

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

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."

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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).

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 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...

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 10:14:28

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

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