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Predicting Oxbridge in Year 7?!?

(64 Posts)
settledandsmug Fri 21-Jun-13 11:27:28

I attended a parent forum meeting at my DCs school recently and a question was raised with regards to Oxbridge entrance and student preparation.

The staff response was that some likely candidates can be identified from year 7 and they keep a close watch throughout their school education. I was intrigued by this and have a couple of questions for your consideration:-

1. Do you think this is possible and/or sensible?
2. If you do, what do you think they identify in year 7?

I asked these qs at the forum and was only offered vague answers. Just curious really, but could imagine an onslaught of Y7 parents all desperate to ensure their children fit the 'Oxbridge box'.

drivinmecrazy Fri 21-Jun-13 11:31:21

Can't really give any insight. At DD1 first yr7 parents evening her maths teacher lectured DH & I that there are not enough girls going for advanced maths and engineering degrees and we should really push DD in this direction. And while it's true she's pretty good at maths, she hates it. Equally we had her french and spanish teachers telling us she's a natural linguist so should consider that degree path. we were astounded, obviously no pressure for the next few years confused

Startail Fri 21-Jun-13 11:40:17

DFs, DD who had to choose between Y7 scholarships to two different private schools, yes.

Most DCs no.

scaevola Fri 21-Jun-13 11:42:42


Many schools have streamed/set pupils by end of year 7, so there is an indication there. Also, Oxbridge and the tutorial system requires students who are self-starters who study independently. Harder to assess this, but if they spot pupils who are going an extra mile in a subject they are passionate about then that would be another indicator.

But I's be wary of a school that claimed it could definitely spot reliably this early on. There are a lot of changes during puberty! But if they are flexible and only keeping a watching brief, I think it might be a good thing. For it means they will encourage pupils to be ambitious.

castlesintheair Fri 21-Jun-13 11:54:34

DH was much younger than that when his head predicted Oxbridge for him. To answer your questions, I'd say it is possible to identify potential. I think it's sensible only if it's kept low-key. Given my recent (hideous) 11+ experience, I'd say if it became a big thing, it could definitely lead to "an onslaught of Y7 parents all desperate to ensure their children fit the 'Oxbridge box' ". I've no idea how they identify Oxbridge candidates but I do know that it's not just about talent. Motivation and hard work are equally important.

playftseforme Fri 21-Jun-13 11:57:58

fwiw, my headteacher wished me luck at Oxbridge as I left my local state primary school. I went to Cambridge 7 yrs later...

Did the same to another pupil in my year who also went on to Cambridge.

settledandsmug Fri 21-Jun-13 12:00:26

To be fair, the school said it's a very loose thing at that stage and it changes through the year groups and only really becomes defined in Y12. I don't think the children are aware (or their parents) it's just something the senior management of the school discuss from time to time. Interesting points so far, though, thanks. Shame my DC are Y9 and Y11 and NOT 'Oxbridge material' (or is that thank goodness?).

Lancelottie Fri 21-Jun-13 12:04:56


Let's say there's a boy in DD's yr 6 class who would not astonish anyone if he headed for Oxbridge maths in 8 years' time. Or possibly music. He seems to think and speak both as fluently as the others speak English.

SonorousBip Fri 21-Jun-13 12:54:48

I know a Y4 child in DD's class who challenges absolutely everything. Not in a defiant way, I mean more in a "why is it so" or "is there a different way of doing it" way. She also can make extremely good conections, in an "Ah, if X means this, would it follow that..." way. It is as though things you tell her are a starting point. My mother commented the other day, that not only does she not speak like an 8 year old, you don't speak to her like an 8 year old. I think "Oxbridge" potential means having the ability to apply intelligence, and I think some children have that from a v young age.

Lots of time for change both ways. Interestingly DS is just leaving Y6 and from his cohort, a couple of the ones who did very well in entrance exams were definitely not standout at 5, although a couple have stayed pretty much at the top of the class.

DowntonTrout Fri 21-Jun-13 12:57:48

Yes I was predicted possible Oxbridge material aged 11 30 years ago!

I didn't get there though!

Arcticwaffle Fri 21-Jun-13 13:02:35

My current yr7 is thinking about Oxbridge. I think she's the sort who might go there - there are 4 in our immediate family who've been, and I'm an academic in a RG uni so it wouldn't be that unusual in our family. She's currently doing very well academically - if she keeps on along that track she'd be very likely to apply to Oxbridge.

It doesn't mean she won't be quite different in a few years, less motivated etc, and of course lots of very clever motivated kids don't get in, but I'd say yes in yr7 some children can be clearly academically oriented.

I'm not that bothered about whether she goes or not, I went to Oxford and then studied and worked in other universities and I don't particularly think Oxbridge is the best in all ways.

propatria Fri 21-Jun-13 13:18:12

Of course its possible to spot potential Oxbridge material at that age,indeed its the job of outreach teams to do just that,they are meant to spot potential before a child leaves primary.Doesnt mean of course that potential will be fullfilled.

DeWe Fri 21-Jun-13 14:04:05

My year 5 teacher said (at parents' evening) I was at the top of the class, but wouldn't be if there were any potential Oxbridge candidates in the class. He said it was lovely to be proved wrong 7 years later. grin

Otoh everyone expected db to storm through whatever academic stuff he wanted to, so it was a shock when he failed to get in. Dm can't talk about Oxbridge entrance without producing tons of excuses why he didn't get in-none of which are true in his case. [confusion]

I think you can spot potentially Oxbridge entrance early, but rarely definite Oxbridge entrance, and probably really only in certain subjects like Maths.

wineoclocktimeyet Fri 21-Jun-13 14:15:03

DS2 is at primary school and his Year teacher (who studied maths at Cambridge) said he is Oxbridge material. They recently gave him a
GCSE maths paper and he scored over 90%.
He is 6 years old and just finishing Year 1.
However, he is just 6 years old and although academic aptitute is obviously important, so is personality and the boy/man he will become and I honestly think that is something it is hard to predict at such a young age.
PS at the moment he cant decide if he wants to play football or cricket for England or be a dustman (he wants to press the button that makes the bins lift up grin

Milliways Fri 21-Jun-13 16:24:36

DD did not do outstandingly well at the Year 7 Cat tests (and did not make the grammar selection in Yr6) but she aced all her GCSEs and A levels and graduated from Cambridge last year. smile

Abra1d Fri 21-Jun-13 16:32:32

I think it's harder to predict so early for children who love humanities. They often need a degree of maturity to be able to engage fully in the texts and ideas, and you might not see that at 11.

hardboiled Fri 21-Jun-13 18:06:23

Miliways, great post!
Abra1d, exactly right!

Wineoclock, the fact that the teacher spotted your gifted 6 year old and went on to label him as "Oxbridge" material just shows how insanely obsessed this country is with those two universities as if there was nothing else out there and they were the answer to all the uncertainties and the assurance of future happiness and fulfilment. Why not just say he is very talented in Maths, how exciting for him, so many opportunities ahead, lets make sure all his school years are stimulating...etc, rather than already pack him to Oxbridge... He may want to go somewhere else in 12 years time!!!

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 21-Jun-13 20:30:59

DH and I were both identified as Oxbridge candidates by our primary schools. And we met at Cambridge.

So yes, I'd say it's possible to spot some children who might be heading that way. But that doesn't mean that every potential Oxbridge student is identified so young, or that every child so identified actually wants to go there.

I do, however, plead guilty to taking into account schools' experience in Oxbridge entrance in selecting a secondary for DD1, who has that kind of "go the extra mile" spark that scaevola speaks of.

TheBuskersDog Fri 21-Jun-13 23:18:27

Wineoclock, how on earth can a 6 year old do things like quadratic equations, surds or circle theorems without having been taught them?

Wandastartup Sat 22-Jun-13 00:41:30

My parents were told by my sister's reception teacher that she was Oxbridge material. She graduated with a first 16 years later! (So did my other sibs but they weren't spotted as early)

Niceweather Sat 22-Jun-13 07:00:00

A psychologist told me that it was the top 1% on an IQ test. This would be potential and then you would need to add all the other stuff.

lainiekazan Sat 22-Jun-13 09:44:00

I can't imagine anything worse than this. The expectation, the pressure, the disappointment... Oxford and Cambridge only have a certain number of spaces. The odds are that you won't get in, no matter how clever you are.

Also, there's context. Ds looked like Einstein in his first primary school. This was in a very low-achieving area. In his second school he was still top, but jostled with a few others. And so it goes on. I'm sure if he was at school in, say, Farnham, he might be just average.

If you have a clever dc, it's good for them to consider Oxbridge, but not to make it all or nothing.

One woman said to me recently that she felt physically sick when the "Lewis" trailer came on because her dd had failed to get into Oxford...

Schmedz Sat 22-Jun-13 10:31:08

...suddenly feeling like a guilty parent because I don't care if my children go to a particular university, or follow a particular career path. Just want them to just enjoy learning and life and reach their potential in whatever they want to do...

I do think it is possible to spot children with the potential to do well at top academic universities at a young age, but equally possible to miss others. I don't think intelligence is 'fixed' and the idea that this is the case is a very dangerous one. It leads to low self esteem for the very bright as well as the less academically able.

Wouldn't it be lovely if all children grew up with the expectation that if they want to do something and work hard enough they just might get there...wherever 'there' might be.

hardboiled Sat 22-Jun-13 10:38:30

Wouldn't it be lovely if all children grew up with the expectation that if they want to do something and work hard enough they just might get there...wherever 'there' might be

It would VERY VERY lovely. smile

lljkk Sat 22-Jun-13 13:03:01

Weird,I was just mulling over yesterday whether I should encourage y6 DD to think "Cambridge".
Even though they might not offer the course she wants, or the stormy journey of adolescence might change her priorities. Don't know how I would reconcile that message with how I treat my other less academic DC, too.

Worst of all don't want to get my own hopes up. grin. Best kick that idea into the long grass for now.

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