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OK, who's got a copy of a Common Entrance paper?

(73 Posts)
curlew Mon 03-Feb-14 18:20:00

Then we can all try it on our 13 year olds and see how they get on. Then we can send the results to Michael Gove, and increase the amount of research he's done by 100%...

mathsbridge Tue 30-Sep-14 20:03:34

You can try the practice papers that are available for free from

Longsuffering2 Sun 09-Feb-14 19:21:48

Thanks cakesisalwaystheanswer......appreciate the sound advice.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Sun 09-Feb-14 15:19:21

Hi Longsuffering

DS sat CE last year for one of top London Indys, all level 3 papers and they are known to mark hard. Boys tranfering from their prep sit an internal exam, and the very clever external candidates tend to sit scholarship entrance as CE is too easy for them! The average CE mark of the others was 79%.
70+ easily achievable, except for English if you get a really bad poem! If you do its hard for everyone and they need to fill those spaces!
Schools mark papers very differently so 70% from St Pauls could have scored a lot higher elsewhere. Grade boundaries are also set be the schools themselves, some have an A*, some don't, for some an A will be 70% for another 90%. There is no standardisation whatsover, which is why using these as a national test would be a farce.
Talk to your prep about your DS's senior school, and see what they think is achievable. They know their senior schools and know from experience how they mark.
Good Luck and sorry for the hijack OP.

singersgirl Sun 09-Feb-14 12:36:57

I guess it is the same for all schools, but my sons' school awards grades in bands, so regardless of how difficult the paper or strong/weak the cohort sitting, the top 10% of papers get an A, the next 20% or 30% an A- and so on. So the raw mark doesn't really matter.

reddidi Sun 09-Feb-14 00:16:37

"without that feedback how can ISEB know if they've got the balance correct each year."

They don't need to - CE is not a public exam so it does not need to be as consistent and robust as GCSEs (!)

If a paper turns out to be a bastard with everyone scoring low, admissions tutors will be on to ISEB soon enough who will confirm that "we have had feedback that a number of students have found this year's Latin paper unusually challenging" or some such, and the schools can react accordingly.

Longsuffering2 Fri 07-Feb-14 09:19:19

Thank you and sorry for hijacking original thrust of your thread......the independent v comp debate is indeed very immotive. My husband and I both attended poor comprehensives as kids (below national performance). We both saw alot of social issues within our schools - teen pregnancy, alcohol etc. By the 6th form, alot of those problems had gone. We both level with okayish A levels and zilch careers advice - but good enough grades to get into a RG University and get 2:1's. Our kids go to independent schools because we can afford it (just) and because the state option here performs well below state average - which we're not interested in. The point of my autobiography (sorry) is to say that we have both had first hand experience of trying to do well in an poor performing school - and it's hard and no fun. I often hear some parents / people say "if you are clever, you will do well wherever...." But I couldn't disagree more. We did ok, but I do recall some many kids with potential that didn't and left school at 16 to work in the local shop - such a shame. I love Goves vision of no outward distinction between independent and state - great, bring it on! I'll be first in the queue to join an excellent state school, except I doubt if there will be a place available for us. In this Utopia, I also wonder where the money will come from (independent folks pay the tax but don't get the service) to cover it all?

Longsuffering2 Thu 06-Feb-14 20:09:22

Thanks Dog1dog2 - Head called me in this PM and told me just what you've said. I get that the receiving school marks the CE papers - just surprised there is not kind of central collation - without that feedback how can ISEB know if they've got the balance correct each year. Head said CE not a public exam therefore no need to collate. Kind of makes sense. Said DS abs fine to get >70%. Worries gone (for now) - thank you!!!

dog1dog2 Thu 06-Feb-14 16:37:11

The thing is Longsuffering, each secondary school marks the papers, they are not marked centrally by the ISEB. Therefore the school sets the pass mark and as you don't necessarily get % results, just grades, you never know exactly how your DC did. I would check with the prep head as they should advise you not to sit for a school that requires CE >70% if your DC is not up to it. If they think he/she is, then you'll be fine (as long as the school are good enough at preparing them)

Longsuffering2 Thu 06-Feb-14 16:03:42

Sorry...just an add-on, I have asked ISEB and they don't have anything as they claim that results are not fed back to them. On reflection, being state comp educated myself - I find that truely astonishing! Imagine any major exam board having no idea of the spread of grading in its exams....that's remarkable and makes me wonder how on earth they are able to calibrate papers year on year......getting angry.

Longsuffering2 Thu 06-Feb-14 15:49:26

Hi all - new to this thread and have found the collective knowledge here to be invaluable - thank you! Don't want to hijack your discussion re: Gove (tho personally love the fact that the man just spits it out without giving a hoot!)....
I am seeking to find out at historical data pertaining to CE grading on a national level - eg 10% of candidates passed with >70% mark etc etc.....I am a CE virgin and I'm trying to get a steer of feasibility / achievabilty purely from a statistical likelihood of DS getting >70% and whether or not to pursue possible conditional school offer. Any help no your hive of information would be sooo appreciated. Thank you in advance!

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Feb-14 13:55:44

Yes there's no doubt that selecting by wealth is extremely effective at excluding pupils who are likely to perform poorly. All of the 'top comprehensives' do it.

It does make direct comparisons difficult, though if you look at the varying outcomes for children coming in at Level 4 and above at age 11 between different state secondary schools there is huge variation, from schools where the brightest kids will get Cs, to others where they will end up with As and A*s.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 13:45:05

Should have added that the % is higher than the local grammar which is far more selective.

Many girls go to DD's school who wouldn't have stood a chance of getting in the GS.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 13:43:26

Powder the national average for A*/A is 21%, so the school you mention did well. But not brilliantly IMVHO.

DD's school is private. It is mixed ability. The % of A*/As is much higher.

So it can be done. It's not all about academic selection. Much of it is about resources and the will to do it.

curlew Wed 05-Feb-14 13:37:52

Selection need not be overtly academic. Over subscribed faith schools also do better than take-all comprehensives. The very act of being selective, by wealth, religion or any other criterion you care to name means that a school will do better. Because it automatically de selects families who are not committed to their child's education, or who don't know how to engage with the system.

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Feb-14 13:33:52

'"At private schools a third of all GCSEs are passed at A*."

Due, in no small measure, to the fact that all private schools are selective.'

There is a private school for every child though, and some will take basically anyone. I think the decision to go private is more-or-less independent of academic ability, but obviously there are factors such as income, environment and possibly genes that give these kids a head start.

The idea that the independent sector has no room for the not-so-bright and they will tell them to find a comp school somewhere is simply wrong.

curlew Wed 05-Feb-14 13:33:23

I agree that a B is not a particularly demanding target for a high achieving pupil. The point I was trying to make that the often repeated "fact" that state schools are only interested in/measured by Cs is not the case.

PowderMum Wed 05-Feb-14 13:30:34

Wordfactory- at my DC local comp 25% got 9 or more GCSE at A or A*

Not that this is the point but it is to show that a non selective school can get excellent results.

My DD is one of those pupils and she is now on target for 3 top grade A levels, however despite being very bright she is hopeless at exams.

When she took her Y6 sats she didn't get the top grades and she continued to struggle through secondary whenever there was a test, eventually as she matured we were able to devise with her teachers a strategy that led to her being able to complete all her exams.

At 11 she would have had the ability and depth of knowledge to pass the 11 plus however I am sure that she would have been both bored senseless and completely stressed out if she then spent a further 2 years preparing for an exam that would determine her future.

Y6 to Y7 in state education is a big leap and the freedom that schools now have to develop the pupils, to let them find their feet, new friendship groups and to learn skills and subjects without any true pressure is in my mind invaluable.

Life is not just about passing tests it is about experiences and getting your school/life balance correct. For instance if I was looking for a graduate trainee (or school leaver trainee) I would be just as concerned about extra curricular activities and experiences as I would be about qualifications

Let's all hope that this is another flash in the pan idea from Gove that gets flushed away before it grows legs and starts to destroy further our education system.

NewBlueShoesToo Wed 05-Feb-14 13:27:32

But a lot of the private senior schools now gave their own testing and interview system. CE is used to work out sets.
I like it that my prep school children have an excellent knowledge of History, Latin and French. They really enjoy what they are learning and have not been focused on tests.

curlew Wed 05-Feb-14 13:21:24

"At private schools a third of all GCSEs are passed at A*."

Due, in no small measure, to the fact that all private schools are selective.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 13:19:02

Aga exactly.

Which is why schools like my niece's can get away with letting down its brightest pupils and still dance around like Jedward.

AgaPanthers Wed 05-Feb-14 13:13:58

curlew, I can't see that that's true.

Here's the DFE's own 'league table' for an LA.

You see:

% making expected progress in English
% making expected progress in Maths
% getting 5 A*-C including English + Maths
% EB

The EB is still almost meaningless, and the 'expected progress in English/Maths' stats is undemanding:

Level 4 or lower - C (which is what they want for the league table anyway) will always get you 'making expecting progress'
Level 5 or Level 6 - B is 'making expected progress'

A B isn't much to ask of an able pupil at GCSE. And it's still focused on English + Maths. At private schools a third of all GCSEs are passed at A*.

Blobbyblobbyblobby Wed 05-Feb-14 13:03:44

I think I have a fundamental difference of opinion with the government about the purpose of education.

Literacy and numeracy open doors to wider learning and appreciation of life imo. They shouldn't be the sole objectives of 13 years of education. I did art gcse with a boy who got nothing higher than an e in other subjects but he got a B in art. He works in a factory and still paints, my mum bought a postcard from him at the village fete last year!

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 12:54:56

The GCSE results at my niece's outstanding comp show that 4 kids got an A* in maths (no girls). 2 got one in Eng, 2 in End Lit (no girls). No A *s at all in history, german or Spanish.

That it woeful in a school with a reasonable intake, a faith school.

And yet it has retained its outstanding lable. Had a cracking OFSTED report.

Nothing has happened about these results. Nothing.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 12:50:48

But Curlew there's no evidence whatsoever of OFSTED doing owt about it!!

And frankly Gove has just put his lap dog in charge. Do really have faith that they will hunt down all the under achievers and heads will roll?

curlew Wed 05-Feb-14 12:43:46

"The problem state education has is that the gold standard is a C in Maths GCSE, another in English, and once you've achieved those, the 5 A*-C is guaranteed."

I feeling a broken record on thread like this, but this is not true. It may have been but it isn't any more. Children are required to make "expected progress" and for a high achiever, that isn't a C. So the days of stopping once they reach a C, if they ever existed, are no more.

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