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Am I being naive re.private school entrance?

(60 Posts)
canny1234 Wed 12-Nov-14 15:00:21

Dd is doing an 11+ type entrance exam for a private school in January.The top few are offered a Scholarship and exam is anecdotally meant to be easy.
Dd is bright but has recently starting coasting and concentrating on her social life ( at 10!) and many other sporting activities.Her current school are entering her into level 6 papers in Maths and English.
I have just ordered some Letts 11+ papers so she is familiar with the concepts.We will also practice and maybe have a few tutorials from an external teacher.But have I left it too late?I am utterly shocked by the level of tuition some children have.Surely the 11+ is a mark of intelligence not learned ability?

Taz1212 Wed 12-Nov-14 16:34:11

I didn't do very much with DS at all. I bought a sample 11+ exam and let him run through it. I then looked at the areas in maths that he hadn't covered at school and did a quick prep on them. I also went over how to approach verbal and non verbal reasoning questions. He got into both private schools he applied to.

I'm planning on using the same approach for DD next year and am. It overly concerned.

See how your DD gets in with the practice paper.

Heels99 Wed 12-Nov-14 18:15:14

Some children have a lot of tuition because they are applying to super selective grammars, so you have to not just pass the test but do better than the majority to get a place. Private school entrance tests are not necc the same thing

LadySybilLikesCake Wed 12-Nov-14 18:19:48

Ds did nothing apart from answer a couple of questions on the sample paper (look at the school's web site, they may have some on there). Bond books are a little better than Letts though (sorry), especially for verbal and non verbal reasoning.

canny1234 Wed 12-Nov-14 19:00:31

I would like her to do well enough to be eligible for a Scholarship though ( one of a few kids).Yes,I know the Bond books are meant to be more difficult,but the school exam booklet suggests practicing on Letts multiple choice papers.Also this school is selective ( did very well nationally in this years exam results) but is not a London/Manchester/Birm. Super selective. A lot of pupils come from a pretty rural patch.
I guess what i'm saying is that I don't know how much or how little I need to do to prepare her.Can anyone advise me?

skylark2 Wed 12-Nov-14 19:02:32

That's what we did, minus the tutorials (DS also had a very informal "practice interview" from a family friend who used to be an academic). I didn't want my dc to scrape into the very bottom of an academic school - I genuinely felt they'd be better off in our local comprehensive if that was the alternative. But absolutely you should make sure they know what the tests look like. They're nothing like anything a state primary student will have seen before.

"so you have to not just pass the test but do better than the majority to get a place."

Um...surely that's always true, apart from schools which can't fill their places?

LadySybilLikesCake Wed 12-Nov-14 19:22:06

Ds's is super selective. If they have practice papers on their site, use them. If they don't, call them up and ask if you're allowed to use them. Be careful with the scholarships. Sometimes they are only in name (so no discount on the fees), sometimes they are for nominal amounts, 10% and so forth. Bursaries are means tested. They will look at your income and some can be very generous.

Ds was at level 6 when he did his year 6 SATS (he wasn't allowed to go any higher) if this helps and did no revision.

Hakluyt Wed 12-Nov-14 19:28:06

Doesn't it depend very much on the school? Do they have sample papers on their website? It's no use practising VR if the exam doesn't include it, for example.......

canny1234 Wed 12-Nov-14 20:00:50

Yes,verbal and nonverbal reasoning papers plus Maths,no English I think.A scholarship entitles you to 20% reduction in fees.

Greenfizzywater Wed 12-Nov-14 21:13:04

Entirely depends on the competition - a superselective might have 20 applications per place so it's a different ball game. What are the ratios at this school?

rollonthesummer Wed 12-Nov-14 21:16:14

I know very few 11+ exams which anecdotally easy?!

canny1234 Wed 12-Nov-14 21:59:49

I know friends children who are in year 11 and they found the tests easy.However they are very bright,top of the year and attained a scholarship.This school attracts a very mixed cohort,not all are bright and clever.However this school is increasingly successful and certainly has a lot of applicants applying in the sixth form.I'm not entirely sure of the number applying in year 7.Parents have questioned as to whether the school really has been terribly selective in the past.Most of the pupils in year 7 are coming from state schools with some from the prep.

rollonthesummer Wed 12-Nov-14 22:05:24

Individual children finding the test easy is not the same as tests being anecdotally easy though.

cingolimama Thu 13-Nov-14 09:50:37

OP given that it's November and the exam is in January, why not for the next 7 or so weeks, concentrate on exam prep? Wouldn't you rather overprepare slightly, than depend on some hearsay about "anecdotally easy" (doubtful, that)?

And how is she able to coast and focus on her social life to the detriment of her academics, without your cooperation? Take charge of this, get her prepared for the exam and make her do the work - or you may regret this later.

canny1234 Thu 13-Nov-14 10:16:18

Cingolimama she is on several sporting teams,plays 2 instruments plus orchestra,several dance classes,does athletics competitions etc.This is when she does her socialising.Unfortunately she is also popular,pretty and performs well in tests and exams whilst doing very little work.She also thinks she's a teenager and can be very intransigent with me.I have asked her class teacher to push her ( difficult in a class of 30+).One reason I want to move her is she has the potential to be a bit wild in the future.

DeWee Thu 13-Nov-14 10:58:30

I would also say that it's easy to have "found the exams easy" when you're in year 11 and got a scholarship in year 7. Plus exams may well have changed in 5 years.

Also with getting a scholarship also depends on who else does the exam, how they perform on the day, what politics comes into it (eg parent with sibling mentions that they prefer a different school/they know a child has already been offered a scholarship at another school) and other things.

You're best to be prepared for a tough one and be pleasantly surprised than the other way round.

cingolimama Thu 13-Nov-14 12:07:02

OK, canny, I get this, my own DD plays two instruments and plays in an orchestra, so I know how time consuming it all can be. However, for this limited and possibly crucial time, could you not stop some of her non-essential activities until after the exam? People will understand if you explain it's about 11+ prep.

FlyingFortress Thu 13-Nov-14 14:59:43

If this is an academic secondary school, then at some point, possibly very early in year 7 she will have to do at least an hour's prep a night. IME many of the children aiming for such a school are aiming for that now as preparation for what is coming.

I have one child who is brighter than the other. Probably 20 points or so in CATS tests. But she doesn't apply herself. Her younger less clever sister got a scholarship because she had done lots of past papers and could do maths and comprehension papers in her sleep. The elder is still trying to learn the lesson that there comes a time when you have to put the effort in.

Greengrow Thu 13-Nov-14 15:25:08

Do the Bond papers with her. Give her lots of practice at home. Even if it is a school where some children are moving from the private attached junior school to the seniors and children coming in from state schools there will be competition. If everyone enters at 11+ and there is no junior part there will probably be even more children getting some exam practice so make sure she knows what to expect. Some schools have the papers on their sites.

Sample 11+ papers here

However much depends on the school. How many apply for each place?

canny1234 Thu 13-Nov-14 23:30:35

Thank you very much for all the replies.Yes Dewee I think you've made a valid point in its better to prepare for the worst.I'm very aware that I will need to cut down on activities drastically next year due to more homework and a much longer school day.I don't know how to do this temporarily though and will definitely have to think about how to do this.Greengrow thank you for the advice and Flying fortress thats something I am trying to tell my kids.Hard work will make them go far,talent is not enough.Interesting that it applies to 11+ papers.

Greengrow Fri 14-Nov-14 09:36:25

I think it depends on the child as to how many hobbies they do. My oldest went to a school (Habs) which not only had school coach at home time but "late coach" after clubs and also "late late coach". She often got late late coach and was home after 6 because she loved doing all her hobbies, 2 instruments, sports clubs, choir etc. Others of my 5 like to get home ASAP and any second in a school club is in their eyes theft of their time. Some have kept school clubs, hobbies on right up through to end of sixth form and others not.

The only child of ours we paid for coaching was one doing a 7+ exam so she could get practice with papers. All the rest I feel you can usually just leave it to the school and the child.

I must say those who do a reasonable number of GCSEs such as 9/10 and have interesting hobbies at which they excel are bound to do a lot better in careers than those who do 15 GCSEs and are so dull they are basically some kind of computerised exam production facility.

Poisonwoodlife Fri 14-Nov-14 09:40:11

Above all you need to tailor your preparation to the requirements of the exam. Most private schools want the brightest not the most tutored and know how to identify both, they are interested in the way the questions are answered not just accuracy, and get evidence from a lot of sources rather than it being a first past the post, many do get in with the bare minimum of tutoring. There are few private schools that will overlook a bright applicant just because they have not been tutored. No harm in making sure your daughter is secure in the areas that will be tested and in exam technique but make sure it is proportionate and appropriate to what is required. In this area a sort of madness descends and many children are stressed out by crazy levels of needless tutoring based on panic and silly chinese whispers about what is required. We worked through the Maths syllabus via workbooks just to make sure my daughter's understanding was secure, and practised logic puzzles because for some of the schools the Maths problems were more tests of lateral thinking and logic than of what they had learnt. The VR and NVR tests the private schools use are not as formulaic as the Grammar School ones. Practising a dozen papers for familiarity is as far as you can prepare, the question types are unlikely to be predictable in the way they are in Grammar School tests. And reading widely is the best prep for English.

But do you really think that sending your daughter to a private school is the answer to making sure she doesn't go wild hmm ? Think finding lots of bright and relatively affluent teenagers to go wild with with naive parents who think that they can't get up to much with their nice private school friends My DD was in a dysfunctional year at her very selective private school and what those alpha "popular pretty" girls got up to from very early on would make your toes curl, binge drinking, drugs, sex tapes etc. all the usual manifestations of modern teenage behaviour when the boundaries are not in place. There was also the collateral damage, mental health issues, eating disorders. Sadly private schools cannot compensate for parents who do not set boundaries and keep to them. I strongly recommend you start now, wherever she is going to school, and whether it is making her sit down to prepare for entrance exams or making her pull her weight with household chores or setting limits on what she is allowed to do socially. Of course your DD is intransigent and pushes you, but that doesn't mean you should aquiese........

Greengrow Fri 14-Nov-14 09:47:55

Also try for a few schools. My daughter tried for six at 11+ as we thought she might not get into her existing private day school (she did in the end) but it did her no harm to sit for 6 schools. Exam practice is good for you.

canny1234 Fri 14-Nov-14 10:05:39

Yes,I'm inclined to agree with you Greengrow.Evidence is that universities look for something extra beyond exam results.I think a fully rounded individual will do better in life altogether.Also one of my dc's school work has dramatically improved once he was picked for a school team and gained real confidence and competitiveness.A competitive spirit is a vital life skill.Dancing classes ( which my boys also do) leads to stage performances that teach great poise and presentation.
I hear you Poison!I have several kids and am a older mum so am not about to let her go wild.I have an older Dd in this school who was warned me about the 'popular crowd'.Unfortunately our local state secondary is not brilliant and I want her to realise there is more to life than acquiring a boyfriend and settling down as soon as possible.It might all backfire of course!

canny1234 Fri 14-Nov-14 10:17:50

There are no more schools Greengrow.There is an academic hothouse down the road that takes at 13 years.Her class teacher has said it would be way too restrictive for her and not suitable .

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