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State primary and grammar without tuition

(189 Posts)
jollybloodyhockeysticks Fri 05-Dec-14 23:06:31

Just wondering if anyone can share their experiences. Do you have a child who went to a state primary and passed the 11+ without tutoring? Is it imperative to get tutoring for the 11+ if your child is naturally academically bright and excelling in a state primary? Tia x

LePetitMarseillais Fri 05-Dec-14 23:38:24

Depends on the primary.If it stretches all the children including the more able and covers the 11+ curriculum before the exam then no tutoring won't be necessary although I think exam technique needs to be covered.I would never like to do an exam without going through technique.

CocktailQueen Fri 05-Dec-14 23:41:32

My dd has just passed the eleven plus without tuition -and we're not in a grammar county, so no prep in school.

I got some past papers - maths and non-verbal reasoning and did them with her for a week before the exam.

The eleven plus has a practice test day as well to familiarise kids with the exam and the kind of questions they will have in the real test.

Ferguson Fri 05-Dec-14 23:50:10

Our DS didn't have any formal tutoring, and his primary wasn't even keen on 'selection', but we did past papers at home in the run-up to eleven plus.

In particular, the 'non verbal reasoning' needs practice as it is so different from what a child will have experienced before (all those confusing little patterns, etc!) And without labouring it too hard, I would say build up gradually over six months or even a year.

simpson Fri 05-Dec-14 23:53:10

DS is in yr5 & having an hours tuition a week for VR/NVR only.

The academic stuff is being covered at school.

18yearstooold Fri 05-Dec-14 23:54:17

Both mine passed 11+ with no tutoring

Bond book at home for NVR, they did a bit if they felt like it but if not they didn't bother

We are out of catchment so getting in was a long shot, took the pressure off that the local alternative school is a good one

DontCallMeBaby Fri 05-Dec-14 23:54:55

Your child needs exam technique, and not to to be seeing verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions for the first time they day they take their 11+ (maths and English questions are more what they're used to seeing in school). By exam technique I mean timing, when to guess and when not to guess, how to rule out stupid answers and leave yourself with better odds etc.

All of which is perfectly possible without a tutor (I know children who passed 11+ without) but tricky if you have a child who doesn't listen to a word you say (looking at you, DD, which is why you had a tutor and I'm broke wink).

DontCallMeBaby Fri 05-Dec-14 23:57:30

Oh, and what does and doesn't need practice is quite individual -DD is spookily good at NVR but needed practice in maths as she's comparatively weak at it, and was struggling at school.

NaturalElfYayChristmas Fri 05-Dec-14 23:58:07

See, to my mind, tutoring at home with parents is 'tutoring'. I think it would be really, really hard for a child to pass without quite a bit of prep. The questions are not what the children are used to (not SAT style) and now that the 11+ is early (for us in kent) the year 6 maths is not covered in time. You don't have to pay, but you do have to prepare.

simpson Sat 06-Dec-14 00:24:22

Totally agree with the post before me. I didn't want to tutor my kid and I do think he is bright enough to do well in the 11+ but it is all about familiarising him with VR/NVR type questions.

Tbh if I had the time/ability to show him myself I would do it blush

NotQuiteSoBig Sat 06-Dec-14 02:12:19

One of the other things you need to take into account is how competitive is it in your area? How many children compete for each place? Just passing may not be enough to get into the school if there are a lot of children with higher marks.

Taffeta Sat 06-Dec-14 08:27:31

Depends what you mean by "bright" IME. My DS has just passed the 11+, and there have been a few surprises amongst his friends.

Taking his year, and some I know the year above, I've seen the following :

- Lots of children pass with intensive ( ie 1 hour per day in summer holidays ) tutoring at home with parent
- A mixture passed and failed with help from a tutor ( 1 hour per week plus homework - see below )
- Some scrape through with minimal input at home - but they were expected to do better
- one flunk everything and be working at higher levels than the majority who passed - despite two tutors
- one get the highest score with four tutors, despite not being that "bright" ( ie not be in the top streams for the last 6 years)

In the Kent test this year, the Maths was all about speed. Lots of children who are working at high levels in Maths didn't pass as they were not fast enough. None of the practice papers identified a need for speed, lots of children were caught out. So nothing that a tutor could pick up on.

So in answer to the op, from what I've seen its not necessary to pay for a tutor, but it is necessary to do some stuff yourself. Tbh, even with a tutor you need to do a fair bit yourself as they set homework.

Essexmum69 Sat 06-Dec-14 08:38:37

Will a bright child pass without seeing a past paper before, probably not, in the same way that a gcse pupil would stuggle to pass without doing past papers. They need to be familiar with the style of questioning and the time constraints of the exam style. Some areas have a straight 1 hour paper, others have a paper broken up into small sections each with their own time limit.
However a bright pupil can pass, and many do, without months of private tutoring. I have 2 at "superselective", horrible term, grammar schools. Neither was privately tutored. For DC1 the decision to sit the exam was only made 8 weeks before so he purely did some downloaded VR papers from the internet and the previous 2 years maths and english papers that were available to buy. A class mate, whom I thought equally bright was privately tutored, at some sacrifice to the family, for a year before, the DC having to give up his sat morning activities, and unfortunately failed. In his case I felt the tutoring brought extra pressure to succeed to the situation, that was detrimental on the day. Sometimes keeping the whole thing low key is better.

Taffeta Sat 06-Dec-14 12:22:28

IME it is unusual for bright children who have had tutoring - be that private or home - to fail. Not to say it doesn't hapoen, it does, but it's not the norm.

Also there are a lot of sideswipes about "private tutoring" and those that use it on here and the 11+ forum, in a kind of my child is bright enough they don't need the pressure way. From my experience, people that DIYd hothoused their children far more than those with tutors.

My DS is a PITA for me, but loved his 45 mins a week after school one night with the tutor. It was worth every penny and saved me hours of grief, hassle sourcing past papers etc. I appreciate not everyone can afford it, and it's possible to do everything he did myself, but I jumped at the opportunity to outsource it.

JustRichmal Sat 06-Dec-14 17:00:34

I don't think you need to pay for a tutor if you are confident to tutor yourself. It could also be that if a child is bright enough they could possibly pass without any tuition, but they only get one chance, so you can't retake next year realising tutoring is necessary.

If you think a child is one who could pass with no effort, you could let them do a timed trial of the 11+ papers the school set. Dd put in a lot of work from Easter on for the 11+. I came to the conclusion, those who are willing to put in the work deserve to get through.

MN164 Sat 06-Dec-14 17:17:08

We used a tutor for 10 hours (1 per week) in the lead up to the exam to:

- teach exam technique (how to get the marks out of head and on to paper)
- how to do reasoning questions not on the national curriculum

It could easily have been done by me instead of a tutor, but we found he responded better to a non-parent. Your situation may, fortunately, be better.

Other than that, just make sure they do their school work/home work to the highest standard and don't miss out on the standard national curriculum.

Kids that are tutored more than that are being over-worked and pressured - IMO.

MN164 Sat 06-Dec-14 17:18:25


"Sometimes keeping the whole thing low key is better."

I think it is always better smile

SugarPlumTree Sat 06-Dec-14 17:35:26

DS has just failed by half a mark. He only entered just over 2 weeks before the test date and had never seen the school so went in very cold.

He did 1 timed English paper, we very quickly looked at the other papers to see what they looked like I timed him on a block of 10 NVR questions.

He is spectacularly not bothered by tests at school and is usually one of the top of a bright year group. My conclusion is that you need more familiarisation than we did, definitely timed VR and NVR tests to get the hang of the timings.

tiggytape Sun 07-Dec-14 21:58:10

IME it is unusual for bright children who have had tutoring - be that private or home - to fail.
It depends where you live, how many grammar school places are up for grabs and how many children in that category enter.
Hundreds of children who sit the exams in some regions meet the criteria of bright and tutored but not all of them are going to get a place. There aren't enough places to go round so even some who pass the 11+ dont' actually end up in a grammar school (technically they may have passed but that's not much consolation).
In addition being bright and well prepared never totally guards against a one-off silly mistake when filling in the answers, brain-freeze due to extreme nerves on the day or something happening that causes loss of concentration.

Saying that though - some degree of preparation is definitely needed no matter how bright a child is. It wasn't always the case but things have changed a lot even in the last 5 years or so and time pressure for instance is now a big part of the exam in many areas

Taffeta Sun 07-Dec-14 23:11:18

I meant IME, which I think I said. IME is Kent.

Taffeta Sun 07-Dec-14 23:12:56

And to copy all of it: IME it is unusual for bright children who have had tutoring - be that private or home - to fail. Not to say it doesn't hapoen, it does, but it's not the norm.

tiggytape Mon 08-Dec-14 07:53:12

True - different regions have very different procedures and very different chances of success. In some areas, the top 20 or 25% can have a grammar school place (so the majority of the top group in most schools)
In other regions only the top boy and top girl from each primary school actually get to grammar school (so between 2 and 8%) of local children.

Essexmum69 Mon 08-Dec-14 07:55:27

As you can probably tell from my name, I was taking about Essex CSSE exam. Kent and Bucks are different, having true two tier systems. In the rest of the country where grammar school provision is patchy, lots of bright tutored children do not get places. In DDs year group (state school) 5 girls sat the exam (I dont know about boys as they sat the exam at a different school) DD was home prepared by me the other 4 had private tutors, only one passed.

gazzalw Mon 08-Dec-14 07:57:42

Depends where you area and how many grammar school places there are...

DS is at a super-selective without 'external' (paid for) tutoring, but we did spend six months doing papers with him prior to the 11+ exams. He passed all he took BUT he's certainly not a high-flyer at his school.

And many pupils who are already on trajectories to be lawyers, doctors etc...are still being tutored in lots of subjects...

Rivercam Mon 08-Dec-14 08:04:49

Here in Kent, it's very unusual for a child to pass without some kind of tutoring, whether it's paid or a parent tutors their child ( usually one hour per week for approx a year). If you want to tutor yourself, whSmiths, waterstone etc all have a lot of workbooks etc. There's not a standard test across the country with some areas having individual,school exams, whilst in other places, it's the same across the county.

Go to for all things eleven plus. That site will be the best for you.

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