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If I assume that prep school means no need to tutor, am I being hopelessly naive?

(76 Posts)
fridayschild Wed 23-Sep-09 14:00:48

DCs are in infant classes at a good state primary, but state secondary provision is awful. We'll almost certainly go private for secondary level but lots of children are educated privately from age 4 here, and so that would mean tutoring the DCs for at least their last two years of primary. If we transferred to the independent sector now, would I manage to escape the pressure to tutor?

For what it's worth, I am not talking about tutoring to get my little darlings into the top schools in the country. My ambition is to get the right school for the child, where they will be happy and thrive. The dinner party chat here in SW London is that if one is eccentric enough to start in the state sector, tutoring is needed even for a very normal private school (whatever that is!)

Views please, oh wise ones.

pagwatch Wed 23-Sep-09 14:05:47

Depends on the school. Depends on the child.

DS1 is at very academic and had state school children gain direct entry when he did. Also many local prep school boys ( with tutors and private music lessons etc) didn't get in at same intake.

DS1 and DD have never had any tutoring. I have always assumed that if they need tutoringthen the school will challenge them too much.
If they are bright enough for whatever the school require then surely the school will find that in their testing...

[quite possibly dim emoticon]

claricebeansmum Wed 23-Sep-09 14:08:23

Not necessarily - depends where you are.

In SW London many prep school children are tutored as well for 11+/CE.

showmethewaytothenextwhiskybar Wed 23-Sep-09 16:10:41

well I don't know if you're being naive, but ds1 (also in sw london) got into academically selective secondary with scholarship from state school with no tutoring and only seeing one practice paper beforehand - if your child is bright enough they'll be fine but tutoring can help children who're just bubbling under the standard required I suppose

LIZS Wed 23-Sep-09 16:13:21

I suspect many are tutored in some shape or form at dc prep school. The later they enter the private system the more ground in terms of familiarity with test formats and expectation they have to make up.

thirtysomething Wed 23-Sep-09 16:29:04

Don't know if different in London but here in the Midlands we found the schools DS applied to could tell he'd not had any tutoring (and said they preferred it that way!!). He came from an average state school at 11. He was offered places everywhere we applied even though he couldn't attempt some parts of the maths papers as he just hadn't covered the work at school. the schools recognised this and just looked at what he could actually do. At one school they had some new type of non-verbal reasoning test on a PC that apparently fazed the tutored kids as it was so different to what they'd practised!! DS just took it in his stride and did fine on it. We also thought there was no point in tutoring him or he may get into a school where the work would be too hard. Now he's at a very academic school he seems to be keeping up with the general level, although he's finding the boys who went to prep school have covered more in Maths so he's got to catch up pretty quickly.

LadyMuck Wed 23-Sep-09 19:32:08

What do you mean by tutorgrin?

There seems to be 3 types of tutoring:-
a) helping dc with a particular area of weakness, eg creative writing, mental maths, so one-off tutoring (or say for a few weeks or months);
b) exam prep tutoring, practice papers, familiarisations, exam technique.
c) Additional work across the curriculum to help child "keep up". I guess that I would throw Kumon etc in here.

Additionally some families work better to have outside help, for others a parent helping is better.

In terms of the entrance exams, how competitive are they really? Eg are there good grammars nearby which cream off the top? Or are there an number of selective schools, so whilst you might have say 800 children chasing 120 places at an individual school, they are all applying for 4 different schools, so the odds of getting a place are greater.

FWIW I have dcs at 2 different private schools in S London, one prep, one primary, and I am yet to find a Yr6 parent at either who has not tutored. Even with smallish classes 1 to 1 help is best. And FWIW it seems to be those children who started in state who start to tutor early.

Locally there seems to be a form of arms war - whilst plenty of the dcs may well easily pass an entrance exam, they are in fact competing for scholarships. (Well personally I feel that it is the parents competing for scholarships, but we haven't got to that stage yet!)

fridayschild Wed 23-Sep-09 21:50:39

You see what an amateur I am? I had not realised there was different types of tutoring! I think that I hope that the school and the child with a bit of parental support will be enough, and that once homework is done they can go and play, instead of trotting off to a tutor. And avoiding the tutor might actually be a good reason for going private sooner rather than alter.

But having had the polite expressions when I say the name of the children's school for 3 years now (we have the only state-educated children in our road), I think I have a bit of a feel for what it would be like if EVERYONE else tutored in the private sector too.

LetsEscape Wed 23-Sep-09 22:14:34

It really depends how well parents perceive a school to be preparing children for selective entrance exams. Those who trust the school do not seem to need to tutor, those who have their doubts do. If there is a good bunch of results for school entrance people react differently. This has nothing to do with the children's needs themselves. In our prep school there are years where (after the exams) it emerges that several have been tutored and other years where there is no one. It is not true that everyone in private schools tutor. The revelation that someone quite good is being tutored suddenly creates unnecessary panic... It's quite bizarre.

My view is that is that tutoring is needed if you come from state school as the school is not geared to exam technique and more importantly few schools will have covered the full year 6 maths curriculum for the exams in January. But for those in a decent private primary/prep school the school should do the work and extra tutoring will do harm as they many enter a selective school where they cannot cope in the future.

Metella Thu 24-Sep-09 08:24:28

I have a child in Y6 of a prep school so he will be doing entrance exams in January.

The school do a huge amount of preparation - I have actually been quite surprised at the number of past papers he has already done.

However, most parents do some kind of "tutoring" but that doesn't necessarily mean they employ a tutor. In my case I have mostly gone over papers he has done at school and chatted about where he has gone wrong. I have also done some 10 minute papers with him (very sporadically).

You can ask me in February if I made the right choice not to employ a tutor!!! grin

foxinsocks Thu 24-Sep-09 08:28:15

if you really want to opt private, choose one of the ones that takes lots of state educated children (there are loads that do in that part of london). Agree it's the exam practice that will be lacking (if anything) so you might just want to try some past papers or something like that.

KittyCorncrake Thu 24-Sep-09 08:31:24

I am astonished that prep school children might be tutored (I have obviously led a very sheltered life grin) I thought the raison d'etre for prep schools (and the clue is in the name) was to prepare for entrance exams.
I an see why schildren in state schools need tutorig, but it is needed in the independent scetor then surely ither the prep school, or that school the child is aspiring to, cannot be the right place for that child?

sarah293 Thu 24-Sep-09 08:43:59

Message withdrawn

piscesmoon Thu 24-Sep-09 08:51:02

Poor little things! You can do so much as a family and have fun. Go to the library every week, play card and board games, do cookery, make scrapbooks, use a map and plan walks etc etc. If they are busy all day at school the last thing they need is more when they come home, because their parent is anxious they won't get into the 'right' school. You blink and you have missed their childhood!

LIZS Thu 24-Sep-09 08:51:56

LM is right, for some (parents) it is n't enough to get the child in to the "right" school - which the tuition and in school coaching should manage - rather having the kudos of a scholarship or exhibition to boot. With registration and pretests for some schools required a few years ahead of entry, you may have to start early for the child to be ready in time. dc's school also encourages a range of extra curricular stuff so that if you are naturally in the sports team, for example, you can have other strings to your bow to discuss at interview and on the reference.

piscesmoon Thu 24-Sep-09 08:57:19

They should be doing extra curricular stuff because they enjoy it! Looking good on an application form or at an interview shouldn't even be thought of! I feel so sorry for some children.

missmem Thu 24-Sep-09 08:59:31

I was having a similar discussion with a friend yesterday. Tutoring in a prep school is not necessary unless you want your child to go to a school that they really shouldn't got to, academically speaking.

Outside of London, no children from preps are tutored and the work is often less intense and they still end up at the top schools in and out of London.

Tutoring by parents in prep schools has come about because of a frenzy of parents thinking they need to tutor and then everyone gets wind of this and they feel they all need to do it. IMO, a prep should provide a solid educational foundation for a child so that they are well prepared when they go onto senior school. A prep education is not merely to prepare for passing an exam to get into senior school.

My suggestion would be to pick a prep that has good links to the senior school you want as this is the best way to get DC's in as the relationship between heads will be good.

piscesmoon Thu 24-Sep-09 09:12:43

Excellent missmem! If a DC needs tutoring for a selective school they are not suited to a selective school. Most DCs are average-even most DCs on mumsnet!

snorkie Thu 24-Sep-09 09:32:12

"Outside of London, no children from preps are tutored and the work is often less intense and they still end up at the top schools in and out of London"

So why are kumon centres full of independently educated children then? Our local ones certainly are & we are out in the sticks nowhere near London.

sarah293 Thu 24-Sep-09 09:34:18

Message withdrawn

MarshaBrady Thu 24-Sep-09 09:36:12

Ds has just started at prep. I admit I thought the whole idea of prep was to get them ready for next stage.

Without tutoring.

I'll groan inwardly if every one is tutoring, or doing Kumon, as it puts pressure on 'keeping up'. So I hope not.

sarah293 Thu 24-Sep-09 09:40:30

Message withdrawn

MarshaBrady Thu 24-Sep-09 09:41:25

Of course. I dearly hope that it doesn't exist at our prep.

They push them hard enough for the 7+ anyway I doubt it.

KittyCorncrake Thu 24-Sep-09 10:08:13

It does sound like the arms race, with proliferation because no-one dares to unilaterally disarm grin

MarshaBrady Thu 24-Sep-09 10:11:33

Hell yes grin

All someone would need to do is carelessly leave a Kumon leaflet near the bookbags as though had fallen out.

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