Advanced search

How to get child from failing primary into super selective??

(39 Posts)
Worriedaboutchances Fri 11-Jan-13 19:24:31

Hi. Name changed as don't want to be outed.
Dd is y4, top of her class and v bright. Her primary school has done very poorly for the last few years and things have reached a head now with the LA involved and far more visits by Ofsted. Her teacher has been off with stress for several weeks, is back now, but struggling and likely to be off again which means a string of supply teachers.
The school has seriously failed getting pupils to make progress and there is a chance it could close eventually, be taken over as academy and/or current head
kicked out.
It's pointless discussing things with her teacher as he is so fragile and the LMT are refusing to engage with parents over these issues.
In the short term I can speak to governors but changes will take time.

Does she have any chance to get into super selective?

She achieved all 9 s with a couple of 8s in reception (externally moderated), got L3s ks2, knew all her tables end of y2 and is I believe L4 for everything now ( Don't know accuracy of this as huge issues with assessment in school).
She has never been set appropriate work ever ie work based on where she is at and this lack of differentiation is a big part of school's failings. Her homework is ridiculously easy and is stuff she could have done in reception. I have complained over the years and nothing has changed.
I work full time and do what I can with her and have started the odd hour of tuition but hadn't intended to increase till y5 and I'm not sure whether even weekly would be sufficient to make up for her schooling.

It is not possible to change school for reasons that I don't want to post for fear of bring outed except to say it can't happen.

It feels so unfair as its not her fault she can't change school and is at such a huge disadvantage to others. Our alternative secondary would be an awful choice for reasons not just related to their very poor academic record.

Any advice or experience to share?

JoanByers Fri 11-Jan-13 22:41:30

it depends to a great deal on the super selective's assessment procedures - verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, english, whatever

But essentially private tutoring, either by you or by someone you pay is the answer.

Find out the procedures, check out the competition (stats should be published), and teach her ruthlessly to the test.

SanityClause Fri 11-Jan-13 22:52:30

Only prep schools prepare children for the 11+, so look at the elevenplusexams website for ideas and downloadable sample papers.

You need to know what tests she will sit, and prepare her for them.

Tests such as non verbal reasoning test for an aptitude for learning, rather than knowledge, so she may not lose out, even if she has had poor or sporadic teaching.

racingheart Fri 11-Jan-13 23:27:32

Yes, it's possible. Not easy, but possible. She needs to be up for it, though. Hard if you're at a school that never stretches you. I'd give her homework every night - not much - just 10-20 mins - being really methodical about working through the whole KS2 Maths and English syllabus.

Read loads with her, and go out and about doing interesting things, so her general knowledge increases.

Get onto the 11+ website for endless ideas on suitable practise papers. Visit the schools and find out which exams she'd need to sit, and do some mocks so she isn't scared by the process.

If you start now, so she's used to a bit of homework each night, then step it up when you need to, she has plenty of time to pick up everything she'd need.

Can you speak to the senco too? Not sure if it's true of all schools, but in ours the senco is supposed to help top and bottom 5% of people in class. Make sure she always has an interesting reading book in her bag, or even some puzzles so that if she finishes class work early she can keep busy. (But far better to be given work by school.)

tiggytape Fri 11-Jan-13 23:30:26

Not all prep schools prepare children for the 11+. Many go up to Year 8 and want to keep children until Common Entrance Exam at age 13 not lose them 2 years early.

But basically home tuition or private tuition are your only options. If she's being set reception level work at school, there is no chance she'll be covering what she needs to know in class. As Sanilty says, research what the tests involve and teach accordingly.

JoanByers Fri 11-Jan-13 23:45:17

most prep schools do in fact prepare for 11+ because the top private senior schools do 11+ pre-assessment prior to CE at 13.

tiggytape Sat 12-Jan-13 00:07:25

I didn't know that Joan. I know the state school 11+ exams near here focus on maths and English skills whereas friends with prep school children seem to focus on extra VR and NVR stuff

I guess that's why - the reasoning test stuff alone wouldn't be good preparation for the state school 11+ exams but maybe they're doing it for the pre assessments for private schools?

JoanByers Sat 12-Jan-13 00:24:48

I think it really depends on the schools.

My DS sat a state school 11+ where he had to do VR and NVR only - no English, no maths.

For the private school exams he is doing English (comprehension, creative writing), VR and maths - they are not interested in NVR.

I know that other private schools are doing the full set of Maths, English, VR and NVR.

There won't be many private schools that do without English, but in a sense you have already taught it in class, so it's not like teaching these ridiculous VR/NVR puzzles that are completely useless except for the entrance exams, so for that reason it may seem that they are focusing on vr/nvr.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 05:42:12

Thanks for the responses. Fortunately she loves doing work at home, it's just been a struggle in the past finding sufficient time as we're not home till 6 each night. I will ensure though she does something more during the week as well as weekends. I will also check exactly which type of exams she'll be taking.

mumzy Sat 12-Jan-13 08:02:16

You need to find out what she does know and the gaps you have to fill in. There are some tests in this bond book you can use to assess her level for english maths vr and nvr I'd do the extra teaching at the weekends when shes not tired from school and get her to practice whats shes learnt during the weekdays but for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Also check her reading book I'd get her to read books such as childrens classics to bump up her vocabulary. HTH

mumzy Sat 12-Jan-13 08:12:13

If shes in childcare after school could you get her to do a 30 minute practice paper while shes there and then go over it wirh her after dinner. I found it was easier if I sorted out which weekday practice papers (from bond books) ds1 would do beforehand so they reinforced what he'd learnt at weekends.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 08:49:15

Thanks again for responses.
I don't think it would be doable for her to do papers during after school club as it's very play based and no children do work.
I will go out today and buy that mumzy, thanks.

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 11:09:20

It's possible to DIY tutor for the 11+ even if it's a superselective you're aiming for. I hope I can reassure you when I tell you that so many other parents have done it successfully too and you have a fabulous advantage if your DD is willing to work at home? smile

You're starting nice and early but you still have to try to be as focussed as you can possibly be, especially with the situation you have at your DD's school. I'd also recommend that you try and research/find out as much as possible about the 11+ exam requirements in your area, or for the schools your DD is going to sit for. That could save you both a lot of unnecessary work and heartache.
One of the first things you need to find out, is what tests will she sit? If it's Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) then that can be a little easier to work on at this stage.

racingheart has given some good advice.

I'd highly recommend going here and clicking on your county...

It'll give you so much invaluable, and more importantly accurate/relevant information.

The Bond books are a good starting point because no practice is wasted but be aware that for VR, Bond does many question-types which won't come in the real test, especially if they're set by GL Assessment who only cover 21 question-types. I have heard of children who've only been tutored with Bond, who were completely thrown in their 11+ when they sat the VR paper set by GL Assessment sad

If you have to do Maths and English too, which my DD's did, then the Bond English and Comprehension books can be useful, even if your 11+ exam doesn't follow the Bond format exactly. These are age-graded, in the same way that the VR and NVR books are. The have a series on how to do 11+ for each subject, which are very useful. IPS do an amazing "How to.." book for VR!

Here's a good little site for help on 11+ English Maths, VR and NVR, we used the Maths a great deal because even though the exam was held in September of YR6, DD2 was expected to have covered all of the KS2 syllabus in order to sand a fighting chance on the day.

There's lots of very good American sites out there for English and Maths, mainly set up for the home-schooled children but they were a fabulous resource. Search under YR group and one above and below and you'll get lots of wonderful stuff.

I could bang on for ages and give you tons more resources but I won't at this point, as it can get very overwhelming confused

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 11:11:35

"sand" should say "stand"

Xenia Sat 12-Jan-13 16:38:32

Prep schools around here do not want to lose boys at 11 so do not prepare for 11+ tests although the children are doing pretty well then so most would probably do fine. They teach for the 13+ exams.

Anyway on the point on the thread - yes if it's a private selective school try to get copies of their papers, also encourage her to read a lot, perhaps develop some interesting hobbies for relaxation, learn a couple of instruments, do some sport.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 16:49:36

I have never attempted to get a child into a superselective. Sad to say I don't think you have a snowball's chance in hell without a decent tutor if your daughter is at a rubbish school. However children have overcome greater obsticles in life. A lot depends on how much your daughter wants to work. However getting into a super selective grammar school from a private school is hard enough. Lets be positive, your daughter has one advantage over the excessively coached in that she is actually bright enough.

This book will help your daughter prepare for any verbal/ non verbal reasoning tests.

There are loads of books you can get from WHSmith/ Amazon/ Wilkinson to practice maths and English.

BBC bitesize is brilliant for improving general academic knowledge. It explains all the complex maths methods that we were never taught. It has lots of games to explain concepts.

Another good site is

twoterrors Sat 12-Jan-13 16:53:55

OP, I am sorry to sounds gloomy, but if it is a superselective then the odds would be against her even if her primary school was great. Go for it with the practice and so on if she will enjoy it but I would also look really long and hard at every other school that is even possible - do not put all your eggs in the 2000 applicants for 130 places basket. Any aptitude places? lotteries? Don't assume you won't get into to more distant schools - admissions criteria are sometimes not distance-based.

If you are able to say where you are, people may be able to offer specific suggestions.

On the upside, my kids were at a perfectly decent state primary and I am not convinced they learned much on the academic front (in narrow 11+ terms) - everything seemed to take ages to get through and methods kept changing. A few hours one to one with a good tutor can achieve a lot.

I wish you lots of luck in what sounds like a very stressful and difficult situation.

Two of my children got into a superselective grammer from a very indifferent junior school. Both had a private tutor who was a lovely retired teacher in her 70s who came every fortnight from about the end of year 4 to the tests in early year 6. So it may be possible to get into the superselective but do check out other options as two terrors suggests and I hope that the situation in the school improves soon.

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 17:30:58

"OP, I am sorry to sounds gloomy, but if it is a superselective then the odds would be against her even if her primary school was not put all your eggs in the 2000 applicants for 130 places basket."

Whilst it's no doubt true that the figures you give of 2000 candidates chasing 130 places for some superselective schools are accurate for say, Tiffin, it isn't necessarily the case for all superselectives. I'd hate people to think those odds apply across the board and thus be scared off, on that basis alone. For example in Essex, I believe the figures sitting the 11+ and hoping to achieve places at the Colchester County High School for Girls, was 570 for the 2012 intake of 112 places.

If OP's daughter has L4's in YR4 then it may not be all doom and gloom but of course it depends on the exams to be sat and the school. If she's achieved those levels despite the situation at the school, then there may be a glimmer of hope and positivity smile

In DD2's very average state primary, 4 out of 30 children appear to have passed for the superselectives, based on their standardised scores.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 17:55:26

Thanks again for replies. Unfortunately her school isn't even average sad. She had tuition again today and the tutor said she should be level 5 by end of Y4 so I guess there must be hope. It is a highly selective school we are aiming for but I take on board comments about competition. I will do some more research re local schools.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 17:56:52

And I also bought some books today too including the bond one recommended so thanks for that. Off to look at your one "reallytired".

Xenia Sat 12-Jan-13 18:30:04

I would also sit her for 4 or 5 selective schools if you can so there are lots of back ups.

Worriedaboutchances Sat 12-Jan-13 18:33:44

Fee paying school is out of the question. No way could we pay and earn too much between us for any sort of support. I will have to work out travel time etc to other selectives.

twoterrors Sat 12-Jan-13 18:34:27

Ah, I meant something slightly different by superselective, thank you piggy.
Yes, I did mean schools with no distance criteria and not in a selective area, so they attract vast numbers from all over, which have substantially worse ratios than 5:1 (given people apply for three to six schools anyway, say). The figures I gave were examples only - absolutely, everyone should find out the stats for themselves. If it is "merely" highly selective - goodness what a world we live in smile- then I think you can predict a little more accurately and her levels sounds very good.

OP, yes, I would have a good rummage around admissions brochures of your area and neighbouring ones, and think creatively about transport options. Don't believe anything anyone tells you - get all the facts and figures for yourself. There are loads of rumours and inaccuracies around and also policies change.

It is a very unfair situation but your dd sounds very keen to learn, which is perhaps the most important thing.

piggywigwig Sat 12-Jan-13 18:53:51


I'm so sorry, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying lol!
But in case I've confused anyone with my figures of 570: Colchester Royal Grammar School and Colchester County High School for Girls are superselectives ie have no catchment and only take the top 98 and 112 scores respectively. They just don't attract the same number of candidates as some superselctives, and that isn't unique.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now