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Anti grammar school teacher

(35 Posts)
1234ThumbWar Wed 09-Mar-11 15:44:40

We have parents evening coming up for dd2 and I'm not sure how to deal with her teacher. At the last parents evening I asked if she thought dd was on track to enter her for grammar school entrance exams. I did say I appreciate it's a while off (year 4), but it would be good to get a rough idea. Her teacher said that she didn't understand why people send their dc's to the grammar schools when there are such good high schools in the area and that's what she'd do with her dc's. She didn't give me any feedback on dd's chances.

As her mother I think she's a genius bright girl, but I may be way out, so her teacher is surely the best placed person to give me feedback. Am I being unrealistic to expect to be given an indication of her chances? I'm not great at confrontation, so was taken aback last time and didn't say anything. This time I'd like to ask again and get a response, but need a diplomatic way of asking her to put aside her own thoughts on the local schools. Dd1 is very happy at the grammar and I'd love dd2 to go too, I don't think it's any business of her teacher what we decide is best.

gooseberrybushes Wed 09-Mar-11 15:45:58

Go ahead and coach. Sorry but I think you know better than her?

activate Wed 09-Mar-11 15:49:04

is it a paid-for grammar school or a state funded one?

not that it makes any difference

your choices are just that and equally valid to anyone else's

maybe the teacher doesn't know the entrance criteria -

desertgirl Wed 09-Mar-11 15:55:24

unless the teacher thought she was being tactful?

1234ThumbWar Wed 09-Mar-11 15:55:25

State grammar, I can't believe she wouldn't know the criteria it's a big deal in these parts.

Have just remembered she said that only four children in each year get into the grammars and I said 'oh there were 14 in dd1's year' and she got all defensive.

I suposed you're right, it'd be useful to know which areas dd2 might need help in though.

sarahfreck Wed 09-Mar-11 16:16:23

You might be best either starting her with a private tutor so they can give you an honest idea of her abilities, or getting some of the practice papers and trying them with her yourself to see what you think.

I don't know which papers she would need to do for Grammar Schools in your area, but in my experience (as a tutor) the maths paper in particular covers some stuff that isn't really in the National Curriculum, so she might need extra help getting up to speed with those areas, especially if your 11+ is early on in year 6.

You could try asking the teacher roughly what National Curriculum levels your dd2 is for Maths and English. I would estimate that she would need to be a high level 3 by the end of year 4. Most Grammar schools say that they expect the children they admit would be predicted level 5s in year 6 SATs.

What area are you in by the way? Is it one with many Grammar Schools, or with just a few and lots of outside the area competition? A lot can depend on their actual admissions policy too. Some near me give preference to students who pass 11+ who live near the school, so in this case these students don't need to get as good a score as those further away. However I know that some Grammar Schools don't do this and just admit students on the basis of highest scores.

OliPolly Wed 09-Mar-11 16:51:06

How come the 11+ tests include stuff not on the NC?

sarahfreck Wed 09-Mar-11 17:11:34

I think it is because they have to stretch the most able pupils at the end of the paper so that they can distinguish between them - particularly as many children are tutored these days.

sarahfreck Wed 09-Mar-11 17:12:25

In my opinion, some of the last questions in the maths 11+ would not look out of place as part of a GCSE question.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 09-Mar-11 21:38:47

I have noticed a huge difference in schools' attitudes - as well as having 4 children I am forced into some tutoring, so know a little about how the system works in our area (Kent). I'm disgusted that teachers don't always give children the best possible opportunities.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 09-Mar-11 21:42:25

Sarah, upper level GCSE is pretty hard these days! Many children (not all tutored) get full marks for the maths paper round here, so they must be able to transfer skills already learnt to the questions. It's not unusual for 3 or 4 children from our local primary to score 140/140.

Beamur Wed 09-Mar-11 21:48:23

My step kids are both at the local(ish) grammar (and doing really well), the local junior school they went to was very down on kids applying to the grammar school and refused to offer any advice or help. Both kids went for a little while to a specialist tutor who was very good at pushing them in the right direction, but was also honest with parents about the likelihood of their child attaining the required standard. DSD was very borderline, mostly due to her attitude and he advised DP and Ex-wife that without her being more willing to work she would not make the grade. Her brother then teased her about being the 'stupid' one in the family which seemed to be all the motivation she needed grin I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up with better grades in the end.

candleshoe Wed 09-Mar-11 21:52:49

Ex primary teacher and current vr tutor here - hi! Schools are not allowed to 'actively promote selective education' and in my experience 80% or more of primary staff are very anti! For what its worth they are also lousy at predicting who'll pass and who won't. Find a good tutor asap and start weekly lessons for 12 months before test.

starfleet Thu 10-Mar-11 10:32:02

You have to go with what you feel is right for your DC and where you think they are going to be happy.

My DS's school (state primary) knew that he was doing the grammar school tests and his teachers where fantastic about it.

He wasn't tutored but we spent approx 3/4 months prior to the tests doing the practise papers, if there was something that he didn't understand he took the paper into school to ask for help from his class teacher - who was great and took the time to sit down and explain things to him.

Pterosaur Thu 10-Mar-11 11:18:49

Personal politics apart (and it's irrelevant to tell you what she plans to do with her own children), I think teachers are on a hiding to nothing discussing this with parents. The teachers at our primary school are generally supportive, but never keen to discuss an individual's chances.

You need to know what sort of system you're in: fully-selective with 25% of all children getting in to grammar schools, wildly selective with 10 children fighting over every place (and that's for every 10 who decide to go through the proces, not every 10 in the school system), or somewhere between the two (as where we are). I have one child in a local grammar, and one who missed the mark by some way this year, in spite of being level 5 for Maths and English. Roughly speaking, the top half of the class here tend to take the test, with between 20 and 30% of the class getting a place (this is in a very high-performing, middle-class school; there are probably grammar places here for about 10% of the school population generally - it's hard to be sure, because the catchment area crosses two county boundaries).

If you are thinking about using a tutor, ask them to come and assess your child's suitability. If not, get hold of some suitable books and decide for yourself. If you are rational and realistic yourself, there's no harm done by letting your child take the test and getting your answer from that. A degree of extra tuition, whether you do it yourself or pay for it, won't hurt, and education is never wasted. If your child hates the practice, that might in itself be an answer to the question of suitability.

The 11+ Forum is the place to go for information on your local test. Don't be put off either by horror at the lengths some people go to to get their children in, or by people saying you shouldn't prepare at all (because other people do, it makes it difficult not to do some sort of practice).

I don't think it's a great system myself, but if you're going to go for it, do it with as much knowledge as you can of your own child and the local situation.

1234ThumbWar Thu 10-Mar-11 13:43:34

Thanks everyone. I have got a tutor pencilled in from the beginning of year 5, so perhaps I ought to be more patient. I have been through the process with dd1, but we were out of the area at the time so she had to take the exams with little notice and therefore little prep. Fortunately dd1 is very good at maths, so we concentrated on looking at the practice papers for VR & NVR and with only a couple of weeks she passed.

Dd2 isn't so good at maths although still in the top group in her class. I will start doing some Bond books at home with her, the problem is that I am not a maths person at all - maybe I need to get dd1 to help dd2.

Good point about the SATs marks though I think I'll ask her teacher where's she's at with those for the time being.

I agree that the teacher ought not to be talking about her own preferences, especially as she doesn't have dc's anyway.

candleshoe Thu 10-Mar-11 13:49:55

If you are using Bond - start with the age 7-8 book rather than go up too high too quickly - some of it is quite challenging. You aren't on my waiting list by any chance are you? Coach House Tutors?

1234ThumbWar Thu 10-Mar-11 14:35:34

No candleshoe, where are you? I've been given a name of someone (details of tutors are kept top secret here) by a Mum whose dd was taking the exam last year. I haven't seen her for a while, so no idea if her dd passed of course I've got no idea if the tutor I've pencilled is a good one or not.

All very cloak and dagger.

candleshoe Thu 10-Mar-11 15:58:09

We do Glos. Chelt. and Stroud grammar schools mainly.

Kelloggs36 Fri 11-Mar-11 11:09:47

I didn't tutor my children - I don't believe that it is necessary - maybe get them some papers you can get from Smiths, just to familiarise them with the types of test, but they don't need any more than that; if they are are able, they will get there anyway.

gooseberrybushes Fri 11-Mar-11 18:11:35

That's not true. They may be very able but badly taught in school.

gooseberrybushes Fri 11-Mar-11 18:13:02

Kellogg's sentiment would militate against favouring, by a grade here and there, people of a disadvantaged background for university entrance.

After all, if they were able enough they would get there anyway.

Acanthus Fri 11-Mar-11 18:15:14

If you have already got one DD through the exam, you probably have a good idea yourself. Start her on the bond books, wait for the tutor and don't ask the teacher.

sarahfreck Fri 11-Mar-11 18:57:38

I tutor 11+ and also maths GCSE! I did not say that the 11+ maths questions were at the same standard as the highest grades of GCSE. Just that the last few 11+ questions would not look out of place as part of a GCSE paper - and I think that is true. If I were to clarify that, I'd say they could form part of a GCSE question and have a gut feeling they'd be at around a grade C level - and of course 11+ does not cover the entire syllabus range of GCSE. Anyhow, have a look at a practice paper and see what you think. Where are you based Mad? I'd say that you've probably got a particularly good primary school there. Do they get a lot of children to level 4/5 Maths by the end of year 5? Are you sure they don't cover a bit more than the National Curriculum because of the 11+?

1234ThumbWar Fri 11-Mar-11 19:02:13

Well I don't really Acanthus as dd1 had very little time to prep for the exam, whereas now we live in the area I have years to worry prep for it.

Sadly Candleshoe I'm not in your area.

I asked her teacher when I saw her today what SAT level she was at for maths and she said a 3A, so I'm happy with that at half way through year 4 - she should be on track for a 5 by year 6.

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