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Tutor Recommendation 7+ and 8+ exams

(36 Posts)
AnnaV9 Thu 01-Aug-13 16:05:19

Dear all
Could anyone please recommend a good tutor with experience of winning places at Colet Court, Westminster Under, Sussex House, Wetherby etc. My DC are 6 and 7 yrs old and we have just moved to central London from Spain due to work commitments. I would rather not engage in any debate about the rights and wrongs of tutoring as I have seen example papers and recognise that my sons have absolutely no chance (due to the disparity between Spanish-English standards at their age) unless a patient, experienced and knowledgeable person gives them a helping hand. Academically they are top in their classes, bilingual and so on -but they have never sat such an array of papers.. ever. My DH and I were astounded. Any recommendations of qualified teachers welcome (and treated in strict confidence). We don't really want a 21 to 25 yr old fresh from University which the agencies are offering. Thank you xA

Chaoticlife Thu 01-Aug-13 16:37:29

My DD had an excellent tutor from a London agency before she attempted the 11+ exams to St Paul's last January so don't discount the agencies. She was very young and straight from the University of the West of England with a degree in history of art. But daughter loved her although the £50 an hour plus registration fees and so on was a little steep.

She made our home life much happier especially with both of us working ft and exhausted

wishing you all the best and know the stress involved xxx

AnnaV9 Thu 01-Aug-13 16:48:53

Thank you chaoticlife,
I hope that you do not mind but I will PM you for the tutors and agency details. May I also ask the hours that you did per week and the outcome. I presume she got in if things went so well.
Thank you for being supportive and positive xA

Chaoticlife Thu 01-Aug-13 17:07:56

She worked for 2 to 2.5 hours on a Saturday and Sunday morning from September; I think it worked out at about £3700 incuding agency fees.
DD didn't get St Paul's but we were told she performed well and was 'very close to being called back'. Apparently they had record numbers and the levels of the children was exceptionally high. My DH and I decided to keep her where she was previously and try again in a couple of years. We had two schools say she was very close to getting a place so we feel Eleanor did a good job with dd.

yummymummyabs Thu 01-Aug-13 17:32:39

3700 pounds sad

no place. sad

A happy parent. smile ???

I must be in the wrong job. Astonishing!

I understand tutoring is in all the papers these days and competition is tough but if i had results like this i would be in trouble in my job. I imagine all the schools do their best to offer polite and reassuring responses. After all, haven't they received an entrance fee payment? Maybe I'm wrong, been a long time. Not as yummy as I used to b smile))

OrangeDaffodil Thu 01-Aug-13 18:31:40

Hi Anna

(Not sure how useful the previous posts have been)

I can recommend an excellent freelance tutor called Sarah who is working with the children of many of my friends in London who are hoping to get their sons into Westminster and Colet Court and daughters into StP, JAGS, ASL etc. I know that she has mountains of paperwork regarding exam papers and is a mine of useful information about the procedure, call backs, interviews and such like.

I hope that this helps and don't worry. Try to enjoy your summer holiday.

<email removed by MNHQ for privacy reasons>

Mominatrix Thu 01-Aug-13 21:16:00

Anna - 7+ or 8+? For entry when? Is your son (I am assuming son based on your schools) attending a pre-prep? Interesting list as 2 are highly competitive, one competitive, and one not so much.

AnnaV9 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:53:13

Both 7 plus and 8 plus. Both boys and trying for next year entry so exams in January and February 2014.

Due to our fast relocation to England we haven't had time to sort out schools so the children are still enrolled in Spain although we have met Heads in london prepreps and part arranged September starts. This perhaps explains why we want to find a really top notch tutor who is more likely to be a qualified and experienced teacher, possibly retired.

I spoke to numerous agencies about the possibility of finding retired Colet, Westminster, Sussex or Wetherby teachers but was told they had none on their books. When I asked why I was told because practising teachers are not allowed to tutor, but they couldnot explain why they had no ex teachers from these schools. The only thing I can think of is that retired teachers don't want to, don't have to, or more likely don't need an agency. Perhaps this explains why I was offered so many 21 year olds because they dont have the word of mouth and need the agencies as much as tthe agencies need them.

Speaking to friends from New York, the concensus is that the best tutors don't need agencies. The sad thing is that the word of mouth part is so closely guarded and we know v few people in London. I think I have opened a real can of worms as I am shocked by the variety of people out there as tutors. I thought I would find qualified and experienced teachers or lecturers rather than lots of graduates for 50 pounds per hour with down on their faces and a crisp degree certificate and no classroom qualifications or experience at all. It seems like a lot of money just for the guarantee of a criminal record check, quick meeting and reference from a past professor. And that is before the fees and add ons.

I don't really want a typed report each month on my childrens progress. I would like to chat to a tutor after each session for five minutes and listen to their professional opinion based upon years of getting children into good schools and teaching in top classrooms.

Does anyone know what % of the salary the tutors receive? This seems to be my achilles heel to getting the right person.

Mominatrix , my list of schools is based upon what we have been told for bright boys and our location. Colet seems really lovely and is our first choice as it is close and our sons are sport mad and outdoorsy xA

AnnaV9 Thu 01-Aug-13 23:14:45


x Thankyou x; I emailed sarah and we spoke earlier: She seems potentially perfect albeit busy. There is always a catch it seems but I liked what she had to say. It's a good start.


Michaelahpurple Fri 02-Aug-13 01:58:13

Mominatrix, I find your comment re the school choice interesting as I would say that WUS/Colet, then Sussex, then Wetherby is a very typical combo for west london 8+. It gives a reasonable spread of levels and fairly compatible styles. After all if you know you really want to or have to move it would be rash to just do WUS and Sussex, given the numbers applying these days. It is what my son sat, and a large number of his now classmates.

Mominatrix Fri 02-Aug-13 06:44:43

Mihaela, please don't misunderstand me; I am not criticising, just struck by the list as it does comprise a broad range and very different styles/atmospheres. I live further west than you and here the list is usually more concentrated on a particular competitive level and usually limited to 2 schools.

Anna, have you visited the schools and have some sense of what they are like, both the pros and cons? My experience is that you should pick the schools which suits your son best, and the schools you have listed are very different. You mention that both boys are sports mad and outdoorsy - have you looked into Kings Wimbledon?

In terms of tutoring, I cannot be much help as we did not go down this route as Ds was at a pre-prep which prepped for the exams, but know that it is very common and that the tutors' names are very much a closely guarded secret. In some circles, it seems even mandatory to have one! I understand your reasons to tutor and they are completely valid. Is there are particular area your sons are weak in and will your sons' current school be helping to prep them?

mothersanonymous Fri 02-Aug-13 12:34:36

I wouldn't be so horrified by the idea of '21 year olds with down on their faces ' (is this the men or the women?). At that age tutoring isn't rocket science and many people with children at CC and WUS did the preparation themselves without paid help. Do you have the syllabus for the 7+ and 8+ exams? It's really fairly straightforward and the idea is to pick out bright children who will thrive at the school. I can totally see why coming from a different environment means that you feel your children need some help to make sure that they are at the required standard but it's really not that specialised.

At a completely different age, we had great success picking a tutor from It's a tutor directory rather than an agency so perhaps more due diligence needed on your part, but there are some very good people on there. I just took a quick look and they do have tutors for younger children too.

Wiifitmama Fri 02-Aug-13 12:42:50

I recommend the agency Osborne Cawkwell. I work through them as a primary tutor (including 7+ but my slots are full so I am not looking for business on here!). The reason I recommend them is that they look beyond whether or not someone has a qualification for tutoring and look for teachers with real experience and talent. Many of the agencies I signed with were only interested in whether you ticked the boxes or not and could show certificates. Osborne Cawkwell had quite a rigorous interview process and really got to know me before taking me on. They also needed a personal recommendation before they would even interview me.

AnnaV9 Fri 02-Aug-13 15:11:48

I wasn't aware that there are tutoring qualifications out there, but I do know that the term 'teacher' seems to be totally different to 'tutor' in terms of post graduate qualifications or the length and experience gained in a specialist degree like a BEd. I have been browsing a website called the Times Supplement and it is very interesting to see what real teachers have to do in order to become teachers officially. It seems very professional and difficult and I really feel sorry for these people when i see their posts about worries and issues they have come across. It appears to be real learning on the job and probably expensive.

I'm also a little concerned about the rocket science comment previously as I spoke to my husbands's colleagues this morning who have children that tried Colet, Wetherby and Westminster Cathedral Choir School 2 or 3 years back and I heardstories of 150 children going for about 20 to 25 places. One mentioned 180 or more but that cant be true surely. If the odds are truly like that then it doesnt seem to be about the children's abilities to get through the tests, but their abilities to get into the top 25%, maybe even 10%.

I just want my boys to have a chance to give their best. I don't need a rocket scientist, but getting the best out of a 6 and a half year old at the first time of asking may require a teacher or at least someone who has done it all before. That's what everyone wants I suppose. My boys have never in their lives sat a timed anything. They wouldnt have the first clue about a test room and they would be flummoxed by walking in and out of an unknown place with strangers everywhere.

Thinking about it, they have probably never ever sat in a chair for test after test. Their teacher in Spain has them sitting on carpets, on cushions or outside. Play is very important there.

Something rather silly that I noticed last night was that my eldest is fantastic at adding up our weekly shopping bill (he's a child calculator) and can cope with 50 items in pounds and pence, but he cannot tell the time using an old fashioned watch. My husband told me that he remembered the Spanish classroom having a huge red digital clock. It's litltle things like that that I want a beady eyed teacher to pick up on. So experience and someone who knows the syllabus matters. It seems crucial.

Sorry for sounding picky. Just so many things to think about and very different educational system to Spain. xA

Wiifitmama Fri 02-Aug-13 16:24:11

There is no tutoring qualification. For tutoring at primary level, the tutor should have a teaching qualification. For tutoring at secondary level, the tutor needs a qualification in the specific subject they are tutoring.

AnnaV9 Sat 03-Aug-13 00:05:54

Thankyou wiifitmama

Ihave been offered lots of excellent graduates with bachelor degrees in English, mathematics, history, art, drama , but few qualified teachers. Some have got certificates in teaching English as a foreign language but I don't think that's the same at all. I looked it up online and it seems VERY different. Also tesol. I lost count how many times I was told these were top teaching qualifications though I really have no idea how they are any use for 7plus and8plus.

Good people who know the deal tutors been there and seen it and done it, T-shirt, flip flops et al. seem to be like the people who pinched those diamonds in the south of France. Very ELUSIVE and hidden.

I wonder what the going rate is for someone with say 10 to 12 children and references on their CV who have all won scholarships or places at 7+ and so on to the best London schools? As for Eton or Winchester or Harrow or Charterhouse scholarships at 13, ?

How much does one pay when one finds that person? In New York the papers quote $150,000+ for super tutors when I googled it. Ivy League tutors +++ Is this true for London for a super tutor teacher?

I am beginning to think that if I pay fees then 60 pounds per hour to an agency i suspect my problem is that the tutor only sees 35 and perhaps the people I want wouldnt accept that as travel and living costs are ruinously expensive to and in the center of London, so i need to pay 100 to an agency. Is money the problem? What do mumsnetters think?

crossing fingers for tomorrow, hopeful xxxxxxxxxxx


Mominatrix Sat 03-Aug-13 07:53:51

Anna, I would imagine that someone tutoring for the 7+/8+ would not be tutoring for Common Entrance as they are VERY different exams.

As some have said, the tutoring necessary for the 7+/8+ does not require someone withe advanced degrees or even someone with teaching qualifications as they are looking for potential at this point, not necessarily attainment. My son's pre-prep only have a quarter to a third of the year (sometimes less) going for the 7+/8+ thus do not spend all of year 2/3 prepping for exams yet they are successful having only an exam club which meets twice a week after school for one term.

What is important is that your sons have covered the curriculum, are familiar with the test style questions, and have had practice with timed exams. It is these things that a good pre-prep will ensure your sons have. If your sons will not be at a pre-prep, you can do this yourself at home easily:

English - have your sons read a wide variety of texts. Colet Court would have sent you a reading list you can use for level expected. Ask your sons a variety of reading comprehension questions, bearing in mind that what is expected at 8 is different from what is expected at 7. Use Bond books at and 1 year above age level for written practice. At 7, they must be able to answer the question with a complete sentence (using the wording of the question within the answer). At 8, they expect and extension of the question in the answer (because..., therefore....).

Writing - your children should be able to conceive of a story and write something with a clear beginning, middle, end in 25 minutes. THis is just practice. It helps to give your children a list of 5-6 "Wow" words that they practice using in the stories.

Maths - It seems that your son is already very good with mental arithmetic, so just make sure he is familiar with the topics. Practice some exams. Not much to do if they are good in maths.

Verbal/non-verbal reasoning. - practice with bond books

That is it! Not very difficult to do. Competition to get into the very selective schools is actually more difficult than the numbers given to you, however it is due to parents pushing children forward for the exams who probably are not suitable. I would really seriously think about the schools you wish to apply to and pick those schools which suit your child - the list you gave have schools with very different atmospheres and where different kinds of boys thrive. The exam is just one day, they will have to spend many years at the school - hopefully happy, but would be miserable if there is a mismatch. You mentioned that your sons are sporty and outdoorsy and that Colet would be your first choice - I would then urge you to look at Kings College (no affiliation, and my son is not at that school) as they have similar feelings. Kings is also much more sensible in it's application process at 7 and 8 as it interviews all boys and invites all boys to an Activity Morning to observe boys as they are - these 2 factors bear heavily in the decision to accept or reject the candidate.

Tubemole1 Sat 03-Aug-13 08:00:59

Just to get on some people's nerves...There are some very good schools outside Central London (zone 2-6) in the state sector. You could just research them instead...

Mominatrix Sat 03-Aug-13 09:05:34

Not irritating, Tubemole - just irrelevant. There are very good state schools in Zone 1 too.

mothersanonymous Sat 03-Aug-13 13:05:44

Absolutely agree with everything Mominatrix has told you, except that I don't have the knowledge of Kings.

I know you want your children to show their best (as we all do), but please don't pile too much pressure on them especially as this is not what they are used to. A friend of mine tried hiring a tutor who sounded rather like the type you mention (CV-wise) and ended up with a very unhappy child and the tutor telling her (the mother) that she wasn't committed enough and should be making the child work more in between sessions. After mother and child had both been reduced to tears they decided to get rid of the tutor and start again, and yes he did get into the school they wanted.

OrangeDaffodil Sun 04-Aug-13 12:10:00

Dear Anna
How did your meeting go with Sarah?: you allude to a meeting

I hope you are feeling a little more positive and happy with some sensible facts at your disposal rather than a lot of coffee shop banter. We have all been there and it is not pleasant.

I hope thing are settling down in your life regarding the Spanish move as well.

AnnaV9 Sun 04-Aug-13 14:16:51


She is just what I wanted. Your lead was most helpful and kind. It has been very interesting receivng responses here on mumsnet and following up with basic online research. I still believe that the best way to find what you want is through people and not to be swayed by the antitutoring debate. If my sons just know what the papers look like and how to deal with them and time, they are at least on a level playing field with those who are at good prepreps that prepare. This lady was also fascinating when she discussed what goes on at the callback stage as I didn't know any of this. Tutoring a bright child for a few hours a week who has grown up abroad in a different system seems both fair and essential. Mothersanonymous this is not pressure, it's help and support.

I understand the response that schools are lookng for potential. Of course. But if they have 180 children I doubt they will remember my sons individually so the only evidence they have is what is written down. If the place, the tests, the strangers all flummoxes them and leads to clamming up which they do with even my friends visiting, then the school quite rightly won't see much potential because prepared children will have answered the whole paper(s) or written double and my dc will be half way.

Does anyone know a good book on tutoring? I will contact my local waterstones today.

Orangedaffodil I will PM you xA

Mominatrix Sun 04-Aug-13 18:34:44

Anna, glad you were able to find a tutor for your boys and I wish your boys the best of luck throughout the process.

To clarify, I am not "anti-tutoring" per-se, I just did not find it necessary in my case. I was slightly concerned because your previous posts did seem panicked, and I was just trying to let you know that the exams are not a hidden secret and that children have been successful without intensive tutoring. Most tutoring is done to reassure parents that they are maximizing the chances for their children of being successful and the true benefit is often more questionable. THe circles which panic tutor their children with the very expensive tutors also are the ones who continue tutoring throughout their careers at the schools - I even know of quite a few cases where the families hire multiple specialist tutors, take them on holiday with them, and even have them live with them! I certainly am not implying that you would do this, but just warning you that the people who intensively tutor to get in are also the ones who jump to tutors to ensure that their children get the coveted scholarships, exhibitions and top marks once in the school (or just to keep up and stay in the school).

THe pace once into the most selective schools is very fast. My son who was always effortlessly at the top of his academically pushy pre-prep and got into all the schools he applies to without tutoring is skimming along just about average in his year. I am not concerned as he is doing this through his own effort without tutoring and I want him to move up based on his own effort, other parents (particularly in certain circles) get concerned and begin tutoring again in earnest.

Anyways, I do see the merit in your case, and best of luck again to your sons. Just don't buy into all the scare stories which are out there!

nkf Sun 04-Aug-13 18:42:33

People with proper teaching qualifications usually have jobs. Sorry, but that's how it is. That doesn't mean that the tutors are useless. The exams are very specific and the tutors have been coached/learned how to prepare children for them.

emmystyle Mon 05-Aug-13 02:07:40

What rot nkf. You are talking in the interests of an unregulated industry. You must be a tutor. You 100% aren't a qualified teacher. You must work for an agency or freelance on gumt***. People with proper teaching qualifications are called Teachers. People with no qualifications with any educational merit in the eyes of the law are called tutors. You need a BEd, PGCE, MEd and QTS, otherwise you are unsuitable in the eyes of the law to teach unsupervised in a state school either 1:1 or 1:30 or more. There's a reason for this. Tutors (anyone)may have gained knowledge, but have not in the eyes of the state met the standards required to impart knowledge. There's a reason a PGCE takes 9 months and it's not to learn about Henry VIII again or photosynthesis.

What was that word again? Unregulated.

Unregulated? hmmmmm. Are electricians unregulated? What about the people who deal with gas? Mechanics doing my MOT?

employ a teacher.

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