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What age to start 11+ preparation?

(55 Posts)
PeppermintScreams Mon 21-Oct-13 14:13:43

DS is in year 1 shock and already other parents are talking about preparing them for the 11+ and doing workbooks. (I'm guessing the Bond aged 5-6 ones) While obviously I'm not going to sign him up for a tutor just yet hmmgrin what sort of things should I be doing now or making plans selling a kidney for in the distant future?

Forewarned is forearmed.

PastSellByDate Mon 21-Oct-13 15:40:45

Hi PeppermintScreams:

Wow - not sure what part of the world you're in and I can't claim to be a great success (DD1 was close, but didn't quite make last year's cut-off so it's not looking likely) but this is my advice:

Y1/ Y2 (KS1) - Make sure that they leave KS1 with sound reading skills (aim for free reading end Y2).

Make sure that they leave KS1 with sound skills in numeracy: so able to add and subtract at least up to 30, but preferable up to 100. Able to count by 2, 5 and 10 (effectively know those times tables - but not necessarily realise it).

Y3/ Y4 - READ! Really have them read proper fiction (DD1 really didn't get there until Y5 - and this is what I regret. Y3 may be a bit early, but by Y4 they should be reading things like Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantstic Mr. Fox, etc...), Michael Morpurgo (9 lives of Montezuma, Animal Tales) or Classics like Charlotte's Web and Babe (The Sheep Pig is the original title).

Around here (midlands) many start tutoring in Y4 (especially if they have doubts about core skills - numeracy or literacy) but most start seriously with Bond Books/ Practice Exams/ Mocks in Y5.

If you haven't discovered it the eleven plus forum has information by your area of the country and that's a good place to start. At the top of each regional forum there is usually advice on how to prepare.

Finally, as a Mum who's DD1 didn't quite succeed - especially if this is an area where competition is fierce - please please consider making this about gaining sound skills for the move up to senior school (so they'll do well wherever they go) rather than about pass or nothing.


applebread Mon 21-Oct-13 17:19:14

Tbh I think the most effective 11+ prep is done prior to conception, choosing a partner with qualities that ensure your child is intelligent and if not, ensuring you're rich enough for tutoring or private education.

givemeaclue Mon 21-Oct-13 17:36:38

Intelligence is not hereditary

applebread Mon 21-Oct-13 19:45:59

My response was tongue in cheek to the op and other poster talking about 11+ prep with a 5yo.

But a portion of intelligence is genetic.

NaturalBloodsuckerYeahRight Mon 21-Oct-13 19:52:00

Books everywhere, loads of reading and strategy type games (mastermind type of thing) was all I used until yr5 for mine. My Dsis is starting earlier and DNiece already pulling back.

PastSellByDate Tue 22-Oct-13 10:41:04

Hi applebread-

I just wanted to point out that I didn't suggest tutoring in Y1 - I suggested focusing on core skills (3 Rs if you like). Again, I can only speak for our area but around here many start sometime in Y4 (we actually started beginning Y5).

I know what you said was tongue & cheek - but children from more affluent families/ highly educated families tend to make up quite a substantial portion of the intake to grammar schools. The statistics make for sad reading.

Worse yet there is now a trend in the UK of University Lecturers being the children of University Lecturers more often than not.

Statistically Britain is less socially mobile than in the 1950s/1960s.

And I'm now very depressed just thinking about that.

PastSellByDate Tue 22-Oct-13 10:42:17

I should also stress we didn't hire a tutor in Y5 - but did bond books, practice exam materials (Bond/ GL Assessment - NEFR). And we read a lot.

Willemdefoeismine Tue 22-Oct-13 10:48:29

Year 5 (after Christmas) onwards as PastSellByDate indicated....But, with the increase in numbers of children chasing the same number of grammar places and the greater current emphasis on core numeracy and literacy skills, it may indeed be necessary to start in Year 4...

And are we talking 11+ prep for grammar or super-selective grammars because I think one would find that there's a huge difference in numbers chasing places particularly in areas where secondary education allocation is not entirely determined by sitting the 11+!

shelley72 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:37:51

Do you know I also have a son in year 1 and I too have been asked when I'm starting tutoringshock - actually mentioned to me by friends in reception ! How can you tell at this age if they are suited for grammar school anyway - do teachers tell you that they are? But to answer your question, it seems to be usual round here to start in year 3 - at least that's what my friend did.

I actually feel a bit depressed about the whole thing as even if my ds is able we can't afford tutoring and so I've failed him before he's even turned 7. Just hope he loves school as much as I did and doesn't hate me too much in later lifeconfused.

kilmuir Tue 22-Oct-13 12:01:24


PeppermintScreams Tue 22-Oct-13 12:08:54

We have a choice of 3 grammar schools in my local authority plus 3 outside that are a reasonable commuting distance. One of the outside ones in a super selective - I not too fussed on that one as it is over an hour away but am keeping it in mind.

If he passes the local authority test he will probably get a place at the boy's school (where DP attended) on distance as we are well within the "catchment" area.

My plan until year 3 (when I will re-evaluate) moment is lots of books and vocabulary. (I brought a junior dictionary and thesaurus yesterday which he's loving) He's well on track with his school work (currently) but I'll keep an eye on that. I'm not going to mention grammar schools and tests to him until I have to.

I doubt we'll be using a tutor unless his school starts failing him on the English and Maths side which is possible as the junior school is different to the infants.

Thanks everyone! It's always good to know what we need to be working towards in the future.

Elibean Tue 22-Oct-13 12:15:14

Peppermint, are you sure they're preparing for 11+ and not 7+?

Either way, sounds pathologically bonkers!

We're not in a grammar area, thank goodness, but dd1 had a very experienced tutor in y4 to boost her confidence in maths - tutor said anything between 6-18 months prep for 11+ or selective indies. For dd she said 9-12 months.

I trust her judgement. She's a) excellent tutor and b) sensible woman and mother.

It's hard to find a path between complacency and hysteria, but on the whole I think the current social trend is hysteria - interesting, but unpleasant sad

Willemdefoeismine Tue 22-Oct-13 12:36:37

If you want hysteria look at the 11+ forum hmm. DCs' reported results on there and some seem to have applied for grammar schools here, there and everywhere from Birmingham, to Kent, to Sutton, to Kingston....

PeppermintScreams Tue 22-Oct-13 13:03:06

I'm pretty sure it's the 11+. I don't think any schools around here within sensible commuting distance do the 7+.

babasheep Tue 22-Oct-13 13:23:07

If you re serious about 11+ it is never too early to start prep. It is more about how you prepare them. I know people who start showing flashcards to babies as soon as their babies could seat up. Some of them are aiming for the very selective. We live in a ridiculous grammar school town many mums have 11+ in minds well before their kids start preschools. The 11+ competition will only get worse as the birth rates are increasing every year. I don't know if my 7 yr dc will take the test but she knows all her timestable before 6th birthday and her spelling is about 2 years a head of her actual age. However she is only very average comparing to many of her peers. I feel proud but also sad. I am very confused by the madness of 11+.

Elibean Tue 22-Oct-13 14:58:58

Willem, thanks for the warning, I think I'll stay away from that one then!

Seriously though, I am much a bit older than most of the mums around here, so perhaps its more automatic for me to step back and see the hysteria - herd/fear driven, scarcity-thinking, panic. I know how hard it is to not catch it, and sometimes I get symptoms, but deep down I know it's not a disease I want to have and, thanks to hard learning in the past, I'm probably immune.

I'd rather home ed than join in, though dd1 would probably rather pull her teeth out wink

ClayDavis Tue 22-Oct-13 16:36:40

I'm not sure if it's age or something else, Elibean.

I know plenty of people with children at our local 'superselective'. None of them have tutored or done much prep other than familiarising their children with the types of questions that will be asked and a handful of test papers. Search the school on MN and you'll be told that you must tutor and if you haven't started by year 4 you've missed the boat and it's almost impossible to get into. At least one of my work colleagues has had phone calls from people they vaguely know asking which tutor they used to get their children in and who won't believe them when they say they didn't use one.

I suspect what happens is that some parents do lots of prep and their children pass and it's because they did loads of prep, others don't but then put the blame on the lack of prep rather than anything else. That gets passed on by word of mouth to other parents who think X did so much prep and didn't pass so we have to do more, ignoring the fact that other children did much less and did pass.

PastSellByDate's advice about securing the basics in maths and English at KS1 is pretty good for most children, not just those you might want to enter for 11+

BleedinEck Tue 22-Oct-13 17:06:52

At our school most say they start 11+ tutoring in y5 but I reckon half actually started in y4!

Dd2's Yr3 class are fiercely competitive & nearly a third have some form of outside tutoring such as kumon, Kip McGrath (& these are the very able children not those falling behind) . Dd's already 'decided' which grammar she wants to go to & asked for a tutor shock so I dread to think how tough 11+ competition will be between them.

Eta secondary options are great for grammar & religious school but pretty dire otherwise so this level of competitiveness isn't that unusual sadlyhmm

PeppermintScreams Tue 22-Oct-13 18:59:04

Blinking heck!

I've just taken DS to his gym club. They are starting an 11 plus tutoring group there (I assume the tutor is hiring a room) I laughed and said DS was too young, and the receptionist agreed, but said they'd already had interested parents from the KS1 kids....

LaQueenOfTheDamned Tue 22-Oct-13 19:44:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shelley72 Wed 23-Oct-13 10:08:32

I know one of those parents laqueen, their dc did pass the exam last week and bloody good job too. The child is bright, but had had tutoring since year three. Getting through the exam affected their health and mum told me that they were crying themselves to sleep at night. Still it all paid off confused.

Whilst I want him to do well I honestly don't know if I could put my son through that. He's only yr 1 at the minute so will probably never need to worry about it but I think he is the sort of cheap who would carry a failure around with him forever.

I did notice that a tutor has set up an after school session just opposite the school. No pressure then!

PastSellByDate Wed 23-Oct-13 10:42:57


absolutely agree. As a parent - best bet regardless of going for 11+ or not - is to really ensure core skills (ye olde 3 Rs) are solid before secondary school, so your child can get off to a flying start.

However - for many around here the choice of grammar is avoiding the alternative which frequently is a middling school, often with behaviour problems and many parents worry about drugs/ pressure to grow up too quickly/ bullying/ etc... For us and many like us - going for a grammar school is about getting your children into an environment which as a parent you're comfortable with. That isn't to say that there aren't problems at grammar schools - but so far there haven't been stabbings.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Oct-13 11:36:13

I know people who do have their 5 year old tutored. I cannot even begin to imagine why they do it.

My opinion is that you should help your children with reading, basic maths and any homework the school sets. Then you should try to encourage them to take an interest in the world around them and how things work. The children that do this will be in a good position in life and, if they are bright, then it might be enough to to help them get into grammar school in due course.

I think there is something to be said for going though a few past papers to get a feel for the types of questions asked during the later part of year 5 but if more than that is needed then the child will probably do better in a less academically focussed secondary school.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 23-Oct-13 11:49:22

Do some of the appropriate Bond-type books (check which sort - multiple choice or not etc) and if available actual past papers in the summer between yr 5 and 6.

And of course support the normal learning, reading, homework etc throughout primary. Talk to your kids, read to them, play games - do what you can to naturally expand their vocabulary and comprehension.

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