Sabbatical to support 11+

(63 Posts)
Yookytooky Fri 19-Jul-19 06:52:19

Looking for some advice from those who have been through the 11+ process. We are in the hyper competitive north London area aiming for top independent schools. Both DH and I work full time. I'm planning to take a sabbatical to support the 11+ prep for DC but not sure how long and when to take it. Would 3 months be too short and would oct to early jan, just before exams be a good plan? Any helpful advice welcome please!

OP’s posts: |
crisscrosscranky Fri 19-Jul-19 07:17:53

Presumably your child will be at school for most of the day between October and January so unsure why you'd need a sabbatical to support if the majority would be evenings/weekends.

If you're hell bent on coaching/tutoring/preparing I'd suggest the money our have lost in wages over 3 months would be better spent on a qualified tutor with experience of the examinations.

As a parent who has been through the 11+ process I would beg you not to make too big a deal out of it for your DC's sake.

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Fri 19-Jul-19 07:21:06

What age does the current school go up to? If you are keen to go this route get a good general tutor for a couple of hours a week.

Take the child swimming, music lessons and to clubs - take them to the museums and watch movies with them. Schools want confident, happy and rounded kids with outside interests - not just brainboxes.

BubblesBuddy Fri 19-Jul-19 09:04:11

No pressure on DC then? Intense! I’m so glad my DC didn’t have this pressure on them. We live in a grammar area and didn’t even consider a tutor or taking months off work. No one else did the latter either. How will you both cope with “failure”?

Moominmammacat Fri 19-Jul-19 09:13:38

For your child's sake do not make a big deal of it ... several of my DCs' friends were wrecked by process. Do some past papers by all means but if your child is bright and knows the format, it's a doddle ... said as one who has done the horror of North London. "

"Take the child swimming, music lessons and to clubs - take them to the museums and watch movies with them. Schools want confident, happy and rounded kids with outside interests - not just brainboxes." ... this is so true.

And with my DCs now in their mid-20s, their bright contemporaries who went to the less desirable schools are just as sorted as the ones who went to the alleged top of the tree selectives. And their parents are richer.

Ginger1982 Fri 19-Jul-19 09:17:29

Gosh I would think it would put more pressure on your DCs knowing mum wasn't working to help them through. They'll probably feel super guilty if they don't do as well as you both hope.

growlingbear Fri 19-Jul-19 09:26:29

Just to give a different perspective on sabbatical and 11+. It might mean the absolute opposite of putting pressure on. DC are still young. No need for them to know why their mum is having a sabbatical.

Our DC went to a very laid back community village primary. It was cosy and friendly and brilliant at the fun stuff. Very bad at the academics. We wanted DC to take 11+ and for it not to be a massive issue at all. We wanted it entirely stress free. I scaled down my work hours. They had a tutor for one hour a week. She set homework that took about 40 mins to complete. Less than 2 hours prep a week is not stressful at all. But we did a lot of reading together, and chatting about the books, which really helped with both comprehension skills and vocab. We did a lot of fun science experiments too, and baking, to apply maths and chemistry in fun ways. We visited galleries, museums and went to the theatre, did puzzle books, swapped silly science and maths jokes (which actually helped when they were asked 'tell me a joke' in interview!) And we did loads and loads of cycling and walking in the woods and messing around, so they never felt stressed.

What it meant was that DC genuinely enjoyed the experience of prep and went into the exams and interviews feeling really happy and excited. They passed every exam with offers of scholarships, on 1 hour 40 mins work a week. Taking time off helped me feel laid back about it all.


SJane48S Fri 19-Jul-19 09:48:39

Kent where we live is a grammar County. Tutoring unfortunately is de rigueur as not only does the 11+ contain elements not on the curriculum, DC just haven't had the experience of answering questions in the 11+ format. Typically this starts in Year 4, two years ahead. Having said that, I do have friends who have intensively coached their children over the pre-test summer & their children have scraped through - having said that from what I saw, tempers were lost, nerves were frayed & quite a bit of crying went on! By the sounds of it, you don't have much time & I really would go the professional route & as other PP's have said make your time with your child fun, relaxing & upbeat!
I think the point about failure the PP has made is very valid & the whole 11+ process is an unpleasant and if we're open about it, an unfair process. There isn't one single child who didn't have tutoring (either professional or from a graduate level parent) for the 11+ from my DD's school in the last 2 years who passed - that's pretty damming in terms of the fairness & egalite of the process. It's been a pretty miserable, bloody & uncertain couple of months on waiting lists for children who'd had tutoring but just failed but their parents are dead set on a grammar.
Why don't you look at a big range of options across the public and private sector & find a couple of acceptable options that you all like? Takes a whole lot of pressure off your DC - don't hang your hat on just one route if you can!

Yookytooky Fri 19-Jul-19 11:32:30

Wow... I'm taken aback at the range of assumptions made here. I didn't say anything about what I would be doing during the sabbatical. I'm not at all intending to hothouse my DC but to be fully focused and available so that I can support with the academic prep but also the non-academic side. I've worked v hard from humble beginnings to have carved out a highly successful and demanding career which I love. I want to step back completely from that for an appropriate period so I can be there fully to support my DC precisely so they don't feel overly pressured or stressed.

OP’s posts: |
Yookytooky Fri 19-Jul-19 11:36:31

We have no prior experience of this process and can't look to family/non-school friends for advice. All the advice online is to avoid the playground chat on this for the sake of the DCs but also the parents so haven't discussed with other school friends. I'm aware that some parents do take time off during this period so was looking for advice on here from those who have been through it.

OP’s posts: |
Amibeingdaft81 Fri 19-Jul-19 11:38:12

OP if you think your child requires this level of involvement
You child is not cut out for the school you wish them to attend

Yookytooky Fri 19-Jul-19 11:38:32

Thank you to growlingbear and SJane though for your helpful perspectives.

OP’s posts: |
Yookytooky Fri 19-Jul-19 11:42:27

Thanks AmIbeingdaft, I appreciate you taking the time to comment but you clearly have no understanding or experience of this process.

OP’s posts: |
Amibeingdaft81 Fri 19-Jul-19 11:47:04

Grammar school system, Kent.
My sister is an 11 plus tutor
My eldest going in to year 5

I think you’re being a bit ott and defensive
But not a big deal as I’m sure will be nice for both you

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Fri 19-Jul-19 11:48:57

And don’t get into conversations with other mums. They all lie!

MrsPatmore Fri 19-Jul-19 12:03:13

I'm a battle scarred London 11+ mum and it is hard work if you work full time supporting with preparation. My number one tip would be to find an excellent tutor with inside out knowledge of the prep needed forthe schools you are targeting. If it's North London, there is a poster on the elevenplusexams exams forum called Daogroupie who is very knowledgeable about all of the N London indies and grammars. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Maybe reduce your hours in the three months leading up to the exams so you can be there to ensure the tutor homework is done, practise filling in answer papers, support with creative writing etc. You'll need time off for all of the ferrying about for exams then interviews then scholarship tests etc.

Some of my previous posts detail how I supported ds. It was hard work but you must factor in down time and not let the child know the stakes (they'll probably already be hearing things in the playground).
Have a spread of schools as I hear even the back up schools in that area are now becoming very competitive due to sheer volume of numbers.

Mumski45 Fri 19-Jul-19 13:02:51

For what it's worth I think there is a big difference between putting a child through the 11+ process for a full grammar area such as Kent and the situation in the OP which I presume would be more like a super selective.

I self tutored 2 DS's for OOA places at a grammar school in a non grammar area. It was necessary due to the nature of the test and in hind sight with one DS now about to start year 9 absolutely the right thing to do. The boys are in exactly the right school and not struggling because they were tutored beyond their natural ability.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 19-Jul-19 13:30:02

Maybe it's better to think, not so much in terms of 'a sabbatical to support the 11+ prep' but rather whether it would be generally beneficial to your DC to try to adjust your work-life balance, along the lines growlingbear mentions? TBH those activities just sound like normal parent-child stuff completely regardless of entrance exams.

And I don't just mean the mothers should consider this!

SJane48S Fri 19-Jul-19 13:36:50

Kent isn’t full grammar but it is either or with a far greater amount of pressure on children & parents than you would get in many other counties. If it’s not a case of merely passing the 11+ but achieving a very high score, take your point Mumski. And OP if the sabbatical is about supporting existing preparation rather than tearing your hair out hot housing, sounds a positive thing to do!

Having just been through all this I would hugely recommend looking widely at all options, getting the DC’s buy in for a couple of different schools just to take the horrendous pressure off you all! Have you looked at all at scholarships? Youngest DD has a music place at the school we rated the most starting in September. Various schools will have Arts places if your DC is in the least that way inclined. Just worth looking at any possible angle & good luck!

ReggaetonLente Fri 19-Jul-19 14:40:22

Actually I think amibeingdaft is on to something. I went to a grammar - one of the best in the country - and the girls who were coached intensively were apparent from the start of year 7. They couldn't cope with the day to day environment - selective schools as I'm sure you know are about way more than academia - and would have been far happier in a different school.

I'm sure times have moved on in the last 15 years but surely not that much? This sounds crazy to me.

sunandsand0 Fri 19-Jul-19 14:54:27

amibeingdaft, looking at your comment, is it fair to say that any children who comes to your (11+ tutor) sister is not cut out for the school they wish to attend?

OP, a couple of people I know took time off as well for their children. It was so that they can pick-up their children from school and not send them to after school club. The fact that they could come home earlier than usual, relax and study a bit everyday surely helped them a lot.

MrsPatmore Fri 19-Jul-19 14:55:37

The OP is looking at top independent schools so slightly different prep than for the grammars (although this is changing as many of the super selectives now have second stage tests which test creative writing, problem solving maths etc).

OnlyFoolsnMothers Fri 19-Jul-19 14:58:45

Could you greater explain what you mean by support OP?

Clearly you want the best for your child, but you do realise they will be taking the 11+ then its SATs then its GCSEs then its Alevels....
If you want to be a SAHM then go for it but I dont see how the 11+ should dictate that compared to any other stage of their education

SJane48S Fri 19-Jul-19 15:20:07

Reggae, none of the children in the last two years at my DDs school or indeed in my wider area network who have not had either professional or parental tutoring (by which I mean buying appropriate materials and working through them on a one 2 one basis either intensively or a 12 month period) have passed the 11+. While I appreciate there will be the exception to the norm, the vast vast majority of DC entering grammars cartainly in my area will have had tutoring. My DH is Chair of Governors of the DD’s school, last year he & the Headteacher looked in depth at the test & they are a good number of areas where content wasn’t on the curriculum. So essentially we have a system that in real terms isn’t taking the brightest but typically the middle class child who’s parent can afford to pay for tutoring or has the ability and time to coach themselves. Basically, the test is flawed! And on another note, my DD music place was off the back of 6 years worth of expensive lessons so hypocritical realty of me to make any negative comment about how parents are getting a leg up - unfortunately we all do what we have to!

To the PP, the OP mentioned the 11+ which is why I’m sure many of us have been rabbiting on about grammars!

FlumePlume Fri 19-Jul-19 18:18:54

OP I did the whole thing this year with dd1, in SW London. She didn’t stop any of her (many) extra-curricular activities, and the tutoring and practice papers was done mainly on Saturday mornings and some in the summer holidays. DH tutored her, while working full-time (thus the Saturday mornings). She got two offers (three if you count Tiffin) and a waitlist (she applied to three indies plus Tiffin), so to my mind it worked.

But, I do think there a lot of advantages to having one parent at home for a day or two in the week - so if you’re looking for a reason to be home more with the kids, then go for it. But I don’t think 11+ preparation requires it, and in fact I think it might put the pressure on too much.

I would suggest making sure you and your DH have enough holiday to cover all the various stages of exams, interviews etc - even working part-time, that was hard logistically.

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