11plus prep for DCGS

(20 Posts)
Shellstar79 Wed 20-Jan-21 14:44:50

Hi there, my son is in Year 4 and we have just started the prep for the 11plus in Bucks. Our preferred school is DCGS - I was wondering if anyone who has already gone through the process can give me any insight into how best to prepare, what resources to use etc? We have just started with tuition, but I am aware that an hour a week alone will not ensure success. Also, any insight/experiences of the school would be much appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
Maladicta Fri 22-Jan-21 19:38:21

You really don't need to be loading your child with more than 1hr a week at Y4, do their tutor homework but that's it. Supporting their general curriculum work and reading lots from a variety of genres to build up vocab are far more important. The specific VR and NVR skills should be covered in what you're paying the tutor to teach.

The school itself is great, have had 2 ds there from Y7 and dd was there for Sixth Form. Older boy was sporty, younger is complete opposite, both found a peer group. Pastoral is excellent, particularly higher up the school.

Zodlebud Sat 23-Jan-21 07:55:20

If your child is naturally bright then an hour a week with a tutor in Year 4 is more than enough. They need to learn exam technique, speed and familiarity with the style of the VR and NVR questions.

I see so many children who are tutored relentlessly for years and just get burnt out. It then becomes a battle to get them to do it and then they become resentful. I know of one child made to do three hours a day in the summer holidays between Y5 and Y6 who didn’t pass. I also know of a boy who deliberately failed it in protest!

Be honest about his academic abilities before embarking on a huge amount of tutoring. We went through it in 2019 and didn’t formally tutor, just used Bond and CGP books at home. Started in Y5 and they passed with flying colours. The summer hols prior was mainly a couple of ten minute tests and one full paper a week. School said she was grammar material, we thought she was too, she was keen and eager to do the work and it all went off very stress free.

We did have to block out the chatter from other parents though. It’s a very brave decision to not formally tutor when EVERYONE else is but it gave me faith in the system when a prepared, bright child can pass the test without losing months of their childhood getting ready to pass an exam.

Shellstar79 Sat 23-Jan-21 14:43:16

Thank you for your responses, really appreciate your insight. It can be quite a daunting journey and I want to ensure we have the right approach and balance in place. Our tutor has actually helped create a real zest for learning in my son, he looks forward to their sessions and often says that they are the best part of his day. I would say, we don't do much more than an hour a week in total and then a one hour class with the tutor. We are using Bond and Schofield and Sims at the moment. So, am I right in saying we don't need to accelerate our preparation until Year 5? I definitely don't want to rob him of his precious childhood or for him to resent me or for him to feel too pressured. Thank you

OP’s posts: |
Zodlebud Sat 23-Jan-21 15:51:42

If he’s bright then that’s more than enough in Y4. Don’t forget you still then have another whole year after this before he sits it.

If he’s at state school then you might need to look at his maths for any gaps, particularly as a result of lockdown, but if you are at a prep and he’s top sets then you probably don’t need to do any extra (we didn’t). Just make sure he reads a lot and widely.

Just a) be realistic about his abilities as grammar schools can be miserable places for an average child who just scrapes through and b) switch off from all the other chatter from parents about what they are doing. There are some parents prepping to the eyeballs from Y3 - it’s truly scary.

Cookerhood Sat 23-Jan-21 16:01:57

Do you live close enough for him to get a place? Have you looked at the eleven plus exams website? It's more specialised than here.

Zodlebud Sat 23-Jan-21 17:21:14

They are crazy on the 11+ forum 😂😂. There’s some great advice on catchments, last admitted distance stats, selection reviews and appeals though.


Maladicta Sat 23-Jan-21 20:04:33

@Zodlebud the Bucks forum's calmed down a lot and is actually v quiet these days. There's some good specific advice on books to use and as you say, the detail on distance etc is invaluable.

Who knows though, the test could have changed by the time OP's ds takes it anyway... between my four there were three different styles of exam!

RickyDad Sun 24-Jan-21 23:11:21

My DD sat the 11+ and got into WGGS and her friend got into DCGS. Another girl from my DD's school got in DCGS.
Both girls started preparing when they were in year 3. I know most parents advise against starting early in year 4 due to the stress and pressure it could add to the child. But if you can do it in a way that does not impact their childhood and does not add additional stress then it is worth it because then you can prepare your child slow and steady without having to panic at the last moment.
IMHO, Y4 is a good time to start preparing as long as you do not make it too much for your child. Just a few hours a week is good enough.
By using the right books and online tools it can be an enjoyable experience.
Some of the materials that my DD used where
tutorful.co.uk/ for occasional tuition lessons. We never had the face to face tuitions.

Zodlebud Mon 25-Jan-21 07:45:31

@Shellstar79 - you see what I mean? Parents starting preparing in Year 3. If your child needs three years of preparation to pass the exam then I doubt they are grammar material. It’s absolutely bonkers and gets worse and worse as anxious parents try to do the best for their child.

There are some great secondary moderns in the area these days (it wasn’t always the case) and I wish parents could also see the good in these schools as well as focussing on the grammars.

RickyDad Mon 25-Jan-21 08:35:19


*@Shellstar79* - you see what I mean? Parents starting preparing in Year 3. If your child needs three years of preparation to pass the exam then I doubt they are grammar material. It’s absolutely bonkers and gets worse and worse as anxious parents try to do the best for their child.

There are some great secondary moderns in the area these days (it wasn’t always the case) and I wish parents could also see the good in these schools as well as focussing on the grammars.

@Zodlebud Learning happens slow and steady. IMHO, every child has the potential if given the right environment, resources and time. A child may struggle in certain subjects or topics but there can be various reasons for it.
My DD hated Maths before we did 11+ and now she finds year 7 Maths easy and interesting because she finally understood it.
Every child naturally has potential, some just needs a little nudge.

Zodlebud Mon 25-Jan-21 09:06:03

@RickyDad There is something very different about teaching a child maths versus teaching them how to answer verbal and non verbal reasoning tests (which form the bulk of the Bucks 11+ exam).

A bright child should happily pick up the concepts of these in Year 5 with no issues and still pass - IF they are grammar material. A reminder that these tests are supposedly not to be tutored for and as such no preparation for them takes place within Bucks primary schools.

Whilst we all know parents do tutor, often extensively, outside the classroom, it is the bright children from disadvantaged families who do not have the means or sometimes the interest or aspiration in a grammar education that suffer at the hands of the keen middle class. That really doesn't lie well with me. It should be a level playing field for all and it really isn't.

Grammar schools aren't known for being "slow and steady" places of learning. In fact, a grammar child should be able to pick things up quickly, apply that knowledge and have a love of learning for learnings sake. If a child requires support from Year 3 because they need the right environment, resources and time then arguably a grammar is not the right place for them.

The best thing a Year 3 child can do to "prepare" is read widely and regularly. The best thing their parents can do is be honest about whether or not their child is truly suited to a grammar education.

RickyDad Mon 25-Jan-21 09:37:20

@Zodlebud, I must say that I agree with most of what you said, however, I think a parent will know if their child will survive the Grammar school or not. On one hand, a naturally bright child may not require any preparation but on the other hand, a child who may not have had enough exposure or the right teacher should not be misunderstood as less capable.
I also fully agree that it should be an equal opportunity for all and there are many free resources that any parent can use. I have heard of some parents who solely relied on YouTube and other free resources. (not in my cirlce)
All I was trying to say was that a child may look like is not grammar material based on the current performance does not necessarily mean that the child is not capable. This usually is down to how the child was taught in school and the teacher.
My DD was not amongst the top in the primary school but now she is doing great in Grammar school. Labelling a child as Grammar material or not grammar material is not something that I buy into. Every child deserves the chance and given the time and resources many will shine.

PresentingPercy Mon 25-Jan-21 10:12:31

No. Every child cannot shine. This is total rubbish. The ones with pushy parents get a bit of a glow. I’ve seen pushy parents with DC fail year in year out to get into Bucks grammar schools. I’ve seen mayhem and families greatly upset along the way. Bed wetting from children and behaviour deteriorating. All because of pressure when the parents believed their child could be made to shine. They can’t.

Parents have goals the children cannot make. Years and years of tutoring simply won’t help. Countless numbers have gone down this route. The better bet it to be in catchment for a great secondary modern, eg The Amersham School or The Misbourne, and ease off the tutoring if DC isn’t in the top “set” or tables in the class. You don’t have to be a genuius in Bucks but mid division was/is rarely good enough.

Tutoring is why Bucks has so few ordinary dc in grammar schools of course. The ones whose parents cannot do it or cannot afford it are greatly under represented. Pushed out effectively.

If you want DCGS you have to look at admissions stats. Live where you need to live. DH went there. So did my mum when it was co-Ed.

RickyDad Mon 25-Jan-21 12:09:30

@PresentingPercy You have a very valid point. The psychological stress on children due to pushy parents and their goals must not be ignored.
I can only agree with everything you said.
Thank you.

Zodlebud Mon 25-Jan-21 13:35:04

@RickyDad At no point have I ever considered would my child “survive” in a school (your phrase). I look first at where I think they will be happy and then will they thrive.

You are also working on the assumption that people can afford things like internet access, least of all a computer to be able to view all this “free” material you refer to.

I guess you are saying that an academically middle class child whose parents can afford to tutor, be it formally or with their own time, deserves as much as a chance to get into a grammar school as the exceptionally bright child from a deprived background who cannot access tutoring?

Sorry @Shellstar79, your thread has got derailed, but I guess highlights why tutoring is so rife in Bucks and why many start doing early on.

PresentingPercy Mon 25-Jan-21 16:13:22

I tend to think that children greatly benefit from guidance and how to tackle the tests but not for years on end. I too believe a child merely surviving isn’t in the right school.

I fail to understand why more parents don’t pull out from the tests. I knew DD2 wasn’t suited so she didn’t take it. Life was easier for all of us. I admit DD2 went to an independent school but I don’t know a single parent that wasn’t happy with our local secondary modern apart from the ultra pushy ones in my village whose DC then went for 12 and 13 plus. Did their children ever achieve more than the ones who went to the secondary? No: they didn’t. They were all ill though.

So op just reign back on tutoring and keep an eye on how well dc is doing at school. So many children will not be doing as well as they should right now. It’s difficult to see how some will catch up.

RickyDad Mon 25-Jan-21 16:42:13

@Zodlebud @PresentingPercy point noted and concur.
My experience and observation have been very different from yours though. My DD and children in my friend's circle have all started early and we never had any sick children, we never pushed our children, the children never complained (except when a couple of times they asked for a break and they got the breaks they asked for) and we never made Grammar school as our only goal in life. We have always reminded our children that 11+ is not the end of the world and a mere step, which they can opt-out of if they choose to. Probably I have a biased view because I have never seen any child around me struggling.

@Shellstar79, sorry to have hijacked your question.

PresentingPercy Mon 25-Jan-21 17:51:49

I think the discussion is relevant though. Any parent who is “choosing” a grammar has to think about the issues surrounding that “choice”. It is often not a choice at all.

I accept I could have a biased view due to seeing quite a few DC who have had obvious problems. I could tell you of even more! As I’m not young and I’ve been around Education for years I can see that pushing some children is just plain wrong. Making DC apply again at 12 and again at 13 is deeply unpleasant after yet more years of coaching.

Also I’ve seen parents simply not understanding that average ability children almost certainly won’t get to the grammar. If it was easy for children to suddenly become as good as their bright/quick peers, teachers would certainly do it. In reality it’s extremely difficult and, quite frankly, not a usual trajectory.

Often huge numbers of children are being tutored and they do end up disappointed. They know their parents have paid out a lot and they have “failed”. It’s not pleasant. They have also tried their best with no good outcome. Coaching, when sights are utterly realistic, can be good because it builds confidence. Year after year of tutoring isn’t great if the child feels a failure.

Sadly too many parents do believe coaching is the answer and it’s a very expensive mistake. There are lots of schools in Bucks that rarely get 5/60 to grammar schools. I have found parents in these schools can be unrealistic, especially as they don’t see very many bright children so there is no benchmark. They pay out £££ to make the playing field level, and they don’t succeed.

I would rather 11 plus tuition was an optional after school club. Free for fsm children.

kbov96 Tue 25-May-21 16:03:46

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