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Extra tuition / support for ds to get into local grammar school. When ? Is it worth it ?

(26 Posts)
Lilyloo Sat 27-Jun-09 21:37:10

DS goes into juniors this Sept (y3) i am now starting to consider/look into secondary schools.
Is it worth getting the extra tuition for the grammar school entrance exam ?
When would you start it ?

Just thinking about this so any opinions welcome.


trickerg Sat 27-Jun-09 23:27:06

Ugh. What is SO special about grammar schools?????

mummyrex Sun 28-Jun-09 12:06:28

Friday was the last day in Grammar School for my DS's best friend at school. His friend had been tutored for at least 2 years in preparation for the 11+ test. He scraped through but really wasn't up to the style and pace. Poor lad has been miserable and struggling all year. Now he has the trauma of changinging schools although I do applaud his parents for moving him now and not leaving him to flounder. Much better for him had he gone to the best school for him to flourish in in the first place.

Plus, the stress and the homework and the money! If your DS needs help with maths, or literacy or someting to help him progress at school then fine (I do lots with my kids), but don't train him for the test (IMHO)

My DC2 will be going to a non-grammar so this is not a case of easy for me to talk because my DC is in a GS.

tryingtocookacurry Sun 28-Jun-09 12:13:19

I didn't get a tutor for my son. We just bought the pretend test papers from the school and worked on them, so he would know how to answer the questions as they are difficult to understand at first. I figured that if he got in on his own merit then he was supposed to be there - if not - then he wasn't and he would struggle.

StripeyKnickersSpottySocks Sun 28-Jun-09 12:17:25

I think if a kid needs tutoring to get through 11+ then they will struggle once they're there. I wouldn't tutor my DD to get through it as I know a Grammar wouldn't suit her. I went to the nearby Grammar when I was a kid and I know what its like. Very academic, a lot of pressure.

Now if you think your DS is very bright and would do well at a Grammar then it may be worth gettign some old test papers just so he can get used to the style of questions. I think quite a few people do this these days as they say the questions are different to anything else kids will have come across in schools. God knows how people my age managed though as we never had old papers and certainly not tuition. grin. I think that full on tuition is not a good thing.

hanaflower Sun 28-Jun-09 12:17:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Sun 28-Jun-09 12:24:30

If a child has been tutored for 2 years and just "scrapes" through are they going to be happy struggling for the next 7 years?

tryingtocookacurry Sun 28-Jun-09 12:36:51

I wouldn't even start worrying about tuition or grammar school exams until year 5 anyway. You will have an idea by then whether your ds will suit a grammar.

trickerg Sun 28-Jun-09 13:01:31

My son has been at a GS for 6 years and I see nothing special about it - technology status without food tech and textile tech (how do they DO that?), very narrow range of subjects, arrogance about exam results, mediocre teaching.... both he and I wish he could go to local 6th form college, but they don't do graphics at A level.

hellywobs Sun 28-Jun-09 19:20:12

I wonder if it is better for a borderline child to go to the secondary modern and be at the top of the class, rather than go to grammar and find themselves near the bottom?

In theory you shouldn't need to tutor for grammar schools, although I know in some areas you do have to. That's the fault of the system, if they had a small catchment and took the top 25%, you wouldn't need tutoring - maybe, just maybe, the end of league tables would get rid of that. When you have a ginormous catchment and 2% going, that's when parents feel the need to tutor. However, even then, there is an argument that if you need tutoring, you aren't right for the school. That said, some kids just can't do exams and tests but will do very well at the school. It's a hard one. I went to a grammar in the days when the top 20% or so got in and I did 2 test papers before the real thing and that was the extent of my preparation (from a mediocre state primary school).

As for private schools - I'd argue it's the other way round - a large majority select on ability, but charge, thus conning parents into thinking they get good results because of the teaching, when actually it's because they take the brightest whose parents can pay (plus a few on scholarships etc).

whereeverIlaymyhat Sun 28-Jun-09 19:50:45

We have three local selective schools and the difference is that 97% of students pass 5 GCSE's at C+ compared to the 50% (and that's improved) at the other local schools.
Now that is because the brighter kids are creamed off to the Grammar schools and you do not want your child to be one that doesn't pass the 11+ around here.

I do think you need to get a tutor though because everyone else will be and your child will be at a disadvantage if you don't.
Having said that the headteacher should be able to tell you if he's grammar school material from year 3 onwards.

TEJQ Sun 28-Jun-09 19:52:52


How well has she coped with KS1 SATs? Has she breezed through and got good results, or has she got the average level 2Bs (if the grading is still the same). Objectively how naturally bright is she, and how enthusiastic a learner? These things are important if considering a selective school - it can be a shock for a 'bright' child to find that they are not the top of the class with ease, but somewhere around average, or even lower.

My DS2 goes to a selective independent, in the boys division (they split the sexes between 11-16) and is just finishing Y11. He and his older brother got broadly similar KS2 SAT results, infact his older bro possibly got marginally better results, but their personalities and approach to school is poles apart. DS1 took 10 GCSE's, got 6 at C and B, but got 4 at D, completely because of his lack of effort and committment. He was a PITA doing homework right through and at being awkward with teachers he didn't like. DS2's school only take 9 GCSE's and the ECDL, he is predicted mostly A's and B's with the potential for a few A*'s (all his course work has been at A or A* grade. He has worked like a trojan at homework, never has to be prompted, has thrived in the competitive nature and expectations of achievement which is part of the school's ethos. I'm not sure DS1 would have achieved as much, although he probably could have got into the school - maybe he would have been offloaded at the end of Y8 or Y9 which selective schools do do.

If I were you I'd bide my time for a couple of years and see how she goes, it might be worth some tutoring in verbal reasoning etc. for the exam, but if she needs actual coaching in maths and english to pass then she may be better off at ordinary high school.

ShellingPeas Sun 28-Jun-09 22:16:15

Agree with a lot of what has been said above but it will also depend on where you live as to how selective the grammar schools are. My DS has consistently been well above the average SATS scores and has been tutored this year (yr 5). However the vast majority of the children who go to grammar schools in this area are either privately schooled or tutored and we would be selling him short if we didn't follow suit - the average pass rate to gain a place is 95%. There is also the fact that much of what is in the 11+ tests, particularly in the maths paper, isn't actually covered in the curriculum until after they sit the test (assuming they sit in September as will my DS).

I think you need to wait, see what the projected scores in Yr 4 are like and then look at tutoring in Year 5 if your DS is likely to be suited to a grammar.

piscesmoon Sun 28-Jun-09 22:27:15

Getting in is only the start not the end. If they need a tutor they are going to find it difficult to cope once they get there. I would do a few practise papers and leave it at that.

ingles2 Sun 28-Jun-09 22:41:29

Whereabouts are you Lilyloo?
Do you know your sons yr 2 sats results yet?
DS1 is yr 4. He sat verbal and non verbal reasoning tests at the beginning of the year. The school discussed the results with us and told us whether they thought they were grammar school candidates. I have booked him in with a tutor from Feb of next yr (half way through yr 5) not because he needs coaching but because the 11+ is just not a test/format they will come across in primary and tbh ds1 gets very narky working with me....
I'm doing this because the boys grammar is the right school for ds1.. it's also a sport academy.
I won't be doing the same for ds2 because I'm believe he will be much happier at the comprehensive.

IkeaSnake Sun 28-Jun-09 22:43:23

I think people mistake " tutoring" for " doing past papers"

cHoose the correct school for your kid. Are they in the top group at primary for EVERYTHING? Are they G and T? If not dont bother.

whereeverIlaymyhat Sun 28-Jun-09 22:53:56

Hmmm I don't think that's strictly true actually *Ikea snake*, you can be the top group for somethings and be able to work on the other areas with a tutor in fact, you can't write kids off as not suitable at 10 and a 1/2 or even 10.1 as my DD will be when she sits the papers.
Otherwise half our grammar schools would be empty.

Clary Mon 29-Jun-09 01:07:14

IMO if you need extra tuition to get in you will struggle once there - so why do it? Are you not just setting child up for five years of being in over their head? Or yourself for five years of fees for a tuotr?

(I went to a grammar school btw; the girls who found it really hard would imo have been better elsewhere).

obviously more children are going to pass 5 GCSEs at a school that takes the top 10% hmm than one that takes everyone (or maybe even, in a grammar/sec mod area, the bottom 90%).

That doesn't mean a child who struggled to get in there will magically do it tho, surely??

piscesmoon Mon 29-Jun-09 07:39:23

There seems to be the general idea that grammar schools are the 'best' schools. They are only the best schools for the top percentage-they are not the best schools for the average or slightly above average DC.

whereeverIlaymyhat Mon 29-Jun-09 08:45:03

I certainly see your point Clary but would say that firstly the tution generally is going over past papers to give the child exam practise, like mock exams, doesn't mean a child who would do exceptional well at the school would pass without ever having seen a paper before.
Also due to peer pressure an average child who, yes maybe struggles but still gets there in the end would still come out with more pieces of paper than at the local comp where average is fine, accepted and excellence isn't strived for, would they then continue to university or would they be told you've done your best off you go into the world.
Life can be a struggle doesn't mean you should give up.

piscesmoon Mon 29-Jun-09 08:59:26

Comprehensives strive for excellence! The advantage is that you find your own level.

ingles2 Mon 29-Jun-09 10:00:37

so if your child needs to be tutored then they're not grammar school material then? That's ridiculous really...
Children are just not consistent across the board. Like most adults, they have strengths and weaknesses.
In theory I could get DS1 help in English. He's only above average in that subject. He's exceptional at maths though. So does that mean he shouldn't be at a grammar? Of course not...
The key is to not choose a school because you perceive it be the best, but to try and find a school that best suits your child.
As someone said earlier, most 11+ tutoring is just sitting past papers, not actually teaching KS2 material. In Kent there are fantastic independent schools who teach to the test and places at the grammar are highly sought after. Why wouldn't you give your child the best chance of going to the school that suits them?

Lilyloo Mon 29-Jun-09 10:22:15

Thanks all , so general concensus is wait until year 5 ?

I am still waiting on his test Sats results but am expecting them to be good from indications at parents evening.
DS loves school , is very competitive and does well in almost all his subjects. He has a thirst for learning and wants to be the best. (sorry if it sounds like i am boasting blush) His teachers from reception to year 3 have all said the same. I would never put him in a school for him to struggle and completely agree with finding the best school for your child rather than 'the best school'.
The local grammar school here is an excellent school. The catholic high school that is a feeder from his primary isn't that good tbh. Although still time for change before he leaves yet.
I doubt he needs tutoring for getting in just more for getting used to the questions etc.
Maybe from that perspective i may be better getting the past papers initially.

dilemma456 Mon 29-Jun-09 11:24:39

Message withdrawn

piscesmoon Mon 29-Jun-09 17:22:17

I agree with ingles that there might be a case for tutoring, especially if your fantastic mathematician isn't too good at English-but I don't think you need to consider it before yr 5.

'The key is to not choose a school because you perceive it be the best, but to try and find a school that best suits your child.'

This point is the crucial one and parents should be sure that it is in the interests of their DC. I agree, dilemma, that an 8yr old shouldn't be spending that amount of time on tuition with homework in addition.It is taking away her childhood to fulfil an ambition of her mothers -and sad.

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