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New test for Tiffin Girls

(134 Posts)
legallady Mon 20-Feb-12 22:26:49

This will really put the cat amongst the pigeons!

I have a lot of sympathy for those girls planning for 2013 admission and who have only just found out that they will now have to prepare for numeracy and literacy (at Level 5 and above) as well as VR and NVR just in case they are lucky enough to be one of the 400 girls to get through the first stage testing confused

singersgirl Tue 21-Feb-12 07:20:24

Why? They've got nearly a year to prepare and they are, after all, doing numeracy and literacy every day in school. Surely that should be long enough to familiarise themselves with comprehensions etc under timed conditions. I would have thought that any girls hoping to get into Tiffin would be at Level 5 and above anyway by the end of Year 5.

Fraktal Tue 21-Feb-12 07:23:01

I suspect that many of them will also be preparing for the private sector which has literacy and numeracy as standard anyway.

SoupDragon Tue 21-Feb-12 07:32:19

Literacy and numeracy are standard for entrance exams in my area.

basildonbond Tue 21-Feb-12 08:50:28

well, if they're not already level 5 and above by the end of year 5 they haven't got a hope in hell of getting through have they? I'd have thought most people would prefer this - it seems like much less of a lottery and will ensure they have the most able girls rather than ones who are good at VR/NVR

Interestingly at Graveney, where to get in on the test children have to get stupidly high scores in the Wandsworth test, many of those children don't get placed in extension as despite their brilliant performance at VR/NVR they're not actually as academically able as other kids who don't do as well in that particular test

stillfeel18inside Tue 21-Feb-12 09:00:28

I agree - from the kids I know who've tried and passed (or failed), they'd need to be at least a level 5 across the board to have any chance of getting in. Also a tutor has told me that a lot of Tiffin girls still come to her for english coaching as they struggle with writing essays etc so perhaps the school is trying to address that problem by ensuring they don't just get the ones who are fantastic at VR/NVR?

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 09:52:28

The new test will be in 2 stages. NVR and VR at the end of September and anyone who passes that will have to go back at the start of December for Maths, Essay and Comprehension tests at Level 5 or above.
Level 5 is the norm for Grammar School children but "above" level 5 isn't. The tests are taken right at the start of Year 6 so it is a very high standard - I suppose it depends how much "above" level 5 they are aiming for!

The changes apply for entry in 2013 but the tests for 2013 are actually taken this year so the changes come into effect in 7 months time. A lot of tutored children are going to be experiencing a very very busy Summer!

jeee Tue 21-Feb-12 10:01:13

Tiffin is super-selective isn't it? So sounds fair enough to me. And having had a child sit the Kent Test last year, it seems to me that it's far easier to coach for the VR/NVR than it is for maths/literacy. I think that numeracy and literacy papers are likely to be a more accurate test of a child's true ability.

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 10:13:40

jeee - you are right on both counts. Tiffins has no catchment area and no priority for local children so it is classed as a Super Selective. It gets over 1500 applicants every year.

And numeracy and literacy are far better indicators of ability than the NVR and VR tests that people coach extensively for. My only concern was the expectation that a state school child could be at "above" Level 5 by the start of Year 6 regardless of how bright they are. I am just not convinced most state schools work to that sort of level even if a child is capable. I have rarely heard of any Primary School child doing Level 6 work at the end of Year 5 / start of Year 6. Most schools are focused on getting Level 4's and Level 5's by the end of Year 6 instead.

NotYetEverything Tue 21-Feb-12 10:14:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

singersgirl Tue 21-Feb-12 10:19:02

Yes, you only have to look at the Eleven Plus exams site to realise that some people are tutoring their children (boys and girls) for grammar school for years before the tests. The narrower the test, the narrower the spread of academic abilities and aptitudes in the school.

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 10:20:07

Again agree with you NotYetEverything but the tests haven't changed to create equality. They have changed to accomodate the new admission code that says parents must be made aware of test outcomes before the deadline for the preference form passes in October.

At the moment lots of Grammar Schools (including Tiffins) hold their exams after the October 31st deadline for filling in your school choioces. Parents therefore might be wasting one of their choices on a school that their child will not be eligible for. The change allows parents to know if their child is of selective ability before they fill out the form (although it is not a great help as several hundred others will also be of selective ability and there are only 150 places)

It is doubtful therefore that the exam format will change annually just to keep everyone on their toes and minimise the benefits of tutoring. It is a one off chnage because of new rules.

legallady Tue 21-Feb-12 12:29:28

CustardCake, it's not just "tutored" children who will be experiencing a very busy Summer, but I would have thought all girls who want to give themselves a realistic chance!

I actually don't have any DG affected by this change this year, but I still reiterate my sympathy for any state educated girl who now has only 7 months to get themselves beyond a level 5. MY DS is year 5 at a very average state school and he has only just started to learn chunking and they haven't even begun on long multiplication yet! How could he be expected to sit a level 6 maths exam if I (or someone else I pay for) didn't teach the necessary elements to him?

I have two children already at superselective GS (not Tiffins) and they certainly weren't top level 5A or level 6 when they sat their entrance tests (I would guess at nearer to a 4A hmm ) though they both achieved level 5s at the end of year 6 and have both coped very well with the level of work at their school.

I too agree that the change is a better test of ability than VR and NVR alone, but it will certainly be a tough ask for those sitting it in September shock

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 14:54:05

I am not anti exam preparation. I agreed with you that state schools would not be preparing kids to this level and by “tutored” I mean home tutored as well as sent out for paid tuition. I am not anti this either. Nobody would stand a chance of getting to that level without it in fact and that has always been the case for Super Selectives (not the case at other Grammars in other counties but they have catchment areas which changes things totally and not the case more than 4 or 5 years ago when numbers applying were lower. Now that nearly 2000 are applying every year it is getting more competitive than ever).

I also responded to a comment that indicated this was a good change as it might lessen the benefits to privately tutored children and give other children a chance. I was just pointing out that Tiffins have not made this change in the spirit of equality or for any reason related to tutoring at all. They have done it to comply with new rules about holding the tests before the October deadline so parents know the outcome (sort of).

Tutored children (home and professionally tutored) everywhere will be busy this year as they now have a few months to prepare for extra exams (unless they planned to take the Nonsuch test as well in which case they'll already be doing maths and English work). That's not a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a fact (although with them all in the same boat hopefully nobody will be too disadvantaged by it).

singersgirl Tue 21-Feb-12 15:00:06

Well, lots of children in my DSs' primary school are at level 5 at the end of Y5/beginning of Y6. You don't need to be taught anything specific to be a Level 5 in reading/comprehension or writing - you just need to read a lot and write well. Maths is a bit different but I'd be very surprised if Tiffin Girls is really expecting Level 6 to be taught by that stage. All they're saying is that the child should be working at at least a Level 5, which is what you would expect.

SheHulk Tue 21-Feb-12 15:44:41

notyet They still have to pass a first test, so it's not left to genuine ability. To be accepted to Tiffin you need to be prepared for the VR/NVR exam anyway with either a tutor or with your parents...Ability is how the child uses the preparation he or she has received. The only change is they now have to broaden the preparation to include maths and english. My guess is they are preparing for other selectives too which will test for this.

legallady Tue 21-Feb-12 16:40:21


I hope you don't think that my last post was intended to be a dig at you - it certainly wasn't, but that's the risk with these boards - no intonation. I'll just have to start using more of these. grin. And you were certainly one of the people on the thread who recognised that not many, if any, primary schools prepare their children to the level required.

It does seem, however, from some of the other posts (and again I'm not having a dig at anyone by saying that) that our primary is in the minority in that it is extremely rare for a child to be at a high level 5 in everything by the end of year 5 envy

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 17:05:48

legallady – I think we are in agreement. A lot of schools just focus on Level 4's and 5's by the end of Year 6 (not the end of year 5!) and anyway Tiffins is asking for ABOVE level 5 by the end of Year 5 / beginning of Year 6.
That means level 6 in effect and that level, especially in maths, cannot be achieved by reading a lot of books outside school (well not unless reading about geometry and algebra floats your boat!).

I challenge anybody to seriously suggest that even the brightest 10 year old child would be adequately prepared to take tests aimed at ABOVE level 5 purely by attending Primary school and reading a lot of books for pleasure. And remember that’s ABOVE level 5 in both maths and English not just vocab or reading.

SheHulk Tue 21-Feb-12 17:25:20

Do you think they're just justifying it with the fact that primaries are, as of this year, officially sitting a few DC for Level 6? It's a selffeeding snake, the pressure on our children.

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 17:57:20

I didn't know about the new policy but in that case, yes, it seems that is exactly what they are doing.
Its a bit like changing the goal posts with Ofsted - satisfactory is now classsed as "needs improvement" so the "good" rating will become the new satisfactory With SATS, level 5 will stop being the aim and to be properly academic now you'll need a level 6 instead!

Which is crazy unless they are going to start getting these kids to skip GCSEs altogether and just spend 5 years doing A Levels. After all a good level 6 isn't that far off GCSE standard already and they want the kids performing at this level a whole year before they even start secondary school let alone exams!

singersgirl Tue 21-Feb-12 19:15:01

But it doesn't say the tests will be Level 6. What it says is this:

Stage 2 testing will include three tests which will assess numeracy and literacy: one each of mathematics, reading and writing. All three tests will assess performance appropriate to the English and Mathematics National Curriculum at Level 5 and above.

What I would take that to mean is that they will mostly be Level 5 with a few harder questions as well. Those harder questions will be designed to challenge very bright children. Tiffin wants to select very bright children.

Still, more work for tutors then. (I'm not against tutoring, by the way, and my son was tutored for 11+ exams).

CustardCake Tue 21-Feb-12 22:06:13

But by definition what is "above" level 5 if it isn't level 6?

singersgirl Wed 22-Feb-12 11:38:33

Above level 5 is level 6, but the wording suggests that the tests will be focused on level 5 with elements of level 6. Otherwise they would have said 'at level 6'. You would expect many of the children going for Tiffin to be able to manage some elements of level 6.

CustardCake Wed 22-Feb-12 12:17:13

singersgirl - that is certainly one way it can be interpreted and it may very well mean just that. I don't know and nor does anyone else at this stage.

However, whilst it might not be unusual to expect a Grammar School child to enter secondary school nearing level 6 in all subjects areas, you have to remember these tests are taken a whole year before that.
They are taken when the children are aged 10 and are just starting Year 6 of Primary School. Even if it is your interpretation of Level 5 with some Level 6 elements is correct, that is an incredibly high standard to ask of a child who has only just started their last year in Primary.

SoupDragon Wed 22-Feb-12 12:27:24

It says "level 5 and above" which means level 5 and 6 (or 7 I guess grin). It doesn't just say above level 5.

DSs were certainly at level 5 (for maths) on leaving Y5 and both passed the exams for selective secondaries. Their exams include questions at the end to highlight potential scholarship candidates which are certainly above level 5.

TBH, I count very much that any girl Tiffins accepts would be below the level they are now specifying.

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