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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

Copthallresident Thu 28-Jun-12 10:36:21

CecilyP Not sure how you define tradition but when I sat the 11+ in the 70s it was VR/NVR and had been in living memory and the LA were very clear it was to give everyone a chance. There were no computers to mark them! It was to determine in which of three tiers of schools you would best be educated (that was the theory): Direct Grant Grammars, superselectives directly funded by the government via a means tested grant, your parents paid or didn't pay according to income or you got a LA (or County Council) Scholarship, Grammar Schools and Secondary Moderns, which in theory were supposed to provide education that was designed to do justice to the potential of the less able. KGS, Latyme,r Godolphn and Latymer were all Direct Grant Grammars. The concept of tutoring was just unknown. Not sure what relevence that has to this debate other than to underline that VR/ NVR tests have a long history, and huge body of scientific research behind them, all predicated on them being a test of ability rather than achievement.

CecilyP Thu 28-Jun-12 11:09:02

Copthall, I took the 11+ in LCC in 1964 and it was English, Arithmetic and Verbal Reasoning. (And, as far as I know, I am still alive and was possibly still only a teenager when you took your 11+ in the 1970s.) The exam took all day, and all the other years in the junior school had the day off for this day. The following year, this exam was replaced in the, by then ILEA, by primary school teacher recommendation - IQ tests were then only really used to confirm that the recommendation was sound.

In London at the time, I would say there were 3 tiers of of selective school, the direct grant schools that you mention, the voluntary aided grammar schools and the normal county grammar schools. The 11+ did not determine which one you would be educated at. The letter your parents got merely said, 'your child has been selected for further academic education', and the choices your parents made would have been more dependent on how you were doing at primary school, amongst other things. I also believe, in many cases, you had to take an extra exam to get a place at a direct grant school. A free place in a direct grant school was not means tested, it was merely dependent on having spent 2 of the last 4 years at a state primary school.

CecilyP Thu 28-Jun-12 11:13:58

Just wanted to add that Godolphin and Latymer was not a direct grant school but a voluntary aided grammar that became a private school when selection finally ended in the ILEA.

Copthallresident Thu 28-Jun-12 12:29:40


I don't think it is going to be of any use to anyone else on this thread debating what happened in the 60s and 70s but out of interest I was googling to see if I was remembering rightly that some girls in my primary had to go off to an assessment centre where they had a nice chat with a teacher and played with bricks, and that determined whether they ended up in Grammar School or Secondary Modern!!! I did remember rightly, it was the Thorne scheme, the 60s really were another era! However I came across the chapters on selection methods from the Plowden Report from 1967 which quite clearly shows how the traditional 11+ was being questioned and other forms of assessment being considered clearly distinguishing between tests of intelligence and attainment, with the latter particularly disregarded and with the final recommendation Authorities who for an interim period continue to need selection procedures should cease to rely on an externally imposed battery of intelligence and attainment tests. With Tiffin bringing in tests of attainment the wheel comes full circle....

(I was going on what the registrar at Godolphin told us when she showed us round, but then that was far from the only thing she got wrong, enquiring whether they played tennis in Asia?!)

ewee Thu 28-Jun-12 13:55:44

CecilyP; I would accept that when the VR/NVR tests first appeared, they might have done a decent job at identifying potential since, as you say, coaching was unheard of back then. The problem now, though, is that it has been shown in repeated studies that practice improves average scores; the only residual debate is by how much.

In my view, it's not a huge leap to assume that the more able children gain the most fom coaching (a view supported by several studies but, admittedly, not all). These will be the kids getting close to 100%.

So, as I said before, if you are the parent of a bright child, the real issue is, do you think they have an equal chance if they are uncoached (by a good tutor) when competing against those who are? The schools who claim to select on potential are being disengenuous; they select on aggregate scores. Yes, in a way, that selects potential but it's simply first past the post. They select "the best of the best coached".

CecilyP Thu 28-Jun-12 16:34:36

I think it was Copthall that said tutoring was unheard of. I would agree with you, ewee. I think the nature of these tests means that reasonably bright children could work out how to do them and would get through most of the questions - if they had all the time in the world. However, the tests are against the clock, so coaching would enable children to answer the questions without needing any thinking time. It is not so much needing a good tutor, as being familiar with questions and knowing what answers are expected, which could ve achieved working through similar tests with anyone. I would imagine that the level of coaching is such that normally bright children can achieve scores that would only have been achievable by very ablest in the past.

Copthallresident Thu 28-Jun-12 16:38:54

ewee I am sure that if you have a child who scores consistently above the 98th percentile after a bit of practise then you are wasting your money on a tutor for VR/ NVR and they have a good chance. Whether you believe me or not untutored children did get into Tiffin, I obviously can't name names but I can quote the example of the Old Vicarage, Richmond Prep that if nothing else coaches its pupils to within an inch of their lives to get them into selectives and does no more to prepare them for VR and NVR than to do one practise paper per week in VR. I am sure they come under lots of parental pressure to do more and if they knew a way that worked better they would be doing it!! Though most of the parents are going for indies they have had a steady 1 or 2 per year getting places at Tiffin, and they are not, since the pushiest parents are out for the kudos of the top of the league tables, the ones to tutor on top of the cramming. I also question the value of tutoring because I know so many parents of bright kids who didn't get in, in spite of a year of paying a fortune to make a weekly trek to be packed into the kitchen of one of the star tutors with 5 others, having only been accepted after scoring above the 97th percentile in the first place. These are kids who have gone on to success, in one case 4 A*s. My impression is not that it's a race of the tutored but based on who I have seen get in or not, that the whole thing is more of a lottery, more so than can be explained by girls having an off day. TGS obviously are not going to go out of their way to make the process more fair and discriminating because any girl who can score over the 97th percentile is bright and capable of doing well.

It also appears that tutors themselves do not subscribe to your argument that the brightest child will benefit most from coaching, here a tutor saying that the biggest problems are where children aren't already avid readers and good at English (as you would expect of children with good VR since motivation follows abilities) That makes more sense. Tutoring would therefore be more appropriate if for a reason other than just not being that able, they are not (but then would you send them to Tiffin). He is also quoting another education writer saying that you should come to NVR with a fresh mind.

Are there really a lot of children getting near 100%? The top percentile they measure to is the 99.98th, ie the child is one of only 0.02 % of the population that scores that highly. If more than 2 or 3 (10 times the national average) of the 1300 applying to Tiffin are scoring that then any psychologist would be seriously unprofessional if they didn't start questioning their tests, there just won't be that many children capable of achieving that score likely to apply to Tiffin in the whole of West London!

With attainment tests coming the standard of tutoring is bound to plummet anyway. DD works part time as a tutor and gets sent by some agency who charge a fortune for her services to tutor kids in Maths for 11+ in North London, she is obviously an amazing girl wink but experience of the tests / teaching children, zilch!!

2B1Gmum Mon 05-Nov-12 15:16:17

I looked at Tiffin for my daughter a couple of years ago and was suitably impressed, she particularly liked the science labs, but decided in the end not to bother, horrid journey (although only a few miles away) and besides the top 25% in her non selective local school get the same great results at GSCE as the average Tiffin girl, I will look again for sixth form. There are plenty of very bright local children who don't get in but still get to top universities - I can think of 3 girls I know who tried with very basic knowledge of past papers, one just left Oxford with a first, the other two currently applying for Oxbridge, including one for Medicine. The real winners are the tutors, especially the well known 2 who only accept cash! £60,000 plus a year by my calculations.

nals Thu 15-Nov-12 09:42:33

I am looking for a tutor for my daughter and any help would be appreciated.

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