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hindsight's a wonderful thing! Post 11+ thoughts

(103 Posts)
minecraftfansmum Sat 02-Feb-13 13:14:58

My little minecraft fan managed 100% in his non-verbal reasoning test - giving him an IQ of 131+. However he missed out on the 11+ by 3 points in September 2012, the pass mark was 236 he scored 233 - which I think is fantastic since verbal reasoning isn't his strongest area. The appeal by the headmistress of his school was unsuccessful. He's always been a shy little dreamer - head in the clouds and chatterbox in class (only child) and his Y5 sats results were level 4s (he's a young end of July birthday). His new Y6 teacher called me up to school a few times to complain about his talking in class and moved him to sit with a group of girls for a while. This upset him a lot, hours of sobbing at home, however his sats practice tests have shown a big jump in his ability and I'm thinking he needed the kick up the proverbial! He's passed for St Anselm's, which is wonderful, managing 77% in their English papers and 81% in the maths. I'm wondering if it's worth appealing to the grammar admissions board on March 1st - or whether to leave it as St Anselm's seems to be a great school? Does anyone have any advice? (ps if your practicing for the 11+ do lots of timed work - don't let them diddle daddle!)

seeker Mon 04-Feb-13 14:44:08

"If 25% or 50% of all children were disappearing off to grammar school, and if the comps didn't offer triple science or A Level Further Maths or Oxbridge guidance then I would agree with you, but that's not the case at all."

In some LEAd it is. Well, 25%, anyway.

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 14:50:53

Sorry seeker - I meant the London situation where very few children get to go to grammar school even if they pass the 11+

Everyone's opinion is probably clouded by local experience. Our experience is that comps and grammars can co-exist very easily because the grammars don't take anything like all of the top group children. Plenty of children who pass the 11+ still end up at comps.
If they did (as happens in some parts of Kent I think) then I'd probably feel differently about it and agree with socharlotte that the two cannot exist side by side.

Sulawesi Mon 04-Feb-13 18:24:37

Is that because there aren't enough spaces at the grammars tiggy?

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 18:43:57

Yes Sula - Many more children pass the 11+ than there is room for.
This isn't because the tests are easy. It is because there is no catchment area so people from miles away apply (literally 20 - 30 miles or more) and also because most children don't bother to enter for the tests unless they are a secure Level 5 already and therefore the standard of all candidates is generally pretty high.

The oversubscription criteria is applied so top scores get offered places and it is perfectly possible to pass but not with a high enough score to get in.

The net result is that some pass for every school and could get an offer from any of them that they want. Some pass for one school but not another (because all the tests are different and some are moth English based than others).
There is some overlap so if you score in the top 150 you are definitely in, in the top 200-250 you can probably bank on a place but if you pass the test in the top 400 (out of 1500+ applicants), you probably won't get an offer even though you have passed.

Sulawesi Mon 04-Feb-13 18:45:21

Thank you for that information, very interesting and informative.

Sulawesi Mon 04-Feb-13 18:46:20

I thought the test would be the same countrywide, is that not so then?

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 19:28:43

No - in London each grammar school currently does it's own testing.
Parents have to actively enter their children for the tests (it isn't an automatic thing that all Year 6's do)
The tests are normally held on a weekday or a Saturday at the Grammar school itself. Each grammar school devises and marks it's own tests - some just focus on reasoning skills whereas others test English comprehension, essays and maths. Some have 2 papers, some have 4.
When the marking is done, each Grammar School tells the parents whether a child has passed or failed but, until March, parents don't really know whether a pass will lead to an offer or not. Some children pass only 1 exam yet pass it so well that they get an offer. Others pass several tests yet get no offer because they have only scraped the pass mark in each one.

Sulawesi Mon 04-Feb-13 19:43:35

Mmm thanks tiggy very interesting.

Thank heavens I don't have to go through this but have friends with children in 11+ areas and it has become a source of great worry and concern for them.

TheSnowFairy Mon 04-Feb-13 20:54:16

DS1 took it but again, found the timed aspect beyond him.

He failed and is going to the local comprehensive in September.

He is delighted as all his friends are going there (only 1 boy passed in his class).

Hindsight? I wouldn't have done anything differently, he had a tutor for 1 hour every 2 weeks to familiarise himself with the questions. The rest of it was up to him and he couldn't do it. He tried his best - he couldn't do any more.

I am proud of him for trying and it doesn't seem to have destroyed his confidence (which was what I did worry about).

Yellowtip Mon 04-Feb-13 21:41:13

What is really interesting here is that the level of competition to get an offer of a place at a superselective doesn't appear to translate into results, either at GCSE or A2.

There's so much talk on MN about tutoring. How it makes all the difference between 97% and 98% and therefore a place. But does it really?

AtAmber Mon 04-Feb-13 21:51:38

Hi. My ds who is now in y9 passed for st anselms and calday. I let him choose which one he went to. I wanted him to go to st anselms. I really liked the atmosphere and I have friends with boys there who are very happy with it. We aren't catholic either. He chose to go to calday and loves it. I think I would prefer st anselms over pensby.

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 22:27:57

Yellowtip - maybe maybe not. I think it makes parents feel better. They feel they've done all they can and they know everyone else is doing it so don't want to disadvantage their child.
Most parents (even those of very clever children) feel a bit helpless because there's so much competition for places. The common saying is that teachers are never surprised by who passes but are frequently astounded by who fails to get to grammar. When every point counts as it really does, people are fairly desperate not to miss out.

JoanByers Mon 04-Feb-13 22:38:09

>To give you an idea - one London Grammar took it's current Year 7 pupils from 75 different primary schools last year.

> That means that the top 1 or 2 children from each primary school within a very large radius will get a place at grammar.

I don't think this is actually the case. They are the highest performers on the test from those whose parents chose to enter them. This doesn't make them the top children at all.

Grammar school places in London go disproportionately to certain groups, and there's no reason to believe that this is an accurate reflection of the underlying ability profile of London.

JoanByers Mon 04-Feb-13 22:39:24

>What is really interesting here is that the level of competition to get an offer of a place at a superselective doesn't appear to translate into results, either at GCSE or A2.

Superselective grammar schools do very well at GCSE and A Level.

Yellowtip Mon 04-Feb-13 22:40:56

tiggy London sounds a complete and utter nightmare these days, with parents wasting thousands of pounds simply out of fear. I don't get why London superselectives, with all this competition and the crazed tutoring for places, don't massively trump other superselectives when it comes to GCSEs and A2s. Honestly, it suggests that either tutoring doesn't affect 11+ results to any marked degree or that the non London superselectives are far superior.

Yellowtip Mon 04-Feb-13 22:43:33

Joan London superselectives do very well I know, as do other superselectives in areas with less students competing per place. I'm comparing the two.

JoanByers Mon 04-Feb-13 22:47:49

Oh ok.

Which schools are you comparing in particular?

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 23:04:33

Joan Buyers - you are quite right. London is an opt-in system so the very brightest won't ever get in if they aren't entered no matter how much or little help they have. It is still true though that Sutton Grammar took last year's Year 7 cohort from 75 different primary schools. It isn't creaming off local children all from one small area. It takes children from well outside it's local area which dilutes the 'brain drain' affect in the comps that surround it. Plenty of clever children in Sutton end up at comps and some of these will have passed the 11+

YellowTip - I don't know. In the tables they get 100% or as near as damn it. Are you using other indicators like desirable A Levels versus non desirable ones (or 'facilitating subjects' or whatever they call it now) or the EBacc definition or number of A*'s as opposed to B grades?

I think Sutton Grammar gets about 10 or 11 pupils to Oxbridge (out of 120) which isn't bad and considerably more to RG unis. Some of the other Sutton Grammars do even better and Tiffins does better still. They all draw from a wide area but are vaguely London area based.

I couldn't tell you the comparison beyond that to be honest as outside the London bubble, I don't even know which Grammar Schools in Kent are the super selectives and which are general ones let alone further afield. Each area is so unique in how it approaches selection that I wouldn't know which ones outside London to compare with.

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 23:20:00

Actually Yellow thinking about it, I may be able to make a guess based on the fact that London Grammars are tweaking their exam processes quite a bit. The girls' grammar and one of the boys' have started to give English papers much more weight in recent years.
Sutton Grammar and one of the Tiffin Schools are going to introduce a knock out stage (well they don't call it that but that's what it is) so they can test nearly 2000 pupils, see who passes and then test the best few hundred all over again to see who writes the best essays or persuasive letters or whatever else they've decided would be a good indicator of ability. Some grammars will have a two stage contest with an elimination round!

Maybe the exams in London - which have always been a bit of a mishmash and not always included any test of written English ability - failed to spot the children at age 10 who will get 4A* at A level in 7 years time?
Maybe other regions have different exams that pick children differently? The criticism in London has certainly been (until recently) that it is possible to teach to the test. Not to get a struggling child to pass - but to get a bright child to pass with a higher score eg by getting them to speed.

It is a complete guess but increased numbers applying and the wish to assure high standards of English seem to have influenced recent changes.

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 23:27:27

..and finally that's not to take anything away form the children that attend Year 11 or Sixth Form. They won their places fair and square. The exams have always been hard and competition high so their individual achievements stands.

If as you say though less selective schools get better results (and it must only be fairly marginal I'd have thought) this may be why there's a sudden focus on testing written English when previously this was given less weight or was not tested at all.

Yellowtip Tue 05-Feb-13 08:03:47

Yes, marginal is right, but given the difference in competition for places, interesting nevertheless.

I had no idea that the London schools didn't ask for English. Has that been true of all of them up until now? It does make sense to introduce English then or to give it more weight. Time consuming though.

springlamb Tue 05-Feb-13 08:17:44

London is a nightmare. My friend, who is very ambitious for her daughters, spent the whole of autumn term, every weekend, taking her eldest to entrance exams. These schools are spread over 4 boroughs, not one is close enough for her to walk to or have local friends from school.
The poor girl was quite exhausted by the end of term, stressed out, and had had not a lot of a fun. She was also getting quite upset in class as she always felt so under pressure.
I am ever grateful for dd whose only criteria was 'I wanna go to a school with a farm' (we are moving and this is entirely possible).

Erebus Tue 05-Feb-13 08:45:59

Q: (from earlier) "I would argue that Wiltshire is a comprehensive county, despite having a grammar school option in the south of the county at Salisbury. As a rural county, with poor public transport links north to south, getting to Salisbury each day would be a complete non-starter from about 80-90% of the county. Therefore not an option."..

-made me grin a bit. I know a lot of parents who happily drive 40 miles one way twice a day to access SWGS. Those parents very much see it 'as an option'!

tiggytape Tue 05-Feb-13 09:20:41

YellowTip - Written English hasn't featured in the exams very much until recently (my guess is such papers are more expensive to mark and with 1500+ applicants that's a lot of money):

- Tiffins has always been 2 papers: one VR and one NVR with 40 minutes to answer each. The general consensus was that a very clever child could get 100% in both papers but that timing was deliberately designed to be challenging (2 questions per minute consistently over the whole period)
Now one Tiffin Schools is changing to a two stage 'knock out' process.
The VR and NVR papers will be set as normal but that won't be the end of it. The top few hundred candidates will then go back in November or December for Round 2 which will (for the first time) have a written English component.

Wilsons used to have reasoning papers alongside English and Maths but recently abolished the reasoning tests giving greater weight is given to the English score

Nonsuch used to be just reasoning and maths but introduced a comprehension test a couple of years ago.

Sutton Grammar is also going over to having a 2 stage knock out process. They'll do a joint test with a school that selects a few candidates by ability and then invite the top scoring boys back to do more tests to whittle down the final numbers. They have always tested English though as far as I know.

Those are the recent changes. I haven't followed the crazy London Grammars further back than that except to know that the number of applicants has increased year on year and is now edging towards 2000. TBH the move to two-stage tests seems very unappealing for parents and pupils especially as it won't help with the main problem i.e. not knowing whether a pass equals a place or not. But I guess the schools think it is fairer or cheaper or more likely to spot potential so that's the way it seems to be going.

springlamb - A school with a farm sounds idyllic. We count ourselves lucky to have a school with grass!!

seeker Tue 05-Feb-13 09:26:22

"-made me a bit. I know a lot of parents who happily drive 40 miles one way twice a day to access SWGS. Those parents very much see it 'as an option'!"

If they don't WOH and can afford the petrol. And don't mind their children not having any sort of social life......

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