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11 plus coaching

(36 Posts)
summer111 Wed 27-Sep-06 18:17:25

I just wanted to ask some advice of those of you who have been through the 11 plus with their kids. My DD is in Year 5 and we are at the point of considering whether to enter her for the 11 plus next year. We have an excellent girls grammer locally but competition for places is horrendous.
Having listened to the usual school gate chat, some parents have already started having their kids coached, even at the beginning of Year 5. Is coaching so much in advance of the exam really necessary? Where did you look for appropriate tutors also?
I need some objective advice here please!

OP’s posts: |
Freckle Wed 27-Sep-06 19:24:54

Do you think your child is genuinely grammar-school material? If there is any doubt, please do not consider coaching her. She may pass the exam as a result of the coaching, but she would probably then struggle to cope at the grammar school, which would be heart-breaking for both of you.

If you feel that she is grammar-school material (and you need to sound out her teachers in this respect - we parents often have an inflated idea of our child's capabilities ), coaching may give her confidence in the actual exam, but that can also be achieved by having her do practice papers at home.

frogs Wed 27-Sep-06 19:45:40

Freckle is right. It also depends what the exam consists of -- Verbal and non-verbal reasoning are meant to be pretty-much culture-free, ie. measure innate ability rather than how well the child has been taught. So if the main tasks are VR/NVR and you genuinely think your child's ability would be suited to grammar school (eg. got Level 3 in Y2, likely to get Level 5 in Y6) then by all means do some practice papers (readily available in large bookshops) so she knows what to expect and gets the knack of how to answer the questions, but probably not worth going overboard on tutoring.

If the exam consists of English and/or maths papers, then you need to take a long hard look at the specimen papers to see whether your dd's curriculum has covered the appropriate material. IME there is a significant gap between national curriculum maths and the expectations of highly selective schools entrance exams, and here some tutoring may come in handy. This is particularly the case if she is likely to be competing with significant no. of children from private prep schools, who will have been taught a much more ambitious curriculum.

But as Freckle said, do be realistic about your dd's abilities and whether she is likely to be suited to the grammar school. If she is, then tutoring or extra practice is simply a way of levelling the playing field for her. If she's borderline, then she might scrape in but find she's ended up in the wrong school for her. Dd1 has just started Y7 in a London grammar school, and is bringing home literally hours of homework a night. She's happy as Larry because schoolwork is her idea of fun, but I think plenty of other kids are moaning, and some may be really struggling. Not fun.

Piffle Wed 27-Sep-06 19:48:54

I'd advise against coaching if your child is not already in the top 25%.
DS has had some kids at his grammar flounder badly as they were rigorously coached, scraped through and now are unable to get on at the grammar.

FWIW we never coached ds not one bit, I'd buy Letts 11+ workbooks/mock ups and see how she goes on those

mumblechum Wed 27-Sep-06 21:52:06

Our ds has just started at a Bucks grammar. Each county seems to have its own exams, so the first thing to find out is which papers your dd will take.
We didn't send our son to a tutor, but he did practice papers on and off for about a year, usually averaging 3 per week. He started off getting about 80 per cent, rising to low 90s, so he did get through ok. He was at a disadvantage because he's a September birth, and if your dd is, say a June to August birth, she'll get several points added on. I'd recommend a look at There's a very lively and helpful forum which I found great.

The main thing is not to get too hyped up about the whole 11plus thing. They're still quite little and if there's any doubt that she'd get in, don't put her through the pressure. I've seen a lot of very able children who happen not to be good at VR end up really upset and feeling like failures because they've been forced through the process.

snorkle Thu 28-Sep-06 00:24:53

Message withdrawn

summer111 Thu 28-Sep-06 17:38:15

Thanks for all your replies; in many ways they have confirmed what I myself thought. Regarding dd's abilities, she got level 3 in Year 2 and is in the top streams for English and Maths. The local grammer school exam is based upon VR and NVR papers, so some coaching would be needed. However, I'm not one for the whole mega tutoring thing and would hate as soem of you said, for her to just get through and then struggle for the next six years. She's a bright enough child but not the classs brainbox!!

In view of all your advice I think I'll start with the practice papers at home to build up some familiarity and her self confidence. By the way, re her birth, she's my Christmas 'baby' !!

OP’s posts: |
NotABraBurningOtter Thu 28-Sep-06 17:42:03

i have got two children in grammar school without coaching . However - the brightest child in the world would fail the verbal/nvr papers if they had not seen and practised them. Competition near us is stiff stiff stiff and i recommend training your child. Once they are in its still very high calibre and an over tutored child could be in for a shock. many struggle hth

Piffle Thu 28-Sep-06 17:45:15

Yep the NVR is what we had here and I am mighy glad we showed ds a few papers first!
They usually do mock ups in school too.

Cassoulet Thu 28-Sep-06 17:53:24

I was 'coached' for 11+ (the whole class was) for what felt like the entire year. My younger bro wasn't. I passed, he failed. This was because he had never seen anything like the paper in his life before.

When I studied psychology at University, our lecturer in intelligence pointed out that there is no point in practising for IQ tests more than once as the only time there is a real difference in your score will occur between the first and second test. In any further tests your score will be pretty much the same as the second time. (It's called the practise effect). Does that make sense? I haven't explained awfully well, sorry.

Mind you, IQ tests can be quite fun so if your dc enjoys them do loads! It won't do any harm, and IMO will help in confidence if nothing else.

Piffle Thu 28-Sep-06 17:54:50

ds did two NR tests in the 11+
one he got 75% in
next he got 100%
Bizarre he blamed it on a headache and a bad day in general
Or otherwise known as nerves.

NotABraBurningOtter Thu 28-Sep-06 17:59:57

we live out of area so our schools dont practice - having said that the independant schools seem to spend all year practising - from what i hear

summer111 Thu 28-Sep-06 20:02:04

Cassoulet, your explanantion makes perfect sense!

Thanks to everyone for all your feedback, it's been really helpful.

OP’s posts: |
Piffle Fri 29-Sep-06 10:41:22

WE turned up from non grammar school area, to a little town where they have grammars.
DS started yr 6, in Sept 04, did the tests a couple of weeks later
He had little or no practice FWIW and thats kinda how I wanted it - I knew he was bright enough, thats why we moved here tbh but I wanted to have a clear conscience but BOY am I glad we showed him a few examples of the tests first

fairyjay Fri 29-Sep-06 10:46:32

The head at my daughter's prep school said that if a child needed to be coached for a particular school, it was probably the wrong school for them.

Having said that, they did VR/NVR as a matter of course.

sphere Sat 29-Sep-07 16:31:19

Practising definitely does improve your scores. My son was getting 60% at first but then after practising a lot he can score around 90% now. I am told that this is the required standard these days.

You don't really need a tutor but you do need to practise. You can probably teach your child yourself. We used the chuckra website mainly with some IPS, nfer and Walsh papers. The chuckra website has loads of free 11+ practice papers and some free 11+ method and technique videos explaining the question types. IPS papers are pretty good. They have daily practice tests which my son finds quite useful now the exam is near. Walsh papers are on the more difficult side but I quite like that just in case the actual test is a hard one. My son says the nfer papers seem slightly easier after the Walsh papers.

figroll Sat 29-Sep-07 18:24:27

If they only do VR and NVR you could probably do that yourself with her. Mine had to do maths and English as well, so we had a tutor every other week from about the start of year 5 (or thereabouts - probably the October half term).

I too felt I didn't want to tutor, not because I disagree with it, but because I didn't want to be bothered with an extra out of school activity - we had guides, brownies, swimming, dancing, tennis . . . and then a tutor too. However, it makes you do a bit of work if you know that you have a deadline to meet, so I would say it was money well spent.

I also took the view that everyone else does it, so you may disadvantage your child by not doing it. However, both my kids were at the top of the class in their primary school - I don't think I would have bothered if they weren't on the top table.

They both got into the grammar school too and they definitely don't struggle. Tutoring doesn't mean forcing them to learn things they don't understand - we had a retired primary school teacher and she was lovely - really caring and helpful. I think both she and my dds enjoyed it - particularly my younger one. She is a bit of a bright spark and she absolutely loved it - helped her with her maths at primary school too.

westendgirl Sun 30-Sep-07 14:06:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

samanthar Sun 30-Sep-07 14:12:49

there is also explore learning a company often based in sainsburys etc . they are expensive per month but cheaper than a tutor and might be good in yr 5 before getting a tutor

Celia2 Mon 01-Oct-07 09:55:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

summer111 Mon 01-Oct-07 17:14:49

Thanks for all the original post was a year ago!!!
Well, dd has been attending a coaching class since last February and I top it up with some papers at home. Tests are not until Dec and Jan so we're coming to the final hurdle, thank God. I have to say, I for one will be glad when it's all over!!!

OP’s posts: |
sphere Tue 02-Oct-07 00:48:27


Can you provide more details of your research. From my own experiences and those of my friends, I would say that practising increases scores by much more than 9 points. I wrote in a previous post that my son went from 60% to 90% by practising and many of my friends have had similar experiences with their children. Had the children in your study ever seen 11+ questions before? Perhaps they were already familiar with such tests.

It would be interesting to ask chuckra for their findings on this. They keep a log of all the test results from their 11+ online tests. I wonder if they publish any results on the effects of practising.

Freckle Tue 02-Oct-07 02:57:25

Sphere, are you connected to the chuckra site? Only you have only recently started posting and all your posts are on educational threads and all mention chuckra.

seeker Tue 02-Oct-07 08:05:39

Celia - is your research published? I'm very interested in this. It seems to me that tutoring has become a bit of an industry that fuels parent paranoia. Not helped by the bizarre culture of secrecy that seems to exist around the whole 11+ process!

Celia2 Tue 02-Oct-07 11:47:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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