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Eleven Plus

(56 Posts)
MagicalMrsMistoffelees Sat 04-Jun-16 12:29:59

Hope someone can help please. Does every child who is put forward for the 11+ have coaching? Is that just the culture these days? Our eldest is in year four and bright enough for a grammar but do we need to organise coaching for him to stand a chance of passing the entrance exams?

For background, I took the 11+ in the late 1980s, passed and went to a grammar school. I didn't have any coaching; nobody did for my school (Tiffin Girls) back then (or did they?!).

My husband went to Manchester Grammar. He said only a few had coaching and they really struggled as they had been taught to pass the entrance exam but were not well equipped to cope with a highly academic environment.

So I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea that children need coaching to pass the 11+. Doesn't that make it an 'unlevel' playing field for children who are bright but haven't been coached to pass an exam and therefore don't get in? And unfair on children who are taught how to pass the entrance exam but struggle later? Isn't it better if everyone just sits the paper 'dry' and those who do well pass? Or am I being very naive?

This is in no way a criticism of parents who have their children coached. I understand that as soon as some children have coaching then it becomes necessary for others to as well. And in all likeliness we will be organising coaching for our son soon!

RueDeWakening Sat 04-Jun-16 12:35:55

DD is also in year 4 and we've been pondering similar things. AFAIK most children are tutored for Tiffin and the superselectives in Sutton, simply because there are so many children applying for so few places. A county that retains all its grammars is unlikely to have quite such a hot-housing mentality as they take proportionately more of the cohort.

We won't be paying for an 11+ tutor for DD, but will be doing some work at home to make sure she's covered the material and is familiar with what will be expected of her in the exam.

Catmuffin Sat 04-Jun-16 12:51:54

I went to one of the Sutton grammars in the 80s and I never heard of anyone being tutored, but i think the difference then was that we did a bit of practice in class. I think it was VR and non VR papers back then. Also as far as i remember you could only apply to a Sutton grammar if you lived in Sutton then whereas you can apply from further afield now, so maybe more competitive? (Although there are about double the number of places available now I believe.)

Catmuffin Sat 04-Jun-16 12:58:49

In my old school i mean. The year 7 intake has about doubled i believe.

RueDeWakening Sat 04-Jun-16 13:20:26

There are usually over 2000 girls sitting the first stage tests at WHSG and Nonsuch now, so about 1 in 10 will eventually get an offer of a place. I think the boys grammars are similar, though there are 3 of them not just 2 so perhaps it's slightly less competitive.

Local schools don't provide any support in terms of practice in class time. Exams are now the eligibility test - to prove the child is of selective ability - and the 2nd stage test a couple of weeks later. They both cover English and Maths, there's no VR or NVR now.

Catmuffin Sat 04-Jun-16 14:37:30

I know.

HomeGeekHome Sat 04-Jun-16 14:45:50

Speaking from personal experience, no you won't definitely need to tutor your child. My two siblings and I all passed it with no tutoring. That was admittedly 15 years ish ago but more recently my own child passed, with a good mark and had not a jot of tutoring. Several of his classmates are in the same position.

CatherineDeB Sat 04-Jun-16 14:53:29

We are just about to enter 11+ world here. I don't think that you need a tutor. I do think that you need to familiarise your child with non verbal and verbal reasoning at least as they are not taught in schools (well not where we live anyway).

We have been working through the Bond ten minute test books for VR&NVR at home, every other day for the last couple of months. Exams in the autumn.

I do know of children that were 'tutored to pass the test' and they got in but then struggled with what was required of them daily.

My theory is that (barring a massive off day) if you don't pass then the school probably wouldn't be the best fit school wise for you.

BananaL0af Sat 04-Jun-16 15:09:15

Where do you live Magical? Which school are you interested in?

As PP says, in a grammar county, the demand & supply is slightly less pressured than in non-gammar counties. You'll need to be mindful of catchments and deadlines (our local grammar changed their test and rules recently so you had to already be in catchment when applying to sit the test, to be considered in catchment for allocation. Previously you could move into catchment after the test was taken.)

Not every child needs paid coaching, but I think it would be incredibly naive of a parent and unfair to a child if they were sent into a test without any sort of preparation whatsoever. I think preparation, whether it's from the parents or an outside source, is necessary these days, if only because there are so many more families interested and so few places available.

I think it's sometimes a myth that only "genius" type of kids get into grammar schools. There'll always be a range of abilities within any group of people, so there'll be a range of abilities even within a grammar school: and some people's strengths are in one area rather than another. It's rare to be a brilliant all-rounder, isn't it? So it wouldn't be a surprise that some people "struggle" at grammar schools, just as they would in any other school perhaps?

If you haven't already, take a look at the Eleven plus website. Lots of info and help, don't feel daunted smile

Badbadbunny Sat 04-Jun-16 15:14:24

Depends on whether the GS is normal or whether it's super-selective.

In many areas, the demand is so great that they only accept a small proportion of the entrants hence you need to achieve 90%/95%+ to stand a chance. To get that kind of score, yes, you need tutoring. Realistically, few "normal" kids will be able to achieve virtually everything correct without some tutoring. The super-selectives may also do written exams rather than multiple choice and also entrance interviews, both of which may need tutoring/coaching.

In other areas, it's more like the old days, where there are fewer entrants, so the school accept more "normal" pass marks of say 70%-80% - in that case, then, no, tutoring is not essential if the child is already working at high levels at primary school. But, you'd need to do some parent/child time with your kid to work through some past exam papers to give them an idea of the type of question, managing time, etc., and also the areas that havn't already been covered by the school (some topics aren't done until year 6 whereas the test is the start of year 6 and they do little in the way of exam techniques).

Basically, in lower demand areas, it's more like the old days before comprehensives - in our town, a third went to the town grammar, two thirds went to the secondary, no-one was tutored.

fatbottomgirl67 Sat 04-Jun-16 15:21:53

Both my DD did 11+ without tutoring. We ran through past papers with them and did a couple of times papers before the test just to get them into the idea. Both passed , Dd1 got into ss grammar but dd2 only scored 98.5% which didn't get a place. I do slightly regret not having her tutored though she is very happy at the school she's in. If it's a super selective you are going for I would certainly think about tutoring as it might just get you the couple more marks you need.

rollonthesummer Sat 04-Jun-16 15:25:59

When I went to grammar in the late 80s, nobody was tutored that I know of-we just all sat the exam at your own primary one week day unless your parents opted you out.

Now, it's held on a Saturday in a grammar school and it's a lot more of a big deal!

I was the same as you five years ago. I didn't think anyone should be tutored as they would then struggle to cope at the school. However, then I realised how competitive the exams were (have a look in the eleven plus forums website and you'll see what I mean!). To pass-they need to be fast, very on the ball and also very familiar with the types of questions asked as time is very short in the exam. Private schools (and some 'grammar crammer' high achieving primaries) will be doing 11+ Practice since year 3. If you do nothing, it is possible that they will pass and your child won't-not because they aren't as bright, but because they aren't prepared.

Having said all that-I didn't hire a paid tutor for either of mine (now in y7 and y9 at grammars) and I 'tutored' them myself.

Hope that makes sense!

SaturdaySurprise Sat 04-Jun-16 15:29:26

I wouldn't send a child of mine into an exam unprepared. The super selective exams are hard and are distinguishing between levels of " bright ".

You should check what the schools you want actually test. Our local ones (Sutton and Kingston) test English and maths. They've all dropped VR and NVR.

My eldest is at a super selective grammar and my younger son is going there in September. They both had a mix of work with us and professional tutor. Plenty of kids have tutoring and don't even pass the first filter exam.

Their school has an ethos of working hard and they certainly don't want boys cruising along on their ability. Children who have been tutored probably get along better with this ethos than the children whose parents think they shouldn't make any effort.

TeenAndTween Sat 04-Jun-16 15:54:31

Interested bystander here.

Seems to me there are 4 levels

- paid for tutoring
- tutoring at home
- a small amount of test familiarisation done at home
- going in blind

Plus also

- leaving child to their own with homework and academics in general
- helping guiding and stretching at home

I wonder whether some who say they didn't 'do' tutoring, only mean the paid for kind, but forget the are able to do all the other stuff at home for free.

My DD1 didn't have a maths tutor at secondary, not even for GCSE.
But she did have me, a maths graduate SAHM, who did hours of 1-1 with her ...

Peanutbutterrules Sat 04-Jun-16 15:59:30

I don't think you can compare how things are now, to 15 years ago. For somewhere like Tiffin the competition is fierce. Suggest you visit the 11+ forum for guidance. DD's primary school gets girls into all the top private schools...yet no one, in recent memory, has passed the Tiffin tests and they all had tutors.

Catmuffin Sat 04-Jun-16 16:14:43

How many children from the Sutton state primaries that are local to the grammars get in per class typically nowadays?

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Sat 04-Jun-16 16:20:18

Thank you so much for all this - it is hugely, brilliantly helpful. I'm actually a primary school teacher (though admittedly in EYFS / KS1!) and a former grammar school pupil yet this is all new territory to me!

I live on Sutton / Kingston borders so looking at Sutton Grammar and Tiffin Boys which are both one bus ride away. My son has his heart set on Tiffin Boys as my brother and other family members went there (and I went to Tiffin Girls) but things have changed so much since 'my' day I just don't know if it's worth going for. Especially if a mark of 98.5% isn't enough to pass the entrance test! shock

I will look at the websites suggested and at what exactly the requirements are for the grammar schools we're interested in.

Thanks again!

RueDeWakening Sat 04-Jun-16 18:53:31

Catmuffin DD's primary (60 per year) has 5 going to grammar from the current year 6 I believe.

Another local primary has a single child going to grammar, who got a place off the waiting list.

Catmuffin Sat 04-Jun-16 19:25:07

Thanks Rue

PettsWoodParadise Sun 05-Jun-16 06:55:46

We home tutored for elevenplus last year as DD was very capable. Mock tests in the spring helped us identify weak areas (not the PTA style ones) and we could focus on that. It seemed to work as she got the grammar of her choice. Conversely some friends who tutored didn't get places, some did - looking back as to why those who didn't get places was that realistically the child was always going to struggle and secondly the 'hand them over to the tutor' mentality meant they thought they had it in the bag but the tutor wasn't really working on areas the child needed and the parents didn't think they needed to do any work with their child who in theory they know best. That is more a subjective observation and not remotely scientific. grin

HangingRockPicnic Sun 05-Jun-16 07:22:40

Did your child's prep school do much preparation?

Phineyj Sun 05-Jun-16 07:25:47

It is simply supply and demand. The number of places has been artificially restricted by various legislation, while demand has soared.

In my opinion it's silly to enter any child for any test without appropriate preparation, but it doesn't have to mean using a tutor -- depends on the child though, as some might work more for someone external.

This article gives interesting background on the situation:

PettsWoodParadise Sun 05-Jun-16 08:13:44

Hangingrock, no DDs school did no prep as they wanted the girls to progress to their senior school.

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Sun 05-Jun-16 08:17:41

I guess things were very different back in the 1980s!

On a Thursday in October every child in a borough of Kingston primary school sat a mock 11+ test.

Then on the two Thursdays in November we sat part one and two of the actual 11+ in our classroom at our desks.

The top scoring 100 girls got a place at Tiffin Girls (with an additional 20 places offered to out of borough girls). Same for the boys with regards to Tiffin Boys.

No tutoring for anyone so everyone had an equal chance - so long as you were naturally good at the IQ-style puzzles that the test contained of course! Fortunately they were right up my street!

In my year, from my very ordinary primary school, nine girls got 'in' and 6 boys.

As soon as the tests went opt-in and moved to being literacy and maths based the whole thing changed. Also it's not based on where you live any longer is it?

I don't know which system is better but I definitely need to get myself clued up about how it all works now for my own children! At the moment I'm leaning towards working with my eldest son at home.

(Oh and my son goes to a state primary if that question was for me!)

Clavinova Sun 05-Jun-16 11:55:45

I have different memories to you op.One of my brothers was tutored for a year for Tiffin Boys in the late 1970s - one hour a week (vr/nvr and English) with a small amount of homework. I think he needed the tutoring because my parents didn't involve themselves in our school work at home - they played with us but didn't read to us. My brother has a maths degree from an RG uni so he obviously deserved to pass the 11+.We definitely had a verbal reasoning/non verbal reasoning practice book at home plus a separate answer book (purchased from WHSmith in 1978) - I remember looking through them on my own.
I also remember being invited to tea by a girl in my class - her mother was a teacher and I was mortified when she told us that we would both be sitting an 11+ practice test at the dining room table before tea! It was embarrassing because I was clearly much brighter than my friend and her mother was annoyed (my friend didn't pass the real thing either).
I am sure there were many girls at my grammar school who had not been tutored back in the late 1970s/early 1980s but equally many who were to some extent and four of my close friends had one or more parents who were teachers.
If you have any doubts about the need for tutoring today op or at least 'home preparation' just take a quick visit to WHSmith in Kingston to see the vast array of 11+ books there.

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