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Getting an assessment to help schools decision for bright kids?

(50 Posts)
GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 14:14:07

Hi - has anyone had their children take an educational assessment to help them decide on schools? Thinking Potential Plus, but I guess there are private Ed Psychs that could do the same thing. But will it be worth it, and help us decide?

By way of background... We are trying (and failing) to decide on which route will suit our children best at Yr7 - local comp, selective private, super-selective private. They are bright, but we don't know at what level, i.e. happily top of the class, or potential to get bored, etc.

No help from the current (state primary) school, they don't Set for anything, and no g&t provision/support. All I know is that they are top of their classes (in top 3 probably) and their teachers always say how bright/'up there' they are. Which is great, but not that helpful confused So I'm going pretty much on gut feeling at the moment, which is no way to make such an important decision!

Anon1234567890 Fri 10-Mar-17 14:23:51

Sorry your pretty much screwed, even if you have 'proof' your DC is extremely bright there is generally very little a state school can do for you. Aside from individual teachers dropping them the odd tit bit on the side. Prepare your DC for a decade of boredom in the classroom.

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 14:28:34

Ah, no - sorry if it wasn't clear. We can stretch to a selective private if we need to (which I appreciate puts us in a very fortunate position). But I'm trying to work out if we need to.

I totally appreciate what you say about state schools - having been through it myself - which is why we're having this dilemma.

alldonenow2 Fri 10-Mar-17 14:59:06

I had the same issue with my 2 so I totally sympathise.

A good local tutor with experience of entry to the local private schools should be able to give you some indication of where they sit in the curve. Our experience (London) was that dc1 who was top of the class is a very bog standard primary with a really mixed intake was bright enough to get in anywhere he wanted and dc2 who was middle of the top set was a scrape into one of the super selectives.

The other thing that gave us some good guidance was the 10+. Both mine sat it for a pretty selective school - dc1 got in and dc2 didn't. The school gave us some detailed feedback - that dc1 was scholarship standard and dc2 had a chance of getting in but was middle of the pack.

Obviously that gives you guidance as to where they might get in and not where they would thrive - I think you as a parent are probably the best placed to decide that.

Good luck!

KikiDeliversCakes Fri 10-Mar-17 15:00:13

Do the selective private schools have examples of their entrance papers on their website?

If you name them, someone else might have kids there who could describe the kind of levels required to get in for example.

Alternatively I'd recommend the eleven plus forum (they have a private school section) which you might find informative.

How old is your child currently? If they've never done any kind of verbal/non-verbal papers, then don't let them attempt an entrance paper without preparation, that would be unfair.

You can get 11+ style papers easily and see how well your DC does with those - that's how most kids prepare for state & private school entrance exams.

Can you find a local tutor who has helped kids get into the selective schools, to give your DC an assessment?

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 15:15:26

Thanks both. They are only Yr 4 at the moment, so wouldn't 11+ papers be on topics they haven't covered yet (we are by no means pushy, and they don't do extra work at home, so would only have done whatever is usual in school by this age)? I think they are both more top of the class, than middle of the top tables. But what that means it depends on the class doesn't it?! Probably an average/slightly above average intake (leafy suburb primary).

Not heard of 10+ before, will have a look... I can tell what level the local schools are respectively (more or less), but its what level my children are that is the quandry!!

Yes, could try and find a tutor. Good idea. Although I don't really want to actually tutor them at this stage, too young! But maybe one wouldn't mind doing a few sessions to assess. Which is where I was going with the Potential Plus assessment idea.

Will definitely get them to practice a few papers nearer the time, but at the moment just trying to work out which type of school they would fit with best.

KikiDeliversCakes Fri 10-Mar-17 15:32:40

You can get age appropriate 11+ prep books. Bear in mind that for any selective secondary school exam these days, many kids will be prepared for at least maths and English which will probably be beyond what they'll have covered in a state primary in yr 6 (esp if exams happen at the beginning of year 6).

FWIW, we saw a local tutor once in yr 4 who gave us an assessment - told us DC was bright and to come back in yr 5. If they were still on track then, they would help DC with the local 11+ exam. Tutor was experienced with kids getting into the local selective schools, so she had a good idea of what levels were needed. We saw our tutor for 5 months before the exam.

I wouldn't say we were pushy either, but as the selective school is local to us, it was definitely on our horizon as our DC went through primary school. We started off with puzzle style books (crosswords, non-verbal patterns etc.) which DC considered just as fun things to do in their spare time...

SaltyMyDear Fri 10-Mar-17 15:37:43

You're over thinking this.

You don't decide between a 'selective' and a 'super selective' - the school does. You sit for both and see where they get accepted.

Any large comp will have bright children in it. Most people can't afford private and go to state. On the news section of the schools website you'll almost certainly see an article about how many people got A*s accepted to great uni's etc.

Bright kids go to state schools. So if you want to go private do, but don't say 'my kids are so bright they would have been bored at state' because it's just not true.

SaltyMyDear Fri 10-Mar-17 15:39:32

The diff between state and comp is not the work it's the culture.

Do you want a private school culture? If so, great. But that is what you're actually paying for.

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 15:41:45

Ah, do you mean the Bond books for age 8, 9 etc? (light dawns, sorry - being very slow here) We did have a brief spate of doing the VR/NVR ones a year or so ago, but they got them mostly 90/100% right so didn't push it. Maybe should get older age ones, and increase the incentives! They don't seem to be that bothered by puzzles etc, will happily pick them up occasionally, but mostly go off playing in their own little made-up world!

Will also definitely look into a tutor, that could be a better answer than an IQ test type thing. Thanks again.

amidawsh Fri 10-Mar-17 15:50:55

Where are you based?
Many schools do the 10+ Jan of yr5 which gives you a good indication if they are
a) very bright
b) probably good enough for the schools at 11+
c) the selective independents are going to be difficult

also look at your state school - many DO stream and do very well by the high achievers.

Private does not automatically mean academically selective. Many private schools don't have the top 1/3 of kids (as they are creamed off my the more academic private schools).
Most comps by virtue of their name do have the full spectrum.

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 15:55:39

Salty - I appreciate what you're saying, but I would say your point is valid only for 'normally' bright children, not the very bright. It also depends on the particular school and the cohort. I went to a fabulous state school, and was lucky enough to have a very bright cohort (I think 5+ of us went to Oxbridge, which was exceptional for the school), but I was still bored to tears and spent a lot of my teenage years up to lots of 'mischief'. Great fun but could have gone the wrong way. Luckily it didn't.

A state school (most of them anyway) will suit a normally bright child fine, but may not deal well with those very bright/gifted children. I wouldn't expect them to, they have limited resources (more limited by the day unfortunately) and have to target them where they positively affect the most children. Not the outliers.

A selective school will be able to target the teaching more accurately at the right level for the children in it, as they have a narrower population and so don't have to worry about outliers (the outliers become the normal population). Nothing to do with the culture of the school (I would be more comfortable with a state school); everything to do with trying to find the right school for my particular children. If our local state school Set children for most subjects, or I could be confident that differentiated teaching would work well in such a resource-pressured environment, then that would be fine. But it doesn't and I can't.

I'm also perfectly aware that the selectives are just that, and the choice will be the schools in the end. But we do choose whether to put our children forward for them, and I'm not likely to do that if I don't think they will get in. Which is why I'm trying to work out at just what level they are - its the only way I can make a reasonable plan about something so important.

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 16:00:03

Amidawash - I've just checked, and good idea, but none of the private schools we are considering do 10+ (but yes, the ones we are looking at are either academically selective, or really academically selective).

chopchopchop Fri 10-Mar-17 16:01:39

I get what you are saying completely.

We got DD assessed at an earlier age for exactly those reasons, because we needed to know how to approach school. She turned out to be a lot brighter than we thought (!) and we ended up changing schools, She will be going to a selective private secondary next year as the local comprehensive have said, to our faces, that they can only stretch her in extra-curriculars. (I kind of admire their honesty, but at the same time, wtf?)

Don't use Potential Plus for this kind of assessment, they do a strange half-IQ test that isn't that well regarded. Find an Ed Psych who will do WISC and that will give you very clear guidance as to where to go next. If you want to PM me and say where you are I can tell you who we used.

RedAndYellowPeppers Fri 10-Mar-17 16:02:19

I think you are taking the problem the right way. No point putting your dcs though the 11+ if you actually don't think this will be the best solution for them, even if they actually do get through.

grannytomine Fri 10-Mar-17 16:07:07

We moved areas when DD was coming up to the 11 plus. Everyone kept telling me she needed to be tutored but I didn't think she did. Eventually I gave in to the pressure and I had her assessed by a tutor a colleague recommend. Paid her for one hour assessment and at the end of it she said she would be a good fit at either of the local grammar schools and didn't need tuition. She passed the exam with a high score (they don't always give scores out and 2 years later when her brother took the exam we never knew if he was a comfortable pass or scraped in.)

I think it cost me about £15 to £20 for the hour, this was 15 years ago and she tutor gave us some excellent advice about the two schools which helped us pick the one that we thought suited her best.

Popinpopout Fri 10-Mar-17 17:31:40

Getting some ideas from assessment by tutor is a great idea and will give you pointers about how to work with the kids. That said, your DC is top of the class, it is very unlikely that they will be outright rejected as unsuitable for selective education. Unfortunately I think any peace of mind the assessment brings will be short lived. Many doubts will still surface while you decide whether to commit to the 11+, whether to tutor and how much, which school to go for, how to prepare the DC emotionally for success or failure etc etc. It is not easy to decide!

GretaGarbled Fri 10-Mar-17 18:43:25

Thanks chopchop, that's incredibly helpful. Have PM'd you.

I think they'd probably get in at least to the selective, if not the super-selective. But if they'd just scrape in, then they'd probably be better off at the local state; if they fly in then we might need to go for the super-selective.

So tutor/ed psych assessment it is. I know it won't answer all the questions, but at least its somewhere to start. And tutoring intensively is out - if the schools right for them, they'll get in with a small amount of practice. Similarly with whether they pass/fail, it just tells us which school is right, not a matter of success/failure. So fairly relaxed about it.

We're in West Surrey btw if anyone has any recommendations.

swingofthings Fri 10-Mar-17 20:28:13

Greta, I do understand what you mean. I have heard since DD was at nursery that she was 'very clever', but couldn't really grasp whether that meant she was particularly gifted, or just one of the highest achievers of the children in her school, which was different to high achiever compared to more competitive schools for instance. It's watching TV programmes about children with IQs in the top 1% that makes you realise that there is 'very clever' and 'VERY CLEVER'!

It is difficult to decide, especially in Y6, what is best on this basis. My DD is now 17, studying for her A levels, getting ready to apply to Medical School. Looking back, I will say that going to the local comp resulted in her getting mainly As at her GCSEs when I am pretty confident that she would have got all A*s if she'd gone to a more academic school. Her school was overjoyed just to have a couple of students getting all As, I don't think they ever had a child getting all A*s. As a result, she is already limited in the schools she can apply to, but that's not all bad. In a way, it can even be seen as a good thing as it limits choice!

She is now in a newly established independent 6th form, so that was a bit of a risk. I would say that teaching is at a higher standard, but still not what it would be in a good private school. Still, she is predicted A*/A*/A/A at her A levels, so doing ok.

All in all, I don't regret her going to the local comp because even if she lost a few stars, she loved her school and was very happy for the 5 years she was there and she's developed excellent personal skills. I can't help but think she wouldn't have mixed as well with public school pupils, and of course, we wouldn't have been able to afford to take the wonderful trips we have enjoyed every year which she's loved and from which she's learnt quite a bit.

You still have two years to decide and a lot can happen during these two years in terms of them giving an indication of what would suit their personality best. What is important though is to remember that how well a child achieve all around is not just down to how the school can help them achieve top grades but also how they integrate in their environment.

GU24Mum Sat 11-Mar-17 00:29:52

You probably don't like a million miles from where I do. There are some very good state secondary options (and some less good ones) - what are you likely to be offered from where you are?

littleoldladywho Sat 11-Mar-17 00:56:50

Honestly, it matters not a jot how clever they are. It is far more important to find a school with the correct ethos. If they are extraordinarily academic with nerd-like qualities and utter disdain for sleb culture or can't find a peer to hang wi at school because they gravitate to the staff, they are going to need a different atmosphere from the blindingly clever that is also the captain of the netball team, the social hub of the class, and has a modelling career as a side gig.

IQ testing is not going to tell you that.

Visit the schools, sit the tests, and choose the school that suits each of the kids.

Fwiw, I have three kids who have been tested (for various reasons, not for school selection) - (IQs various 142, 137, 125). My kid with the 125 IQ would actually benefit far more from the nerdy super-selective than the other two. His IQ is actually lower because he has a relatively low in one particular area. He is also a math geek who taught himself number bonds and multiplication at 3, and nursery contacted the LEA to ask them to assess him for a gifted program as he was one of 'those' kids.

My whatever-the-heck she is 99.99% kid (she of the 142 IQ at 5) is never going to comfortable at a super selective. She could piss on the academic work, but ultimately she needs to be part of a more varied social mix, with less academic pressure.

The 137 kid would love the environment of a private school, but has essentially created the same opportunities for herself in state. She is part of an international synthetic biology team that competes internationally, teaches dance as a part time job (as well as life guarding) and has a busy volunteering commitment. She spent last summer at a university summer school (STEM and entrepreneurship) for gifted sixth formers. She's applying for universities at the moment and so far is receiving high calibre offers.

We had them EP tested for very different reasons, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to test them for school entrance. The actual numbers tell you nothing. The school entrance papers will tell you yes or no. But looking at your child's personality and learning about a school's culture is a much better way of finding a good fit than forking out £600 (each) to be given a report which is meaningless in this context. If you know your kid is bright, then they will be able to cope academically wherever you send them. And a bright kid can even (shock horror) be happy and reach their potential in state.
If you aren't sure what sort of bright they are, you really have no problem. They will fall comfortably into the 120-140 bracket and can essentially go anywhere that suits them. They will do just great.
Go and look at some private schools and see if you like them.

littleoldladywho Sat 11-Mar-17 01:12:41

<and I should say - sure, test them if you would like to - it's always mildly interesting to see how they do, and occasionally you get the fun of being told your 5yo has the comprehension of a 12-15yo, but ultimately it's about curiousity. I have nothing against testing - well, that's not entirely true - I have some very ingrained ideas about some of the tests, which are definitely much easier for middle class white British kids to pass than anyone from a slightly different demographic lol - so, do get them tested for fun if you want to and have the spare cash. But as you already know they are bright, there is no need to be disingenuous and claim they need to be tested for school entrance in three years. They really don't.>
And as someone else said, you want the a full WISC test for the relevant age group, with the option to access the next range if they top out. It's good clean fun for parents of bright kids. But don't take it too seriously. They are only really useful at the other end of the scale, if you are trying to place a child with SEN and fighting for a special school which really will make the world of difference for your child.

AnotherNewt Sat 11-Mar-17 07:44:50

IQ tests won't tell you which school's ethos will suit your DC, but might help up decide which level to pitch for.

I agree very strongly with chop that you need to go to an Ed Psych, who will use WISC tests (my DC were done because of suspected SpLD). Rule of thumb for grammar school is 120+

Or look for a provider of CATS tests (widely used in preps, who may well test every year as children grow). I don't know if there are any providers outside schools. Scores of over 115 for selective schools, but need to be considerable higher for the really academic ones.

I wouldn't go to a tutoring company for this sort of assessment.

MaisyPops Sat 11-Mar-17 08:00:31

It's watching TV programmes about children with IQs in the top 1% that makes you realise that there is 'very clever' and 'VERY CLEVER'!
Completely this.
And there are state schools that do challenge bright children (though obv the OP has already pointed out they think state only caters for normal bright not their child bright). Over the years I've come across a number of parents adament that their child is significantly more academic than they actually are. That actually swiches children off learning.
Maybe it's worth not stressing about all of this at the moment. I always think it's odd tutoring the life out of children who them get into a school off the back of it and then (more often than not) end up needing tutoring to keep up and prepare for gcse etc. But it lets people go around saying that they just had to go private because little timmy is gifted.
Is a child who gets an A* because they've been tutored from 9-16 a brighter child than a child who gets an A independently? I'd say not.

Go private if you want the ethos etc. But avoid falling into the trap of 'state is just not good enough for my darling' that you see on MN.

GretaGarbled Sat 11-Mar-17 08:52:07

The problem with a single question thread is that posters assume you're not considering all the things you haven't posted about. Of course we are thinking about all the other issues around which school is best, this is just one factor.

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