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Grammar school questions and adoption

(21 Posts)
Greatt84 Thu 01-Jun-17 08:38:23

Hi all,

We are keen to get our daughter into grammar school (Colchester). I believe this is one of the extremely competitive ones but it is the only one within reasonable distance of us.

She is a really bright girl, and she does that KUMON tutoring. They have said it is definitely worth getting her to do the 11 plus as she has a good chance of getting in.

I have a few questions. Our daughter is adopted. Does this make her higher priority? I can't really understand the admissions policy confused

Also, when applying for a grammar school, how do you go about also applying for say our catchment school and not missing out on a place there (should she or get into the grammar school?)

KittyVonCatsington Thu 01-Jun-17 08:43:12

Do check their admissions policy but in the Grammar I teach at (in Kent), your daughter would be a higher priority.

Apply to both schools (both have separate application processes)

Greatt84 Thu 01-Jun-17 08:54:47

Thank you smile
I've just had a look again and I think it states that she will get priority over someone else with the same score as her?

Ah fab, so we could technically be offered a place at both schools and then IF she gets into grammar school, we can turn down the catchment school place?

cantkeepawayforever Thu 01-Jun-17 10:17:01


The way it usually works is that your DD will take the 11+, and will know her score before you apply for secondaries.

You then put your preferred schools down in order of preference - e.g. grammar school first if she has a high score, then the catchment school, then the fallback position if both don't work out - and you will be allocated the school highest in your preference list for which she qualifies.

So if she has a high enough 11+ score to get in, she will ONLY be offered the grammar, if not, even though the grammar is on your form, she will be offered the catchment school if you meet their criteria well enough, if not that then the next school down that you do qwualify for.

[Basically everty school on your list will say where your child falls in their ranking criteria, then the admission authority will offer her the highest in your preference order. No child is offered more than 1 place, except if you are also looking at private schools]

cantkeepawayforever Thu 01-Jun-17 10:22:56

Just looked at the document you linked - essentially the oprocess is as i outlined above. You'll see that the test is in september of Year 6, which allows for marks to be available before the LA admission form needs to be filled in. they say they provide 'typical' cut off scores for successful admission to guide applicants, but in actual fact there is nothing to prevent you putting the grammar on your preference list with a low score, though it may be a wasted preference.

As I read the document, the only preference your DD will be given is if they have the absolutely final cut-off score and share it with others who are not adopted [though it may also depend on whether the adoption was from local authority care or fostering r rather than e.g. adopted abroad or within-family adoption - that can get quite complicated and you may want to seek guidance]

Greatt84 Thu 01-Jun-17 11:19:01

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me so much - I'm so grateful. I had no idea how grammar schools work as it was only recently her tutor from Kumon suggested she goes for the 11plus.

Do we have any idea what sort of percentage she would need to get on the test or does this vary?

cantkeepawayforever Thu 01-Jun-17 11:37:37

This may be helpful, but it gives marks not %.

There is a specialist forum which I have seen recommended here for specific queries.

meditrina Thu 01-Jun-17 12:03:15

"Ah fab, so we could technically be offered a place at both schools and then IF she gets into grammar school, we can turn down the catchment school place?"

You will not be offered two places. Your preference list means that if you qualified for two schools, the LEA knows which to offer (it'll be the one you list higher).

Putting your catchment school second makes no difference whatsoever to your chances of getting an offer there, because it will rank all applicants by how well they fit the entrance criteria (and will not be told whether you put it first, second or umpteenth on your form).

Havingahorridtime Thu 01-Jun-17 12:59:35

In some schools the higher priority only applies to fostered children / children in care. It doesn't apply to adopted children as they don't count as children under the care of the LA.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 01-Jun-17 13:03:09

In this specific case, they have defined 'Looked after children' as also including children who used to fit the definition of looked after but have now been adopted - this is now pretty much the norm, with LAC and ex-LAC both being given priority. Children adopted for other reasons - e.g. from abroad, within-family adoptions - are not normally included and do not seem to be so in this case.

Greatt84 Thu 01-Jun-17 13:27:31

Arghh it really is a minefield isn't it! Our daughter used to be a LAC as a baby/toddler but we then were lucky enough to get her. She is an absolutely amazing little girl and we are so so proud of her star

Her current school love her because apparently she is listed as a vulnerable child because of being adopted but as she's done so well it makes their statistics great haha.

So those grammar school scores - I assume they do something with the average of all the tests which gives that mark?

cantkeepawayforever Thu 01-Jun-17 13:40:47

Greatt - I really don't know, but the experts obsessives on the elevenplus forum might!

Your child would count as exLAC and therefore meet the grammar school's definition, but it is only at the very last admitted score that it makes any difference. If she has 1 mark less, or 1 mark more than the last admitted score, then she's in exactly the same position as every other child with that score.

Greatt84 Thu 01-Jun-17 13:44:31

Omg yes I just went and looked on there and those parents look a nightmare shock

We'll do practice papers and she'll continue with her Kumon. If she gets in, then fab, by if she doesn't then it's no great shakes. I will never turn into one of THOSE mothers lol x

CauliflowerSqueeze Thu 01-Jun-17 21:57:18

Yes adopted children get higher priority and schools also receive additional funding (post-LAC) (looked after child) at around £2000 to help fund any support they may need. Actually often LAC / post-LAC gets the highest priority in various schools, but you'd need to check.

Tinty Wed 07-Jun-17 13:16:36

In the grammar school my daughter goes to (super selective), there are 124 pan and X amount of reserves (about 12 - 16) who pass the test and any children who have been in the care of the state or adopted etc go to the top of the list then children with SEN and then highest to lowest score down to the 124th place.

bojorojo Wed 07-Jun-17 17:33:04

Children adopted from care do attract pupil premium so I would look at the school's admission criteria. Does it mention PP children? In fact her school should know better than the Kumon teacher as to what type of child is going to pass this exam. She needs to be very very good for Colchester. What other chldren have been selected for Colchester from her primary school?

Greatt84 Wed 07-Jun-17 19:25:24

Thanks, really interesting.

Bojorojo, she's at a small village school but I know someone got in last year. In her year group, there are 2 trying to get in (including our daughter).

Her teacher at school thinks she has a very good chance. She does GCSE maths questions with her already and she's getting full marks in maths SATS papers.

I guess all we can do is keep our fingers crossed smile. I know some parents will have been tutoring their kids since they were embryos to get in though grin

bojorojo Thu 08-Jun-17 10:20:15

A friend's grandaughter goes there but she wasn't tutored externally. She is rather bright though and has very engaged Cambridge educated parents! I hope your DD does well.

I think learning about how exams work is excellent good prep. My DD wasn't tutored for the 11 plus (other than in a rudimentary fashion by me!) but she did a week of learning how to pace herself through the exam and technique. Not rushing, leaving out questions and going back to them if she needed more thinking time, making sure she finished the papers etc. School rarely teaches this, and it can trip children up, even the very bright ones.

GuestWW Thu 08-Jun-17 12:29:51

I am one of the obsessives mentioned from the eleven plus forum. It is an incredibly useful resource.

I assume your daughter is currently in Y5. The slightly strange thing about the 11+ is that it isn't a direct reflection of ability in the national curriculum. There are different styles of paper / questions that your daughter may not have seen before.

My advice is to do some research into the local 11+ (and you will likely need to act fast as entry is open currently). Find some papers / books for her to practise and get her used to sitting tests (if she isn't already).

steppemum Thu 08-Jun-17 13:06:43

do go and use the 11+ forum, it really is the only place to get all the advice you need.

Just to say again, the 11+ does not get you a place. You take the exam and get a pass mark, or get a ranking (so in our area the school has 150 places and you will be told you are number 210) Or you will be told you do not qualify (failed)
This just gives you the right to put the grammar school on your application form.

Then you have to fill in an application form. This is done with the LEA you live in, regardless of where the grammar school is.
You put down your schools in genuine order of your preference. So if you want the grammar school, but she has a low score/ranking, it is OK you can still put it down.
Then the other school eg your catchment school (do not assume that you are likely to get a place in any school, living in catchment doesn't guarantee you a place)

The way the system works is quite clever, it considers you for your first choice, and if you qualify, you get offered a place. If you do not qualify, your second school then moves up to first place and you are considered alongside the people who put it at number 1 so there is no disadvamtage to putting it second.

If your daughter has an advantage due to adoption, she still has to pass the exam, with a qualifying score. Then she will be higher up the list than a none LAC.

As to preparation, exam technique really helps, this includes things like
-if you can't answer a question, have a sensible guess and move on (or put a circle round it and come back to it)
-put and answer for every question, whne they say 1 minute left fill in the rest of the answer sheet
-use the multiple choice answers to help you, the answer has to be one of them
-practice filling in a sample answer sheet, noting if the answers run left to right or top to bottom etc.
-timing, keep an eye on the clock and how many you have done, don't spend too long on one question.

Make sure you have practised all the types of question, eg does she need to do NVR?
Free practice papers are available on line eg Bond, CGP

Lastly, make sure she knows her maths terminology, range/median/mode/mean/iscoceles/scalene/prime/factor/multiple.
Not difficult, but they use the correct terminology, and it is a shame to miss a maths question for the sake of a word.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 08-Jun-17 13:21:53

As I was responsible for the description of the 11+ forum, I've come back to say: if you really want to know about the 11+, they are absolutely the people to ask, much more than Mumsnet.

As with any 'single issue' forum, it can be a little intimidating on first impression (it genuinely can seem as if everyone is obsessive about that single issue, because that's all you 'see' about each poster).

However, that single mindedness does mean that they are a fount of focused and informed information.

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