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how to get my ds of 6 through exams for private school

68 replies

olliebird · 09/06/2007 22:09

anybody got any advice form
i've got to try to get my ds into local private school. He's just six and this means an interview in sep, then exam and 3-hour assesment in jan.

I haven't pushed him atall so far. hes at a good state primary. On level 5 of oxford reading tree.

I feel i'm going to have to make up masses of ground in six months. Any advice?

I sure he's bright enough, but no boffin certainly and he's quite hard to persuade to do his homework.

OP posts:
Anna8888 · 13/06/2007 10:40

It's all very well being naturally intelligent - but if you don't give a child structured learning, he/she won't advance as quickly as he/she might. Lots of children are ready and able to read at 4 - why not teach them? They'll be happier because they'll be able to occupy themselves better and their parents will be happier because they won't have to entertain them so much. Plus it stops children getting into a TV habit if they get used to reading a book early.

ahundredtimes · 13/06/2007 10:49

You need to be careful to be honest of gearing your son up for the exam and then putting him in a school where he's going to struggle. Will dent his confidence no end. Have you shopped around for less academic schools near you? It can be a long game this, and he may be more ready for an academic competitive school at 11 rather than 7.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 12:17

But why say that ahundred? He is "bright enough" she said so why shouldn't he be given the chances which will help him through his life and put him ahead?

ahundredtimes · 13/06/2007 12:37

Ah yes Xenia, well I'm sure Ollie's boy is lovely and everything, but was slightly thrown by the Level 5 thing. Perfectly acceptable (she says quickly) but not perhaps ready for very high-powered 7plus type thing?
Ollie is best placed to tell us though where he's at - in fact Ollie have you spoken to his current teachers? They're probably best placed to tell you what might be the right step forward at this time.

singersgirl · 13/06/2007 12:51

Yes, I agree that while good early reading may not be a sign of intelligence (though in fact some studies in the US have found a strong correlation between early fluent reading, particularly self-taught, and high intelligence), it is something that is required by these schools' exams.

My friend whose bright state primary son (all 3s in Y2 etc) did not get into King's College Wimbledon said that they had to read out loud from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" as well as answer questions in a group discussion.

I am not at all sure that I would want my 6 year old to be at schools where they work them that hard - there are often very long school days and loads of homework.

Did anyone see the interview with the High Master of St. Paul's a while ago where he said that the two things he looked for in boys at interview (talking mainly here about 11+ and 13+ candidates) were irony and passion? He said you absolutely couldn't coach irony, and you could only coach passion up to a point. He thought these were great indicators of intelligence.

Blu · 13/06/2007 12:57

Only just 6 and cast towards something 'less academic' because he is ORT level 5?
Was still 5 a few weeks ago...

Twiglett · 13/06/2007 12:58

my 6 year old can be bloody sarcastic, does that count?

Blu · 13/06/2007 12:59

Is that nature, or nurture, do you think twig?

Twiglett · 13/06/2007 13:01

don't know what you mean

ahundredtimes · 13/06/2007 13:04

Now now Blu, you're wilfully, perhaps ironically and passionately, misunderstanding me. I'm suggesting to OP that pushing him to get into an very academic school at 7 is a bit daft, she should only sit him for the exam if he can do it, otherwise life will be miserable for him and they'll all be shooting themselves in the foot.

Is sane advice I think

singersgirl · 13/06/2007 13:09

I've been an observer for the last couple of years as a close friend with a son now in Y1 at a pre-prep has been gearing up to 7+ and it is really scary. Honestly, when I was at primary school, and sat 11+ exams for academic secondary school, there was no hysteria like this at all. I just pitched up on the day and did my best.

But I honestly think, where I am at least, unless your child is either naturally extremely bright and academically advanced (because of course there are lots of bright young children who aren't academically advanced), or you are prepared to work with them hard, it's not worth subjecting them to the stress of exam-taking, interview and possible rejection.

The correlation between early reading and intelligence from what I read only works one way, I think - that is, early fluent reading is usually an indicator of high intelligence, but lack of early fluent reading doesn't indicate lack of high intelligence.

ahundredtimes · 13/06/2007 13:17

Oh I quite agree, I'm not particularly hung up on this child's reading, I also don't think that academic performance really begins to matter until about 16 tbh, and up until that point everyone should just be developing at their own pace and enjoy learning and larking about with their mates.

That's why I want the OP to think about finding the right school for her ds, not trying to squeeze him into the wrong one. My dd is 5 and can hardly read anything at all - she'll be fine by 16 though.

Blu · 13/06/2007 13:22

Maybe, 100times .

But I doubt that kids already at these high-powered schools are either innately more intelligent than kids not at them, or that children can't catch up with kids who have simpley spent longer concentrating or working on something. Or to put it another way, i doubt that one year of schooling in a private school gives children of roughly equal intelligence such a head start that one lot will never in thier lives attain the level of the other.

Which is what Bobbysmum's posts seem to imply.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 13:44

My experience is with Haberdashers and North London Collegiate and it's parents whose little darlings aren't very bright who didn't get in who go on about relentless pressure and it's the clever girls there who aren't pressured and don't find the work hard because they're clever anyway. There's no pushing in our experience. They just work as a class on one level and do interesting work. My 8 year olds are doing their last end of school year exams today and we barely spoke about it and we certainly didn't revise last night.

If the child isn't right for the school they probably won't get in but if they've never tried an exam paper before and are a year behind in reading from others trying to get in then clearly that's not fair and the parent should quite nicely in the year before just do something about it. It doesn't really require much pressure and I agree with the 11 and 13+ comments. You're looking for quickness of thought, ability to deal with questions on the spot in an interview etc I think any of us given 20 11 year olds and the chance to talk to them could probably spot who is bright.

Mrbatters · 13/06/2007 13:45

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mrbatters · 13/06/2007 13:46

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 13:49

But Mrb they probably do well throughout their lives too and I suspect many of them are cleverer because one school is selective and the other isn't. it might depend on the school. I don't know how many applicants per place North London Collegiate or St Paul's etc have compared to some private schools where you can get in if you pay in some cases but I am sure that makes a huge difference to how the children then are no matter how much added value the school gives.

Anyway I think we all agree. No unwise pressure. I think practising some exam papers is a good idea and with a parent working a bit on reading, tables, spellings is good and I can't see actually harms a child just as we all talk to them about interesting topics and then learn from us on a daily basis, sometimes as much as they're learning in school.

ahundredtimes · 13/06/2007 13:51

Or will it? That's the thing, none of us have any idea what ollie's ds is like, and rather confirms the idea that its all horses and courses.

I personally take the line that you should pitch up without any preparation (at this age, 11plus a bit different) and see how they do. If they don't get in, then do something else.

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 15:23

Depends what you mean by no preparation. If you mean been at a school where he's never been taught to write a story, do a comprehension, do many sums then that's just hugely unfair on the boy. A 5 they test potential etc At 7 they have to to some extent test your ability to do the paper so someone who doesn't speak English won't get in or someone who can't hold a pencil and has never learned to write so surely some practise doesn't go amiss.

Anna8888 · 13/06/2007 15:29

At the very least do lots and lots of extra reading (stories, not textbooks or reading schemes) with him, and discuss what you read. This will improve his vocabulary and comprehension no end without pain.

Try to get him to write letters/emails to family and friends. A friend of mine who took her children out of school for a world trip got permission from the headmistress to do so only on the grounds that the children write structured emails every day to their classmates. Excellent writing practice, not too onerous.

ungratefuldaughter · 13/06/2007 15:29

agree with mrb, I worked at a russell group university before DC's (science and medical departments) and the most able students were those who came from comprehensive schools with those from the academically selective private schools (used to being coached and tutored) were forever requiring spoon feeding to get through the course. Jobwise afterwise the ex-private school students did do as well but they were just more confident (or full of themselves in many cases)

so to the op just do some gentle preparation as it all evens out in the end

Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 15:57

Doesn't though does it. Pick the cabinet any plc, any group of leading surgeons, just about anything and those doing best in the UK in 2007 are on average to be from the 6% who went to private schools. It's the best thing you can spend you money on as a parent in the UK.

Ladymuck · 13/06/2007 20:02

Rather than worrying about the intelligence of the children I think that you also have to factor in that most private schools will have a different style of teaching especially by prep school age, and they will rely on certain knowledge (especially reading comprehension). State school teachers are usually better at teaching a range of abilities, but prep schools will often stream children from 7 so that a lot of the teaching is a "whole class" experience. We had a new boy join Yr1 this term from a local state school. He still wasn't reading (he could sound out phonics, but was poor at blending), and this potentially was quite a challenge in a class where the boys are practicing written comprehension exercises. But actually practicing reading is one thing that can work well and in less than a term his reading has caught up (it does seem to be the case ime that they suddenly "get it").

olliebird · 13/06/2007 21:46

thanks a lot everyone, very interesting.
I'm going to get a local specialist tutor and get their advice as well. I do agree that child shouldn't be pushed unless they are enjoying the work. I've started doing lots of reading with him myself and he is already responding well to this, partly because its extra attention I think - quite pleasantly surpised by this.
Up to now i've been letting him go slow believeing boys shouldn't be pushed early. However I was helping out at my ds's school with reading for other 6 y-olds and in the two-month programme the child I worked with improved really incredibly (with just a short daily one-to-one) and it made me think - how could my ds improve at reading if I did the same with him? So as I see it its really about setting aside the time and money to make sure my ds gets a little one-to-one teaching so he can reach his potential.
You are right the two schools are not on a parr with westminster or st Pauls (thanksfully) and neighbours ds at one of the schools says the boys are so laid back and enjoying themselves all the time, very unpressured and i'm reassured by this. However will get independent advice on suitability of ds as sometimes parents are not best judge. I do believe him to be bright, however i've focussed on his speaking which I believe to be most important life skill. So he's very good at holding a conversation & has lots to say, teachers comment on this saying he makes them laugh and appears older than years with sophisticated vocab and grown up turn of phrase, other teachers say he's a 'whacky' child with interesting ideas.

Really freaked by the comment about persuading people to leave shortly after starting a new school!! does this really happen.

OP posts:
Judy1234 · 13/06/2007 22:03

ob, is right about the attention. It's not pushing really to have quiet time with a child on your knee reading and sometimes I end up reading to the end of the book for them which is cheating but not really a problem if we're both enjoying it and want to know what's happening. The thing to avoid is making it a big thing, saying you'll get a bike if you get in or let them hear you chatting to other mothers about how you really hope he gets into XYZ.

lm, yes. Our twins' school has had I think 1 or 2 boys join each year from state schools as an occasional place came up (one boy left because his father beat his mother up, they split up and couldn't afford the fees, another moved abroad etc) and some of those have taken a while to catch up. I've heard some other children say they aren't very good at XYZ and I'm sitting there thinking well give him a chance - he's only been there a term and he'll soon catch up.

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