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7 + entry advice support etc

18 replies

vickyconfused · 18/04/2009 11:13

Anyone else embarking upon vague preparations for this? Or who has been through it and out the other side for better or worse

And who would like to share ideas? Specifically if your dd/s is in a state infants school or if you have got a tutor what exactly he/she is doing with your 5/6 yr old as the whole notion seems a bit mad at this stage?

For our part have decided not to go down the tutor route (may yet have to eat these words!) and just toddle along in our own way.

Totally appreciate people may name change, especially if in London (we are not).

Please no flaming as know arguments about
'it's much too early to be thinking about this' 'if they need tutoring then they won't cope' 'schools can see through tutored candidates' 'children should be allowed to enjoy school as school, home as home' etc etc etc but as our school doesnt' really deal with tables/divsion til second half of Year 2 some earlier input will be necessary in some form and we do not want to put our child through something she is unable to cope with, so need to make an informed decision as to whether she is up to it all and be happy with the decision

Thanks to people who have replied in the past to this. Support much appreciated.

OP posts:
narnia2 · 19/04/2009 00:12

Hi Vickyconfused. 7+ is tough. We recently embarked on it in an attempt to avoid the madness of 11+. IMO it needs dedication and a sustainable work plan. And yes 5 is a young age to impose this. You have decided to avoid the tutoring route - from what I know of successful applicants this year majority/all have been tutored (north london). I think a tutor just keeps the wheels churning when the energy (yours) starts wearing out and keeps the direction fixed. I would advise starting the more "intense" work from Easter onwards for exams in the following January. Starting tutoring/working intensely over a longer 2y period is not sustainable. Agree syllabus needs to be covered in advance of when school deals with it. Also need to focus on time management eg writing a story in 20 mins. Its hard to be a mummy and a teacher so maybe reconsider the tutor route - yes material is available from the shops but teaching in a way that avoids your little one feeling any pressure is prob best left to the experts. Hope this helps.

frogs · 19/04/2009 08:51

We managed it without 'dedication and a sustainable work plan', fwiw. I'm not organised enough to do that with a 6yo, and I don't think it's particularly desirable anyway tbh. I did for one brief moment of madness consider making dd1 learn her 3 and 4 times tables over the christmas holidays (she knew the 2 5 and 10s alread) as per the school's guidelines, but then sanity kicked back in.

She got offered two v. academic and competitive London day schools, so it obviuosly wasn't that big a deal. And she told me after the exam that she hadn't had time to finish the story she was writing.

slummymomma · 19/04/2009 09:35

Hi vickyconfused. Posted in response to your previous qs. We've just gone through the process and DS got into a v academic sw london school.

We did use a tutor, for following reasons.

  1. DS is eldest of three and it was difficult to organise 'quiet' time for him. Of course we had to do some homework but I thought it easier he went to someone who could give undivided attention.

2. DS really liked his tutor and looked forward to going to see her. He enjoyed the process and was keen to please her.

3. School DS was applying for has a bit if a fearsome reputation in terms of entrance exams. As a comp school girl I was a bit initimidated by this and also had friends at the feeder pre-preps so wanted a tutor to give me confidence that DS was fully prepared.

Obviously things worked out for us on this occasion so I am pro the tutor route for state school pupils. I really think DS would not have been so well prepared and confident if we had not gone down the tutor route.

DD now looks likely to do the same for 2011 7+ entry with an equally lovely and supportive tutor - will do six months with tutor before Nov 2010 exam.

DS thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and I take that as my guide as much as the actual outcome!
Jofins · 20/04/2009 12:50

My son took 7+ in January this year. We took a very relaxed approach to it all.
He had about 10 one hour sessions, over three months, with a tutor (one of the teachers at his school) to help with maths. We were given some work sheets by his teacher to go through with him at the weekends - we never finished them all! These were to prepare him for the style of questions in the test. It was also useful to get him used to completing work under timed conditions. Get the Bond books so you know what to expect.
He sat the test at two schools and was offered a place in one school and not the other.
I think some schools are far more stringent with their testing than others!

vivkyconfused · 22/04/2009 09:08

Thanks all. Am just surprised to hear via local prep school mums that ppl get tutoring AS WELL as paying their fees ...round here up to £4, 250 for key stage 1 PER TERM !!

hough am guessing that the prep schools which go to 11 and 13 want to hang on to their pupils and therefore perhaps don't want them leaving at 7

Bit demoralising for those in the state infants where although Yr 2 seems a good curriculum with lots of grammar etc the Year 1 just seems sooooooooo slow.

The school tells us regualarly that the pace will be quickening, the work harder but we are two thirds into the year now and still no visible signs of this!

Kids are very happy though so hence the big questions of putting dd through it all.

Jofins I just had a quick question so wondered if you would feel able to email me at
[email protected]
That would be great

sobeda · 22/04/2009 14:39

We are going for the tutoring route after being very against it in principle- DS (6, year 1) is bright boy by all measures but his prep school does not cover all the material (division, fractions, tables, NVR, VR etc) that the Bonds papers seem to suggest they will need for the 7+. He does love the tutoring as he says school is 'too easy' but if it ever became a burden we would immediately stop. We are also doing this in consultation with his school. I hope we're not doing something wrong - I make a great effort to avoid all the London pressure for the 'next school' but know that DS is bright and want him to have the best shot at a place at a school that will extend him. That said, DD (8) sat a day long exam / evaluation for an occasional vacancy in a non-entry year at a very hard to get into selective school and won the one place with no tutoring whatsoever (there was no time!) so maybe I'm just buying into the hype.

Renaissancewoman · 21/11/2009 21:34

I am going through all this with my daughter at the minute. I am fighting typing out a load of expletives as to what I think of some elements of this system which in my view seems to ignore the fact that these kids are 6/7. I am very angry about all of this.
I opened a letter from one school today outlining the procedure in January where you drop child and they are then 'escorted by staff to the tests', is it just me or does this sound crap? Even worse were the pick up arrangements. Children stand in marked bays according to alphabet surname. I feel like calling them on Monday to tell them to uck off. This school on its own admission was criticised in previous years for its cattle market approach to the tests and said that it had revamped them to avoid this. Why are they seeing so many kids on one day if there are so many that that have to get them to stand in labelled bays for you to find them on collection. There was nothing by way of reassurance in the letter as I have seen from other schools along the lines of 'we don't ask for anything beyond what they should be doing at this age' or 'the children generally report that they enjoy the morning with us' etc.

First and foremost what I am trying to do is protect my DD from the stress of all this. I do not talk about it in front of her. In relation to the tests I have said that the school just wants to see what she can do and that basically she could go to any of these schools but that it is up to Mummy and Daddy to decide which one is best for her. I have been shocked by how much information about failure some parents willingly share with their children at this age.

Anyway what I am doing is just very closely monitoring her school work and talking to teachers a lot. I am lucky as DD goes to a small school where staff are experienced at getting kids through this and have time to talk me through it. On a week by week basis we talk about where she is not doing so well and then I do extra work to move her along. I have worked a fair bit on handwriting and writing confidence as this was an area of weakness and has now improved. We also do the Bond books. I know my daughter is extremely bright and am very cross that she is being made to work really very hard. We are doing this basically just to make sure we get in as obviously there are a lot of bright kids out there and we are going for the particularly competitive schools. But in the case of my daughter she has a pretty uneven profile she reads many years ahead of chronological age but other areas eg writing/spelling are more average. I would not get a tutor at this stage. Sometimes it can be hard for her to do the work with me (especially as I have 2 younger kids) but it is amazing what masses of praise and treats can achieve. I have only been doing this extra work with her this term and wish I'd started looking at the handwriting earlier. But it will be OK...

fridayschild · 22/11/2009 09:10

We will opt out of the 7+ tests for DS1, partly because of the concerns and frustrations others have mentioned on this thread. I hope next week he will get an offer of a place in a non-selective prep following a morning spent in the class. The boys leaving the school go to a fair spread of schools, which I'm quite happy with - some boys to the highly selective schools and others to less well known ones. My hope is that this is a more relaxed education for someone who is still just a little kid.

If this plan fails I am completely scoobied, having failed to either encourage him along myself or get a tutor to do that for me. Fingers crossed!

Footnote: I do know that the "non-selective" is by reference to tests only. There is obviously some selection in that only those who can pay the fees and speak nicely to the school secretary can get in....

squiby2004 · 22/11/2009 12:48


we recently moved DD into private at start of year 1. They did a very informal assessment, not written. I had a meeting with the Head afterward and we discussed the fact originally we had planed to move DD at 7. she said that a lot of parents had this line of thought and often children were not accepted as they were a long way behind the level of expectation of a 7 year old in the private system. We were releaved to have done it now rather than be faced with disappointment later on. IME I think you will need to look at tutoring if you want to opt into private after several years in state.

mimsum · 22/11/2009 13:17

it completely depends on the child squiby - ds1 sailed into academically selective private secondary with no tutoring and only doing one practice paper before the test - he'd always been in the top groups at primary and is now in the top sets at secondary - tutoring for him would have been a complete waste of time and money

however, ds2 is much less confident (although also in the top groups) so if he decides he wants to follow his brother I think he would need a bit of tutoring - more for boosting his confidence that he knew how to do it rather than filling in any gaps

we had a look at a couple of academically selective schools for dd for 7+ entry and decided against, even though she'd be perfectly capable of the level required it just seemed completely wrong to be putting a 6 year old in for a formal, sit-down exam - it's completely different for 10 year olds, but 6 is just too young

MollieO · 22/11/2009 14:18

I don't understand the post from Renaissancewoman. If you are so against selective testing then why apply to highly competitive schools?

Renaissancewoman · 22/11/2009 19:09

MollieO - I do not have a problem with selective schools per se and I think such a school is the right place for my daughter. Its the 'upping the ante' that I dislike, that kids are being worked too hard through tutoring etc so that they perform well in the test (not necessarily the same thing as reflecting raw intelligence) and also that the procedure of testing at some schools is pretty daunting to a 6/7 year old.

MollieO · 22/11/2009 19:53

Whose making her work so hard? I don't intend to switch schools but ds will do the 11+ at some stage. I would not have him tutored for that as I can't see the point. Either they are able or not. I know of dcs who were in the middle of their primary class who then passed the 11+ and had to continue tutoring just to keep up. I really don't see the point.

Many years ago when I did those tests we did 3 practice papers and that was it, no tutoring at all.

juliemacc · 22/11/2009 20:16

vickyconfused - I completely agree when you question your rationale regarding a tutor for a 5/6 year old child,and am tempted to say for goodness sake! provided that you are an interested and supportive parent and give your child lots of opportunities to read/write/count/draw/explore/question then is it not more important that your child goes through life as happy and inquisitive and enjoys learning than is focused on tests and assessments and stress?

SofaQueen · 23/11/2009 06:00

We are considering having DS1 sit for the 7+ exam, dependant upon how he is doing next September.

He is at a private pre-prep which we chose specifically because it does prepare boys to take the 7+/8+, yet has a prep school of its own for those who aren't ready.

Currently he is in Year 1, and we have already been told that all boys will sit a mock exam in May, after which all parents will have a parent-teacher meeting to go over the results and whether or not the school believes the particular boy is ready. I also know that the boys come home with a large homework pack for the summer with the 7+ in mind.

I think it is madness that parents in private school would have to also hire tutors for the 7+. If a particular girl/boy, despite the structure already in place, is struggling, s/he is most likely NOT an appropriate candidiate for the target school, and will probably be miserable in the school where most of the children got in without all the extra tutoring.

I have heard horror stories (albeit, secondhand) about parents putting so much pressure on boys to get into Top5 schoolX or Y despite the school warning that the boy wasn't ready. Usually these boys are tutored up the wazoo and most of the time are not accepted. End result, very upset boy and more upset parents. Madness!

We had a tour of Colet Court where the person giving the tour, who was in charge of 7+/8+, specifically said that they are usually able to suss out which boys have been coached and that usually this is quite evident in the interview. They definitely don't look favourably on these overcoached candidates.

I'm letting DS1 get on with things, supporting him myself in areas he has more difficulty with, and letting the school advise me when the time is right.

yayitstheweekend · 23/11/2009 09:42

From friends currently going down the 7+ route I think that the main things you need to consider are being able to write a story to time which you should be able to practice at home yourself. Verbal and non verbal reasoning bond papers and maths, hard maths especially problems. I would certainly consider a tutor to cover the main areas especially the maths which seems to me to be the main area where the state school children, however bright, fall down.

You can take some practice papers off the Habs boys website if that's any help.

The other thing I have noticed is that the private school children, especially the boys have far better handwriting than the state school boys as there's far more emphasis on the importance of this. Obviously it's not going to be universal but it's something I Would address as my DS has terrible writing and I would worry that it's so bad they wouldn't be able to read his writing, I often can't.

mommyknowsbest · 23/11/2009 13:08

We are also thinking/considering our options for this as my oldest boy has just started reception in a CofE state school in SW London. The problem is that there are no options within our area for state (they are all awful) and while we are religious enough for the primary sector, the requirements for the secondaries are shocking and I know we won't get enough points to get in.
I honestly debate which is going to be the better for our family route .. try and move him at 7+ or 8+ which would mean pulling him out of his school and having to start paying school fees at that point. Being at a state school I think realistically we might need to get some tutoring .. I am not talking about drills and mind numbing amounts of work, but an assessment to see what areas he might not hit in his curriculum and sitting a practice test or two to make him comfortable with the format.
It does seem like a lot of stress for a little one, but if we wait to move until 11 or 13, well then we are in a real scrum where the competition seems even more intense and the kids are very likely to be aware of it. But its difficult to know what is the right decision to make.
So sorry not much help for you, but more sympathy.

classactor · 24/11/2009 14:50

You can get an idea of the standards from the test papers by J M Bond available from W H Smith. Top schools require one year ahead of each age group. There is an online course in maths and English for entrance exams at You can view it free but have to pay £19.50 to print it and see the answers

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