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What is 11+ Over Tutoring?

28 replies

Thefourthseason · 19/12/2022 23:23

So.. I see lots of theads regarding kids preparing for 11+ and regular references to those being "over tutored" struggling in grammar schools as perhaps they were not naturally bright enough....
So...what is considered "over-tutored"? and what is "bright enough"....

Surely the vast majority need a tutor to be in with a chance (particularly if in state school).....

Are there any markers/predictors of likely suitability for the grammar environment?

Does KS1 SATs performance offer any guidance?

Hard work vs natural above average ability or must have both?

Is "brightness" about the ability to grasp new concepts easily and retain/reproduce this?

Welcome your thoughts/experiences

OP posts:
123woop · 20/12/2022 12:33

I think it depends on the tutor you choose to be honest. My daughter is sitting her 11+ - we originally sent her to a classroom style centre where they just did past paper after past paper and were basically learning the test rather than learning the methods to think critically (if that makes sense?) I found a lot of tutors were like this and I too worried that she'd struggle once she hopefully got to the school. We've now been working with another highly recommended tuition company and it's a much more well rounded approach and they were also very honest with us about her capabilities. I feel that they're preparing her for 'the school' rather than for 'the test'

yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 12:44

I am about to start a years tuition for my DS when he's in year 5, so am yet to go through it myself. I have heard/read a number of things that personally are hard lines for me:

  • Formal tuition over a number of years eg the whole of junior school.
  • Intensive tuition summer schools.
  • Missing out on a year 5 summer holiday or taking tests away with you.
  • Not returning to school in year 6, staying off doing extra prep until entrance exams are over, complete cramming!
  • Reduction in hobbies in year 5 to concentrate on extra tuition practice.


Those are examples of over tuition and not something I am personally prepared to do with my 9-10 year old, I don't want it to overtake his life and if he doesn't pass then so be it. I don't think it's healthy for 11+ practice to be an intense focus and will make it much harder for a child to take if they don't pass.

My approach is that we will do some preparation for a couple of Grammar schools, but there are other good options locally. It's all about finding the right fit for you.
yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 12:47

I also think that the process is so competitive that some 'bright' children will miss out due to having a bad day and over tutoring by others. We will do our best and having plan B and C in place is the thing that reassures me the most.

Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 13:04

123woop · 20/12/2022 12:33

I think it depends on the tutor you choose to be honest. My daughter is sitting her 11+ - we originally sent her to a classroom style centre where they just did past paper after past paper and were basically learning the test rather than learning the methods to think critically (if that makes sense?) I found a lot of tutors were like this and I too worried that she'd struggle once she hopefully got to the school. We've now been working with another highly recommended tuition company and it's a much more well rounded approach and they were also very honest with us about her capabilities. I feel that they're preparing her for 'the school' rather than for 'the test'

Oh thanks for this @123woop. Makes total sense.
Are you able to share the name of the company by any chance? (not sure if allowed on MN). I like the sound of this.

OP posts:
arethereanyleftatall · 20/12/2022 13:08

I think what many don't realise when they post that, is that the 11plus is COMPLETELY dependent on where you live. Completely. It's a flat out competition against those in your area only. So, that could be 10000000 kids going for 100 spaces;or 200 kids going for 100 spaces. So, there isn't a right way or a wrong way that is Uk wide.

Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 13:09

yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 12:44

I am about to start a years tuition for my DS when he's in year 5, so am yet to go through it myself. I have heard/read a number of things that personally are hard lines for me:

  • Formal tuition over a number of years eg the whole of junior school.
  • Intensive tuition summer schools.
  • Missing out on a year 5 summer holiday or taking tests away with you.
  • Not returning to school in year 6, staying off doing extra prep until entrance exams are over, complete cramming!
  • Reduction in hobbies in year 5 to concentrate on extra tuition practice.


Those are examples of over tuition and not something I am personally prepared to do with my 9-10 year old, I don't want it to overtake his life and if he doesn't pass then so be it. I don't think it's healthy for 11+ practice to be an intense focus and will make it much harder for a child to take if they don't pass.

My approach is that we will do some preparation for a couple of Grammar schools, but there are other good options locally. It's all about finding the right fit for you.

Those are really good points (and a little worrying that some of this actually happens!). In your opinion, would things like Explore learning/Kumon started in KS1 onwards be considered as "formal tuition"?
I am completely with you about not making it too stressful and getting the balance right.
I hear a lot of people start preparing in yr 4.. (although the majority say yr 5)....
Yr 4 does seem a bit early considering some of the content is years beyond what they're doing on the national curriculum....

OP posts:
Mumski45 · 20/12/2022 13:19

I think if you have a bright child (using your definition) then you only need to focus on the following:

1.Familiarisation with the style of questions and papers
2.Covering content not usually covered till yr6 particularly in Maths as 11+ is taken at start of yr 6
3.Practising exam technique ie timing of questions and knowing when to move on.

Much more than this would seem like over-tutoring to me.

I do agree with pp that it can depend where you are. I have 2 boys in grammar school in North West. About 600-700 applicants for 180 places with 'in area' only needing a pass and remaining places going to 'out of area' in order of score. We were out of area so needed high scores.

Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 13:21

arethereanyleftatall · 20/12/2022 13:08

I think what many don't realise when they post that, is that the 11plus is COMPLETELY dependent on where you live. Completely. It's a flat out competition against those in your area only. So, that could be 10000000 kids going for 100 spaces;or 200 kids going for 100 spaces. So, there isn't a right way or a wrong way that is Uk wide.

Yes that's true. I guess for the most part it is still highly competitive though, right? The competition is tougher in some areas but even where the ratio is 2:1, the desire to succeed will still be there and some families may still feel pressured into "over-tutoring". I'm just trying to understand what that even means...?

We only have one grammar nearby...and then some not so great comps.
The competition is very high so I want to give DS best opportunity of success but also don't want to make it stressful/unpleasant.

OP posts:
Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 13:34

Mumski45 · 20/12/2022 13:19

I think if you have a bright child (using your definition) then you only need to focus on the following:

1.Familiarisation with the style of questions and papers
2.Covering content not usually covered till yr6 particularly in Maths as 11+ is taken at start of yr 6
3.Practising exam technique ie timing of questions and knowing when to move on.

Much more than this would seem like over-tutoring to me.

I do agree with pp that it can depend where you are. I have 2 boys in grammar school in North West. About 600-700 applicants for 180 places with 'in area' only needing a pass and remaining places going to 'out of area' in order of score. We were out of area so needed high scores.

Thanks for this. Sounds good. Well done to your sons!

OP posts:
yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 14:48

Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 13:09

Those are really good points (and a little worrying that some of this actually happens!). In your opinion, would things like Explore learning/Kumon started in KS1 onwards be considered as "formal tuition"?
I am completely with you about not making it too stressful and getting the balance right.
I hear a lot of people start preparing in yr 4.. (although the majority say yr 5)....
Yr 4 does seem a bit early considering some of the content is years beyond what they're doing on the national curriculum....

Personally I wouldn't go down the route of Kumon in KS1, but each to their own. I've seen flyers and social media ads around here 'Give your child a head start for reception with Kumon'. Early Years should be about play based learning, so I think its too much too soon for rote based learning. Still, it must work for some, the only child that passed the grammar in our school this year works for Kumon!

How old is your child? From my experience, I'd say I know my child's strengths and weaknesses and what to supplement myself. He's a bit of a reluctant reader, so have encouraged and praised reading and instilled good reading habits both morning and evening. He loves and is very able at maths, so we've always done extra for fun at home. If your child is in that age group, I think you can supplement quite easily at home without going to a tutoring company.

Agree also with the point about really depends on your area. We are also in the North West, but I'm sure our local grammar is 2500-3000 kids for 150 places. Offers priority to in area and there is a pass mark. That is much less competitive than parts of London/South East where places are ordered by mark/rank top down - often referred to a super selective grammar.

Thefourthseason · 20/12/2022 16:54

yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 14:48

Personally I wouldn't go down the route of Kumon in KS1, but each to their own. I've seen flyers and social media ads around here 'Give your child a head start for reception with Kumon'. Early Years should be about play based learning, so I think its too much too soon for rote based learning. Still, it must work for some, the only child that passed the grammar in our school this year works for Kumon!

How old is your child? From my experience, I'd say I know my child's strengths and weaknesses and what to supplement myself. He's a bit of a reluctant reader, so have encouraged and praised reading and instilled good reading habits both morning and evening. He loves and is very able at maths, so we've always done extra for fun at home. If your child is in that age group, I think you can supplement quite easily at home without going to a tutoring company.

Agree also with the point about really depends on your area. We are also in the North West, but I'm sure our local grammar is 2500-3000 kids for 150 places. Offers priority to in area and there is a pass mark. That is much less competitive than parts of London/South East where places are ordered by mark/rank top down - often referred to a super selective grammar.

Great advice thanks for this.
DS (yr2) main strength is maths. Teacher has mentioned this and mentioned him being given extension work in school (state school) if he finishes his work early etc. Seems to enjoy literacy covered in school but we need to encourage more reading for pleasure as at the moment it's the bare minimum required to fill in the reading log! We are London based so competition fierce. I know it's really early days but just getting a feel for how others have navigated this....

OP posts:
yoshiblue · 20/12/2022 17:01

If you're London based you will definitely have more doing two years' worth. For now I'd just focus on reading as much as possible and the comprehension skills that go with it. What does that word mean? How do you think that character felt? What do you think might happen next? (A few random examples, but you can google some tips) I always say, no child can read enough!

123woop · 23/12/2022 14:03

Hi, sure - we used Tayberry Tuition. They've been recommended by a few Mumsnetters

Thefourthseason · 23/12/2022 15:22

123woop · 23/12/2022 14:03

Hi, sure - we used Tayberry Tuition. They've been recommended by a few Mumsnetters

Thanks :)

OP posts:
TheRubyRedshoes · 05/01/2023 11:24

@Thefourthseason ...


You have to balance his ability/personality with the school..
All grammars are different, there is one near us I wouldn't have sent dc1 too even with a mediocre comp.
It seemed totally devoid of any joy!

So bearing in mind what suits your DC and the years of potential misery or just not having the best experience for him , weight that up against a few months of work.

Decisions23 · 27/01/2023 20:37

@Mumski45 - maybe you can help answer a question I have around tutoring please?

If there is one child (A) who has had a lot of tutoring, one (B) that has had a very small amount - they both get schools offers based on the entrance exams, interview and assessment day.
Will either of them be at a disadvantage in Y7?

For example, child A starts Y7 having stopped any additional work/practice and now finds some curriculum concepts quite tough because they were modelled for passing the exam without really digesting everything.

Or, Child B starts Y7 with a lower baseline of core concept understanding because didn’t get heavily tutored and scraped through exams without a lot of practice therefore finds Y7 harder.

just intrigued to know. Hope I’m making sense! Thanks!

Mumski45 · 27/01/2023 20:45

@Decisions23

I think in the circumstances where there is an interview and an assessment day on top of an exam the suitability of both children will have been determined as best it can.

I don't think either of them will be at a disadvantage if they are bright kids.

However both of the examples you give may struggle to get through the interview and assessment.

If places were allocated on entrance exam alone then I think both of your examples might struggle but child B sounds like the naturally brighter child.

tornadoinsideoutfig · 27/01/2023 20:53

I'd say more than a term. A bright child should just need familiarisation with the questions. I bought a book that DS worked through independently and he sailed through the test. I think it's about 10% who go to the grammars in our county.

Decisions23 · 27/01/2023 21:06

@Mumski45 thank you, much appreciated.

For context we were using atom at home for some good exam practice for ISEB pre-test. We’ve got the offer we wanted and our child must have done ok across exam, interview etc. but conscious they didn’t need to sit the 11+ for any of the schools we applied to, so they haven’t really done the level of revision/practice others have.

Hoping the raw ability is enough and they aren’t going to struggle in September.

Mumski45 · 27/01/2023 21:17

@Decisions23 well done to your DC. It sounds like they deserve their place.

I was worried about DS1 not keeping up as I worked hard with him to get through the 11+. In hindsight I probably didn't give him enough credit as he has flown through secondary achieving fab GCSE grades and is now doing 4 A levels. He is bright and was in top sets but lacked confidence in himself (still does if I'm honest).

My experience is once in the kids who do struggle get lots of support if they need it but I suppose that depends on the school. Ours is very good and works hard to enable easy child to achieve their potential.

LBFseBrom · 27/01/2023 21:20

Extra tuition for 11+ should not be necessary if the schools did their job and educated the children properly.

Decisions23 · 27/01/2023 21:49

@Mumski45 ah that sounds great. We worry so much as parents!

I’ll always find something to worry about. Haha

Unsuredad123 · 06/04/2023 04:10

Dd 2 passed 11plus having only asked to sit in about June of Yr 5. She did about an hour tutoring a week over the holidays and a couple of mocks. Grammar school is a Times top ten. I have no other experience of grammar schools but speaking to someone I work with who went to same school 30 yrs ago suggested back then the kids who were tutored struggled more after the first team.

Nimbostratus100 · 06/04/2023 04:25

LBFseBrom · 27/01/2023 21:20

Extra tuition for 11+ should not be necessary if the schools did their job and educated the children properly.

it is not the school's job to teach the 11+. It is not part of the national curriculum at all

LBFseBrom · 06/04/2023 05:17

LBFseBrom · 27/01/2023 21:20

Extra tuition for 11+ should not be necessary if the schools did their job and educated the children properly.

I quite agree, plus some help and encouragement from parents. However I saw earlier a poster saying you can't expect the schools to prepare children for the exam because it isn't on the national curriculum. I'm sure it is in schools local to me.

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