Classical Foundations.  Private tuition in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire

Preparing for 11+

Grammar school in the old days
Grammar school in the old days
Head teachers of state schools that use the 11+ examinations to filter students are often heard saying that you don't need to have a tutor to prep and even that it's best to turn up on the day and see how the boy/girl fares.

Hmm. The English football team don't prepare for penalties I hear too. Result? Yep.

Now, I can't blame state sponsored grammar school heads from saying don't buy tutorial services. After all, they get their funds from the taxpayer rather than from clients directly and ethically, because they are a government funded institution, they can't advise local students to pay for extra prep lessons. Fair enough. Best keep neutral.

Reality though is different. Most parents do fund their child's 11+ prep. We have met folks who didn't and the kid sailed through - great! They're unusually gifted I'd say. We've also met many who regret not making the short term investment to get some professional assistance.

Nothing in the state primary sector prepares a 9-10 year old for the 11+ exams. That's why "prep" schools prep kids. I always wondered what they were about when I was younger and having been in the tutorial profession for fifteen years I see that they begin preparation for the 11+ for state grammar schools and independent schools for about two years in advance. TWO YEARS! For good and ill.

What this means is that the local grammar schools are going to have a higher proportion of children entering year 7 whose parents have funded prep school (never mind preparatory lessons). If the message coming out of the state grammars is not to prep - what are they saying? That if you've come from the prep schools, you'll walk the exam, but if you don't - hey, we may find a few intelligent kids in the local primary schools. Not really a level playing field is it?

Do you need to pay for 11+ tuition? Not necessarily. For parents local to us applying for the Lincolnshire grammar schools, we often offer an assessment lesson to see if it's worth putting the child through the process and then teach the parents what we do. Many come on board anyway as we've been helping families for fifteen years negotiate the school systems (private and state, GCSE and A-level): we're more than happy to help people out.

And we can quickly assess if the young boy or girl is up for the challenge - it's a hard intellectual sprint for many young people to make. All a bit too early for some - and we discuss the options with parents accordingly and honestly.

For those who come on board, we tend to do hourly lessons once a week. We have a few tools and tricks up our sleeves to help children focus and reach their targets - but more importantly, whatever school they want to get into, we're keen to help them get into the better stream in year 7.That can make all the difference over the next five years. Schools can be a bit reluctant to move pupils up sets at times, so if they start off in the high sets, it's easier to keep them there: the teachers expect more of them and funnily enough (we've known this for fifty years in psychology) the pupils rise to the challenge.

The years between 9 and 12 are phenomenal for learning and securing strong intellectual foundations - to retain the natural love of learning and to help the child learn more about analytical, mathematical, and spatial reasoning is vital for good mental development through the teen years.

When clients ask us if we do the 11+ training, yes, we say - and we're really proud of our results. But we're proud because we know we've encouraged a young mind onto a higher plane - and that pays dividends throughout the schooling years.

Article by Dr Alexander Moseley
Added Tue, 19 May 2015 16:30


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