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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:27 am 
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My son has been tutored for almost a year. The tutor was recommended by an agency. She is a very pleasant retired teacher and my son has one to one with her.

However, I'm a bit concerned that she is not up-to-date with the exam format for the Grammars. Three times she has told me to enter son for Bishop Vesey exam, three times I have told her there is no separate exam now.

She didn't know about the Consortium of Birmingham Grammar Schools, do you think that tutors should be aware of this type of thing?

Also, most of the lessons seem to be verbal reasoning papers, not much comprehension or English, sometimes maths.

She tends to cancel lessons too, for her dental appointments and so on. I don't want to offend her, but I wonder sometimes if she's quite on the ball.

Any advice from you tutors out there would be gratefully recieved.

My son has 11+ exam this November.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:05 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
I do feel very sorry for you, Brummum. Is your son taking the test this November 2010? It seems there is little time left and in all honesty it will be extremely difficult to find a good tutor at this late time.

I do think it is a bit off for someone to advertise as an 11 plus tutor when she is clearly not up to date at all with things.
First of all I would stop the Verbal Reasoning right now unless you are trying to get into Handsworth Grammar.
Use the books to do the antonym/synonym, cloze and vocab type questions but nothing else.
Getting a fast and good grasp of Maths is important but many Primary school teachers are, in all honesty, not that good with Maths and maybe lack confidence to go further. If this is the case, then get started on Schofield and Sims Mental maths 5 and allow your son 10 minutes max per page. And then find a decent Maths tutor asap or a student who is doing Maths A level and is fresh with their Maths skills.
This tutor may be useful for Comprehension (remember it will be multiple choice) and Non verbal reasoning practice. Or she may not be useful at all, in which case you may be better DIYing.
Don't be afraid to talk clearly to the tutor about your concerns - after all you are paying and your son's education matters a lot. I have a few regrets in life from not acting earlier to sort out things with my kids and I am now pretty gung-ho with speaking up for their rights!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:07 pm 
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I am in a similar situation brummum...and feel extremely let down by a tutor...who started off fine but i felt wasn't covering enough ground... on questioning him i was told that all the other kids were doing fine and my child was below average... :x
i now am attempting to DIY so near to the exam...and my child is doing extremely well...but i feel i am lagging behind and have not enough time....but this forum is brilliant and has really helped me...
i am still carrying on teaching my child despite the fact that i feel cheated by my tutor....who repeatedly was telling me to try again in a few years time with the 12+ or 13+...
So don't give up Brummum the tutoring your child has had will obviously help him but like um has mentioned build up on what he already knows and try your best...
Good luck..


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:21 am 
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Location: Birmingham
Hi Hypertension

I really do get concerned about the knowledge and quality of some of the tutors in the B/Ham as evidence by some of the advice and comments. First we had one tutor saying that Bishop Vesey was a separate exam to the KE 11+ exams, and now we have another tutor recommending that the child tries again in a few years time with the 12+ and 13+!!!

Just to be absolutely clear, there is no 12+ or 13+ in B/Ham, you get one shot only at the 11+. KE schools occasionally have vacancies at 12+ and 13+ but applications have to be made directly to the school in question and normally only those children who didn't take the 11+ (for a variety of reasons) are considered. Heaven only knows why a tutor who knew anything at all about the B/Ham 11+ exams would think there was a 12+ or 13+ exam - I would seriously question whether it was worthwhile continuing with this particular tutor.

There are some good tutors but you really do need to check up and do your research first - caveat emptor

If you can't find one you realy are better going for the DIY route.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:38 am 
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Yes ken R this is exactly what i said to this particular tuor...as i have been lurking on this forum for a long time now. I was then told that so many parents do not have a clue and that he should be the one who knows as he has put so many children through...

After this particular discussion my child felt that the tutor was constantly singling her out in lessons...yes she probably isn't as motivated in his lessons and is a quiet child...but i felt she was getting very panicky and stressed about going to his lessons...so i decided to give her a few weeks off risky as this was so near to the exam..even thinking i can't put her through this any more as it was causing so much anxiety to both of us...

The tutor on hearing this turned around and told me she was always below average anyway and i shouldn't have bothered with her...which was so horrible to hear..
this tutor was just overconfident and he assumed that all parents were ignorant.

since i have stopped her going to him ..She is doing so well ..he had really knocked her confidence..
i know i have alot to cover but i wish i had started this DIY earlier. i wouldn't even bother with another tutor...plus her exam is in less than a month..

sorry brummum i have just vented out on your thread..


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:34 am 
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Location: london
You have my sympathies with all you say but this makes me really MAD
hypertension wrote:
The tutor on hearing this turned around and told me she was always below average anyway and i shouldn't have bothered with her...which was so horrible to hear...

I'm not for one minute suggesting the tutor's assessment IS accurate but if it WAS they shouldhave told you AGES ago and not wasted your time and money!! Sounds like sour grapes to me but the idea that a tutor would think it acceptable to continue taking money from a parent if they genuinely did not believe the child was up to it is just outrageous. :evil:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:53 am 
Ken, while you are right that there is no official 12+ and 13+ in the KE's, any resits that occur for places which fall vacant on year 7, are actually open to both children who have taken the exam first time round and to children who did not enter in the first place. It is a matter of putting your child's name down for any possible resit after the waiting list is scrapped at the end of August,and waiting to see if you will be called.

It is hard to say whether the chances would be better or worse in these circumstances. While they might call about 30 candidates to resit for one or two places, the reality is, if it is well into Year 7 and the children are settled in their new school, very few candidates may turn up for the resit.

In defence of my fellow tutors, it is quite hard to tell parents the truth in a way they find acceptable. With some, even the smallest criticism of the child, leads to a very defensive response where they go into long explanations of why the child is underperforming, a small part of which may be applicable. If you're too subtle in hinting at likely failure, it just flies over heads. If you're too blunt, it upsets people and usually for no good reason as the parent will probably soldier on with you, although now your relationship will be a little sour...and the job is hard enough without that.

And you may also be wrong in your judgement. I have had at least 3 students who gained entry against all expectation: mine, their parents and their schools. I have had a student drop out after I have been honest about her chances within 3 months of beginning tuition (she had no interest, hated tuition and was doing almost no homework), only for her to decide at a later point she wanted a grammar school place and was prepared to work exceedingly hard throughout the summer with her parents; as far as the parents were concerned, I had been wrong in my initial assessment although I would argue I was right in my claim that, without the necessary application, she would not make grammar school.

Even when you know a child is going to need a special effort (certainly more than you can do in 1 hour a week) and you go to the trouble of giving parents a package of extra work, some clearly resent it, feeling they are paying you to get their child into grammar so why should they have to do anything.

I think if a tutor is talking about 12+ or says things such as 'well, none of this will be wasted and will help with secondary school, anyway', you can probably assume that they are trying to be subtle rather than say outright they think a pass is unlikely.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:58 am 
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fm wrote:
In defence of my fellow tutors, it is quite hard to tell parents the truth in a way they find acceptable. With some, even the smallest criticism of the child, leads to a very defensive response where they go into long explanations of why the child is underperforming, a small part of which may be applicable. If you're too subtle in hinting at likely failure, it just flies over heads. If you're too blunt, it upsets people and usually for no good reason as the parent will probably soldier on with you, although now your relationship will be a little sour...and the job is hard enough without that.

And you may also be wrong in your judgement. I have had at least 3 students who gained entry against all expectation: mine, their parents and their schools. I have had a student drop out after I have been honest about her chances within 3 months of beginning tuition (she had no interest, hated tuition and was doing almost no homework), only for her to decide at a later point she wanted a grammar school place and was prepared to work exceedingly hard throughout the summer with her parents; as far as the parents were concerned, I had been wrong in my initial assessment although I would argue I was right in my claim that, without the necessary application, she would not make grammar school.

Even when you know a child is going to need a special effort (certainly more than you can do in 1 hour a week) and you go to the trouble of giving parents a package of extra work, some clearly resent it, feeling they are paying you to get their child into grammar so why should they have to do anything.

I think if a tutor is talking about 12+ or says things such as 'well, none of this will be wasted and will help with secondary school, anyway', you can probably assume that they are trying to be subtle rather than say outright they think a pass is unlikely.

FM I'm sure you are right it must be very difficult, but to tell someone 'you child isn't up to it' only when they cancel the booking? Churlish at best surely?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:18 pm 
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FM I'm sure you are right it must be very difficult, but to tell someone 'you child isn't up to it' only when they cancel the booking? Churlish at best surely?


Yes, I quite agree. That is clearly a very unnecessary response and the tutor has obviously taken the cancellation personally, assuming it was said in this manner.

But, from my own experience, I find there is very little connnection between the opinion I have formed in my head, what comes out of my mouth, what a parent then hears, what they relay to others and what eventually comes back to me via the grapevine. Goodness knows at what point it gets lost in the translation but it has taught me to put almost all comments in writing so at least I know that the weak link is not between my head and my mouth.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:41 pm 
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thanks all for ur posts...@fm...yes if my child wasn't able i'd rather have been told in the beginning which was about a year ago....
but at that point this particular tutor was shuffling my DD UP groups as he felt she needed to be in a faster paced group...her test scores although never 95% were better than most her fellow students...i.e 80 -90%.

recently her confidence in NVr took a dip where she had only 70% in some of the NFER papers...it was after this that i was told that she should go for the 12+...alongside all this the definitions tests and english tests she was getting 88-92%...
how this is a child who is below average astounds me!!
her maths is something that maybe isn't as good but not once did this tutor ever go through a question with her that she got wrong...some topics were not being taught yet in her school...so i would have expected that if i am paying for a tutor he helps her with them...but again i was told other children were doing ok without any further explanations..
She has 3 pieces of grammar work that have yet to be marked where his assumption was to hand out extracts and assume the child will do it correctly...not explaining anything at all..
For the past year i have been filling in most of the blanks in teaching with my DD..whilst the tutors job was just to hand out homework and go through Bond papers..

I believe if she was that bad i should have been told before.. and to knock her confidence and mine at this point is totally uncalled for..
now with 1 month left, on most tests i am doing with her she gets above 80% but there is still alot i need to cover such as cloze tests and homophones..etc and most important her SPEED.
My DD in her recent practise SAt tests has achieved level 5B's..i dont consider that below average at all...even though I know that is no indicator for 11 plus...

i have told my DD that if she works hard she has a chance but it is up to her.

Sorry about my rant but this issue is depressing me..


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