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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:48 pm 
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I'm new to the forum, though I've been lurking over the past few months. My 9yo Yr5 daughter has been having small group tuition for the past 9 months. Although I was very pleased with my daughter's progress, we have had to part company with the tutor (it's a long story). So now I've got to think through what we do now. We are looking at 121 tuition and small groups and even thinking about DIY - eek!

Schools-wise we're thinking about the KE grammar schools and KEHS for her. She is bright (reading age 13+, school levels 4b-4a already) but finds it very hard to concentrate. She actually has a dyslexia diagnosis because of her poor short term recall and her extremely slow handwriting. I think these factors made tuition a real challenge for her, and especially the classes themselves.

Since we've had a difficult experience with having to leave a tutor, I don't want to get into a similar situation again. Does anyone have wisdom for me? Have you experienced groups v 121 v DIY? And if you have the perfect solution on the West side of Birmingham I'd love to hear from you!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:34 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
Unfortunately I don't know the West Brom side of Bham nor any tutors there, but I really do hope that you are able to find something that works out well for your daughter. As you will have found out, most will be full by now. Or if you are confident, you could ask a tutor to assist you with material to work on at home?

I am concerned at the apparent dyslexia, given that she is 9 and has a reading age of 13? This doesn't sound dyslexic - did her school make this diagnosis?

"has a dyslexia diagnosis because of her poor short term recall and her extremely slow handwriting."

Without meaning to sound flippant, I have both of these problems and am definitely not dyslexic :D .

RE 121 and group tuition, it depends on your child. My ds1 worked well with 121 tuition - it was absolutely the best thing for him. Ds2 is only really motivated by competition, (as are many other children nowadays!), and for him 121 didn't work as well but group tuition has.

Best wishes


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:23 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Dudley, West Midlands
Turtlegirl wrote:
I'm new to the forum, though I've been lurking over the past few months. My 9yo Yr5 daughter has been having small group tuition for the past 9 months. Although I was very pleased with my daughter's progress, we have had to part company with the tutor (it's a long story). So now I've got to think through what we do now. We are looking at 121 tuition and small groups and even thinking about DIY - eek!

Can you say a little about your ‘Eek’ reaction to DIY tuition? There really are some advantages. Do you think you might be persuaded to take it on?

I wonder if you’ve thought about Wolverhampton Grammar School and, perhaps, it’s OpAL program. The travelling isn’t necessarily daft, see http://www.transportdirect.info/.

I’m a bit out-of-date with WGS but I did very much like the school, seriously considered its ‘big-six’ program. Not sure if this is a factor for you but I have had offers from them at between 50% and 80% off fees for Y7 ‘standard’ place. OpAL is at extra cost and I’ve no idea if places may be subsidized for good candidates.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:30 pm 
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Thanks for the replies. She is definitely dyslexic - we had a proper assessment done, but as she is so able it hadn't been picked up by the school. I've looked at the paperwork again tonight and the big issue is 'working memory' - hers is especially poor in comparison to her other abilities.

Wolverhampton would be a bit of a trek for us and her dyslexia isn't all that disabling. I've seen the WGS scheme and it does look good. We couldn't afford their 'Big Six' though. We went to visit a 121 tutor tonight and I am beginning to think that this is the approach that will suit her (and us). We're going to see a group next week and will see how that goes.

Is there anyone who's tried all types of tuition?!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:37 am 
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Hi, we started our DS off in a group and although he enjoyed working with other kids as time went on they all became more competitive and petty squabbles broke out over who was right etc etc. We were unlucky in that I don't think the tutor handled it very well and instead of nipping it in the bud allowed the squabbling to escalate until someone got upset. We made the decision to move our DS to 1 2 1 tutor and it was much better for him. He was happier and to be honest I found he was just taught in a better way - in group there was a lot of handing out sheets and the kids swapped sheets to mark them, great if you're getting them right but not much fun if you didn't understand something and everyone else knows you got them all wrong !!!!
It really depends on your child and how they are happier working, I think both have good and bad points. As for DIY, I found that my DS found it much easier to work with someone other than his Mum !!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:54 am 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
Interesting, and you are right that 1-1 is often best for some children but that seems to be an example of badly taught group tuition. To be honest a well managed group will be very different, and the tutor will use the competition positively and not negatively. It also depends on the number of children in the group too, 6 children or less can make a nice tutor group, any more and it is about classroom management, not tuition!

The practice of the 'tutor' sitting quietly, doing nothing and handing out reams of worksheets for children to do is also a common one. My ds1 had a tutor like this for quite a few months. Without meaning to be harsh, you may as well employ a babysitter to sit with them whilst they fill out workbooks. Which isn't all bad, as at least the child is doing something!
The best tutors I have known have engaged with children, actually taught them, worked on their weaknesses and set side specific time for paper practice, including setting this work for homework.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:55 pm 
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Very interesting to hear your comparison Freddy. We had to leave our group tutor after the tutor/group dynamic seemed to break down.

I've just had an alarming discussion w a tutor today who told me that if my daughter is not already on Level 5s at school at this stage (w nine months to go to 11+) that she is not in with much of a chance in the exams. But reading around this site, I'm not sure she is right. Anyone able to comment on that?

I wonder if there is a tendency for tutors to talk up the difficulty of the exams, perhaps to put off parents who think their children are brighter than they are. I've spoken to a few tutors over the last few days and some make me think that I should abandon the whole project. Aren't there some people who just go over a few papers with their kids in the weeks before the exam and still get in? What proportion of Birmingham grammar school kids have been tutored before the 11+?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:01 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
Interesting questions, indeed.
Being level 5 in Year 6 or even Year 5 does not in itself guarantee a Grammar school place; the exams are different to the SATs exams and requirements. Many strong SATs students will not make Grammar. You are comparing two different things.

Ds1 who is now at KE Camp Hill actually left Year 6 with a level 4 in writing. Granted, he was one mark off a level 5, and still gained level 5 overall for literacy, but he still gained his first choice Grammar and has done well there, despite this 'level 4 discrepancy'.
He also possibly made up for it by being a strong level 6 in Maths.

As to what percentage of children are tutored, I would say the vast majority. Although many will say they are not. "I only did an old paper the weekend before the test" is often heard from pupils...do you really believe it? I don't.
But then, what exactly is tuition? If a pupil has educated parents and interested grandparents, who provide rich reading material, conversation, and varied activities, is that not 'tuition'? It is probably far better than what some 'cram 'em in, rake it in' inner city tuition centres offer. Then there is the obvious question of which schools the children attend. Primary schools were not made equal, and although there's the obvious advantage of small classes and high standards in Independent Prep schools, there's a huge variation on teaching and achievement amongst the state schools too. There are some that will regularly send half a dozen a year to Camp Hill, and others that have never sent a child there.

I am presuming that the tutor(s) you have spoken with have assessed your dd by 11 plus, not SATs standards, and are perhaps concerned that she is not up to the standard required? However, if your daughter is keen and wants to work, I still would not give up. Children can make amazing progress and fly right past their peers if they are well motivated and put in the volume of work required. Bright but lazy children are sadly often the ones to fall by the wayside. What you do need now is a tutor who will give you the right work for her to focus on in order to sharpen up the skills she needs all round. Best wishes.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:49 pm 
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Thanks for the reply um. Actually, the person I spoke to hadn't seen my daughter, she was just going on her school level. I was pretty surprised, as my daughter was assessed by her previous tutor as having great potential, and had her IQ assessed at 127 when she had her dyslexia test done. So I do think she's got the potential. She's leapt ahead with her maths this year (gone from 3a-4a) too.

When you talk about 'volume of work', what level should I be expecting of her at this stage? She managed 3 Bond papers today at level 4 and scored 82% in maths, 60% in English (this surprised me as she's normally very good with comprehensions etc) and 85% in VR. That's 2hrs work, plus she read a couple of chapters of Robinson Crusoe in the orginal version (and some other rubbish as well).


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:04 pm 
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I think only you can decide whether the volume of work is enough, or indeed too much, from the reaction of your child. If she is keen and responsive and seems to be progressing then keep up your present level. If she becomes resentful, bored or progress has halted then perhaps lighten the load slightly.

I DIYed with my DCs and was doing nowhere near the amount you seem to be doing at this point in our preparation, but that was because I felt one hour a week was enough for them. Having said that I did other things with them during the week (times tables games, free rice, talking to them about what they were reading....) that didn't feel like work but was also preparing them for the test.


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