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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:31 am 
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hi there, i am hoping someone can please give me some advice. my ds has just gone into year 4 at primary (aged 8 ) and so i have started thinking about his options for senior school. i live in great barr so the local comprehensive choice for us isnt that great (friends nearby have either gone to q3 or menzies!!) i like the idea of a grammar education for him but i'm not sure how to find out how well suited he is for it. he's a bright boy who does well at school but i have heard all sorts of stories about how much tutoring kids need to get in to the schools in the first place and i'm not sure i want to subject him to that. i also have a ss who is 18 and has not done well at the local comp, he is a bright kid but the mentality at school seems to be "oh, its ok, you can always re-sit" which means he is having to do another year at 6th form and i'm not completely convinced that is going to make any difference this year!! anyway, back to my ds - has anyone any advice on whether lots of tutoring is really necessary, and if he needs a tutor to get into the school does that mean he will be struggling to keep up throughout. if we go down the grammar route then we will probably look at king edwards five ways or queen mary's as they would be easier transport-wise (although ke means a very long day for him). any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated. thank you.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:57 pm 
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hi there, this is my very first post so please bear with me.
My eldest son managed to get into Handsworth Grammar for Boys this year but prior to this I also spent quite a lot of time while he was in year 4 and 5 thinking whether to give him some extra private tuition. The school was against this and I could understand it. However I spent most Sunday evenings from 5-7pm going over with Jane Bonds books and whatever I could find on the internet and he seemed to soak it up.
He also has a very busy schedule where he plays for a local football team (under 12s) training on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays mornings as well as league/cup matches on Sunday, swimming on Monday evening and many other activities.
I know other families who have spent a fortune on extra private tuition and succeeded in getting into KE grammars but the kids have missed so much being kids. These kids tend to be shy and introverted.
In short I decided against giving him extra external private tuition which would have impacted on his other activities and relied on his natural ability.
I would rather he stay all rounded rather than just an academic person.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:02 pm 
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thank you for your reply, it's nice to know someone who hasn't gone down the intensive training route!!! how does your son find handsworth - i hadnt even thought of that school as a possibility for some reason (which is bizarre as its the closest to us!!) also, without being too nosey but how did your son do at primary school? i'm really trying to guage how bright kids need to be to succeed at grammar school. someone i know had a test done with a private tutor who has said that with extra tuition her daughter should try for grammar but surely its in her interest to say that!!!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:37 am 
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Location: Not in a hole in the ground but in a land where once they dwelt-the Beormingas
If a grammar school environment is what you seek for your dc then I would go for it.

When I first considered the 'grammar' option, I was advised that say, 6000 children sit the exam, only a third of them are grammar school potentials. And if you want a KE then you're looking at a (couple of) a 100 odd places, fiercely competed by children who are not only bright but well trained too.

Considering that C E M assessment tests natural aptitude as best as they can; any child who secures a place, in my view, is grammar school material.

I wouldn't be put off by the 'tuition' argument: I have seen kids tutored for years but still fail to win a place. Also, in the family, we have those who have won places at Habs Aske, QE, HB and WCH and although some were tutored, it didn't stop them from doing really well in their Gcses and A'levels.

Three of mine are at ke schools and the one who was tutored is the extrovert and still manages his football, rugby, karate clubs along with his school work. :D



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:47 am 
This is a very interesting question. In my opinion the signs would be thus:

Dc regularly in the top 3 in his class at primary school

Tutoring invoked but this is for practice only, accuracy of answers and time

If tutoring is for explaining concepts and dc still struggles after a period of time to grasp then this could be an area of concern.

Ks1 results at level 3

Strengths in science and maths side, possibly on gifted lust at school in one or two subjects.

These are some general Items related to the question posed, up for discussion as always


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:28 am 
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Location: Birmingham
I think no-ball is describing attributes of many of the strongest candidates but not all. There are also a number of factors that influence the decision to go down grammar route: it may be child's attainment or what the parent regards as their potential. Either way, the exam will ultimately sort it out. The exam is at such a level that I don't see how anyone can get in without being up to it when every year there are very bright children who don't get in.

KS1 level are good indicators but some children, especially boys, are late developers. My DS was 2b/2a, then made very slow progress for 2 years due to a variety of factors: then he shot up from level 3c to 5c within 6 months and maintained his improvement after. Confidence was also a big issue.

I also think that although it takes a bright child to conquer the concepts of maths / science with ease, literacy skills are much more important because they help them across all subjects at secondary school - particularly as they start to rely on disseminating info from textbooks independently.

I would still say that my DS is more of a borderline candidate because he has not always excelled at school in the past but we are going down this route because we don't have a local alternative that I am happy with.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:58 am 
Exactly, and agreed. These were very quick discussion points.

One could almost say the benchmark against which to compare my own DS to at the start of the journey.

My own DS us nor a fan if reading, rather watch endless repeats if top gear, mythbusters, how it's made and the middle! Something must be going in. I

All I would say that one is looking to get a child into a fiercely competitive grammar then the pointers I have listed are a basis for benchmark.

I remember when I started the journey for DS, there was little advice around. Thanks to this site and contributors a wealth of experience is on offer for the newbie..

Good luck again to all


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:52 am 
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thank you for all your comments, i really appreciate the advice.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:18 pm 
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Hi Nicky,
If he's bright, and you're not convinced by the local comp and your ss has not had a great experience of it, I'd definitely go for the grammar. No one else has commented on it so I will: why don't you want to subject your DS to tuition? There's nothing wrong with hard work, or preparation. It's a great discipline to learn, whether or not he gets in. If you do decide to tutor him, at home or via a paid tutor, I'd hide any feelings that this is endurance. Try and suggest it's a brilliant opportunity for him to develop his latent brilliance!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:40 pm 
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i suppose my main reason was that if he needs a tutor to pass the exam then i'm worried that he wont be able to keep up once there and will find it a real struggle. also, i dont want him to find it all a chore - at present he really enjoys school and actually likes reading and doing homework, i would hate it if he lost this because i was putting too much pressure on him.


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