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 Post subject: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1425
For our DD we deployed a hybrid approach to tuition and support. DP1 focused on English (as Petitpois's English and grammar is sloppy). PP supported NVR and maths. TV and tablets were banned on average 2 days per week during term time, although it can be hard, to keep that up consistently up. A lot of the time rather than do any work, that mean't playing with Barbies or drawing, painting or making cakes. Making cakes was good as measuring scales introduced maths and conversion without thinking about it directly (and you get a treat at the end).

Sometimes they go to after school club which is basically intense play, so both DD would generally come home over fed and emotionally unable to do anything extra, so we just let things slide on those days.

We managed to always get school homework done (priority), even when this did not directly link to 11 plus, e.g. building a model castle or designing a flag etc etc. For maths we used school provided "my maths" on line tool (we really got into this after relatives from Trafford area recommended and they had three successes into MGS and Altrincham Girls) and did as many year 6 boosters as we could on that, from start of Yr5. The on line reporting helped identify any issues, e.g at start of year 5, school had not done, fractions, %, area or volume effectively. Then we would also do the homework from tuition. It seemed like endless worksheets at the time, but 1 hour school and 1 hour tuition homework every week, is probably a fair reflection, plus a bit extra to make for gaps from the school.

We looked at 3 tuition options.
A) we met with two or three private tutors £25-£40, but did not trust or buy their sales stuff.
B) We then went one of the main 11 plus providers and they quoted us between £5000 and £7000 for 12-15 months tuition plus a series of in built mocks exams. Apart from price we laughed when he said no feedback as his job was not to pacify parents
C) Finally found an independent school in Birmingham that had really good general reputation and was doing tuition for equivalent of £13/hour. Max class sizes of 6. Most impressed with the staff and the ethos. So two hours every Saturday, there from towards end of year 4. They were by no means perfect, but what is (perfect) and in any case we had a wobble where DD refused to attend, because yr6 lads were belittling her. Lost a month of paid up tuition through DD refusal to attend, screaming and wailing and probably the lowest point on the journey

DD often complained throughout and had to be cajoled to go, but we regularly had to cajole school homework out of her, as well. Made all the worse by pointless soul destroying comments from parents and teachers about hot housed kids. I really think that is complete rubbish.

I guess what I am saying is don't be afraid of a hybridised approach, to preparing for 11 plus.

Tuition is no substitution for your role as a parent. I don't think you can easily get away with handing over to a independent school and tutor and then expecting them to work miracles.

I genuinely think parents that chuck money at tutors are at little more advantage than those that do nothing.

One measure of a good tutor is if they are wiling to tell you that your child is likely to fail. Where we went it was either you were told 1) extra tuition will help your child, but be realistic. Vs 2) keep up the work and try and get DD up to a regular 90% on bond papers regularly. My last conversation with the tutor was that I felt DD was borderline and they said no she is a bit above borderline, but keep going and keep practising. Work on these areas etc etc.

Overall I would review regularly where you are. Me and garden pea discussed probably weekly (sometimes daily). Hope this gives a flavour for the journey, and some insights to help you decide if tutoring us right for you. BTW, NVR is a big one, because, its not done in school. Discussing with garden peas sister yesterday, she warned me not to be too formulaic, as DD2 is a different character than DD1. Roll on next two years of 11 plus fun and games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Last edited by Petitpois on Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:12 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:08 pm
Posts: 1239
Good one PP! As my English capabilities are similar to yours, it will take me a while to write up about our journey. But I promise to put something together.

However I would quickly like to point out that I prefer tutors who are straight to point, blunt and truthful about my kids ability, rather than giving me false hopes telling me how brilliant my child is. And on the same note, I would rather my child be challenged by the tutor, thereby achieving low scores like 3/20, rather than consistent 20/20 on simple work, which I know lot of big tuition centres do. At the risk of generalising, some of these big tuition centres provide a false sense of security to parents, by painting a rosy picture, based on the regular easy diet of work. These unfortunate parents are then shocked to see the final results.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:25 pm
Posts: 2610
Thank you for that open and honest preparation breakdown PP. There is an interesting thread, not sure if you've seen it in one of the general sections where this would add to the debate. Whilst it is likely when a county switches it's test format and the tutors are caught with their pants down some DC will get the required scores by just doing a couple of practice papers, this becomes less likely over time. Plus DP using this site will already know other areas using the so called new tests and get their DC up to speed.

Re the hot-housing comments that re-occur time and time again they can be demoriliasing and also deceiving for both DP and DC. My eldest convinced himself he got his place at Grammar because he was hot housed ( he left primary hugely lacking in self-confidence) and I am sure many DC end up under-prepared because DP fear being seen as 'that sort of parent'. Even us posters sometimes 'forget' how much preparation our DC did and start to defend the 'un-tutorable' :lol: test.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:00 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:53 am
Posts: 147
Great post again PP, have really enjoyed and appreciated your posts over recent days.

I didn't go down the formal tutor approach with my DD - we went down the DIY route - she only did the Birmingham exam so time will tell whether that was the right thing to do or not! My view is that as parents, we know ourselves and our children best. Although I didn't go down the tutor route, for others I completely appreciate that it's the right thing to do for them. I do wonder sometimes whether I have done my DD a disservice by not getting her tutored... I have to say though that whatever happens this forum has been amazing with all the tips and information from all the posters. I have lurked for a couple of years, and posted very little but just want to say thanks to everyone for all their contributions! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:20 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:30 am
Posts: 2248
I think tutoring is often less to do with technical ability or know how or officialdom, and more to do with the personality of the child, whether theya nd a parent can work well together and whether the parent has time to diy tutor. This last is obviously influenced by work commitments but also siblings, schoo, runs etc etc.

In our particular journey, the half hour a week tutoring they received, together with 20 mins per week day meant that it was easy to package, get done and put to one side, and most importantly, whilst we as parents backed up and supported the work they did, we didn't havethe battles that we would otherwise have had, especially with one of my twins who is very highly strung and worked infinitely more calmly with a tutor than with me (and stil works better with teachers than with me). So in our case, tutoring wasn't 'hot housing', and I suspect it very rarely is, but more to do with maintaining family relations!


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:37 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:53 pm
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I totally agree Yamin- getting a minute's work out of ds cost dearly in terms of cajoling and crying (from me lol) but he went happily to his tutor for an hour every week during Y5. We didn't do a lot at home other than homework, but he's always enjoyed using new vocabulary anyway so I just encouraged that and wider reading.

I liked our tutor and she did assess him first to see whether there was any point- will take dd to see her in a few weeks (currently in Y4) as she is an entirely different kettle of fish- and she was constantly pushing him and unsatisfied- even if he beat targets in mocks in some areas (he is strong in Maths but often made silly mistakes in comprehension) she'd ask for more. I was very happy with her, and I was happy with ds's progress, although I think I will have to do more at home with dd if we decide to go for it with her.

One thing I was very grateful for was how laid back my son was throughout the whole thing- I didn't want to stress him out (as there will be plenty of opportunities for stress in life) and he did take it all in his stride and didn't worry too much. He thought he had done enough to pass Walsall (which he did) but he did say B'ham was harder, so hopefully he's still done enough.

Reiterate Tonytiger's comments about the help on here :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:41 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:08 pm
Posts: 1239
Agreed Yamin! My eldest has recently taken up computing, and despite his Dad being in the computing/programming field for the past 20 years, he refuses to learn from me. To be fair my patience level is absolutely zero and lesson ends up being a disaster. So I would rather get external help for him.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:03 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1425
mamfa - similar deal with my year 4. She just clobbered DD1, who implored me to "sort out" my maniac for a DD2. We are taking time to think through what to do for DD2. She is a much better athlete than DD1, but is more tenacious, but at times less confident

Any ways they are out at gymnastics now, so quite time for me. I am thinking about the Journey as DD2 is a much more needy and less mature character than DD1.

On the hot housed / pushy parents bit, I don't believe we were because whenever we tried to do too much we just got screamed at. I lost count of the times me and garden pea agreed to do nothing for a few days, let things settle down and then slowly picked it back up again. Hot housing is as often used as jibe from parents without a plan, who cannot do time management.

I think that was one of the hardest balancing acts, because I always had it on my mind that we were wasting precious time. In reality we were in fact slowly but surely making our way through the 11+ swamp.

I am beginning to think of 11+ as similar to sculpture. You keep chipping away and it alls looks ever so messy. You come back have a go and it does not look like much progress has been made each time, but slowly and surely if you keep at it something begins to emerge. For all those in the 11+ swamp (just keep chipping away) - don't you just love mixed metaphors!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:33 pm 
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Posts: 275
We started with formal tuition when my son was in yr 4. He/we managed a term. He/we struggled with the amount of homework, with both parents working it was really difficult to keep up. It came to a head for us when we moved house, and into an area with (much) better non selective options. At this point it didn't "matter" quite so much and so we stopped everything until year 5. In year 5 I bought pretty much everything I could get my hands on that might help him, I have to say that we have some books I don't think we've even looked at...

I haphazardly tried to do work with him but my son is by nature, very laid back and not easy to cajole/bribe/coerce into working! However, at some point in year 4 he became an avid reader, and very keen on general knowledge (he comes out with stuff that I have to go away and google, yet is invariably correct). In the summer term of yr 5 he was selected by his primary to take part in a familiarisation course at KEFW, which involved an afternoon a week at KEFW (possibly for about 6 weeks, I can't really remember), followed by a "practise test" at KEFW on the Saturday before the Walsall exam. I think this may have helped him massively with the Walsall exam, but unfortunately we didn't really follow this up over the summer. He did a practice CGP paper and scored around 60%, and I thought not a chance. He carried on actively and voraciously reading because he wanted to.

My biggest worry now that we have his Walsall result which would be safe, is that I'm not convinced his KE result will be. I feel that we, as parents, may have done him a disservice by not pushing over the summer and not keeping everything fresh in his mind ready for the KE exam. I now wish we had, and in some respects I think if we'd carried on with tutoring he could have actually done better (in both). I am struggling with the fact that I may have let my son down by not pushing him a bit more, instead of acquiescing when he didn't want to work because something exciting was happening elsewhere.

Since getting the Walsall result on Friday he tells me he found Walsall "easy" and that KE was hard, he guessed a lot of maths/NVR due to time. This doesn't fit with other posts about KE being easier this year and adds to my opinion that I should have done more. With regards to hothousing, I think that some children, even with all the resources and tutoring in the area chucked at them are just not suited to selective education, whereas others need the support and guidance of an experienced parent or tutor to be able to realise their potential, this isn't "hothousing", it's support and guidance. I wish now that I'd done more. I am expecting to be disappointed on 16 October, yet still proud of my boy, because with more experienced (or perhaps, more determined!) parents I think he could have made it.


Last edited by Midlandsmom on Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuition minefield
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1425
Hi Midlands mom don't be so hard on yourself. Working, commuting and then getting evening meal sorted, then homework, then bed time routine is not easy. Some have things much much easier schedule wise and still complain. In contrast I have heard some DPs complain about homework getting in the way of "Downton".

In terms of summer loads of parents will have struggled we did. Walsall was such a stress ball day on the 1/7 that we couldn't look at any thing for like 10 days after, and then then was all the usual end of term festivities. Then the weather wasn't great and the kids starting getting bored - so ensued a series of days out here and there, followed by a decision that a week in Cornwall was high priority.

Don't be misled by the semantics - My DD says Walsall was harder content wise, but easier time wise. The truth is I think she was "cooking on gas", towards the end of year 5. When it came to KE - she appears to have got hammered in the first sections by the time / number of questions. She then seems to have recovered for the rest of the exam.

In fact I know of about 10% of people who say to me their kids got through and were able to check all sections. My DD was only able to do that for maths. Everybody else says their kids did not complete all questions. My initial estimates for KE were a standardised score of 194.

Even after the Walsall result I have only cautiously upped my estimate. So I just think for a variety of factors there is no correlation between doing well in July Yr5 and What you do in the first week of September. I cannot be certain whether DD ran out of steam, just got sick to the back teeth of the whole thing, or whether we just lost the momentum naturally as part of the summer shutdown.

Overall remember for every 1 hot shot in these exams there are 99 normal people who will cluster around the middle. So the only question is how much can your DD do on the day to push themselves up the ladder those extra few notches.

Hope all goes well and your pleasantly surprised in a few weeks. Also well done to you DD for all the hard work

regards


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