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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:12 pm 
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Hi I am new to this forum and I was wondering if any kind souls could help me relieve some anxieties about this journey.

Currently my child is in year 4 and whilst I feel that they are intelligent enough and able to cope with the pressures of attending a grammar school in the future, I am faced with the simple matter that we simply cannot afford a tutor. I have been diying it myself with my child and they seem to have a natural aptitude for maths and nvr however their spellings lets them down.

I think what I would like to ask is, during your 11 plus journey how certain was you that this was the right journey to take?

For us if my child did not manage to get into our chosen grammar (Five Ways) they would have to go to the local comp as we would not be able to afford to send her to a grammar further away. My child really wants to go to FW and is self motivated, they are currently working above expectations at school and has also been marked as a child to watch (most likely to go to grammar) so is being stretched at their school.

It really does worry me that if they did not pass it would be seen as a failure and would I really want that to impact my child. I have already told my child that if they do not pass, the learning they have done will only put them in great stead for their future education which my child completely agrees with.

Thank you for taking the time to read


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:38 am
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Location: West Midlands / warks border
Welcome!

I am half way through my 11+ journey.

My DS is in year 9 at FW and DD will be starting FW this year.

Both were bright children, so we felt 11+ was the way to go. We were fortunate enough to be able to tutor both, but there are a number of people on here who have gone down the DIY route. Lad in my DD class is off to Camp Hill this year, tutored by his mom.

Practice papers are available to buy and some can be downloaded free from Internet.

This year the focus seems to be more on Verbal Reasoning in particular vocabulary.

Therefore start your DC reading, reading, reading and when they've finished that, more reading again!

The should keep a note book at their side and write down any words they come across that they don't know. They can then look them up and practice spelling them and writing sentences.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:45 pm 
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Hi CharlotteandWilbur,

Welcome to the forum.

While there never is a guarantee a child will be successful in their 11+ exams (they may simply have an 'off' day on the exam day), a bright and self-motivated child like your daughter is very likely to do well.

We went through the 11+ telling ourselves and our DS that all he can do is try his best and all we can do is support him as much as we can.

If the school you are hoping for your DD to get into is very competitive on entry, and your DD does not get a place, the most important thing to tell her would be that she did very well, but there were simply too many children as good as her going after a limited number of places. For the time being, though, don't focus on the outcome and just do what you can to help your DD prepare and hope for the best.

If you search various threads on the forum, you will see that there are a lot of people who don't hire tutors and prepare their children themselves and successfully. Good luck!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:35 pm 
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Posts: 297
Hi CharlotteandWilbur:

First off - we went DIY for both girls - eldest did not make it (for nearest grammars) and youngest will be starting CHGs in Sept 2016.

Second - as others have said - there are no guarantees. Anything can happen on the day. Tricky question that they spend too much time on, nerves, illness, just not their day, etc.....

Third - competition - a lot of people are taking this exam and preparing hard for it - so you have to accept from the outset you can only do what you can do. Like you we were in no position to spend a fortune on tutors - so we did the best we can.

My view is that preparing for the 11+ is about aiming for a very high educational achievement which no matter what will put your child into a really good position starting secondary school. With little fish - she was definitely not the very brightest at her primary (and indeed they went on to the grammar schools) but she has turned out to be one of the brightest/ in top sets at secondary and it has given her a lot of confidence. Again - that never would have happened if we hadn't DIYed for the 11+.

Spelling - I don't think this is a huge issue. The exam certainly won't have spelling questions per se - there could be hang man style missing letters questions (cloze questions) - but so far these haven't appeared on the exam - only mixed sentences and word banks with fill in the blank. So more important they comprehend the meaning of complicated words and have the vocabulary recall to come up with a synonym or antonym than they can spell words precisely (because the answers are provided on the multiple choice exam and my understanding is that the choices aren't cruel - as in two similarly spelled words - effect vs. affect for example).

My advice to you is up the quality of the reading fiction your child is doing - that will be your best aid for vocabulary comprehension - reading list for 11+ here: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/advice/english/reading-list

Make sure you discuss reading: meaning of words & implied meaning (so foreshadowing, word selection to indicate tension/ fear/ emotion/ etc....

Invest or borrow cloze workbooks - this is the area where tutored children can have the advantage - mixed sentences/ fill in the blank/ hang man style question practice is really helpful.

The rest is straightforward:

antonym/ synonym - often given an easy word you'd know and then a choice of 4 complicated words on the test

maths - sound calculation skills/ percentages/ proportions/ fractions/ - work on word problems

NVR - bond materials are fine for this. Don't worry about nets (the cube questions) - have never appeared historically in B'ham.

Finally - really work on making sure they absorb instructions and take the time to be really clear about what they're being asked to do. A lot of the near misses (and I include my eldest [little fish] in this category) come down to not understanding the instructions/ question/ what was being asked. I feel better to work accurately & steadily than to rush - box clever - if a question (say a word problem) is going to take ages - skip it and come back later. Better to answer straightforward division/ percentage type questions and then come back to the weird question about number of animals in a zoo - which is based on having 3 more than the number of giraffe's which is 5 more than the number of zebras which is 1/3 the number of geckos. There were 16 Llamas. [I've altered what was acctually there a bit but I kid you not].

Finally - just be openly proud about all the extra work, their improvement, the fact they're willing to aim high. What will be will be. Be hopeful but try not to make it the be all and end all. I think it's more upsetting for the kids if their parents are really disappointed - so prepare yourself to be incredibly happy & proud regardless of outcome for their benefit.

And as I said doing the 11+ (although not successful) has been a huge help to my little fish. Getting off to a flying start in secondary and being a big fish in her small pond has been great for her.

Hope that helps.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:00 pm 
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Hi C&W

Just talking to my small fry (passed) and her friend (did not make CHGs and decided Handsworth was too far away) on way back from after school club and they made a really good point...

They both felt that not passing should never make you feel a failure. They both see this as partly about being lucky on the day - especially as scores are adjusted for age. (So small fry's friend has a September birthday and small fry is born several months later and that could well be the difference in their scores - as there was only 12 points in it).

Big sis 'little fish' added that the real problem for her was not going on to secondary with all her friends and that would be the same whether she passed or not.

Little fish said that she knew she nearly made FW (where she wanted to go) - so that made her proud as missing by 5/6 points & a 11th birthday near the test date is likely to mean she didn't score that much less than her friends.

After the 11+ in Y6/ early Y7 for little fish there was a lot of standardised tests - ks2 SATs/ CAT testing on 'moving up day' and in first weeks at her secondary school. She felt the 11+ prep made all of that very straightforward and she was generally ahead of most students in Y7 because of extra work for 11+ so went on to do very well on SATs & CATs & class tests/ end of year exams which has lead to her gradually being classed 'top set' over Y8.

As a parent it is hard not to feel disappointed if it isn't a pass - of course you want them to pass and it hurts when they don't. But genuinely not passing has spurred my little fish on to work hard at her secondary comp. She's determined to get into a grammar school for sixth form and she's learned it's important to be well prepared for any test. Which I think are great lessons and takes the pressure off me - i.e. No problems about doing homework or studying for exams here at home.

Hope that helps and wishing you & your DC all the best of luck on the 11+.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:26 am
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Thank you so much for your replies especially you OldTrout, it has been a great help to read about some first hand experience.

I think I will have to take an attitude change come what may at the end of this journey, I find it so hard to talk about this with anyone in real life, parents at the school either do not want to know or they think that by sitting the exam we feel that the secondary school is not good enough.

I am most certain that at the end of this my child will benefit regardless of the outcome.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:21 pm
Posts: 297
Hello again CharlotteandWilbur

My husband was taking a peek at this and said two things

Secrecy/ silence is just part of the 11+ process - it is a competition and some feel it more keenly than others.

He also (quite rightly) says opting for the 11+ isn't a vote against local schools but is recognition that the King Edward schools (I'm just speaking from a Birmingham perspective) are some of the best in the country (state or independent sector).


By choosing the 11+ route you may be making a different decision than others but it is an opportunity available to anyone in Birmingham and free of charge to boot. You're most likely not telling them they have to take the 11+ and you are entitled to your free choice to do so or not.

Our local comp was our third choice but it was a safe fall back position and has been a very happy option for little fish. We just opted to attempt to explore all options.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:34 pm 
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OldTrout wrote:
Secrecy/ silence is just part of the 11+ process - it is a competition and some feel it more keenly than others.
Unfortunately, it often is the case and we experienced it, too. Don't take it personally, CharlotteandWilbur, and just do what you feel is right for your DD.

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It felt like I hit rock bottom; suddenly, there was knocking from beneath... (anon.)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:30 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:03 pm
Posts: 54
Both my girls got into CHG without a private tutor. They did a year and a half of on line tests with a well known local provider. They also did the mock exams with the same company. I kept a close eye on their progress and helped them with topics they did not understand.

Both girls excelled in all areas and I was always pretty confident that they would get in. One walked it with a score of 243, the other got in from an initial waiting list position of 20. So it is tough and I would be concerned if your child was showing a weakness in any area.

So many kids are trying to get in these days and so many are getting pushed really hard by their parents that I feel some naturally gifted kids are missing out by not being adequately prepared. You've got to ask yourself if you personally are able to provide the level of help needed in this competitive environment. I would urge you to look at the options if you can possibly afford them.

If your child takes the exam and does not get in, it won't be the end of the world and they will get over it. You can have a huge influence by not showing your anxieties or making them feel they are letting you down. In life you win some and you lose some (but the harder you try, the more you win)!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:45 pm
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CharlotteandWilbur, it is very true that competition for grammar school places can be very intense, but please don't let it dishearten you. From what you've said about your DD, she is naturally gifted and her only issue is spellings, which, out of all things, is probably the easiest thing to fix (unless your DD is dyslexic, but you didn't mention anything about that). I don't know whether she will have to write an essay for her English exam, but if she does, what will matter most is her creativity and vocabulary rather than perfect spelling.

Don't worry too much about potential weaknesses at this stage - a lot of children don't even start preparing before year 5, so you still have plenty of time. Just note in what areas your DD may need some extra help and concentrate on those. My DS had quite a few weak areas in year 4, I worked with him on what needed improving and he was successful in his exams. Also, remember that reading a wide variety of books is extremely helpful in getting ready for the English and VR papers.

There is an abundance of 11+ materials available these days so as long as your DD keeps working and you feel confident about being able to help her along, it can be done. Good luck!

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It felt like I hit rock bottom; suddenly, there was knocking from beneath... (anon.)


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