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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:24 am
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In the last week, I've heard of/ spoken to at least 3 tutoring companies that are increasing their tutoring in light of the new CEM test. In practice this means: longer and/or more tutoring sessions per week, more homework, higher prices, and "foundation skills" tutoring being "strongly recommended" in year 4.

Did the GSs not envisage this? Far from levelling the playing field, with no planned familiarisation materials being provided for parents or the primary schools, this would seem to be heavily discriminating against children of families who do not have the resources (now running into several £000's) to provide tutoring and whose parents are not able to DIY.

Everyone must surely agree, as with everything in education, children who have seen the general types of questions before, had an opportunity to practice them, had experience doing papers under real timed conditions whether in school or with a tutor, will have an advantage over those who have not.

While I recognise the issues with the "old" test, I am very concerned that our children will be even more stressed, and overworked by the whole process than before, and the unfairness for children without means will be exacerbated.

...or perhaps the person who recently told me that this was all because the GSs want to become more elitist in their intake was right?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:35 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1302
Location: Birmingham
Quote:
I've heard of/ spoken to at least 3 tutoring companies that are increasing their tutoring in light of the new CEM test. In practice this means: longer and/or more tutoring sessions per week, more homework, higher prices, and "foundation skills" tutoring being "strongly recommended" in year 4.


To quote an infamous lady from Solihull at an Old Bailey Trial many years ago...
Quote:
Well they would say that wouldn't they


It's interesting that one of the B/Ham parents made the following comment about this year's B/Ham CEM exam:-

Quote:
A lot of friends children (who have been tutored for 1 to 2 years versus my DS being a last minute) were telling their parents that none of the exam had been covered by their tutor. I quizzed DS on this and he said that he could understand this as the format of it looked like nothing he had ever seen


My advice would be don't believe what tutors recommend and don't waste your money


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8208
Location: Buckinghamshire
My response is the same as Ken's: Caveat emptor! Buyer beware!

I have posted elsewhere that I believe an appropriate parental response to the new test would be to ensure that the child is achieving well in school, buy a few (a very few) Bond NVR books and then read, read, read, especially more challenging non-fiction.

If the school is failing your child in some specific way, by all means hire a tutor, but not an "11+ tutor". Hire someone who will improve the child's overall level of attainment, rather than teaching to a test that no one has seen outside of a few exalted circles.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:30 am
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As mum to a current year 5 child who will be one of the first to take the new exam I am baffled by the apparent willingness of people to throw away money paying tutors who can have no more idea than the rest of us what the exam will hold. From the heads talk given to us I understand that the test will be unique to Buckinghamshire and will not be a copy of any other CEM exam and any child with a solid knowledge of year 5 work will be able to give the exam a good go. I am no longer tutoring my daughter and am concentrating on building up her basic literacy and numeracy skills which will hold her in good stead whichever school she ends up at.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:07 pm 
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agree with this - far better to give the child a broad education / wide vocab / problem solvig - will make them more confident of being able to handle different types of questions


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:42 pm
Posts: 989
Location: Birmingham
I have been through the CEM exams twice now with my DSs - I DIYed both times although there was a big difference in terms of their abilities. There were times I felt I was putting them at a disadvantage compared to those who had used professional tutors familiar with the question types and previous exam content (some of which is recycled in some form). I think there is enough information on previous content on this forum now - see the Brum sticky - to level out the playing field a lot more.

Wrt reliance on tuition and CEM exams: the problem is that because the tests are based on such a range of literacy and numeracy skills, tutors/parents need to cover so much more to ensure solid skills before they begin to focus on the specific question types that might come up. This is what has lead to the increased 'need' for tutors as more parents feel there is too much to cover. This then becomes a vicious circle as there has been an increased perception that DCs need a tutor to pass. In this way CEM exams have done
the opposite have of what they state and I know of children at our school who started
tuition in years 2 and 3 in order to get a headstart :shock: - it didn't increase their chances though - some of them spent so much time reading passages from comprehension texts that they never had time to pick up an actual book and read :roll: - their time would have been better spent discussing what they were reading and engaging with different materials for pleasure. The essential core skills for the literacy aspect of these exams are reading skills, vocabulary and spelling and this does not need to come from endless worksheets / tests.

However, there are some caveats: I would say from my experience that these exams are designed to select those with quick processing, problem solving and literacy skills and no amount of tutoring will get someone who is not up to it to pass. It is a difficult exam. Those who are very bright and have these skills can and still do pass the exam without reliance on tutoring but it would be a bit of a gamble and it is unlikely that they will get the top scores. On the other hand, I would go as far as saying it is impossible to pass these exams without natural ability no matter how many years of tuition they have had. Unfortunately it will remain the case that where DCs fall near the borderline category it is likely that those who have 'worked smarter' with a tutor or well-informed parent will outperform those who have not had this chance.

In Bucks you are all in the same boat really and I expect it will be some years before tutors have some privileged info that other parents don't have - this forum can go a long way to ensuring that previous content is shared.

These are just my observations - other parents may have different experiences.

UmSusu

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UmSusu


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Also, remember, the Bucks test will be different as it aims to select the top 30% not the top 2/5%.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 7:04 pm
Posts: 224
OK, I'm biased, but .......

It seems to me that the better educated a child is, the greater the chance of success is any exam. The old test was about coaching. If anything, this new test should be about teaching and learning.

The purpose should be to teach children how to learn more effectively, and perform more effectively in any test or exam. My personal background and training is in the education of Gifted and Talented children in the transition years of 6 and 7 and children can make genuine progress that is sustainable in the long term if they are given the tools to learn, rather than just 'stuff' to learn.

I don't think more and more 'coaching' is effective for a more general type of testing methodology. Quite the opposite. I'm sure I irritate a lot of parents when I tell them that their child is doing too much, or is under too much pressure. Nor do I think that a one-size-fits-all group approach is worthwhile.

The question that parents ask shouldn't be 'will they pass?', but 'what will they learn?' It's on the basis of the answer to that question that parents can make a bettter informed decision about spending their money.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:27 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:46 pm
Posts: 188
Timepoormum wrote:
In the last week, I've heard of/ spoken to at least 3 tutoring companies that are increasing their tutoring in light of the new CEM test. In practice this means: longer and/or more tutoring sessions per week, more homework, higher prices, and "foundation skills" tutoring being "strongly recommended" in year 4.

Did the GSs not envisage this? Far from levelling the playing field, with no planned familiarisation materials being provided for parents or the primary schools, this would seem to be heavily discriminating against children of families who do not have the resources (now running into several £000's) to provide tutoring and whose parents are not able to DIY.


Perhaps the GSs were not expecting the parents of the children who would have paid for a tutor or DIYed under the old system to suddenly say 'Oh they've changed the 11+ questions, so we won't bother with tutoring now'. Of course they knew whatever they changed to the parents with the money or ability to tutor will tutor. It is up to the individual as to how much time and money they spend - whether it will make much difference is debatable.
I believe the change has been made with the pupils whose parents are unable to tutor in mind, the content of the test covers things that all children have access to learn in school unlike the previous test which contained question types some children would see for the first time in the familiarisation materials while others would know like the back of their hands from months of practice papers.
No selection process is perfect but perhaps a test with unknown content is the best way to get a level playing field - and drive parents crazy!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:59 am
Posts: 3579
I think that was really well put Kiwi mum.
The only change in our house is that my husband is now absolutely making sure he reads with the boys in the evenings, rather than "letting them, or himself off", as the mods on this forum and teachers, quite rightly emphasise so often how important it is. For my part I bought the year 5 boy a watch, so he could keep an eye on the time he was taking to do homework tasks etc...also no bad thing, as now I am far more puntual, as he starts getting stressy and pointing to his watch whenever we are due somewhere! We do half an hour book work extra six days a week, plus 15 mins reading, I know it benefits them whatever the 11 plus outcome. I am now more than happy that I dont have to look at another mirror code, or oddly derived "compound word". (my twelve year old is now at Grammar, and still has weird 11 plus ideas about what a compond word is!).
My only reservations are that the kids who get in a pickle in the mornings test, will panic before the pm test, with no recovery time.
I also hope a true 30% of Bucks Grammar school catchment children will be given places, rather than extremely intelligent OOC children, who helped raise the results of the cohort pass mark to such an impossible level in the past few years. Presumably grammar school heads know the level of achievement they require for each age bracket, so why should that change if 10 children of the same birth month, who live thirty miles away all get a stonkingly good grade. Should the powers that be want super academies then they need to change the whole ethos of the Bucks secondary school system?
Anyway, to summarise, bring it on, we can only see if it works if we try it.


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