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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:38 pm
Posts: 6
Having come to the end of our journey with our (luckily you will see) only child, I felt I should share my experience with those who are considering embarking on the preparation for the Tiffin exams.

There aren't many posts from parents of children who were not successful. My DS was not. Fortunately, and we were truly astonished, he was awarded a scholarship at an academic independent school. Lucky only got the one or this wouldn't be an option. On the other hand, our local state secondary is very sought after, so not a disaster if we'd gone down this road.

Of course we were all disappointed that our DS did not succeed. His top 25% mark put him nearly 200th on the waiting list. This reflected where he'd been in his (famous) tutor group, ie rarely top of the class but never bottom. A couple of times during the year we seriously questioned ourselves on whether it was fair to ask a child to aim for a something where he had only about 1 in 10 (based on the success rate overall) chance of success. BTW - we live walking distance from Tiffin - so it felt like a local school which should be on our radar and DS primary school were supportive.

I think what I'm trying to say is to parents just starting on this journey, unless you are truly, absolutely committed to GS education and will do EVERYTHING to get your child into the top 10% - do consider what 12 months of Saturday mornings (plus tutoring homework plus extra papers and vocab) will feel like when you come out with nothing! In our (state) school six children did the Tiffin exams, two passed (girls only) - 1 who is truly exceptional and 1 who has been practising since Yr 3 (no secret). Spend time identifying a back up plan and sell it to your DC as equally good if not better.

Talking to a very good friend last week gave me the benefit of hindsight. She's just starting to tutor her (prob above average, but not exceptional) DD for Tiffin girls. She plans to 'do some Bond once or twice a week' and some extra vocab and 'see what happens'. My advice was - don't bother - find a school you're happy with and enjoy year 5.

Phew - that's all - think I needed closure on the whole experience! I've been surprised how down I feel, even though we have the alternative (which DS loves) and had tried to prepare him and ourselves for failure. I know we did the right thing having a go, but it doesn't help!

Thanks to the mods and all who contribute to the site. It's been a great help and support for us since 2009 when we first started to think about grammar school.

Mumjoe


Last edited by mumjoe on Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:24 pm
Posts: 170
Well done for sharing your story. I think it's a huge anticlimax when this happens, which might be why you feel so down even though you have a good alternative. Well done to your DS for the scholarship!

We went through this last year (different school, equally selective) and my son is now at a great Independent that gets just as good results as the Grammar and has loads of extracurricular stuff that he gets involved in. I truly believe things turned out for the best for us, but some of the Grammar parents I know probably don't believe me!

Good luck, I hope your DS enjoys his new school in September, he should feel very proud of his hard work and his achievement.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:12 pm
Posts: 88
Mumjoe
I can completely relate to what you are saying. We tutored DD for exam and although she is about 39th on waiting list, there is probably no chance and we had already accepted place at indie. It is difficult to accept initally, only 1 girl in my DD school got accepted and her father took a military approach to the exam process. She infact has been accepted for all I think 14 schools she applied for..Tiffin was one of them. We did take a gentler approach and probably started seriously in Y5. I have been reflecting and thinking wondering whether I didn't push it enough...maybe if I had made her work harder...been more obsessed with the process..etc my DD would have had the same choices...but is it really worth it?
To me now what's really important is how she approaches the coming years at school...grabbing opportunities and feeling part of her school..fitting in...enjoying her time there. It's what tey do now that counts and frankly Tiffin doesn't offer everything a lot of idies do.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:21 pm
Posts: 235
It is all you say - a bit of a lottery, and I am truly sorry you've all worked so hard and not made it to Tiffin, but very pleased you have good alternatives some with scholarships too which is fantastic. There is the other side of the coin though, and I thought it worth offering up an alternative outcome too:

DD did get in. She started tutoring in year 5 by doing the tutors pre-tutoring test thing and got 90% and begun a years' tutoring (classes 1.5 hours a week) in addition the weekly homework of 1 hour week. In the run-up to the exam in the last few weeks DD did a few extra papers and by a few I mean about 10. She reads like a demon though, and that's stuff like Tolkein and Anne Frank so reasonably serious literature that's really helped with VR. But she scraped through NVR only getting 117 in the test having left out 5 questions and had to randomly guess the answers. She was a 5b for everything in the yr 6 sats so near the top but acutally there were a few in her class who did better than her and were all 5a's, and were thought of as much clever than her in the year.

In conclusion she did well in the test on 6th of Jan. As has been said the test is a snap-shot of a DC's performance on one day. Is she the brightest in her year - no, should the other children who sat the exam in her year got in, yes in most cases and I cannot tell you why they didn't perform on the day when they sailed through some tough inde exams with flying colours. I just can't shed any light on the whys of the Tiffin exam in that respect. I do know that my DD has a very enquiring mind and lateral thinks around problems often in an interesting way, and possibly the exam picked up on this ability; I know it's not just tetsing your DC's ability to do puzzles! Oh and lastly we almost gave upall tutoring and a GS application in the summer as DD was finding the whole process a pain, her marks had dropped way down and it was making her miserable. What changed was another trip to the open day in Oct 10 and it suddenly re-lit the touch paper. She focussed in on wanting to do it, she wasnt' doing it for us or her tutor, it was because she really wanted it. We also were not being tutored for any inde's so no extra pressure there which helped.


Last edited by Doblinski on Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:21 pm
Posts: 316
Thanks mumjoe for that very honest and brave post.

We will be shortly be embarking on this process for the third and thankfully last time and my heart sinks at the thought (though we have been extremely fortunate that the first two were successful with their chosen schools).

We too have the "pleasure" of being part of the famous tutor group (well famous round these parts anyway) and just turning up on a saturday morning and having several children in the group constantly getting over 90% in every practice test can be a very daunting prospect for a rather more normal child....... :shock:

I have learnt, however, that although preparation is important, anything can happen on the day - good or bad - and actually it pays to almost expect the worst and to try as hard as you can to ensure that your non-grammar school option is one that you are happy with. Expecting the worst is actually very realistic when the odds are 1:10! Not eveyone is lucky enough to be able to have an independent school back up, but whatever your most likely non-selective school may be, it pays to talk it up and ensure your child will not feel as if they've failed anything if they go there :D


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:38 pm
Posts: 6
Thanks for the kind replies!

JG Ballard 14 exams - wow!

I think what Doblinski said about reading is key. My DS did fine on NVR but struggled all along with VR. My DH speaks English as his second language and I realised we'd lapsed over the years into some kind of pidgin at home. DS is a good reader - but Captain Underpants and Wimpy Kid more his preference, though I did read aloud to him a lot the last year. Which was a real pleasure and probably something I wouldn't have done this if he hadn't had exams. He really applied himself too and took the homework in his stride. So maybe it wasn't all bad after all. Didn't really do any prep for Indie exam (yes - only one set) apart from s**** ing ourselves over the Hab papers as it started off as a bit of a pipe dream (re-mortgage required). I'm clearly not the uber-mummy I was afraid I was!


Last edited by mumjoe on Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
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mumjoe wrote:
I realised we'd lapsed over the years into some kind of pidgin at home. !



don't worry - we do that all the time and english is alledgedly our first language! I'm sure outsiders must think we are crackers :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:45 am
Posts: 8
I totally agree with your comments. My 'very bright' daughter failed to get a place at either Nonsuch or Wallington.
We did some papers over the 2010 summer holidays and were totally
ignorant of the time some children had been tutored/coached for these tests until a friend who lives in the area told us girls in her son's local school had been working for this almost from the day they started school. My daughter was devastated when she realised she had 'failed' despite getting a place and excellent scholarship at an indie. The system seems completely illogical to me and I fail to understand how these tests are any indication of ability. No way will we be doing this to my ds - I couldn't bear the stress and disappointment of the process again. :(


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:13 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:16 pm
Posts: 61
I agree with all the coments and understand the stress parents go through , this year for tiffin exams M/C handed in and people get through back door with resit exam? why same paper in the resit exam for Tiffin?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:07 pm
Posts: 217
Location: Kingston
Fairness, it's not a "re-sit" it is a late-sit for children that were ill on the day or had a clash with another entrance exam or who were otherwise unable to sit the test on the main day, hardly "by the back door" It would be hard for Tiffin to use a different set of questions, it wouldn't be fair and they would be left open at appeal for people to claim one was more difficult than the other etc People are usually very careful not to discuss the contents of the exam and why on earth would they? They would be giving a heads up to a child who might get a place instead of their child.


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