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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:45 pm 
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Location: RBK
http://www.suttongrammar.sutton.sch.uk/ ... ests.shtml

According to a survey being conducted by Sutton Grammar PTA, there are proposals for common Entrance test by some of the Sutton and Kingston grammars.

Already there seems to be close understanding between Sutton Grammar School & Tiffin Girls about the entrance tests (two stage tests, 2nd stage after CAF deadline, more emphasis on core subjects i.e. English/Maths).

These proposals will effect large number of children in Kingston/Sutton/Surrey area in particular.

I think fewer exams would benefit children in reducing pressure. However, some would argue that more exams give chance to overcome any off-days as these tests are once in a life time event.

I also agree with more emphasis on core subjects, but disagree with multiple stage testing and taking 2nd stage after CAF deadline.

What are your thoughts? And please take part in this survey. This is a good opportunity to make your views known to these grammar schools.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:36 am 
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It sounds like they've made up their minds but I have reservations that changes are being proposed more for the benefit of the schools than the children.

They seem to be proposing:
stage 1: exams in September to whittle down applicants with a broad pass or fail awarded in time for parents to fill out the preference form.

stage 2: English and Maths tests for those deemed to be of selective ability to rank them with a view to making offers to those who come top.

It sounds like a no win situation all round for parents - although maybe I am missing something:
Stage 1 will tell you nothing about your chances of actually receiving a grammar school place disregarding the new Admission Code that says parents should be given more information.
And I do think this is a very deliberate disregard of at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the new Code which had aimed to improve parental choice and information.

Stage 2 will be held later and will be arguably even more stressful. There will be ‘so close yet so far’ pressures on children who have made the first hurdle but must now top the rankings. They will know the second exam really is the decider in terms of achieving a place - there will be a much more direct association and subsequently much greater pressure at this stage.
And there will be a more public disappointment for those who narrowly miss being selected to go forward into the second round. It is going to cause a lot of upset very early in Year 6 because at the moment results are confidential and cannot be guessed by other classmates at primary school.

I am also wondering how appeals would work. If your child isn’t even allowed to complete all tests, could you still request a non qualification appeal in March? Or do you lose that right because you won't have fulfilled the full application process of applying on the preference sheet AND taking all exams. I appreciate few of these appeals are upheld but nevertheless parents have the right to ask for them to be heard and appeal panels aren't going to be able to ascertain who might have narrowly met the grade (with possibly very good reason) if the child was not allowed to demonstrate ability in the second set of tests.

Again I may be missing something but the proposed system doesn’t seem to improve informed choice for parents, ease exam pressure for children or make the system any more open or fair.
I suppose the only advantage is not having to sit 3 or 4 tests in a 2 week period but surely sitting 'do or die' stage 2 tests at a more leisurely pace isn't such a great advantage?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:50 pm 
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Completely agree that for there to be only one common test that doesn't account for "off" days. My two children are both at grammar schools and neither passed all exams - just to have one exam would put far to much pressure on children who are already under pressure anyway. I will make my feelings known to SGS PTA.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:14 pm 
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By taking common exams, schools may be attempting to save huge cost of testing as open selectives are now faced with hugh number of applicants.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:15 pm 
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Thanks TB for posting this. It'll save money for the school but not good for the kids. Have an off day, be slightly unwell, miss out a page accidentally and you scupper your chances of two great schools. Have a good day and well..you can't go to both schools.

The wording of the questionnaire is very biased towards supporting the proposal, too. I think it's very important that parents make their views known. (On a separate note, the Tiffin Schools could make money by running a mock test as Sutton do. Would certainly be the demand... )


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:33 am 
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Location: surrey
Cannot open the sutton school webpage for some reason,would anyone be able to tell me if these proposals include Wally girls and if so are they being looked at for tests taking place in 2013? I do not feel comfortable with the change for all the reasons you good people have posted, i know too many people whose children passed one test but failed another and that scares me.thank you


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:37 am 
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Re this idea of "you only get one chance".... that is all you get in the fully grammar areas (Bucks, Kent) where the consequences of messing up on the day are so, so, so much dire in an area with only superselectives.

Also look at 13+ entry to indies - all on one "common entrance".

I don't buy that as a good enough reason not to coordinate.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:58 am 
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Common Entrance Exams comprise many individual exams taken over a 10 day - 2 week period in all core subjects plus some additional ones.
The Common Entrance Exam (despite its name) is not just one single test at all.

Also, in the Common Entance Exam, you are not competing against other children as such - you may have already completed pre tests and interviews and your prep school Head will have vouched for your suitability. The exams are just used to check you do meet the required standard.
You only need to achieve the mark the new school has asked of you. You do not need to come in the top 100 or top 200 of all pupils.
It is completely different to the single 'do or die' test carried out on one day that Sutton proposes.

The Kent Grammars are also different. Whilst they may employ a 'do or die' style test, there are places available to a huge percentage of those who take the tests and children are not up against only top group candidates. All children are tested and therefore the pressure is less, the standard required lower and the chances of a bright child getting through reasonably good (as opposed to super selectives where children are up against 1500 other very academic children, spaces exist for only a small number of them and the process to separate them therefore needs to be as in depth as possible since so much rides on it and so many of the children are of near identical ability).
Also, in Kent at least, they have the same system of Head Teacher approval that private schools use and this is an extra check to ensure bright children do not miss out due to an out of character bad performance on test day. Obviously this would not be the case at all in Sutton and a grammar school future really would be very much down to performance on one single day.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:42 pm 
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OK. Point taken re Common Entrance for indies.

However, don't buy it re difference between Kent/Bucks and here. There it is catestrophic if you fall the wrong side of the line; here it is not, and I do not buy the "head stands as a fallback" point.

Another point, the 1500 or so going for Tiffin/Sutton are all pretty much the same standard (ok a few at the top are real geniuses, but most are just heavily tutored bright kids). So in the end - to be honest - apart from parental disappointment it doesn't really matter too much if one kid gets in over the other or not. You have to make the choice some way. I'd favour a lottery to be honest (to get rid of the tutoring industry) when you have got over some grammar standard threshold test (say the same as pass mark for the Kent tests).

It all really comes down to luck. You increase your chances in a lottery if you have four tickets rather than one of course that's true. But anyway you dice it: out of 1500 doing all four tests since most are of "grammar standard" you are really only then dividing between those that were lucky at least once, or lucky not all.

I'm all in favour of this given this lottery idea won't gain acceptance (illegal for a start).


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:18 pm 
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Think it's not quite all or nothing with Bucks as they sit two papers and they just have to get passmark in one of them to get in. So falling out of sync with answers in one paper wouldn't be fatal to a child's chances, but it would be in new Sutton/ Tiffin plan.


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