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 Post subject: Honest Opinion Please...
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:25 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:08 am
Posts: 403
Hello - I have been a lurker here for a couple of months and have found this forum really useful for info on GS and selective Indies. I have a (possibly daft) question however that I haven't really been able to find the answer to.

Many children mentioned on the forum are very obvious GS or selective school candidates (equally strong in all subjects and predicted all level 5's) but I wondered what options exist for children who fall short of this?

My son is very average at maths. He finds aspects of it hard to grasp and is in the middle group at school. His literacy however is outstanding. He is half way through year 4 and already a 4b level with a reading and spelling age of 13 and 12.

Is the GS system or entrance exam system at Indie schools set up to reflect that some children might not achieve well in all areas but still be outstanding in some or if is it better to accept that if a child is not above average at everything then that instantly rules them out of selective schooling? (I suspect this is the case but obviously hope otherwise so an honest opinion would be greatly appreciated) :oops:

Thank You


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:33 am 
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Not all indies are selective and of those that are, some are more selective than others.

With regards to grammars, not all schools test on maths and those that do may take an aggregate of your dc's score.

It would help us to advise you further if you could tell us which area you are looking at.

Welcome to the boards :D :D

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:44 am 
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Depends, as Snowdrops says, on the area.

In some areas where there are good GSs many of the indies lose kids to these and hence often take kids who just missed out and in the absence of good comps (often a problem with good GS around) want to have a go at something other than the secondary modern.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:50 am 
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We are in the neighbouring borough to Wilsons, Sutton and Wallington (we live closest to Wallington but could get to all 3). The Indie schools nearby are Trinity and Whitgift.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:59 am 
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Thanks Loopylou,

there are lots of people on the forum with info about the schools in that area.. unfortunately since Snowdrops and I are a rather long way away in Yorkshire we may not be the best people to advise (unless Snowdrops is secretly and expert :wink: ).

One way to find out would be to use the search engine at the top right, - try putting in Whitgift etc and see what comes up.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:39 am 
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Thank you - I didn't know that it varied so much from area to area as I had only looked at threads about our local schools.

From what I've read when lurking, I think we might struggle as our GS, Whitgift and Trinity all test on maths and also have no catchment area.

My son has just started having maths tuition after school but I have mixed feelings really as I don't want him to pass an exam due to coaching if he'll sink later on. I will have to do a bit more searching to see if any non selective indies exist (all the ones that I have been told about here involve entrance exams).
Thank you for your replies


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:13 am 
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I really feel for you here - it is so hard. I live in an area with what are known as 'superselective' grammars - they have no catchment area at all and take only a very small percentage of children. Many people here have their children coached for the exams (VR only) from a very young age. Naively, we did not do this for DS1 and though he is regarded at school as 'super bright' (his teacher's words at last night's parents evening) and is already at level 5 in both English and Maths, he missed the grammar of our choice by a mark. This was a big shock to us as we thought his natural ability would carry him through - it didn't!

Our DS2 sounds more like your son, but in reverse (!) and we are facing the same issues. In the maths/science/technology side of the curriculum he is taught above his age, and has some lessons at secondary school. He has no real interest in, or aptitude for, literacy, and though he reads well, prefers maths text books to nice stories, and his writing looks like that of a much younger child.

(This is getting to the point, promise!)
If you have read any of my other stuff, you will see that my opinion is that grammar school will suit some children and not others, but this is to a large extent based on their personality - do they like to be the top of the class or are they competitive, enjoying the challenge of 'beating' others? Are they self-starters who work independently, or do they need guidance and reassurance? Our DD definitely needs the extra pastoral support we feel an indie may offer, if you get the right one. DS1, we think, doesn't need that and that is why we were happy to apply for GS. Our little one is probably more like DD, and I do fear that he would be eaten alive in a very competitive environment.

In other words, don't just look at his academic abilities - take a long, critical look at his personality and see where his comfort zones are, and what his other strengths and weaknesses are. Then look at the schools with this in mind. The decision often takes itself if you can do this. Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:13 am 
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Loopylou - nearly all senior indies will set entrance exams, it is just that some are harder to pass than others. so don't be put off by schools who have entrance exams - it is case of finding the right school for your DS


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:30 am 
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Location: Herts
In our area this would be so the right way round to have it. There are lots of children good at maths but not so many in literacy and the Maths marks are always far higher than the English. Your son's literacy skills will get him high marks in Verbal Reasoning and strong creative writing would see him through with an average mark in Maths. I am of the firm belief that getting Maths is just a question of having a teacher who has the same mind set as you in the way they work things out. If you did not see it try and catch Dispatches Kids Dont Count on Iplayer and you will see children who found maths difficult transformed by an inspirational teacher. I was not good at maths at school,failed my o level twice but somewhere along the line I got it and now it is my favourie subject. My dc's were amazed when my mum made some comment about me being useless about maths, they responded in great surprise, ""No she is not, she is really good"". They did not realise there was a time when I was not. I think it is really hard to teach outstanding literacy but maths can be separated in little chunks that you can work away at. I still find nets and symmetry hard but gradually I have started to get more and more questions right! I obviously dont have the right visual brain for it. I am sure your ds can get there and no matter how much help it took he will fly once he is. So dont worry about too much totoring. Go for it. Start with the Bond book for Year 3 to build his confidence and do it little and often and do a Bond English at the same time to make him feel really good.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:47 am 
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I've come off lurk to say more or less what Daogroupie has said. My year 5 daughter is highly literate but has always lacked confidence in her maths. I think part of the problem for her, and possibly for your son, is that she thinks if maths doesn't come as easily as reading and writing, then she must be bad at it.

Since September last year she has been having 30 mins. maths tuition a week with a very gentle, methodical teacher who takes a topic from the very basics to SATs level with her, working at my daughter's speed and explaining things very clearly. If she struggles with a new topic in class, she asks her tutor for clarification.

We went down this route not so much for the sake of selection exams (though if it helps with that, all well and good), but to try to make sure she doesn't leave primary school with that 'rubbish at maths' attitude that so many of us have picked up, including me, which can be such a barrier to achievement later on.

It does seem to be working a treat: at parents' evening last night, my daughter's teacher (herself an excellent maths teacher, the tutor isn't the whole story) commented on the improvement both in her attainment and her confidence.

Helping your son to bring his maths level up closer to his literacy level might be the way forward, whether you do it yourself, or use a tutor. I'm beginning to see now that being bad at maths isn't necessarily a matter of luck, or a permanent trait.


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