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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:20 pm 
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Hi,

Just come back from a school meeting with my daughter's year six teacher. Apparently they are doing assessments 10 days after the 11+ (i.e.30th September), which will be used to put them into ability groups this year.

A asked her about them, and apparently they are NFER tests, including reading, maths and non-verbal reasoning. There is very little info available on these online, from what I can tell, does anybody have any tips on how to prepare for them, and maybe where I can get some practice tests?

Much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:22 pm 
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Why do you want to prepare for them?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:45 pm 
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Location: East Kent
don't prepare, just go with the flow, if it is for deciding group then the teacher will set the children and differentiate teh work, will help children progress


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Are there really any NFER tests which are designed for putting children into groups or is this another abuse of tests which some schools seem to enjoy doing and inflicting upon pupils?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:31 pm 
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silverysea wrote:
Why do you want to prepare for them?


That's a good question. The reasons are quite complex TBH.

She's been in the bottom group for the last 3 years. It's really done her no favours, as she doesn't get any kind of challenge. She is always saying how easy the work she does at school is (and she's always at the top of the bottom group), but it's a vicious cycle, as being in the bottom group means she gets taught less, so she continues to do worse in the tests, and stays in the bottom group.

I would much rather her be in the main group so she has to work a bit harder and learn more.

Incidentally, she's a July baby and I'm sure that has had an effect, and that the teachers don't take that into account.

On the other hand, I've been able to prepare her for the 11+, and she seems likely to pass it based on her practice paper scores, so it's not like she doesn't have potential to do better with a bit of encouragement.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:38 pm 
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mystery wrote:
Are there really any NFER tests which are designed for putting children into groups or is this another abuse of tests which some schools seem to enjoy doing and inflicting upon pupils?


In short yes, here's the NFER website which has some info:

https://www.nfer.ac.uk/schools/nfer-tes ... -tests.cfm

From what I can tell, they are optional tests, less complex than the SATs, but they allow the school to estimate what SAT stage the kids are at. It seems they do them every year in our primary school, and it is used to separate out the bottom half dozen or so for English and Maths. They get taught by a different teacher in a separate room, and they get easier homework.

My main problem with it is that in some cases, kids are put into that group who could cope with the work the main group are doing, with a bit of encouragement.

Once they drop into that group it is very hard to get them out!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:19 pm 
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Your help for the GS exams should help her with this too. Sounds reasonable to want her to not be labelled like this with low expectations. My August DD has had similar problems, and I know the teachers were well aware-they did indeed take it into account-by lowering their expectations further. It is definitely discouraging to be pigeonholed like this in school for year after year, and she is still struggling with her self-esteem in Y9. She has just been named a Scholar (new thing) in English Science and Music (no tutoring except on instrument) and is in the top 30 of 180 in maths. So much for primary school.

Can't help with specific knowledge of what is tested but I'd just keep going with home tutoring and a variety of materials. Have you considered having her assessed by an Ed Psych? It doesn't sound right to be passing 11+ and in bottom sets.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:24 am 
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No it does not sound right. I still do not think those tests are intended to be used by teachers to put children in lower sets and teach them less. I have seen a test for english a friend who teaches has shown me - not year 6 though. Any prep you would do for sats maths and english should help. You could try buying some workbooks that are aimed at a specific nc level e.g. Rigby rising stars or cgp. Get level 5 and level 6 in maths, spag, and maybe reading and writing.

I see your point entirely. If she ends back up in a rubbish set you need to show the school that she is underachieving, that there is a gap between her ability and her attainment. There are ways of doing this but you could be in for a battle. If you can afford an ed psych this can be a quick way of highlighting the gap. Say she comes out top 2 per cent of population iq wise but at school she is not on course for at least good level 5s something is amiss.

If the gap is big you then you do of course have the issue of can she do the work in the higher set or not - if she had not been taught enough will it just muddle her? The best way of finding out is of course for the school to give it a try. Some schools are very stubborn about this. You can try being very stubborn too. I did this in ks1 and we are still top sets now in upper ks2. It still does not mean though that dd is taught very much a lot of the time. You may be disappointed and find the middle or top set is not all it is cracked up to be, but it will make your dd feel better.

At the end of the day you are probably going to have to take the same approach to this that you did to the 11plus. Get informed and prepare for it with the right books at home. I am a great believer in trying to get the best out of school too though as it makes your home job easier.

What did your dd get at end of ks1 studio 1972? The school will probably be trying to get her to two full levels above that, at least. If she was already underachieving at ks1 this puts the brakes on right the way through ks2. Whichever group she is put in you need to get the school to tell you what nc level that group is aiming at.

I think the fact that the school is still doing tests for grouping at this stage in year 6 kind of tells you "something's up". It could be that the wind is in your favour.

If they do these tests annually did your dd really come in the bottom 6 for the last three years? Who is the different teacher? You can't employ a qualified teacher to teach 6 children in a state primary. Is she qualified? If this method of withdrawing 6 children was good at your school why is your daughter still needing this extra help 3 years on.

Let's hope your dd passes the 11plus. Which area are you in?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:39 am 
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When my August DD1 was in year 5, she finally complained that the maths set was too easy, and her friends in the upper set were doing fun stuff like sweet shop maths. I went in with her to see the newly qualified teacher, who was clearly stressed but open to ideas, and she suggested that DD try the higher set, and could go back down if she found it too hard. She never moved back down. I feel this meeting also drew attention to my quiet DD that was needed.

At the parent meeting later that year, the teacher said that DD's classroom output was better than the test results, and perhaps she "didn't test well". Meanwhile I was tutoring her esp in times tables (her good memory meant this was useful for her) and weak spots like telling time and exam technique, which helped. Her confidence seems to be the most important aspect.

Ed psych reports seemed too expensive but maybe it would have been worth it. I'm still considering it for my own interest.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:07 am 
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silverysea wrote:
When my August DD1 was in year 5, she finally complained that the maths set was too easy, and her friends in the upper set were doing fun stuff like sweet shop maths. I went in with her to see the newly qualified teacher, who was clearly stressed but open to ideas, and she suggested that DD try the higher set, and could go back down if she found it too hard. She never moved back down. I feel this meeting also drew attention to my quiet DD that was needed.

At the parent meeting later that year, the teacher said that DD's classroom output was better than the test results, and perhaps she "didn't test well". Meanwhile I was tutoring her esp in times tables (her good memory meant this was useful for her) and weak spots like telling time and exam technique, which helped. Her confidence seems to be the most important aspect.

Ed psych reports seemed too expensive but maybe it would have been worth it. I'm still considering it for my own interest.



I am really glad to hear that worked for you. Unfortunately, some teachers are far more obdurate than that, even newly qualified. Hopefully Studio1972 will not have to go to the expense of an Ed Psych report, and if he / she does, may still find that the school comes up with some justification to ignore it rather than give the child a chance in an upper set. However, I think if you are firm enough and leave a clear enough paper trail if the school is, well, "sticky" shall we say, there are few that will completely ignore you as they worry that OFSTED will see the paper trail. The thing is you have to move fast. Year 6 is soon gone. Children can make a lot or very little progress in the next two terms ( and I would suggest this is generally not down to "developmental spurts" in a case like you have described to us Studio1972 - but to what the child has been taught and practised that is relevant to the KS2 tests).

The benefit of a private Ed Psych report is that you should be able to get one done within the next week if you get your skates on, and then, if it is clear that your child falls into the top x% that one might expect the top or middle sets to be in, you will feel more confident in stating your case as you know it is not just you imagining that your DD is more able than the school has been telling you she is for the last 3 years at least.

Hopefully you will be able to discuss your concerns in a really nice two-way discussion with the school, and they will take action. But if it is a bit tougher than that, you will have to consider if there is a downside to being a bit more assertive about the situation. I have been through some extremely uncomfortable situations. They have not backfired on my children. Sometimes when I say to myself, why did I bother, it might just have worked out eventually in the end, I imagine explaining to my child 20 years from now that I always knew they were in the wrong set at school and being taught nothing, but it was too uncomfortable for me to do anything about it. That stops my doubts.

Of course, you do need to be sure. You don't want your child struggling with work every day that they really cannot do. That would be worse for their confidence than wrongly being in the bottom group.

Good luck.


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