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 Post subject: 11+ - why?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:22 pm 
I wonder if anybody has an opinion on schools not preparing children for the 11+. I know many schools do, but officially they aren't supposed to. As I see it, this means that motivated parents with the knowledge and the money can give their children a huge advantage, amking it practically impossible for a bright child from a difficult background to get a place at a grammar school, and therefore a step up out of social disadvantage. Surely it would be fairer if schools prepared all their children, then the playing field would be at least a bit more level. Anyone have any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:25 pm 
I agree with you totally.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 6:27 pm 
In the good old days preparation for 11+ was unheard of. These days it has all changed although I still know of children that pass exams without any preparation. Many children sit papers in all 4 disciplines (maths/ English/ NVR and VR. I would expect an advanced reader with good comprehension/written skills to manage an English paper without prep but I think unless a child is prepared for the other exams they could have a nasty shock particularly regarding timing during papers.
Is coaching something the schools should take on board? I for one have no problem with my childrens state primary giving a certain amount of coaching. However, would parents consider this to be enough? My concern would be that parents who have the time, money and inclincation would give extra coaching anyway rather than leave it completely down to the school. We all know there are teachers and teachers and schools and school and I'm not sure extra help in school would necessarily create a level playing field.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
I had an intersting discussion with a friend today. In Bucks there are some 2000+ children who sit the 11+. Bucks CC publish a graph which shows the results by score.

At the top mark - 141 - there is a huge "spike" of 250 children. Then there is a vast drop in the graph, with a large curve gradually building up to 121 and then tailing away again to the bottom mark of 69. Her graph was from this year, mine from last year, and they are both almost identical.

One could argue that the "spike" at 141 is the children who pass today's 11+ through sheer natural ability at VR. The remainder of the curve from around 116 - 140 (the zone where there is a faint hope of a successful appeal) is created by coaching.

Food for thought, but not for the soul, I fear. Coaching is here to stay.

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:05 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:29 pm
Posts: 1805
Location: Berkshire
Unfortunately education isn't 'a one size fits all' scenario.
The outcry from parents whose children are not in top sets, and therefore less likely to even apply to grammars, would be loud.
Schools are far too busy getting ALL their children up to the standards set down by the government. (What they do, or don't, once they get them their, is a whole other debate.)
It would be impractical to put resources into such a low return venture; as it would only benefit a few. And the thought of adding extra work, to our already highly over worked teachers, would probably send them running for the trees!

But I'm sure your (and my) school won't hesitate to mention the rather prestigious fact in their prospectus, that '9 of their children went on to the local grammar last year'! :wink:

BW


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 6:49 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:30 pm
Posts: 960
I'm very troubled by this. My daughter goes to a large state primary with a very socially diverse catchment area. The school takes the LEA instruction not to offer help for the 11+ literally - all they had was a run through of some practice papers on the Monday before the test. We are an educated middle class family, and like all the similar families in the school we have been doing various levels of preparaation for the test over the past year. However, I help in the classroom and I know that there are bright, top set children who caome from families that are unwllling or more probably unable eithe enducationally or financially) to offer the same level or preparation (just think how much a set of practice papers costs and imagine buying them on income support). It is practically impossible for children like these to pass the test, particularly when the bar is raised by "coached"children. But it would be possible to argue that these are the very children that the grammar school system was created to help. My daughter will (touch wood) do all right whether she passes or fails - we will continue to offer her all the help and support she needs. But her friend Jack(not his real name!) with no family support and very little family interest will sink without trace, the door to a"better life"slammed in his face by the system supposedly designed to help him.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:22 am 
One of my daughter's primary school friends, whose parents never even considered putting her in for the 11+, sat 2 GCSEs last summer at the end of Year 9 at her Comp. They were in French and IT, and she got C for both of them. She was still 13 when she took the exams. She isn't continuing with French, but might take an additional different IT qualification; so isn't going to be wasting time duplicating these qualifications.

Her school is quite a small one; which is perhaps why they can spot this potential and provide these opportunities.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:22 am 
One of my daughter's primary school friends, whose parents never even considered putting her in for the 11+, sat 2 GCSEs last summer at the end of Year 9 at her Comp. They were in French and IT, and she got C for both of them. She was still 13 when she took the exams. She isn't continuing with French, but might take an additional different IT qualification; so isn't going to be wasting time duplicating these qualifications.

Her school is quite a small one; which is perhaps why they can spot this potential and provide these opportunities.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:01 am 
Absolutely agree that the 11+ is most certainly not a level playing field and those with access to resources can up their chances of success. In Plymouth the schools offer no preparation and little advice leaving families with no option but to explore alternatives.

I speak as someone in the very fortunate position of having been able to buy practice papers and pay for tuition. I appreciate this since I came from a financially disadvantaged background and my mother did not have the time nor the money to offer me the same chances.

Is it fair? No, of course it isn't, in line with a lot of things in life. Most parents want to give their children the best start they can and won't it always be the case that some children will benefit from their parents' time, money and encouragement?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:47 pm 
Actually, guest right at the top of the thread, I think that this is true not only of the 11+, but across the whole of education in Britain today. It is those who are "in the know" or motivated enough whose children succeed in getting what they want.

It makes me very angry when people have to fight with the LEA/school management to obtain support for special educational needs, but it makes me equally cross, that parents of bright children also have to fight to get a place at a school that meets the needs of their children.

It would seem in the UK today, you need to be average. If you are average you get the education you deserve. But, step outside this average and you need to have parents who are willing to strive and fight and tutor, etc, to get you a place at a particular school. I feel very sorry for those bright children whose parents - for whatever reason - do not feel able to fight the good fight. They are the real losers in this lottery of school admissions.


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