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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:01 pm 
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With the recession in full swing, it seems to me that many parents of children attending private primary schools have tried the selective tests at Grammar schools in Nov 2008 to see if their children can be successful and, in the process, save the hefty private fees. These kids have been taught in small classes, got a lot of individual attention, have covered the required curriculum and beyond and obviously are at an advantage when compared to children who have attended state primaries.
My DD has taken a selective test at two GSs where around 900 girls compete for 130 places. A high percentage of girls taking the test come from the private sector, however no grammar school will tell you which percentage of their intake comes from private schools.
I wonder if this information is or should be made public. GSs should be there to benefit academic children no matter where they come from, but in reality this system benefits the lucky few who can afford spending lots of money on private primary education.
Yet, if it comes to appeals, it seems that questions like "has your DD been tutored?" or "How many practice papers did she do?" are the norm and can work against you.... however no questions are asked to those who pass and who come from the private sectors in terms of the material covered for each subject.
At the end of the day, we parents of children in state primaries, do not have much of a choice if our DD is top of the class but still more than a year behind what a child in the private sector would be, so the only choice is to pay for a tutor, give lots of support at home and keep our fingers and toes crossed....until March 2nd.... :?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:18 pm 
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not sure if all private primaries are the same, the ones my kids went too preferred to send kids to schools that were appropriate for them rather than doing lots of coaching to get them in and have them struggle later.

Result was that we never had practice papers sent home, they didn't have extra "11 plus" type lessons - apart I think from some reasoning done once a week, and I haven't a clue about the different types of questions in an 11 plus paper as I never got involved apart from making sure the child got to the exam at the right time on the right day.

There is a bit more to private primaries than exam factories - for one thing they don;t have to do SATS ......One of the heads I spoke to used never to take kids after year 3 (unless they had been to a similar school and the parents had moved areas) because the change of school was often done just to pass an exam to a senior school.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:24 pm 
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Location: East Kent
also it is not always in the private schools interest for them to gain a place at a state grammar school,


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:27 pm 
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yoyo123 wrote:
also it is not always in the private schools interest for them to gain a place at a state grammar school,


Good point that yoyo, schools I chose weren;t attached to any senior school but an awful lot of preps / private primaries are. I remember when I did the 11 plus there were some girls from a local 2-16 private school who came to do the 11 plus with us and they had not got a clue what to expect - we were far more up to speed (well - it was 39 years ago...) - struck me that the private school wanted to keep these bright girls and had no interest in them passing the exam


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:14 am 
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Olivia - pupils from Private primaries are not always ahead - in Maths I find they can do number work ad nauseam but have few problem solving skills and are behind in other aspects of Maths.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:48 am 
I think there will be a lot more private school applicants this year who had no intention previously of sending DC to GS but given the climate can no longer afford the fees. In theory they may have some advantage but their choice to pay no longer exists and they see GS now as their only chance for DC to get a decent education too.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:49 am 
Yes, I find that. Few mental arithmetic strategies, too. Will always do 2 digit additions as written sum rather than in head.
The standard of their English, however, tends to be superior and they are likely to have more general knowledge.
I would dispute, however, that they have an advantage when sitting state grammar schools. Most state grammars test VR or NVR and VR or VR, NVR and maths. Provided a child reads and has a vocabulary (and both of these really have nothing to do with school and everything to do with home and the child's natural inclinations) and isn't too awful a speller (and any parent can cover that if the school isn't with Schonell's Essential Spelling), there is no reason why a state pupil shouldn't compete equally with a private pupil in VR.
Yes, some prep schools do VR and non-VR, but usually badly and often their parents don't realise this until it is too late. Also, I don't believe there is any real advantage to doing these when the children are younger as some prep schools do as the children became stale rather than proficient.
While I do believe prep school children are at an advantage when it comes to independent schools, I don't believe they are when it comes to GS entrance exams.
Where they are at an advantage, however, is in the early years of secondary at GS because they tend to know how to study for exams, will know the basics of French and are used to the nightly homework load.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:44 am 
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Most primaries do French now [some start in Y3] and learning a MFL is part of the new Primary curriuclum.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:10 pm 
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Perhaps I am speculating, like everyone else.... but it would be interesting if GS release information on percentages of children coming from private and state schools. Surely that will give an indication of fairness.
Also I think the ethos of state primaries is fundamentally very different from that of private school. In my experience, of my DD attending a good catholic primary school, I found that the school aims to achieve an average across the board rather than pushing those children who are willing to move forward. I said average but really I mean mediocrity... In private schools, with smaller classes, it is easier to improve even further the standard of the children who are doing well already. Of course I accept that this will depend on the school, and if the primary school has a senior school attached to it, then those schools will try to keep their top students by making sure they do not progress too far ahead.
Still show me the percentages in grammar schools and then I may feel that the system is fair across the board...


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:23 pm 
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In Bucks I understand that it is not even between the GS because of the geography of where the Private schools are and where people live [places are allocated on distance for the GS] - it would be hard to give a 'fair' picture.


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