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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:30 pm 
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Location: Maidstone
Only ask this because as I've been perusing the forum I've noticed mention of Dickens and the like. As someone who read Dickens for 'O' level(hands up all who remember those) and found it one of the most depressing reads ever, I cannot imagine how a 10/11 year old would even start to cope with even a passage of this. I can't even read it now ( nor Steinbeck who was also an 'O' level topic). Do examiners deliberately choose subjects with child cruelty and abuse, poverty and criminal activity to put children off because it worked for me?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:53 pm 
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
In my humble opinion.... (many would disagree I'm sure)

I would say that the Essex 11+ is one of the hardest that I have experienced as a teacher. I can only compare with Gloucestershire (which like Bucks only has VR - lucky them) and Kent.

In Essex the grammar school teachers write the English and maths papers. The comprehension in the Essex paper is often very difficult. Find a synonym for incandescent, inexorable, etc. Passages from Hardy, Dickens, and other O/A level texts. The maths can have some real stinkers of questions (similar to those expected to challenge able year eight children) and the VR is the same as everywhere else. No NVR either to benefit the children who have less learned backgrounds.

One of the hardest parts for children is to have to wait until March to know their results.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:09 pm 
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MasterChief wrote:
I can'tread it now ( nor Steinbeck who was also an 'O' level topic). Do examiners deliberately choose subjects with child cruelty and abuse, poverty and criminal activity to put children off because it worked for me?


:lol: :lol:
I am an English teacher, for my sins, as they say. :D Actually I enjoy it.

The Essex English paper is very tough. :cry: I would say that the Surrey super selectives, ( those that have no catchment or pass mark), e.g Wilsons, also have an equally tough maths paper that , like Essex, goes beyond KS2 in some parts.They also have a reasonably hard English paper but, IMHO, not as hard as Essex.
VR seems pretty much the same wherever you are,i.e 80 questions, 21 types, 50 mins blah blah.

You know you might enjoy Dickens if you gave it a try again.Lots of stirring stuff about social injustice.Hmmmm wonder what Dickens would make of the 11+?
:wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:33 pm 
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By reputation in Birmingham, Bishop Vesey paper is much easier than the KE Grammar schools. BV use NFER, I believe that KE sets its own papers


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:53 pm 
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depends what you mean by harder?

You could set all the kids an A level standard paper and the pass mark would be 7% or a really easy paper and the pass mark is 97%. Still end up with the same proportion of kids passing and going to GS.

Despite the different exams and some of the schools being selected only on score a lot of the A level results are very similar


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:41 am 
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hermanmunster wrote:
depends what you mean by harder?

You could set all the kids an A level standard paper and the pass mark would be 7% or a really easy paper and the pass mark is 97%. Still end up with the same proportion of kids passing and going to GS.

Despite the different exams and some of the schools being selected only on score a lot of the A level results are very similar


I agree that the difficulty of the entrance exam is no reflection of results.
The pass mark for Essex is high and the exam very tough but to be honest they hot house far less than other grammars, e.g no accelerated GCSEs and the kids have genuinely a fun time at school with not huge pressure of homework..

They enrich the curriculum in other ways e.g year 9s going out to "teach" in primary.They have frequent off timetable days to encourage such things as public speaking or increasing global awareness. I would rather have it that way myself.Others will feel differently and want more "value added".

The entrance exam, however difficult, is not an indicator of the absolute best results.I know schools with far less difficult entrance exams but a less happy atmosphere.I would rather "miss out" on a few positions in the league tables.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:55 pm 
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We're Gloucs so "just" have VR - on the one hand, thank GOD for that, just the one subject to go crazy over. On the other hand ... I'd love my DS to show his weird and wonderful imagination and vocab off in English, whether comprehension - he's been using words like "pensive" since 2 (not some ghastly boast, but have to clutch at straws like pensive when I witness the tip which is his bedroom and have to think there's some payback!) - or essays. My friend's son is a whizz at maths and she laments that this knack is "wasted" and that it all comes down to VR.

Given that the results of all the grammars (our superselective is in the top 10 in the country, my boy's grammar, also super selective in that no catchment, just not AS hard to get into as the super super, is top 40 I think in the country, which is good enough for me!) are all there or thereabouts you do wonder a bit why the hoops being so different in the different counties.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Milla wrote:
Given that the results of all the grammars (our superselective is in the top 10 in the country, my boy's grammar, also super selective in that no catchment, just not AS hard to get into as the super super, is top 40 I think in the country, which is good enough for me!) are all there or thereabouts you do wonder a bit why the hoops being so different in the different counties.


This whole league table thing is sooo easy to put too much faith in.

Two years ago my DDs school topped it for GCSE and about 4th for A level.Now they are between 8th and 24th depending on how the table is calculated/which paper you read.
Has the school "gone down the pan"?
No - but they did change the curriculum so that a practical subject was not taken early and a short course GCSE requirement was changed.

All the schools in the top 50 +are producing excellent results and their placing really can hinge on one child slightly underperforming.

I think the reason for the different test is that it has become the case that children are trained so well for VR that it is harder to spot the really able.The Essex paper , as moving said, has included questions similar to the maths challenge sat in year 8.The English paper really is a challenge even to a very bright child.I suppose they would say they are looking for the able and rounded child.
I understand though that if your child is very able in those areas, you almost want the opportunity to show it.I would say almost because the English paper is the cause of a lot of worry on the Essex part of the forum at the moment. :(


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:26 pm 
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well, in truth, I'm quite happy NOT to have it - believe me, it's stressful enough without! Cnnot imagine what I'd be like if had more subjects to fret about. And, it's me fretting, not him, of course. He's blithely unaware and playing with his Lego :roll:

What I meant, given that I doubt that (not being rude :lol: ) Essex children are any cleverer than Gloucestershire children, and given that a measurable outcome, the league tables (since both admission test and the spewing out the other end, the GCSE/A level results, are intelligence/academic) have them all as much of a muchness, then I wonder at why the Essex children have to go through so much more rigorous a system in the first place.

Agree entirely about league tables per se. The positions I vaguely quoted were, I think, for the university entry thing, rather than A level / GCSE - don't know how they vary according to the criteria being applied, not massively I guess, since all on a version of academic achievement.

They can only ever be used as a guide, one arrow among many in the quiver of choice since they only even tell a partial story. At KS2, for instance, when, at our state primary, the figures were 97% 97% 97% since the class had 33 children in it, everyone knew who, the one person was, who stopped it being 100%. Awful for him and his parents. Stupid.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:46 pm 
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Location: Essex
I think much probably depends on the particular talents of individual children. Some will be suited more to certain tests than others.

I suspect my own DS would do better in an area which tests only VR. The Essex English paper is a bit of a nightmare. On the other hand, if he was particularly skilled in comprehension I would no doubt be ecstatic that this was being tested.

I'm not sure if other areas have to sit a test for each school applied to. That would certainly add to the stress and I'm glad we only have one test day.

The subjects tested will have some bearing on which children are eventually selected. Of course some children will do well in any county but those who may be a little more borderline in some areas could find themselves the victim/beneficiary of their county's particular system.

Thing is, we can't move so we just get on with it! If the Essex paper is lemons we'll just have to dig out a lemonade recipe... :wink:


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