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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:31 pm
Posts: 13
Hello,

This is my first post on this site, so please be gentle with me!

I am curious to hear from anyone else who may have gone through what I am currently experiencing, how they resolved the issue, and whether they feel they made the right choice in the end.

My DD is in Year 3 and recently turned 8. (I know you're all thinking: it's too early to worry about this! But, please hear me out.)

At the latest consultation evening at her primary school, her teacher mentioned that her maths was on the weak side and that, in effect, if she were to carry on at her current level, she wouldn't be an 11-plus candidate. (I hasten to add that I did not request this information, it was proffered.)

I cannot stress enough that, to me, the only thing that matters is my DD's happiness. I want her to enjoy her childhood, and to end up in a secondary school where she feels comfortable and confident and that promotes her in what she is good at (creative writing, drama, that sort of thing.) I keep telling her that there are a lot of people out there who go to university and end up jobless, and a lot of hairdressers who go on to make a fortune with their own salons. (Not wishing to stereotype there, but you get the picture!)

To this end, I would be minded to send her to a Steiner school or a small, non-selective fee-paying school once she leaves her current primary school at eleven. I was privately educated at secondary school level, myself, and had a positive experience of it.

However, my DH is of a different opinion. He went to GS himself and thinks that our DD could pass the 11+ if she were 'pushed'. To this end, he is paying for some maths tutoring once a week.

I'm just not sure my DD should experience the pressure of being coached to pass the 11+ (if that's even possible) only to then find herself in an academically-oriented school where she may end up feeling out of her depth.

Furthermore, although we live in a GS area, we would have to move to be in with a chance of our daughter getting a place at the local girls' GS as the catchment area is very tight. (Someone who lives in our street recently passed the 11+, but didn't get a place.)

Anyway, this has provoked endless 'discussions' (i.e. arguments) in our house about the best way forward. My DH is partly thinking of the money, of course, but I would sacrifice holidays and other luxuries if it would allow my DD to be herself and be happy. My DH thinks I spoil her and give in to her too much and we should be tougher on her. (She is an only child.)

Has anyone else been in a similar position and what decision did you come to? Did you feel it was the right one for you? Has anyone any experience of Steiner schools? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading this, and apologies for the rather lengthy post!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:38 pm
Posts: 2083
Location: Maidstone
TW Mum wrote:
At the latest consultation evening at her primary school, her teacher mentioned that her maths was on the weak side and that, in effect, if she were to carry on at her current level, she wouldn't be an 11-plus candidate. (I hasten to add that I did not request this information, it was proffered.)

I really feel this comment from a teacher is completely out of hand, if she is in a state school, most teachers havent got a clue about 11+ and my DD's teacher told me they are not even allowed to prepare kids for 11+. I kind of think if she knew your DD was doing some sort of tutoring then she was trying to send a mesage to you maybe???

If she is struggling with the maths, just give her some extra tuition to get her to the required level and just see how she progresses. It will be a bit too much though to tutor her for 11+ from now as you need to keep her interest going for a good 3 years. There are also some games and websites you can do with her at home now. I am sure others with much more experience will be able to advise.

Its a tough choice but I would wait until around end of year 4 or beginning of year 5 to decide if you want to go to GS but in the mean time just do a bit to get her maths level up a bit.

Regarding steiner school, if you use the search function on the bottom and just search steiner, there are one or two post there that I found which you may find useful.

Sorry I cant give you much help, we are also going through the process this year for the first time and just as worried too.

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Impossible is Nothing.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:47 pm
Posts: 698
Location: Essex
Welcome to the forum!

It's too early to tell if your DD is going to cope with the 11+. You've been told that her maths is a bit weak and you are seeking to redress the balance. That's good. Keep with that even if you later decide not to enter her for the exam. Different areas test different subjects so it may be worth checking the format in yours. A weakness in maths may be compensated by a talent in VR (for example).

You say you are considering a Steiner school or non-selective independent. I have no knowledge of Steiner schools I'm afraid. I think you would have to be sure about what you were paying for with a non-selective independent. That will vary by school. Whether it's worth it will also depend on the quality of the state alternatives in your area.

You have legitimate concerns about pushing your DD too much but bear in mind that most GS pupils will have had some form of tuition. Just make sure that she isn't overdoing it. At the moment it isn't really exam prep - you're not committed to anything.

Rely on your gut instinct. Do you think she's bright? Her teacher's opinion is just that. You write of her happiness - do you have any reason to think she may be unhappy at secondary school?

As far as the domestic argy-bargy goes, don't fight unless you have to! Go along with the tutoring with a "wait and see" approach. Much will depend on her progress and on your possible relocation - a lot of ifs and buts. At the same time get your finances set up for the possibility you may have to pay fees. Go down the line of agreeing with DH but with a contingency plan just in case what he wants doesn't come to pass (I'm assuming you have no objections to GS if it turns out that she does well in the exam).

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:07 pm
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Location: birmingham
Your circumstances are very similar to ours. We also considered a Steiner school and enrolled him in nursery. Whilst i like certain aspects of their system, just one morning was enough to convince me that it wasn't the right place for him or us and he did not continue. In the end he went to a very average local Primary School, has done well and has always been happy there. OH has always been keen on Grammar School for our son (also only child). I wasn't so keen for a number of reasons. In the end he decided he would like to have a go at the test and we supported his decision but opted not to obtain tuition and simply let him know what papers would look like and gave him some idea of the questions to expect. He passed and is due to start at a Super Selective Grammar in September!!!
I still have very mixed feelings but in the end out decision was based on the comment of a family friend, that we could always take him out of a Grammar but would not be able to put him into one if the alternative did not work out. Like you i just want him to be happy and to enjoy his education. Only time will tell if this is the right place for him. At the moment he is happy and can't wait to start so fingers crossed. I do beleive that loving families make a much bigger difference than any school so whatever you decide i am sure your child will be fine. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:39 pm
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I agree with FT - keep your options open.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:08 am
Posts: 403
We are in the same position and its very difficult to know what to do for the best. DS is noted as "gifted" at school in a few areas (literacy being the main one - he is several years ahead) but his maths is average at best.

For us, GS would mean a lot of pushing as his maths is nowhere near the standard required (and the fact that his English is so far advanced is not taken into account ie you can't offset outstanding ability in one area against poorer ability in another).

For this reason we are looking at the Indie route. We are actually looking at selective Indies. They have told us that they would to some extent disregard his poorer maths if he demonstrates high attainment in literacy. A GS will not do this.

We telephoned a lot of schools and spoke to them all about admissions and have decided to keep our options open. He will take the 11+ and do some maths tuition but we have a very good Plan B and Plan C (non selective) as well.


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 Post subject: Thanks!
PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:31 pm
Posts: 13
Firstly, thanks to everyone for being so welcoming to a newbie. Sometimes it seems there is no one to turn to about this - the local mums that I know are all pushing their DCs to go down the GS route - so it's really fantastic to hear from others in the same boat!

I am OK with a small amount of tutoring per week now that DD is 8, but I think my biggest worry is that even if she passed the 11+ with a lot of coaching, and even if we managed to sell our house and buy one in the catchment area, would she actually be happy in a GS where she would probably be among the 'low achievers'. I have a feeling that the academic pressure might destroy her confidence.

Has anyone had a DC in a similar position who then went on to do OK at GS? Or maybe who had a really bad experience? I'd be keen to hear from them.

LoopyLou, I totally agree with the route you are taking: I only wish I could get my DH to see it that way as well! Interesting what you say about the selective indies: I know a couple of the ones near us are like GS in favouring kids who are 'good all-rounders', but I will look a bit further afield as well.

I have to confess that I downloaded a couple of the practice maths tests on this site and couldn't do them myself! What hope does my DD have?!!

Thanks again for all your comments.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:07 am 
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
DD was put into remedial maths in year 3 (a special group for 12 children who were slower than the rest). I taught her at home during the Easter holidays and she has never looked back. Sometimes it just needs the little something to click. She is now at GS and loving it. Maths is certainly not her favourite subject but she doesn't lack ability and does not need any help, nor does she appear to be near the bottom of the group. In year 3 we had no idea whether or not she was grammar material, although her English has always been exceptional.

I think it was the year 3 teacher rather than DD, when she had the same teacher in year 5 I ended up telling her not to listen rather than get totally confused all over again.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:18 pm
Posts: 147
Location: NW Kent
Regarding the difference of opinion with your husband i would suggest making sure you visit as many schools as you can with your daughter in the September/October of year 5. Can be a scary thought at the time but well worth it. I think you will find that you will narrow down the schools that are suitable for your daughter quite quickly just using gut instinct between yourself and your husband and daughter. Then in year 6 you will have less schools to focus on and two years worth of visits, i personally can't understand families who only visit once. Get hubby to focus on gut instince choice and then discuss the other stuff.

My DS, DH and myself really knew which was most suitable from almost the begining. We chopped and changed a bit on the other 3 choices but ultimately my son placed his 2nd and 3rd choice by himself.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Regular readers will know that I am probably regarded as something of a loose canon on this forum, so I should state up front that my views are probably not typical!

Firstly, I am with you all the way on parenting for a happy child. I think the English education system is set up to avoid this, especially in the early years. For this reason, we kept our children out of school until we were legally required to send them. We looked at Steiner too, but the nearest was too far away from home. We also pulled ours out of school for over a year and educated them ourselves.

Both our elder 2 children were regarded by their schools as 'grammar school material'. When DD was in Year 6, DH felt very strongly that we should enter her for the superselective tests we have here. I felt equally strongly that she would be eaten alive in the competitive atmosphere of grammar - she always lacked confidence and at that time struggled socially. DD chose herself not to sit the test. She is at a lovely indie and is doing very well - she is also very happy indeed.

Last year DS1 turned 11 and the subject came up again. He is more confident than DD; DH felt again that we should put him in for the test. This time I agreed, but naivete and ignorance prevented me from having even rudimentary coaching. The rest is history: DS1 passed the 11+ but failed by 1 mark to get into the GS of our choice. We had a really ghastly couple of weeks as he beat himself up for being 'stupid'. He has since been offered a large academic scholarship at DD's school, which to be honest we like better than all the others anyway, so it has a good outcome for us.

DS2 (brighter, probably, than the other 2, but also less confident, not at all outgoing) is 8. What will we do? Aaagh!

Not sure how or if any of my experience can help you. I would not be coaching an 8 year old (but see above for where my anti-coaching position has got me) and I don't think it fair that our kids already start school earlier than anywhere else in the world, and stay for longer hours, without coaching on top. Bitter experience tells me, though, that it is generally what you have to do to stand a chance of GS. Though maybe not at 8, not for me, anyway.

Finally, GS is not the be all and end all. Reading this forum it is easy to believe that it is, but there are many perfectly happy and well-adjusted children in other types of school all over the country. This forum gives you a skewed sample; which is not to say that the people you will find on here aren't supportive and well-informed - for the most part it is a great little community.

I wish you luck, and a happy DD!


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