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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:33 pm 
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HI, my DS is end yr 3 and is doing ok but still isn't quite fulfilling what is thought to be his potential. He's a great reader level 4 and a reading age of 13 in another kind of test apparently, ok at writing 3b, and average at maths which he does find challenging, a 3c at the moment. He is very quiet but (we think) has an academic mind - reads (abridged) Shakespeare and encyclopedias for pleasure. I had always thought he was grammar material, I suppose because of his reading and his general interest in things - we have a good one near us, which means the comp, inevitably, isn't so good. But does the fact he hasn't flown ahead by year 3 mean he probably isn't suited to grammar after all? I'm aware there are a couple of children in his class who are level 4's all round. Or does he just need a push?! His report says he hurries through work he isn't interested in so he can get back to his reading! I'm not panicking about it I do just intuitively feel he'd be happier in a studious grammar environment, but don't want to push it if he'd struggle. I've heard that to get into grammar you need to be high level 5 these days (sure it wasn't like that when I passed 25 years ago!)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:55 pm 
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Hi Ambivalent,

I don't, yet, have any direct experience of the 11+ but I would just say that I've read a lot of the various forums on here and heard a lot about different people's experiences with their DC. Everyone on here says that reading is a really important feature of the 11+, so it's great that your DS is already embracing it! And maths skills can be 'brought on' more easily, in particular by a bit of one-to-one, either with yourself using workbooks or with a tutor. Talk to your DS's school, or new Yr 4 teacher, about what they can do and what you can do at home to support him (assuming it's an approachable school; not all of them are!).

I'm sure someone will be along soon to give more particular advice but hope that helps in the meantime.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:36 pm 
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By year three my youngest wasn't doing very well at his primary school. We knew he was a capable boy but his abilities were not presenting themselves in his school work - he was in the lowest group for English and the second from lowest group for maths. At the end of year three his form tutor asked to see us and told us he was an intelligent boy but she felt he was bored in class and she couldn't get the best out of him in class. After much thought we decided to take him out and put him into a local private school that had 15 in the class. We are so grateful to that school for what they did for him, when he joined they tested him and said he was behind in both English and Maths, but by the end of year four he had caught up with the rest of the class and was doing very well. To our delight he kept improving and got a high enough mark in the eleven plus to have got into our local 'super selective' although we didn't put it first as we preferred one of the other grammars. He is very happy and loves his school and we are over the moon with our choice of school. Trust your instincts. If you think he is up to grammar give it a go. I know of two boys who didn't get all level fives in their sats, who got into grammar and did very well in their GCSEs and are now doing their A'Levels (predicted very good grades). From your description of him he sounds a very bright boy. With your support I really do think he will do very well and don't hesitate to get a tutor to tie up any loose ends if you think it's necessary. Good luck with everything! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:44 pm 
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"I've heard that to get into grammar you need to be high level 5 these days (sure it wasn't like that when I passed 25 years ago!)"

Depends where you live. But wherever you live, I wouldn't worry about it yet. Oh, and I wouldn't be so sure about the "studious atmosphere" in grammar schools either!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:07 pm 
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There will be children who clearly would never make the grade for grammar demonstrating this at the end of Yr 3, but what you describe doesn't sound at all weak.

Some children plateau, or have a teacher who doesn't quite get them. That can hold them back. Or other things happen instead - they develop socially or physically.

My son's grades are not great, (one 4a, two 4bs and one 3a) and he's at the end of Yr4. But the school is very unacademic, and we haven't been pushy parents at all. His general knowledge is huge, his vocab is huge and his reading is good, but maths, spelling and punctuation need to come on in bounds. We have a year to do this until the first super selective and 18 months until the final exam which is for an excellent indie. I get anxious that we've left it too late, but he is bright and I'm hoping with some help every day that these basics will go in, allowing his enthusiasm for learning and his independent mind to shine.

You have two years, and if you aren't aiming for the super selectives, I'd say there's a very good chance indeed. Even with a super-selective, it sounds like he's a strong candidate.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:19 am 
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From what you are saying it sounds as if he could do with some help in maths. It could be something as simple as needing a bit of confidence. My DD was the same in year 3. She was doing OK but maths was clearly not as strong as we would have liked it to be. So we decided to work on it at home. Little and often. If you feel you don't have time or patience there are some very good centres out there offering 11+ courses. I think it would be too early to get an 11+ tutor (we didn't have one), also you don't want a general one, because it is good to concentrate on the right skills that need developing for the 11+

We made sure times tables, number bonds etc were good so that when you get to the final year before the 11+ you don't have to waste too much time on basics. In DD's school the teaching in year 3 was terrible but with the work we did at home we still passed both Bexley and Kent. (not thanks to the school)

Also be aware that the maths you get at state schools may not follow the 11 syllabus, although both the council and the school will tell you otherwise. In our school no algebra was done in year 4 or 5. When some parents questioned this after seeing some Algebra questions in the practice papers the HT said that a bit of algebra was covered in year 3!

A lot of people will perhaps say that it is too early to start thinking about the 11+, imho it is better to develop things slowly than finding that there are big gaps to fill with less than a year to go. Far too stressful.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:44 am 
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Thanks. We are thinking about moving him to a local private which has smaller classes and a higher no of children getting into the grammar, but socially he's very happy in his current school and worry the upset would do more harm than good. I feel, instinctively, that reading skills are best indicator of academic success at this age but the school doesn't seem to agree and worries instead about the fact he has struggled this year with 'real life money problems' etc. But I'm aware that grammar has moved on very much from my day and seems much more competitive. Our local is Colyton which doesn't have catchment area and seems to take from a very wide radius. Is it what is called a super selective?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:01 am 
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Super selectives often set their own entry requirements. Some have their own separate 11+ tests, others will only consider children with top marks, regardless of distance etc..

I have found these boards very helpful and supportive, perhaps it would be a good idea to post in the section for the area where you live. I'm sure someone with knowledge of the schools in your area will be able to point you in the right direction.

If he is happy at school, perhaps you may wish to think carefully about moving schools. Our school was not very good and not at all supportive of the eleven plus. However, if you work on the 11+ syllabus for your area with the help of a centre perhaps it can be done. A good centre should be able to test the child to see where he/she is and discuss with you what the best course of action would be. My friend who was a the same school, decided to take her DS out of the school and move to an Indie with the 11+ in mind and unfortunately he failed all 3 grammar tests he was put in for. One thing to bear in mind when moving to an Indie is what if the child does not pass, will you then continue the Indie route. Once they are in the Indie system it may not be so easy to get out of it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:06 am 
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Dani's post sounds like good advice all round.

Real life money problems came up on DS's year 1 report. When I looked at exactly what the problem was I realized he had not been formally taught number bonds (basic, basic stuff), or strategies for rounding up 'near number bonds or near 10s' etc. and, therefore, feeling unconfident in the actual 'maths' side of things meant that when he was faced with a different 'language' (ie that of money problems) it overwhelmed him and he got very anxious, feeling he couldn't do it.

We've got the CGP workbooks for maths. They go year by year, so you could find a year 3 one and go through it with him. It has money problems in it. They are laid out in a fun way, with lots of silly messages in them, that my DS loves. Even if some of the stuff in the year 3 one is too easy for him now, it will give him confidence to then tackle the year 4 one with you. Just a page a day - takes about 10 mins, more or less - which is really nothing at all but makes a big difference.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:19 am 
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Yep it sounds as though something like that over this summer would really be a massive help. Maybe you can also call on his literary side to help him enjoy the maths more e.g. search in a big bookshop for children's books that talk about maths through the ages in an interesting way, not just doing maths problems for himself.

Back to the workbooks - Scarlett on this site swears by the Level Up series. You could find the one that takes you systematically from a level 3 to a level 4 and bash at that this summer. If you have the time to be with your son while he does the maths it will give you some idea how he is thinking, and to talk it through together.

You might also find it useful to find out what you are aiming at with the particular 11+ exams your son will have to sit. Is there a maths paper as such? Not all 11+ include a mahts paper. What's the paper like? What sort of raw score is needed to pass etc etc.


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