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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:26 am 
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Location: Herts
My dd's school does not use the word able. Ironically the only place it appears is on the website advising that less able students will find the entrance exams difficult! Apart from this parents and students are told about the success of students who have worked hard, not of those who are able. At the start of Year Seven teachers are not told who has come into the school via an academic place and all students are treated equally and are taught in mixed ability classes. Maths sets begin in Year Eight and English sets in Year Nine. Some students entering the school via an academic place do not gain places in these sets which instead go to music, sibling and distance students. Some students who were Gifted and Talented in English or Maths at Primary School do not gain places in these sets, some students offered scholarships at Habs, St Albans, NLCG, City etc at 11 do not make it into these sets at 12 or 13. Some students who got into the schools after being in the 20's on the waiting list gain top set places and win academic prizes over those who came in the top 10 in the entrance exam. Other students gain places at the school from the middle tables at Primary school beating those on the top tables. This week I ran eight days of consecutive mocks in English, VR and Maths for students sitting September exams at DAO, QE and HBS. Some of these students had done no preparation at all before. Every student gained marks every day. One boy got 19 out of 80 on for VR on day one, then 29, 36, 49, 61, 72, 74, 75. I have no doubt that given a few more days he would have got to 100%. In October we will find out if these students have managed to overtake more "able" students from their class at school who are sitting the same exams. It is clear that some students are quicker to grasp concepts but other students who work harder are able to overtake them. All my students commented on how much they enjoyed being in a room with other students who all wanted to learn. Many parents were amazed to see their dc's so enthused. The classes were open to anyone who wanted to come, the students were self selecting. One boy insisted on coming to every class every day with his parents dropping food off during the day! Students appeared in the evening having done something else all day but apparently super keen to come. I have no doubt that these students are now equipped to do better than many "more" able students who have been told they are bright by school and so do not feel the need to apply themselves in the run up to the exams. We shall see! Not long to go now.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:15 am 
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I would think this school is correct. If they have already selected the top x % through their test, there is no need to carry on talking about ability in the school. Good teaching and hard work should ensure high grades for all.

Which school is this? Maybe one day they will be brave enough to forget their entrance test too!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:59 am 
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I am with you all the way on this DAOGroupie as you know. This wasn't the case a long time ago (20 years plus) at DAOS and I like to think they have learnt from their earlier mistakes...DAOS have really taken the Dweck ideology on board it seems and it is very much to their credit.

At a recent IAPS talk I attended at a local prep the message was quite different to your core belief and values in this regard.

We were told that if considering super selectives etc only a couple of familiarisation sessions were needed re: VR or whatever the format was. The naturally clever would thrive and pass and those not so clever should frankly not be trying. We were told it was impossible to learn how to do VR or NVR beyond basic familiarisation as you either had the ability or you did not. We were told the best Prep schools were those with a creative bent who did no or very little preparation in the traditional sense for exams. [You don't need to do more than a few practice papers].How they wished that all Preps would have such a creative and admirable ethos as the one where the talk was held. We were told that a good parent finds the right school for their child, knows their child's innate strengths and weaknesses and to do anything more but familiarisation for truly academic schools was unproductive and unhelpful. We were told industry was crying out for creative thinkers and that rote learning and too much traditional book study in isolation meant pupils coming out of school and university who could not think outside the box and were a disaster at work. Know thy place on the IQ bell curve and stick with it is what I and others gleaned from it all.

The message at St Paul's etc is that they don't want the 'over tutored' and I have heard that from every independent head I have spoken to. Not lots, just those at schools I might consider in the future for my children. They would seem to agree with the paragraph above. Is it a British thing I wonder? Elsewhere it feels much more metrocratic, tests are administered to all more frequently in Primary etc (disliked by most in the UK) but if you get a high score you they take note. They don't care if you have an alleged lower IQ, have come from the bottom set (you'll still get to sit the same test that likely wouldn't even be administered to you in the UK if deemed the lowest ability) or if you've spent a month of Sundays poring over your books. A high score is a high score and can in some cases put you on a completely different pathway and change your life. Food for thought perhaps...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:52 pm 
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Which school is DAO? They do sound very sensible.

I am not really sure I understand what this current band wagon is of independent heads supposedly decrying tutoring is about. It doesn't seem entirely honest to me. There seems to be little more than anecdotal evidence that there are a few children here and there who get into highly selective schools who shouldn't have done because tutoring made them look better than they were.

Maybe they don't want state school children. There is (hopefully, otherwise what's the point in paying) a gap between the learning of a child at a good prep and at a state primary. So if you put state applicants off being tutored, fewer of them will succeed in the entrance exam at age 11 or 13.

Whatever entrance test is put in place, whether or not tutoring exists, there are going to be a few errors in both directions - children who pass "who shouldn't have passed", and children that fail who "should have passed". The latter is a shame, and the former shouldn't be a problem at a good school as, after all, the child has gone there to be taught and to learn. If people feel that the school should only be available to those who can already do it all or to whom every subject is as simple as falling off a log and the teacher doesn't have to try, then what's the point of the school?

There are, as you say, quite a few of these dreamy so-called creative prep-schools around too, some where thorough teaching and learning is frowned upon, and hey presto, at a minority you have quite a contingent of "dyslexic" children who need further one to one support which is charged extra for - a much higher percentage than one would expect from parents who have got those amounts of money .

You can see the big muddle on here among parents too. There are forum members who sound quite critical quite often of children doing something extra at home to make up for a lack of something or other at school, or to be better prepared in an entrance exam of some sort. There are parents who are the complete opposite to this, and will openly tell you everything they do at home. And there are others who do things with their children when necessary but dress it up as being because the children want to or have asked to do so.

I just want to know where these great tutors are in real life. You can see on here that some exist, and that some are forum members. I have yet to find a tutor in my area who I think is worth paying money to so my children will have to put up with me.


Last edited by mystery on Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:04 pm 
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Dame Alice Owens in Herts.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Location: Herts
So why are parents paying for prep schools if there are these naturally able students who don't need to prepare for entrance exams? What are prep schools doing if they are not "preparing" students to win the best secondary school places? Every year many families from local preps think their dc's can walk into the local selective schools at 11 because they think they have paid to make their dc's better than the students from the local primaries. Or if they do get in they don't make the top sets because their dc's are used to being pushed and prodded and have not developed their own work ethic. I know for a fact that all the girls in the top maths set went to the local state schools in Herts, the prep girls appear to have lost focus and got distracted and dazzled by other things, boys, makeup, social media or perhaps had simply been over prepared in the first place. As for not being able to prep for VR this is untrue. I trained myself to do 100 VR in 22 minutes and get 100%. My students sat day after day last week doing Walsh, Bright Sparks, The Tutors, First Past the Post, IPS and were mostly approaching 100% by the end of the week. In the same day they did Comprehension Papers on Dombey & Son, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times and Pride and Prejudice and IPS, Athey and First Past the Post Maths papers. This was working hard and not natural ability. One of the most able students I ever met failed both DAO and QE last year because the school had spent far too much time telling him how clever he was. Perhaps preps can get into indy's on "prep'd" natural ability but not into the selective state schools round here DG


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:06 pm 
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I think, if I understood correctly, the point was that the 'best' Prep schools should ideally deliver more of a holistic education and have a hugely creative ethos. They shouldn't be hothouses that drill for tests. I don't disagree with you DG especially re: VR. Interesting points. The talk was held at a prep that is non-selective and creative in approach with no stand out feeder school and no 'prepping' really as far as I know.

IMO you most definitely need to prepare for any popular selective school that has far more applicants than places, it's common sense, but that wasn't the message as I understood it and that, I thought, was interesting as it's something I have heard a lot from popular independents recently( (that prepping is largely unnecessary and undesirable, tutoring should be declared etc). What's DAOS's view on preparation for the exam?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:19 pm 
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Location: Herts
I think these Heads need to brush up on their Maths skills! There are far more applicants than places so fairly obviously the places will go to the students who have prepared the most. Those who think they are clever will be overtaken by those who make very sure they have maximised their opportunities. QE and HBS are at the top of the league tables because everyone works really hard and they are full of students who worked really hard to get in. DAO discourages people from applying unless they are prepared to work hard, knowing that those who are will apply. DG


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:44 pm 
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I know of a family who go to a localish private school whose daughter having been there for a year now, reports that the students having the most trouble keeping up are the prep school ones. An entrance exam is manadatory for year 7 unless you are in the prep school. Those struggling are advised to get private tuition and when this option has not worked, 'invited to leave'. I think that there is no harm in preparing children for these exams as it instills not just knowledge and technique but also discipline and the concept of deferred gratification. If you can afford to employ a tutor all well and good, but in my case, I teach my child myself with books bought from Amazon and sites such as this and then supplement with a 2 hour Saturday school. As the exam nears, loads and loads of test papers every day from 10am to 4pm. There are no holidays abroad or anywhere else for that matter, TV, Nintendo and the like are pared to the bone but all this just for the holidays prior to the exams. I do know I have done my best and whether success is achieved or not she has learnt more than academic skills in the process and she will work hard where ever she end up.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:24 pm 
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I have to say that I completely agree with the hard work ethos. It is something that a child can carry on with through to adulthood and indeed into the work place. It becomes part of their personality and how they approach anything in life - even later on.

The headmaster at DD's school always commends those that win end of year prizes with their hard work not natural ability. For those that didn't win prizes he merely advises that their peers worked harder on that occasion. I couldn't agree more. It's so much more inspiring to know that hard work can change grades and outcomes.

DD knows that when she works hard (with me!) she does well at school. And when she's more laid back her grades or speed slip.

SleepyHead


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