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 Post subject: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:17 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 5922
Now I know this is going to set the cat among the pigeons but it is something which is bothering me.

I don't know anything about CEM tests, but I gather there is a brief to try and produce something 'tutor proof' and which offers a fairer system for selective schools to ensure that all children have equal opportunities to pass.

With that in mind, is it ethical that some on this site are encouraging anyone whose child has sat the test to offer as much information as possible, so that others may benefit from it and tutors may taylor their sessions towards it?

I know on the one hand this site is open access to anyone with a computer so maybe you would say 'fair game'. But equally as it so obviously goes against the spirit of what head teachers say they want in a test, is it actually right to be trying to dig around to find information to advantage one's own child, or, as a tutor, to profit from others, in this way?

I am not trying to be difficult and my own stance on selective education is well known, but I wondered what people thought?

And finally (this is kind of a personal question)- if one is a member of this forum, does it imply that one is a supporter of the system and ought those with differing views really make themselves scarce? (I can take it - I have asked!)


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:52 am 
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Posts: 930
I have heard all sorts going on - a friend who is a teacher at a local GS says it is well known that over the years certain families are suspected to have manipulated situations with ill relatives- sometimes not in the country- to allow their child to do the late test. In the mean time they find out info about the test from friends. How much information can be realistically gleaned from children I don't know - DS certainly told me nothing of the test.
I do feel it is quite sad that children without good parental support really do not have a chance because lack of parental support. I know of one bright lad whose parents were told by his teachers he should try the test as they thought he was doing well enough - I would think at the end of primary he would have been level 5 in maths and literacy without any input from his parents. His parents decided not to bother and he has just left school at 16 and came away from his recently re- branded City Acadamy with some GCSE's but did not get a GCSE in maths which I thought was pretty sad really.

I do understand your point of view Amber- I have had to wrestle with my conscience when thinking what to do with my children. Some local parents have gone with their ethics and elected to put their children into what has been a low acheiving but local school which has had a lot of money thrown at it. One did tell me that if things did not go well they did have the money for their dd to go to a local private school. My kids went to look at the same school and both chose to try the test preferring what they saw at the grammar schools and are now happy at their respective grammar schools.

I have friends whose children go to Malmesbury School in Wiltshire and both are high acheiving kids doing really well in an outstanding comprehensive. It is the only only school in the town so no real alternative choice. What really makes it a good school though- it is in a nice relatively well off area of Wiltshire with lots of kids with parents who care, and good teachers who are happy to live in the area or something else?


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:05 pm
Posts: 95
I don't know much about CEM either but I don't think any test is 'tutor-proof'. I don't see a problem with sharing information and it's inevitable information will get around. In my opinion sharing information to a wider audience is better than only a few people in the know knowing through prep schools etc. After all the 11+ is about offering every child regardless of their background an opportunity to gain an education almost on par with those in independent schools.

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And finally (this is kind of a personal question)- if one is a member of this forum, does it imply that one is a supporter of the system and ought those with differing views really make themselves scarce? (I can take it - I have asked!)
I think being a member of this forum does imply you are a supporter of the system. However, is there a better place to share your views on selective education? I'm a hypocrite, I don't agree with private schools. I think all children should receive the same eduction. My beliefs haven't stopped me putting my own children in private school though....


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:30 pm
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is it right to win at any cost? that's it in a nutshell isn't it? By win, that emans getting into a selective state or a scholorship at public school or simply a school depending on one's personal preference/circumstance etc..


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:41 pm
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'Any cost' implies cheating. Preparing for an exam using commercially available material (or freebies like the Bexley Sample Paper) is called 'studying' or 'preparing'!

Even the parents in my dd's class who don't expect their children to be offered places at Latymer have done some work, either DIY or a mix for classes in Maths/Engligh and DIY. Most of them wouldn't actually accept a place if offered because they don't want their son to be bottom of the class at a great school, but in the middle of a good one, but they all still prepared to some degree and see it as a good thing to support learning. I know children who have had private tutoring for 1-2 years and failed to secure a place, and I know at least 3 children who have prepared in only a couple of months and passed. Their parents used the 'How to do....' books, drilled their children in tests and 10-minute tests (not Bond!) and passed. It actually surprises me that parents would have their dc sit tests without any preparation when they would like a place at the school, and it surprises me even more (to the point of disbelief) that they don't know that the other children are being taught! Presumably they missed the Open Day talks and don't talk to other parents...or even 'Google' advice on the test.


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:56 pm
Posts: 50
Amber I agree with you. I am pleased that they are trying to tutor proof the system to make it fairer and I find it very disappointing and frustrating that tutors have jumped in and are trying to make a mockery of it.


My oldest child sat the old style Bucks paper and we had to join the bandwagon, get a tutor and teach him to answer the questions, otherwise he would have been at a huge disadvantage. He did pass andhas proved himself at Grammar becoming a predicted A star in every subject at GCSE. However on the tests he scored 118 and 128! so lucky the second paper had his favourite question types...


my younger son just sat the tutor proof cem test. Hooray we thought how much fairer this will be. we did prep at home working on mental maths, reading etc etc. I did then panic after reading some stuff on this site and bought some nvr books to work on over the summer - thank goodness I did. DS found the test really hard and he is just as capable and academic as his brother so if he doesn't get through then is there something wrong with the test or is it because the tutors have already got in and made a mockery of the system? only time will tell.


At the end of the day though we all want our children to go to the best school......


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:38 pm
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Location: Maidstone
Hasn't CEM been going on for a while? I thought Birmingham have had CEM for more than I dare to remember now.

...and having access to a question bank or whatever doesn't mean the child will pass. In our county 11+ is it an opt in system so I doubt the children you are thinking of would benefit as they will probably not even take the test in the first place.

Life is never fair and never will it be.

I could ask is it fair that people in this country throw HUGE piles of food away when there are starving children around the world? I could further ask is it even fair to moan about state provision when millions around the world aren't even going to school because they are too poor to afford the school fees?

Those who can play the system will. It's just what it is. Is it right? NO, but it is what it is for now.

...and sometimes even in these same schools that are selective, if you drill down you will find disparities in outcomes mainly based on family income. I know a few from "disadvantaged" backgrounds who attend local grammars here and their GCSE and A Levels outcomes are in the bottom 20% if not 10% of their particular school.

Amber wrote:
And finally (this is kind of a personal question)- if one is a member of this forum, does it imply that one is a supporter of the system and ought those with differing views really make themselves scarce? (I can take it - I have asked!)

:lol: :lol:

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Impossible is Nothing.


Last edited by sherry_d on Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:21 am
Posts: 2125
2Girlsmum wrote:
Most of them wouldn't actually accept a place if offered because they don't want their son to be bottom of the class at a great school...


I find that incredibly sad! How on earth would they know that their son would be at the "bottom" - presumably if Latymer offered him a place it means he's passed the exam and therefore the school thinks he's at the right academic level to benefit from being educated there. I wouldn't have thought there is any question of being "bottom" at such a high-achieving school - merely that some won't be quite as high-flying as others. It seems that there are plenty more parents underestimating their child's potential, than vice versa! :(

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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:50 pm 
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If they want to come up with a test that is truly "tutor-proof", prep-proof, school-proof, and fair to all then they're going to have to try a jolly sight harder. Anyhow, read the real C E M website. It says no such thing.

The fact is that you can't really prepare for a test that is very vocabulary loaded - if indeed it is, I don't know. I don't know what the final percentage of the result is vocab in C E M in all its various guises.

English has a lot of words. I can't teach my child all the words over the next year that might come up in a C E M test. It's no way possible. If a set of words comes up on the day that corresponds with my 10 year old's vocabulary then lucky me / her. But in a way it is luck if there's a good match between the sample of English words that come up on the day and the sample of English words that are in my child's head.

Two fuzzy claims are made by some on behalf of this test: first of all that it is tutor-proof, or such-like, and the other one that everything you need will be covered at school. My children do not extend their vocabulary at school unless "what the fudge" counts - but I had to explain the meaning at home. Also, if it is all stuff you learn at school what would be the fuss over discussing the test. No-one claims that it is unfair that people can read and practise GCSE and A level papers.

I still don't understand why it is considered to be a fairer test than ones that rival companies could produce. OK GL assessment produced examples of question types that could come up and sells them. But they could put other types in tests if they so chose, and they could produce very hard examples of those question types in the real exam, or add huge time pressure. Any test publisher can do the same tweaks if they wish to.

It's surely up to the test purchaser to set some parameters of what they want to test and what sort of child they wish to select and then leave it up to the test publisher to come up with something that does the job well at a good price?

It does worry me when people break clearly set out rules that they have agreed to. e.g. there are apparently plenty of copies of past Kent test papers floating around that headteachers and tutor/invigilators bandy around. But, as the grammars and the LA know this happens, then they need to make sure there is no particular advantage seeing an old paper.

Unless parents, children, invigilators, headteachers etc are bound and gagged there are going to be some leaks of details of what was contained within the paper afterwards. Therefore things being available to all (e.g. like the GL assessment practice papers which are on sale) is fairer, rather than a small number of people having information that could put them at an advantage.


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 Post subject: Re: An ethical question
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:41 pm
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The boys (constitute 3 out of the 5 boys who sat the Latymer paper along with 3 girls) whose parents wouldn't send them are unlikely to secure a place and the parents are aware of that. All 3 are in middle groups, not top groups in Math and English/Reading. Their parents just wanted them to study, improve generally and to experience the test without expectation or worry and in fact all 3 enjoyed the test. Boys have a better choice of Secondary than the girls do in our school, because it's is a 'feeder school' to a number of schools in local boroughs. Unfortunately for the girls it's a choice of 2 less-exciting schools plus the locals. One of the guaranteed feeder schools was a 'top North London Comp.' a few years ago, but it's about 1hr travel each way, the building looks like a workhouse and the secretary is unbelievably rude. The other is sort of OK :| . Local schools of any worth are all out of catchment, so the girls tend to generally be more motivated when it comes to 11+.


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