Go to navigation
It is currently Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:19 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:49 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:21 am
Posts: 3
We've just gone through the entire 11+ process with our eldest son. He's a very bright boy who wasn't being stretched enough in his regular south-London public school, and he approached us last summer to say "daddy, can I do the 11+ and go to a great school please?". His mother and I advised him that he'd have to work hard at it, and he replied that he was determined to go through with it. So this was not something we forced on him at all.

We applied to Westminster, King's, Latymer and UCS, and started working with him on preparing for the written exams 5 months before they took place. His school put on extra lessons, I coached him on maths every day, and we got the help of a tutor twice a week in the last three months for English comprehension and creative writing. By the end he was in extraordinary shape: he could write exceptionally well (the tutor said she'd never seen a 10-year-old write like that), and he was able to do complex simultaneous equation problems in maths without batting an eyelid.

He sat the 4 sets of written exams, and got invited to interview by all 4 schools.

We then coached him for interview. He's a very confident and talkative chap, so this was a doddle. The headmaster of his current school personally trained him on interviewing, and told us "he should have no problems at all". Our lad came out of the interviews brimming confident and happy - he felt he had "aced" them. (UCS, for example, ran a "mock class" for groups of ten boys at a time. They projected an image of Marcel Duchamp's "urinal", and asked "is this art?". Our boy says everyone was stone silent except for him, who replied "well, it starts with an idea, so yes it is art").

Despite all of this, he ended up with just one school offering him a place (and it was not UCS). He got rejected outright by 3 of the 4.

All of this leads me to conclude:

(1) Getting into the top private day schools is incredibly tough. No matter how bright your kid, nor how much you prepare, there is no guarantee you will get in anywhere.
(2) It doesn't matter how smart your kid is or how well they do at the written exams - at the end of the day it just comes down to whether the school "likes" the child. That's totally random - you can't prepare for it. The school that offered him a place featured the interviewer spending 50% longer than the allocated time with our son, caught in a deep discussion about the engineering challenges involved in building a flying car (our son's pet project). The two obviously "clicked", and he got an offer. It is disconcerting that "clicking" is what in the end makes the difference between an "aye" or a "nay" - but this is what this process boils down to.

So: if you're going to go for the top schools (and unless you have a child that is freakishly intelligent), plan on spending 4-5 months of hard work every day preparing them for all subjects. That'll get them past the first filter - ie the written exams. Then coach them as much as you like on interview technique, but expect to be presented with a random set of outcomes. In this game, it becomes about numbers- so apply to at least 4 schools of differing styles to avoid ending up with nothing.

Good luck!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 7:27 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 5922
The whole process sounds hideous to me but I am glad your son got into a school you are happy with.

Just one thought- some of these schools have stated publicly recently that they use the interview to 'weed out' children who have been excessively coached, in favour of those who have natural personality and talent. Could it be that the 'brimming confidence' your son displayed after feeling he had 'aced' the interviews is actually what prevented him from being offered further places?

That isn't meant to sound unkind, but perhaps to offer some comfort to other parents who don't have the resources to throw at months of 1-1 intensive preparation. :)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:00 pm
Posts: 5417
Location: RBK
I thought that too.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:30 am
Posts: 2248
+1

We never saw it as a race or a competition particularly, and never did anything, coaching or otherwise, intensively. It's as much of a stressful competition as you make it, but many get into the schools they want without the intensive time you are talking about. That would have been way beyond whAt we would have done.
I sometimes think that being more informed, beyond a certain point, just makes you put yourself through it even more. You must address this, you must address that, when actually it's not necessary. Perhaps your son, who clearly clicked with that school, would have got that anyway, and perhaps he may have missed out on the others anyway.
But hopefully he is happy and you've all grown from the experience. But I wouldn't either want others to think that it has to be anywhere near as stressful or intensive as it was for you.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:51 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:21 am
Posts: 3
Maybe he was over-coached, but I don't think so. Certainly when it comes to the written exams, where he passed all 4 tests. Everyone else at the school was putting the hours and prep in. Less coaching would just have meant unfair disadvantage relative to all the other bright kids putting the hours in. I wish I could say prep isn't necessary - but I don't think that's realistic in London.

By the way before you cry "tiger parents" I should add that all this came from him: he asked to be put through the 11+ process, he asked for a tutor for English, and he asked me to do maths with him every day. It was bonding time together - a really special thing. He enjoyed being with his daddy so much 1-2-1 through these months that he's asked for us to continue to do daily maths, even though the 11+ process is over. None of this was forced.

Where he may not have done himself favours is in the brimming confidence displayed at the interviews, but he is not at all a smug or arrogant child - and his headmaster complimented his interview style saying he expected him to "have no problems". Still, something clearly went wrong somewhere, but I don't know what it was. I do know that the end result felt random and unpredictable, which is uncomfortable. Of course we're delighted he got into a great school. However I would not be able to tell you why or how.


Last edited by SmileyErn on Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
Posts: 8113
really hard to know what happened, maybe the headmaster is not so experienced in getting children into these schools and misread what they want at interview - maybe he can get some feedback from the schools for you.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2007 4:20 pm
Posts: 4660
I somehow think it's not the academic side which was 'over-coached' but rather the interview techniques. We are talking about 10 year olds. They don't need to be coached for interviews. Schools want to see the real 'them', not someone prepped and obviously coached. I'm afraid that's where things went wrong.

But hey, he got into a school and that's good. I'm sure the interview techniques he learnt will stand him in good stead for entering uni and employment.

_________________
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 6684
Location: Herts
Smileyerm, Thank you so much for taking the time to offer advice to other forum members. I read your post with great interest and was delighted to get to the end and find that your son has an offer from one of his four chosen schools. Not all on this forum have been so fortunate so you certainly should be celebrating.

As you are at a private school your Headmaster is able to contact the three schools that did not not give you an offer and get some feedback for you. Those in state schools have to sort this out themselves. I would recommend you ask the Head to do this for you. No student should do all that work and then not be given any reason why they did not get an offer.

Did you do any mocks like the Sutton mocks to get some idea how your ds was performing against his cohort? DG


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:00 pm
Posts: 5417
Location: RBK
Quote:
Did you do any mocks like the Sutton mocks to get some idea how your ds was performing against his cohort? DG

DG, Sutton Mocks could only have given indication about test preparation. OP's DS passed the tests in all the 4 schools. Got offer from one great school. Besides interviews, it may just be too many brighter children at each of these 4 very competitive schools.

OP, it's celebration time. Stop worrying about what went wrong at the other three schools.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:58 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:51 pm
Posts: 1035
Well done to your ds for getting a place at one of his schools. It seems that you are saying not to put all your eggs in one basket but have one or several good back up plans in place.

I wonder however if like most parents you are seeing your child through rose coloured specs as what can come across to you as brimming with confidence could possibly come across to others who do not know your ds as a bit arrogant. Also who knows what they are looking for. They may have had a difficult previous year group and seeking to exclude those who may be a bit exuberant or dominate so that this year is more manageable.

There are many people on this site whose Dc's have ended up with nothing and these people often don't post as it is a very painful and upsetting experience and who wants to see posts from those who got the prize. So be grateful for what your ds has achieved.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
CALL 020 8204 5060
   
Privacy Policy | Refund Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright © 2004 – 2016