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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:48 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:33 pm
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Location: London
My daughter is about to go into Year 7. She sat the 11+ (Redbridge, Essex) and the entrance exam for one independent school She didn't get into the grammar, which wasn't really a surprise, but she didn't get into the independent either, which was.

My son is about to go into Year 4. He's very bright and I think more likely to do well in entrance exams than his sister. However, based on our experience so far, I'm tempted to forget the 11+ and concentrate on independent school exams for the following reasons:

(a) The format of the exams is very different, so trying to prepare for both means you focus less well on either
(b) There's an unnerving randomness about who does and who doesn't get into grammar school. It's not always the people you expect, and while some argue that this is because the tests measure pure intelligence / potential, I'm not convinced. Personally I think VR and NVR are something of a party trick.
(c) I think going for only one independent school was a mistake, as we limited our daughter's chances, but I was unhappy about putting her through so many exams. I think our son would cope better, but dropping the 11+ would help reduce the burden.
(d) Fees are less of an issue this time round as we will only have one child (if any!) at an independent school.

We still have plenty of time to mull this over, as I won't send him to a tutor until probably about January of Year 5 (we did this with our daughter and I feel it's about right). But I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:49 pm 
What independent schools are you looking in to as many are happy to be more lenient exam wise with state school pupils so you may not need to tutor - possibly you should enquire into this if you haven't done so already. Would you consider a non selective but good independent school and then there would be no stress?

If you would prefer to send your child to an independent school then there is no point sitting the grammar school test, but I think you may aswell if you aren't sure as it keeps your options open. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:29 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:48 pm
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Hello Muffinmonster

My daughter is in Year 5 and we have taken the decision to forget the 11+ and concentrate on independents. Our 'local' grammar is Tiffin and last year I did a lot of research into the format of their tests etc (as forum regulars will know!). I fully intended tutoring DD myself and, being a fan of state education, was very keen for her to go there. However, when I attended Tiffin's open day I found that all the girls I spoke to on the day had been professionally tutored for at least 2 years (one said she didn't know anyone who had got in without a tutor), which really put me off

As you say, the preparation required for grammars which test VR and NVR only is totally different to the independent schools which test English and Maths. I'm also inclined to agree that VR and NVR, when children have been very heavily tutored, is not the test of raw ability that it is intended to be. From all accounts, the scores required to get a place are extremely high which isn't a surprise when you consider the amount of tutoring which routinely takes place.

My DD is bright and I think that with DIY tutoring she had a good chance of getting a place. But on balance it just felt wrong.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:33 pm
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Location: London
Thanks, Tipsy and Jess, for your replies.

I live in London E11 and the independents we're looking at (all local) are Forest, Bancroft's and Chigwell. Most people put their children in for all three - first time round I thought this was overkill, but I've learned my lesson. They're all selective, with Bancroft's having a reputation for being the most difficult to get into. We applied to Forest for my daughter, as we like it very much and it's very near to where we live. (It is still my first choice for my son.) We're not at all keen on sending our children to schools further afield because of the commuting and the implications for their social lives.

Tipsy, I've no idea whether any of these schools are 'more lenient' with state school pupils, though I'd be delighted if they were! I certainly think prep school pupils are at a huge advantage, as state schools don't do anything to prepare children for these entrance exams. (Am I right in thinking they're not allowed to?) I'm curious, though - is such a policy of leniency usually official or not? Is it something to discuss with the head? The application form for Forest asks what school your child is currently at, so this is information that's available to the school if they're interested. I didn't hear any mention from the school at any stage of making allowances either for their current school or their age (both my children have summer birthdays, so the weighting of the 11+ results by age is a help).

I don't know of any non-selective independent schools in our area, but I'm keen on selective schools anyway and I do feel that my son (and indeed my daughter, despite our recent disappointment) are bright enough both to get into and to cope well with the average selective independent school.

I can't say whether I would prefer an independent to the grammar, as I haven't visited the boy's grammar yet (it's Ilford County High). I have heard, though, that given the excellent quality of their intake, they don't produce the results they ought, and a comparison with the girls' grammar (Woodford County High) bears this out. Obviously we need to visit Ilford County before we rule it out altogether.

Jess: I'm shocked to hear of children being tutored 2 years to get into Tiffin! Yes, I totally agree that tutoring inflates the 11+ results. Just about everyone tutors, so those who tutor hardest and for longest will make it to the top. I've heard stories about girls at Woodford County High who continue to be tutored long after they've started there, because otherwise they can't keep up. So although I'm prepared to do a year, I wouldn't do more than that. I want my son to be able to cope if and when he gets there.

As regards the differences between 11+ and independent English and Maths papers, I just think that if we're going to invest time and money in tutoring, I'd far rather my children be tutored in English and Maths than VR and NVR! At least then if they don't get a place they've done something that will stand to them wherever they go.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:55 pm 
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As regards the differences between 11+ and independent English and Maths papers, I just think that if we're going to invest time and money in tutoring, I'd far rather my children be tutored in English and Maths than VR and NVR! At least then if they don't get a place they've done something that will stand to them wherever they go.


very good point!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1300
Location: Birmingham
Hi Muffinmonster

I would strongly recommend that you register your child for state grammar exams as well but without necessarily doing any additional coaching/tutoring for those exams.

The reason a would remmend this approach is that you occasionally get situations where children pass harder grammar exams but fail Independent exams. I certainly am aware of this situation in B/Ham where some boys were banking on a place at KES boys (independent) but failed but passed the theoretically much harder KE State grammar exam.

I would certainly keep your options open.

Regards


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:05 pm 
Hi KenR - I did not explain that I was talking about the Cambridge Pre-U as I am against the IB! :)


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