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 Post subject: Feeling Alone
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:57 pm 
Dear All

Is anyone else in the same position as me? My daugther goes to a large state junior school and I am not aware of any other girls in her year who are taking the test for the local girls' grammar school. I have had no help whatsoever from her school. I asked at a parents' evening back in Year 5 whether the teacher considered my daughter should apply, and got an oblique answer "People are normally in the top sets for everything". As my daughter is in the 2nd set for Maths, but top for English I was left to guess a negative reply. What is happening? Why do we get no guidance about grammar school tests from schools? I have looked at the local admissions information for the past 3 years and realise that there is stiff competition for places. I am under no illusions of how hard it is to get in. I myself went to the same grammar school, but in those days most of my class at junior school got through to grammar and I cannot remember my parents getting involved with the procedure at all and didn't feel under pressure. Why is it so different now? I am doing practice tests with my daughter when I can fit it in, but I feel very much alone. Everyone else I know does not want to put their child through the pressure. Our local secondary school has a good Ofsted report, but the 2005 GCSE results were 55% 5 A-C's - and that is the top secondary school in the town (others range from 19% to 49%). Is anyone else experiencing this? I am of the opinion that "nothing ventured nothing gained" and my daughter is agreeing to take the test, but of course all her friends seem to be going to the local secondary. We are stuggling through the tests. Verbal reasoning is her best, but maths is so hard and even English - her best subject at school - seems hard. I have to confess that I find the maths hard. We have visited the local secondary and are also visiting the grammar this week and a popular oversubscribed comprehensive in the next town (so we don't stand a chance of getting in there). The tests are at the end of November. Is anyone else struggling out there? Can you give me any inspiration?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 2:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:36 am
Posts: 141
Dear Dorset Parent
You may feel on your own at the jnr school, but there are quite a few of us on this site that are in the same position as you........hence this forum is an absolute godsend! What books are you presently using? How much work do you manage to cover in a week? You have approx 10 weeks left?
Plenty of time to really knuckle down - but have some sort of plan of what you want to cover and when...ie. VR one week and then maths the next. Yes I know the Maths can be so hard! Give it a go - your schools down there are not nearly as oversubscribed as some in Kingston etc.
There are so many books on the 11+ that will help you - but you will have to find out whether the exams are m/c or standard etc, so get along to those open evenings and start asking questions.
Good luck and keep coming back here to ask more!
USA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:07 am 
Do some practice as suggested and give the grammar a go, but try not to make it seem TOO important. The difference between now and when we were children is that ALL children did the 11plus so it was part of the junior school scene. Nowadays there are just a few pockets left and many junior school teachers are against grammar schools in principle.

On the positive side, 55% A-C is a good comp. Don't forget that the school will have its fair share of struggling pupils and special needs, so it's not really comparing like with like. If you took the results of the top 25% in the comp, you might find they were very similar or close to the grammar.

Your daughter's exactly like mine (i.e. Maths is her 'weakness') and she was in the top set for English but middle for Maths at Junior. She missed the 11 plus by a smallish margin (in Bucks they all take it) but is now extremely happy in a good comp. Her English teacher called her first English homework 'stunning' and she has just been put in the top stream for Maths. She is very proud. I'm not sure this would have happened in the grammar.

Jed


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:20 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Lincolnshire
[quote="usa"]Dear Dorset Parent
You may feel on your own at the jnr school, but there are quite a few of us on this site that are in the same position as you........hence this forum is an absolute godsend!

A'int this the truth!!

Please dont feel alone, because you most certainly are not. I think there are many primary schools that seem to take this attitude towards the 11+ in general. It seems to have a certain stigma attached, as though parents looking for a grammer education for their children are in some way being critical of the local comps, which is not the case.

My son sat for a place a Kings in Grantham. I would like him to go to this school because he is intelligent and I feel the environment will encourage him to strive to achieve his best, encourage him to move on to higher education and ultimately help him to have a good career.

Of course I realise that Grammer does not always equal this and visa-versa, Comprehensive does not always equal anything other than this but I know my child as do all of you know yours and this was the decision we made together.

We worked hard over the summer holidays using practise material mainly suggested on this site. I think if it had not been for this, my son would not have had much of a chance. I recently found out that practically every other primary in the area had been setting aside time at school to work with the children on the tecniques involved in the exam. My son had 2 practice tests sent by the grammer in May, with no prior preparation. His results were 48% in VR and 26 out of 60 in NVR. This had a very negative impact on him.

Once we had worked on the tecniques ( I only had to explain once in most areas, what he was being asked to do!), he improved dramatically, to average around 85-90%. This does make me a little angry, as although I do not expect the school to do everything to educate my child, a nudge in the right direction would have been nice!

All I can say is thank you so much for all your help and support leading up to the exam, this site really could have made all the difference for my son, I have recommended to many parents with younger children that they make this site their first point of call in their 11+ preparation!!
angelz


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:36 am 
Reading through this forum will only reiterate the fact that the majority of us are in a similar posistion.

My son sat his 11+ on 9.9.06 & 16.9.06 with no guidance from his primary school, even to the extent that when I asked in May when they would be sitting the practice papers, I was told that it would be towards the end of September. I then pointed out that the letter they had sent home from the grammar school advised us that the children would be sitting the exams on 9.9.06 & 16.9.06. I then expressed my opinion that it might be better to do it before the summer holidays, so that parents and pupils alike could decide whether they wanted to carry on with the process and actually take the 11+ or whether to call it a day.

I asked again in June when they would be sitting them and got a "not sure yet" response.

I was then approached at the end of June by my sons class teacher to advise that my query had been referred to this teacher and that this was the first time the class teacher had had to organise and arrange this as it was usually the head that arranged everything.

I was then advised that it would be some time in July and again I expressed my opinion that parents would probably like to know the results before the end of term to assist them in making a decision as to whether to continue with actaul exams.

They(approx 11 of a class of 31) sat the practice papers on 15.7.06 and we as parents then received the results a week later as school broke up for the summer.

When speaking to the head about what he thought about my son and going to a grammar school, I received negative feed back in as much as he said I should think about what type of school would be best for my son; nothing else just that, as if that wasn't what my whole focus has been since he was in year 5!

My son got 88/100 in VR and 45/60 in NVR and I needed this info to make an informed decision as to whether a grammar school was even an option. But more than that I wanted to know whether he felt comfortable with the process to want to actually complete the 11+ and look at the grammar schools. Whether he actually passes or not is irrelevant, as even if he passes he may not be offered a place because we are out of catchment, but I did not want this option to be taken away and a door closed before he had even had the chance to complete this experience.

If he had said to me I don't want to take the 11+ Mum then that would have been a different matter. He wanted to try and therefore I had to make sure that he had that chance and got feedback from it.

Even if he does pass an gets offered a place at a grammar school, we as a family may decide that it is not the best option for him and he may go to one of the local schools, but that cannot be decided until we have looked at these other schools.

At the end of the day it is which school is going to be best for him as a person, is going to get the best out of him academically and assist him in his career choices, options and further education that is important.

However I do resent the lack of assistance/guidance and input from the primary school in advising what to look for in a secondary school, how to go about enquiring of secondary schools and grammar schools also. Any information at all really would have been useful rather than being left to flounder and worry, it is stressful enough as it is without being left in the dark!


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 Post subject: Feeling Alone
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:53 pm 
Dear All

I was so grateful to get these replies. Today at work I was wondering if I had gone on too much - there is no-one at work either who is going through this.

USA - Thanks for your encouragement. It's Multiple Choice Maths, English and Verbal Reasoning. I rang up and was advised by the grammar school to get practice tests from Smiths. I've got Nfer. Do the school tell you what type they use for the tests? Should I get any others? I am going to the grammar school open evening this Thursday. I wonder if they will give any info about the tests? I started in August and so far she has done 2 papers of each test with me going through them with her thoroughly (took ages). She has done 1 VR on her own. Now she is back at school I can allocate part of 2 or 3 evenings and a half day at the weekend. That's all I seem to manage so far. You are bound to tell me that everyone else is doing lots more and I am hopelessly behind. Anyone else with any comments on how much they do and when will be welcomed (even if it scares me).

Jed - thanks for your comments and your interpretation of our catchment secondary school's 55% A-C results. I am comparing secondary schools in our town (not comprehensives, which have better results but which are outside our town or Catholic) with grammars. Interesting to read about your daughter's experience at school and reassuring.

Angelz - you seem to undertand the 'stigma' attitude that I get from other parents whose children are not doing the test (and I still haven't met anyone whose daughter is taking this test!)

SJ - Your experience is very similar to mine at my local school, but at least you had practice tests. You express exactly what I feel. How are you doing now as you sound at a similar stage to me (but ahead). Please let me know if possible.

To all of you - thanks for your replies. I now know I am not alone. But I will say that in the end I do not have much choice - the grammar school is within my town but has no catchment and takes 150 who pass the test from all over the area, the good comprehensive is close to me but is in a different town and education authority and priority given to those residents, another good comprehensive near to me in the town is Catholic, so completely impossible to get into so we are left with the local secondary school - which I am sure will be good but not as good as a good comprehensive and it also has no sixth form.

Do any forum users have opinions of whether it is important for a school to have a sixth form? Our local school doesn't so if she goes, she will have to apply for a place at the grammar (40 spare places) or the 2 comprehensives. I myself preferred the option of staying on. She won't have that option.


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 Post subject: Jed
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:41 pm 
Dear Dorset parent

I hope just having a conversation with sympathetic parents who have a wide range of experiences will help you with the process of choosing schools for your daughter.

I've got one daughter in grammar and another just started in a comp (see my previous post). I visit this forum because I'm interested in education generally and because I think that sometimes the good comps and secondaries need some supporters!

But I have to admit I think a lack of 6th form can be a disadvantage. It's more difficult for schools to recruit the top teachers without the carrot of A level. You get all the challenges of the lower school without the smaller, more motivated and more interested 6th-form students who have opted for your subject. For me, it's this recruitment factor that's more important than the fact that the students are forced to move at 16.

We're not in the catchment for our comp but got a place. I believe the birthrate is slowly declining and maybe you'll have more luck than previous years with your local schools. Worth investigating along with the grammars.

Good luck

Jed


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 Post subject: How much study
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:20 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Lincolnshire
Hi Dorset Parent

In Lincs our children have already sat the 11+ tests. This year they were on 9/9/06 and 16/9/6, so that we can have the results before choosing the school.

To get my son ready for the tests most of our work was during the summer hols. I had 1 week off work, so relyed on him to do the work I had requested him to do for the rest of the time.

I found the Susan Daughtry books invaluable in helping my son with VR, as they cover all 35 subjects with step by step guidance on how to tackle the questions.

I would say the average amount of study my son did would be around 1hr a day. Sometimes a bit more ( at weekends) sometimes a bit less. I found pushing him too hard had a counter-productive effect :twisted: . Of course we only have VR and NVR to cover, so you would need to add Maths into the equasion.

I think the amount of study needed is personal to the child as is the case throughout their school life but as we get the results on Oct 14th I will let you all know whether the amount of work my son did payed off. You will know when your child feels comfortable with the different question types, so you can then concentrate on those she finds more difficult.

I suggest having a look at some of Patricia's posts, she definately has the knack of making study fun and she has some excellent tips that worked for us.

Good luck
angelz


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:07 pm
Posts: 2660
Dear Dorset Parent

As you can see, you are NOT alone....there are many users who are willing to help emotionally and educationally.

What school are you applying for in Dorset? When you go to the open evening on Thursday....ask questions!......even if you have to repeat yourself to different teachers...eventually someone will give you some valuable information.

You already know its multiple choice, VR Maths and English.....also find out.....

WHO publishes the tests?

What is the 'going' pass rate?

Ask other parents at the meeting the same questions....again there is bound to be someone who is willing to divulge some information.

Ring some tutors up [ you do not have to employ one] ask what there procedures are.

Most importantly.......do NOT feel alone.

Patricia


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:17 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:36 am
Posts: 141
Hallo Dorset Parent!
You are going to need more practise than Nfer can offer.
PM me and I can tell you the best ones you will probably need. There is a brilliant book shop on this site that will help you.
I am assuming it is Bmouth girls? There is about a 1/3 chance of getting in - you can do it - but you are going to have to try to do a little every day........because you have 3 subjects to study. If I were you I would take 1 subject at a time, ie. verbal reasoning and go for it! A good technique book on this works wonders! Make a timetable and put in as much time as you possibly can over the next 2 months (you have 1/2 term as well?) - at least then you know you have tried your best.
Does anyone down your road go to the school you want? Could you knock on their door and ask questions? Most people are only too happy to help if they can.
Get back to us
USA


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