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 Post subject: Am I wasting my time
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:21 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:16 pm
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My son is taking 11+ in Oct this year, I am spending £20 per week on lessons which do appear to be showing improvement in his work. He is still however in the bottom groups at school for Maths and English and I am just wondering really whether I am pushing him into something that is 'beyond' his capabilities. Should I just really let go of the hope that he might pass or am i just being not very optimistic! :?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:29 pm 
Hi Medion,

If the tutoring is helping him then its not a waste of money even if he doesn't get into GS. There are kids at the bottom of classes who have struggles due to class sizes or even undiagnosed learning difficulties. Wait and see what a couple more months of tutoring does for his academic performance and his confidence before making a decision. The only downside is if he narrowly misses a place then the school may not help you with the appeal if he remains close to the bottom of the class, but hopefully that won't happen. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:55 pm 
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Some bright boys (it's always boys) are hard for schools to deal with and get sidelined into the bottom set because they simply haven't worked out how to cope with him, it may be your son falls into that category (the excuse is usually along the lines of "he'll get more support there" - but he won't, he'll just get ignored). What's your gut instinct about his abilities? What are his teachers' opinions (not all teachers' opinions are equally valuable, obviously, but you'll know which ones you trust)? What does his tutor say?

If in any doubt whatsoever, I would recommend that you take him to an educational psychologist if you can afford it - I don't know what the going rate is, when we did it four years ago it cost us (iirc) £270 and it has been worth every penny). An EP will be able to assess his abilities across a range of different aspects of "intelligence" and will be able to identify any other problems like dyslexia, dysgraphia, ASD, etc.

I'd second Tipsy's comments about the intrisic value of tutoring - it does wonders for confidence and self-worth - the downside being that withdrawing it may cause unwanted side effects. As far as still being in the bottom set is concerned - school streaming is not subtle, the school won't consider moving him up until he's obviously outperforming a good proportion of the kids in the set above.

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:29 pm
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Location: Berkshire
I second everything that Mike and Tipsy have said.
Extra tutoring will not be wasted whatever you decide later on. As Mike says it will do a lot for his confidence and if he feels happier he'll more than likely want to succeed himself.
Streaming at our junior, unfortunately doesn't always work. Children who are deemed to need moving are only moved at the beginning of a term, as they assess them at the end of each term. Also the child may not be moved if there is no space available in the other group, even if they would benefit with the move. Logistics of safe class size/seats/tables etc come into play. Sad but true.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:45 am 
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Can I just add that when it is time to make the decision, please think long and hard about how he will cope if he does pass and get into gs. So many parents pay for tutoring to help their son/daughter pass the exam, but in all honesty - that is the easy part.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:39 pm 
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Location: Bexley
Medion - I agree with others, that if the tutoring is improving your son's work then it's not a waste of time.

As far as his suitability for GS is concerned, do you have any reason to think he might be underperforming at school (bored/poor teaching etc)? If not, then what were his SATs levels at the end of Y5? I'm a great advocate of SATs levels not being a concrete indicator of GS material, but they do help a little. I'm not sure which part of the country you are in, and therefore what your son's 11+ will consist of. In Bucks for eg they just do VR, but in Kent and Bexley they do a maths paper so it's important that candidates are able in that subject (and have covered any aspects missing from the KS2 curriculum which may be included in the test).

Do you know on average how many children at your son's school pass the 11+? It's good to try and get a feel for this. For example, our primary has an atrocious record of 11+ passes (and everyone sits it) but I don't know of anyone who has passed who wasn't in the top maths set. Sadly, I know of several children (mainly girls) who are brilliant at english, but not so hot on maths, who failed the 11+. But that won't be the case in every school. Have you asked his teacher/tutor their opinion? Teacher's may be reluctant to offer an opinion, but his tutor should be able to give you an honest view.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:36 am 
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‘School streaming is not subtle, the school won't consider moving him up until he's obviously outperforming a good proportion of the kids in the set above.’

I second this, Mike. DD was in middle set for maths and cruising along, only moved to the top set when she outperformed most of them in an internal school test…

While I take your point about some teachers not really getting to grips with bright boys, girls can suffer in different ways. For example, putting bright, studious girls next to disruptive boys may help class teachers struggling to maintain control, but does little for the girls’ motivation…


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:50 pm 
Medion, please, please don't regard getting your son into grammar school as a "target" to be achieved for its own sake. The aim, as I'm sure you know, is to find the best school FOR HIM.

Grammar schools are, effectively, specialist schools for the academically able in the same way as, for example, music schools are for the musically gifted or performing arts schools are for those with an inclination towards performance. All these types of school can be great for the children who fit in but a disaster for those who don't. Of the three types, I guess that grammar schools are most vulnerable to accepting children who have been coached in against their own interests.

I know a number of children who have struggled at academic schools (both private and grammar) including some of my own school friends. These were children of above average ability who, at different schools, could have done well. Instead they were miserable, their self confidence was destroyed, and they achieved less than they would have done with more support elsewhere. A couple were moved to less academic schools after a year or two and flourished, doing far better than some who stuck it out to the bitter end.

Grammars (in our area at least) have significantly larger class sizes than the local comps or high schools, particularly as the children get to GCSE age and beyond. There is a great deal of self-teaching (from the internet etc!) and many courses are accelerated. There is less opportunity to study non-academic subjects than at many schools and there may be peer /self pressure to get top marks. This latter is probably worse in girls' schools but coming bottom is not much fun anywhere.

Please don't think that I am suggesting that your son would necessarily struggle; I don't know him or what your other options are. But I do know several people, both current school children and adults who have been badly hurt by their parents well-meaning "success" in getting them into "good" schools (and they WERE very good schools for the great majority of their pupils).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 1:14 am
Posts: 43
Paying alone will not mean you get the best for your child.

I taught my DS and nephew myself and no private tuition...I myself had to do a lot of learning as i tried to impart knowledge to them.. i had to work out different ways to make them understand a point or method but still allowed them to work on their own styles and adapt methods.

The progression my DS made leading up to the exams was truly phenomenal.

He was on the bottom set in english, middle set in science and top one in maths.

My DS has ADHD and the school really couldn't handle it, so i took him out
in April last year and he really thrived.

I think the point i am trying to make here is, you as a parent have to take a hand in teaching if you want the best for your child. It may seem daunting but if you can read then there is a wealth of information to help you along and it is a great feeling when you look back from the point you started from..

Quizzer


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