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 Post subject: confused newbie
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:25 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:37 pm
Posts: 3
Location: plumstead
hello everyone

my sons teachers hav recommended that he try out for the bexley grammar test, however since i live in greenwich his school cannot provide much information or advice...
i stumbled on this forum and was hoping that i could get advice, as applying for grammar school is not something that i have prepared for or even contemplated in the past.
i read through many of the past posts to get an understanding, and now im even more anxious than ever.... i mean i live in plumstead, so what are the chances that he will get a place?......... or is it worth me putting him through the stress of the tests? i dont mean to sound like i dont want him to go to a grammar school, or that i wouldnt bend over backwards to support him get there and get through it....but reading the disappointment of parents whose kids didnt get in, makes me think what if he passes the test and because of our area he doesnt get in?
i bought some bond books, and will hopefully get the nfer (thanks for the heads up--previous posts ;-) ) but i was wondering...what other advice can u guys give me to prepare him for these tests

thanks in advance 4 ur replies!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:31 pm
Posts: 118
Hi night pearl. Have you been recommended to do the Kent 11+ too? You can do both, Bexley and Kent, so don't forget to look on the Kent section for tips too.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:09 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:55 pm
Posts: 851
Location: Bexley
night pearl - hi there. If I were you, the first thing I would do would be check out the distance from your home to Bexley Grammar. You probably know that the top 180 scorers in the Bexley test (whether they live in or out of borough) can go to any Bexley Grammar School they want, regardless of where they live. The remaining places are allocated on distance. For entry in September 2009 the maximum distance Bexley Grammar has gone out to is 3 miles.

If you look on Bexley Council's website you will find distances for all four of Bexley's Grammar Schools for the past few ideas which will give you a rough idea.

My son has a friend who lives in Plumstead and he passed the Bexley test but wasn't a top 180 scorer and didn't live near enough to any of the schools to be offered a place. However, he also sat the Kent test which he passed and was offered a place at Dartford Grammar School.

I think as long as you keep a level head and don't put too much pressure on him, if his teachers think he's bright enough then he should do the tests. There are only 2 tests now in Bexley - Maths and VR so if you play it cool he shouldn't get too stressed. You also need to keep in mind how Bexley allocate places. Some out of area parents get their kids to sit the Bexley tests and then are upset and surprised when they pass but aren't offered places, especially when their children have scored more highly than children nearer the school.

Many people feel that the KS2 maths syllabus hasn't been completed by the time children sit their tests and that there will therefore be gaps in their knowledge. With the exception of algebra, I'm not convinced this is true - certainly not for children in top maths groups as my children have always described Y6 as going over stuff they've already done. When you are doing maths practice papers with your son I would make a note of any topics he seems uncomfortable with and maybe do some extra practice with him on those. I've noticed that my Y5 son is a bit hesitant with mixed fractions so I'm going to work on those with him and maybe do a spot of algebra. Algebra isn't covered at all in KS2 but it sometimes crops up in the Kent test and there's always a fear that it will do so in the Bexley test though I don't think it did when my older sons sat the test in 2005 and 2007. With maths I'd also make sure he's fluent with all the terminology - quotient, mode, median, product etc (and have a quick recap just before the test).

Again, with VR, you might pick out the types that he isn't so good at - most children find the codes difficult - and do some extra practice with him on those. There is lots of practice material available in the shops or stuff you can download from this website.

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:37 pm
Posts: 3
Location: plumstead
hi, i wanted to thank both of u for taking the time and effort to reply. thank you!!!!

i just looked at the distance from my house and the schools in kent, the shortest distance is the wilmington = 6.8miles... lol the rest are more than 20miles from my address, so i figured the worry of him traveling is too much and i wont apply for kent... lol thanks for the advice though!

as for the bexley schools, bexley grammar is 2.5 miles and a couple were around the 3mile distance...so i definitely will get him to try for those schools. thank you i feel a little more at ease knowing that at least one school is pretty close.

bexley mum, truly, thank you for taking the effort to advice me, u gave a really personal touch to ur advice.

im a single mum (lol @ being a statistic) my son is an only child, and i had him at the age of 16, so u can imagine he doesnt get his brains from me... even though as a protective parent i spent most of his early years at home with him not trusting childminders....

i really applaud the parents on here that take the time out to nurture their kids and take the time and effort to make their kids realize their full potential. after reading the effort they put in- on this website, i went to bed with a heavy heart full of guilt, i really feel like i have neglected to educate or encourage my sons intellect despite the fact that his teachers have been saying he is gifted since he started nursery.

i feel real selfish for pursuing my own education, as im now at university doing my second year. and u can imagine i come home shattered with a million and one things to do around the house and then uni work.... i really dont know how im going to get him prepared for these tests when im stressed with revising for exams and handing in portfolios. and over the summer i gotta prepare my dissertation and get started on reading for the third year.....

i cried to bed last night because i feel im not and wont be able to give him the attention he needs to prepare for the test...and i truly appreciate and thank u for guiding me towards the things that would have taken me hours or days to research.

the fact is, he is too bright for me to tutor him, lol, i think i will just chuck the practice tests at him, time him, and cheat on the answers, cos i cant do maths when thats the subject he excels in. science they dont test his abilities in yr 5, but the last parents evening i went to, his teacher was praising him and saying he comes out with links and concepts that are of GCSE level. as for english, im doing an english degree and he corrects my grammar when im speaking to him, and when my brain freezes i ask him how things are spelt...lol ...i havent got 2brain cells to rub together compared to him.

previously my opinion was that comprehensive school did me no harm, i got my GCSE'S and did the exams while i was 9months pregnant (maybe all the reading i did while he was in the womb stimulated his brains lol) so i was not too bothered about him going to a comprehensive school. but since his headteacher and his class teacher have both recommended grammar school, i really feel, specially after reading the posts on this website, that its the right choice for him.

i was wondering, after you apply for the tests, do we pay for the tests...and how do grammar schools work, is it like private school where you have to pay for their education?
im clueless!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:00 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:55 pm
Posts: 851
Location: Bexley
night pearl - calm down, calm down! First of all, many of the parents using this site -me included - are a bit obsessive about getting their kids through the 11+ and so are not necessarily typical! Either that or they've left it to the last minute and are panicking or else they are kind people who've been through the agony before and want to help others. I've got a son doing the 11+ in September so I know I'm in the obsessive category!

Don't put yourself down - you're clearly a very intelligent person and you are setting your son a fine example and showing him the importance of education by studying yourself.

Grammar schools are state schools so you don't have to pay. At one time all areas had grammar schools. All children sat the 11+ and either went to a grammar school (now sometimes referred to as "selective" or a secondary modern school (now sometimes referred to as a comprehensive or "non-selective"). When the comprehensive system was introduced (in the 1970s?) all children, regardless of ability, went to the same school. However, some areas, dotted around the country, managed to hang on to their grammar schools. So, no, you don't have to pay. They are state schools.

In Bexley, for those who achieve a pass mark, schools are allocated on distance - regardless of what a child's score might be (with the exception I mentioned earlier that the 180 children with the highest scores can choose whichever school they want, regardless of distance). Some grammar schools - for example St Olave's in Bromley and the north London grammar schools allocate on highest scores. So if they have 140 places, the 140 children with the highest scores get the places. I am telling you this because when I first started using this forum I would read posts in all sites and panic a bit when I read things like, "my ds is only scoring 90% in practice tests - is this enough?" and think, well my son isn't scoring that so he's not going to pass. These people were putting their children in for super-selective schools so knew their children had to be getting really, really high scores in practice. In Bexley a pass mark is enough.

You certainly don't need to worry about not having a tutor. Loads of kids who pass haven't had a tutor. My kids went/go to a tutorial centre once a week during term time, but it's not intensive tuition and not personalised so I'm not sure how much good it does! It's a substitute for me doing work with them as I've always found it difficult to get them to work with me. I only started to get involved nearer the time. And then, despite my good intentions, practice was sporadic to say the least (finding times when we both felt in the mood not easy!) I understand when you say it's difficult for you to find time to practice, but it doesn't sound as if he needs to be intensively tutored. One of my son's friends passed the 11+ having looked at a few papers in the two weeks before the tests. He was very good at maths and passed comfortably. But I'm certainly not advocating that you take that approach!

A lot of people (me included) advocate leaving the Nfer practice papers until nearer the tests and working up to them with other papers. If I were you, I'd be tempted to give your son these now just to see how he gets on with them. If he scores very highly then it doesn't sound like you'll need to get him to do much maths preparation. Maybe just buy/download a few practice papers for him to do over the summer holidays - keep his brain ticking over as the tests are in September when they've not been back at school long.

As to VR, I think if you aimed to do one hour most weeks with him between now and the tests that would be fine. You can get him to sit with you while you're working and do some practice. I wouldn't get him to do whole VR tests to begin with unless he wants to - just maybe a couple of sides at a time. The VR paper can be quite time-pressured so the key is to just keep practicing and speed will increase naturally. You need to teach him a few techniques, which I'm sure you're familiar with, like leaving any questions he's struggling with and going back to them if he's got time at the end. And, as it's multiple choice, making sure he puts a mark in all the boxes, even if it's just a wild guess!

In Bexley all children are automatically enrolled for the 11+. You will need to find out how/when you enrol your son as an out-of-borough applicant. If you ring Bexley Council on 0208 303 7777 and ask to be put through to Admissions, I'm sure they will help you.

And above all, keep calm!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:31 am
Posts: 140
I would agree with everything Bexley Mum 2 has written and most of all, don't panic!

If your son is very bright, you might like to consider St Olave's. Although it is very academic and takes the highest scorers, their test in the last few years has been based on English and Maths ie subjects that your son will have done at school, rather than verbal or non-verbal reasoning. Their test is hard because it is looking to see how your son can apply what he has learnt. I think there is a familiarisation paper on their website. You might also want to think about Dartford (one of the Kent grammar schools), which although it is not very near to you, may be on a direct train line from Plumstead and so reasonably easy to get to.

Another option might be to investigate private schools as many of them offer scholarships for academic achievement and bursaries if you are on a low income.

If you have a helpful headteacher at your son's primary school, they may be able to offer you some advice.

Finally, don't be put off by the amount of tutoring that seems to go on. My three sons all got into grammar schools from Lewisham with a weekly group tutor session, term-time only. I only discovered this website when I was going through the process for my third son and although I have found it very helpful, especially knowing that other people are going through the same experience, it would have frightened the life out of me if I had come to it first-time round!

Good luck to you and your son.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:40 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
Posts: 297
Location: S E London
Hi - just wanted to flag up the difference in the way Greenwich and Bexley measure the home- school distance. Greenwich measure as the crow flies but Bexley measures the shortest walking distance (ie around the streets) - I used google maps to work it out.

Dartford Grammar may be an option if you can get to Dartford station on the train, and they also run school coaches from lots of different areas. Dartford does not offer based on distance (apart from those who live in Dartford itself), it offers on scores - I believe this year it offered from scores of 401 (out of 420)

Hope that helps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:37 pm
Posts: 3
Location: plumstead
thank you all so much for your advice and support. it is all very beneficial, and the idea of the coaches and train to dartford are all options i will take into serious consideration.

i rang up bexley council and they told me that applications are made in may, so i will keep a close eye on their website... and hope for the best.

i was just wondering about st.Olaves.... since the school is based around a christian ethos.. do the kids have to be of that faith? i guess they wouldnt but is great emphasis placed on christian teachings and beliefs along with their academic studies.

i have decided for a few months to get him a personal tutor, just to help him with his focus, lol i cant seem to get him to write a substantial piece of creative writing without him loosing concentration, its something his teachers have picked up on as well, he is very articulate in his speech, but try and get him to write down his ideas, and he produces a couple of sentences then looses interest ....if you guys/ladies have any ideas/tips on getting them to focus, it would be a bonus on top of all the advice you have given... i gathered writing is not in the test for bexley however it would be a skill that would benefit him whether he gets into a grammar school or not.

thank u all so much!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:12 pm
Posts: 117
Hi,

St Olave's has no religious requirements - anyone can go there. There is a chapel, but I don't get the impression religion is forced in any way.

The test is hard - I know of tutors taking boys up to near GCSE Maths. English is a piece of writing + comprehension. But don't let that put you off he has plenty of time to get in some practice. Open day is the end of Sept - sample questions and the registration form are available on the day. You have until near end of October to register for the test and then they are mid November.
so, you can take a view on it after the Bexley and Kent tests are out of the way.

My ds took it and we practised last summer and leading up to the test. Even if he doesn't get in from the waiting list it has really helped him with his maths and literacy in year 6 - he is now a lot better at thinking creatively (we made a list of similes, metaphors, connectives, different ways of opening a sentence etc to practice using).

Good luck
Billie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:28 am
Posts: 1123
Location: Bexley
Fantastic advice from Bexley Mum 2. :D

I would like to add that you need to be more aware of the distance of the schools from your house unless your child manages to get a score that places him in the top 180.

As mentioned previously, it is not how the crow flies but by road/footpath/etc. When you measure this you will find that the distance is far more than the straight line method.

Many parents are gutted that their kids pass the test and then are not allocated grammar places.

Not trying to sound negative, just be aware of the situation.


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