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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:13 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:46 am
Posts: 39
Was replaying to something on another thread and got carried away - so thought it would be better if I cut and paste into new thread.

My two pennies worth on this topic, given we have completed this first experience for us with our eldest. (Which we have to repeat again this Sept. for younger daughter :( )

In an ideal world, everybody would come to an agreement that none of their children would eschew all preparation. They would all just turn up, and innate ability would win out. Funnily enough, where I grew up in Kent (A place with probably a higher percentage of grammar school places than anywhere else - and hence less cut-throat competition for places) that was pretty much how it was 25-30 years ago

But in Birmingham, where grammar places are much more scarce (And hence competition much fiercer) it's human nature that some people would seek a small advantage.
Once even just a few people have done that, it inevitably becomes a classic, self perpetuating arms race.
So long as some people are doing preparation and practice, any child not doing some is going to struggle to show what they are capable of in comparison.
Certainly going to struggle without practicing working to the speed required for CEM 11+, and without having some experience/practice of all the NVR oddities the children will never come across before. (And will likely never see again)
That said... over and above a certain amount of preparation and practice, there are clearly diminishing returns. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it can become counter productive above a certain level, in terms of fatigue, pressure etc.

On the flip side I would also suggest people take a slightly sceptical view of what some other parents tell you they did (Or are doing) with their kids. If you took some of it at face value, it could make you a bit complacent about how much practice you need to do.
I know what a number of parents who have given us one version of what their sons/daughters were doing in terms of preparation/practice - but we have subsequently been given the reality from DS who gets the unfiltered version at school!
One parent claimed to us that their son 'just flatly refused to do any practice or study', and were 'having to just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best'.
Their son then let slip to ours that he was seeing 3 different tutors a week! :)
If you canvassed opinion, you'd probably get the impression not many kids see tutors, and some successful kids just do a couple of hours of DIY practice/prep.
However, the size of the tutor industry would suggest that reality is a bit different :) :) :)

But the big question.... do tutors give you something you couldn't do as a parent yourself?
Ultimately there's very little I've seen them offer that couldn't be done yourself with CGP/Bond books and a bit of research. (This forum for example)
But having said all that, we did have a tutor for 1 hour a week for a few months (In addition to DIY over the summer) - and I'll explain why.
One massive advantage that the tutor offered was the very fact that they were a stranger (And some kind of authority figure) telling them to do work. (And not their parents nagging them to do it)
We could theoretically done most everything the tutor did with the kids ourselves (And in the the weeks leading up to the exam, we even found ourselves repeating 10 minute tests the tutor had used a couple of months before)
But from my personal point of view, I would say it was almost worth the money to not have to have weekly arguments with the kids about sitting down and concentrating on some extra work for 1 hour a week.
Of course not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford this indulgence - but as I said, you could certainly do most everything a tutor does yourself with the right materials, right organisation, and motivated enough child.

One thing I wish I'd done in hindsight, is to forgo 1/3 of the tutor sessions in favour of a mock test at a test centre.
Despite our best efforts at keeping him calm, our son found the whole test morning (And the formal exam setting) quite stressful.
It's all worked out OK in the end for DS (Squeezed over the line for FW) - but I'm sure we'd have had a slightly less anxious few months had our son been through at least one realistic practice outside of the home before the actual test day.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:33 pm
Posts: 104
Hi KM - I agree with pretty much everything you've said, and am in almost exactly the same position (one down and one to go!)

I would add - that a further benefit an experienced tutor can offer is giving a dispassionate view of your child's chances. We all go into this thinking our children are bright and capable but it is very hard to judge, as a new-to-11+ parent, whether or not they're in with a chance; hence many questions on this forum regarding percentages and scores in practice papers and mocks!

I'd also add, as many have said on this great forum, that in addition to familiarising our dc with odd NVRs and super-speedy question answering, we are all focussing on reading, understanding, expanding vocab and solidifying basic maths skills - all of which will help them long term and not just for 11+.

And lastly, regarding mock exams - not only do they help with nerve-settling but they may also serve as a wake up call to complacent dc and parents. It was only after his first mock that my ds began to believe me when I said he'd have to be quick and that there were loads of other bright kids out there working harder than he was!

Good luck with the prep to everyone else who's doing the exam this Sept. :D

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:33 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:43 pm
Posts: 73
Tutors biggest crooks since bernie maddoff

Why do you think in the last few years it has grown into a million dollar industry especially in the midlands

Why do you think more are popping up every day demand!!!

These people are the worst praying on our emotions with the most precious thing in our lives our children

What will happen when the day arrives when all children are tutored. The ones naturally gifted will always come threw & you have lined someone else's pockets who is laughing while you are crying & that literally is the case

I know people in this game there favorite quote " your child is very gifted(playing with your mind) with a couple of hours a week they will pass for sure"

Same line to 100 parents £20 a week £100000 a year for a few hours a week all context taken from books readily available on the high street who the mug!!!! the loving parent who just wants what's best for their children.

Only you the parents can stop this!!!

P.s diy & its the hours you put in nothing else just like anything in life the more you do it the better you become its not rocket science & in the age of google & internet you have no excuse

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:55 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:26 pm
Posts: 19
I am very interested in this topic and hungrily read through everyone’s opinions as I have two more children for whom I will be considering secondary school options in coming years.

My DD has gained a place at WGHS and we did preparation for that at home. We started six months before the entrance test and did 2-3 hours per week initially. Slightly more in the summer holidays and we actually eased off a little in the 2 weeks or so before. This would have been incredibly expensive with a private tutor and I quite enjoyed the challenge.

However, we discussed tutoring many times during her time in years 4 and 5, knowing we would likely want to put WGHS as our top choice and knowing she was very capable but that not everything on the papers would be covered at school. In the end it was indecision and, essentially, laziness that meant we didn’t get a tutor. We didn’t feel she would get much from the group classes offered by the major operators of tutoring local to us and I spent much time researching 1 on 1 tutors. Several of which I felt would be a good match I contacted during the first few terms of her year 5 and none had any availability.

My DD has always been top of the class, working at many levels above expected when we still had the old levels system etc and, although she did incredibly well on the 11+, I did feel that I let her down by not preparing her as well as I could have and would have felt awful if she had not gained a place, feeling strongly she would thrive at the school and do well - she was 5 points over cut off.

My other two children do not mirror their older sister academically and sit in the middle of their classes. All parents want to offer all of their children the same opportunities. They are still 3/4 years off 11+ but even now I do not know if the grammar schools will be the schools for them or not. I have to consider if tutoring them - myself or with a tutor - to take the 11+ is a wise move or not when they will almost certainly require a lot of help and may be happier at a less academically focused school. I don’t know, though, and do not want to be lazy and late in thinking seriously about it so that I can be happy with the decisions I make and what I have done to help them.

Has anyone ever felt tutoring right for one child and not another? A fantastic teacher I know has just set up a tutoring business and I wonder if I may approach her about my middle child, not in mind of the 11+ but in terms of some general additional help with areas that will really help him meet his potential in his last 3 years of primary.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:22 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:26 pm
Posts: 19
I feel maybe my post was missing some relevant information when I say we did 2-3 hours at home per week and then more in the holidays. I reread and thought that sounded a lot!!

Those hours were essentially me or my husband sitting with her as she worked through a paper for 45mins - 1hour twice per week. Letting her tackle what she could and working on those she found tricky together. Toward the end she did papers on her own. And when I say extra in the hols it’s because we did a VR NVR and Maths each week rather than switching between. The only other thing I did was find some really great YouTube videos on common questions in the 11+ and how to tackle them which we watched together when she was in the right mood. They may have been more helpful to me than her.

If anyone has any opinions or advice on what they would do with further children who are not so naturally academically inclined I would appreciate it but with the main concern being for me balancing my children all feeling they have had the same opportunities with that fact that I REALLY don’t want to pressure them.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:17 am
Posts: 739
DS2 did have a tutor for a couple of months, but for various reasons it didn't continue. I will say that there wasn't really much that he did that we couldn't with the help of resources such as this forum for advice. There are probably very good tutors out there though who do extra, but finding them may be a problem (or paying for them)!

In addition to doing books, we moved to an online course which worked really well for him. It covered a variety of areas, and gave explanations for any question he got wrong. He doesn't always listen to me, but seeing it in writing helped him understand. It progressively got harder based on his ability - if he was scoring highly he moved up a level, if he wasn't he had further weeks at the same level. It was also more 'fun' than picking up CGP or Bond books, and it had a graph which tracked his progress which he liked.

We spent a lot of time reading together which was good quality time together, and there is no pressure with that. Some books he chose and some I did in order to expand his vocab. We also did word association type games, especially on car journeys to increase vocab - he had no idea that he was learning! Actually, any board / card / computer game etc. which increases their maths and word skills are useful.

We found that doing mock tests was useful to gauge his progress, although he possibly did feel pressurised with these. However, they reduced the unknown factor on the day which potentially reduced the pressure.

All the best with your further children, but personally I wouldn't start before Y5 as I feel that is too much pressure over a prolonged period of time. I think DS2 did feel pressurised to a certain extent as DS1 was already at a GS, and he did say that we wouldn't love him as much as DS1 if he didn't pass. Obviously this is complete nonsense, so even though we didn't think that we had put any pressure on him, he somehow thought that there was.

Once your DD starts school you may be able to gauge your other children's potential - it may not be as academic as you first envisage?

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:25 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:10 am
Posts: 436
I think that working with a child one to one - whether that be a tutor or a parent - is massively beneficial. I can say that categorically as we took ds out of school for years 5 and 6 and all his teaching was one to one. He made huge progress in those two years as everything was tailored to him and there was nowhere to hide. I guess this is more pertinent for the sort of child with a tendency to be a bit lazy/coast/do the bare minimum! My daughter made very good progress in years 5 and 6 at school as she was more motivated, but she still complains that her brother got further in Maths than her and was therefore at an advantage when going to secondary.

My point is that actually, if you're going to hire a tutor (or even do it yourself) it's such a waste to make it solely focused on the 11 plus. One to one time should benefit your child educationally, whether or not they perform under time pressure in 2 short tests in September. So whether you hire a tutor or do it yourself, make sure the time is used well - not just practising to a test.

I completely agree that in theory you can do it yourself - but there are so many reasons why that might not be practical for lots of families. Parents might not have the time (because of work or other children), health or ability to support. Like someone else said, children often respond to another authority figure better.

The amount of preparation that's required is also debateable. For a bright child, at a good primary, it shouldn't require more than a few months. Maybe if your primary is poor or your child is underperforming for various reasons (coasting as already mentioned, young for the year, missed lots of school etc) they might need more preparation to get them up to the level in English and Maths that they should really be at - but this is effectively making up for the school's inadequacies rather than specific 11 plus prep.

I suspect lots of children do way more prep than they need and would have got the same results without all the work. However, as I mentioned above, if the tutoring is more general and has wider educational benefits then it's not wasted. I just hate to think of children doing Bond books every week for two years! Especially non-verbal reasoning as it has no wider benefit outside of the 11 plus!

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:51 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:42 pm
Posts: 139
Calico- I am reading this with interest too as I feel that i’m in the same position with DD who is in year 2. We left the tutoring thing too late with DS, hence the pseudonym! He still managed to get through with 1 hour per week and 20 mins every few nights from June in Year 5.
DD is not in the same league as him in terms of maths, indeed she has struggled quite a lot at school and has been diagnosed as dyspraxic. Since extra support has been available to her she has started to really fly in literacy, and she is showing the same signs of capability in reading. She still finds writing physically exhausting though, even sitting up on a chair wears her out! I’m wondering if tutoring would be a good idea for her in the future, knowing that the tutor we would have liked for DS books children in by year 3.
I guess we should give it a go, as a broader plan to enhance her skills generally. But I don’t want to torture her.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:43 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:43 pm
Posts: 73

I think this site is full of tutors

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:09 pm
Posts: 170
I tutored DS1 myself. We used CGP 11 plus books. He was always getting the borderline results until the last few mock exams in their book.

When I asked him about the actually 11 plus he said that those books were useful.

The English and verbal reasoning he found easier than than what we practised but the maths was harder and he is very good at Maths.

DS2 is currently in year 4 and has made it clear that he too wants to follow his brother to Grammar School.

As a teacher it is very easy to tutor children that are motivated. Although DS2 isn't as strong as DS1 what he has more than DS1 is determination.

I'm very proud of both of them as they truly compliment each other.

My advice is simple....tutor your own child if you can as it really does help with the bonding but sometimes you may well be in a situation where you can't...if this is the case then seek a reputable tutor.

Good luck to all.

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