Are the primary schools really to blame?
My DC primary school (not in Southend) did no prep towards the 11 plus. However, it did give them a fantastic education that meant as a DIY 11 plus parent we were able to access harder material quickly. Where is it going wrong in Southend?
1. 50% of score is VR which is not a part of the national curriculum.
2. Child needs to know all year 6 material in September.
There is a slim chance of passing if the child has not been tutored by parents or an outside source. Schools are mostly concerned with pushing the bottom half up to level 4's for SAT results to reach government targets. I don't blame them as they will do what they need to do to keep the "boss" off their backs.
I always scratch my head at the open evenings when the heads say parents shouldn't tutor their children. Have they seen how easy the work is for level 4 SATS compared to the Essex 11+ exams?
We are out of catchment in a fantastic primary that gets about 5 (out of 90) a year into the grammars, but you will not get any help from the school, it is up to the parents to give their child the tools to tackle the test.
The following paragraph was copied from the comments section below the article. I couldn't say it better myself!
Mr Bevan is right - something is profoundly wrong: the 11+ test that his school is using. Grammar schools claim to select on innate ability - by pointing the finger at everyone but himself he is just confirming that the test is hopelessley unfair for children that don't get intensive preparation. This is not the fault of the local primary schools - it is not their job to try to make up for the failings of Mr Bevan's test.
Hear hear! Very well put, completely agree with you.
We are also out of catchment at a very good (academically) primary school that gets approximately 8 - 12 children (out of 60) into grammars every year however, the school provides no assistance in this regard at all. It is all due to private tutoring or DIY tutoring by parents.
Like your school, ours tends to focus their energies on the children who are level 3 and level 4 in an attempt to get as many level 4s and level 5s as they can. They don't put too much effort into those who are already level 5 in year 5.
Perhaps Dr Bevan should rather lay the blame for the poor results of in catchment Southend children at the feet of the rhetoric spouted by the Heads at grammar school stating that tutoring for the 11+ is not necessary - just familiarisation with the format. This is, of course, ludicrous when one considers that 50% of the paper consisted of VR which was not taught at any state primaries. Add to that the fact that most children at state primary have never done a written exam in their lives, never mind one so arduous as the 11+ and it's not surprising that they aren't passing.
Perhaps that is why they have changed the format, so that it is more in line with what children at state primaries are taught and less about being tutored for VR.
I guess only time will tell.