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The primary aim of this site is to help both new and existing 11 plus parents navigate the 11 plus by attempting to answer some of the common questions and help dispel some of the myths that surround the 11+ process.
The preparation is relevant to the schools that belong to the Consortium of Grammar Schools in Birmingham; The Consortium of Grammar Schools in Shropshire, Walsall & Wolverhampton. The preparation also caters for Independent Schools both local and further afield.
I work alone and only select one small group each year. I do not run a mass tuition centre serviced by multiple tutors, I do not accept children of all ages and I do not cover every subject taught in school. I only offer high quality, bespoke, personalised tuition to a group of children targeting the 11 plus entrance exam. I help children prepare for grammar and independent school entrance examinations. Despite an ever increasing demand the original structure, content and size is strictly enforced. Once a class is full - there are no exceptions.
If the primary objective is to ensure that your child develops a core understanding in numeracy and literacy then I may be able to assist. If you are searching for someone to sit with them whilst they complete their Bond books, then you already have a plethora of providers to choose from.
I am in a rare but fortunate situation of not having to rely on tuition as a source of income, allowing me to focus solely on a small group of children. There is no financial inducement to amass a lot of students, hence the reason behind the limited intake. Having the right size class is fundamental to enable the delivery of purposeful tuition. Too large and realistically focusing on each child’s strengths and weaknesses becomes unattainable, too small and you fail to develop the competitive edge needed to succeed.
If you are happy to pay for your child to spend their time marking each other’s work or completing books then my tuition is not right for you, my schedule is targeted, purposeful and challenging thus would suit aptly minded parents and children - it is not suitable for all. I do not run a traditional tuition centre and neither am I affiliated or work with any other tuition centre or tutor. I am independent and do not use any assistants, as you are paying for my specialist expertise, that is what you receive. I personally undertake all teaching, marking and assessments. I know the strength and weakness of every child, I know what each child is capable of and my aim is to push each to achieve their highest potential.
What about SATs & Key Stage exams?
Key Stage exams do not influence school choice but help to benchmark and compare school performance. There is a wide range of material that you can purchase online that is clearly targeting KS1 and KS2, no specialist knowledge is required. You can freely access past SATs papers as well to help with preparation. Primary schools will begin intensively preparing for the SATs in Y6 after the 11+ exams.
The test that does have a significant impact on your secondary school selection is the 11 plus.
I provide a professional learning programme designed to strengthen core skills in literacy and numeracy, which are further developed and refined to stretch each student, helping to secure their selective school preference. Although not a principal objective, a supplementary benefit of the programme is students are progressed quickly through their existing school grouping. If after a few weeks of private tuition you do not see a noticeable improvement in your child's attainment, then one should question and demand answers from the tuition provider. If you do not, then you risk a pointless undertaking and you will be wasting the most valuable commodity you have in your child’s preparation – time. If you find that your child has advanced within their sets and the school has relayed positive feedback acknowledging their progress, then the tutor is doing their job and I would recommend that you stick with the provider.
Before attempting to tackle the 11 plus I focus on methodically building up a strong foundation in both numeracy and literacy, only then do I turn my attention to the skills and techniques designed to help maximise test marks. Over the years, I have developed my own teaching and test material that reflects the attributes sought by grammar and independent schools. The children leave confident, happy and able with a strong set of skills, useful well beyond the entrance test arena.
The content will vary depending on which option you are pursuing, when researching the exams that are used within the grammar sector you will no doubt come across terms such as CEM or University of Durham. The original CEM acronym referred to the Curriculum, Education & Management Centre, starting up at Newcastle University to evaluate government education proposals. The subsequent expansion led the move in 1996 to Durham University now known as the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring. A division of CEM facilitates the setting of school entrance tests that are used by the majority schools, including post 11 plus assessments used across both private and state sectors. The trend over recent years has seen the few remaining, slowly shift to adopting CEM test material, this pattern can also be seen across other regions.
The tests are engineered to assess strengths and weaknesses in key areas. The papers for obvious reasons are not published and neither can old papers be purchased. The test is used to gauge understanding of each area and despite what you may have read or been told, the only way to ensure you stand a good chance is to make sure that your child fully understands each subject. I personally feel that a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy is not only vital for success in the 11 plus, more importantly it will provide the child a solid base on which to continue their learning.
There are no special secrets to passing the 11 plus, the probability of passing will be strongly determined by how well you have prepared. Over the years, I have developed a tried and tested methodology of rotational study that systematically builds up each subject layer by layer. I use my own learning material and utilise a variety of techniques that help improve memory and speed. The exam attempts to identify key characteristics and thus I expose my students to a wide range of material, encouraging them to think for themselves and challenging them with the sole aim of bringing out their best.
Each child has varying levels of skill with some stronger in one than another. I identify weaker areas from the outset and progressively reinforce each subject to ensure an equal ability in all. I use a variety of methods covering the broad spectrum taught within the syllabus covering syntax, reading, comprehension and creative writing. The CEM test favour those with strong vocabulary and above average reading age, weekly vocabulary competition and other initiatives are all designed to encourage active learning, building up confidence in each subject matter, complimented with an extensive reading plan.
The culmination of the learning programme is concluded with comprehensive exam preparation, that forms a significant element in the learning phase, as for many, the selective tests will be the first exposure to formal examinations. My tests are designed to stretch the very able and to ensure that each child obtains the very best mark. A strategy is followed ensuring the most efficient methods are used, helping students to form an awareness of constraints such as time and bottleneck tactics. The all-inclusive detailed study structure that I provide ensures each child has the very best preparation before they embark on their tests and beyond.
Maintaining the syllabus milestones requires discipline in timing and from the beginning I ensure that each student understands and adheres to the curriculum. The importance of maintaining a workflow discipline is crucial for success.
The 11 plus is not the goal, it is the first step. The 11 plus is just one of many assessments that your child will sit as they progress through their career. Any test, not just the 11 plus, can be passed with adequate and appropriate preparation. If the child and parent is willing to invest their time and effort needed - then yes it is possible.
The child's ability and the desired target will determine the amount of effort that will be required. Some schools will require a higher pass mark to qualify than others. There will be others in pursuit of an academic scholarship combined with bursary awards.
I sincerely believe, that with hard work anything is possible. My foremost objective is to not only help each child gain a grammar or independent school place but to ensure they secure their first choice by achieving the highest possible level.
Factors to keep in mind
Putting the 11 plus aside, they are small children after all. Early preparation will remove any pressures and learning for the 11 plus does not have to be an arduous task - starting early and making it fun are the key secrets for success in the 11 plus.
If you have arrived at this website in hindsight or missed the 11 plus process, remember that secondary school is one of many steps that your child will take. The most important characteristic that defines success is working hard. If you are fortunate enough to have these trait in your child then regardless of which school they use, they will end up on their destined path. Similarly children not investing the same efforts despite gaining entry to selective schools will also end up at their destination. A selective school does not guarantee excellent results, that is only guaranteed through hard work.
Success can therefore be defined by what type of child you have - rather what school your child attends.