Eleven Plus Tuition
What is the Eleven Plus Examination?
The Eleven Plus Exam is a test administered by grammar schools in order to determine students most suited to the rigours of grammar school education. In Gloucestershire, students will sit an entrance test provided by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM). There is no way of knowing the exact format of the exam but we do know the different elements which are likely to be tested. These are:
English & Verbal Reasoning – including comprehension, verbal reasoning and cloze tests
Maths & Numerical Reasoning – including mental maths and problem solving questions
Non-verbal Reasoning – solving problems using pictures and shapes
There are usually two multiple-choice papers lasting approximately 45 - 50 minutes each. Each paper is likely to be divided into two or three timed sections.
How Can You Help My Child Prepare?
We don't like to think that we are just preparing children for an exam; we see our role as preparing children for grammar school and the step up in level that it will bring. Our experienced Eleven Plus teachers will spend time working on each test area and will focus on the knowledge and understanding required as well as exam techniques. The vast majority of our time is spent on raising achievement, attainment and confidence in English and Maths since these are the most vital core skills to enable a child to progress comfortably up to grammar school. They are also the skills which are going to be tested. Mock exams will be provided closer to the date of the actual exams and students will be provided with supportive feedback to help them in their preparation. We can provide tuition as early as one year in advance and follow a stepped programme of learning to help provide your child with the knowledge and understanding required as well as exam techniques.
Our stepped programme of learning takes the following format:
Year Round - Free Initial Assessment
October to December - Developing Knowledge and Understanding; Literacy and Vocabulary Skills; Reasoning; Maths
January to April - Familiarisation to Question Types and Testing; Continued Development of Core Skills
May to July - Progressive Mock Exam Papers; Exam Techniques and Shortcuts; Continued Development of Core Skills in English and Maths
August to September - Full Mock Exams; Exam Techniques; Revision
Our progressive approach will help to minimise the pressure on your child and gradually build confidence in what can be a stressful time. We have excellent results in relation to children passing the test and achieving a place at grammar school, but regardless of passing or failing the exam, all children who attend these sessions will see a profound change in their ability and confidence in English and Maths and this will benefit them tremendously on whatever path they decide to follow. Should you wish to find out more and book in for one of our free, no obligation, initial assessments then please do get in touch using the details below.
HOW DOES THE INITIAL ASSESSMENT WORK?
The initial assessment can take place from the summer before your child is about to start Year 5 or any time during that academic year. We try to keep the assessment as non-threatening as possible and do a number of things to minimise stress on children - and parents! We begin with some warm-up games on our computers to help focus your child and settle any nerves. The assessment covers all of the areas that can be tested in the 11+ exam and is split into clear sections, enabling us to provide detailed feedback on specific strengths and areas for development. We take the children through examples of each individual question type, fully explaining what they are being asked to do, and then ask them to complete similar questions. The assessment covers a lot of areas and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete - some children are faster and some are slower but we don't put a time limit on the assessment. It is more important at this stage for us to see your child's ability in each of the core areas without added pressure. We mark the assessment and feedback to you immediately. The assessments are carried out individually so that we can take the time to sit with you and provide immediate feedback. We will provide open and honest feedback and will discuss your child's score against examples of past assessment scores and their eventual 11+ outcome. We don't have a pass or fail mark but we do have a key indicator mark which is achieved by most children going on to secure their grammar school place. Do note that we say 'most' as any assessment is never that black and white. If your child scores below our key indicator mark then they can still work with us. They may find it more challenging than a child above the key mark but that doesn't mean they don't have the potential to succeed. We have examples of children being turned away by other tutors and then going on to pass the exam having worked with our tutors.
After the initial assessment, we always suggest that you take time to discuss the results as a family and then book tuition with us if you'd like to go ahead. The assessment is free and there is no pressure to sign up for any tuition thereafter.
WHAT ARE THE GROUP SIZES?
Our groups have a maximum of 6 children per teacher. Working in small groups helps with the psychology of preparing for the exam and gives everyone the opportunity to compare and contrast progress and results; something that individual tuition can never achieve.They have the opportunity to share skills, improve their motivation and become more self aware of their own strengths and areas they'd like to develop. The group sizes allow children to have one-to-one time with the teacher, ensuring they receive the individual support necessary to refine and improve their skills. Time and again we see underconfident children come out of their shell and start believing in their own ability.
WHEN CAN MY CHILD START TUITION?
We receive enquiries for children as young as Year 3 but we won't start specific 11+ tuition until Year 5. The best form of support before this is to focus on improving English and Maths skills and becoming ever more confident in these core areas. We can provide tuition to do this but 11+ tuition is for Year 5 students only. Our classes start from the end of September in the year prior to the exam taking place but children can join the classes at any stage in the year, subject to places being available.
HOW DO YOU PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON PROGRESS?
Feedback is provided at the end of each class where parents will also have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have at this time each week. We will take the time to explain what has been taught during the session and go through the methods employed, work completed and homework. During this time we will also feedback on individual development and answer any questions parents may have. When we begin to complete example exam papers, you will be provided wth clear feedback on overall score and each individual area of the tests. This will ensure you understand the areas your child needs to improve upon the most.
DO YOU PROVIDE ANYTHING DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
During the summer holidays we run optional weekly tuition sessions to help children continue consolidating their skills and build confidence. We also provide a week of mock exams to help prepare for the psychology of the real exam. These mock exams provide a great opportunity to become familiar with timings and exam style questions whilst maintaining focus during this long holiday spell just before the 11+ exam.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY CHILD?
Any support with core skills in English and Maths will be beneficial. Reading is fundamental to improving comprehension and vocabulary skills and regardless of how fluent a reader your child may be, they will benefit greatly from the opportunity to read with an adult who can support them with vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the text. This will help to improve vocabulary and inference and deduction skills and will hopefully provide some relaxing time that you can enjoy together. We even have a recommended reading list to help inspire and challenge your child.
Mental maths practice, particularly developing instant recall of times tables, will give your child greater confidence and ability in tackling maths questions.
We wouldn't recommend spending money and time on exam books until nearer the time of the exam, if at all. The important thing is that they focus on continually developing their knowledge and skills in order to have greater success at tackling the questions. We will provide plenty of opportunities for exam familiarisation and practice from a varied range of resources.
I THOUGHT THE EXAM WAS 'UNTUTORABLE?'
At the beginning of December 2013, the seven Grammar schools in Gloucestershire made a decision to change the examining board to Durham University – CEM (Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring). This was a move away from the verbal reasoning only papers which were much more tutorable. The grammar schools were rightly concerned by the amount of tutoring that took place, particularly by tutors who just taught to the test. This sometimes resulted in children who could pass an exam but went on to struggle with the rigours of grammar school. The CEM tests rely heavily on good mathematical and English skills and give children the chance to demonstrate their academic ability without excessive tutoring.
At Skills School our number one priority has always been to prepare children for the rigours of grammar school life, regardless of passing a test along the way. The majority of our teaching focuses on improving English and Maths skills and confidence. Our philiosophy is that children who are achieving highly and are confident in these areas will go on to pass the exam, but more importantly, they will cope with life at grammar school.
We do also spend time preparing children for the exam, but only once they have spent a significant amount of time building their knowledge and skills. It is obviously beneficial for children to become familiar with the types of questions used in grammar school exams, the format of the test and the timings. These areas can be tutored to a degree and the familarisation with them will be an obvious advantage. The area of Non-Verbal Reasoning, an element of the new CEM test which isn't part of the National Curriculum, is something that is more diffcult to tutor and those with a higher level of visual reasoning will naturally be more capable in completing these types of questions. We don't spend much time on this element but do ensure that children are familiar with these question types; this familiarisation is of course going to be of benefit for anyone sitting the exam, but it is important to note that this is an area which most children don't improve upon greatly, regardless of how much time they spend practising.
The reality is that nothing is completely untutorable; with more experience, familiarisation and practice we become better at most things in life. The 11+ exam is no different. The opportunity to practise and challenge core English and Maths skills alongside some exam preparation will be of great benefit in preparing for the exam, but more importantly and regardless of exam outcome, will be of enormous help in any secondary school setting.
I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE 11+ PROCESS - HELP!
The cauldron of the school playground can be an anxiety enducing experience for many parents when the subject of the 11+ exam first becomes a topic of conversation. There are tales of how diffcult it is and how stressful a time it is when preparing. It doesn't have to be this way. We have supported children and parents through the 11+ process for many years and our main 11+ teacher has even seen three of her own children complete the exam. This wealth of experience means that we can help take some of that unnecessary pressure off - taking you through the registration and exam process and giving time to answer any questions you may have. There are various websites available which will explain the process and provide answers to frequently asked questions; the Gloucestershire County Council website is a good place to start.
WHAT IS THE COST FOR 11+ TUITION?
Our sessions last 80 minutes and we charge £25 for each session. A discount is available to parents of twins (we have had many) whose children would both be attending each week. The sessions are invoiced at the beginning of each term and broken down into monthly payments, though you can pay all at once or weekly if you prefer. Payment can be made by BACS, Credit or Debit Card, Cash or Cheque.