Is it worth the hassle and expense of getting a tutor? How do I find a good one?
Grammar and Independent schools have long been recognised as having generally higher academic achievement and a more focussed curriculum. In Gloucestershire which has seven grammar schools, about 2,000 children sit the test for around 900 places, thus around half are successful. Independent schools also generally require an entrance test or examination that typically include English and mathematics assessment in addition to verbal reasoning.
So how can you maximise the chance of your child getting into independent or grammar school? It is not a case of just passing the test; your child also has to be ranked high enough amongst those that are applying to the school to be offered a place. This means that a score of 85% on the tests may be good enough one year, but not the next.
Some argue that if your child is `bright` enough they will pass and that those requiring tuition may end up struggling if they do get into grammar school. While this could be true, even the brightest child is likely to have more confidence if they have some idea and understanding of the tests they are likely to face.
This is why tuition can be a great help, even if it may go against your principles. The most able students may only need a few sessions to familiarise themself with the test while others may progress slowly over a period of time as the concepts being tested become clearer.
Of course, you don`t have to pay for a tutor as there is a lot you can do yourself with your child. Going through practice papers and explaining how to answer the questions will help a lot. However, some parents find it easier to put this task in the hands of an impartial professional as teaching your own children can be difficult or you may feel you don`t have the necessary skills.
A quick google search is likely to turn up many tutors your area, but it is wise to take up references and ensure you check any CRB statement before hiring. Alternatively you may find a tutor from a personal recommendation or using someone from a reputable agency that does the checks for you. Whichever route you use to find a tutor, meet with them first for an informal chat and only proceed if you feel it would still benefit your child.
Tutors should ensure that your child gets plenty of practice of a range of questions, presented in a number of different ways. You can also do your bit to help your child learn new words from word lists, by watching word quizzes on TV, by playing scrabble and from reading lots!
Finally, consider whether you would like to enter your child into a `mock` exam. These are held throughout the country by a range of organisations and are relatively inexpensive. Schools do not usually teach anything about the grammar school entrance test so it is hard to get this kind of experience from school.
Whatever the final outcome, you`ll know you`ve given your child the best possible opportunity and at the end of the process you may still decide that grammar school is not the best way for them to succeed.