The time is nigh! As we gear up for a new school year, a few thoughts for all the new Year 6 parents facing 11 plus exams in January.
This is obviously a stressful time as competition for places at the top London day schools is fiercer than ever. However a well thought through and implemented strategy can really alleviate some of this pressure for student and parent alike.
By now you probably have an idea of where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie and know how they like to learn. My first piece of advice would be not to focus solely on the subjects/topics your child finds the most difficult. It is of course important to try and improve areas that a student may find more challenging. But it is also important to allow them to really shine in the areas that they excel in.
Secondly, don’t overdo it! They are still very young, and over intensive preparation will usually have a negative effect. If you are tutoring them, 1-2 sessions a week is plenty. Students can do some extra sessions in October half term and before Christmas to hone their skills. Please don’t over-prepare for interviews either; schools can tell a mile off if a child has been coached and it is far better to allow their true personalities and interests to shine through. This has the added benefit of meaning that it is far more likely they will end up at the right school for them. After all an interview should be a two-way process!
Finally, a word about the new London 11+ Consortium papers (formerly the North London Girls’ Schools Consortium). As this is only the second year of the new format, everyone is still very much feeling their way through. The papers are much more based on a reasoning test format, with multiple choice answers and no creative writing element. Familiarisation materials can be found here: http://www.london11plus.co.uk/links/London-11-Plus-Consortium-Familiarisation-Material.pdf
Please don’t let the format of these papers discourage you from continuing to help your child with complex comprehension, creative writing and more challenging maths problems. All of these skills will be crucial when they arrive at their new school. Whilst practising the new format (Bond assessments papers will be very useful for this) is important, it should not come at the cost of their creativity or sharper analytical abilities.
Pia Carter – Pia is an 11 Plus specialist tutor through Osborne Cawkwell Tuition. Pia has many years of experience tutoring all areas of the exam.