One of the big changes since I was at school is the huge competition for secondary schools that are deemed the best. Fir example we are in the borough of Merton but have not selected any Merton schools. A few weeks ago Elena who is just 11 years and in year 6, sat the entrance exam for nonsuch school. Her chances come down to 180 places last year for around 1500 applicants . To have even a chance she had around 9 months tuition on exam technique which put simply means learning how to do mcq exams and practice in verbal, non verbal and maths. The real question when such tuition costs around 20-30£ a session for 90 minutes, is why schools are not teaching this anyway within the curriculum. Many able children will be denied a fair chance due to family finance. The other question is how much children are pushed into these exams when they don’t want to do them and are not emotionally onboard with going to what are colloquially called selective schools. One also hears of children being so stressed that they vomit or cry before or after the exam. There were rumors that may or not be true that this happened at tiffin boys school yesterday.
I was really proud of my 11 year old. She enjoyed the tuition but was lucky to be tutored in a group by a great last called mrs burgess. Recommended big time. She did well in the nonsuch exam and yesterday went to tiffin girls along with maybe 1200 others . I have to guess at numbers. We arrived 8 am to find huge queues down the Richmond road and there was a really impressive organization to get all the children in and out. This involved using coloured slips. Placards held by maybe 5-6 th formers, some very keen others totally unimpressed. Parents in lines in a tenniscourt and lots of walking up and down the road to Kingston. Big congratulations on the organization to Tiffin girls.
Clearly this is a debatable topic and in response to my twitter comments had some great discussion with pupils who both agreed and disagreed with the selective school system . Watch this space next April to see what school Elena arrives at in 2012