Changes to Key Stage 1 SATs

In Key Stage 1 SATS English, there will be a Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test from 2016. The spelling test will take about 15 minutes, and the grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test will take about 20 minutes.

The Government booklet states: “The tests are designed to enable pupils to demonstrate their attainment and as a result are not strictly timed since the ability to work at pace is not part of the assessment. Guidance will be provided to schools to ensure that pupils are given sufficient time to demonstrate what they understand, know and can do without prolonging the test inappropriately. Table 1 opposite provides an indication of suggested timings for each component. The total testing time is approximately 35 minutes. If teachers or administrators change the test time significantly, the test outcomes will be less reliable.”

There will also be two English Reading papers – the first of 30 minutes and the second of 40 minutes. The first reading paper comprises a selection of text(s) with questions interspersed. This component contains 20 marks. The second reading paper comprises a selection of texts and an associated reading answer booklet . This component contains 20 marks.

In Mathematics, there will be two papers – one of 20 minutes (arithmetic), and one of 35 minutes (mathematical reasoning). The tests are designed to enable pupils to demonstrate their attainment and as a result are not strictly timed since the ability to work at pace is not part of the assessment. However, elements within the curriculum state that pupils should be able to use quick recall of mathematical facts and the arithmetic paper is designed to assess some of these elements.

Summary

Mathematics
Paper 1 – 20 minutes
Paper 2 – 35 minutes
English Reading
Paper 1 – 30 minutes
Paper 2 – 40 minutes
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
Paper 1 – Spelling Test
Paper 2 – Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary 20 minutes.

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GCSE Mathematics: How I can help

Pupils sit GCSE maths examIf you are looking to improve your Mathematics grade, or lacking confidence facing your GCSE course or exam, then I might be able to help.

Currently, I am tutoring several GCSE students at various stages of their courses, from Year 9 to Year 11. My initial approach is to work through past papers and find areas in which they are struggling or need extra help. I would then design sessions which focus on these needs, hopefully leaving them better placed to do well when they next face such questions.

Tutoring is likely to be of most effect by tackling problems as early as possible. So, even in Year 7 or 8, support can be helpful in addressing misunderstandings and addressing areas where a student might be confused. However, some students are just looking for an extra boost in Year 11, often before, or shortly after, their mock examinations. Often there are particular topics – such as algebra – for which they need extra one-to-one tuition and I am happy to help.

When I was at Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School, (many years ago now!) and studying Mathematics A-level, I know that some extra one-to-one sessions made a huge difference to my confidence. It is amazing how much can be achieved in a one-to-one tuition lesson.

If you would like to discuss how I can help, please use the contact form on the front of this website.

GCSE English: How I can help

Improving in English is a gradual thing. That’s why it is best to begin private tuition as soon as cropped-hat-image.jpgpossible. If your child is encountering any difficulties in Year 7 and 8, I would recommend that you intervene as early as you can and consider private tuition.

A great deal can be achieved in a one-to-one weekly session. My approach would be to work through the appropriate level of exam-style questions to diagnose any areas of weakness your child may be experiencing. I would then design sessions to work on these weaknesses. Some work would be necessary from your child between sessions but I would aim to keep this to a minimum, because of the volume of homework which schools set.

Whatever your areas of concern, it is absolutely vital that your child reads regularly. This is the single most important key to unlocking development in writing both in English Language and English Literature. I strongly recommend that your child reads at least twice a day. There are many helpful websites which can guide your child’s choice of their next book.

If you think I can help, please fill in the contact form on the front of this website.

By the way, I have an A-level in English and specialised in English during my Education degree at the University of Northampton. I gained a First Class (Honours) degree.

11-plus: three types of question

Pupils sit GCSE maths exam

The 11-plus examination in Warwickshire comprises three types of question – verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning.

Here is a quick explanation:

VERBAL REASONING: These are questions about the English language, how you use it and how you understand it. They are usually multiple choice or fill-in-the-gap type of questions. For instance, you may be asked to choose the correct word to complete a passage, or to answer short comprehension questions about a passage which could be about 100 words long.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into four categories:

1. Sorting words – you might have to sort words into categories, find words that are the most similar, or ones that have letters in common.

2. Selecting words – you might have to combine two words to make new ones, find a prefix for a set of words, or change letters to make a new word.

3. Anagrams – you might have to re-arrange letters to make a word, or complete a crossword, or find a word hidden in a sentence.

4. Coded sequences and logic – you might have to work out letter and number sequences, or code and decode words using numbers letters and symbols.

NON-VERBAL REASONINGYou will normally be shown a series of pictures and be asked which is the odd one out. Sometimes there will be four pictures, and you will have to choose from four or five others to find the one which matches the others.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into four categories:

1. Identifying shapes – you might be asked to pair up shapes, or to recognise ones that are similar or different.

2. Missing shapes – you might be asked to find shapes that complete a sequence, or find a missing shape from a pattern.

3. Rotating shapes – you might be asked to recognise mirror images or link nets to cubes.

4. Coded shapes and logic – you might be asked to code and decode shapes or apply shape logic.

NUMERICAL REASONING: These questions test your numerical ability. You will be asked questions such as working out the total spend, or the change you would get in a shop.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into five categories:

1. Number – you might be asked about place value, sequences or equations and algebra.

2. Fractions and decimals – you might be asked about decimal fractions, or ratio and proportion.

3. Handling data – you might be asked about mean, median, mode and range, or about probability.

4. Shape and space – you might be asked about symmetry, volume and capacity, or perimeter and area.

5. Measurement – you might be asked about reading scales, or time and timetables.

I have read in some places that the numerical reasoning part of the test makes up 50% of the marks, and the other two parts 25% each – but this is not confirmed.

As you can see, this is a very pressured examination. Students will have less than 30 seconds to attempt each question. Preparation is vital, even for the most gifted of children.

As a private tutor, I will ensure your child is familiar with all types of questions, and has strategies in place to deal with them. I will help them to deal with the pressure of the examination and, hopefully, be well prepared to be confident and make the most of their abilities.

If I can help, please contact me on northside777@btinternet.com

More information on the 11-plus

An example of English 11-plus questions

11-plus: How I can help

11+ Essentials Comprehensive Book 1 frontWarwickshire is unusual in retaining the 11-plus examination to determine entry to its grammar schools. In the Rugby area, many parents and children will choose the 11-plus as a means to gaining entry to either Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School, Rugby High School or the grammar stream of Ashlawn School.

Most children who choose to sit the exam will do so in the September of each year. It is not an easy set of tests and I would strongly recommend even the most able pupils to practise carefully beforehand.

The reason for this is that, even though a child may be very able and working at Level 5 in maths and English (or beyond), the types of questions in the 11-plus will be very unfamiliar to them. The child needs to be exposed to these questions on a regular basis, and have an adult or elder brother or sister on hand to discuss strategies and compare answers.

I would suggest that preparation should begin about a year before the 11-plus is actually taken. It doesn’t have to be anything heavy, but a handful of questions tackled each night would be a good habit to get into. Children should be encouraged to become familiar with the style of the question, and, after a while, they will come to recognise them and be able to apply strategies used before.

As a Personal Tutor, I am available to provide support to children who wish to take the 11-plus. It is a question of maximising their skills, and ensuring they do justice to their own abilities. I cannot promise miracles, but I can promise that they will be well prepared for the tests, and will recognise the type of questions they are likely to face.

If your child is thinking of taking the 11-plus in September 2015, then this would be a good time now to begin sessions to help them through what is a very challenging time in their lives. Please contact me if I can help you.

Read more about the 11-plus in Warwickshire.

Guardian discussion of tutoring

Pupils sit GCSE maths examI have recently come across a number of articles about tutoring in The Guardian newspaper. There has been a debate about the rising number of parents choosing private tutors to support their children at school.

Here is an extract from the article, published last year.

“The world of education – or at least, the world of parenting – has gone tutor mad. A headteacher friend told me how she recently received a note from a parent explaining that her son couldn’t be in school on Wednesday afternoon “because it’s the only time his French tutor can see him next week”. Most worrying of all, despite the head’s spluttered remonstration, the parent didn’t seem to get the point that school comes first.”

Mmm, interesting. I certainly don’t agree with that! But I read on…

“Tutors, it seems, are where it’s at – a fact borne out by Tuesday’s story that there are now twice as many tutors as school teachers in England, and parents are falling over themselves to supplement the learning their kids are doing in school, by reinforcing it in the evenings or at weekends (or even, in the case of the child in my friend’s story, in the middle of the school day).”

Now that is more like it. Tutors reinforce what the children do in the day. The article continues…

“Tutors come into their own when children are approaching exams. There are areas of Britain, especially those with selective education, where a tutor is de rigueur if your child has any chance of passing. It’s not just the skills involved, it’s the technique, the knack: and that’s what they deliver. I know of tutors with lengthy waiting lists.”

There is also reference to a worldwide increase in the use of tutors…

“Apparently the clamour for tutoring is global: and again, given the preponderance of ambitious middle-class parents across the world, that doesn’t surprise me. Nothing is as contagious as parental anxiety: where one mother or father is worrying about his or her child, you can bet there will be others doing just the same. If a child in your offspring’s class gets a tutor, suddenly everyone is at it. Nothing eats away at any of us like the possibility that our child isn’t getting every possible opportunity – and that’s not cultural, it’s human instinct. If a tutor can advantage my child, and I can afford it, I am willing to pay for it.”

What do you think about this? I would be interested in your comments. Please use the contact form on the front page.

New Year’s resolutions

As 2015 begins, why not turn over a new leaf and learn a new skill?

Several people have said to me that they might be looking for music tuition in the New Year. This does not surprise me. What better time is there to start learning and developing a new skill?

Why not set aside half an hour a week to learn to play the piano, the guitar, or singing with the ukulele? Of course you will also have to set aside time at home each week to practise, and I would strongly recommend you do so twice a day. You will then find that you are learning and applying the skills you have acquired in our one-to-one sessions.

Can anybody learn a new instrument? I strongly believe they can, whatever their age or previous experience. It is simply a question of working hard at it. I may be able to show you how to play several chords on a guitar. But it is only you who can practise this skill at home every day until it becomes automatic.guitar

Similarly with the piano. I can show you how to play a simple tune with both hands. I can comment on your first attempt and give you helpful suggestions. But it is only you who can practise this at home and be proud of what you have achieved when you play the same tune for me again next week.

I look forward to hearing from you if you think you might be interested. Please fill in the contact form on the front page, or call my mobile number which is also listed on the front. Good luck in 2015!