New Year 5 Starseekers Extension & Preparation Group Group

Independent schools may be beyond the means of many parents but there is still a thriving market for private education in the Cambridge area and competition for places in the best schools is fierce. Most local independent senior schools will be doing their 11+ and 13+ entry assessments for children currently in Year 6 and Year 8 on a Saturday morning in January. Tests may include English (comprehension and writing), Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, an observed group task and an interview with a senior teacher. Some schools even add a Humanities test for good measure.
Schools like The Perse Senior School, SPF, King’s Ely and The Leys all do their best to make their entry assessments as relaxed as possible, but it can still be rather daunting for a ten-year-old child or even a twelve-year-old, to go into an unfamiliar place, full of pupils they don’t know, and follow instructions from teachers they’ve never met before. This is particularly true for children coming from state-maintained primary schools, many of whom will have had little, if any preparation for these unfamiliar tests and tasks. The schools say children don’t need to do any special preparation but most adults going for a similar style job interview would want to at least familiarise themselves with what lies ahead and prepare by doing mock tests and interviews at the very least.

Parents who chose private education have been turning to private tutors to help them prepare their children but many leave this too late, only to find all the most highly qualified and experienced tutors are fully booked. Having been a teacher for more than 30 years, in both state maintained and independent schools, and having worked as a private tutor in this area for several years too, Helen Jameson of Inspired Learning knows this parental angst only too well.
“I often get frantic phone calls or emails from parents in November and December who’d thought they could pay for a few weeks of tuition for their children prior to sitting entrance assessments, only to discover it’s impossible to find someone qualified and experienced in this specialist field who has last minute availability. Although tutors are always keen to help where we can, we have limited availability and, as I often have to explain to parents, last minute cramming can be counterproductive as it simply increases the stress their child is already feeling. It’s far better to have a minimum of 3 terms tuition in the year preceding the assessments. The best tutors offer interesting enrichment and extension activities that will not only optimise a child’s chances of being offered a place at their chosen school, but they will also boost confidence and encourage intrinsic pleasure in learning – which is invaluable throughout life, irrespective of getting into a particular school.
There is no better investment in your child’s future than ensuring you give them the best education you are able to provide. My top tip for parents on a limited budget is to take your toddler to your local library on a regular basis and continue taking them until they are well into their teens. Research around the world consistently shows that the children who read the most (and are read to by their parents from infancy until long after they can read themselves) do best academically, irrespective of whether they attend a state maintained or private school Spending time talking to your child and doing activities together is also crucial to keeping them on track.”
As several independent schools in Cambridge now include an observed group task in their assessments, it makes sense to offer tuition to small groups of suitable pupils, with the added benefit of making tuition more affordable over a longer period. Therefore, Helen has created her new Year 5 Starseekers Group. The group will meet weekly for 5 weeks each half term throughout 2024 covering topics such as ‘Metacognition Mastery’ and ‘Creative Writing Unleashed’. She hopes to set up a similar group for Year 7 pupils in a few weeks’ time. You can find more information about these groups by visiting Helen’s website:
Please don’t delay as groups are strictly limited to a maximum of 12 children and are filling up fast.