What to Look For in an 11+ Summer School
For years, I refused to run an 11+ summer school, preferring instead to give my pupils ad hoc, personalised support throughout the summer. For many of my pupils, I also felt that an intensive course was unnecessary - at that point in the summer, we were ideally tweaking their exam technique and reviewing the odd question, not covering subjects from scratch. As Kin Learning grew, however, more and more pupils started joining at the last minute (by which I mean 6 months or less before the exam). Not realising how much work there was to do, their parents had delayed 11+ preparation so that there was a huge amount to cover in the summer. Even the pupils that had joined about 9 months before the exam still had plenty to catch up on.
In previous years, having stuck with my plan not to offer 11+ summer courses, I have been more than a little disappointed when my students have returned from courses elsewhere with no discernible new skills. Due to into one-size-fits-all courses that supposedly covered all of the local schools, my pupils had wasted valuable time in the run-up to their 11+, not to mention the money their parents had wasted.
It was then that I decided that we would run our own summer school; one that did things properly. We’ve combined all the tips, tricks, activities and worksheets that have seen our students fly through the 11+ and put them into one jam-packed summer school.
With lots of summer schools of different types around, it can, however, be tricky to know which one would be best for your child.
What are you hoping to gain from an 11+ summer school?
Are you looking for a huge increase in results, to fine-tune your child’s existing skills or to give them an enjoyable and motivating way to get through the summer?
Read our guidance on whether our summer school will be right for your child.
Fine-tune my child’s existing skills and teach them revision skills.
Parents looking to fine-tune their child’s existing skills with a summer bootcamp may prefer a course that provides lots of opportunities to complete practice papers during the course of the day. Through the completion of plenty of practice papers, a summer school may be able to advise your child on how to tweak their techniques to improve their marks in an exam. This often leads to incremental gains for students that are already well-prepared. Of course, small gains can be the difference between gaining a place and not.
Our summer school was not designed for this purpose, however. If you’re set on going to summer school for this sort of help, you may wish to look for a course that provides your child with lots of practice papers. If, however, you’re happy for your child to complete practice papers at home, you may wish for him/her to attend a summer school with shorter hours (thus giving you time to complete papers at home as well). These sessions should be focused on working with children on their individual weaknesses rather than providing an overview of topics.
If fine-tuning is your aim, you may, however, wish to forgo summer school altogether. If your child is comfortable with sitting practice papers at home, you could do this for free rather than paying for a summer school tutor to supervise. It is likely to be more efficient and cost-effective to complete papers at home and have 1 to 2 hours a week with a tutor to go over any errors.
Dramatically increase my child’s marks and take them from failing to passing.
Students that started 11+ preparation at a late stage (i.e. 6 to 8 months before the exam) are likely to need a summer school that will cover a wide range of topics in-depth in order to give them a chance of passing. If this is the case for your child, look for a summer school with a low student to teacher ratio so that your child will be sure to get help when they need it.
You should also look for a summer school that will assess your child either beforehand or at the beginning of the course. At this late stage, you need to make sure that your child’s individual weaknesses are being targeted as there’s no time to waste.
You will also need a summer school in which the tutors are personally involved with each of the students. Many courses are reliant on teenage assistants to do most of the teaching work as one tutor cannot see 15+ children personally. Whilst there are some wonderful assistants around - we like to think we’ve got a few of them ourselves - your child will need an experienced hand to guide them towards a dramatic increase in their marks.
When checking student to tutor ratios, you should also make sure that assistants aren’t being included in this figure.
In order to ensure a dramatic increase in marks, you will also need a course that is targeted towards the exams that your child is taking. Many courses will lump children from any and all exams together. Whilst there are some similarities between the local exams, an effective summer course should target the exams individually in order to make the most of the limited time you have left to prepare.
Kin Learning summer schools limit groups to 6 children per tutor, with children segmented into groups based on the exams that they’re taking as well as their level of ability.
Keep my child motivated throughout the summer.
Preparing for the 11+ throughout the summer can be a hard slog and it can be difficult to keep your child motivated. The last thing that you want, after many months of work, is for your child to burn out when the 11+ is around the corner.
Being around other children during the summer can be the perfect remedy for 11+ fatigue. Children generally prefer lessons that involve other children and they can benefit from hearing other children’s ideas. A well-designed course will contain a variety of subjects and activities so that your child can stay engaged in a way that would be almost impossible to replicate at home.
Our 11+ summer school incorporates a variety of activities that have been proven to help our students to increase their marks in the past. Not only this, but we provide resources that incorporate sight, touch and sound, which has been scientifically proven to help information to stay in the memory long-term.