'President's opinion on the changes to the North London Consortium Entrance Exam' (Updated 19th January 2018) - Jan '18

On the 10th October, The Daily Telegraph reported  that 'A group of the country’s leading girls’ school are abolishing their entrance exam amid fears that it is putting children’s mental health at risk'.On the 14th of January this has been iterated in a Sunday Times article, an interview with Victoria Bingham, headmistress of South Hampstead High School: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/private-schools-find-tutor-proof-sele...

A group of the country’s leading girls’ school are abolishing their entrance exam amid fears that it is putting children’s mental health at risk.
The North London Girls' School Consortium, which is made up of twelve independent day schools, will replace their exam papers with a one-hour long “bespoke cognitive ability” test that is far harder to prepare for.
The move is designed to protect ten and eleven-year-old children from the “dreadful” pressure that their parents subject them to, including endless hours of private tuition.
Lucy Elphinstone, headmistress of Francis Holland, Sloane Square, which is a member of the consortium said the move is in response to concerns about the wellbeing of children "arising from over-tutoring and the dreadful prepping towards the tests”.
The group of schools will instead select students on the basis of cognitive ability, verbal reasoning and interviews.
Ms Elphinstone added:
“I think it will be much fairer to children who come from primary schools and who don't have access, for financial reasons, to tutoring. That is exactly where we want to get to,” she said. “We want to see what a child's baseline potential and ability is, and cut through the ability of a parent to pay for tutoring.”

TTA President, Adam Muckle, comments as follows:

'TTA supports any moves that seek to reduce the risk of over-tutoring children and fuelling the anxieties of parents. Instead we should be focusing on the overall learning, well-being and world-awareness of children.

This certainly mirrors my own approach to tutoring, which focuses on getting children to read, build their vocabulary and knowledge of the world around them, and then share that in interviews.

Tutors for this age group are already well aware of the concerns surrounding over-tutoring. Far from cramming for these exams, tutors typically support a child for an hour once a week in the lead-up to these exams; anymore than that is a rarity, and could potentially risk hampering the development of the child and their independence.

Members of the Association's focus is on supporting students in their learning. Tutoring itself is generally effective. Tutoring should be about helping children to learn rather than helping them to pass exams - which is a side-effect of improved learning abilities. Any debate on the format of school entrance exams themselves and the role that tutoring may play is to be welcomed.'

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