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Get Your Child in the Best School Possible

Why should every parent try to get there child into the best school possible?

The better the teachers, the better the students, the better the resources, the better the environment the more likely your child will fulfill their potential – this is a fundamental fact. Choosing the best school for your child is one of the best things you can do for the future of your children?

What are the success factors for life success?

Lessons from the longest study on human development and the factors which contribute towards wellbeing using various dimensions such as education, wealth, health, longevity, quality of life etc… concluded that if your child is in an environment that provides high expectations, with an active interest from the parents then the likelihood of their success in later life increases. Wealth of course is another factor but something many of us are limited with, so the home environment and your conversations with your children are things you can control. The other significant factor to your child’s future success is the school your child goes to – so make sure you select the best one possible.

4 Questions To Ask Your Child Daily

Everyday since year 1 I always asked my children the following questions:

  1. What did you achieve today?
  2. What did you enjoy and why?
  3. What didn’t you enjoy and why?
  4. What could you have changed to have made it a better day?

Triggering this type of critical thinking in your child helps them reflect and improve – ultimately all you want in for your child to continue improving and pushing to fulfill their potential. By taking the above approach all you’re doing is triggering your child to make changes – improvements – to their own behaviour and approach. The hope is this becomes second nature and even as adults they will continue this practice.

What does your child need? And what do you need?

Some children are more structured and organized while others more creative. Every child is different and you need to really understand the type of environment your child will flourish in. One of my children are extremely social and outspoken so for her I looked for a school with an emphasis on English, drama, and other creative skills. Another child may be very sporty in which case you need to ensure the school has a focus on sports – holds sports events – and is well resourced. If your child needs extra attention then the best school for this child would be one that has support structures in place for a student requiring individual attention, or has special needs that need to be met.

The best school you choose obviously will have to be located close by – preferably walking distance! There is no point in looking at schools half way across the country unless you are will to move in which case location is not a factor. Don’t forget to factor in after school activities – this one throws a lot of parents especially when their are siblings who don’t have activities on the same days. You want to make life easy for yourself but want the best school possible.

Click here to view the list I created of some of the best schools in the country and their admission requirements.

How to choose the best school possible?

When choosing the best school possible you need to take a structure approach:

  1. Research schools in your area – find out as much as you can about each use their websites and also if they are private or public and do they use admission exams like the CAT4 or 11 Plus.
  2. Compare what each have to offer – different opportunities in different catchment areas.
  3. Visit the school – ask about past achievements, extracurricular activates, teacher experience, school ethos, class sizes, total student count, do they have space
  4. Student success – ask or try to find out how well children do after leaving the school. How many go to university? Which universities? Which courses? Which careers?
  5. Talk with parents – this will give you a real insight into everyday school life and what sort of challenges other parents have faced.

You need to have an environment which is conducive to growth, one that encourages and motivates – an environment which provides the opportunity for your child the achieve the very best possible – that’s all we parents really want – our child fulfill their potential.

Click here for a list of some of the best schools by GCSE.

Why Subject Knowledge Doesn’t Matter In A CAT Test

What are CAT Tests?

CAT Test
Cognitive Abilities Test

CAT Tests or Cognitive Ability Tests are assessments used by many schools and even during job interviews to assess an individuals overall intelligence and future potential. They provide a good indication of future performance and many secondary schools, particularly private, grammar and international schools, use CAT Tests to assess a child’s ability before they start Year 7. These tests are also used by some schools in year 7 and year 8 to help determine which academic set a child should be placed in. The CAT test isn’t used to assess academic and topic knowledge but rather a child’s potential if provided with an appropriate learning environment.

Assessing a child’s ability in any area – or the groups abilities in the different areas – helps the teacher to focus on different learning styles and create material and assessments that provide maximum benefit.

Types of CAT Tests

CAT4 / CogAT

There are a variety of CAT tests which are focused on different age groups and created for different purposes. The CAT4 test, or cognitive abilities test, is focused on:

– Verbal Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with words
– Non-Verbal Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with shapes and space
– Quantitative Reasoning – Thinking and problem solving with numbers
– Spatial Reasoning – Visualising, picturing and moving shapes around

There are various levels of the CAT4 test ranging from primary school all the way to college / year 12. CogAT is a very similar test and generally used in schools within the United States.

UCAT Test

The UCAT is a University Clinical Abilities Test which focuses on areas which are more in line with the requirements of a health care professional and consists of:

  • 1: Verbal Reasoning.
  • 2: Decision Making.
  • 3: Quantitative Reasoning.
  • 4: Abstract Reasoning.
  • 5: Situational Judgement.

Again the first four sections of the UCAT are clearly measuring cognitive abilities which are related to clinical practice – for instance verbal reasoning skills are required to read reports and / or research papers, decision making is needed to determine a care plan for a patient based on the information available, quantitative reasoning is essential when determining dosages, abstract reasoning is needed to be able to see patterns in x-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds. Section 5 is the one area which is context specific and bringing together all of the other cognitive skills in actual scenarios.

CAT Test

The Common Admission Test is another form of a cognitive ability assessment which is used by various universities to determine if you have the ability to attend higher education, particularly master level courses. It has in the past consisted of verbal and reading comprehension (VARC), data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR) and quantitative aptitude. There is a lot of competition to get into university courses so these tests are one part of the admissions process set by the university to help select students who have the potential to do well.

Find out more about the UCAT by clicking here.

What is a good CAT test score?

A good CAT score is normally one which puts you in the 80th or 90th percentile of the cohort who takes the test. Ultimately if you achieve entry into the school of your choice your score was good enough !

Powerful CAT Secrets To Boost Life Long Success

Signifies the secrets of cognitive development
Cognitive Development Secrets

A child’s ability to succeed at school academically and socially has been studied for many years – many academics, and I have to agree, feel that with the right support and development every child has the potential to achieve more. The age old debate of nature versus nurture still continues to haunt us but yes there are limitations based on physiology and genetics but with the right support the elastic nature of the brain is truly remarkable.

Schools are being held accountable for their students’ academic performance which has led to further focus on the diverse set of skills and attributes that indicate a child’s future performance – academically that is. When is a child ready to start school? What foundational skills are required? There are factors such as where in the social ladder the child comes from which also play a part – with the gap between children from higher and lower income families widening. You could even argue that a child’s readiness at the start of school impacts his or her learning and academic performance into their teens and ultimately effects their employment potential.

Basic Skills Vs Cognitive Skills

Some academics (click here for more info) conclude that basic literacy and numeracy skills are predictors of success while others feel more directly teaching preschool subjects to build skills in particular domains help. Preschool years are critical in a child’s development of mental processes from memory, focus, and problem solving. Those who come underprivileged background generally are behind in the development of these building blocks putting them at a distinct disadvantage when moving to higher level work.

Without the building blocks of memory, focus, and problem solving it becomes more difficult to build other knowledge whatever the domain. If we take the four pillars below as key indicators of future ability to gain knowledge then by setting and focusing on these as precursors to school readiness will allow children to quickly catch in foundational domain specific knowledge such as literacy and numeracy skills.

Cognitive Ability Skills
Four pillars of cognitive Ability

The contributions of different cognitive skills in academic achievement has been identified as major factors to predict ability and growth in emergent literacy and numeracy skills. So it seems and would make sense that by developing executive functions of the brain domain specific achievement is would positively be impacted.

There are so many factors in determining how a child’s cognitive development is impacted during the early years but if a more structured and explicit approach was taken – it may be possible that the tools building blocks of learning can be developed and used helping the individual perform at a higher level for the rest of his or her life.

Developing Cognitive Skills

Some simple ways of measuring and potentially even developing some of these general cognitive abilities:

  1. Repeating a set of words or letters backwards
  2. Jigsaws / small puzzles
  3. Basic problem solving tasks
  4. Card games – Snap, Pairs, Crazy 8, Black Jack etc..
  5. Word connection games, verbal and visual
  6. Alphabet Soup
  7. Dot to Dot

What is probably the most important thing is to engage your child with new and interesting objects and set challenges for them so they have to use their cognitive functions from an early age – in this way they won’t only be ready for school but they will be equipped with the building blocks – foundational abilities – for the rest of their lives.

The CAT4 Reveal’s Your Child’s Hidden Potential

What is the CAT4 used for?

A cat hiding in the bushes which signifies the hidden skills that children have.
Hidden cognitive skills lie dormant until triggered !

The CAT4 and be used for a variety of reasons. Firstly as a school entrance exam to ensure that children are able to learn quickly and effectively in a high performing environment. If children in a class are too far apart in academic ability the teacher will end up slowing down the material and having to teach to the lowest common denominator. There is of course room for peer learning and differentiated learning approaches but many schools, particular private schools, are not willing to compromise on the basic cognitive skills they want each and every child to have.

Apart from using the CAT4 as a school entrance exam it is also used as an ability checker and future performance predictor. Many schools now use the CAT4 in year 8 to predict a child’s future performance – particularly at GCSE – and to help determine which set is most appropriate for the child. By developing your child’s cognitive skills in terms of thinking, reading, learning, remembering, reasoning, and paying attention your child will outperform many other children over time even with a starting point of low topic knowledge. These skills will support your child in every way and last a lifetime.

Can’t children be assessed in the classroom – why do we need the CAT4?

In a classroom the teacher only sees a few aspects of a child’s ability. Sometimes the child simply hasn’t ever felt the need to really use their cognitive abilities. Verbal skills are easy to identify but this hidden potential by determining reasoning ability, spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, make a huge difference to future academic performance. Academic ability and topic knowledge is only one part of the puzzle. The teacher / schools needs to be able to assess the full profile of a child and the CAT4 is an excellent tool to break that down into simply, understandable parts.

Why the CAT4?

The CAT4 is one of the UK (possibly worlds excluding the USA of course) used test of reasoning abilities. It uses at least 25,000 students standardised results to provide an accurate baseline against which your child can be measured. There prove indicators for national tests and examinations during every stage from KS2, SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels. Provide a real insight into the way a child thinks.

How to Pass and Smash the 11 Plus Exam?

PRACTICE 11 Plus NOW

What is a Good 11 Plus Score?

A good 11 plus score is one which gets your child into the school of your choice ! So aim for achieving at least a score of 85% in any of the 11 plus exam practice tests you do. The 11 plus is scored using the SAS (standard age score) which uses the raw score a pupil has received and converts it into an understandable and comparable mark across different types of assessments.

Continue reading “How to Pass and Smash the 11 Plus Exam?”

COVID-19 And Its Impact On The 11 Plus

Should the 11+ be pushed back as suggested by the government to as late as November? The guidance which is only advisory indicates that children are not “likely to perform to their utmost ability in a test at the beginning of September” because of school closures during coronavirus. This raises “the elephant in the room” – with current restrictions in schools will children actually get enough education in the extra few months to make up for all that was lost before the summer holidays?

Continue reading “COVID-19 And Its Impact On The 11 Plus”

What Skills Do You Need To Pass The 11+?

The 11 plus is an entrance exam used by grammar schools and private schools all around the country. As a parent who can’t afford to pay for a private school we have to hope that our child can pass and get into one of the grammar schools. As a parent we want the best for our children and want them get a good start to life and not to be disadvantaged. We all know the school your child goes to will have a direct impact on their future.

Continue reading “What Skills Do You Need To Pass The 11+?”