Congratulations on all the Satchel children who passed the Heckmondwike Grammar School exam!
At Satchel we specialise in the Calderdale examination but, over the years, have also helped children obtain places as a number of local grammar schools and independent schools. Please contact us if you’d like further details.
Parents in Huddersfield looking for a grammar school place normally have a choice between two options: Calderdale (Crossley Heath Grammar School and North Halifax Grammar School) and Heckmondwike Grammar School.
There are all excellent schools. I would strongly advise parents to visit the schools on their Open Days which are normally held in June (please visit the school websites for further details). Don’t leave it until Year 5 to visit the schools; there is no age restriction on children at the Open Days. I would suggest visiting them in Year 4.
Use the open days to help decide which school you prefer. They all obtain excellent results, so I would suggest going on your instinct about the ethos of the school from the headteacher’s talk, the children you meet during the event (are they engaged, confident, personable for example?) and the buildings / facilities of the school.
In addition, here are a number of practical suggestions you might want to consider when making your choice.
Journey Time – it will obviously depend where you live in Huddersfield, but it is generally easier to travel to the Calderdale grammar schools. Crossley Heath is the nearest school to Huddersfield and there are private buses that run from various locations in Huddersfield. A journey to Heckmondwike may involve 2 buses. Buses to Heckmondwike run from Huddersfield bus station, so consider how your children will get there.
Entrance examination – the Calderdale schools have a joint examination that involves English Comprehension, English Writing, Maths Multiple Mhoice and Verbal Reasoning Multiple Choice. Heckmondwike also includes Non Verbal Reasoning. It doesn’t have a writing paper and the comprehension test is multiple choice rather than requiring detailed, written answers. If your child is good at writing and enjoys English, I would say that the Calderdale test favours them over Heckmondwike.
Chances of success – I would say that is generally much easier to secure a place at the Calderdale grammar schools than at Heckmondwike. There are simply more places available as the test is shared between two schools. Just over 1000 children take the Calderdale test and a ranking of around 400 (417 in 2018) will secure you a place at Crossley Heath Grammar School. There are only 180 places at Heckmondwike and around 800 children take the test. In addition around a quarter of these places may go to children living in the catchment area around the school. There is no catchment area for the Calderdale test.
My experience is that only the most able children in Huddersfield (who might achieve a ranking in the top 100 in the Calderdale test) will be able to secure a place at Heckmondwike. If you want to attend Heckmondwike as your first choice, I would recommend taking the Calderdale test as a reserve option. However, if you prefer Crossley Heath, I would focus all your energies onto this test. You are unlikely to secure a place at Heckmondwike if you miss out in the Calderdale test.
Just a reminder that the Calderdale and Heckmondwike Grammar school open evenings are approaching.
Heckmondwike – Thursday 20th June from 6.30pm
North Halifax – Tuesday 25th June from 5pm
Crossley Heath – Thursday 27th June from 5pm
I would recommend that all Year 4 children should attend these events if they are considering a grammar school place.
North Halifax and Crossley Heath Grammar Schools have recently announced the admission dates for children currently in year 5 who are looking for entry in September 2020.
The exam this year will be on Saturday 28th September.
Open Evenings for the schools are on:
Tuesday 25th June The North Halifax Grammar School Open Evening 5.00pm to 8.00pm
Thursday 27th June The Crossley Heath School Open Evening 5.00pm to 8.00pm
We would recommend children in year 4 who are considering a grammar school place also attend these sessions (there is no restriction on how old your child can be). It can help with their motivation to complete 11 plus preparation work if they are really keen to attend one or both of the schools. Be warned, the open evenings can get very busy.
Further dates and details on the registration process can be found at the school websites: https://www.nhgs.co.uk/admissions/school-admissions/timetable-admissions/school- admissions-2020
We see a number of secondary school children at Satchel who are extremely able at maths and science subjects, but who seriously struggle (in terms of motivation and results) with English.
Whilst they will almost certainly drop English as soon as they have finished their GCSE, it is vitally important that they achieve a minimum of a 4 or 5 in English language or literature to secure a place at a Sixth Form college. However if they hope to go on to a career in medicine, for example, they should aim for at least a 7.
We believe it is important to get these children reading. Many will have not picked up a book since primary school. We have a number of books in our class libraries that can engage these children. Comprehension and understanding is not something that can easily be taught; there are numerous skills involved. However regular reading is a proven way to facilitate this process.
Writing can often be a particular chore for these children. We use a number of techniques to help. We start them on Short Writes, asking them to write around a paragraph of high quality work. We also use Sentence Sheets to help them craft their work, getting them to use a semi colon or a sentence that starts with an adverb, for example. As they approach longer pieces of writing, we spend a large amount of time on the planning process. We may also get them to redraft and improve the quality of certain sections.
It is not easy to turn an English hater into an English lover. However with the right encouragement and preparation, we can develop a grudging tolerance for the subject and help these children achieve academic success.
A number of primary school children come to Satchel because they are struggling with maths. At their free Starting Satchel meeting, it is clear that a high proportion of these children rely on their fingers to help with even simple calculations such as 4 + 3 or 8 – 5.
Finger counting is encouraged in many schools as a way of helping calculate additions and subtractions. However many children continue to rely on this method for years to come.
Finger counting is inefficient because if causes children to continually calculate the answers to questions. It slows them down, means they make mistakes if they miss a finger and hinders their ability to see patterns in numbers. If uncorrected, it creates problems for the future. How many calculations will they have to do on their fingers when they tackle column subtraction or two digit multiplication?
Just as children learn their times tables, we believe it is vital that children know all their additions and subtractions by rote. At Satchel we first show them techniques such as reversing the question (8 + 2, rather than 2 + 8), using times tables (7 x 2 = 14, therefore 8 + 7 is one more) and inverse operations (If 3 + 5 = 8, then 8 – 5 = 3), but also ensure they receive sufficient practice on additions and subtractions to break the (bad) habit of finger counting.
Generally, the longer a child has relied on finger counting, the harder it is to break the habit. However with the right commitment and encouragement, children of all ages can overcome it. Once they do, it can quickly restore their confidence in maths and set them on the road to long term success.
We have received a number of enquiries from parents with children in year 4 and earlier asking us about when they should start 11 plus preparation.
Our general advice is that the sooner you start, the greater the chance you will have of success. We have had examples of very able children joining us just months before the test who were able to secure a grammar school place. However this can place unnecessary pressure on children and their parents.
Starting earlier allows children to develop a work ethic and to gradually elevate their maths and English skills to a high standard. This can take some of the pressure off they when they enter year 5. Although it sounds like a long time, the months of year 5 always seems to go very quickly. Children will generally not start on practice papers later in the preparation process. Beginning exam specific preparation too early can result in them become bored and can be counter-productive.
Ultimately the more preparation you do, the more you reduce the element of chance in the 11 plus exam. It doesn’t matter if you score 1 or 300 in the grammar school rankings as you will still win a place at your preferred school. However a child who is capable of scoring nearer to 1 can have a bad day on the test and obtain a place. A child around the 300 level cannot afford to underperform or they are likely to miss out.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of 11 plus preparation.
At Satchel we believe it is vital that we work in partnership with parents and their children. A key part of that is the regular feedback we provide. This can take the form of a quick chat at class, a text message or phonecall. We also hold Parent and Children meetings twice a year in June and November.
However to better formalise the process, children now regularly receive a progress card outlining their work in each subject, every month. Parents are encouraged to read the progress card, initial them to say they have read the comments and then return them at the next class. If you are unsure about any comment, or would like to ask further questions, please get in touch with your tutor via text message or email.
The progress cards are designed to show you where your child currently sits in each level, as well as outlining topics to come.
Many parents with young children ask us when is the best time to start in Satchel.
The answer depends very much on the concentration levels of the children and the commitment of their parents. The First level in Satchel maths and English uses special comic-style booklets that are designed to be completed with an adult helper. Children on these levels will not be expected to read instructions or have the concentration to work independently. You cannot learn to read by staring at a page; it is important that words are sounded out loud.
Younger children place unique demands on teachers and their parents. One day they may concentrate superbly, at other times all they want to do is play. At a Satchel class they will receive one to one support from an assistant. At home they will need to work with a parent or adult helper. It is important to be flexible in the approach. If they are not in the mood to concentrate, do not force them to work. Try to find a time of day when they are receptive to learning. Don’t try to ask them to complete a booklet if they didn’t sleep well the night before. Always try to make they learning relaxed and fun.
A pre-school child may be able to start Satchel if they are regularly able to concentrate and their parents have the time (and patience) to work with them at home. Alternatively a child in reception or year 1 may struggle to complete their work if they are tired from school or other activities. Please contact us if you would like to discuss any aspect of starting young children in Satchel.