What is a Grammar School? (Grammar Schools Explained)

‘In England, there are 31 boroughs with Grammar Schools, of which 7 are in London or surrounding boroughs.’

‘Today, around 90% of Grammar School children go onto university compared to 55% overall.’

To read the full post, visit our blog at the following link:


When English is not English

Our ability to communicate in many diverse ways, has ultimately, separated us from the other animals. We have been able to write down and pass on information through the centuries, preserve beliefs and tell tales. It is thanks to language, that we have been able to keep expanding our knowledge, generation after generation.

Did you know: The English language is a descendant of Proto-Indo-European, which was spoken by European nomads 5,000 years ago? 

Over the thousands of years, English words have been slowly simplified from the various forms found in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Russian, and German. This means that in English, unlike most other European languages we often use the same word in noun or verb form. The English language has either adopted (eg ‘guru’ from Sanskrit or ‘cartoon’ from Italian) or adapted (eg ‘drug’ from the old French ‘droque’, or ‘tea’ from the Dutch ‘tay’, derived from the Malay ‘teh’.)

The English language is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese; it is an endlessly evolving beast that is laden with the weight of many histories and cultures. Every wave of immigration has enriched our language and helped it develop into a diverse language full of expression.

Why is it the case then that English as a subject has taken a back seat? The rise of the STEM subjects is partially to blame, as students tend to be pushed towards scientific and mathematical fields, however, the way exams have developed, probably also has contributed to fewer students taking English to A-Level and beyond.  

In the GCSE exams and A-Level exams, there is such an emphasis placed upon unseen passages and rote learning, that one cannot help but feel sorry for students. Exam technique is critical, as the exams are all formulaic in the way they are delivered and the amount of time-pressure to deliver high-quality work is harsh on students who are more thoughtful and could benefit from coursework. Many Secondary Students come to us completely disengaged and discouraged. Sometimes, it feels as if they are set up to fail (alternative assessments and teaching would be appropriate in these instances).

English as a subject needs to compete with the STEM subjects, and it will continue to lose out until it becomes far broader in its scope and fit for the modern world. 


If you would like to learn more about how we can help your child with their English, contact us on:

Email: hello@redbridgetuition.co.uk

Website: www.redbridgetuition.co.uk

6 Steps to 11+ Exam Success

1. You are not done until the time is up!

Do not think you are finished just because you have finished the paper/section. If there is still time remaining you should be checking over your work.

2. Get your easy marks first!

Papers and individual sections often have long or difficult questions placed fairly early on. These questions may end up costing you many marks without you meaning them to. If you know a question is going to take some time, starts to take up too much time or is going to be difficult, put a star (*) next to the question and come back to it later. In multiple-choice papers, each question is generally worth one mark so it is best to spend your time gathering all of the easy marks first from questions which take hardly any time to do and go back to the longer ones if you have enough time. With CEM papers there are often too many questions for the amount of time given so this technique will be very useful for students taking this style of paper.

3. Check over your work!

Always allocate some time to check over your work. This does not mean staring at your answer sheet proudly and saying to yourself ‘I’m finished’. It means actually working out the questions again to see if you come to the same answer.

4. Leave nothing blank!

Never leave a question unanswered, especially if it is a multiple-choice question. Think about multiple-choice questions in terms of probability. In a question with 5 options, an unanswered question has a 0% chance of being correct. However an answered question, even if it is a complete guess and you have no idea, has a 25% chance of being correct. If you don’t know the answer take an educated guess but if all else fails, put down something!

5. Running out of time?

If you are running out of time on a multiple-choice paper, mark something for every question. For example, if you find that you have a few seconds left and you have not answered the last 6 questions, put down something, or more to the point, anything, for those last few questions. Remember, an unanswered question has a 0% chance of being correct!

6. Do not revise the day before the exam!

Do not do any papers or revision the day before the exam. Have a complete day off. You do not want to become disheartened if you end up trying a tough paper and getting a bad score. This will stay with you and make you doubt your abilities during the real thing. It will also crowd your short term memory, hamper your ability to recall information from your long term memory and bias your answers towards the topic you have just crammed. Do what you like; watch TV, play on the Xbox, relax but get an early night. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast on the day of the exam and again, do not try to revise!


If you follow these 6 simple steps, exam day should run smoothly.

Good luck!

Identifying end rhymes and internal rhymes using the famous poem by Edward Lear, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’.

Children become aware of rhymes early on in their educational development, as it appears in phonics and early readers. Rhyming texts are often more fun for younger children to read, as they find it catchy and notice the song-like character it can give to a piece of writing. A child’s understanding of rhyme and knowledge increases as they grow older.

Building a child’s understanding of language and how it functions is critically important and continues throughout their school life. There are many types of rhyme: end rhymes, slant rhymes, internal rhymes, rich rhymes, eye rhymes and identical rhymes. There is a heavy focus on end rhymes, internal rhymes and slant rhymes (often called half-rhymes), but it is interesting to know about all the varieties.

As children reach secondary school, they learn more about the effect that rhyme can have on a reader and how it can alter pace. I tend to show older children the effect of rhyme by initially focusing on rap, as all forms of rhyme is particularly prevalent in rap.

Older children also learn how to label a rhyme scheme and by KS3/GCSEs, they are able to name a specific scheme. For instance: alternate rhyme (ABAB), enclosed rhyme (ABBA) and rhyming couplets (AABB). This knowledge is critical when attempting to identify the form of a poem. For instance, a Petrarchan sonnet consists of 14 lines, starting with an octave using enclosed rhyme (ABBACDDC), followed by a sestet of variable rhyme scheme. Often this is a accompanied with a change in tone or resolution.

Recognising rhymes and building an understanding of how language is structured at an early age, can form the foundations for success in later years.

Does early self-control determine a child’s future success?

If so, can self-control be taught?

When I read that The Marshmallow Experiment was replicated yet again, it got me thinking about why this is.

The Marshmallow experiment is one of the most famous social science experiments. The first time this experiment was carried out was in 1960, by a professor at Stanford University.

In this experiment, young children were offered a marshmallow to immediately consume or 2 marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes. The results were then linked to educational attainment, higher SAT’s scores and even lower BMI. In other words, the children who were able to wait for the 2 marshmallows generally did better in later life.

This would suggest that behaviours such as self-control cannot be taught. If you extend that to education, does it mean that every child is born only with fixed traits in learning?

This experiment has been replicated with some sort of twists over the years. Almost all of them have drawn different conclusions from the original.


The Marshmallow experiment has been repeated yet again, this time to test results looking at social and economic conditions, and this time, the conclusion is that children from poorer backgrounds fared worse.

Yet in another very similar experiment, Cameroonian children showed that they waited twice as long and complained a lot less.

To my mind that puts the social equality theory into question.

Also, what if the child does not like marshmallows, or they simply think that two marshmallows are not worth the wait, and they may have waited if there were more?

I would also say that this has not taken into account the massive impact of things like social media and the internet. It also does not take into account the differing personalities of each child.

Young children are said to be impulsive and to live in the present moment, with no concept of the future. To add insult to injury, children are said to grow up with a sense of entitlement and the need for instant reward. There is the perception that the more technology reliant a child is, the shorter the attention span.

If we extend this to academic success, does it mean that this will lead to poorer grades in school?


Across my many years of tutoring, I have seen and worked with children who had set their goals and were determined to achieve them- whatever it took, while others were simply happy to coast. Some children are simply not academically inclined.

As a tutor, I believe that whilst self-control is important, determination is equally as important, if not more so. This along with guidance and practice is surely the key for any achievement, academic or otherwise.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Codes – How to Answer

Our year 4 and year 5 11+ students have recently been learning how codes questions work in Non-Verbal Reasoning. There are a few techniques you can use to answer these types of questions more quickly and more accurately.

The first thing to do is look at the different position numbers and find shapes which have the same letter in the same position number. For example the following question has 3 letter positions, each of which represent a different element of the shape.

We can see that the first and second shape both have the letter ‘A’ in the first position. We must then look at these shapes and see what element they have in common with each other. In this case the only thing they have in common is the fact that they both have a dot inside the main shape. ‘A’ stands for dot. Therefore ‘B’ (a different letter in the same position) must represent a shape having no dot.

At this point we look at our question shape to see whether it has a dot or not. It does, meaning the first letter of our answer is ‘A’.

It is best to fill this in as soon as you have worked out this element rather than trying to work out all three letters at once at the end.

Are there any more positions with the same letter in both?

In this case the answer is yes. Shape 1 and shape 3 both have ‘X’ as the letter in position number 2. What element do shape 1 and shape 2 have in common? They both have a border. ‘X’ must stand for border and ‘Y’ must stand for no border.

Our question doesn’t have a border so it’s second letter will be ‘Y’. Again fill this in as soon as you find it.

Now in most cases there will be a position number where all the letters are different. It is always best to leave this until the end as we have already ruled out some of the elements of the shapes.

In our question, the 3rd position is where all of the letters are different. What is different about all 3 shapes? The shapes themselves. So ‘N’ must stand for square, ‘M’ must stand for star and ‘L’ must stand for pentagon.

Our question shape is a pentagon so the 3rd letter will be ‘L’.

See if you can work out the answer to the question in the second picture. Comment with your answers.

To learn more about these question types as well as others you can refer to RTG Non-Verbal Reasoning Book 1 on Amazon as well as practice questions and learn about Non-Verbal Reasoning from the ground up.

For more difficult questions as well as practice papers see RTG Non-Verbal Reasoning Book 2 on Amazon.



Writing Realistic Newspaper Articles

Recently, the year 6s have been learning the difference between facts and opinions. They have been using this information to learn how to write realistic newspaper articles.

We spoke about how newspaper articles are a mixture of facts, opinions and even persuasive writing. The writer of the article will have an opinion (every person does) on the subject and they use facts, opinions and opinions masked as facts to try and convince you, the reader, to agree with them.

The task this week was was to write two newspaper articles relating to London Zoo closing down; one where the writer agrees the zoo should close and one where the writer doesn’t agree.

We discussed several techniques such as masking your opinions as facts and using survey data to sway your argument. For example “9 out of ten people agree the zoo should stay open”. This could be true however what if the only people you asked were people who worked at the zoo and wanted it to stay open so they weren’t out of a job!

The class were very involved and interested in the topic and all did very well!

3D and Spatial Non-Verbal Reasoning – Easter Holiday Course

During our Easter holiday course, the year 5s were learning about 3D and spatial Non-Verbal Reasoning. We were learning how to draw 2D elevations (plan view, side view and front view) from a given 3D shape, but we were also trying to figure out the 3D shape and draw it using only the given 2D elevations. This is much more complex and is not a question type which appears in the 11 plus papers however doing these types of questions helps the child to fully understand the properties of 3D shapes which in turn helps them answer questions which are in the 11 plus such as the CEM style papers which include questions on 3D and spatial Non-verbal Reasoning.

To learn more about 3D and Spatial Reasoning check out our book on Amazon:

RTG Publishing – 3D and Spatial Non-Verbal Reasoning


The Olympic Runner – World Poetry Day

The Olympic Runner is about a runner who is unfairly stereotyped by critics. Rhyming-couplets are used throughout the poem to reflect the steady and fast pace of the runner. There is also a subtle use of irony that makes the poem particularly effective – see if you can spot it.

This poem is a useful teaching tool for KS3 and GCSE students, because it is both fairly easy to understand and uses many structural and language techniques. The non-literal elements are also easily understandable.


The Olympic Runner

The sun beat down so hard it burnt his back,

His feet ate the dust as he ran the endless track,

The wind gave him wings and the miles flew by,

He was gunning for gold, for victory he’d die.

Critics had a field day when he entered the arena,

They could have knocked him down with a feather,

“Sideways you can’t see him through a 50-cent coin,

Bones on a cold carcass make up his manly loin.”

“His feet so long he will surely fall flat on his face,

Legs stretch down like two bamboo poles in place,

From the land of famine he gets not his daily bread,

If he wins, we’ll eat our hats,” in mockery they said.

As he touched the finish line, the crowd went wild,

Cheers heard across the land by every man and child,

His heartbeats so erratic they were beating out of time

If he could take a shot at his critics it’d be no crime.

Sweat streamed down, pooled like rivulets on the floor,

A warrior back from the battlefield, battered and sore,

Standing tall as a Brobdingnagian, the anthem sung

The joy so sweet, he could taste it on his tongue.

He was so tired he felt he could sleep for a year

The cynics struck dumb, had no cause to jeer,

‘A man in a million’ were the headlines that day

“Not a mere man but a giant in spirit,” they say.

By Jacinta Ramayah