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11 + Independent Schools

Independent schools are schools which charge fees.


NEWS! 1st March, 2017: 

Independent school success: 100% again this year!

Every one of my students has been allocated his or her first choice of King Edward's grammar schools today.  What is more, every one of my students who has secured a grammar school place, and who took the entrance tests for bursaries at premier-league independent schools, has also won an assisted place at the independent King Edward's School and King Edward's High School. 

In September this year, one half of my students will go on to take up assisted places (bursaries) at these schools, paying as little as just one sixth of the annual fee of £13,000 each year for seven years.  What an achievement!    



I propose to hold a short course on Thursdays in the Autumn Term 2017 for students who will enter Year Five in 2017.  Please send me an email and I will send written details to you. 

I regret that I cannot offer any assistance to students who will enter Year Six in the Autumn Term 2017.  


Dr Karen O'Rourke Tuition is not associated, and never has been associated, with any other tuition provider.  All tuition is delivered by me personally; I do not employ staff. All tuition takes place at my home in Handsworth Wood, and not in a tuition centre. 


Independent school preparatory tuition places with me are for for students who attend state schools and, only very occasionally, mature and productive students from independent schools.  Hardworking students with effective parental support and who are currently attending grammar school preparatory tuition with me will have priority for available places.

Please send me an email with your contact details via the <contact me> page above if you would like me to retain your child's name and let you know of any future vacancies.  


However, please read the comprehensive information below first to familiarise yourself with the way I prepare students for these highly competitive and challenging tests. 



How tuition works 

My own 11+ students naturally have priority for individual tuition for independent schools' entrance tests. However, vacancies arise occasionally for suitable students, and you should check this page regularly for updates.


For some students who show above average natural ability, some of the 'premier league'  independent schools in Birmingham offer

  • generous bursaries ('assisted places');

  • academic & music scholarships;

  • awards of combined scholaships and assisted places.

Many of my students have been awarded scholarships with assisted places, and some of these families are charged no fees at all

Parents often don't realise that the premier-league independent boys' and girls' schools in Birmingham offer a limited number of generous bursaries and scholarships for suitable students; and yet many do not realise until it is too late that the selection tests differ considerably from the grammar schools' entrance tests.



Individual tuition for independent schools' entrance tests


Individual tuition with me for independent schools' entrance is available usually for selected students from state schools who are enrolled in an 11+ group working towards the foundation grammar school tests with me. However, and only very occasionally, I will assess for tuition suitably well-motivated students who attend those independent prep schools which set only a small amount of regular homework, and whose curriculum does not focus intensively on preparing children for selective independent or grammar schools' entrance tests at the expense of children's wider general education.  



How tuition works: subjects and scope

Before I accept a student for tuition for independent schools, I find out the key elements of the tests and assess a child in those areas. (These are usually English, mathematics and reasoning.)

  • I offer preparatory tuition in English, mathematics and reasoning for standard entry level, and English for scholarship level to individual students.

  • Following my initial assessment and an offer of tuition, I propose and parents agree a written scheme of work, of which they receive a copy. I set a relevant and realistic programme of homework each week.

  • I offer individual assessments with a view to students entering tuition with me in the future. I charge a fee of £60 for this service, which includes a follow-up telephone consultation with parents.

I monitor progress and provide parents with regular, straightforward feedback and advice to address problem areas. I ensure that students' progress is maintained by regular testing using past and sample papers from relevant schools, and a range of worksheets which give clear explanations of features of the scheme of work.

ENGLISH - English is my specialist subject and passion!


I encourage all my students to become active and discerning readers at home. When I begin teaching a child individually, I make every effort to find a programme of suitable literature for them to enjoy, not endure! Therefore, the tuition I offer is suited particularly to those bright girls and boys who are also reluctant readers.


  • I teach students how to approach comprehension texts with confidence and, in particular, to recognise that different types of comprehension questions require diverse approaches.

  • With me, students preparing for entry into independent schools become familiar with a wide range of poetry, fiction and non-fiction which they will learn to read, to understand and to which they will respond critically and with appreciation.

Sentence grammar, punctuation, syntax and proof-reading 

  • I ensure that my students understand the component parts of a sentence so that they are equipped to organise their ideas into clear, structured sentences.

  • I provide students with the 'building blocks' of skill that enable them to proof-read and check their own work with confidence and understanding.

  • I support all teaching with clear revision notes, which I write myself.

Writing skills 

  • Writing skills go hand-in-hand with effective reading skills.

  • I teach narrative (story) and descriptive prose and poetry; argumentative, discursive, critical and evaluative writing skills.

  • My syllabus incorporates various fiction and non-fiction genres, including writing play-scripts, speeches and oral and written presentations. All students will be encouraged to read widely while they receive tuition from me.

  • The development and practice of children's writing is my speciality subject and major interest.   


  • I teach the full Key Stage 2 (primary) and, where relevant and necessary, parts of the Key Stage 3 and 4 (secondary) curriculum of number, shape and space, handling data and basic algebra. I attach particular importance to understanding the basis of and a systematic approach to mathematics.

  • I break down explanations into bite-sized, manageable parts, and support this with clear handwritten or printed notes, which I write myself for students to revise at home.


  • I teach techniques in verbal, numerical and  (where appropriate) non-verbal reasoning.

My students make progress in reasoning by increasing their vocabulary through reading. I will encourage students to learn to appreciate the rich rewards of developing a love of learning for its own sake in the long term, and not simply rehearsing techniques to pass a test.



Practical matters:

Will tuition with Dr Karen O'Rourke suit my child and our family?

  • Please be aware that in providing a service of high-quality individual tuition, I organise the teaching I undertake under clearly-defined terms and conditions and contracts with parents, which are reviewed and, subject to performance and conduct, can be renewed each term. Therefore:

  • The tuition that I provide is best suited to motivated, well-organised families, for whom a balanced education and wider interests and the welfare of a child take priority over parents' work commitments and wider family and social functions.

  •  Also, kindly note that in line with good practice, I will accept primary school-aged students for individual tuition only when they are accompanied by a responsible adult, preferably a parent, or a sibling over 16 years of age.

Updated 21.06.17