11+ for independent schools

Independent schools are schools which charge fees



From October 2020, I will be increasing the provision of online tuition in English for students in Years Four and Five from state and independent schools who are preparing for the premier-league independent schools (not grammar schools) of the King Edward VI Foundation.


English for independent school preparatory tuition will take place online, for individuals and small groups of five students or fewer, with the possibility of tuition post-Covid taking place occasionally at my home in Handsworth Wood (which is not a tuition centre, but my family home).  There are limited places available for students entering Years 4 and 5 only. Students from both state and certain independent schools are welcome.  





Year 4 Course

(from October 2020)

Year 5 Course

(from October 2020)



My own Year Four and Year Five 11+ students naturally have priority for individual and group tuition for independent schools' entrance tests, but from October 2020 I am very pleased to be able to welcome suitable mature and productive students from independent schools with a balanced curriculum which is not driven solely and excessively by grammar school preparation.

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 scholarships

               and assisted places.


Many of my own 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 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.

Parent of previous  grammar school and independent school candidate in receipt of a scholarship and assisted place: 

The preparation for KEHS was totally different from the preparation for grammar schools.  I am glad we had you to guide us.  I am so grateful that you encouraged us to think well out of the box and to see that some independent schools are actually elite institutions, not at all for grammar school failures!  [Our daughter] had [points totalling over 260] in the grammar school tests, but we have never regretted sending her to KEHS on her scholarship and assisted place.  Not for one minute.


Independent school preparatory tuition places with me are reserved usually for mature and productive students who attend state or 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.  Nevertheless, from October, I expect to have limited places available for new families in the British Isles, offering opportunities for new students to achieve their full potential.

Please send me an email with your contact details in the <contact me> form below. I will contact you within 72 hours to arrange an informal Skype or WhatsApp discussion.

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


At the start of the year, I will present families with a curriculum for tuition in English. From October 2020, this will comprise a planned framework and scheme of work for three twelve-week terms for Year Four.  There will be the opportunity to deepen and widen the curriculum a further scheme of work and timetable in Year Five for hard-working students with supportive parents.


A straightforward assessment in English comprehension and writing with me will guide parents towards the most appropriate course for your child.  The fee for this initial assessment is £60.

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.

Sentence grammar, punctuation, syntax, vocabulary and proof-reading  

All my students are encouraged to develop rigour in these areas, which will form the bedrock of communicating in writing and speaking for the whole of their lives. 

•  I ensure that my students understand the component parts of a sentence so that they are equipped to organise their ideas into a variety of clear, fluent, structured sentences, using and punctuating main and subordinate clauses with confidence.

•   I provide students with the 'building blocks' of skills which will enable them to proof-read and check their own work with self-assurance and genuine understanding.

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


 Often, scholarship candidates distinguish themselves by the way they respond to comprehension questions, teasing out a variety of subtle inferences and underlying meanings. 

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

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

·         In the months approaching examinations, I train students to evaluate types of questions in seconds, enabling students to understand and use appropriate taxonomies. They will discover how to work out how long they should spend on questions and the importance of particular (scholarship) questions in relation to the whole paper.

Writing genres

The development and practice of children's writing is my speciality subject and major interest. I will guide all my students, not only scholarship candidates, towards becoming the best writers that they can be.  Writing can be taught!  I try to guide my students by building on a love of literature and appreciating the techniques of inspiring writers. 

•  I know from decades of experience that the grounding and roots of confidence in writing  lie in passionate, ambitious and wide-ranging reading.

• I teach a variety of genres of 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.


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

•    I offer preparatory tuition in English for standard entry level and 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. Parents need to be prepared for me to tell them honestly whether I think their aspirations for their child are realistic in the time available.  I will be honest, but not brutal!

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.

"The K.E.H.S. tuition was the best investment we have ever made in our two children, with grammar school tuition a very close second."


Online 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, only very occasionally, and only when a place is not taken by a state school student, 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.  Please enquire for further information.

"My daughter surprised me by thoroughly enjoying your  K.E.H.S. tuition after the grammar school tests.  The poetry and creative writing really stretched her in ways that the grammar school tuition had not.  She was as surprised as I was at gaining an assisted place.  Now the hard decision is grammar school or K.E.H.S.?"   


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 face-to-face tuition only when they are accompanied by a responsible adult, preferably a parent, or a sibling over 16 years of age.  Similarly, for online tuition, an adult should be present in the room with a child for the whole period of tuition.

Parents who would like to arrange an informal Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp discussion with me about tuition now or in the future should use the following <CONTACT ME> form.  I will usually respond within 24 hours, or after a slightly longer time during school holidays and my annual late August Summer School.

Contact Me


Please use the form below to contact me.  Please do not 'phone me at this stage.  Every day, several parents contact me requesting tuition for which I have no vacancies.  I have to disappoint every single person.  Please read the information above before you submit an enquiry.  I will reply within 24 hours in term-time.  Please note that I will not keep a record of families contacting me before Year Three.  

©2017 Dr Karen O'Rourke updated 20.08.20