Getting the most out of a school open day

Choosing a Secondary or Grammar School

Making the right choice for my child.

  • Make a list – Decide with your child which schools you are interested in going to see and write down the dates of the open days in your diary.  You can usually find them advertised in publications such as ni4kids, Primary Times, The Irish Times and The Belfast Telegraph.  Many schools also publicise their open days on their own websites.  My advice would be to visit as many as possible.
  • Discuss with your child what their main priorities would be in choosing a school and ask them to think about these when they visit each one.  It may even be a good idea to have a check list of questions to ask when you are touring the schools.  That way you can make sure you have all the relevant information and it will be easier to compare them.
  • If your child has a particular interest in sport or music it is important to find out what sort of emphasis the school puts on these activites.
  • Talk to as many of the teachers and pupils as you can.  Soak up the atmosphere.  Do you feel welcomed?  Are the staff and pupils friendly?
  • Find out what the admissions criteria are.  Does your child fit easily into some or, preferably, most of these criteria?  If not then you may have to reconsider the order of your choices.
  • What subjects are available for GCSE and A level?  Does the school do well in the league tables?
  • How will your child get to school? If your child will have to catch a bus to get to school you may have to factor in this extra cost and how it will affect family life.
  • When you have decided which schools are most suitable for your child, you can then put these into your preferred order.
  • If your child is required to sit the Transfer Test to be considered for entry to a grammar school then you also need to consider their results before making a final decision. Looking at the scores the school has accepted in previous years will give you a guideline as to how your child’s result might perform but remember that intake varies year on year. Read our AQE 2014 results blog to see results from 2011-2014. Read our GL Assessment 2014 results blog to see results from 2011-2014.

Dates of school open days in the Lisburn area for 2015.  I have also included schools that many children from the Lisburn area travel to attend.

School open days


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AQE Transfer Test results 2014 from The Belfast Telegraph

AQE Transfer Test Results 2014

Compare the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Northern Ireland Transfer Test results

Thanks to the Belfast Telegraph for publishing these test results on Tuesday 6th January 2015.   For a breakdown of the GL Assessment results for 2014 please visit our GL Assessment  Transfer Test results 2014 blog.

Belfast Area

AQE transfer test results Belfast area 2014South Eastern Area

AQE South eastern area 2014

North Eastern Area

AQE Transfer test results North eastern 2014Western Area

AQE Transfer test results  Western 20145 schools accepted results from both tests. They worked from a cohort percentile range combining the AQE & GL scores.

AQE and GL Transfer test results2014If your child needs help to prepare for the Transfer Test please visit our website to find out how we can help.

Read our blog on when to start preparing for the transfer test.

By Clare Rimmer

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GL Assessment Transfer Test Results 2014 from The Belfast Telegraph

GL Assessment Transfer Test Results

Compare the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Northern Ireland Transfer Test results

Thanks to the Belfast Telegraph for publishing these test results.  For a breakdown of the AQE results for 2013 please visit our AQE  Transfer Test results 2014 blog.

Grade boundaries:
A (234+) B1 (229-233) B2 (224-228) c1 (219-223) C2 (213-218) D1 (138-212)

Belfast and Southern areas

GL Transfer test results Belfast and southern 2014North East and Western areas

GL transfer test results north east and western 2014Some of the GL Assessment schools used a grade boundary system  and disclosed how many of each boundary they admitted in 2014. These results make it clear the numbers of children of varying abilities that were admitted in 2014.

Grade boundaries:
A (234+) B1 (229-233) B2 (224-228) c1 (219-223) C2 (213-218) D1 (138-212)

GL grade boundaries 2014GL grade boundaries 2 20145 schools accepted results from both tests. They worked from a cohort percentile range combining the AQE & GL scores.

AQE and GL Transfer test results2014If your child needs help to prepare for the Transfer Test please visit our website to find out how we can help.

Read our blog on when to start preparing for the transfer test.

By Clare Rimmer


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Why is teaching maths problem solving so important?

Teaching maths problem solving at On Target Tuition Lisburn

Maths tutor lisburn Northern Ireland What is the point of maths? That is the question I was asked by my 10 year old as we were going over her times table facts before she goes back to school after the Christmas holidays.

In fact this is a question that I have heard many times throughout my teaching career.  Times tables, algebra, fractions, percentages, decimals, trigonometry!  The endless rote learning of multiplication facts, pages of equations and long multiplication has to have a use in the real world, doesn’t it?

The answer is that maths helps us solve problems in the real world.  Maths is everywhere! The bills we pay, the money we use, the shopping choices we make, the measurements we take all need calculations and require us to use our maths brains.

Without the teaching of problem solving there is no point to maths!  It is easy as an educator to focus on the rote learning of basic mathematical facts.  Of course, it is vital that children learn their tables and know how to do quick mental calculations but it is equally important that children learn to use these facts and calculations to help them solve problems as this is ultimately why we teach maths in the first place. Without the ability to apply maths to problems, children will also struggle to achieve good grades at Transfer test and GCSE level.

Problem solving is a skill that needs to be taught.

At On Target Tuition problem solving is an integral part of our maths tuition programmes. Here are our top tips for getting your child to tackle problems head on.

  1. Read the question once and try to visualise what is being asked. What sort of sum is needed to solve the problem? Will the answer be bigger (adding or multiplying) or smaller (subtracting or dividing) than what you are starting with? Are there groups or sets of things (multiply) or does the question involve sharing or splitting numbers or objects into groups (dividing)?
  2. Read the question again and get your highlighter pen out. Underline or highlight key words and numbers.
  3. If it helps draw a picture or diagram that helps you to visualise what the problem is asking.
  4. Decide if the question requires more than one step or calculation to come to a final answer.
  5. Finally, make sure you re-read the question once more when you have your answer. Think about if your answer is sensible! Go back to step one and think about what sort of sum you need and check any working out you have done.


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Get Your Child Ready for Year 8

Is your child ready for Year 8?

The transition from Primary to Secondary school is one of the important milestones in every child’s life.  It can often be a daunting time for children as they move from the safe, sheltered environment of the Primary classroom with one teacher to the much busier world of secondary education with multiple teachers, classrooms and homework to try to keep on top of.  It is all too easy to let your child take a holiday from all things education for the whole summer.  However, remember that the last few months of Primary 7 are often filled with less academic activities and it is especially important that the summer brain drain does not mean your child falls behind at the beginning of their first year.

So what can you do over the summer months to make sure your child is ready and able to cope with the realities of being a “Firsty”?

Keep them reading!

Sit down with your child and create a summer reading list.  Give them a target of perhaps 3 or 4 books per month and let them select the books that interest them.

Summer Reading List:

The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke – A magical adventure which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction when an evil ruler escapes the pages of a book and enters the world of a young girl called Meggie.

Ratburger by David Walliams – One of Britain’s favourite comedians returns with another hilarious romp.  The story of a little girl called Zoe whose stepmother treats her like a slave and whose pet rat is in danger of being turned into a burger by the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman – This award winning trilogy has turned into a classic which adults will enjoy just as much as the teenagers.  The story of Lyra and her Demon is set in two parallel universes and takes the reader on a fantastical quest to save children from a terrible fate.

The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl the criminal mastermind who is still only a boy. Can he be stopped from stealing from the fairies?  This bold and daring thief takes on more than he bargained when he captures a leprechaun.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White – This timeless classic should be on everyone’s reading list.   A beautiful spider helps to save Wilbur the pig from his fate.

Alex Rider Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz – Follow the adventures of orphan Alex Rider as he finds himself recruited by MI6 to train as a super spy.  This book will keep even the most reluctant of readers turning the page!

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo – This book is essential reading for children and adults alike.  The themes of childhood, growing up too young, friendship, courage and war make thought provoking reading in this heart breaking story of brothers thrust into the horror of the trenches.

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien – This tale of Hobbits, elves, trolls, goblins and wizards is still as addictive today as it was when it was first published.  The world of Middle Earth and the magical adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his friends is a masterpiece in children’s fiction and a must read for all pre-teens.

Anne Frank:  A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – The remarkable, true account of a young girl caught up in the horrors of World War 2.  A Jewish family forced into hiding in Nazi occupied Amsterdam – Anne’s diary chronicles her own experience of the transformation from childhood to adolescence and the terror of the persecution of the Jews.


Another great way to keep brains ticking over and make sure that their communication skills are not restricted to texting is to have them write a blog about their summer holidays. Try setting one up on a simple site like WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger.  If you are uncomfortable with your child’s blogging efforts being available to the public you can make the blog private and send a link to friends and family so they can comment on their work.  Blogging is a fantastic way to ensure your child continues to practise their writing skills and the novelty of self- publishing is often much more appealing than asking them to put pen to paper.

Practice mental skills

On average children lose as much as 3 months’ worth of knowledge during summer holidays!  At this crucial transition stage it is vital to consolidate the skills learned in the Primary school, to give your child the best possible starting point in their first year at secondary.   Fast and reliable mental maths is the key to success!  Try making a game of arithmetic – Let your child take control of the weekly shopping.  Give them a budget and a list of what is needed.  Can they make sure it will all add up once they get to the till?  Cooking is a chance to revise fractions and measure.  Every day experiences can be fun and interesting, while giving children opportunities to go over the skills they need.

What about on holiday?

Pack some suitable books that they will enjoy reading in a quiet moment, some books of puzzles, word games and logic problems. There are lots available in the shops.  Even simple crosswords and Sudoku’s can make a big difference and help your child develop fast, accurate thinking skills.

By Clare Rimmer



Posted in back to school, good parenting, Northern Ireland, Secondary education | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

On Target Tuition’s Transfer test results 2014

Well done to all our AQE and GL Assessment students who sat the 2013 Transfer tests.

Martin, Clare and Martina would like to say a big congratulations to all our students who sat their Transfer tests in November and December 2013 and who received their results in February 2014.

We have been delighted to hear that our 2013 Transfer Test students have done so well.  Congratulations to everyone!

Ulster star transfer test resultsThis year we were even more excited to learn that one of our students Ushnik Banerjee has been awarded one of the top marks in Northern Ireland.  Ushnik achieved top marks in the GL assessment paper of 282 and an amazing 125 in the AQE tests.  Ushnik hasn’t made his mind up about where he wants to go in September yet but has narrowed it down to two schools.  A huge congratulations to Ushnik and his family from all of us here at On Target Tuition.

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GL Assessment Transfer test results 2013

GL Assessment Transfer Test Results

Compare the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Northern Ireland Transfer Test results on our updated blog post.

GL Assessment results 2014 blog


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AQE Transfer Test results 2013

AQE Transfer Test Results 2013

Compare the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Northern Ireland Transfer Test results in our updated blog post

AQE Transfer test results 2014 blog post.


Posted in Top education tips for parents, Transfer test | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 great books to read with children on Christmas Eve

Christmas books for kids

Image: Clare Rimmer

Image: Clare Rimmer

One of my greatest pleasures on Christmas Eve is snuggling up by the fire after we have hung up the stockings and reading a lovely Christmasy book.  We have many favourites in our house and I wanted to share a few of them here along with some great suggestions from our facebook fans on On Target Tuition.  I have included an amazon link so you can get some last-minute shopping in.  It’s not too late!

Merry Christmas from all of us at On Target Tuition.

  1. The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis – Written by the award-winning writer and director this book gives a new twist to the naughty and nice theme and has become a firm favourite in our house this year.  A heartwarming tale that will ensure perfect behaviour from now until the big day! Find it here.
  2. Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr – This book is a classic and should definitely be on everyone’s Christmas book shelf.  Our copy is dog-eared and even has my eldest daughters early attempts at writing adorning its front cover (I hope Santa wasn’t watching!).   Mog finds Christmas just a little bit strange.  Trees that walk and talk, too many people in the house and everyone is too busy to play.  You will have to read this one again and again!  Find it here.
  3. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Christmas by Ronda and David Armitage – The final story in a series of books about the Mr Grinling the Lighthouse Keeper.   Christmas is in danger of becoming a disaster with no food and no presents.  Another heartwarming tale that shows the true spirit of Christmas is a about being around the ones we love.  Find it here.
  4. Angelina’s Christmas by Katherine Holabird – A sweet little tale about being alone at Christmas and a kind-hearted little mouse who makes sure that an old, lonely man can enjoy the magic of Christmas too.  Find it here.
  5. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – A great book for younger children due to its interactive element.  The Jolly Postman delivers gifts to various fairy-tale characters and not only that the children are able to take each present from its envelope to find out what the characters get for Christmas. Find it here.
  6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuess – Nobody can stop the magic of Christmas – not even the Grinch!  Your little ones will be captivated by the whimsical drawings and witty rhymes that make this book a modern classic.  Find it here.
  7. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore – This poem has been entertaining us at Christmas since 1822 and Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without it.  Start your recital with hushed suspense and build into a dramatic crescendo as the mysterious night-time visitor makes his appearance.  Find it here.
  8. Box of Delights by John Masefield – A wonderful Christmas fantasy novel set in snowy England.  The Box of Delights is a true Christmas classic.  A young boy is entrusted with a shiny black box with magic powers, which can transport the owner through time and space.  Find it here.
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (retold for younger children by Gill Tavner) - The definitive Christmas story.  The moral transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge helps us to rescue the festive season and set a guideline for what the spirit of Christmas should mean.  This version of the book makes the story much more accessible for younger readers and is a great introduction to the work of Charles Dickens.  Find it here.
  10. The Lion the Wich and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis – Another unforgettable Christmas classic that all children should be introduced to. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy step through a wardrobe door and into the wintry land of Narnia where a magical adventure full of Christian allegory unfolds.  Find it here.
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When should my child start preparing for the Transfer Test?

When is the best time to begin supporting your child for the AQE and GL Assessment Transfer Tests?

tranfer test tuitionThe answer simply is now!  Your child is half way through Primary 6, fully settled and by now parent-teacher consusultations have taken place.

Learning time is crucial as there are many new concepts which need to be introduced and your child needs time to digest these and fully understand them without any stress.

English skills need to be assessed and bad habits with punctuation and spelling need to be worked on.  Understanding of figures of speech such as nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives needs to be thorough.  Your child must be confident skimming and scanning questions and texts.

Problem solving methods need to be worked on in maths, which is the key to success for the Transfer Test.  A solid foundation in times tables, decimals, fractions and percentages is required along side a good grasp of measure, shape and the use of statistics.

A year to prepare for the Transfer Test allows time to build in revision of concepts to consolidate understanding as well as the opportunity to be introduced to past paper questions.  This helps build confidence by building on success and learning from mistakes.

The aim is to maintain a steady pace of progress which peaks as the first test approaches around the first week of November 2014.

At On Target Tuition we have a lot of experience guiding children and supporting parents successfully through this process.   We begin with a free assessment from which we can pinpoint areas of weakness and tailor a programme of study designed to help them achieve their own personal targets as they move towards the test.  Our lessons are 80 minutes long, which allows us to work on both English and Maths as well as past papers.   Our tuition involves extensive past paper practice in both the AQE and GL Assessment papers, which is vital to improve exam technique.

For more information or advice please call us at our Lisburn centre on 9267 5071.

By Clare Rimmer

Posted in Primary education, Top education tips for parents, Transfer test | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment