Comments on the theme of friendships broken due to divided schools.
A village split in 2
I went to a little village school in Cheshire. There were 4 classes, with 100 children in the whole school. In my final year, I and the other 19 children in my class sat the 11+, as all children in Cheshire did in 1972. 10 of us passed, 10 of us failed. The “failures” were the children of the working class villagers- the school cleaner, petrol garage owner etc. Once September came we were all bussed to our schools, the Secondary Modern in the nearby town, and the Grammar beyond that. We were all picked up outside the village mini-market, but one side was the Secondary Modern kids, the other the Grammar kids, and we never spoke to each other again. We’d been through primary school as friends, but the 11+ completely split that village’s children in two. I’m totally against Grammar schools, and very happy that my 2 sons have been able to go to a local Comprehensive, but even as I write this I am seeing pleas on Nextdoor Neighbourhood from people seeking 11+ tutors for their children.
Going to a Reading grammar school means no local friends
A local student told me that she had the opportunity to go Kendrick grammar school but was put off by the fact that so many students live far away, she said maintaining friendships would have been extraordinarily difficult. Her mother and aunt had both attended the school but supported her decision to go to the local comprehensive. Most who go to this grammar live an hour and a half journey away from Reading, making it difficult to socialise with friends. Going to the grammar school would have made her social life difficult. She wasn’t the only local girl who didn’t attend the grammar school for this reason and though lots of those who did had pushy parents who had their children tutored to pass the exam and are now struggling to maintain grades as they are not as naturally bright. She was at a local comprehensive secondary and predicted to achieve A & A* A-level grades that some at the grammar would struggle to do. The population of the school changed over time and it’s not necessarily healthy for the students there. Education is about much more than just your grades, it’s about socialising and learning the skills needed to function as an adult in later life.
My daughter couldn't start school with her friends
My daughter is shy but has a small, close, group of friends. Her friends all passed the Kent Test but she didn’t. She lost her confidence, and it was so hard starting school when all her friends were going to grammar school.
She ended up needing to move to a grammar school at sixth form, because her secondary school had hardly any A level options. This isn’t the school’s fault, it’s just what happens when grammar schools take all the bright kids! She made next to no friends at sixth form and felt out of place. She told me one teacher had a habit of saying, “remember you’re grammar school pupils” as a way to encourage them. She said that statement made no sense to her because she wasn’t a grammar school kid, she failed the Kent Test.
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