These are the most recent submissions to the site.

Attending a grammar school

June 21, 2023

I hated preparing for the tests so much but I passed one out of four grammar school exams. Looking back, I think my mum had bragging rights that I was attending one of those schools. They cared about exam results a lot. One of my teachers crushed my spirit about a not so outlandish career aspiration and I lost most of my motivation and passion for anything school related from that point. I was 14. I don’t think attending a grammar school improved my life or prospects.


A cruel and pointless test

June 21, 2023

I live in an area with grammar schools. They only exacerbate social divisions and the only problem they solve is the one about children being too care free. No-one has invented a test that cannot be coached for. The 11+ is cruel and pointless and its’ persistence shows only the level of corruption that persists in this country.


It was different in the past

June 21, 2023

It was different when I sat it. It was only Bucks children eligible so more passed, it wasn’t a factory. It was a couple of tests on unknown days. It was school curriculum and not multiple choice. People didn’t really get tutored. There wasn’t the stress. Even with all that it was heartbreaking that friends got separated and the quality of education at secondary moderns was poor. I had friends who seemed just as bright as me at primary end up with a lot less qualifications.

Bucks citizen

A loss for local schools

June 21, 2023

We live in a grammar school area. It is hugely destructive – each year a few of the more academically able (and more socially advantaged) kids from Year 6 in local primary schools go to the local grammar schools, which will mean little gain for them but is a great loss to the local comprehensives and the children who attend them.

Grammar area parent

Perception of schools being second-rate

June 21, 2023

I work in a ‘comprehensive’ school which has a grammar school across the road. Students at my school achieve excellent exam results and are overwhelmingly well behaved and socially adept. They follow the same curriculum as their peers at the grammar school and sit the same exams at the end of their schooling. However many parents are distraught when their child ‘misses out’ on a grammar school place and is ‘forced to’ attend what many see as a second-rate school. Adults in the area will still discuss their peers by sorting them into those who went to the grammar and those who didn’t.


I am not a failure

June 21, 2023

I took the 11+ in 1972 and didn’t pass. I am 63 now and can still remember my mother shouting up the stairs to me telling me that I was ‘no good’. Can you imagine what that does to an 11 year old. I was sent to a comprehensive school miles away from home because the local secondary modern wasn’t very good. The education at my secondary school was good. If you were clever you could excel. We had quite a few go to University from there. My mother always treated me as though I was rather thick after not passing my 11+. I just thank goodness my children didn’t gave to sit this awful exam. Good education should be for all not just those that go to grammar school.


My lifelong resentment

May 11, 2023

I took the ll plus in 1963 and like many others I had no preparation – it was essentially arriving at school at being told the test would be taking place – I failed as did every other pupil in my class. As a consequence all careers of any substance and my dreams of being a Doctor were barred to me and I spent many years doing dead end jobs which I didn’t stay in very long because I hated them. I decided to take an OU degree which I did successfully but I found this was always seem to be regarded by employers as something educational failures took and it didn’t help me at all. I then took evening class at London University in software programming and eventually got me foot in door with an IT company and eventually became self employed. But it is something I think of often when I see the opportunities young people have today and the resentment I feel towards the government that made that decision about my life is with me to this day.

Pupil London

Easy mistakes with big implications ...

April 5, 2023

My daughter would have passed the 11+, except for one easy mistake – in multiple choice section she filled in the answer boxes in the wrong section. Just shows what a silly, arbitrary test the 11+ is. We shouldn’t be making decisions about where children spend 7 years of their life on this basis!

Parent from Kent

11+ training is 100% essential

April 3, 2023

The 11+ is so hard. It includes basic differential calculus, simultaneous equations and the whole thing under enormous time constraint. By trying to make it untrainable they’ve made training 100% essential. Especially for kids from poor inadequate primary schools. How is this fair?


The 11 plus

April 3, 2023

I was stopped in my tracks when I failed this IQ test : it changed the course of my life. The observations here throw a new light on something that was a damaging failure for me at the time. My siblings all passed.

Early years teacher

Grammar Schools

April 3, 2023

My late mother was not political but she summed it up beautifully: “people support grammar schools because they assume their children will go to them”.

None; Yorkshire

A soul destroying experience

March 6, 2023

My daughter scored over well over 332 but just under the required 109 in one of the papers. She was therefore deemed ‘not suitable for grammar school.’ Being relatively new to Kent, we had no idea what the 11+ entailed and the enormous disadvantage she faced by attending a small state primary school who do not support the Kent Test. It’s been a soul destroying experience for my daughter and one I wish we never had the misfortune of experiencing. The appeal was a joke, and the response my subsequent complaint to ESFA which ended up straight back into the arms of KCC is laughable. The system clearly is not fit for purpose and I cannot understand how it has survived in Kent for so long.

Kent Mum

If grammars didn't exist parents would be much happier and less stressed

February 28, 2023

The reality of living in an area which maintains a girls’ and a boys’ grammar school is just starting to sink in. We are not from Salisbury and had no reason to understand its schooling system before we moved here but it is very different to what we were both exposed to as children. We were both comprehensive educated children who went to university and gained a lot from our mixed schooling. Salisbury is dominated by CofE schools which seems inexplicable. It leaves parents who care about these things with very little choice.

This junior school has a very good academic record and in the last year it has become apparent to us that this is clearly based on its perceived ‘success’ in getting children through the 11+ and into the two Grammars. This school streams from it’s first year intake at 7. It is considered to be a ‘crammer for the grammar’. Children are pushed hard and I feel that, consequently, this has a knock on effect even on the infant school, not least because it causes parents to start stressing out about their child’s progress even at Reception stage! I find the whole situation uncomfortable and deeply worrying.

For example, I have frequently heard parents discuss and agree with the streaming of 5 year olds at the infant school my son attends. They believe this will allow ‘the best to progress’ and get through the 11+. Parents also highlight on the children’s faults and abilities in relation to the 11+ e.g. ‘he’s good at reading but not problem solving and he needs to improve if he’s to get through the 11+’. The other high schools are considered to be lower than the low and parents are horrified at the thought their child should attend one – one told me ‘I don’t know what I’ll do if he fails the 11+’ and her child is 6! I also feel that it filters down to teachers who feel they are under pressure to demonstrate ‘progress’ above what is required even by the arbitrary targets they work to.

I feel we suffer the double whammy of faith schools and 11+ selection in this area and it alarms me that very few people seem concerned about it. Yet, if these grammars didn’t exist, parents would undoubtedly be much happier and less stressed. It’s an awful situation to be in.”

Salisbury mum

School differences in Kent

February 9, 2023

We all know that when exam results come out the grammar schools look great, and the other schools just can’t compete. There are other small things that happen at school that are reminders that all schools are not equal. My son’s been selected to represent his school in a maths event. He’s so negative about it, because he attends a non-selective school. He’s joking about the school coming last, but it’s not a funny joke to me. The grammar schools will obviously win this contest. Kent’s system means the other schools are designed to be second. In other areas there is no unhealthy divide, no reminders that a school is less good at key subjects, or that children are second best. Selective education is toxic, it’s an unhealthy way to brand and divide children.

Kent mum

A Lost Year of Schooling.

February 9, 2023

Being born an August child, and at the age of 10 in a Halifax junior school I was to sit the 11 plus. I remember being shown a past exam paper as if this was all I needed to know to pass the exam. Consequently a total failure and ended up at a Secondary Modern one month after my eleventh birthday. I never did see Mrs Rothwells “top” class at junior school, a year lost. Hence by July 1962 I was out of the school system at the age of 14 with no qualifications, what a start to life. I had to get away. So I joined the Royal Navy for 9 years trained to maintain and repair radio and radar systems, later qualified as an Incorporated Engineer. I spent a lot of time playing catch up on that lost year.

Halifax, West Yorkshire.

11+ and the legacy of failure

February 7, 2023

No one wants to discredit children passing the 11+ BUT and IT’S A BIG BUT, the advantage of receiving preparation for it in educational and cultural terms is well documented. There are thousands and thousands of people who didn’t pass but who have had successful and meaningful careers/jobs and lives in many different fields. The 11+ plus is an anachronism and should not categorise children at such an early age. While it is perceived as being taken at ten or eleven, the actual starting date is much earlier in primary and junior school through streaming and knowing parents. It has been haunting for many children as a misguided example of their potential. It is also a single test of one type of ability which has been and is more highly valued than other talents, skills etc. Shame on those who advocate it as the only pathway for children and in not passing have made them feel failures, sometimes well into adulthood like many recorded here. If you listen to ‘The Life Scientific’ you will find examples of people who didn’t find their way until they left school, in particular Prof. Chris Elliott who developed his interest in Food Safety and Microbiology after leaving school at 16 and getting a job where he developed his interests. The eleven plus should not have now or in the future define you.

DIANE ROBY researching the consequences of failing the eleven plus following the 1944 Education Act. Previously a School Counsellor.

Inclusiveness is the future

February 5, 2023

Northern Ireland still has an 11+ and it’s called the transfer test. Both selective and non-selective schools sit the same GCSEs and A levels. Let’s stop pretending otherwise. There is absolutely no need for the mental health crushing transfer test. Inclusiveness is the way forward.

NI citizen

I "didn't get" my transfer test and still feel it

February 4, 2023

26 years ago I opened up a letter that shattered my confidence. I spent the whole weekend in tears. I “didn’t get” my transfer test. There were many reasons why, but that’s not the point, kids or adults, shouldn’t be defined by a letter or numbers on a page at any point in life.

NI mum

Transfer test results

February 4, 2023

Transfer test results today in our house. Takes me back 35 years ago to when I was 11 and got the lowest grade possible. Wish I could say that it didn’t hurt for years, but it did. It shouldn’t have. You are more than just a grade and it won’t define you, it’ll make you stronger


11+ years later and i'm still traumatised

January 26, 2023

when i took the test, there was so much pressure on me, not only by the school system but by my parents. They could never afford private school and the comp school in my area was grossly underfunded and had a poor quality of education. Growing up i was always told i was bright, so when i gt the results back it was like my whole world came crumbling down. My self esteem plummeted as did peoples confidence in me . once they found that i had failed they treated me completely differently, i went from family prodigy to family dunce, I hated it and would still call those few months after the 11+ the worst part of my life in my nearly forty years of living. There is no need to do this to such young children. Abolish it.

former student from kent

Why not add your story?

This is an anonymous submission form.

This site is designed to give a voice to critics of the 11+ and selective school systems only. Supporters of the grammar school system have many other channels to share their views. Read more about our policy for publishing stories here, and our Privacy Policy here.