These are the most recent submissions to the site.

Transfer test in NI

November 20, 2022

I witnessed somethings that were heartbreaking. I was waiting with all other parents for our kids to come out and one girls in floods tears came out first looking for her mum. It’s just awful.


The transfer test

November 20, 2022

My son did his GL last week. He was anxious but managed to go in and do it. A little girl that went in before him turned at the door and ran out to her parent crying. I was heartbroken for them.

NI mum

It's not alright for everyone

November 20, 2022

We rocked up to the exam hall, my son was anxious but smiling – it will be what it will be. As I walk back I meet a girl standing by her mother, half way up, totally paralysed with fear. I rub her shoulders to cheer her up. “She worked so hard for this,” said her mum. This is state-sponsored child abuse.

Ulster mum

International Child

November 18, 2022

My two children were top of their class in the US. Upon arriving in the UK, they were not able to get in to a grammar school. Every school in our area had a several year long wait list. General education schools also all had wait lists. The kids were placed in schools 45 minute drive from each other and a minimum of 25 minute drive from our house. Also, they were denied education for 4 weeks as we fought with every school to get a slot and were denied at every turn. English schools do not care about children. They care about their antiquated rules. We switched to private and had to take out of our retirement savings. I can see now how England is the worst performing country of the top 7.


Sophistry at it's worst

November 8, 2022

Like many people I was bought up to think 11+ was sign of intelligence and educational ability. I had ambitious parents that had been to grammar school and had high expectations of their children’s academic ability. It was a deep blow when I failed my 11+ in 1969 at a Kent primary school and pressured myself to get ‘A’ levels and enter higher education with the expectation and reality that I would get weak grades.

I recently found an online newspaper article discussing if adults would pass the 11+ and had a sample of 14 questions. I was dumbfounded that without much effort I was able to get 11 out of 14 correct, that’s 78.57% and missed one because I forgot to put the answer in. Looking at Kent’s pass mark (332/423 or 78.48%) I would have passed the test.

What struck about the test is what it was looking for was straight forward and probably within the reach of most 11 year olds. The main problem I had was trying to understand the question, I found them to be convoluted or awkward to understand. On closer inspection many of the questions had fundamental flaws. For example one question was aiming to disguise some simple factoring to help solve a multiplication problem but the poor choice of answers meant it could be solved easily by multiplying one of the numbers by a 100 (mathematical approximation).

The only reason I was able to pass the test in my sixties is because I have had a lifetime of dealing with idiots.

West Kent county pupil. Failed 11+ in 1969

How is it fair?

November 7, 2022

I remember doing my 11-plus – I’d never even seen an IQ test before which made it much harder. I remember the kids with rich parents had been tutored for months. These mistakes I won’t repeat with my children, but how is this fair on the children without these resources?


Getting 11+ results

November 2, 2022

I took my 11+ in a junior school in Canterbury (around 1975). Students who passed received their results in white envelopes with first class stamps. Students who failed received their results in a brown envelope with a second class stamp.

This has shaped my view of education and has been a driving force in my career which led me to be a Principal of a Sixth Form College and then CEO of a (small) Multi Academy Trust.

Recently retired CEO of a small Multi Academy Trust

Naturally intelligent isn't enough to pass 11 + for this flawed system

October 27, 2022

My child just sat its SET exam for Sutton 11 plus and failed by a mark in the common entrance test. We went to the grammar open mornings and the heads of the schools insisted that no tuition was required. We felt relieved and assumed there will be a way they will really find the difference between a well, methodically coached child and a spontaneously intelligent child, however with the results, we realized that it’s not the case.

It has changed the way my child looks at her and her confidence level has been severely knocked down. As a parent with two children, I found it extremely hard to spend so much money on tutoring to get in to grammar school. In my personal opinion, we should offer a equal education to everyone and it’s up to the children to make their way up than just segregating based on the tutored knowledge at the age of 10. This system is flawed and should be changed.

This has had a tremendous amount of pressure, grief and sense of failure in all of us and feel like its stripped our happiness for the year to come until the offer day.


Wasted years

October 26, 2022

When I was halfway through the first year at my infants’ school I already realized that I was not keeping up with my peer group. (At 35 years of age I discovered that I was dyslexic and had an IQ of 135 – 140. The BMJ gave a report into cognitive word blindness in 1897 What was my local LEA doing? )

When I was seven years of age I heard a radio programme where the speaker said that light bends when it passes massive objects: I was thinking about the cause of light waves being bent when I noticed :-

1. The apparent bent shape of a knife in a glass jug of water.

2. A smear of fat on a piece of grease proof paper.

3. An aircraft leaving vapour trails in the sky.

I wondered if a star could leave some sort of smear in the sky and light was being bent in the same way that the image of the knife in the jug was: not bad considering that as I have stated above I was only seven years of age.

When I was at my junior school I missed several weeks schooling due to pneumonia, when I got back to school a lady who I didn’t know ( I later found she was Mrs. Bradley from Wiltshire County Council Educational Support ) said open your pattern books and get on with your tests, as I didn’t have a clue as to what I was supposed to do I put my hand up seeking help, the Mrs. Bradley repeatedly told me to put my hand down and get on with the test. A few days later I was told that I had failed the test, at the age of eight I was told that .I had to leave that class immediately and make my way to the main school premises about two thirds of a mile away. I had only a vague idea where the main school buildings were and after an hour of knocking on house doors I was eventually spotted by a teacher.

The school had two remedial classes and I ended up in one of them: shortly afterwards the newly appointed headmaster changed the remedial classes into a B stream and made the remainder into an A stream; at the same time he stopped educational trips for the remedial classes and diverted educational support funds for the remedial classes into buying mock 11 Plus study books for the A stream

In the final year when we should be cramming for the 11 Plus:-

A. My class was visiting old age pensioners and putting on plays for their entertainment.

B. The headmaster told the boys in our class to come to school in dungarees or other old clothes, we expected something interesting, oh yes it was, he wanted us boys to shovel the best part of a ton and a half of coke down into the boiler room, we told him what he could do with his coke.

In due course I failed the 11 Plus, when the head master came into my class he said he would place his hand on the shoulder of the one boy or girl who had passed part 1 of the 11 Plus, he came up to each pupil, some more than once until he eventually placed his hand on the shoulder of the one pupil out of about 45 to pass part 1. ( for the record, my elder brother had earlier passed his 11 Plus and my twin sister sailed through her 11 Plus.)

Long after I failed the 11 Plus I discovered my headmaster should have informed my parents that they had the right of appeal over the result leading to a possible resit but with my class putting on plays for the old age pensioners we were on a hiding for nothing.

When I entered the local secondary modern, being separated from my brother and sister and school chums that I knew from the junior school I felt devastated, after some 64 years later the acute feeling of loss is still very apparent in my life.

At my secondary school I remember a physics book which stated that radio waves travelled through the ether at 186,000 miles per second, it then went on to say that the ether was an invisible colourless gas pervading all the universe and was the medium that light etc. was transmitted by; a theory discounted by Michelson & Morley et. al.

Another book on optics showed a Zeppelin caught in the beam of a searchlight; both books were printed before 1920 but we were using them post 1957.

My secondary modern had a school allotment, us boys used to double dig the clay soil & dig in fresh manure and grow vegetables which went into the school kitchen where they were used for school dinners, we still paid the same amount for our school dinners that Grammar School pupils paid and bearing in mind that we had helped grow the vegetables whereas the grammar school pupils did nothing to produce their meals. We often used herbicides and insecticides which were probably poisonous What else do you expect from Wiltshire County Council?

Another grievance was that in our school the cloak rooms were unlit, unheated outside with the boys’ urinals out in the open whereas the grammar school had warm lit indoor facilities.

My biggest grievance of all is that the parents of secondary modern school pupils were required by law to pay the same amount of progressive taxation compared to the parents of grammar school pupils, but the secondary modern capitation was on average less than half that of grammar school pupils, thus parents of Secondary Modern pupils are forced to subsidize the education of Grammar school pupils.

I think that it will be many more years before the damage caused by selective education will disappear from England & Wales; in Scotland it is so different, you are an old pupil of the local academy irrespective of whatever job or profession you eventually enter.

Several years ago I found my secondary modern school cap badge, I then picked up the cap badge and I had a deep feeling of revulsion and disgust , I threw it down in the dustbin, it for me was like a black person in post apartheid South Africa throwing away his hated pass card, and I became free!

Thank God for laptops, spell checkers and voice writers.

For twelve years I was a Governor at a local infants’ school where I took a deep interest in children who had learning difficulties.

Funding cuts in education are nothing new, there is a lot of talk about deprived inner city area and stupid TV programmes such as Escape To the County paint a rosy chocolate box image of the country and as soon as they arrive in the country they complain of farming sounds and smells. No if you are cutting from an initially high level that’s one thing but to start off with a grossly underfunded system that is another thing, I remember when we ran out of exercise books and we had to buy our own. Hot on the heels of the news about these spending cuts is the news that the government intends reintroducing grammar schools when many people, myself included thought that selective education was dead and buried. Selective education 11 Plus et al grew up out of the 1944 Education Act which introduced the 11 Plus Exam, Secondary Grammar, Secondary Technical and Secondary Modern Schools. The problem was that very few technical schools were created, no additional money was pumped into the school system and in the case of secondary Modern Schools the syllabus was more suited to the 1920s and not the 1940s heading into the 1950s, In not recognizing technological developments the drafters of the 1944 Education Act have caused an immense amount of damage still being felt today.

Former Pupil Wiltshire

11+ pressure

October 26, 2022

I went through this test process with my eldest daughter a few years ago and she’s now in Year 9 at secondary school. It was a really tough time as she thought she was a failure because she didn’t pass the test. It’s far too much pressure to put on the shoulders of young children and the system needs to change!

parent in Kent

'Have hope'

October 23, 2022

It is so intense and competitive to prepare for the 11+ and then to go through the exams. In my county (Warwickshire) junior school teachers almost don’t mention it — all the competition is driven by parents and secondary schools. I remember my son wrote a checklist for the day of the 11+ exam. the final item was ‘have hope’ which he had added. It still makes me sad thinking about that.

Warwickshire parent

The Kent Test

October 21, 2022

It’s that Kent Test time again and parents will be shaking hands and congratulating themselves that their children will not have to mix with the hoi polloi. My daughter failed the Kent Test and attended the local high school.

As a teaching professional, I met many people and some in teaching who told me that the children who went there were sort of well, scum.

My daughter received 13 GCSEs from this ‘failing’ school, went on to get three A levels at QE and then a First Class Degree in Manchester Met. She is now studying for an MA at Manchester Uni.

Her cohort, all deemed to have ‘failed’ this test now all work and have grown up to be lovely engaged and political humans. Selection is bollocks.

Get rid of it ASAP. It’s more about the parents than the children. And if it’s an equitable system, why is there a Private Tutoring Industry in Kent?

Kent parent

Too much pressure?

October 20, 2022

I’m delighted to say that my child found out yesterday that she has passed the Kent Test.

I do think, though, that the system is a bit brutal, in that it sets an important pass or fail milestone at a point during childhood when an eleven year old does not have the emotional intelligence or maturity to deal with the pressure.

Perhaps if state Junior Schools were more engaged with the process of preparation, it would improve; but my experience of them is that they consider it an inconvenience, at least in Kent.

Parent from Kent

Why is education turned into a competition?

October 19, 2022

My parents went to a grammar school. My sister went to a grammar school. I went to a grammar school. Having just passed the Kent Test / 11+ it looks as though my son is now heading to a grammar school. He’ll get the advantages, the additional opportunities, the more academic teachers (let’s be honest here – I come from a family of teachers and am married to a teacher – this is what happens). Why should he? All based on three exam papers on one day when he was 10.

Education should be about hope and opportunity – but with the 11+ we dash c.80% of children’s hopes. Most don’t even try to shoot for the stars – the very thought of the 11+ terrifies them into submission and segments them into second-class citizens.

So back to my son – he’s capable, able, he passed, so what am I moaning about? I’m ‘moaning’ about the fact that it is not healthy to endure weeks of anxiety, tears, sleepless nights and downright fear. Least of all when that’s related to education – something children should value and celebrate. Education is not a competition with the person next to you – it is about making the most of yourself and that opportunity should be open to everyone. Because its job is to find out what people are best at.

So, my son will head to a grammar school. His best friend will not – a boy who outscored him on maths and reasoning. How exactly did he ‘fail’? Who wants to explain that to a heart-broken 10 year old.

A final thought: my godfather didn’t pass the 11+. He has a PhD from Oxford University and is a leading academic (History). Tell me again how grammar schools are okay because they’re a ‘leg-up for the brightest and most able’…

Parent, Kent

My DS didn’t pass his 11+

October 19, 2022

My son is devastated, started tutoring him at home. He lost by 12 marks on maths, all his friends passed. How do you console a 10 year in this kind of situation? How do you make it better? The whole system is broken, children are discouraged at a very early age.How do l make it better?

Kent, parent.


October 18, 2022

I am shocked to read parents employ tutors to prepare their child for the Kent test. I’m not sure if I am missing something however, If a child needs a private tutor to prepare them to pass Kent test, how will they manage at a comprehensive? Surely needing a tutor to achieve a pass, is a reflection that they are not academically able to achieve this without extra support. I think the system is corrupt and needs a shake up. It should be a fair grounding where all children sit the tests in the same conditions. The test content should remain secret and be based on education learned in the school setting so it genuinely reflects a child’s ability. Factors such as dyslexia should be taken into account, surely it is discriminatory to not make allowances for this? It is sad to read so many negative experiences with school acceptance and the pressure this puts on children.


Kent Test results

October 18, 2022

Today is Kent Test results day… He refused to leave for school, then refused to get out of the car and go into school. There has to be a better way.

Kent dad

“A dumb ass who couldn’t even pass the 11+ plus”

October 18, 2022

This was the insult thrown at my Grandson by his privately educated football captain who had himself achieved just the ‘pass’ mark for entry to a grammar school. Too little attention is paid to the damaging affect that ‘passing’ has on the attitudes of those who do, towards those who don’t. My Grandson went on to gain four A Level A* results. His contemporaries who went to grammar school commented ,”How come you’re so clever when you failed your 11+?” Parents and children are being fooled into believing the exam is a necessary, accurate measurement. (Another of my Grandchildren ‘failed’ and went on to achieve a Warwick University First Class Hons degree.) To inflict this divisive, inaccurate nonsense on other areas would be appalling.

Grandparent in Southend

Kent's terrible system

October 18, 2022

We had tears before bedtime last night. My daughter missed a Kent Test pass by 5 points on the reasoning and now feels like she’s failed dreadfully even though I couldn’t give a care in the world. It was her decision to do it as she somehow felt pressure as her friends were. We really like a non grammar which was number 1 anyway but that I’m crossing my fingers she’ll get into due to geography. It’s a terrible system in Kent. I told her it is a minute moment in time and she must focus on the exciting future ahead. My hope is it will all be forgotten by time she starts school and it hasn’t made her lose her confidence for future exams.

Kent mother

1 point off passing!

October 16, 2022

My daughter has just missed out by 1 point! I did not pay for a tutor, I struggled to find the time to help her as my life is hectic with work/caring responsibilities. I’m heartbroken. She hasn’t got a care in the world! That shows me that I’ve done a great job as a mum!! She will be fine.


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