These are the most recent submissions to the site.

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.



October 15, 2022

We have grammar schools where I live. It is *insanely* competitive. Thousands of pounds spent and hours invested in tutoring in order to have a chance to get a place. The kids in my daughter’s class are largely the children of professionals and very rarely working class.


Kent regrets

October 15, 2022

I wasn’t aware of the grammar system when I chose to move to Kent 20 years ago, long before marriage and starting a family, I hadn’t even considered the educational challenges posed. It’s been a whole year of stress and angst in our household trying to prep for a test aged 10.

Kent based Dad

Retired Headteacher who failed the 11+

October 13, 2022

I am a newly retired headteacher of over seventeen years of headship in Hampshire. I have also served as a primary school educational consultant and an Ofsted Inspector. My wife is an ex-grammar school pupil whilst I, on the other hand, spectacularly failed the 11 plus. We have two daughters one would have passed the 11 plus and the other, like her father, would probably have not. Fortunately, Hampshire Education Authority does not run a selective secondary system so both daughters attended the same excellent comprehensive school and both did very well and now have successful careers. I am 64 years old now, yet I can still remember as a child, sitting alone on the stairs in the hall listening to my parents’ kitchen conversation and their heart-felt concerns after finding out that I had blotted my copy-book and failed the 11 plus.


A sad day

October 13, 2022

As an ex grammar school grandad, a sad day as we saw our grand daughter just fail passing her 11+, her older sister passed a few years ago. I hate this division of little children at such a young age, so wrong. She tried so hard, 9 points short, and never a failure.


I was under 11 when tested.

October 13, 2022

2 weeks after my 11th birthday during the summer holidays (b. 1939 )in mid August 1950 , saw me entering sec mod school. My younger sister ( b .late Nov 1941 ) previously shared the same jun and infant and junior schools with me but we hardly met as she was in the scholarship class most of the time 1/4 -mile away.


School differences

October 11, 2022

One thing that people never talk about is the subtle inequality between grammar schools and the schools that surround them. Grammar school selection is social selection. The kids that pass the Kent Test are mostly tutored and middle class, or have great parental support. This goes without saying because to try for a grammar school you need to care about education and have a certain confidence.

The schools surrounding grammars are not only lacking the bright kids, they contain more than typical SEND kids, more than typical disadvantaged kids, more than typical kids with parents who don’t prioritise education. It drives me mad that our new PM talks about creating new grammar schools, without seeing that she will be creating more schools that are placed in a tough spot with a harder than average balance of pupils.

I’m a governor in a Kent non-selective and I know that the most dedicated teachers and school leaders are in schools like mine. I send my own children to a non-selective, because the teachers and leaders work super hard to get great outcomes for the children. The grammar schools select pupils who will get top grades, they rest on their laurels, they can get away with being lazy. The non-selective schools work to sort great behaviour policies, the best safeguarding systems, the best learning structures, and do a fantastic job. There is a certain passion and commitment to the teachers in schools like mine, its more likely to be a vocation not a job. Our non-selective school in a deprived coastal town has sent kids to Oxbridge most years, proving that grammars are unnecessary.

Non-selective schools are regularly fantastic, but none of this excuses the councils and governments who let our children be divided at the tender age of ten. All for no real purpose, and in a manner that creates a horrendous social divide. The 11+ is a bad system that mostly seems to continue to give middle class parents an easy life.

Kent school governor

Children with undiagnosed SEND have no chance

October 10, 2022

My very bright daughter (many teachers described her as ‘gifted’), ‘failed’ the Kent Test despite scoring above the overall pass mark, but came a point under in Maths. She had very little tutoring, her primary school (who were very much against the test which I now understand why) said it was highly likely she would pass with ease. Opening the email to say she was ‘suitable for high school’ was horrific – how was I going to tell her? My daughter had dreamt of going to grammar school for years, although neither myself nor her father attended one coming from outside of Kent. The ambition was hers.

On receiving the result, my daughter sobbed uncontrollably for hours, I had to sleep with her that night and was so exhausted, she couldn’t go into school, which she loved, the following day.

Ours is a long story but in short, my daughter has subsequently been diagnosed as having the processing speed of a child with dyslexia. She should have been given extra time, with one expert telling us that it would have been near impossible for her to pass the test without access arrangements, and it was incredible that she achieved as highly as she did. This test did not measure her intelligence at all. It’s nothing more than an exercise in how quickly children can mark the paper with some getting ‘lucky’ on the day. How many other children like her are there?

It’s a cruel, outdated system which clearly does not work. My daughter went to the local school which ‘nobody wants to go to’ who were in fact wonderful. It’s a nurturing school with opportunities for everyone – as it should be and has arguably more opportunity than the grammar school which I hear is resting on its laurels and is more concerned with getting A* out of it’s students at whatever cost.

Kent parent

Russian roulette

October 10, 2022

Naively, I had no idea of the impact of living in a selective county (Kent) would have on my twin children when we moved to the county. One of my children had known SEND, so sitting the 11+ was never going to be an option. When it transpired that my other child was the brightest girl in her year in her primary school, and desperate to go to Grammar School (some older girls who she looked up to went), sitting the 11+ seemed to be the most obvious step. How wrong we were.

Having grown up in a fully comprehensive system, as a parent, I knew nothing about the 11+ and the lengths parents go to to get their child into grammar school, some tutoring for years. I will never forget the day my daughter sat the test, she was terrified and felt her whole future hung in the balance despite continual reassurance from us that it doesn’t matter. But it did, to her.

My daughter, an incredibly bright, ambitious girl who dreamt of going of Oxford from the age of 8, failed the maths element of the test by one mark. It was horrendous, having to tell your child that she was not going to her dream school, to avoid using the word ‘fail’ and to see a little girl, aged only 10 so utterly destroyed. We saw every single one of my daughters’ friends from other schools (and some who’s parents admitted were far less able) pass the test was devastating.

In one afternoon, my daughter lost all of her confidence, self-belief, ambition (she thought Oxford would be impossible) and fell into a depression. She was exhausted. What should have been one of her best years (Year 6) she has since told me was her worst. My daughter started year 7 in a local non-selective school, which ironically had a Grammar Plus stream and went on to win a full scholarship at a top public school. She has won numerous academic awards and is well on her way to do very very well at A level.

We have had to work very hard rebuilding my child’s confidence, she still doesn’t believe she’s ‘good enough’ despite being selected for the Oxbridge pathway in 6th form next year! The 11+ plays russian roulette with a child’s future and is not to be trusted. Conversely, I have seen children get into grammar school who simply should not be there and others who thrive post age 11. How as system exists where the academic outcome of children is determined aged 11 is simply baffling, totally unfair and must be abolished. Attending a grammar school makes no difference to the educational outcome of a child – results in non-selective counties such as Hertfordshire and Hampshire are prime examples of areas where children comprehensive schools flourish.

Parent from Kent

Sorry Mum

October 8, 2022

Mum was sitting in the garden, Dad was at work, it was a warm spring Saturday in Torquay, and I had mown the grass for the first time that year. My twin brother came from the front door with the post for mum. Two letters in brown envelopes from Devon Local Authority telling Mum where her boys would be going to secondary school. At that time all children in Torbay sat the 11+. Mum and Dad had chosen selective schools for my brother and me.

My brother’s letter was the first to be opened- he had done it! He had got my parents’ first choice of school; he was going to be a grammar-school boy. Mum was overjoyed, she told him how proud she was of him and how delighted Daddy would be when he got home from work. I felt the tension build as Mum tore open the second envelope, mum looked at it for a long while, then she re read it, tilting it away so I could not see what it said. I think she regretted opening the envelopes in front of us, and regretted the praise poured on my twin, she was trying to find the words to let me down gently. She did not have to, my tears welled up, and all I could manage was “sorry, mum”, and she put her arms around me and said that it did not matter. She cried as well.

Forty-five years have passed since that spring morning. Mum, was of course right, it certainly wasn’t the end of anything. But still, I feel sad for that boy of 10 and angry about the system that still causes such pain.

Now I lead the Educational Psychology Service in Torbay!

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