These are the most recent submissions to the site.

Children should not be judged failures at 10 years old

May 11, 2022

I had moved to Kent with my 10 year old daughter and sadly I had no clue how a grammar school system worked. I soon realised how corrupt it is. Parents who know what they’re doing pay for test tutors. I don’t blame them at all, it works! It just leaves poorer parents at a clear disadvantage. How can anyone support a system so unfair?

My daughter failed the test and was terribly upset because her friends all passed. My shy daughter, who was already worried about secondary school, had to look at a whole different set of schools to her friends. Why can’t friends who are all at about the same level at primary school, just go to school together? If I’d known Kent had this system I wouldn’t have moved here. No one ever criticises Kent’s school system in public, so I hope a site like this might help people say what they really think!

Kent mum

This test is damaging to children

May 11, 2022

I have seen my two kids go through the Kent Test in the past two years, and can only stress how flawed the system is, and how damaging it can be to children. My daughter was lucky enough to ‘pass’ last year, but the process was one that made my wife and I extremely uncomfortable as to what we were putting her through. A few nights before the test I had looked at the search history on her internet tablet. The last search read, “How to cope when you’re panicking about something.” A ten year-old.

On several occasions in the weeks before she had asked would we be ashamed of her if she failed? I told her that it would be the test that failed.

My son found out last week that he was not ‘deemed appropriate’ for grammar school education. He passed the overall mark, but marginally missed in one of the three components. He is quite a stoic sort of lad, and when we opened the email together, he immediately told us he was fine, he was happy. Later that night he came downstairs, and confessed that when he said he was happy he hadn’t been truthful. He sobbed. He had wanted to go to the same school as his sister.

The next morning on the way to school he had to answer the dreaded question of how he had done in the test half a dozen times, by well-meaning friends in our village. God knows how many times he faced the question that day in school, as many of his successful classmates, most of them intellectually on a par with my son, celebrated. No doubt he did as I had seen him earlier, shrugged his shoulders, gave a thumbs down, and said, “I failed”.

Tom turned ten in July – he’s a young ten, and fairly immature compared to some of his classmates. I have never been more proud of him, and saw a new emotional maturity in him as he faced that horrible day, a day that divided him from most of his closest friends and peers. I know that all of the successful kids were boys and girls who had been coached to pass the test. Some of them were tutored twice a week for up to three years! Many of their wealthy parents had decided that it was worth the expense, because if they failed the test they would send their children to a private school, something that would make the investment in tuition seem paltry.

That morning, as I saw my son’s forced smile, I knew it was us that had failed Tom. We were wrong to decide coaching was immoral and that a few practice tests in the last weeks of the summer would suffice. The test creates an economy of coaching, and despite every attempt to make it tuition proof, this continues. Looking at Tom’s peer group, I can only say this system creates a situation where the wealthiest kids will pass more often than the less wealthy, regardless of ability.

Kent Father

Tuition makes the test unfair

May 11, 2022

As my eldest approached Year Five, I looked into the test, and was shocked by my findings. The test seemed to be a GCSE English literature exam in places and the vast majority of content was from the Year 7 curriculum. How could a child pass this without tutoring, I wondered. Well, they cannot. If you have never been taught algebra, for example, then you cannot answer a question on it, not matter how intelligent you are.

The 11plus went from being an intelligence test to a ‘how much tutoring can you afford’ test. I hate elitism, and this is elitism as its worst. Digging further, I found that the 11-plus pass rate for private school children is nearly three times the pass rate for state school children. We could not afford to tutor our child, and she didn’t respond well (to put it mildly) to our teaching.

Year Five was horrendous. Emily, who is competitive and has always been at the top of the class, was suddenly ‘overtaken’ by her tutored peers. This is what people never think about. 11-plus aside, all the tutoring over-inflated the children’s abilities, leaving Emily a little behind, leaving her feeling rubbish and depressed. She could not compete with them, they were learning tons of new things which she had no access to. The playing field was no longer level. It was a horrid year for Emily, and I couldn’t help feeling cross at this awful system that had been created.

The good news was that we made it very clear to Emily that the 11-plus was a money test, not an intelligence test, and that only the rich passed. She still wanted to take it, not wanting to be left out. She scored 118, and was delighted! She felt pleased that she got such a high score without tutoring – particularly as she knew very tutored children who got the same mark.

I do understand the pressure to tutor. Everyone is doing it, so if you don’t you put your child at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, for most families, there is no choice – no extra money or time for tutoring.

A mother in Bucks

Grammar schools are not better schools

May 11, 2022

For my career sake I have to watch what I say but I am a strong advocate for the abolition of the 11+. I came to a grammar seeing complacency, poor teaching, leadership and pastoral care for students. I hoped to change the schools into genuinely outstanding ones by shaking up the system and moving away from the old ‘chalk and talk’. In some regards I feel I have had success with my own team but I have learned that grammar schools are an institution built on social elitism and me asking the hard questions prevents me from being able to have a position higher in the organisation.

I just read some parent comments on this site and had to say I agree whole heartedly that grammar schools are not better schools. Im fact they are worse institutions than almost every comp I have encountered.

I just had to air my frustrations and sadness that leadership teams and many staff go unchallenged delivering mediocrity in abundance.

Teacher at a grammar school

Tuition is wrong

May 11, 2022

I failed the 11-plus and felt awful. My parents spent more than £1000 on a tutor and we couldn’t really afford it. Nearly everyone in my class had a Kent Test tutor so of course they had to pay to compete. It’s an awful system, I wish there were no 11+.

A pupil in Kent

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