Comments on the theme of passing or failing the 11+.

My son may have just had a bad day, but now he is labelled a failure

May 19, 2022

We decided to enter our son for the grammar school entrance exam, because he is very bright and always did well at school. He wanted to do it, because he wanted to go to the same school as his friends and they were all sitting the exam.

It is kind of expected, in Trafford, if your child is reasonably bright that you will put them in for the exam. There is then the question of whether to get a tutor. You are told by those who have previous experience that “you have to get a tutor”, the kid will have no chance otherwise.

Despite being clever, and being tutored, my son failed, by five marks. He was 10 years and 6 weeks old when he took the exam and he says that he found it very stressful. (I’ve heard of children being sick as they wait in the queue to take the exam, because of the pressure to succeed.) My son may have just had a bad day, but now he is labelled a failure. Fortunately, he found the positive in the situation, “I didn’t really want to go there anyway, Mum.”

However, he says that some of his friends who also ‘failed’ to make the grade now feel as though they are not very clever even though they are. These children are now 12 years old and have spent the first year of their secondary school careers feeling like failures. These are not necessarily children who are ‘less academic’ and will be better placed taking a technical career path (whatever that is supposed to mean). Lots of these children are bright, engaged and enthusiastic learners who want to do well. They just didn’t do as well in one exam, on one day when they were 10 years old.

My son is a brilliant mathematician, a “maths genius” according to his maths teacher and he loves computing. His friend is a fantastic writer, but he struggles with his self-belief because he thinks he mustn’t be that clever… because he failed an exam. They will succeed though, but not because of the selective system. Any success they achieve will be in spite of it. But they will always carry the knowledge that they failed their 11-plus and that makes me sad.

Trafford Mum

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

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