To not enter my ds for the 11+(243 Posts)
DS is bright, top of the top set for maths at school and good at music, but his literacy is weak - dreadful handwriting and syntax.
DH wants to enter him for the 11+ for a super selective. His mum has given us the money to pay for an intensive 15 hour 11+ preparation course next week, but I think it's not a good idea.
The grammar school in question selects on the basis of a maths and English test. The test covers level 6 maths and the English test involves writing an essay. DS hasn't had any tutoring up to this point and has not done any level six maths. He's never, in his whole life written more than a page and a half of anything, and his writing is slow and very messy.
DH is pissed off and I know he feels that I'm turning DS into a wuss by trying to protect him from failure. He's also angry with both of us for not having dealt with it earlier. Neither of us has ever done more with ds than support his music and do the things which all parents do - read to him every day, take him to museums, talk to him etc. We don't do regular maths or writing practice with him. Actually I've never sat down and supervised or looked at any maths with him, and precious little literacy.
DH thinks we should just 'let him have a go' at the test. I think it's unkind to enter a child for a test you believe they can't pass when it's for something as important as secondary school choice. Particularly when they'll be sitting alongside children who've had YEARS of tutoring.
What does DS want to do?
This might not be much help but this is from my perspective. Although this was almost 20 years ago.
I was always top of the class in Primary school, I did the 11+ and got a place in Grammar school. I really struggled compared to the other kids and couldn't keep up but also just didn't fit in and it knocked my confidence massively.
My mum took me out of there after about 6 months because I was so miserable then there was the upheaval of changing schools.
i think if your dh wants to then do it. Most people dont pass, so this may be an argument about nothing
Does your ds want to sit it? If he does if let him.
One of my dses didn't pass the 11+. It wasn't a big deal at all. We didn't put him under any pressure at all, and he just took sitting it, and failing it, in his stride.
What does your ds want to do? What year is he in and what are his current NC levels?
It depends where you live. I live in a grammar area. In all honesty, the non selective schools are god awful. Other areas will be better. FWIW I didn't enter one of mine for the 11+ even though he was academically brighter than the child who had previously passed the 11+. He would not have coped with the pressure. FWIW Did not tutor either. I don't believe in it.
You know your child, will he cope with the pressure of a grammar school?
I think it depends on what kind of child your DS is. If he is the type who would like to have a go, and would cope OK if he failed, then there is no problem letting him have a go. If he is a more sensitive soul who would agonise over the whole thing, then not such a good idea. You haven't mentioned what he thinks about the whole thing.
I wouldn't. But then I'm not keen on selectives anyway and don't think my kids would be getting a better education in them than in the local comps.
A few questions that may be helpful,
What does your DS think? Unless he is super keen and motivated, it's probably a non starter. How do you think he might feel if he tries and doesn't get in (no one like failure, but I know for some children of this age, it could be the end of the world.
Have you (your DH) actually been to the school and made sure it 'fits' your son? And as a follow on, why does your DH want to enter him? Is it because there is no suitable state alternative or for the kudos?
I didn't tutor my dd for the 11+ and she still managed to get a place, she did well and thrived whereas some who had been heavily tutored found it harder. Try some practice papers with him and see how he does and make a decision from that. In my area there is probably only 25% who pass the 11+ if that so not passing is the norm and takes any stigma out of failing.
Do you both talk to your son? He might surprise you both with his opinion on the dilemma. It may be that he would get something out of the tutoring. And may want to give the test a go just because he has the choice. You may be underestimating him. And lots of boys are slower at gaining handwriting (bet his keyboard skills are hot). Are you feeling guilty for not pushing/helicopter parenting his education..? Because that is nuts.
The real debate however is why your husband is so set on the superselective. So get talking. What is it that he is expecting/hoping for? If your son's gifts are with maths and music then go with it! Let him enjoy those skills, perhaps offer him extra opportunities relating to them. But lay off the pressure or it will backfire big-time.
I think that you should ask your DS and do what he wants to do. I don't really get your argument that you shouldn't put him in for an exam that he might fail as that surely applies to most of the children who do the exam. Failing is not a big deal and I doubt that it will have any huge effect on his confidence in the future. His confidence is more likely to be affected by the fact the you think it so unlikely he'll pass you aren't even going to give him the chance.
The grammar school in question do you think your DS would be happy there?
Do you think he would cope and flourish there?
You mention that his literacy is weak do you think the school would be able to help him improve?
Have you visited the school itself and had a good feeling for the environment?
If the answers are yes then I agree with your DH in putting forward for the 11plus and see what happens.
I am a bit about intensive tutoring - your child is either capable or they are not (he should really have a basic grasp on subjects but there is no harm in having a tutor to elaborate).
If your DS is happy to give it a go then you should. Yes he might fail but he'll acquire a useful set of skills (techniques and the whole sitting exam experience) in the process.
Fwiw, my friend's DS scraped into our local grammar on the waiting list because he wasn't one of the highly tutored ones. He's now top of the class as it's where he should be naturally.
If he wouldn't get in without the tutoring, would he cope once there?
Why is it all such a big thing now?
In my day you took it & passed or not.
Are you keen on the selective school?
If no, don't bother entering him. If yes, enter him.
Is it likely that he will need tuition to get in? From what you have said, I think so, based upon his English. I'm not sure an intensive course in the middle of summer is the ideal way to improve but if the exam is too early next term for him to have say two hours a week between now and then instead then it is better than nothing.
If you don't want him to go to the selective, or if you do but don't think he will get in, the tuition would always stand him in good stead for Year 6 and secondary school anyway.
There is no need for your son to feel like a failure provided you explain the selective exam appropriately. What I think is an awful experience for any child is to go into an exam which they do not have a hope of passing because they do not know the syllabus and can't even give it their best shot. Can you look at past papers to help you determine it?
Ask your son.
I was umming and ahhing about ds2. I wasn't sure whether it would he too much. He wanted to do the 11 plus so we put him in (he did practice papers, but we didn't pay for a tutor). He got in. Has loved the school from day 1 and seems to be having no problems academically. He's just finished year 7 and is happy and confident and has a big group of mates (more than can be said about his time at primary - he was pretty miserable there in years 5 and 6).
So follow his lead.
If your son is in year 5 and he'd be taking the test in a few months it does sound like there isn't much chance of his passing.
Does your DS want to do it?
I know a boy who genuinely had no tutoring and was average in the class and he wanted to have a go at the grammar exam because other boys were doing it. His parents had no intention of getting him to do it. Of course, he didn't passes but it was his decision to try and he hasn't
If it's a superselective then I couldn't disagree more with the "give it a go" suggestion. If it was an ordinary grammar, then yes, but not a superselective.
Unless he is very able all round then he has very little chance of getting in. And if by some fluke he did, he would be miserable. They are places that cater for a particular type of child. I think you would know if your child is the type to thrive there.
Sorry, he hasn't been scarred by having a go.
What are the other schools like?
Also, I think the question about coping and tutoring is valid, but it should be considered more broadly.
Many/most state primary schools do not prepare children to sit an 11+ exam in terms of teaching them the syllabus, how to write stories of that length etc. Partly because many/most primary schools don't have a state selective anywhere nearby and partly because they have many other, more pressing demands on their time.
Would tuition be a case of "filling the gaps" in what the school have taught him, and ironing out little issues? In that case, go for it. As far as we can predict in advance, he will be able to manage at the secondary.
Would tuition be a case of herculyan effort, memorisation and semi-brainwashing to instill in your DS the habits, methods and ways of answering a question which will get him through the exam, but with no greater understanding than he had before? That's a different kettle of fish. Ask the tutors for their approach, materials etc and see what you think.
At this age the child should have an idea.
Also, what are the alternatives?
How would you feel if he sat the test and got in?
It depends a lot on DS - you will waste money on tutoring a child who doesn't want to be tutored.
It also depends on whether it is normal grammar selection or super selective. I would be inclined to let him have a go if the first and not bother if the second.
You have to remember the exam is not an end- it is the start. He has to cope with those who passed easily and are all rounders. There will be a lot of writing.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.