What if one child passes the 11+ and other fails?

(46 Posts)
Decisionsagain Wed 05-Feb-14 22:16:38

We have five children and are debating moving to an area with grammar schools. Our two eldest would have a good chance. But I wonder how the others would be if they don't pass.

People who have had one child pass and the other fail, how did it pan out? Was there bitterness, jealousy? I would hate to be the instigator of that but as as ex-grammar girl I do have an appreciation of what they can offer. I also appreciate that some fab secondary schools are out there to be considered.

pimmsgalore Thu 06-Feb-14 12:56:20

Not speaking from personal experience but I know of 2 children who joined DDs class this year at private school as their twins passed 11+ and they didn't. They are ok about it and actually enjoying being out of their other halves shadow.

I have a friend whose 2 siblings passed and went on to high flying careers/ lives. This was in the 70s. They came from a fairly posh family. My friend failed and is a plumber. However he has had an incredibly varied life and seems very happy with his lot, as far as I know the siblings get on well and there is no resentment.

I think my concern wouldn't be so much about family dynamics but as to whether the non grammar schools are good enough for your other children to attend? How are they for pastoral care. Bullying? Are they considered "rough" locally? I speak as someone who had a dreadful time at a bottom of the league tables comp sad

LydiaLunches Thu 06-Feb-14 13:35:53

I am in a similar position (apart from already being here) but still don't know what to do. DD1 seems like a dead cert, no idea re the others. Older families genuinely seem to not have a problem with it and we are lucky that the alternatives aren't bad (good Catholic Secondary Morden available) but I almost can't stomach the thought of it. Also, if you accept a level of preparation is required, do you offer that to all, and see one fail, or decide for them and risk them feeling they weren't even given a chance? Even within the grammar school here some are more academic than the others. Would be easier too if they weren't all girls!

justkeepmoving Thu 06-Feb-14 13:53:26

Hi - I have been through this a few years ago - DC1 was borderline to pass 11+ - gave as much help as we could without being mad pushy - didn't quite make pass mark & went to local comp - has done really well there as is a hard worker - will come out with a good set of GCSE's - DC2 seemed a bit brighter but lazy - did the same help & passed just - goes to local Grammar & is well suited because they wont be allowed to drift & get behind. So what I am trying to say is don't worry about who passes or doesn't - as long as they go to a school that suits their needs. Just as a side, DC1's best friend was always on same levels but took & passed 12+ - moved to grammar and is still on same levels as DC1

AbiRoad Thu 06-Feb-14 13:53:27

I grew up in a grammar school area (and everyone sat the 11 plus). My elder brother was a bordeline candiate, more likey to fail than pass (great at maths poor at English). He failed. I and DB2 passed (and were probably considered "certs") and my younger sister was borderline but passed. So 3 at grammar, one at secondary modern. I dont have a hugely good relationship with my elder brother. I have never put it down to this but may be an element. My mum always said it suited him to be near the top of his class rather than lurking towards the bottom, and he did move to grammar school for A levels. In a way i suspect it was my sister passing that got to him most at the time as they are most similar it academic ability (and in fact she has weaker O/ GSCE and A level results), but they have an ok relationship.

I have twins who will be doing 11plus (well, indept school entrance exams) next year. It is a worry (currently have the same first choice which is very academic), although I am sure both will get into one of their choices and may be no bad thing if they end up in different schools. Both are similar overall ability wise with different strengths and weakenesses.

guishagirly Thu 06-Feb-14 16:45:47

This happened to my friend, one of her twins went to a top indie and the other to a non selective. Both ended up at Oxford.

trader21c Thu 06-Feb-14 16:58:35

My best friend's in his situation - her elder daughter would never have passed the 11 plus so she goes to a good Church school and her younger sister (not surprisingly) sailed the exam so she's off to grammar - you need to do the best you can for each individual child smile

tiggytape Thu 06-Feb-14 17:18:43

In areas where there are superselective grammars this is really common and doesn't seem to bother many people - I don't know of anyone who chooses not to enter a child who might be suitable for grammar school because of it and there are lots of families with one child in a comp and one in a grammar or one in private school and one in a state grammar.

If your area isn't a superselctive grammar area though where only a few get into the grammars, or if the back up school was awful, then that might be different because the child who failed the 11+ would get a much worse deal than their siblings.
Assuming there is a decent comp and the chance to study the same GCSEs, same clubs etc then it wouldn't be too much of a problem whereas if the alternative was a secondary modern with fewer options and lesser facilities that might not be so great.

Some families I know have faced the additional problem that their oldest child got a place at grammar school with a score of (say) 218 but their younger child scoring 223 is rejected because more people apply each year so the final score required to get an offer tends to go up. This is trickier than one passing and the other one failing as direct comparison is impossible to avoid and it can feel much more unfair if the second child wanted to go too. Generally more and more people are applying to these schools so you also have to factor in that it will probably get harder over time to get a place so younger ones may lose out even if they are equally bright.

purplemurple1 Thu 06-Feb-14 17:24:34

I'm one of five all my siblings passed and I failed. My parents made sure we were all treated the same on result day - getting a small present for having done our best. Then making sure we knew what really mattered was working hard in school to reach our individual potential.

MillyMollyMama Thu 06-Feb-14 18:24:28

If you are considering moving to Bucks, which is one of the few Grammar School counties, the pass mark usually stays the same each year and all children who achieve it get a place.

However many, many families I know have a child/children at the local grammar and other children at the local secondary modern. We do not have comprehensives! Most families near me don't seem to worry too much about this.

However the important thing here is to live in the catchment of one of the top secondary moderns. Several are way better than the others. A premier division of secondary schools! Many parents are pleased to get their children in these schools but, I think, they do not offer the same opportunities as the top grammar schools and people in Bucks do look to the independent sector if a poor secondary is the only option for the non grammar school child. I think you have to do your homework and buy a property where your children are in the catchment areas for the schools that suit them. In Bucks that is highly possible.

Decisionsagain Thu 06-Feb-14 21:30:27

Thank you!! Some really interesting replies. It's great to hear from people who haven't passed and didn't mind. We are tempted but whether or not to deliberately move into the game of grammar schools with five children is tricky. Would we regret it - who knows. It's another thing when you already live in a grammar school area. We could stay where we are with a very good comp. But I do like the idea of grammar schools and feel confident my eldest two would have a good chance. Actually, I was really anti grammar schools in the past. I passed and some of my friends didn't and the alternatives were bad. I thought it was grossly unfair. But now I have two children who love learning I just want what is best for them. Thanks again for posting.

MillyMollyMamma - you sound very knowledgeable about Bucks. Any tips on areas to move to that have the best of both worlds!

SuzieB13 Fri 07-Feb-14 08:26:29

This is going back a few years (I am in my forties now!) but my sister passed the 11+ and I didn't. Generally I think my parents thought I was the brighter one and I can still see my mum's face when we got the letter! It was a shock at the time - but only for a few days and there has never, ever been any issue over it. We both did well in our schools, but if I am honest I was much happier at my school than my sister was at Tiffin Girls! My sister lives in the Kingston area and chose not to let her daughter even sit the 11+ (I think she would have passed) There is an excellent state school much nearer to their home.

Highly selective schools can work really well for some children - but not all. If they are happy, then that is the best start to excellent learning.

Theas18 Fri 07-Feb-14 08:30:02

My friends twins were in this position. One passed 11+ the other didn't. They both went to the indie in the end and are happy, though there is still an academic gap between them ( and there was much " why should I go to THAT school just because she's thick" which didn't help, but I think they've always been uber competitive, the non academic girl is sporty and the school plays to that strength. I'm not sure why they didn't send them to different schools TBH )

tiggytape Fri 07-Feb-14 11:08:43

That's the other thing with siblings. Even if they are of equal intelligence, grammar schools (especially the super selective sort) can suit some and not others.

Bright coasters can benefit from the rigour and not being allowed to dip. Exceptional children who are so academic that they really don't fit other schools can feel at home for the first time. Children for whom it all comes pretty effortlessly can slot in with no concerns and do very well. However, a bright child who is easily knocked may not find it the happiest place to be because competition between pupils can be an issue and, when they are set, some children find it hard to be in the bottom group and feel they aren't good enough and constantly running to stand still in a school of much "better" pupils.

gazzalw Fri 07-Feb-14 11:18:15

I would second what Tiggytape says, OP. We have a DS who did very well with his 11+s (he passed the three that he took) but has severely had his confidence knocked since being at a super-selective and it's proving hard to motivate him. It almost seems as if he's giving up without giving himself a good 'shot at it'. He will never be on a level with some of the exceptionally gifted boys at his school but really there is no reason why he shouldn't be 'middling'. A lot of the boys are tutored (still) and he seems to think that they all know so much more than him and that he can't catch up.... It's very frustrating for him and for us - and he was so keen to go to one.....

tiggytape Fri 07-Feb-14 11:38:52

gazzalw - I know our DS's are both the same age and I think you may be hitting the famous "Year 8 dip" like we are!

I am sure that once they get to the stage of GCSE options and classes being moved around, setting will become less of an issue - plus they can drop the things they really dislike.

It must be hard because, if some of the others are being really pushed and tutored even at this stage, it does make it a bit demotivating for the rest who, however irrationally, might feel left behind. I do think it gets better in Year 9 though and I am sure he will do well when GCSEs mean everything gets shaken up a bit.

newgirl Fri 07-Feb-14 11:45:35

I have only heard bad things about siblings when one got in one didnt - i thought it was a reason why grammars were phased out in some areas?

I would always prefer my kids to go to the same school for all the shared things that brings. Knowing the same teachers, going to the same social events, sharing lifts if needed. Just seems more harmonious for family life.

gazzalw Fri 07-Feb-14 11:49:28

Hi, Tiggytape, thank you for your wise-words....Yes, I think you are right about the Year 8 dip - the only thing is that the other boys don't seem to be experiencing it (the way they do their gradings on a termly basis demonstrates exactly where one's DS 'sits' in the hierarchy compared with the other boys...) in quite the same way.....

I know a lot of them are already on the trajectory to become lawyers, doctors etc...so they can't have a 'dip' (or their parents don't think they can - hence the tutoring) in their grades...

I do agree though about things settling down - hopefully - once they start their GCSE options... I just don't think he's found his niche with his subjects yet (and possibly the teachers to inspire him).

It's very difficult for the children and the parents to really have any idea of where one's DCs truly sit in ability terms if children at high-achieving schools are essentially being super-fast-tracked by tutoring too...

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the DSs get inspired......

smoothieooo Fri 07-Feb-14 11:50:18

DS1 goes to the local selective grammar (2000+ applicants for 180 places) but I didn't even put DS2 through the entrance exam as, although bright, he's not as academic as his brother and goes to the local comp where he's perfectly happy and doing well.

DS1 on the other hand is struggling a bit - not with the work (he's super bright and very able) but with the atmosphere at a school where results are all-important and pastoral care is pushed aside (to the point where he recently had a mini-breakdown at school).

Pushka2 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:29:01

We are in this position now. DD1 goes to a superselective and DD2 didn't pass the test for DD1's school (she's passed the 2 selective school tests but obviously won't know until 3rd March). However DD2 has just got a place at a selective indie so will go there.

At the start of the process I thought both DD's going to the same school was the best thing ever however part way through I realised that wasn't the case. DD1 and DD2 on paper are equally intelligent with equivalent levels at this age however they are very different personalities and this became self evident as we did the tests. DD1 loves school and learning, loves a challenge, is thriving at school, doesn't feel under pressure to compete but is naturally near the top in most subjects, loves sport and is a joiner. DD2 hates school, shies away from a challenge, is lazy, is shy and underconfident, is good at sport but does not ever volunteer.

Therefore DD1 is so well suited to the superselective and is doing so well across the board and in hindsight I can now see that DD2 would absolutely have hated DD1's school. The indie school will suit DD2 down to the ground as it is much smaller but with high standards and as a lazy person she will be pushed in a more nurturing way.

There has been no bitterness or jealously from DD2 as she admitted more recently that she didn't like DD1's school and only said she wanted to go there because DD1 is there (back to the confidence thing). Equally, as DD1 is doing exceptionally well at school, there may well have be pressure on DD2 to perform at the same level if they had gone to the same school.

So what I'm really trying to say is there are pros and cons of siblings going to the same selective school and also the personalities of your DC's play a massive part in the decision making process. As I said above, my view has changed completely from the start of the process to the end.

Good luck.

skillsandtea Fri 07-Feb-14 14:42:27

This may sound like a silly problem but for those with DCs at different schools, how do you manage travel to & from school if the schools are in opposite directions and if public/school transport isn't straight forward?

tiggytape Fri 07-Feb-14 14:59:14

At secondary school, they make the journey alone so that's only an issue if you have 2 DCs at different primary schools.

Additional needs aside / extreme rural location aside, it is not expected that 11 year olds will be taken to school by their parents. Generally people would not choose a secondary school where public transport went much beyond 1 change of bus or train as, apart from being complicated, it would be a horrible commute.

tiggytape Fri 07-Feb-14 15:06:23

gazza - sorry just saw your post.
I do agree with you totally but it will work out I am sure. Eventually there will be a point when the parents who are tutoring still will be forced to ease up a bit - even if this only happens when their child goes to Uni.
I went to a traditional Uni and was one of the people there who loved my subject but there were a lot of students - particularly in the fields you mention - who were only there because their parents had steered pushed them in that direction. Needless to say, it doesn't work in the long run and, whilst your DS may be feeling down about finding his feet right now, it does at least mean that when he finds his niche and his way a bit more, he won't need the constant prodding and prompting that too many other children get used to relying on.

smoothieooo Fri 07-Feb-14 15:34:44

skills DS1 gets the bus (public bus, not a school bus) for a 20 min journey and DS2 walks as his school is 5 mins away. It did mean that DS2 was at home by himself for a fair bit which wasn't ideal (DS1 has a longer school day) but it's not such an issue now he's older.

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