11 plus failure, what was your child first reaction?

(6 Posts)
1mum2boys Thu 28-Jan-16 10:53:29

My DS was invited back for 3 interviews at top academic schools but failed that at City of London. He was gutted, he could not speak reading the letter but when he could he said ' Mum it was the last exam, I was tired, I do not think I gave my best'. I thought that was a very mature answer from a boy who otherwise is emotionally immature.

tiggytape Thu 28-Jan-16 11:12:59

I suppose it is common to feel disappointment and yes it is mature to realise that not all exams go as well as hoped but I wouldn't let him focus on the negatives for too long.
He has 3 interviews which is a wonderful achievement - far better to look at it in those terms.
And he failed to be called for another interview which may be down to his last exam but equally may be down to sheer number of applicants pushing the pass mark impossibly high. I wouldn't let him think it was necessarily down to a bad performance when admissions are as competitive as they are and would steer him to all the good points of the schools still open to him.

NWgirls Thu 28-Jan-16 19:39:36

DD had no reaction to the first two rejections (no interview) or the first offer - because we hid these letters until the Friday in mid February when the (girls) consortium results letters came, i.e. until we had all the answers at the same time. Highly recommended as a stress reduction method! Of course it remains very stressful for us parents, but we are adults. Also hiding the offer (which was difficult!) we felt was important to avoid early bias on her part, and to make sure we had some good news to mix with the bad later on. But it was a huge relief for us parents to get that one...

The postman came on that Friday in February, and thankfully there was another big letter!

Then when DD came home from school she opened all letters at once - and they were purposefully stacked with the small ones at the top. She took rejections extremely gracefully, e.g. G&L which she loved but did not get, she was like "oh, well, it was really popular and they could not take everybody".

My heart was ready to break when she opened the small letter from the other school she really loved, Francis Holland NW1 - this was one we felt or hoped she had a fair chance at - but what was this? She read it aloud, and it was actually not a rejection, it was a waiting list! We celebrated that there was still hope, hurrah! Then onto the two offers, and she and we were all smiles after that, and really happy to have a choice, which was always the big hope.

In the end the waiting list came through as an offer (in March), which was one of the happiest days I can remember.

My take: Manage expectations, don't dripfeed DC (if you can avoid it), use the consortium to limit number of tests, and be patient with, and celebrate waiting lists - half full cup is the attitude! And don't forget to apply for a very achievable/easy one and state schools as well, so you sleep better at night.

Helenluvsrob Thu 28-Jan-16 21:37:02

I think possibly some of the key to resilience in such situations is to start with the mindset that, of course you work hard at these tests and do your best, but thy are not "pass /fail" . They are to work out if you are a person who would be a "best fit" for the school and the way it thinks/ask questions/tests it's learners.

My kids did go to selective schools but they had friends who didn't and were still academically able. They just weren't ready at 11 for the fast paced intense stuff. For instance DD2 has been joined in 6th form by friends who have come from a comprehensive.

No child will go without a place, as log as if you are fee paying you put one where the entrance standard is less selective in your list, or if state schools, you put your local non selective school.

kjwh Fri 29-Jan-16 10:58:59

Why all this talk of "failure"? That's a very unhelpful and negative word that isn't actually used by the selective schools, so I don't know where it comes from.

At the end of the day, the grammar school will take the top "x" number of pupils - if they have 100 places, they'll take the "top" 100 on their list of applicants (ordered by whatever criteria they choose to use such as the 11+ results, distance from school, catchment area, etc.). That doesn't mean everyone else has "failed", it means that they weren't in the top 100 on their list. Grammar schools don't write a letter saying your child has failed the 11+, they send a letter saying that your child wasn't successful in obtaining a place.

Exactly the same as faith schools. You don't get a rejection letter saying you're not faithful enough, you get a letter saying other children satisfied the criteria better than you (i.e. more points and/or nearer).

In any form of selection, some applicants get in and others don't. At the end of the day, it depends on the applicants that year. In lower birth years, children will be offered a place who live further away or who got a lower score in their 11+ tests than in other years where the birth rates were higher. It's just competition. Like everything else in life.

When we were going through it with our son, we embargoed any mention of the words "pass" or "fail". We made it quite clear, from the moment that secondary schools were mentioned, that schools had a specific number of places available and that if more children than that applied, they'd have to use some form of selection procedure. We discussed the faith school criteria at length with him so he knew that it depended on church points and distance from school. We discussed the grammar school at length with him, so he understood that distance from school and results of the 11+ test both influenced their choice of who to offer a place to. He understood that it wasn't just dependent upon how well he did in the 11+ exam, but more importantly how well everyone else did, and that even if he did a brilliant test day and scored 75%, 85% or 95%, he could still not be offered a place if there were enough children who scored more and/or who lived closer. And more importantly, that if it was a hard paper and he struggled, then others would have struggled too and he may still be in with a fighting chance if he did better than others.

We were all very relaxed about the whole thing - we prepared him well and we know he tried his best. The actual 11+ day was a real anti-climax and was the day of opening the grammar school letter. If it had been a "sorry you havn't been offered a place", he certainly wouldn't have felt a "failure". It's all about managing expectations and properly discussing things with your child.

Helenluvsrob Fri 29-Jan-16 11:33:01

kjwh .

Exactly! I love you parallel with faith schools .

I think communication early on is the key.I can identify with " the actual day of the 11+ was an anticlimax". Youngest was utterly baffled that there were kids leaving the exam in tears.

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