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.

skillsandtea Fri 07-Feb-14 16:16:39

I know when I was younger I walked to school from the age of 10 but I don't know why the thought of DS going to school on his own at 11 fills me with worry. He is mature for his age and sensible but I still take him to school even though it's only a mile down the road albeit a busy road. And if DS2 doesn't get into the same school, which is a high probability, that's even more of a worry as he's very immature!

tallulah Fri 07-Feb-14 17:37:55

We had 4 children when we lived in Kent. DD1 passed her 11+ but the HT blocked her going to grammar. She went to an independent on an Assisted Place on the strength of her 11+ scores.

DS1 did not take the 11+ because he has SEN and we didn't think he'd manage. With hindsight he would have been fine, but he blossomed in the top sets of the local High school.

DS2 & DS3 both went to the boys grammar.

My only regret was having DS2 and DS3 at the same school. My DC are very competitive, plus you get the odious comparisons between them. DS2 has SEN and we really didn't want his teachers treating DS3 as if he was his clone. They went to different primary schools and that was much better.

MillyMollyMama Fri 07-Feb-14 18:23:00

Decisions. Hi!
Assuming you would be happy with any allocation of Grammar School, the best secondary moderns are Waddesdon C of E, John Colet School in Wendover, The Misbourne School in Great Missenden and Chalfonts Community College. Waddesdon has a tiny catchment area but property is cheaper than the other school locations. As it is C of E it selects many by Church attendance but not if you live in the catchment. The Misbourne had a blip a couple of years ago but has really pulled back up now. A look at the Bucks League tables will show you which schools to avoid. There are a huge number of appeals to get into the better secondary schools, so, to be sure, live in the catchment area! It will avoid sleepless nights.

Bucks CC has the catchment areas for its grammars and secondaries on its web site. The RC secondary does well in High Wycombe too and Holmer Green School is liked by many.

venturabay Fri 07-Feb-14 19:29:24

newgirl says she'd rather her kids went to the same school but if you have DC who each might get in to a superselective then you simply have to put each one in and see how it goes. Not putting any of them in in case a subsequent child fails is very defeatist, and isn't it inherently unfair to the older child/ children? I was nervous of the outcome for my DC but nevertheless put them all in for the test, on the very simplistic grounds that the school was the best in the area.

venturabay Fri 07-Feb-14 19:31:05

tallulah how did the HT 'block' your DD? And what possible motive could he have had for doing so? It sounds very odd.

newgirl Fri 07-Feb-14 20:01:17

Ah we live in an area with good comps so don't have to choose different schools

ByTheSea Fri 07-Feb-14 20:28:46

Whilst DD2 did not fail the 11+, she did not get the score needed for a place at DD1's superselective. She is now thriving at a good comp that actually suits her better than the grammar would have.

I was not never sure she would enjoy a girls' school anyway (but she wanted to try) and she is more of an all-rounder than DD1. I personally think that where she is now offers better musical and sporting opportunities for her as the child she is. So it's all worked out fine.

treaclesoda Fri 07-Feb-14 20:36:55

I'm in NI, so a bit different because in my area there are no comprehensive schools, so there isn't really the option to choose one school that might suit the entire family. But anyway, I know loads of sets of siblings who attended different schools due to one passing the transfer test and another not passing, in fact I'd guess about 50% of the people I know attended a different school to their siblings. Anyway, I don't know any of them who feel resentful about it, or that other siblings got some sort of preferential treatment, it's just accepted as the norm, no big deal.

Decisionsagain Sat 08-Feb-14 14:17:30

Thanks so much for posting. Some really interesting points made. I think you've made me realise that it's not just about getting them to pass but about making sure the school is right for them. Kind of makes me think that the one school we have down the road is too narrow a choice and unlikely to fit all five. So perhaps grammar areas would be better. But there would have to be an excellent outstanding secondary nearby. And I keep hearing that is rare when grammar schools cream off a number of children.

MillyMollyMama - thanks for taking the time to post. Will look them up : ))

Bemused33 Sat 08-Feb-14 16:47:37

I know a family whose daughter passed. Put the son under such a lot of pressure! He has been tutored for three years, developed school phobia and failed the 11 plus. I think it's how you approach it. Dd has passed. Ds will be given the option but I have a few years and we will not treat it as a be all and end all and pile anymore pressure on him.

tiggytape Sat 08-Feb-14 17:07:27

But there would have to be an excellent outstanding secondary nearby. And I keep hearing that is rare when grammar schools cream off a number of children.

The best way to get a grammar school area with an excellent local comp nearby is to choose a grammar that only takes the top 2 - 8% of local children as opposed to one that takes the top 25%
This means a lot of very bright children won't go to the grammar and end up at comp instead but then the comps cater well for their needs eg choice of foreign languages, ability sets for many subjects etc
Of course the downside of that is it decreases the liklihood of 1 child let alone 5 from the same family all passing because so few bright children get selected.

venturabay Sat 08-Feb-14 22:48:40

At our school (top 5%?) there are a large number of families with all siblings in - at least three families that I know of with five siblings in since my DC have been at the school and plenty with three or four. It really isn't that unusual at all. But perhaps those parents manage expectations sensibly and don't pile the pressure on.

tallulah Sat 08-Feb-14 23:20:32

venturabay at the time (1990s- I believe it is different now) the school entered the pupils for the test and had to say whether in their opinion the child was suited to a Grammar or a High school, or was borderline. What we didn't know at the time was that unless the HT ticked Grammar you had no hope of getting in.

DD was "spirited" and not liked by the HT. HT told us she was putting her down as borderline, then entered her as High school. DD got the highest marks she could have got in the 11+. We appealed - HT counter-appealed that she wasn't suitable. Luckily the class teacher was on our side and wrote the report for the private school.

HT didn't agree with grammar schools and up to that year only 2 -3 pupils got through every year. We went to Governors with our experience, and after us the number of pupils getting to grammar went up. By that time we didn't care because we took our younger children out.

ashtrayheart Sat 08-Feb-14 23:29:41

I'm in Bucks, if you pass or live in one of the villages it's fine...otherwise avoid!

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Sun 09-Feb-14 01:02:54

What are the Bucks grammers, I thought grammers went on distance and exams.....

GreenShadow Mon 10-Feb-14 15:23:50

Our oldest two DS both passed the 11+ and are at grammars.

DS3 is very different and has had mild literacy issues. He's been tested for dyslexia twice, but that doesn't appear to be the cause.
We'd never seen him as being likely to get to a grammar and bore this in mind when house hunting a few years ago when he was part way through primary school.
He was very keen to take the 11+ however and despite the older two not having had tutoring, did arrange for him to have a few sessions with a tutor.
He didn't pass and is now at a very good comp which seems to suit him.

What seemed to be hardest for him however, was not the fact that both his siblings had passed, but that ALL his friends from primary got to the grammar. He was quite upset about that for a while but predictably, once he had settled down at his new school and found some nice friends he was quite happy.

We're now at the stage of looking for somewhere to go at 16 and he could have the chance to join the grammar school for A levels (subject to getting the grades), but he has decided not to even look at it.

curlew Mon 10-Feb-14 16:38:50

I have one who passed and one who failed. It was horrible-and don't believe anyone who says it isn't. They are either out the other side for so long they've forgotten or in denial. grin. There is nothing a grammar school can offer that a good comprehensive can't. Stay where you are!!!!!!!

MillyMollyMama Mon 10-Feb-14 18:28:40

Just to clarify, Bucks is a Grammar School/Secondary Modern selective County. The 11+ exam can be sat by all children and there is a set pass score which guarantees a place at, usually, the Grammar School in whose catchment area you live.

There are no comprehensives here and, generally, the town secondary schools are not as good as the village ones. That is why I did not mention any of them in my earlier post. A good comprehensive school may be the perfect solution but if anyone moves to Bucks it is important to know how the system works so parents do not have to go through endless appeals to get the school they want. The results at Waddesdon School , for example, are way better than many comprehensive schools but you would also get the choice of the fantastic Aylesbury High School for Girls or Aylesbury Grammar School for Boys if DC was selected via the 11+.

Pushka2 Mon 10-Feb-14 21:12:12

Curlew I agree that is absolutely horrible for the child who doesn't pass and it is an experience I never want to repeat (and never will do). Having a child pass is a great feeling however having a child not pass is a dreadful feeling. Getting that perceived rejection at 10 is awful awful awful for your child. Trying for the grammar route isn't for the fainthearted.

curlew Mon 10-Feb-14 21:31:14

Actually, in my experience, it's worst for the child who passes.

curlew Mon 10-Feb-14 21:32:15

Although, as you say, horrible for everyone. Awful, awful system.

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