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Advice on explaining rejection letters for 11+

(38 Posts)
bickie Wed 05-Feb-14 23:31:01

DD's letters for 11+ are starting to arrive. She sat 5 - So far 2 no's and a waiting list. 1 isn't a surprise (stretch school - but head thought worth a shot) and 2 are (her head teacher said advised us before sitting them she should easily get in to them based on her results at school and the calibre of girls that got an offer in other years.) Her preparation was good if not over the top, she wasn't tutored and she felt she did well in the exams and interviews so I have been pretty relaxed and not really prepared her for being rejected by all schools. Tonight she cried her eyes out before finally going to sleep. She is worried about going to school tomorrow and says she is embarrassed and feels stupid . She has 2 more we are waiting for - but now I am getting seriously worried. How on earth do you help a 10 year old understand this situation?

pixiepotter Wed 05-Feb-14 23:52:51

she does understand the situation, she just doesn't like it.It is just on eof those things that you have to deal with in life.

Starballbunny Thu 06-Feb-14 00:02:32

You tell her the honest truth. It's not the end of the world and if anyone dare tease you they are not very nice people.

Then you give her a huge hug.

And you remember it's not the end of the world too. DDs school loses many of it's best intake to Grammar school. It still gets pupils into Oxbridge and RG universities despite being in special measures.

What it doesn't do is stress it's pupils into anarexia, self harm and drugs.

Eastpoint Thu 06-Feb-14 08:36:22

Poor girl. You explain that because they have done the tests they feel with her style of learning she would be happier somewhere else. If she is happy she will achieve her full potential even if she is at a school which other people don't rate as highly. We tried very hard to make sure no one received any results from parents at the school gate.

I don't think you should discount the likely genetic predispositions to anorexia, depression etc Starball. Some families are financially rich but there are circumstances at home which are very difficult for teens to process (death of parent, divorce, parental alcoholism/drug addiction etc).

purpleroses Thu 06-Feb-14 09:18:50

Presumably you have some non-selective back up school? You start looking at it's website, mentioning everything that's good about it, and saying how some people do better at school if they can be towards the top of a class, rather than one of the ones that struggles in a class of very bright kids. Though you might want to wait til you do hear about the 2 others first.

My DS didn't get into a very selective school at 11 - he was upset at the time and - like you - I did think that it was a hard knock for an 11 year old to have to take. But once he'd started to receive communication from the school he did go to, been on induction days, etc he's never looked back.

His younger sister has just been successful in getting into the same school he failed at, and I was worried he'd find that hard, but he's said to me quite openly that he's happy where he is and quite glad he didn't get in - he's particularly pleased with the GCSE options he's been given and aware that the v academic school didn't offer the same range, and he'd have had to do latin which he'd have hated. There's usually some pros and cons of every school around.

Bemused33 Thu 06-Feb-14 09:43:11

It's one of those sadly. Thankfully in our area you find out if you have a decent chance before you apply. She passed one, failed the other. We have tried desperately to keep the second choice as a very positive alternative because you actually never really know until offer day.

tiggytape Thu 06-Feb-14 10:43:39

Would a factual approach help her?
In our area, every school (private or state) that sets a test is getting hundreds of extra applicants year on year. Schools that once had 800 applicants now have nearly 2000. Private schools that used to attract 300 applicants now have 800. It is crazy.

So people are very open with their children about this because, even if their child is top of their primary or prep class, there are so many others taking the tests now that the chances of getting an offer are much less each year.

A lot of children who got rejected know that, in any other year, they would have got a place. Which doesn't change the fact that they've not got in but lets them know that lots of others are in the same boat and it isn't just their performance but the sheer volume of applicants that also has an impact.

Apart from that, as soon as she knows where she is going, being very positive about it will mean she soon forgets the other schools. I expect any rejection will sting less once she has at least 1 acceptance letter for somewhere and that it is the not knowing that is harder.

donnie Thu 06-Feb-14 10:50:52

starballbunny there are plenty of kids in non selective schools who suffer from the problems you mention. Don't generalise so unhelpfully please.

JustAnotherUserName Thu 06-Feb-14 11:00:13

Its a little bit late for you OP, but for others reading this, going through it, I might have delayed the bad news until all results were in (hoping of courset that at least there is one acceptable good piece). We are doing that with ours at the moment. One definite "no" out of 4, but held back whilst waiting on others.

Of course if its five nos then that is difficult.

We might still be in that position come next week when offer letters come out, and are already - having made our DS go through all the 11+ prep/angst - beginning to talk up the local comprehensive that we have as our Plan C.

janinlondon Thu 06-Feb-14 11:08:36

DD and her friends (don't let people tell you they don't get any knock backs - almost everyone did) had interesting techniques with their rejection letters. One ate hers (?). Mine burnt them (under supervision) in the fireplace. To a child, their attitude was "Their loss". I think this was quite healthy? Anyone can underperform on the day.

JustAnotherUserName Thu 06-Feb-14 11:09:40

Ah. I realise my approach only works because my DS is the only one in his class going through this. I can see its different if other kids are talking about it and proud of their offers, etc.

(And a little white lie "We are still waiting to hear from XXX" is justified in this case I think.)

pixiepotter Thu 06-Feb-14 11:15:17

Also justanother the school, are sent the results at teh same time.It is possible they could assume the child already knows and mention something.

Teddingtonmum1 Thu 06-Feb-14 11:19:20

we sat 4 and got 2 no's 1 waiting til 3rd march but got 1 yes which actually is the best fit for my DS and we are plannimg to accept subject to bursary. As they say u only need 1 yes , and there nothing that a dominos pizza can't fix IMO. My DS actually started sobbing when we got the letter saying he'd passed and had an offer he said because he was scared he wouldn't get a place anywhere , then of course I felt like the evil parent but its all smiles me I'm still terrified re having to scrape the pennies together .

ReallyTired Thu 06-Feb-14 11:21:03

Is the OP daughter at a private prep school or a state comprehensive. I would feel pretty angry with the head teacher a child at a prep school gets 5 rejections. The job of a prep school is to guide the parents to make sensible applications. Its all very well saying that thousands of girls apply for these schools, but if each child applies for 5 schools then the competiion for each place is not as bad as the schools would like to make out. If your child is at a private school then I would be talking to the head.

I had a similar experience to your OP dd and I had all set of nos. My parents were stupid enough to put me into exams for several really competitive south west london private school with zero preparation from a state primary. I had never sat a formal test in my life as there were no Sats all those years ago. It didn't even occur to me that I needed to turn over the paper.

It really hurt and knocked my confidence at the time and prehaps the worse thing was my parents disappointment. To make matters worse a couple of girls in my class did get places (with years of tutoring) taunted me and told me that I was thick.

Rejection does sting and I think its important for any parent to hide their disappointment. It is worth contacting the individual schools for feedback where your child had gone wrong. For example I sat the exam for Kingston Grammar and the head teacher wrote a letter to my parents detailing where my weak areas were. (Ie. I had never covered the topics on the maths paper and I didnt' have a clue how to tackle inference questions on a reading comprehension paper, but I did do well at verbal reasoning.)

JustAnotherUserName Thu 06-Feb-14 11:57:22

The schools are sent results, Pixie? I never knew that. Our DS's state primary are not involved in the application at all (are preps?) - except they would have been asked for a report - and so I would be stunned if they were told the outcome.

ReallyTired Thu 06-Feb-14 12:16:44

I would expect any primary school to be told the outcome as private schools want to foster links with their feeder preps and even an afluent state primary. Selective schools need plenty of children to apply inorder to have enough children to be selective. If they piss of the primaries then head teachers will not encourage children to apply to particular secondaries.

JustAnotherUserName Thu 06-Feb-14 14:46:17

It might be just our school, but there is absolutely no encouragement in DS's "outstanding" inner london primary to apply for anything other than the local community comprehensive. Mixed rather than affluent though - perhaps that's the key. Can't imagine our Head being pissed off about not being told!

If most of the DCs went of private at secondary, maybe there would be an attempt to foster the relationship, I suppose. Does that really happen at your's ReallyTired (a state primary?)

ReallyTired Thu 06-Feb-14 15:00:58

Does that really happen at your's ReallyTired (a state primary?)

It certainly doesn't happen at my children's primary, it is in a poor area and no one can afford private ed. However the private school I went to had a head tried to have good relationships with all schools in the area. For example she visited the primaries of the girls who were coming to her school the following year.

I doult that any state school encourages children or parents to consider private school. Why should they. Especially as 93% of parents cannot afford private or are happy with state.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 06-Feb-14 15:10:14

I think she does understand OP.
It's one of those things, we have to realise if we put our children down for these things they can't all get in.
I think its similar to many things they will do at this age, music exams, auditions for plays etc.
Some you win, some you lose. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off etc.
Not everyone can pass an 11+, there's so many other schools, tell her not to worry and give her a big hug.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 06-Feb-14 15:14:14

OPs tale is exactly the reason why the 11 plus is a bad thing. Kids feel failures at 11.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 06-Feb-14 15:26:53

I do know that within the primary and prep schools in an area where a lot go private it is hard as a parent to keep it low key and relaxed. All the tutoring and parental pressure even if they keep it all secret etc. winds up the children with all sorts of unhealthy competitive, and frankly ignorant, attitudes manifesting themselves.

However dismiss this as the schools missing out on a fantastic girl, that they obviously weren't right for her if they couldn't see how amazing she was, lots of hugs, a few treats to make her feel extra special, and don't even mention the two you are waiting on (because that would imply they matter) And arm her for the stupid comments she will get at school. Any girl who needs to show off her result or put others down can't feel very good about herself can she? Whereas your DD knows she is amazing whatever others might say?

And the others are right, this is a chance for her to develop resilience. To gain the skills to pick herself up, and learn from the experience and move on. Plenty of clever children go much further before they encounter setbacks and then they tend to find it much harder to deal with.

Also do not beat yourself up about this either, too many parents think it is all about tutoring. It really isn't, they are looking for ability and potential and the sort of personality they know makes the most of being at that school. Your DD just didn't provide that evidence they needed on that day, or they may genuinely not be the right school for her.

If the Head gave you sound advice I very much doubt the other two are going to come back as nos in any case.

Just try to steer a steady ship of support and reassurance whilst you wait as patiently as possible to hear from the other two. And remember she may do well in another school too. Try to keep a sense of perspective for you both.

LadyMuck Thu 06-Feb-14 16:37:25

My mantra (ds currently waiting for results) is that "you can only go to one school" along with "and whatever happens you WILL be going to school next year". Another month to go and she will definitely have a place and then the next 6 months are about getting ready for that.

But yes, it is very hard to cope with the classroom and playground for a day or two (and year 6 girls seem worse than boys for some reason). Resilience is key, as are other positive thoughts, and things to look forward to. I'm not adverse to taking the odd day off if mental or spiritual health requires it, but to be honest it may not help here - she still has to face the playground at some point. Obviously if she is the only girl not to pass it is more difficult, but you'll have a better idea if that is the case.

If you're at a private school, then a quick word to the head is needed. They'll have known the results for a while, but may not have been thinking about which order the letters come out. I'd imagine if it was going to be bad news all over, then they would have been on the phone to suggest you do a late application elsewhere.

guishagirly Thu 06-Feb-14 16:42:12

Cant you tell her to say the letter has not arrived if the friends ask?

sstressedofstreatham Thu 06-Feb-14 18:21:45

Hi I remember you from another thread. We are all waiting with you for the other girls' schools. Agree with others your head should have some feedback and as to waiting list school then that should start to move in 10 days time when central london offers come out. The numbers just don't add up. This said does anyone know how many sat Godolphin and Latymer as I know this was one of your choices. Have told mine that she should just view it as a massive achievement if it works out but if not then it is down to the huge numbers this year.

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