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Did anyone else find the 11+ process traumatic? come this way!!

(12 Posts)
Notcontent Wed 22-Feb-17 23:03:17

I should say at the outset that I am not British so find the whole system quite bizarre. Also, I think that old chestnut that seems to be popular on mumsnet, about how children should not be tutored because if they need tutoring then they are not good enough for the school, complete rubbish. Right, had to get that off my chest! grin

Anyway, my dd is in a state primary in North London and I had always intended that we would go private for secondary. However, I was completely unprepared for the hell that trying to prepare her for the exams would be. I really was quite naive and thought initially that an hour of tutoring once a week would be enough. Of course, I soon realised that even though she was on the top table for maths and English that meant nothing because at her state primary they had only covered about one third of what she needed to know.

In the end , we got the school we wanted, but there were lots of tears (mine!) along the way. It's been a horribly stressful 12 months.

Has anyone else had that experience?

efrieze78 Thu 23-Feb-17 09:27:37

I think you have summed up the process perfectly. Very (very) few children walk into highly selective independent schools' exams without a huge amount of (tutoring) prep in advance and its ever harder from even a good state school.

Congrats on getting your school of choice - and hopefully the stress will all prove worthwhile.

Popinpopout Thu 23-Feb-17 10:30:08

My DS has just done the 7+ and omg I can't believe how stressful it was. He is from state primary too and I worked with him without a tutor. He got an offer luckily.

IMO, for 7+ DS can always just stay where he is, I can't imagine what 11+ prep would be like, when quite a bit more is at stake.

I remember telling myself during the exams that I would definitely get a tutor if the children have to do 11+, even just for an hour a week, to gauge his levels and to save my mental health. It's easy to look back after with rose tinted glasses on and say there is no need for a tutor, talent will show through etc, but I can't imagine how I would feel if things haven't work out.

Lohengrin Thu 23-Feb-17 10:42:15

Tutoring children for 7+, 8+ and 11+ is a huge industry - particularly in London, and areas where there are grammar schools. It does not do the children any good in terms of their long term mental and emotional health.
Parents know this but still persist because they are caught up in a kind of collective obsession.
The selective schools in turn accept only the children who perform well in these tests - ie children who are naturally bright AND come from pushy supportive families. They then boast of how they get good results. But anyone would get good results with that cohort - so where is the added value?
There are still, sadly, a few black holes in state secondary education provision and all mumsnetters seem to live in them but in reality they are few and far between. A lot of people could step off the carousel - and they and their children would do just as well if not better in the longer term.

Chocolatecake12 Thu 23-Feb-17 10:50:26

My eldest ds wasn't tutored and passed the 11+ so now goes to a great grammar school.
My youngest is 10 and will sit the 11+ in September. I cannot afford tutoring so he is in the minority in his class as most of them are being tutored. He's a bright boy but only time will tell if he will pass or not.
I am stressed about it as he's desperate to go to the same school as his brother. It's a horrible time.

dinkystinky Thu 23-Feb-17 10:52:38

God yes, DS1 has just been through this hell. He goes to a small independent school in north London so was prepped through school for sitting the exams- he's bright, sweet and genuinely interested in learning but not sporty, musical or artistic. We didn't apply to super selective schools but of the 5 schools he applied to he got 2 offers - the sheer weight of numbers applying to the other schools meant he got two waiting list places (which I suspect knowing the schools is as good as a no) and an outright rejection from one school.

I hated that the 11+ process at most schools is all about kids being tutored for it and the interview process seems to be geared to finding what value add the child can bring to the school rather than ascertaining the potential of the child. the "what value add can this child bring to our school" rather than recognising the potential in each child. It made DS doubt himself which is awful at the tender age of 10, especially when these children are packed full of potential and its very much a numbers game.

Am so so glad its over. For now that is, still have to go through it with his two brothers in due course.

Stressedstatemum Thu 23-Feb-17 11:36:57

As my name suggests, I agree. DD applied to 5 - all competitive - and was fortunate enough to receive offers from 3, so a good hit rate, but I was very nervous that she wouldn't get any.

With the benefit of hindsight though, there are a few things which I learned:
Independent school applications are perfectly possible from a state primary. I have actually been positively surprised how high the application to offer ratio has been at her school. Particularly for girls, almost all who applied have an offer from a selective independent. I don't expect the outcome would have differed at a prep school.

However, this all happened due to lots of preparation - whether by a parent or a tutor. I wish we had started in Jan of Yr4 as that extra time makes it less intense.

We wasted time waiting for a place to become available at a 'super tutor', which was then at such an awkward time that we ended up dropping it due to the resentment caused. The preparation is not rocket science and its far better to choose based on a time that suits you as a family and minimises stress.

The selective state schools are orders of magnitude harder to get into, unless compared with the likes of St Paul's and NLC. DD sat for one which was really useful as a practice test, so she was prepared to go into a strange room clutching a pencil case and work to time. She was fine with not getting an offer as next to no one else we knew did but the experience definitely helped.
From Sept of Yr6, we agreed a manageable study routine (roughly 1 hour per day - including school homework - with one day off per week) and stuck to it largely without complaints. This meant that the last few months were less stressful than I expected. Visiting schools also helped as it really increased her motivation.

I actually think the 11+ chance is higher than at 4 or 7. At 4 intakes are small and many give some preference to siblings/children of old boys so that the number of places truly up for grabs is small. At 7, prep school kids are further ahead than seems to be the case at 11 - or at least its easier to prepare kids after school at 11 than at 7. From our school there is a much higher success rate at 11 than at 7.

Oh and if you can get your child to play the oboe, viola or bassoon. Schools love rare orchestral instruments, so as long as they pass the exam, they should sail through interview.

I am so glad it's over, though!

Threeschools Thu 23-Feb-17 11:59:57

Two years on and I have just about recovered 😀 but still lurking and posting from time to time. I feel the competition is even worse now, with people applying for 5-6 schools the norm.

LePimpernelScarlette Thu 23-Feb-17 19:36:59

It is stressful but I think it is self-perpetuating stress. My DD did 4 schools entrance exams. Worked hard at school, who did prepare her well, but apart from homework I refused to tutor. I did not want her to be tutored into a school and then struggle for the rest of her academic life. She walked into her exams happily and came out smiling, she was not worried. I was a bit concerned when I saw how many girls were at each exam day. However, staying as chilled -as possible and not over-working did the trick as she got into all four. She did not have a huge amount of extra-curricular, she is a moderate musician and hopeless at sport.

I sympathise with the agonies felt but I wish everyone could take a step back and let the kids show what they can do without so much outside help. I guess this is a vain hope, I can't see parents letting go of the collective madness that surrounds 11+ anytime soon.

nightswimming1 Thu 23-Feb-17 20:07:08

It's all very well to step back and let the child show what he/she can do if you're at a prep. If you're at state or even a private school that expects you to stay, the field is totally different as those in the preps are being well prepared for it. I have seen it from both sides. If the school aren't doing the work, most children will need little exam practice to do themselves justice considering the preparation others are getting at school.

nightswimming1 Thu 23-Feb-17 20:08:04

That should have read "a little exam practice"...

Notcontent Thu 23-Feb-17 22:27:56

I think people with children at prep schools don't realise that it's very different for children from state schools - not only do state schools do absolutely nothing to prepare children for entry exams (and nor should they I guess), but they don't even cover all the maths topics that you need to know... Also, there is definitely a technique for answering the English comprehension questions - I write things for publication and analyse a lot of stuff written by others as part of my job, but I don't think I would do well in the exam without lots of practice and guidance about what they are looking for!!!!

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