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Losing the plot with 11+ for independent schools

(28 Posts)
worriedandstressedAAA Tue 11-Dec-18 10:02:50

DS is above average but not top set/brilliant and we have been tutoring him for the last 2 year to try for year 7 entry as our local state secondary is not great. We chose one "super selective", 3 others good schools which are not top 50 but still hard to get into but two safe choices. DS has already done 2 assessment days which seem to have gone well and has 3 more in Jan. The problem I have is the sheer numbers applying and the high standard. I think DS will do well but am just not sure he will be in the top 5% of whatever is needed to get in. Even the schools that are supposed to be easier to get into have 400 applications for 40 places. Just seems impossible to get DS in anywhere. It doesn't help that DS is not very motivated so it takes a huge amount of effort to get him to do practice papers. I am sure we have done far less than many others which will out DS at a disadvantage. Why are these schools so hard to get into and why are there no options for more average kids? Can anyone advise? Am in 2 minds whether he should even sit the January exams as his chances seem very low based on the number of applicants.

OP’s posts: |
Taminini Tue 11-Dec-18 10:44:47

I feel your pain, we’re in a similar position with our DS. I think it’s harder this year than ever as it’s a high birth rate year and there are no new independents or extra places to take this into account. Can’t offer any advice but can only commiserate, it’s a horrible process.

GU24Mum Tue 11-Dec-18 11:12:05

Me too - except that I've struggled to get him to do any extra work until very late in the day. Feels like a mountain to climb and I veer between digging in and throwing in the towel. Don't know whether I'm relieved or depressed about the thought that in 3 months' time it will be over for better or worse..........

Hothouseorflophouse Tue 11-Dec-18 11:58:11

It's grim but I'm now a veteran and I can only say that it's really not as bad as it seems.

For a start the numbers are misleading. Of those 400 for 40 places, many of them will be trying for multiple schools, anything up to 10. Secondly my older two are now in top 30 schools and neither of them are geniuses and nor are the vast majority of their friends.

My eldest completely flunked grammar exams and then got into two of the three independents he applied for, all of which were v selective as we stupidly didn't do a banker as we'd have rather gone state. His practice comprehension papers were abysmal, truly awful, and I remember saying to dh, 'oh well at least he's getting 75% in those maths papers you're marking' to which dh confessed that he wasn't getting anywhere near that he'd been fudging it so as not to demoralise him.

Oh and they have no musical talent nor particular sporting prowess, nor are they the sort of children that can chat about particle physics.

And another thing - one of them didn't have any head's references because the head was off sick and it was a chaotic state primary.

They are lovely though, obviously, and above averagely academic. As is your ds I'm sure. Don't believe that everyone else applying is some sort of hard working genius child with grade 8 violin and a cricket blue.

winterishereithink Tue 11-Dec-18 12:50:07

I would totally agree with the poster above!

MidLifeCrisis007 Tue 11-Dec-18 13:24:44

If a school has 400 applicants for 40 places and isn't absolutely top tier, then they will probably give offer letters to well over 100 - if not nearer 200 kids.The trouble with the 11+ process is the parents of the kids, not the process! They sit their kids for WAY too many schools! I've known kids to have 7 offers! It's as if the parents are on an ego trip......

Wheresthebeach Tue 11-Dec-18 13:51:57

Don't give up now! You're near the end of the process.

Keep plodding through, a bit of improvement will help along the way.

I remember the horror of the numbers too, but it will, hopefully, work out just fine. As others have said there will be loads of kids with multiple offers so things will move.

worriedandstressedAAA Tue 11-Dec-18 14:32:05

Ahh, thanks all, this is encouraging. I will dig in and try to ride it out. As you say, will all be over in a month or so! At least we can say that we tried. I just don't want DS to feel like a failure. Worried he will get rejected from all six that we are applying for. I am telling him it doesn't matter and how random the whole process is but still. I don't what him to feel like a failure at 10. I hate this system. Why are there not more good schools???? Good luck to everyone else's DCs sitting exams next month.

OP’s posts: |
bengalcat Tue 11-Dec-18 14:35:55

Yes I remember doing the rounds of London schools with my DD doing exams . Sometimes the queue was snaking in the grounds and outside the school gates . I had to keep reminding myself that the majority of children like mine were applying to a number of schools and therefore the apparent competition was not a reality . Good luck .

Wheresthebeach Tue 11-Dec-18 14:40:23

I felt the same way so we always 'bigged up' the state choices and were very blunt that an offer meant an option only, not a done deal. DD was told that the state option would be best if we got our first choice school.

I think that helped to keep perspective for everyone. If you feel that they have to get into one of these schools then it just piles on the pressure.

OneStepMoreFun Tue 11-Dec-18 14:55:52

I agree with posters who say 400 for 40 places is misleading. Everyone applies to the same few schools within an area. The superselective is probably a waste of time if he's not especially motivated or naturally gifted at maths. The others will shake down when places are offered. People will decline other offers if they get into their first choice schools.
I only know one child who didn;t get in anywhere, not even the safe bet school, and I have no idea why as he was reasonably bright and a lovely child. Everyone else found the right school for them. It's a cliche, but if they don;t get in, it's not the right school for them.

Hopeful201 Tue 11-Dec-18 16:28:55

Lots of children do loads of exams, we had a friend who made their son sit 11 exams. We did 3, 2 hard to get in 1 a banker. At each there 4/5 boys per place, it completely freaked me out. Everyone seems so serious and scary. I knew my DS was academic but I started doubting everything. The process is hideous and having gone through it twice, can say it works even if it feels cr*p at the time. I think there was one child who didn't get into any school but he had SENCO isscues and actually ended up in the perfect school in the end. Try really hard not to get too worked up, there isn't much you can do other than support your DS and not make a big deal out of it (easier said than done.)

ChocolateWombat Tue 11-Dec-18 19:18:17

I agree with everything said about the numbers being misleading and making it seem more impossible than it is.

I would also say that all schools over-offer, even the very popular ones, because each child can only take one place and even the very top schools won't be the first choice of every applicant,neven though it's hard to believe that. Some will have sat the exam as a practice for somewhere else, some could never realistically travel there but haven't quite yet realised that and so won't accept an offer, others sat it for nosiness or prestige, others sat it but can't really afford the fees, others have great state schools as their top options but just don't know if they will get them, and very many schools won't be the top choice of lots of candidates - some have to considerably over-offer to fill and expect over 75% to decline their offers and some actually don't fill even from waiting lists. There's all that complicated trying to manage how many offers to give and how to operate waiting lists or the awful exploding offers which some use, as schools try to manage that almost impossible balance of getting the best bums on seats to ensure enough fees come in from enough bright enough children, but that too many don't accept which they can't cope with - it is a very tricky balancing act. Schools rely on selling themselves as exclusive, competitive and desirable. Parents have believed it and rumours of difficulty getting in fuel parents putting their kids into more and more exams and make it harder and harder for schools to know who is really serious about their child taking up a place and for whom it's 6th choice.

Just plod on. You've got this far and the misery of pushing a DC to work who doesn't really want to will be over very soon. And just do your own thing and try not to chat too much to other parents who can make you feel desperate and depressed and demoralised. It will work out.

WhyAmIPayingFees Wed 12-Dec-18 13:50:55

Hang on in there! We’ve been through this and it did my head in. Another issue is that once the tests and interviews are all done you as a parent have to manage what might be an annoying mix of offers, waiting list places and perhaps rejections that do not come in the right order. Some schools sink to double glazing sales tactics to pressure you. Be prepared to hang on for what is best for your kid. Getting a late offer off a waiting list from a school that might be the best choice can be worth holding out for even if it means sacrificing a deposit to elsewhere from a weaker school that wants an early decision. Nobody wants to play these games but the behaviour of some schools is so bad it’s the only way to manage it.

Hothouseorflophouse Wed 12-Dec-18 16:00:25

Oh yes that's another thing, some schools (City Girls, Highgate, Channing that I know of) do exploding offers. That means that it's not enough for your child to be well prepared, perform well at exam and interview and get chosen above others, oh no. They've got to have hyper organised parents and no holiday plans for the half term too.

Wheresthebeach Wed 12-Dec-18 17:50:58

I think Kingston Grammer did exploding as well...but in a dim memory way...

winterishereithink Wed 12-Dec-18 18:50:42

KGS said they might do last year but they didn't in the end and I notice there's no mention of it this year in all their info.

Motorcyclemptiness Wed 12-Dec-18 19:13:57

Forgive my ignorance,.please, everyone but I'm curious - what schools are in the list.of tbe 'top 50' independents which admit DC at year 7? Where do the 'major independent schools which don't admit til year 9 rank, therefore? I am not being snobbish as none of my DC would have a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted by a "top 50' school. I might have attended a school now on this list myself, but it was.bloody horrible 25.years ago! Just nosy!

Ivegotthree Wed 12-Dec-18 23:25:27

PP see the Sunday Times league tables

Motorcyclemptiness Thu 13-Dec-18 07:23:54

Will look online thanx pp

OneStepMoreFun Thu 13-Dec-18 07:38:42

I saw Hothouse's explanation above, but what is an exploding offer? Do schools use that term? Is it a separate offer from other offers? Do they actually stipulate that you can't go away at half term? Surely not.

I've never heard of it and DC sat for the schools in the Kingston/Hampton area only a few years ago.

Just being nosey.

MrsPatmore Thu 13-Dec-18 08:09:58

An Exploding offer is one that expires before the official deadline - essentially you need to accept it asap often before the offer holders day. Once the spaces are filled, that's it! It's not called an exploding offer in the small print. See previous years posts for Vity of London School offers to see the furore it created.

MrsPatmore Thu 13-Dec-18 08:11:10

Vity should read City of London Girls School!

OneStepMoreFun Thu 13-Dec-18 08:34:24

Thank you Mrs Patmore. Gosh that's stressful. Our first choice school was the last to reply so we had to delay answering two other schools and they were pressing us for answers. Exploding offers would have added to the stress.

Schmoobarb Thu 13-Dec-18 08:38:30

Why are there not more good schools????

It’s not a criticism of you AT ALL but you’re contributing to the problem.

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