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Should a non academic child consider a grammar school?

59 replies

autismdisabilitymum · 02/10/2018 11:37

Hello, I'm a newbie so excuse my lack of Mumsnet terms!
I'm in a quandary about grammar schools and my daughter. She is year 5 and I always believed she would go to our towns big comp. it's next door to the school my disabled sons go to and she's happy about going there. But....
ALL of her friends are going for the grammar school exams, our town is quite posh (we're not) so I'm not surprised but I didn't expect all of them. My daughter has dyscalculia (maths dyslexia) and I can't see her getting through the exams or even coping with the practise. She's not particularly academic, she loves drama and English. Some of the other mums are beginning to question why I'm not even considering it and I'm wondering if I'm wrong. My daughter just wants to be with her friends and that is her driving force.
Am I being too 'I went to a big comp and I'm ok' , can a non academic child get into & thrive in a grammar school?
Thanks ladies xxx

OP posts:
VillageCats · 02/10/2018 11:41

If she can't cope with the practice then you won't be during her any favours to try and push her through the exam. It's probably not the best fit for her. I'd give her the option and show her how much work she'd need to do to prepare and see what she thinks. Keep in mind a good chunk of her friends probably won't pass and will be going with her to the comp.

MrsStrowman · 02/10/2018 11:43

Have you spoken to her teachers? There's no point setting her up to fail or hothousing her to get through the exam only for her to struggle at school. If she's got a fair shot at it, let her have a go off she reacts, but make sure she knows it isn't that important, if not make sure you find extracurricular ways for her to keep in touch with friends from primary. Honestly I went out of area to secondary, and made new friends very quickly, there are only a couple I kept in touch with from primary.

MrsStrowman · 02/10/2018 11:44

*if she wants not off she reacts

GerdaLovesLili · 02/10/2018 11:44

If you can't see her getting through the 11+ with the greatest will in the world, how is she going to be allocated a place there?

Even if she were to pass by some miracle, with lots of coaching she won't be able to keep up and will be utterly miserable.

Does everyone in your area take the 11+ or is it something that is only taken by some children (I live somewhere where there are still a few grammar schools, so the 11+ is no longer part of the general primary curriculum and you must apply individually to take it) ? That would make a difference in your approach, but realistically, a child who isn't academic but has other skills is not going to thrive in grammar.

Seeline · 02/10/2018 11:45

Have you visited the school to see if it would suit your DD in terms of ethos etc?

Are you in a grammar school area or is it a super selective? If SS, she would need to be really good to get in. She may not be academic, but is she clever?

GerdaLovesLili · 02/10/2018 11:45

so many mistakes! Not enough caffeine!

bookmum08 · 02/10/2018 11:45

Just because her friends are taking the exam doesn't mean they will get a place. Other than the fact it's a Grammar School what else does it offer? Passing 14 GCSEs and 4 A levels and on to uni isn't for everyone and isn't that the point of a Grammar School? Does she want that type of education? (OK she is a kid so won't really know yet but both you and her will know her interests and what makes her happy)

ghostyslovesheets · 02/10/2018 11:47

Both of my eldest are in secondary- yrs 11 and 10 - neither still hang out with their mates from primary school so I wouldn’t let that influence you

FullOfJellyBeans · 02/10/2018 11:49

It depends on the comp. and on your child.

I used to live in a grammar areas and the local comps were absolutely horrific - I would avoid them at all costs (terrible results, awful bullying, violence, drug and alcohol taking even during school hours). I would rather my child struggled in a grammar.

However if the comp. was decent and offered opportunities for DD if she becomes more academic over time and support for other non-academic careers too I'd be fine sending her there.

If your DD is on the boundary it's really a judgement call is she likely to suffer emotionally if she's always struggling? Will the workload negatively impact on her other interests?

aintnothinbutagstring · 02/10/2018 11:49

Well as you have already said, will she get through the 11+ to get into the school in the first place? What is the competition like for the grammars in your town? My dd just sat the 11+ for a grammar that has 10 applicants for every place, some are far worse with 20 or more for every place. Just because all her friends are sitting the 11+, will they all meet the mark or are their parents planning to send their children to other grammars in the local consortium if they don't get a place at the local grammar. I think grammar schools will have non academic dc that have been lucky enough on the day to meet the mark, if they have had enough tutoring. Will they thrive? Maybe, maybe not. A colleague I know had a ds at a very sought after grammar, he still needs tutoring as although he is bright, he is amongst some very, very clever children.

autismdisabilitymum · 02/10/2018 11:53

Thankyou for your comments. We hadn't even considered the grammars as my daughter really struggles with tests and her maths is that bad I just can't see her managing both the test or the schools. The 11+ is a choice at her junior school but because the comp is not particularly well regarded (I think it's fine but as I say our town is quite posh) lots of children do do it, plus there is a posher grammar with its own exam as well. It's the other mums that have surprised me, yes a couple of the daughters are very bright but some are similar to my daughter but the mums reaction to my ignoring the option has made me worry. Lots of these mums are beginning paid tutoring I can't afford and I think that's how some get in (this opens a valid political argument !)

OP posts:
MatildaTheCat · 02/10/2018 11:53

It’s most unlikely that all her friends will get through the exams. In our area the chance of success is something like less than 1:10.

DS1 ( top groups for everything, G&T etc) did the prep and exam and didn’t get a place. He excelled at his comp. we didn’t enter DS2 on that basis.

Children will be far happier finding things they are good at than trying to compete in a field in which they cannot succeed. Stick to the comprehensive and keep supporting her learning wherever you can.

RomanyRoots · 02/10/2018 11:56

none of my dc were academic, there's no way I would have put any of them through it tbh.
I have nothing against grammar and wish more areas had them, but they are for the few top percent, that's why they exist.

AuroraN · 02/10/2018 11:59

hmm..It all depends. Don't pigeon hole her yet, yr 5 is still very young. Like someone already said ask her teacher, they are the best person who knows your DD capabilities. Forget about the other mums, their kids, he said, she said... altogether. Have a proper sit down with her teacher to fin out where she is and how much work she might need.

For what its worth DS was not particularly academic in yr5 in the bottom half of his yr. He's now in Yr 10 and getting straight A's in several subjects. He is aiming very high for university, but would not have passed 11+.

If DD feels you don't have confidence in her she will automatically pick up on that. Its not just what we say and its also what we don't say. so there is a possibility she has just accepted based on your silence, that its not for her. Her siblings school being nearby honestly shouldn't determine which school she goes to either.

If after the meeting its clear that its definitely not for her, then be confident in your decision and ignore all the other crazy mums whittling on about 'the Gramma'. But you want to make sure you're making the right decision.

Estrelizia · 02/10/2018 12:04

Our local grammars are very academic .My daughter got a place with no tutoring just a few practice papers but most of the girls there were from well off backgrounds and were tutored and went to local prep schools to ensure they got their place and many struggled with the level of work and dedication required when there .This is very unfair on bright local girls from not so well off families who cannot afford tutoring and private schooling but who would have thrived at the grammar school but were forced instead to go to the local sink secondary modern ,one of the worst in the country.So if the local comprhensive is a good one I would say give your child the choice and go with that .

AuroraN · 02/10/2018 12:08

This is very unfair on bright local girls from not so well off families who cannot afford tutoring and private schooling but who would have thrived at the grammar school but were forced instead to go to the local sink secondary modern ,one of the worst in the country.

So would it be okay if the child wasn't bright?

Tomorrowillbeachicken · 02/10/2018 12:10

I wouldn’t. Even if she is heavily tutored and gets in she may well fall behind once she gets in.

underneaththeash · 02/10/2018 12:16

Please don't put her through an exam that she's unlikely to be able to pass. A couple of people did that in our son's prep one year (one had dyslexia and the other dyscalculia), even with extra time and preparation they failed by a huge margin and both were really upset. It took one of them several months to get over being a failure.

The second thing to think about is that non-academic provision in grammar schools isn't sometimes very good. In DS's grammar school, there is absolutely no drama provision for year 7&8 and only one term in year 9. There is no DT lab, the peripherals often get cut to spend more more on the academics.

TeddybearBaby · 02/10/2018 12:17

@autismdisabilitymum you sound like a great mum. Know your child and have nothing to prove! Why don’t you visit the schools? Open days are coming up, see what you think. I loved the local comp, thought my son would thrive there but he passed the test and begged to go to the grammar. I still wonder now if that was the right decision but I felt I had to listen to his opinion on this one. Good luck!

arethereanyleftatall · 02/10/2018 12:33

It depends where you live. I grew up in Kent, and, back then it might be different now, it wasn't hard to get in to grammar; as long as you were on the top few tables at primary you'd get in, no tutoring required.
Now, where I live, there's no grammar schools in our actual county, so people try to get in to the grammar in neighbouring counties. You have to be top of the class, plus be tutored to stand any kind of chance of getting in.

autismdisabilitymum · 02/10/2018 12:35

@TeddybearBaby Thankyou x

OP posts:
CaramelAngel · 02/10/2018 12:36

I live in a non grammar county but some people try for grammars a distance away. Most of my dc's friends tried but none got in. (These are kids who would definitely have got in to my old grammar in a grammar county.)


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CaramelAngel · 02/10/2018 12:40

These are South London grammars they tried to get into.

BluthsFrozenBananas · 02/10/2018 12:43

Having just been through the 11 plus with DD (and still nervously waiting for the results) I’d say absolutely don’t put your DD through it if you don’t think she’s got a reasonable chance of passing. If I had the option of a more or less guaranteed place at a good local comp I don’t think I would have put DD through it, it’s a horribly brutal thing to make ten year old children do.

From the sounds of it even if she passed your DD would struggle at grammar. It’s much much better to be average at a good comp than in the bottom at a highly acedemic school. My DD’s weakest subject is maths, if she gets into the grammar I know she’ll be in the bottom set for it and I know she’ll hate that.

Other parents questioning your choice of not doing the test are being incredibly rude. If they ask you again just tell them you don’t think grammar is the right school for your DD, and leave it at that.

Moonpie07 · 02/10/2018 12:54

DS2 has just started at a grammar and I would say don't do it. It's about much more than passing the 11 plus. DS1 has dyscalculia and would not be able to cope. Hence he didn't do 11 plus. DS2 is a very bright and hard working boy but the pace and volume of work is high. In maths, they have started at a level well above SATS standard and are averaging 3 worksheets a week for homework plus online work to follow. DS2 flew through primary work but he is having to really work hard at this level. For example, I Google one homework sheet and found it on a teaching info site saying it was aimed at top set Y8. This is after 3 weeks of Y7!

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