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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:27 am
Posts: 340
We live quite a way from the GS, but my ds is bright. When I first began to think about grammar school, he did the sample on-line test linked to from this site and he did it with no prep or help and got 100%. As we prepare, he doesn't need anything explaining, he just reads questions and does them, and gets them right. He is currently year 5.

I would really like him to go to GS as I think it will give him best options. He is really, really not keen. His main objection is the distance. For us it wouldn't be as bad as some, he would need to cycle to station (10 mins) get on train at about 7:55, and arrive at school at 8:30. (we would probably drive him to station in first year). He also doesn't want to go to all boys school. This is because he says 'If you want to get any work done, you go and sit with the girls' Which says a lot about the boys in his class, and he just can't imagine a scenario where the boys are interested in work. He would be slightly more enthusiastic about Pates, but that means a bus leaving at 7:10, with a 10 minutes cycle to the bus stop, and I think that is a very long day.
We have visited the GS, he thought it was 'old fashioned' because the school hall is traditional. he completely didn't notice all the other facilities.

He really wants to go to local comp.

We are being very laid back about it all, doing the prep, but leaving the decision open, no pressure.

The trouble is, he doesn't understand the benefits long term, and the other, less tangible benefits, like the self confidence etc.
He doesn't understand that at the local comp, he is going, at some point, to have to make the choice between 'sitting with the girls' to get the work done, or just following the boys and opting out of academic stuff when it isn't 'cool'

I know a lot of this is the unknown. And he doesn't believe he is clever, and he has never experienced the feeling of being with a group of other clever kids working together.

I just wondered if anyone else had this, and how they got around it. How did you sell the school and the journey to their dcs?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:08 pm
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I think you are going to have to be the parent here. He doesn't know what is good for him because his primary school is the only experience of education he knows and he thinks this is what goes on everywhere. Don't let him make the decision if you think it will be wrong for him.

I would continue with the preparation in the meantime. Take the opportunity to take him round on Open Day and speak to some of the older boys about their experience of the school/s. Go around the comprehensive as well so he can compare but discuss the differences with him. When he goes into Year 6 he might find there are others he knows who are trying for the grammar schools and that might encourage him. He probably feels he is the only one trying.

Be strong and make the right decision for your little boy.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:27 am
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Thanks kingfisher. That is my inclination, that sometimes you have to be the parent and just say this is the way it is. He has visited both and like the comp! To be fair the comp is OK. It wouldn't be a disaster if he went there, but not in the same league.

We are out of county and there are no others in year 6 preparing. That is another point against, no-one else in his school is having to do the exam.

He has said that he will just deliberately fail, so I am trying to find ways to get him on-side. I know that after about 1 month, he will love it. It is persuading him to try it that is the problem.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:33 am 
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Hi Steppemum,

Firstly, your little boy sounds very bright! I wanted to chip in here because I was exactly the same at primary school. All my friends were going to the local comp - including my Best Friend Forever (where is she now?!) - and I couldn't imagine a world where they wouldn't be the centre of my existence. The turning point for me was going for an open event at our local SS where I suddenly realised the extent of the opportunity I would be turning down - because we got to make goo. That is about as sophisticated as the mind of a 10 year old gets: "Mum I don't want to go to that school; how will I ever live without my friends, who are part of my very soul?! Oh, hold on - you can make goo at that school?! Who knew?! Bye bye dearest friends - I'm off to a school where I shall immerse myself in daily goo-making experiences!" I didn't ever visit the comp, in fact - and I think that was probably a good thing; what if they had let us make bracelets? Or explode something in the labs? That might have blown the goo out of the water.

Fortunately, I didn't ever learn what happened at the local comp, and toddled off happily (a walk, bus, bus, walk journey). I made some wonderful friends - people that are still my friends today. And, in fact, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I entered a world where the sky was the limit - where we were taught we could be anything we wanted to be.

It sounds like its a hearts and minds battle you're fighting, too. So, my advice would be, firstly, to gently remind him - occasionally - of the benefits of the education he could get. Explain your point of view. As you say, he is 10 (9?) and can't see far beyond the issues that are important to a 10 (/9) year old - but I think you can try to help them do that. Show him the difference in results between the two schools, in university destination, and explain what that means for him and his future. Ask him what he wants to be (astronaut? doctor? fashion designer? the troll under the bridge from the Billy Goats Gruff? These are some of my DD's current career options) and show him that this school can help him be whatever he wants to be. It might sound a lot for a littl'un but I had these sorts of conversations with my daughter (now year 6) when she was going through a "lalala, this 11+ is a total lark - I don't think I'll bother marking the paper at all!" phase. I explained that I wanted her to have options, and that all I cared about was that she could walk away from the tests knowing she'd done them to the best of her ability. Come what may, she would always know that she was someone who did her best. I told her that the only thing she could ever regret was not trying. That if she tried, and didn't get through on that day, in that test, that she would always know she was brilliant in her own right, and that most importantly, she's tried her best. It worked for her, rather miraculously I must say.

Another thing that helped was making some friends on the insight day (the one with the goo). Just knowing I could see those people again was a carrot. Could you try to get him friendly with some other boys who are doing the tests? Maybe arrange a meet up with some of them from the forum if you can? Or enrol him in a group 11+ course if they have them in your area - I used to run them and the effect (if they're well run) on the kids is brilliant - just meeting others in the same boat, that you might bump into on the day of your test, makes them feel part of something. It's amazing the effect that a friend can have. Almost as powerful as goo making experiences. Vet them carefully, though - some of the courses can have the opposite effect.

Finally, if there is any opportunity for an insight day, get him along! You never know, they might make goo.

Oh - and re: the purposefully failing - I would say remind him that the tests are very difficult to pass and that lots of people don't - but that he could regret it if he doesn't give himself a shot at it. If you can persuade him to do his best, you can then make a decision, together, about what's next.

The friendship thing is probably the most powerful, though.

Sorry for the essay and I hope I don't sound preachy! Because of my experiences, I totally understand your DS's point of view. Really hope you can get through to him on this!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:54 pm
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Would moving house be an option? Always easier for the adult to do that bit extra travelling rather than the child. Not always possible, but a consideration? I know GS children are spread all over but there will always be more the closer you get to the school. Also easier to take part in after school activities with less of a journey home and to be involved in a social life with friends when not forever having to rely on parents driving them.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:59 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:32 pm
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I wish I had had the benefit of this forum when DD1 was at this stage. Now I have to go through it with DD2, with the added hassle of DD1 objecting.

If I had it to do all over from the beginning, I would have a) moved to GS catchment and probably b) gone to private primary (against my principles, but they are toast now anyway).

My DD2 liked the comp too on our visit for DD1, because they had brownies. Three years later she still remembers them.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:30 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:48 pm
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Can I add that my DS is currently working towards the exam this Oct. He's bright but not enthusiastic (as my previous posts explain). I'm trying to approach it in a way that keeps our options open. What I'm trying to say is that I haven't made him think if he passes then he definitely goes to a school he's unfamiliar with but that, instead, if he passes he has more options for us all to choose from. I'm trying to up our local comp at the same time in case he doesn't pass or we simply choose that option later on. Maybe I'm not making myself clear but the important thing at this point is that the children do their best on the day so that they have choices afterwards rather than forcing them down one route because they didn't give the exam a go. Your DS may not perform on the day or you may, as a family, choose another school in October it's all up in the air at the moment. Just try to get him to do his best on the day for now so that you all have a choice after that. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:29 pm 
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Hopeful - what a lovely post!

(from someone who's son has got into the grammar stream at non-GS, and now doesn't want to appeal for grammar)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:44 am
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Our DD is due to start at our local GS this September. We sold the tests to her by saying that by taking the exams (3) that she was giving HERSELF the chance to have a choice. If she passed and she still wanted to go to the local girls only Comp, then she could! But she was giving herself a chance, that lots of other kids might not have. She liked all the schools that she visitied, but having passed 2 exams she still prefered the local GS. I do think though that distance can make for a really long day.

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:44 am
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Location: Reading
steppemum wrote:
We are out of county and there are no others in year 6 preparing. That is another point against, no-one else in his school is having to do the exam.



Given the secretive behaviour around 11+ this may not be true.
When I asked my DD to go to the GS open day with me back in yr 5 she said she wasn't interested when I dropped her at school. By the time I picked her up she had found out several of her friends were going and so she wanted to go too. Once there she got enthused, agreed to do a bit of prep, and she will be starting there in September.


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