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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:56 am 
I realise that what I am about to say may offend someone out there going through the stress of appeals and worrying about their child's future. If this is the case I apologise. Sorry about the length also.

I have been logging into this site for a while now and have found it helpful. Recently, though, I have become increasingly concerned by the apparent assumption that a selective school is the best place for any reasonably bright child. I know that for many of you it WILL be the best available option. Please be aware however that for some children there could be a lot to lose if they "succeed" in getting into such a school.

I went to an academically selective private school. By grammar standards it was small and friendly. The pastoral care was excellent; staff really cared and are still asking after me and inviting me to their homes for coffee 20 years after I left! I was not one of the "good girls" by the way; they cared about us all.

For the majority of us it was a very happy place and we enjoyed learning. Academic results were very good and a fair few of us left for oxbridge. The school was, and is, inexpensive by private standards and was oversubscribed. A number of children entered from a prep school which crammed girls for the entrance exams at 11.

My point is that for the less able girls, and by this I mean the bottom 3 or 4 in each class of 30, the experience could be very different. These were girls of probably above avarage ability but, despite the best efforts of the school, they felt failures. We were all too supportive of one another to give them a hard time (and the school did not publish class position lists) but everyone knew how they were doing in relation to the rest of the class and even if no-one boasted IT MATTERED.

Of the 5 least academic girls in my year group at the age of 11: 2 were withdrawn and sent to less academic schools where they both thrived (becoming head girl, getting good degrees etc); 1 survived but was unhappy until she left school and blossomed; 1 "tuned out", turning to smoking and general "bad" behaviour and not regaining her self-confidence until she left; and the last had a total mental breakdown and completed her education in a psychiatric ward. This last one, incidentally, was the one with the pushiest parents by far.

When you look at a school's exam results don't just look at what the top results are. Look at what the lowest grades are and ask yourself whether any child able enough to get a place at the school should have done that poorly. Then ask yourself what it must be like to acheive those grades when all your friends are getting "A"s.

Sorry for the length of this post but I felt I had to say this. Nowadays our children are under enormous pressure from all directions. They don't need to be made to feel stupid as well. If your child ended up anorexic or taking drugs as a form of escape wouldn't you say they had lost an awful lot?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:29 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:18 am
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Dear Guest
Voicing all the thoughts that were/stillare going around in my head!!
Speaking for myself only when I say that whilst 1st child was off to grammar school,the doubts(unknown to child) were still there that we have picked the right environment for him.

Quote:
our children are under enormous pressure from all directions.


How very true...to conform to socially acceptable standards,expectations from parents,people you know in the community,family...will they feel
comfortable,grow and learn without feeling that they have 'failed' if not in the top of the top?

we watch him daily to make sure he is thriving. He could have thrived in other schools but each have their own set of concerns. Having made the choice to go to a selective and getting there does not mean his future is written out. In fact, the pace of change is so fast that as parents, we sometimes feel left behind and struggle to keep everything balanced and all sane and happy.

In effect, wherever he went..in the last 3 years,we would be doing the same things to keep that transition from Junior school to senior to beyond
as smooth as possible.

We are very aware that at any point in time,our child may lose his way but that can happen whichever school he goes to. Our thoughts,as parents, were always that if at any point he was unhappy or there was a problem..we'd just have to find a solution..even if he has to change schools. He didn't know of that option and luckily has settled in well at selective school.

Don't feel apologetic for your thoughts ..as we ourselves have gone through school/college/uni , we feel they are under more pressure than us when we were young. A lot of hidden worry for the kids in our modern world!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Guest

I hope that no one on the Forum will find your thoughts offensive - I find them entirely sensible.

I recognise the situation you describe only too well, as the same happened at my own selective school.

The great majority of cases that we see on this Appeals thread are for children who have very narrowly failed the 11+. There are frequently very strong mitigating circumstances that contributed to that, or in other cases (that of my own son, for example) the child has a strong academic track record and would clearly cope perfectly well at a GS, but does not excel at the type of test that they need to pass for the school.

I can only recall seeing a few cases in 18 months where the child was almost certainly not suited at all to Grammar School, and the parents were living in a dreamworld. Both Etienne & I would always try - as gently as possible - to suggest that the parents consider the alternatives if their case was clearly weak and the parents were expecting too much of their child.

By contrast, I have to say that there are always a number of cases - ones that never see the light of day on this forum, where children who are hopelessly unsuited to selective school manage to pass the test, either through intensive coaching or a particular aptitude for the entrance test, only to struggle in the way you have described. They are the cases that give me the most concern, and your words are a timely warning to parents to evaluate their child's ability realistically.

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:51 pm 
Hello LBSWM and Sally-Anne
Thanks for your replies.

Sally-Anne, I agree with what you say about it not necessarily being the children who need to appeal being the weakest candidates. I certainly didn't aim my comments at anyone who has been posting in this section! Perhaps I should have posted under a more general heading?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:44 pm
Posts: 345
Thank you guest for being a voice of reason

Quote:
Don't feel apologetic for your thoughts ..as we ourselves have gone through school/college/uni , we feel they are under more pressure than us when we were young. A lot of hidden worry for the kids in our modern world!


Could not have put it any better, myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:10 pm 
Anonymous wrote:
Please be aware however that for some children there could be a lot to lose if they "succeed" in getting into such a school.



This is so true. We moved to an area with grammar schools when our daughter was 14. She had been at a genuinely all ability comprehensive until then, and was considered one of their highest achievers, well within the top 2% of the population. At the age of 8 she had been given an academic scholarship to a high achieving prep school. We thought a grammar school would suit her down to the ground, and were delighted when she was tested and admitted when we moved. However, although she had no problems with the work she couldn't bear the stifling atmosphere of the school (as she saw it) and left without completing her A Levels and therefore never went to university. The only thing that eases our consciences is that we had no choice about moving and that there were no all ability comps where we moved to, so we couldn't have found a comparable school for her to the one she had been at. But please don't assume that if your child is a high achiever they would be happier in a grammar if they get the chance - we found out the hard way that is not always the case. :cry:


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:08 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:30 pm
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"Is it better to be the tail of a lion or the head of a mouse"?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:18 am
Posts: 4083
Confucious, he says: Better to be the talons of an eagle...to have the tenacity to hold on to your dreams and develop the talents you have in the jungle they call Life!

(OK, I said it.)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:58 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 12:17 pm
Posts: 149
Location: nr yorks
Hi I will let you know in a few years about this one! lol :lol:

Eldest daughter thriving in year 7 at Grammar, youngest daughter starting at Comprehensive in September, not quite as good at english and maths as elder daughter, but she is much great at art and design!

Footy :wink:


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