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 Post subject: Bottom of the class ...
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:44 pm
Posts: 357
let's face it - EVERY class has to have someone at the bottom of it. I have read zillions of threads (mainly on another forum) about how awful it is to be in the bottom 20% of a grammar school class. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but how can it be worse to be in the bottom 20% of a good grammar school, than in the bottom 20% of a poor comprehensive?

Plus, another zillion people have said they don't believe in tutoring for the 11+ as the child would obviously struggle if it got into a grammar school. As the child has clearly shown an improvement (enough to qualify) then presumably with work and diligence they will continue to improve. And many of these zillion (about half I think) then proudly say that they bought test papers, marked them and worked with their children.

To me that is TUTORING!!! Anyone who teaches the child is a tutor - irrespective of whether they are paid for or a relative. So yet again, this "myth" that children can just walk into an 11+ exam and achieve a great mark is simply not true. So some poor innocents (as I was a few months ago) will assume their child can walk into an exam room, and just "do" VR and NVR without any assistance. Thank goodness I found this forum in time ...

So, back to my initial statement. Am I wrong in wanting my son to go to a grammar school "just in case" he ends up in the bottom 20%? Should I prefer to let him wander through life without a care in the world in case he finally realises that life is NOT easy, NOT perfect and he can't win every race he runs? (Actually, the school he is in is fiercely competitive even with their conker matches, so he is very realistic about what is and is not achievable!)

One child on this other forum has won a place at a good school. The parent is considering sending the child to a lesser school in case they turn from a confident child into one that is not confident due to being at the bottom of the class. And this is based on nothing more than the comments from a load of strangers on the internet they have never met, who likely have a secret agenda of wanting the space for their own child ...

If my child struggles to a degree that he cannot cope (should I ever find a school to take him - fingers crossed for the middle of April!) then I will presumably either know from what he tells me, or the school will suggest that he is not making sufficient progress and measures need to be taken. But at least he will have been given the chance.

I don't believe he will struggle - he thrives in a competitive environment, and as long as there is something he can be quite good at, then he will be happy. And it does not have to be someting in school - he has a range of other activities as do all our children - and I don't think he is any different to those.

So finally, the point of this ramble. Do you think you should stop your child from taking a place they have won fair and square in a VERY competitive environment, just because YOU as the parent of the child, feel they may not cope?

If I had had the opportunity to go to some of these schools, I would have been pretty cross with my parents for not giving me the chance to prove myself!!!

Every child on here will have come on immensely with the extra "tutoring" in various subjects - and with the discipline they needed to do the work, no matter WHAT school they get into, this will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives! Well done to ALL of them!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:06 pm 
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Hear, hear faitaccompli.

If a child really isn't happy at a school the parents can also reconsider later, but surely it's worth giving them a chance. Having moved a child in year 10 with great trepidation I can say that I'm sure most will take it in their stride whenever they are moved.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:16 pm 
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I think its really a very personal choice and down to how you know your child and what they will best cope with. To begin with I was much the same as you, thought a bright child could just walk in & cope with the test. To some extent, I still believe this true, I 'DIY' tutored my DS1 and he got a very good pass - I think chances are he would have passed anyway though not so highly, a bit of preparation upped his score. For some children this would be the difference between a pass or not pass. For my DS2 at the moment I very much feel that I will neither be tutoring him or putting him in for the 11+ (this could change as have a few years to go!!!) He is so different and has struggled with everything, and I don't think he would cope with GS workload. He is very physical & creative & I think he would do better in a comp where there is less academic pressure & more scope for him to excel in other areas. That said, you may have a child who is a very dilligent worker & would thrive in GS even though they had to work very hard to get there & may not ever be top of the class. You know your child, I don't think anybody else can have a better opinion on whats best for them than you :)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:20 pm 
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Location: Trafford
I think it can be a confidence issue. Children at the bottom of a grammar school are bright kids with a great potential and certainly university material. But what I have seen happen many times over the years is that some of these kids become demoralised at always being bottom and the effect this has on their own self-esteem is to make them really devalue their intelligence and see themselves as failures and I think there is a tendency for them not to go on and achieve as highly as they perhaps could have done being towards the top of a different school. (This may be a girl thing, as my experiences are girls' grammar related only.)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:43 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
There was a lad in my year at my school (back in't '70's) who had been pushed & tutored like mad to pass his 11+ because his parents didn't like the idea of him being in a comp school (which was all there was in his town). At that time, very few children were tutored - at my primary school a teacher took about 12 of us aside for 5 x 30 min group lessons in 11+ technique, but that was it.

Of course, not everyone was good at every subject (just ask my French teacher :shock: ) but everyone managed to keep up. Apart from said lad who struggled with everything academic. He was absolutely miserable at the school - not without friends as he was a nice kid. It wasn't helped by him having to travel some way (a change of trains) each day.

Mid 2nd year (aka Y8), the head spoke to his parents and very strongly recommended that he move schools, which eventually he did. I doubt if he even ended up in the top set at his local comp (which having no local grammar had plenty of bright children).

That kind of problem does still happen now. I've heard talk of one child at my childrens school who's in that situation, though don't know her (or even which class she's in).

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:04 pm 
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DS’s GS actually gives a presentation to parents in Y8 or Y9 (can’t quite remember, he’s Y11 now) about the fact that there is very little correlation between 11+ scores and GCSE results – they put up charts and graphs to illustrate the point :D – which was, broadly, that if you’re bright enough to get into GS, you’re bright enough to do well thereafter, providing you keep working.

There are some ridiculously intelligent boys at his school, but not being among them doesn’t seem to have spoiled his enjoyment at being there :D


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Location: Essex
It's tricky. I suppose it depends on your DC's character and the schooling options available. No parent wants their child to struggle in school. I'm not sure though, that being at the bottom end necessarily means a child is struggling - particularly in a super selective. I worry that this sort of scenario is used to manipulate parents into not preparing their DC for the 11+. I've been told in my PS playground that I'm not supposed to prepare my DC for the exam or else GS will be a struggle. What gets me is that the mother telling me this sends her DD to a tutor, has cleared out the local bookshop of its Bond books and subscribes to an online platform - all the while claiming that her DD doesn't do much!

The testing system isn't perfect but I tend to think that those who pass are good enough for GS. I think many who don't pass are also good enough for GS but that the sheer paucity of places means they can't be accommodated.

GS isn't for everyone. If a DC needs to be a big fish then it may be safer to put them in a small pond. I know one parent who considered the 11+ but decided against it because
her DS is so competitive and copes badly with anything less than being the best. He is thriving at his catchment comp. I'm not sure I'd have made the same decision but I suppose the point is that parents know their own children better than anyone and are best placed to choose a school which will suit their characters. I think the problem arises when parents give too much consideration to other factors and are chasing what they see to be the best school rather than the best school for their child.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:26 pm 
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Which is another point! Teachers can only teach what is in front of them - so if there is a class full of children who have been tutored into passing the test, then they are likely to all be of a similar standard ...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:35 pm
Posts: 1046
Location: Buckinghamshire
scary mum wrote:
...surely it's worth giving them a chance.

I agree!

When deciding whether to appeal for my DC against non-qualification (1 point out), a friend kindly told me what happened with her OH when young. He missed out by 1 point to qualify for grammar, but instead of appealing his parents felt it better to send him to the local upper. Later on, now married with children of his own, he asked his parents why they didn't go to appeal for him and they responded that they felt it would be better for him to be top at the local upper than bottom at the grammar. His reponse .... "how do you know how I would have done at grammar, you never gave me the chance to prove myself!"

That helped me make my decision for my DC; we appealed, were successful and DC has proved us right .... by doing very well indeed :D

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:07 pm 
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Rob Clark wrote:
DS’s GS actually gives a presentation to parents in Y8 or Y9 (can’t quite remember, he’s Y11 now) about the fact that there is very little correlation between 11+ scores and GCSE results – they put up charts and graphs to illustrate the point :D – which was, broadly, that if you’re bright enough to get into GS, you’re bright enough to do well thereafter, providing you keep working.

There are some ridiculously intelligent boys at his school, but not being among them doesn’t seem to have spoiled his enjoyment at being there :D


The headmaster at my DS's grammar has said the same with regard to 11+ scores and GCSE results. My DS also works alongside some extremely intelligent boys and he knows this but, like your DS, this has not put him off of a grammar education.

Whether you are at a comprehensive school, college or university there will always be someone at the very top and someone at the bottom but they have all worked extremely hard to get where they have.

There could be a lot worse things in life than being in the bottom 20% of a grammar school and, if one child doesn't take the place, another certainly will very quickly!


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