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 Post subject: Your opinions welcome
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:45 am 
I live in the Caribbean and my son has just taken the 11+ exams, in an environment that is very similar to yours. We have the situation of prestige schools, which possess good teachers who are present in class and are qualified, and good equipment; as well as failing schools with lots of absenteeisms and extremely poor exam results at the equivalent of GCE O'levels. There are also private schools - at least one very good private school in my area. There are also single sex schools and mixed schools, with the girls schools doing better overall than the boys school, and the mixed schools generally falling behind the single sex schools.

The 11+ exam is the only exam that leads to attendance at secondary school, and a child is allowed to repeat if he or she fails. The need to repeat can badly dent the confidence of the child and many parents try not to have the child repeat unless he or she lacks the competence to move on to secondary school, rather than just because the child did not pass for the school of choice, which is often the case.

One is more likely to be placed at a failing schoolthan to fail, because the competition for places is so intense that a 85 to 95% average is need to be placed at a school of choice, while 60% can see you placed at a school of very poor reputation.

My son was doing very well in school and then he began to have problems with Maths, with the entry of a new Math teacher who is a lovely person who is trained but who may be somewhat inexperienced. The drop in his Math grade and subsequent loss of confidence in his ability to do this subject well, was apparently not an individual case, since other parents were experiencing a similar situation. The teacher intimated that the children were not well prepared before they entered her class at this critical period. We have not been able to ascertain this.

In order to avoid the drilling that takes places in preparation for this exam, the school has a curriculum that includes science, music, art, and math and english; while the exam only tests on Math and English. My son has been characterised generally by his teachers as curious and intelligent, with a reputation for thoughtful answers. In fact his math teacher was so worried and upset because she said that in his class work he showed an above average aptitude and understanding of math, but his test results in class did not match what she saw and knew he could do.

Now for you opinion: I feel that if my son does not pass for a school that we feel will give him a good chance in life, that I should pay for private secondary education in a good school. Reasons being that his regular schoolwork shows that he is competent and intelligent; and his teacher's say so too. I also feel that at 11 years, one can hardly conclude on a child's capacity since there is room for growth and development, especially in boys. (I have 2 older girls).

My husband feels that there is a chance that a wrong message about actions and consequences may be sent if he is not sent to the school for which he passed; or if he is allowed to go to a private school, if he does not do well enough to go to the school of his choice. The other choice is for him to remain in his primary school and redo the exam.

Results come out on Friday and the last thing I want, whatever decision we make, is for my son to feel at this point in his life that it is his fault if he does not do well enough to pass for the school of his choice. While I understand my husband's desire to teach good values I think that there are many other opportunities to teach our children about the consequences of actions, and that age ought to enter the consideration.

Apart from a full school day, in which our son has participated enthusiastically, he had to go to school an hour earlier for lessons; he also had lessons on Sundays to help with his Math; and had to do extra practice papers at home. He sometimes balked at going to these further lessons. A natural reaction of an 11 year old I suppose.

I look forward to your comments.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:12 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8134
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Lynette

An interesting question, and my immediate response is that you are using your instinct, while your husband is acting on reason, logic and moral values. That is remarkably typical of how men and women view the decision on schools, not to mention many other things in life!

If the results prove that you have a choice between state and private, look at the schools again and I think you will be able to tell which school your son will be happiest at and where he will fit best and that should be the basis on which the decision is made.

Do let us know what happens. Oh, and please have mercy and try not to talk about the sunny Caribbean any more than you have to - it's a miserably cold, grey day here!
:lol: :lol:


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:41 am 
If you can afford private I'd go for it. The "consequence" of your son's poor performance (if it is poor) will be that your family need to find the fees!

From what you say, your son sounds like a hard-working, decent boy. To deliberately put him into a school where you fear that his whole educational future will be a write-off seems a very harsh lesson in actions and consequences. This is particularly so if he is doing his best to get into the more selective school, but may find it beyond his ability due to indifferent primary education.

Yes, children need to learn that the world does not owe them a living; they need to take responsibility for their own actions and futures. On the other hand, he is still very much a child and perhaps it is no bad thing if he also learns that his family want the best for him and will strive to help him achieve it.

 Post subject: Thanks
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:36 am 
Its quite nice to see how other perspectives help to further progress in decision making. These two responses have nudged discussions and decision making in a positive direction and I am much more comfortable that we will make the best decision for our son, whatever the outcome. Thanks.

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