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 Post subject: Is there a Choice ?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:09 am 
The reality is that I stress myself out, work really hard to get my child prepared for the 11 plus tests for the KE grammar schools. There are two outcomes - 1) he passes and gets or 2) doesn't meet the criteria's and goes to the local comprehensive. The stress starts all over again. The problem? - I don't like the local school, I want the choice of sending my kid to the one which not in our catchments, but it is a good school. My issue, I have to make a song and dance with the LEA and justify why my kid is good enough to get in at the good school. The BIG CON - the LEA form asks you to state five schools of your choice in ORDER of preference, but , the BIG but, is the real choice, and the only choice, is the catchments school. So, where is the choice, and what happens to the democratic process that we are sold when filling in the preferences?.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:26 am 
There isn't really an answer to your post! It is an awful situation to be in and I think you feel powerless, which is very frustrating. Once your child has sat the test you will either feel relieved that it is over, or worry because they tell you about all the questions they got wrong or guessed.

There is no relief from this stress until next March and even then if you don't get your choice, you will feel worried about the alternative. It is all consuming for a while, I know because I have been there!

How does your child do on practise tests?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:17 am 
Hello, yeah he is doing well, scoring well on NVR and VR. I am bit concerned about maths and english. He is top in his maths group at school and also for english, but it depends on what is goning to be tested in Nov. If hasn't covered it yet at school, makes the task of tests much harder. I hoping to help as much as I can between now and Nov. Is there a cut off point prior to the test? i.e give the child to relax before the test date. Your advice is welcomed.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:43 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1348
Location: Birmingham
Hi David

I sympathise with your situation having gone through the process last year.

We actually live in Worcs, close to the Birmingham boundary, and the Worcs LEA form only allows 3 choices.

The issue we had was that there is only 1 Comprehensive in the local catchment area (Woodrush) which is always oversubscribed. The LEA rules state that if you don't include that school somewhere in your list of 3 preferences, then you won't get a place.

So in our case if we wanted the local Comp as a fallback we had to put this down, which meant that we had only 2 other schools we could put as preferences. All of the KE Grammars and B/Ham grammars have to be put down as a separate choice if you want to be considered. We felt this was unfair compared to parents living 500 yards down the road in Birmingham who had 6 choices.

The KE Foundation Office were sympathetic about the situation and said they had spoken many times to the Worcs LEA about it - but of course Worcs LEA did nothing.

I even wrote a letter and sent several emails to our local Conservative Parish Councellor about the special circumstances of parents who live on the B/Ham boundary area. He never even bothered to acknowledge my letter. (noted when he next asks for my vote!)

In the end we decided to put 3 KE Schools as our LEA choices and appeal if our son didn't pass the KE 11+ and was allocated a Comprehensive 20 miles away in somewhere like South Bromsgrove.

In the end it all worked out ok as he passed KE Five Ways - but I think the system stinks - it really is Hobson's Choice for most parents regarding the LEA 'Choices'

You mentioned in you post that you only have 5 choices on your LEA form - in which LEA do you live? Can't be Birmingham as they have 6 preferences.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 4:08 pm 

The maths is hard, but it isn't anything more than he would have done at school - a lot of maths at school is so easy that the test is a real shock for some. We taught my daughter algebra and all sorts, but she didn't use it in the test. I think they need to know about BIDMAS, and need to be up to speed with times tables and so on. We taught her how to do sums the quick way, ie, not using the grid method because that really slows them up, but I think we went a bit over board with simplification of equations and so on! They also need to know their maths "facts" such as 180 degrees in a triangle and 360 in a circle, because I think that some quesitons are such that they need to be able to apply the facts that they know.

We didn't do much in the week before the test itself except the example paper that they sent - I felt it became a bit too hectic and I wanted her to be relaxed and rested, so we didn't do much. However, we did lots of practise over half term - she actually likes doing tests so it was a bit of fun for her - she is a bit of a crazy child, but I know how difficult it can be with a reluctant child like my older one! I don't think you want to pressurise too much if he is not keen.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:57 pm 
Symphathise with DavidC - we have a related but different problem - my closeby local comp is good - I've no problem sending my daughter there if she doesn't make the grade - but problem is that, unique in Birmingham, it has 2 feeder primary schools who get first pick, and guess what? my daughter attends a different primary! Distance from school is a lower priority. It's a small school so the chances of a place are very low. We're outside the typical distance of the other nearest comps (which are OK) that we've put on the preference form.

Result - I've absolutely no idea where she'll end up if she has no KE offers (as I have to consider likely given the competition). I was totally shocked and dismayed to learn this at the end of last term - should have done my research earlier and probably would have moved or taken some other action - too late now - I'm faced with the horrendous prospect of living with the uncertainty until March - I plan to open the envelope in the wating room at the local A&E as I think the old ticker will probably (if it hasen't earlier) be unable to take the strain. Here's to the CHOICE agenda. Ha ****** Ha.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:47 pm 
The whole 'parental choice' agenda is misleading and really only a catchy slogan. Of course, we all want the best schools, but we can't all 'choose' them as they don't have enough room. Our choice only goes as far as being allowed to state a preference. After that, it's the schools and the local authorities who 'choose' - perhaps even more so now than before when everyone was forced to go to their nearest comp.

One factor in your favour is the falling birth rate. Where we are, most children got places in the favoured out-of-area comp this year even though it is traditionally heavily over-subscribed - right up to the year before. So, as they say in the financial world, 'past results are not always a guide to future performance'. Try to find out from the local authority what the numbers are from the feeder schools into the comp for your daughter's year and whether the trend is up or down. If they won't tell you over the phone, request the info under the freedom of information act. Then at least you will be in a better to position to make an assessment. If the numbers seem lower than previous years, then get your daughter straight onto the waiting list if she doesn't get a place in the grammars or at your first choice in the first round. Again, this worked for some around here who nobody would have given a prayer for in past years.

And there are lots of people on this forum to help you should you want more info about the grammar exams.

Good luck


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:27 pm 
Grotesque parent (?!)

I think I know which school you are speaking of. I am really surprised that it is allowed to have so called "feeder schools". They say that the KE schools are not allowed to discriminate between children from Birmingham and, say, Solihull or Worcestershire. If that is the case I really don't know how the school you mention gets away with it. I know that they were grant maintained, but this ceased to exist a few years ago.

Let's hope your child gets into KE, then it won't be a problem for you. (What about Ninestiles? I know lots of people whose children go there and seem to be doing well.)

Don't have a heart attack yet! Your child will still need you even at a comprehensive!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 8:09 pm 
In Lincs we only get 3 options but like everyone else they aren't really options as there are only a few comp schools that are ok and if you are out of catchment then you don't have much hope. It also appears that the grammaer schools take from catchment first as long as you have passed the 11+ and then put of catchment geographically We are alos out of catchment for the grammar schools but our son has sat the 11+ as he has always been expected to and he wanted to have a go and we wanted him to have the choice/experience anyway.

We do have a BIG positive in that this year the grammar schools are trying to get the qualify or not qualify out to the applicants prior to us having to submit our "preferences". In previous years parents have had to use a preference for a grammar school not knowing whether their child had qualified for a place or not.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:51 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
Posts: 8598
Hi can appreciate the problem that you have in Lincs - we lived in rural part of Notts anbd if we put a choice of 3 (good) schools we would have had travelling up to 25 miles or more and transport was not available to anywhere other than the nearest.
Hope the knowing the answer before setting preferences goes through will take lots of the stress of juggling the order goes through.

Re Birmingham - hope that gets sorted sounds incrediblty complicated - I was fortunate living in solihull about a million years ago and you either passed the KEHS or you didn't and if you didn't you either passed or failed the 11 plus - no lost choices etc etc and the KE fees paid byt the local authority.

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