Thank you to everyone who has posted on this forum - I've been popping on here for a nose around for a while and I'm astonished at the wealth of information out there!
When I took the 11 plus twenty years ago, coaching was definitely discouraged, maybe even disallowed (though we all knew the private schools were at it). Nowadays it seems to be de rigeur. It just seems such a shame that it's come to this. I know of many past and current pupils at the grammars who've struggled dreadfully academically - and as a result- socially- all because they were forced through coaching to get them in then found themselves signing up to seven more years of intense pressure, all too often resulting in nervous breakdowns, depression and extreme stress. The competition and potential for rejection of the 11+ is just the tip of the iceberg - once you get into these schools, every day is a fierce competition with peers to be the best - you either join in or find yourself on the outside, struggling with self esteem for the rest of your life.
I would really strongly urge parents to consider each of your children separately on their own merit when deciding whether to sit the 11+. Most teachers will tell you they can tell from a very young age whether a child is likely to make it or not. Coaching can do a lot to improve marks but can't give that extra depth of understanding that separates those who will succeed in life ultimately and those who will end up regarding themselves as failures by comparison to their schoolmates. The grammars really are brilliant schools for those who are truly gifted with exceptional academic ability but from years of experience, I would say that bright children who would not pass the 11+ without intensive coaching would in general end up as happier adults by starting as the top of the class in a different school.
I realise I will be a voice in the wilderness on this issue but I feel very strongly about it as I've seen first hand over and over, the impact of pushing children too much at this age. We all want our kids to be happy so it's important to really consider where they spend this vital and formative years of their lives.
I agree with you in theory. I also passed my 11+ some years ago (25y) and went to one of the Southend grammar schools. In my year, there were a large number of girls all from a local, so called 'grammar crammar,' junior school which shall not be named! Many of these girls struggled and were unhappy. I always thought that tutoring/coaching children would lead to this.
However, fast forward to your own children... you have a bright child and a dire local catchment school. You KNOW they would cope with the work and would thrive at WH or SH. Do you just leave it to chance that their talent will be recognised, or do you give them every possible chance to succeed. I don't have a tutor for DS, but am DIYing at home as I personally feel that I don't want my child to be like one of these girls I went to school with who when they got to grammar, struggled without the tutor. Any help and support I am giving DS-I would continue to give him as a parent (albeit one who is also a teacher) when he is at secondary school.
If it were a level playing field where nobody was tutored, that would be ideal, but it isn't and when it comes down to your own child (can I ask how old your child is?), your opinions do alter because you want what is best for them. If my alternative catchment were one of these 'excellent comprehensives' I see so many people on here console themselves with when times get tough, maybe I would worry less, but it isn't!