I don’t often post on here, but wanted to share my thoughts (and probably start a debate!) to see how others feel now this whole process is almost over. For the past year our lives had really changed - I appreciate it will be more/less for others. I have always broadly agreed with streaming as I found my high school very easy and was not really challenged where I could have been. At the beginning of year 5 for DD1 in September 2013, we started to look at a variety of schools. When we got home DD1 literally pleaded with us to let her sit the 11 plus as she had fallen in love with the local girls’ grammar
At this time I would have considered her to be pretty much just a hairs breadth above average – it could go either way. She made it clear she did not want to risk it and wanted to do ‘extra’ – like her friends! I should point out where we live there are many, many grammar schools and then for us, there is pretty much just one school it will be, due to admissions criteria (we are not catholic, live too far from the other schools etc.) so effectively no choice if we do not sit the Kent Test.
We had a ‘big chat’ about the commitment it would require from her and how it would affect her life for the next year, if that’s what she really wanted. She stated she was willing to make the sacrifices and as a result we did roughly an extra three hours per week, between my husband and me, using a variety of resources to support us, along with copious bottles of wine for our sanity
. We did not get her a personal tutor, but we did enrol her at a club for an extra 90 mins every Saturday which was one tutor to several children. I must add that this was at her request, as she informed us she was one of the only ones in her class without a tutor. Although I fundamentally disagree with tutoring for the Kent Test, as I feel it defeats the object of selecting children who are naturally and consistently higher achievers, I couldn’t say no to her once she informed me of this.
On rolled a year of spending most weekends doing homework, then her club, then extra with Mum and Dad both at weekend and about 3 nights per week. Even school holidays were affected, where she spent about 60% of the time working. This summer we didn’t plan a holiday as she was drawing up a timetable of what she wanted to study and practice! And she stuck to it – most of the time. Most evenings she was exhausted, but she got an extra boost when her teacher informed us after just a few weeks of her doing a bit extra, that she had made amazing progress at school and she scored highly in her Sats and was ‘deemed suitable’ for grammar by the school. This progress continued throughout her school year.
Whilst it is no bad thing to encourage your child to do well and work hard to achieve what they want, I have at times very terribly sad, watching her stressing about things she just can’t ‘get’, things she forgets and the looming exam date
. She has only just turned 10 and sometimes she looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Of course I have said the result doesn’t matter, etc., but playground talk amongst her peers, seemed to put pay to my efforts to calm her down. I don’t think I realised how stressed she had been until she came home last night having sat the test, visibly relieved and as happy and carefree as I have seen her in, oh, about a year. Funnily enough, the result doesn’t seem to matter much to either of us at this stage. I think we are so exhausted with it all, it’s now beyond us to summon up enough energy to care about it right now!
But here is the thing; how did we end up on this roller coaster with every other parent and child? Because it is all about how your child performs on one day, in one test. At the age of 10/11. All the hard work she has put in over the last few years at school counts for nothing in this test. Her sats scores count for nothing. Her attitude to learning and her keenness to commit to academia do not count (she’s even commented she is fed up with those in her class who clearly don’t want to be there). One year a child may pass, the next year the same child may not. KCC are desperate to stop tutoring and rightly so. There are allegations of leaking test content for those OOC sitting it some days later. Some schools do mocks, some don’t. Surely we have to look at this unfair system as a whole? Unless I am missing something, why can’t the grammar selection be based on a child’s proven abilities over a longer period of time? I understand this opens a whole new can of worms, perhaps with teachers disagreeing with parents and DD1 even pointed out that teachers have ‘favourites’ so it wouldn’t work. What does everyone else think or am I the only one thinking this system has become farcical and needs to change?