The 11+

The 11+ results are in today, cos we are partying like its 1955. I am going to have a little rant for future reference about the 11+.

A couple of years ago, we were going through a Harry Potter phase. We read each Harry Potter book over a year at bedtime, we watched the films endlessly, and sproglet took a notion she would like to attend a school called Christs Hospital. Which is basically Hogwarts and has its own train station and is near some people we know. I didn’t really think she would actually want to board, but you don’t discourage them so I let her register to apply and we saw the process. So while I didn’t really want her to do this(and she didn’t really want to either), we did get a chance to look at the bumpf the school sent. They did a two stage test, one online and one an exam. The exam was a lovely weekend, where kids were invited to stay, it was made into an experience for them so even if they didn’t get in, get a bursary, they had this lovely weekend. Christs Hospital is a lovely school, in lovely grounds and I didn’t think this was wasted time. I was happy to go along with this. I read the exam paper they set and it was a lovely test, genuinely an attempt to use a test paper to get a real picture of who this child is, what their ability is. Sproglet bottled when she realised ‘board’ means live there, like every other phase it passed, but when she said she wanted to sit the 11+ I assumed it would be something along these lines.

I didn’t know about the coaching industry for the 11+, I didn’t know ANYTHING about it. I have been hiding from the realisation she is heading to high school full stop. She asked in Septemberer and I said I was sure it couldn’t be till October because we weren’t picking schools till then and noone had said. No. The test was in the last weekend of September. I looked at the test, 3 papers, english, maths, and verbal reasoning. I couldn’t do the 30 maths questions in the 40 minutes allowed and had just passed quantitative analysis at the London School of Economics. I couldn’t do the verbal reasoning, these were tests for people who had been taught for a long time to do the test itself. Within the maths test there were many things that are just not on the curriculum for KS2, so most of the kids sitting it would never be familiar with these concepts.

I explained to sproglet this was not a test like Christs Hospital and tried to explain that this is a test for people tutored over a long time, did a bit of practice with her and to be honest I didn;t want her to sit this. When the results are published, they take the grade of your child and they rank them in order. So today at my daughter’s school there are approximately 20 girls, forming litlte Lord of the Flies groups around a ranking given to create a hierarchy. They don’t tell working class parents about this test until its too late, we found out a month before school applications, most will find out after. The test itself requires as a minimum(and we bought the minimum) 60quid’s worth of revision guides and practice guides, cos you have to actually practice the test. The test also requires approximately a year of tutoring.

On the day of the 11+ I stood outside this school, which until then I thought was a lovely school, with 2000 parents and I felt like I was stood outside the walls of Mr.Wonka’s chocolate factory, Class difference of parents stark. Absolutely stark.

As it is my girl is awesome, and was fine with the test, comfortable with it and am proud she sat it. She isn’t going to grammar school and today her friends will be comparing each other in a hierarchy they should never have been subjected to. I wanted to write a note about this experience, because I have never seen a more damaging and destructive process for children. Never. This is a process designed to set up kids to fail and then to beat them for it. I feel ashamed as a parent I ever allowed my child to be part of it.


One thought on “The 11+

  1. It’s absolutely horrendous. Years back, my oldest passed this class-centric exam. Ever thankful he decided not to take up a grammar school place. And, I might add, he still found his way to a Russell Group uni. We had somehow been bludgeoned by peer pressure that he should take it – it’s fucking HARD to resist even when one is as much of a gobshite as I am (and you are!). The youngest never bothered – he’s in his last year of also a decent uni right now. Oh, and, probably best to avoid middle class schools if you have a daughter and would like her to be far, far away from this bunkum gender identity bullshit because it’s centred on posh schools. No surprise there.


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