In this introductory article, I will cover some general points of the 11+ experience
under three headings:
1- Does your child have a chance?
2- Cut off points for success & how to interpret them
3- General tips for preparation
Does your child have a chance?
Let me start with a positive note. I am a believer in the notion that every child,
given the chance, can achieve a great deal. This is the most valuable and eternally
refreshing conviction I inherited from my full time teaching experience.
Call me a hypocrite if you like, but I also believe in the parents right to acquire
the best possible education for their children. Be it in private school or state
selective school or through private tuition. If you can afford it, many private schools
are better equipped to deal with the demands of learning that will get your child
to a good university, and good luck to you. There are also those state-grammar schools
that are second to none in preparing your child for the elite route to the top.
However, these selective schools offer only a limited, very highly sought after places
and these places are targeted not only by those who are not fortunate enough to afford
private primary education, but also by those who prefer not having to pay a private
secondary school when they can enjoy equivalent quality of teaching in these selective
schools. So, the competition is extremely tough, especially for the children coming
from the state route. In fact, over 70% of the places offered by the state selective
schools, are taken up by the candidates from the private sector, where 11+ preparations
are taken for granted.
What then? Should the children attending local junior school forget about it? Certainly
not. In fact, this is the very reason why majority of the places go to more "fortunate"
kids. There are so many able children out there who can break the barrier with a
little guidance and encouragement and a lot of determination on the part of their
parents. As parents, all we need to do is to create a platform of level playing field
for our loved ones. First, we must ourselves believe they can do it. Otherwise, don't
even think about it, as the result of failure could be devastating for the child.
Be honest with them while trying to raise their self-esteem. Tell them it will not
be easy, but if they are prepared to put the effort in and with a bit of luck they
can succeed. Don't get me wrong; the word "luck" is not used as a metaphor here,
but in its face value. Indeed, even the most capable private school pupils need a
bit of luck in the 11+ exams, as all is done and dusted in a matter of 2.5 hours
after months of preparation, and years of anxiety.