Grammar school entrance exam (hanging over us)

All summer there has been a small shadow hanging over us. The knowledge that, in a few short weeks (well, days now), my son will sit his grammar school entrance exam. In many ways it’s a moment I’ve been waiting for since he was 18 months old. Because it was that age I realised how crazily clever he was – and I wasn’t wrong. I’ve been proved right over and over again ever since. Since he was 18 months old, I’ve known his destiny was grammar school.

It’s a one-shot thing. Pass that exam and he gets into grammar, fail it and he goes to comprehensive.

I know that with a completely level playing field he will pass that exam with flying colours. He will smash it. He will be one of the top few kids entering it. But it’s not a level playing field. There are kids who have been tutored to within an inch of their lives. Kids who go to private schools. Kids whose state primaries place a lot of emphasis on a grammar school education.

And then there’s my son. A normal kid. Who just happens to be really clever.

What if he freezes on the day? What if the exam conditions freak him out? What if he’s ill? What if he doesn’t read the question properly? What if he misses a page or two without realising?

What if, what if, what if? There are so many what ifs.

And that’s why I want it over. That’s why the big day can’t come soon enough. Because this really matters to us. Grammar school is where he is meant to be. It’s the right place for him. But things can and do go wrong.

We’re not obsessed with it. We haven’t spent every minute of the holidays worrying about it, but it’s cast a shadow. I haven’t pushed him or pressured him, but he has done a little bit of work every few days, just to keep his mind sharp. You can’t take six full weeks off education and come back as on the ball as you were. And you be sure that nobody else is taking six full weeks off. There are kids out there who are doing mock tests under exam conditions every single week.

I wish the exam had been held right at the end of year 5, instead of it hanging over us all summer. But it wasn’t. Instead it’s very soon, right at the start of year 6. I just have to hope my son is ready for it and on top of his game.

I know that not everyone agrees with grammar schools and you can get a perfectly good education at a state comprehensive. I had one myself, my eldest is having one right now. I know that my son would do just brilliantly at a comprehensive. But we still feel grammar school is the right environment for him – the right attitude to learning to help him do his very best. And that’s where we want him to be. Most importantly, that’s where he wants to be.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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24 Comments

  1. The very best of luck to him. He sounds like an extremely bright boy and I think it’s great you’re putting him forward for it. As you say, it’s not for everyone but if it’s what he wants and is capable of then its worth going for. I like your idea of doing the exams at the end of Year 5. That way you’d have all summer to get used to the idea either way.

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    • Thanks very much! It would be so much better to do it at the end of year 5 while they’re still in a school frame of mind, rather having it niggling away at us all holiday! Oh well, it’s nearly over now!

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  2. First of all best of luck to your boy, I really hope he does smash it! I’m sure I’d end up feeling exactly the same…

    We live in Surrey, home of the best grammar schools in the country and have heard lots about the competitiveness and tutoring, the moving here purely to try and get in… thank goodness I’ve still got years to work out how I feel on the matter!!

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    • Thanks very much 🙂 It can get ridiculously competitive! We’re hoping to get him into one of the top state schools in the country. It’s only about three miles from us, but people are willing to travel about 40 to go there! I would never put my kids through that.

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    • Thanks very much.

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  3. Wishing your son the very best of luck for his exam. Try not to be too nervous, I’m sure he will be fine x

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    • Thanks very much, I’m sure he will – and what will be will be! x

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  4. I’d agree that it would be better to get it out of the way at the end of year 5. It’s all a bit of a mad rush that first few months of year 6 with all the secondary school admissions stuff going on. Better not to have it cast a shadow over the summer too.

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    • Definitely! I also think the kids would still be in that school mindset at the end of the year, it’s a shame to have it there at the back of your mind all holiday.

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  5. oh wow we are nowhere near as confident as you. My Dyl is above average but I just don’t know if he will pass with a high enough score. He is so laid back and doesn’t work fast enough!

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    • Dyl sounds similar to my eldest! I decided not to put my eldest in for it, because he’s not as bright as his brother, but he’s also not that keen on learning. My younger son is highly intelligent, but I know things can still go wrong on the day. It makes me nervous!

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  6. I completely agree with your last sentiment. Both of my girls (and probably boy too) are at a very good comprehensive school but there is a very good boys’ grammar school here and I think my son deserves a chance of entering. He is gifted at maths but not so much at literacy. Over the summer we’ve been asking him if he would like to try – it turns out the only thing stopping him was the thought of getting on the train! We are going to get a few papers and see if it turns into a fight or he enjoys it. Then we will make our decision. We will not go down the tutor route as we aren’t that bothered either way. I think he will thrive anywhere to be honest. Good luck to your son, I am certain (assuming he is healthy on the day) that he will walk it. x

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    • Thanks, what a lovely thing to say! That sounds like a very sensible attitude to take with your son. It’s good that you are not too bothered and can make the right decision for him. We took the decision in year 3 that we wouldn’t try with eldest. We will try with daughter, but she will need more work. She’s very bright, but not in the same league as her brother.

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  7. Hope all goes well! I dont remember anything about my 11+, but it obvs went OK as I went to grammar school- and hated it!! Mostly as it was (as you may expect) very academic and I always had a creative side that was not allowed to be used anywhere – I left as soon as I could and went to college instead of staying on in 6th form! But I believe the same school is a little broader in its outlook these days, so maybe if it was now I wouldn’t have find it so unpleasant! All depends on the child, and you know him well and feel it would suit him so I am sure he would really enjoy the experience. I am sure he will breeze the exam! xx

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    • Thanks very much, Sonya, I really hope so! I think grammar schools these days are much more creative – they seem to do a lot of art and music, as well as sport, and the academic stuff. You’d probably like it better these days!

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  8. I think that no one knows your child better than you do and if you think that he would fair better in a Grammar school then that is the best place for him. I hope your stress doesn’t rub off on him but it isn’t easy when you want something so much for your kids. (I know Grace can ALWAYS sense mine). Good luck to your boy and all he needs to do on the day is his best 🙂 x

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    • Thanks very much! I’m trying not to be too stressed – I know there are plenty of families more stressed than me – but I just want it over now! x

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  9. Try not to worry about the other kids. They might be heavily tutored, but they might not have been as clever as your son to begin with. And if they are heavily tutored, they are far more likely to crack under the pressure of exam conditions than your son, who I know wants this so bad. You know he will do his very best and make you proud either way, but I’m confident he will get in! xx

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    • Thanks very much, that’s such a lovely comment! It’s very true that the other kids aren’t as clever as him in the first place. He’s pretty laid back, so I’m sure he will be fine really. x

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  10. Ooh good luck to him with this. Having made the decision not to go down this route with R as I think he would have struggled to move away from his friends, we are still thinking about L. Like your son, he is amazingly intelligent but also quite quirky with it and I sometimes wonder if it would do him good to go to a grammar school as he sometimes feels like he doesn’t fit in at school. I am certainly going to give it more thought. I hope everything goes well, I have everything crossed for you

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    • Thanks very much! It would probably suit L as there seems to be a higher proportion of quirky kids at grammar school.

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  11. I hope he does really well and I am sure he will be totally fine and pass it with flying colours but I can understand how nervous you are about it. Wishing him lots of luck x

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    • Thanks very much, really appreciate that. x

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