Parents understand the emotional impact of the 11-plus
A survey of parents from the Parent Ping app found that 29% of parents believe failing the 11-plus would make their child ‘very upset, and it would significantly affect their feeling of self-worth.’
School admission processes simply don’t need to upset children. Yet, sadly, many families live in areas where they feel the pressure to put their child through this test to win a good school. In Buckinghamshire every primary school child is automatically registered for the test, forcing children to undergo unnecessary stress and upset. The majority of the country manages school transfers without any 11-plus test and offers simple distance-based admission to secondary schools. We want the remaining selective authorities to abandon selection tests and allow all children the choice of good comprehensive schools.
Parent Ping also asked parents, Do you think ‘bright’ children benefit from a special educational setting?’ The majority of parents believed mixed ability classes or sets were best, with just 23% supporting grammar schools.
Parents were also asked if they would accept a grammar school place if it was available for their child. In line with other surveys on this theme, parents are quite likely to use selective schools if they are available.
This kind of information is regularly misinterpreted by the pro-selection lobby as proof of the popularity of grammar schools. It is far more complex. Many children will not be eligible for a grammar school place, even though parents might wish they were. The answer to this question will also include an element of parental pride at the idea a child ‘deserves’ a grammar school place, plus some trust that any ‘bright’ child should take specialist provision if it’s offered.
The truth is that grammar schools create an unbalanced school system. There will be academic grammar schools which often benefit from better subject choice, more qualified teachers and strong sixth forms, and there will be ‘secondary modern’ style schools which have no parity of esteem and are a poor alternative for the children who don’t get in. In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising if parents prefer the ‘better,’ more academic, school for their children. It is of course natural for parents to want the best for their child, but selective school systems create winners and losers, and this system clearly has an overall negative impact on a local community.
Parent Ping is a useful survey app to amplify the views of parents. If you want to get involved you can read more at ParentPing.co.uk