About a month ago, DD1 sat her 11+ exam along with thousands of other children in our area. Her exam was held at 8:15am on a Saturday morning, at the school she was aiming for, so at least we got to have a a bit of a look around it while we made our way to the room she’d be sitting in.
In previous years, the children in our area haven’t been told their marks for the 11+. They have simply sat the exam around September/ October, applied for the schools, and had to wait until the following March to find out if they had a place. If they didn’t have a place, they were told where they were on the waiting list.
This year, things were done differently.
This year, we were given our child’s results and were supposed to use them to make an informed decision about whether it was worth applying for a place at the schools of our choice or not. I guess their reasoning is that they will have less paperwork to work through if only the children who have a fighting chance apply.
DD came out of the exam saying she thought it was okay, but a lot of her more intensively tutored friends said they had found it very easy, so I was prepared for a so-so result. She’s a bright girl, in the top sets of a very academic primary school, but we had not done anywhere near the amount of tutoring that 90% of her friends had done. I thought she would probably get an average result where she’d be unlikely to get in, and we could plump for our very good local comprehensive and be done with the whole secondary school application thing.
The results pinged into my inbox around 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon and at first they meant nothing. Then we worked out that she’d got in the late mid 90′s for her Verbal Reasoning and the early 90′s for her maths and felt very proud. These marks were slightly lower than her practice papers but not by a lot; she had done well. She was pleased with her marks too, but we had no idea of what it meant with regards to school places.
Further investigation showed that she was roughly 10 marks above the marks that were required to get a place at the school in previous years, but these do change. The big test was going to be how her marks compared to other girls who had sat the exam. We weren’t the only ones thinking this, as later that evening we started to get phone calls from girls wanting to speak to DD ‘about homework’.
It turned out that DD had actually done very well compared to her friends too. Only one girl had got higher marks but the rest had been quite disappointed with their marks. A couple of girls who had been intensively tutored, and were sitting for a whole raft of different schools were up to 10 marks under last year’s threshold.
What this means is that DD ‘should’ get a place in our first choice school, but of course there are no guarantees.
We went to the school’s open day a couple of days ago and in spite of myself, I was impressed. DD liked it too and has asked to put it down as her first choice school.
Now all we can do is sit and wait for March and try not to obsess over the historical data.
I do wonder if we’d have been better off not knowing…