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Making the right decision for your child is, of course, crucial. Deciding which school to send your child is perhaps the most crucial decision of all. Most parents agonise over whether to 'put their child through' the 11+ process. My message is unrelenting and simple: If they are intelligent enough, then absolutely grammar schools are the best option.
The proviso of being 'intelligent enough' is an important one. 11+ preparation has, sadly, become a big business. I am aware of some people who teach students in groups of 20, and go from one group to another in a day. 11+ is big business. This is why it is important to try to hire a tutor with integrity, who will be honest enough to tell you, after a few months, whether or not your child is intelligent enough to, realistically, have a go at these tests.
Some poor students are trained for years for this exam. They have hours of lessons every week, and are taught, ever, to offer the right answers in the right places. And this incredibly mechanical process can, occasionally, achieve success. But just think about what that child would then have to put up with over the next seven years of their education. They would struggle. They would, instinctively, know that they were out of place and above what their mind can take. So, to some parents I say: be careful what you wish for. If your child is not naturally bright, there does need to be a point where you accept that and look for better alternatives.
Beware of the private education alternative. Private schools do not differiate between students who have ability and students who really do have quite specific educational needs. Just because you pay £ 15,000 a year for an education does not mean you are guaranteeing the very best education. You may well find your child has a teacher that has been languishing in private education for generations, and simply has not moved with educational changes. You may also find that your child is surrounded by students who misbehave, considerably. The only certain thing that you will find about students in private schools is, you have guessed it, money. But money, in education, does not bring you the best.
So, concerned parent; if there is that natural brightness there. If there is that 'something special', if there is a genuine amount of intelligence beyond the average child, then grammar school is certainly an option that I would recommend.
In my experience in life, you are what you are surrounded with. If your child is surrounded by like-minded intelligent young students who want to learn then it will quite clearly have an effect on the mind set of your child. The working ethos inside the class room is absolutely crucial. If parents were to inquire of the one thing that frustrates most teachers, it is the lack of desire to be successful in the classroom by a vast amount of state educated children. If there is no desire, what, truthfully, can teachers do? In actual fact, it is the lack of desire in young students today that appears to be the crucial instigator in poor behavior. Grammar schools, by their very nature, will be full with students with desire. And that has to be good for your child! The desire to succeed in life is a wonderful attribute to have, and the more your child is surrounded with these kinds of students, the better.
Is a grammar school for your child? Absolutely.