We have had the pleasure today of hearing of the triumphs of some of very good eleven plus children – who have been offered schools of their choice. We can only commiserate with the unsuccessful. The pain and anguish that some parents must be feeling can only be imagined.
Helping a child to adjust to a potentially difficult situation can be a complex operation. We know quite a lot about adjustments to bodily needs – because when we are hungry or thirsty it is not easy to conjure up a substitute for eating and drinking.
Ideally we would want to inform the children as much as possible about the remaining choices of schools. We want to try to help them to make informed decisions. Our eleven plus children should be able to look at quite complex situations and make decisions that are understandable. We recently had a girl who passed her grammar school entrance tests, reached the school of her parent’s choice – and then flatly refused to go to the grammar school. Her argument was that she would prefer to be at the top of the local school rather than have to work hard all the time at grammar school. This is a girl who was able to weigh up and evaluate intermediate and long term plans.
Some children and their parents may be forced into decisions – where they may feel that their choice has been taken away from them. In the end all concerned may have to adapt their plans. If parents are prepared, once the decision has been made, to throw their weight wholeheartedly behind the `new’ school, their children may be able to come to terms with an unlooked-for change of plans little more gracefully.
One mantra that parents may be prepared to offer on a regular basis is, “You will get there in the end. We know you tried your best.”