Sir Cliff Richard once described his failure to pass 11+ as one of the biggest disappointments of his younger life. Instead of going to the grammar school of his choice, feeling like a failure, he enrolled at the local comprehensive. That was where his interest in music was sparked. What was deemed as a ‘failure’, turned out to be the springboard for Sir Cliff’s path to greatness. It’s a useful story to remember on the day of the 11+ results. If you open a letter from your preferred school and read the dreaded words: “We are sorry that we are unable to offer…”, bear in mind that not only is it not the end of the world, it might the start of something better.
Of course, when you first learn of the ‘bad’ news, emotions could be overwhelming – from guilt and panic to despair and resentment. Try to deal with your own feelings first, to avoid sharing them with your child. If you, as an adult, are feeling devastated – imagine what your child must be feeling: anger, blame, guilt, fear; whether they would find another school to go to, whether they have let their teacher down or angered their parents.
Try to reassure your child. Congratulate them on taking on the challenge of the exam. Once the emotions settle, discuss it further. Make sure to emphasise the journey rather than the result – this will help your child learn how to deal with disappointment and make new plans when things don’t go to plan the first time.
Then, put the issue into perspective. As with Sir Cliff Richard, not getting a place in the school of your choice could lead your child to finding their calling in life. If the school couldn’t offer them a place, it’s likely the school is wrong for them. It is most certainly an opportunity to rethink your plans and realise that other schools may offer a more fulfilling opportunity. A school that had barely been considered will swim into view, and you will realise it might fit your child far more completely.
At Gabbitas, we are happy to help the parents to find alternative solutions. If you don’t get into the school of your choice, remember that there are many other brilliant schools in this country, and at Gabbitas we have the knowledge, expertise and contacts to help you find the right school for your child, where they can thrive, fulfil themselves and be happy.