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What to do when your child did not pass the 11 Plus

11 Plus: What to do when your child does not pass

11 Plus | May 19, 2023

Your child will need plenty of support once they receive a disappointing news following the 11 Plus exam, find out what you can do.

The 11 Plus is the first formal exam for almost all the candidates who take part.

The period leading up to the exam is an especially trying time for the children and their families.

The 11 Plus is a particularly challenging exam and requires children to learn and revise completely new subjects alongside more advanced topics of the subjects they have been taught at school.

Once the actual exam has passed, then comes the time for results.

Mid-October can be a stressful time for grammar school applicants and their families as most grammar schools release their 11 Plus results then.

Acquiring the qualifying score on the 11 Plus can mean that a student may be able to secure a place at a grammar school.

Even then, there are other criteria that need to be satisfied as there are always more applicants who have achieved the minimum required score than the number of students the schools can admit.

Around 60% of children who take the test will not score highly enough to apply for a place at local grammar schools.

In the unfortunate instance, you find yourself in this situation, please know that you and your child are not alone.

If your child did not pass the 11 plus, you may be wondering about the next steps.

Rest assured, there are practical measures you can take to support your child and maintain their academic confidence.

Exam Stress

Immediate steps

Support them no matter the reaction

Once your child has found out that they were not able to achieve the qualifying score, it is natural for them to feel strong negative emotions.

Whether they feel angry, sad, anxious, a combination of three, or other totally unexpected ones, your child should be assured that they are completely well within their rights.

Disappointing news is never easy to process and so you should allow them as much space and time as they may need.

Giving them the room to process their feelings does not mean you should ignore or completely disregard the 11 Plus results.

Encourage your child to share their feelings with you. Check in with them regularly and assure them that you are always there to listen to them.

Once your child has recuperated from the initial distress following the bad news, you should take steps to cheer them up and rebuild their confidence.

Celebrate the effort they put into preparing for the 11 Plus

Take a moment to rejoice with your child!

Your child’s decision to undertake the 11 Plus exam, and the determination it took, deserve applause.

During the days leading to the 11 Plus, they must have encountered numerous hurdles and demonstrated immense courage.

Regardless of the final outcome, their dedication and relentless effort should be praised.

Furthermore, the fact that they did not pass the exam and dealt with it bravely should also be a reason for celebration.

There are a number of things you could do to give your child a treat. A fun weekend away with the whole family is a great idea. You could also plan other enjoyable activities like taking your child out to their favourite restaurant, or to watch that movie they have been wanting to watch.

Plan the next step together

While your child is still recovering from the disappointment, it is important that they are shown that they still have much to look forward to.

Let your children know that everything will be all right and that there are alternative options to consider.

Engage in an open and heartfelt conversation about the schools you will consider applying to.

Ask your child which school they would prefer and where they believe they will flourish the most.

Highlight all the advantages of attending the schools you have shortlisted.

Emphasize the friendships they will forge, the exciting activities they will engage in and any other positive aspects that their first-choice grammar school may have lacked.

Once you and your child have made a decision, make sure to submit the application early.

Once this step is completed, your child can simply enjoy their time in Year 6 without worry.

You can refer to our guide on getting your child ready for secondary school for further advice.


Reasons for not being offered a spot in a grammar school

The most obvious and widespread reason for children not being offered a place at grammar school is failing to achieve the qualifying score on the 11 Plus exam.

On many occasions, children are not offered a place at a grammar school in spite of securing the minimum required scores on the 11 Plus.

This can happen for one of the two reasons:

School Stress

Should you appeal?

If you feel that your child was wrongfully deprived of a spot at a grammar school, you have the option to appeal the decision.

Should you decide to pursue an appeal, it is crucial to gather substantial evidence to substantiate why your child should be granted admission to your preferred Grammar School.

Appeal hearings typically take place around 12 weeks after National Offer Day, potentially extending into June.

According to the School Admission Appeals Code, decision letters should be sent to parents within 5 school days following the hearing, whenever feasible.

Regardless of the reason behind your appeal, it is essential to gather as much supporting evidence as possible and prepare to present your case personally to the appeals panel.

It is important to recognise that appealing for a school place can be a stressful process, and it often does not result in an offer of admission to the desired school.

Take this into account when deliberating whether or not to proceed with the appeal.

Even if you choose to appeal your child’s school place decision, we recommend that you accept the school place offered by your local authority.

While it may not be ideal, accepting the offered place ensures that your child has a school to attend at the beginning of Year 7, allowing you the flexibility to explore other options, such as joining a waiting list for your preferred school.


Keep reading: Help Your Child Cope with 11 Plus-related Stress


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