The grammar school entrance exam, or eleven plus as it is also known by, is difficult for any child. Our son has been home educated for a year and a term before taking the eleven plus, and also has an EHCP for his additional needs. Despite not feeling that the test was right for him here is why we let him take it.
Special Needs and the Eleven Plus
Quite simply, despite his special needs The Sensory Seeker wanted to take the eleven plus. He wanted to prove that he could do it (he was in the school for four hours) and have the same opportunity to go to the grammar schools that his three brothers did before him. He also wanted his special day – as we reward the hard work with special treats on that day. He wanted to earn his reward like his brothers – and not just been given them.
SEN Help with the Eleven Plus
To have extra help in our area you have to provide the school where you wish them to sit the test any additional evidence as to why and what help that should be provided for them to make it a fair test. I seem to recall the turnaround was pretty tight with applying and submitting this. We waited until we had what we needed to hand in straight away. In our case it was a full copy of his EHCP and a letter from Explore Learning just further stating why they believed he required a smaller room and extra time. They awarded him 25% extra time (whether he got it or not we do not know) and a room with just the other children who needed extra time. This actually meant that they were probably the children most likely to cause a disturbance though to be fair, and there was a boy upset and kept messing with his zip.
The Run up to the Eleven Plus
We paid for him to sit one mock exam to give him a feel of what the eleven plus exam would be like. We only did one because it would be different from him – as the mocks have more children and wouldn’t give the extra time, or know about his needs. The emphasis about the eleven plus was mainly focused on the special day. Tests he really fluctuated between getting 25% on tests to getting high eighties! It really has been an emotional roller coaster.
The one thing we have focused on is how proud we are that he has wanted to give it a go – an important lesson for life. Plus it has meant that he has worked towards something in a group (he went to sessions at Explore Learning), it means he has had taken exams, and learned to be under exam conditions.
The Day of the Eleven Plus
I was a bit confused because the drop off and pick up times were the same as all the other children – meaning he either didn’t have his extra time or they had cut short his break. If really needs be I guess this could be grounds for appeal. I doubt very much we will be appealing.
He went in happy and he came out happy – and that’s all that really matters. Children were allocated colours and his colour was clearly an indicator of his needs and at drop off and pick up the fact that he was this colour seem to be of high importance, so I felt that he had been well looked after. He felt it went well, but then say he answered things in the wrong section. He was so proud of himself saying, “see I told you I could do it!”
Then we had his special day. He had been awake since 4am on the morning of the test and I am surprised that he managed to stay awake until 2am the following day when the decision was made for him to go to bed. We are quite strict on bedtimes and so this was very late indeed for him to stay up as a treat. We had bought him the LEGO he had asked for because he wanted to build it with me and took him out for dinner and desert the places he wanted to go. Plus he generally just played computer games outside of the hours we normally allow.
The Eleven Plus Results
We now have just under a month to wait for the results but I have heard of another school that sounds much more suitable for him, in my opinion. I am going to see if we can look around and convince him that the grammar school he wants to go isn’t his only choice. The wait for the results is less than 4 weeks too – so we shall see.