At this time of year, many parents are faced with results from their child’s recent senior school entry pre-tests, interviews, assessments or for some, the 11+. Our consultants have been congratulating many who have received the good news they were hoping for from their first choice school.
However, sadly there have also been parents who have come to us to ask for help since their outcome was not so positive. Here are a few tips from our team of consultants which have come in handy recently, while we have been offering advice and support to parents at what can be a very tricky time for all.
Bad news on the result front presents a confusing challenge for parents as to choosing the right alternative. It tends to lead to a worried frenzy of reviewing your child’s academic potential. Asking if you applied to the right schools, seeking to identify curriculum areas where your child may have struggled in the entry process, questioning whether you should have prepared or tutored them more, are all factors which seem to spring into parents’ minds at this time.
Coupled with questioning your school application and preparation strategy, there’s also the primary concern of how you support your child through the sense of rejection they may feel at a young and sensitive age. This can be a knock to both confidence and self-esteem for some and needs careful handling.
Always talk about your list of potential school choices in a positive way. Until you have a confirmed outcome, it is important for your child to believe they will succeed and you will be proud of them, whatever school they join. Your child will thrive better if they attend a school which challenges at the right level, rather than scraping in by their finger nails and battling their way through the next 5 years, just to keep their head above water.
Phil Hallworth adds a few key points on supporting your child at this tricky time below:
Don't confuse your own feelings of disappointment with those your child - they are very different things. However you feel about it remember that he or she will be feeling wretched about letting you down and will feel a 'failure' - however hard they tried and however bright they are. Don't allow your own crushed aspirations to prevent you from doing the right thing for your child by way of love and support at this difficult time. He or she needs to know that there is a right school for them where they will be happy and where they will succeed (and remember, TIEC can help you find it!)
Finally, Phil suggests accepting that maybe you chose the wrong school in the first place and now need to re-think school choice more realistically in the light of this rejection.
To start this process, the first port of call should be your prep school Head or senior schools adviser. If the results are unexpected or there are unusual circumstances which may have affected your child’s performance, these are better presented to the senior school admissions team as an objective opinion from your current school, rather than the emotional pleas of a worried parent. Prep schools are called this for a reason, so ask them to use their relationship to support your appeal, if they confirm that one is appropriate. Hence, as soon as possible, seek guidance on the next steps from your current school and follow their advice.
If they advise revisiting your school choices, try to disregard confusing dinner party banter and school gate chatter. Torturing yourself with the success stories of others while you are handling disappointment will not help your mood. Your child will have different strengths, interests, personality and learning needs compared with many of their peers. Remain positive, think through pros and cons of alternative schools via evidence from your own experience of visits to the schools and you will more quickly find a way to resolve things.
For those yet to face the gauntlet of 11+ or senior school pre-test, interview or assessment results, the most important advice of all is to be realistic from the outset and plan your senior school applications accordingly. Listen to advice from their current Head and other senior staff and make every effort to match up their academic level or other talents and interests, to the right senior school choices. Aiming high is important as children will often respond to a challenge by performing better. However, make the goals and challenge realistic, not pie in the sky.
We are blessed with a whole range of senior school choices across both the state and independent sectors. Whatever your child’s strengths, interests and learning needs there is a right school for them, if you remain open-minded and realistic.