Secondary transfer. School admission, process or experience?

So our Little B, not so little any longer, is finding herself in the middle of a rather daunting school admissions process as she’s ready for her secondary transfer in less than a year.
In Norway majority of children attend state schools up until university level. They’ll attend the local school, and there’s no grades or ranking before most children move on to respectable colleges at the age of 16 years. In fact you’ll be entitled to 1 of your top 3 choices. Little B would have been happily plodding along with only a few hours of school every day, and with “who to play with in the playground” as her main concern. But as we don’t live in Norway but in Central London she’s faced with a completely different scenario.
“You need to do tutoring!”, “With no tutoring you’ll never get in anywhere!” and similar statements have all been presented both to me and little B up until now, when the 11+ exams are on and the complete frenzy has reached it’s climax. Picking up Little B at her first 11+ exam was a rather emotional experience. The reality really started to sink in when I found myself chatting to the ladies next to me outside one of London’s top grammar schools. Not only had they brought along FT’s Good School Guide, tutored and prepared their young hopeful for years but also driven for more than 1 hour to get there. When the children started appearing many young faces look drenched, some where even crying. the lady next to me explained that this is not an exam you would enjoy, as the test in order to select the top students would be pure horror for the majority. She also thought it was up towards 3000 applicants for the 93 spaces available, although I think that’s a slight exaggeration. Needless to say, unless your child are beyond exceptional you will not be offered a space at such a school.
Moving on to another top school in London, we visited a top rated independent school today, boosting results like 30% off pupils moving onto Oxford and Cambridge. The Headteacher allowed herself to define the level required to be able to get in and then she added that if this was not the situation “you may leave now”.
Back in Sweden they are even more liberal than Norway, believing the children are free spirits that should seek their own education. The schools has not a single classroom nor desks, but rather they invite the children to attend cleverly designed workstations and workshops with similar able peers. And again, all paid for by the government.

Swedish school eliminating classrooms entirely.

Meanwhile, I’m here with several forms to fill out. Scholarships, bursary, year report and references all have to be submitted with in various of deadlines. Then all you can do is hope.
We all wish the best for our children, but it’s a relief for us and for Little B that we have the feeling that if the prospect is to attend the local state Secondary neither of us would feel it was the end of the world. And with that said, I even dare hoping Little B will enjoy the whole school admission process or shall I say experience.

9 Comments

  1. Wow, that is crazy. My children attend a classical private school here in the states, where they are happy and thriving. I hope you find the same for your child.

  2. Dear Audra. You are right! Happiness of the child is what’s most important! The whole state, private and public school system in England is making a simple soul from Norway slightly dizzy! But I hope we’ll manage to navigate our way through it! 🙂 Bx

  3. How sad, I feel your pain! I felt compelled to write to you to say that I grew up in SouthWest London (I now live in Sweden) and my Mum and Dad were completely against the 11+ exams for this very reason so I didn’t take it. Instead I went to the local state secondary school. I really enjoyed my time there before going on to a top university. So don’t panic, there are some great state schools that don’t require any entry exams and can offer a wonderful, rounded education.

  4. I saw pictures of that Swedish school on Pinterest the other day and was so mesmerised. I’m so confused about this stupid UK system, so you might need to teach me one day. Good luck Little B!! x

  5. We’ve got our kids at the Steiner School. They stay there all the way through from age 3 to 18.

  6. Oh thank you! I’m confident we’ll be able to navigate us through it all and eventually find a nice school for Little B. But support and advice along the way is greatly appreciated! 🙂

  7. How lovely, to be attending the same system. My little sister went to Steiner School in Norway and she loved it! Very different from the state Norwegian school system.

  8. Dear Niki. Thank you for sharing your experience! This is exactly my thoughts as well. Is it really the end of the world if your child doesn’t attend a school that’s made its way into to the top lists around? I’m sure that a child without any special needs will be able to learn and flourish in many schools and that there’s some fine teachers in the state system as well as private.
    It was actually a relief to write this post, to get it out of my system. So all the talk about stress and preparation. We do not prepare and stress, We live our life in a normal way, even with a Y6 pupil in the house and we are content that there will be a good school for our darling without to much stress and anxiety finding it! xxx

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