What are the benefits of sending my child to a school that uses an entrance exam?
One benefit of sending your child to a school that uses an entrance exam is that they will learn among like-minded pupils who also pick up ideas quickly. These pupils will all be of a similar ability; it is often argued that this allows a group of pupils to progress more quickly than if the pupils are of mixed ability.
The environment at a school with an entrance exam would also be different in that the people around your child would be keen to inspire them to aspire towards a good future, with prospects of university or a similar job to themselves. This would be pressed towards the whole school and assemblies would often be more focused on topics like this than in a comprehensive school, where the focus might be more general or linked to PHSCE.
One disadvantage does arise when a pupil only just passes an entrance exam with a lot of tutoring. This pupil might not really be ideally suited to a grammar school because they wouldn’t pick up new ideas quickly and may feel that they are falling behind their peers, which could create a sense of disappointment or stress. This type of child would probably struggle for the entirety of their secondary education because they would pick things up slower in lessons and therefore would not be catered for in the same way that they would be at a comprehensive school.
Many children who don’t do well in entrance exams do so not because they aren’t bright or aren’t clever; they don’t do well because their intelligence isn’t suited to the exam. It is important in this case to recognise the good opportunities that are available in comprehensive schools and their use of setting and streaming, which would still allow the child to reach their full potential. Pupils shouldn’t be disheartened if they don’t pass the entrance exams to a school; often not passing can have quite a striking detrimental effect which can be seen even 40 years after, but their life isn’t over and many pupils now go from comprehensives to do A-Levels and to go to University.