Does Failing The 11-Plus Really Damage Your Future?

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Some adults say they are still traumatised by failing the 11 plus
Some adults say they are still traumatised by failing the 11 plus

Some adults who failed the ever-controversial 11-plus exam are still "haunted" by the experience, a study has revealed.

One in five adults were put off learning after they failed the exam, according to the survey, which questioned 1,000 UK adults.

Embarrassment was the most common emotion cited in the study, followed by anger, low self-worth and shame, the mature education company Love to Learn found.

Although the 11-plus is largely non-existent, the exam is still in place in some counties across England including Buckinghamshire and Kent.

Louise Sefton, who works as a clerk to school governors, said she has "never forgotten" failing the exam and still feels "ashamed" to tell her friends.

11 plus

The married mother-of-three eventually got into her desired grammar school

The 40-year-old said:

"I got into the school I wanted to and really enjoyed it. I was always middle of the road. I used to joke about the fact that I failed the 11+ but since I reached adulthood I keep it to myself as I feel a failure. It has stuck in my mind so much that I failed it and yet I can’t even remember which GCSE’s and O’levels I passed or failed! Since then exams petrify me and when I heard that I had to sit a test when going for the interview for my job recently I was so nervous."

Penelope Bourne says her self-esteem hit "rock bottom" after she failed her 11 plus.

"I never really enjoyed school after that," she says. "I just thought what's the point? The more I try the less I achieve. I was never really encouraged to do well and if any kind of exam situation arose, I would be terrified, I used to get sick.

"And that has been in my psyche throughout my life."

But Amy, who is currently studying English Literature at Exeter University, says failing her 11-plus has not affected her ambitions in the slightest.

"I went to a comprehensive, where many of my classmates had not even sat the exam," the 20-year-old told The Huffington Post UK. "A few people asked whether I'd passed the 11 plus but after the first couple of weeks of school it was barely mentioned. I don't think I could have done any better in life if I had passed the exam."

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Tom, who has just graduated from Manchester University with a 2:1 in Maths - and also failed his 11 plus - seconds Amy's views.

"To be honest, all the people who say they failing the 11-plus has had a detrimental effect on their lives really need to move on. If you can't handle failing one exam when you're 11, or in my case 10, then you're probably going to have issues with failure anyway.

"Failing is a fact of life. It's how you deal with it which matters. Move on and stop using something which happened years ago as a sob story."

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