Kate Sutton



After yesterday’s blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to do a follow-up post today.


We didn’t get our first choice of secondary school. Nor did we get our second choice. We got our third choice.


I am still struggling to process it. I know first hand how hard Dexter has worked, and how well he has done – not just with the 11+ but throughout his whole school ‘career.’ None of this makes sense.


I’m so upset I could cry. I haven’t because I’ve been (and continue to) adopting the ‘laid back’ approach with Dexter so that he doesn’t realise just how upset I really am. Because you see this is more than just being told he’s got to go to a school neither of us want him to go to, this is about Dexter as a person.


I’ve been through some tough times with my boys over the last few years but remain resolute in my stance that I will do whatever it takes to ensure my boys’ happiness. No different to other parents of course, but doing it all on your own with no support is no mean feat. I’ve tried so hard to build Dexter’s confidence during this time so that he feels worthy as a person. Sounds a little dramatic but when a parent fundamentally abandons a child like his father has done, you have no idea what impact that has on a kid. I’ve seen it first hand and do my best to deal with it the best I can on a daily basis, but it’s something that will take years to overcome, if at all.


My point is this. To my local council, Dexter might just be another number. Maybe we’re 200 yards too far away from the school we want. Maybe had he got one more point like his best friend (who did get into the school), he’d have been accepted too. I won’t know until I talk to the ‘powers that be’, but in the meantime Dexter feels he’s let me down. He feels like he didn’t do well enough. That he could have done more. That he should have done more. That this school doesn’t want him.


And it breaks my bloody heart.


I soothed him with soft and gentle words of adoration and encouragement. I promised I’d fight this all the way to get the result he deserves but that either way, he’s made me proud. I told him how smart and beautiful he is. You know what he said? “Don’t worry Mummy, don’t waste your time on it, I know you have to work to earn pennies and that’s much more important.”


The council doesn’t hear words like that. They don’t understand what a massive knock to his confidence this is. It’s just about numbers to them.


But I hear the words. I see the pain in his face. I understand what he means when he says he can’t face his friends at school because he’s embarrassed they got in and he didn’t.


We ate ice cream last night and I ‘complained’ when he kept scooping out the shortbread chunks on my side. I told him not to worry. That I would, of course, appeal my arse off … which made him laugh because Mum doesn’t normally say words like that. I did my best to build him back up, which is what I spend my life doing – repairing the cracks in his heart that someone else has made. But I guess that’s what being a Mum is all about.


I honestly don’t know what will happen but even if I win the appeal, he’ll always feel like he wasn’t good enough to be chosen in the first place, when the school should feel lucky to have him as a pupil. The fact that he’s a prefect and on the Gifted & Talented register aside, he’s just a lovely, lovely boy that deserves to have every single opportunity afforded to him.


The system doesn’t make sense. After telling some friends online what happened, the horror stories they recanted to me about pupils being flown in to take the 11+ from other countries, or how one child one side of the A2 got into a school, but another child the other side of the road didn’t, were depressing to say the least.


It might not be personal from the council’s point of view, but they’ve just made it very personal to me. My protective instinct is in overdrive and when someone hurts my boys a different side to me comes out.


Let the appeal process begin.





Oh. My. God. You won’t believe what just happened. I had to wait until I got my formal offer letter before I could call the council, which I received this afternoon. I very politely asked the manager of the schools admissions team why Dexter didn’t get his first choice. He replied, “But Dexter didn’t sit the 11+ test.” Erm, YES HE DID. Turns out, it was all an admin error and because Dexter has been known as having two surnames during the past year, their system didn’t pick up it was the same boy and therefore didn’t put his score against his application. It’s partly my fault for not realising that would even be an issue but within five minutes, the council had got hold of the headmaster who approved Dexter’s application!


Hallelujah!  Thanks to everyone who supported me during this mad rollercoaster .. I don’t envy anyone who is in my position.



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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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  1. Aww no. I’m so sorry to hear you both didn’t get the school you wanted. We don’t find out schools till next month.

  2. This is really properly crap, Kate. I really feel for you and hope you manage to appeal with minimum stress and fuss for you, as it’s the last thing you need to be spending time on. I know this won’t offer much comfort but all of this shows what an ace mum you are and how lucky Dexter is – regardless of the school he ends up going to.

    1. Thanks Alison, I could really do without the stress tbh. As if moving house isn’t enough hassle lol. But thanks for being so sweet … make sure you tell Dexter his Mum is ace if you ever meet him 🙂 x

  3. i am so so sorry To hear this Kate and I hope your appeal goes well and he gets into your chosen school.
    We put Kian through the grammar exams and he missed out by half a point. I was devastated at the time and appealed but that had no spaces, at the time I kicked myself for not getting him a tutor as others had done – one of his friends was tutored to the max and got in and even his mothers says he’s no where near as bright as Kian. However, 3 years on he is at the local comp, top set for everything and on track for A and A* grades but most of all he is happy! Hope this is of some comfort but yes, the system is a pile of steaming horse poo!

    1. Thanks Kara. I know Dexter would do well at the local comp (grammar stream) but he shouldn’t have to go there! It’s not right and I’m going to make damn sure it doesn’t happen. But yes, a pile of steaming horse poo is a good analogy 🙂

  4. I have no experience of the appeals process as when my boys went to Secondary School (many moons ago) there was only one school in the area anyway so it was like it or lump it.
    Will you house move impact the School choice and the appeal process? and what does Dexter’s Junior School have to say, can they assist in anyway?
    I think that both you and Dexter are awesome, and I wish you both all the luck and love in the world.

    1. We will be moving nearer to the school so maybe that will go in our favour but I just called his current school, who were of no help whatsoever. But I may just approach the Head direct if it comes to it. I’ll see what the council says first! But thanks for your kind words, it really means a lot.

  5. We went through the secondary application process a year ago, and were quite lucky as would’ve been happy with any of the schools on our list, though fortunately got in to our first choice: thing is ours is an academy and banded, so 25% of the students have to be A, B, C or D – based SOLELY on the 11+ results. Even kids who are in the top band didn’t get in to this school because the places were full up. Could that be the case with your school?

    1. As you might have seen from my update, it was an admin error (grrr) and Dexter got in. But the council said he was way above the score the school require (which was an academy) so I don’t know whether that’s banded or not. I’m just glad I don’t have to arse about with an appeal.

  6. Go and smash that appeals process Kate – if there is one thing I have learned when I worked in finance (god help me), it’s that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Be as big of a pain in the arse as you can, because they will listen to you if it means you get off their case!

    I’m so sorry for Dexter, this is a blow for you both. But what he will remember in the long run is not that he didn’t get into his firs choice of school, it’s that he had a Mum who was there for him every day, who loved the crap out of him. That’s what he’ll take away when all is said and done.


    1. Oh Sam, thank you! That’s just what I needed to hear! I also love the phrase ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil’ lol … never heard that before. But yes, I hope Dexter doesn’t feel too bad at the end of it all. But urgh. What a pain.

  7. Oh Kate, I’m so angry reading this. Just so unfair and like you say, it’s all about numbers and quotas and absolutely NOTHING do do with the children, the personalities, the home circumstances etc. If there is justice in the world, you’ll get through this appeal with a positive outcome and I’m sure Dexter will forget quickly about what happened yesterday. They are so fantastically resilient – way more than we are. Sending lots of luck and love your way today,lovely lady. Never forget you are one amazing mum. Dexter is a lucky lucky boy xxx

  8. Oh my goodness! Was just feeling so sad for Dexter and for you and thinking how crappy the system is because I knew he’d passed.
    So pleased it all worked out! Although how rubbish to have to go through that worry beforehand.

  9. My life – you have been through the mill and all for nothing. Glad it’s all sorted out though. You’d think someone would have wondered why you had put selective schools on the list, but ‘hadn’t sat the 11+’, but maybe that’s asking too much.

  10. Oh Kate! I read your original post with tears in my eyes so to read your postscript is amazing!!! Well done Dexter!! Onwards & upwards xx

  11. My goodness, this could so be me writing this, in fact I did something similar on my blog.
    Congratulations on him now getting his first choice, am over the moon for you.
    Sadly we have a fight on our hands, my son is my hero, he is sensitive and yet so strong to help me all these years with his younger siblings, being a lone parent to all 4.
    I just want him to have the best opportunities and he too said he will go to the other school if he has too, but his heart isn’t in it or interested in it, although it is a sports academy but has 1500 pupils, and the one he does have his heart set on only has 500 and is the smallest secondary school in our area, and is a performing arts school.
    Hope school goes well when your son starts, good luck with it all x

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