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How to get your child into Britain's top schools

2012-12-23 22:06:29

Nonye Agomo

A mother-of-three who successfully prepared her son for exams that won him a place at a top school has written a guidebook for other parents to follow.

Dr Nonye Agomo wrote Surviving the 11+, a 48-paged self-help book under the pseudonym of Nonnie Rose, with the hope of inspiring other parents who want to get their child into grammar school.

The test - taken in Year 6 - is no longer compulsory in England and Wales but is still used as an entrance exam by schools who offer places based on academic ability. Pupils are tested on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, English and maths.

Determined to get her 11 year-old son Charles into a school that she believed could "give him the edge in life," Agomo, who lives in Hertfordshire, took on the task of tutoring him herself to complement what he was learning at primary school.


The hard work paid off and Charles, received two offers and accepted a place at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Barnet, north London. It is considered one of the best schools in England. It regularly tops league tables for best A-level results in the country, with record numbers of pupils going on to earn places at Oxbridge.

But the full-time GP was disappointed by the lack of information available to parents to help them understand the 11-plus, which was causing them to miss out on opportunities for their children.

So she took inspiration from her 8-year-old daughter Victoria - who penned her children's book Silly Sarah earlier this year - and decided to share her experiences in a book, which her son helped illustrate.

"Charles would not have succeeded without home support. To help your child, it's imperative that you know, and adjust, to his or her individual learning patterns. What suits one child may hinder another. Whereas one child may be an independent, advanced learner, another may need more handholding and continual assistance," she writes in the book.

The 40-year-old medical practitioner who attended grammar school in Nigeria, west Africa, said she is now confident that her son will have access to a "superior education".

Dr Agomo said: "Grammar schools are able to give him the best. You know the notion is that if you go to a good school, you have a better chance of going to a good university and you are set to get a good job."

She continued: "It is a contentious issue that people will not all agree on, but I am a firm believer in education. For kids who can't sing, dance, act or kick their way to fame and fortune, there's good old school. I think grammar schools are great if your child is able, but I'm not saying it's the only way."

The hands-on mother is now going through the same process with her daughter and wants to encourage other parents to consider getting their children to follow suit.

She added: "Most parents are similar in one respect; they desire to see their children achieve their full potential; attain independence; earn a living and contribute positively to society.

"This is where the 11-plus examinations come in - it is a door to the remaining grammar or partially selective, highly performing schools in the country."

There are currently 146 grammar schools remaining in England.

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