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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New 11+ Tests

Why do we have eleven plus tests if all they do is tell us scores after our children have written a battery of tests?

Why can’t we have a test that measures industry? Surely an able, hardworking and loyal child is going to be far more use to a school than a child who only works sporadically? The ability to work hard over a sustained period confirms the child as an asset to the family, the school and society in general.

We all hope that the brainy but lazy or indolent child will eventually grow up – and thankfully they do the end.

What about sensitivity? Don’t schools need sensitive and caring children? Surely a family will do the best it can to bring up a son or a daughter to be well mannered and thoughtful?

Some children are always going to be rather rude and boorish. Is there a place for children like that in a traditional grammar school? In many schools children are accepted only on scores on tests - without an interview. Perhaps a more enlightened vetting procedure would help some children. Not all children are suited to grammar school. Some children could well be happier in the grammar stream of a comprehensive school.

So what happens when you have a child who is obviously very intelligent, rather introspective and does not always like work? At school a child like this may have very high marks in subjects that are of interest – but will neglect areas that are of no significance.

So does it matter if the child does not really want to be a leader? So what if games and the play activities of other children are boring. Not every child has to be a good mixer and highly socially acceptable. Some children do not feel the need to be sociable and pleasant to all concerned.

Later on in life this child is going to try to find a job with an employer who is able to acknowledge intellectual development and sheer brains. In some jobs a key area of concern may be the ability to mix with colleagues. There are lots of other jobs, however, where it does not matter if there is little social contact.

So do we really want the eleven plus tests to identify a child who is kind, caring, hardworking, not prone to arguing and academically able? If we do then we need think about changing the tests. We need to think about other methods of assessment. We want our teachers of years five and six to be able to have time to stretch and extend their bright children.

Above all we want our primary schools to be able to deliver to the grammar schools, children who are ready for a grammar school education. We want children who are happy and content with their lot. Happy children could make happy parents. Happy children could ensure happy teachers. What more could a child want?

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