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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eleven Plus Decisions

At some time in your life you may decide that you quite simply would like to start your own school for your children. You sit there with some friends over a couple of bottles and a good meal and make a life changing statement: “I am going to start my own school.”

Your friends agree and ask to meet again in the near future with an outline plan. Your competitive juices start flowing. Nothing, but nothing will allow you to fail in this new project.

You ask for two weeks leave. No, you demand two weeks leave. You agree to two days unpaid because the H.R. department are simply being difficult.

You start with your feasibility project. You begin your initial research. You start thinking of land, premises, management structure and staff recruitment. Your dreams take you into furniture and teaching materials.

You decide you want huge classrooms capable of taking sixty or seventy children an hour. You want the best possible suite of wi-fi enabled laptops.

You demand that your school should have the best possible teachers. You decide that you are going to pay for the best. You are going to set out the best possible terms and conditions of employment.

Your folders become thicker and thicker. The `Report Back’ to friends date grows closer and closer.

Two days before the meeting you meet an Educational Consultant to give a professional evaluation of areas in your plan that may need further development and to point out any possible areas of weakness. You walk away from the consultant with stirring words and thoughts on the financial position, a view on the general management of the enterprise and ideas of the overall potential.

You meet with your friends. You have prepared six copies of the report. Your Bank Manager has promised qualified support. You all decide to eat first. Wine and alcohol is banned until after the meeting. You drink lots of water very nervously. In a mere two weeks you will have developed and delivered a plan that will change not only your life but the lives of thousands of children in years to come.

Just as the last plates and cutlery are cleared away you receive a phone call from your daughter. “Mum, I have decided that I do not want to do the eleven plus. I really want to go to boarding school. Your new school does not have any place for boarders. I really want to go to that boarding school that will allow me to take my horses. Remember – you did say that I could choose. Thanks Mum.”

Your heart sinks. Losing your daughter to boarding school and horses is a calamity. There will be no eleven plus success for the family to enjoy. What on earth are you going to say to your friends? Your six copies of the report are lying beside you. You don’t want to be a failure in their eyes. The plea from your daughter is strong in your ears.

You turn to your friends. You rest your hand on the six copies of the report. You open your mouth – still a little undecided. Do you go for the greater glory of starting your own school or do you follow your daughter’s plans. And what on earth are you going to be doing about the eleven plus?

Your best friend turns to you: “Well, what do you think?”

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