When the eleven plus examinations were first promoted England was a very different land. The country was recovering from the war and many families had become disposed or were forced to move.
England was an industrialised country in those days. Agriculture was also important. Children writing eleven plus examinations today are living in an England where agriculture and industry have declined. For some families the land they once depended on was worth more as a housing estate.
Some families and communities have become so fragmented that the state has had to take on roles that the community would have traditionally performed.
It does seem that the eleven plus examinations, however, bring out the very best in people. When parents are working with a child towards the eleven plus they can not say: “We didn’t do it like that in my day.” Mum or Dad has to settle down and find out how it is done – and then help their child.
We have grandparents who routinely pay the fees for lessons. Grandparents drop child off at lessons and pick them up. They do their best to help their grandchildren – and their own children.
It s not just the immediate family who become involved in the preparation for the eleven plus examinations. Aunts and uncles deliver children to lessons – and collect them afterwards. They are the rocks that other members of the family can rely on.
Neighbours also bring children to lessons – so this is the community working at its very best.
So all is not lost. England has not become completely fragmented. We can safely regard the eleven plus as a positive force for good. I can think of no other activity that would unite the family so much as an impossible verbal reasoning question or a stinker of a mathematics topic.