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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Changing the Eleven Plus

An advert for the Austin A40 Somerset of over fifty years ago (from 380 Recipes In Aid of Santa) reads as follows:

Come for a ride in the new Austin A40 Somerset. You’ll like the Somerset’s graceful new styling. You’ll like the new refinements . . . the deep curved windscreen and rear window . . . push button door handles with safety locks at rear . . . external side lamps clearly visible to driver.

You’ll like the extra comfort . . . luxurious, foam rubber seating in leather . . . more room all round.

We need to compare this advert with one from Renault in today’s Sunday Times magazine:

The New Espace Team.
Everything you’d expect from an Espace.

ABS, ESP and Brake Assist
Front, Lateral and curtain airbags
Air Conditioning with separate driver and front seat controls
7 individual seats with slide and lock system
ISOFIX child seat mounting points on all rear seats

A different language used in the adverts. Yet they are both vehicles aimed at families.

Surely the world that existed when the eleven plus examinations were being trialled across England was very different from today. Yet we still use similar verbal and non verbal reasoning exercises.

If the same time and effort that went into the development of the Espace was put into the thinking about new forms of the Eleven Plus we would have a very different examination. Granted they are both cars to carry families – safety locks versus ISOFIX seat mounting points – but most of us would prefer the ABS, ESP and Brake Assist to the brakes used fifty years ago.

Education is changing. Children have changed. Surely the Eleven Plus should change too?

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