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Thursday, August 23, 2007

All at sea with the Eleven Plus

Those few moments that a sailor spends just before setting off on a sailing trip must be exciting even to the most hardened veteran.

However many times a sailor has set off from a port to sail he or she does not know what lies ahead. Our headquarters are in an industrial park. My window looks out over the Thames. We see large ferries, cargo vessels, container ships, barges – and occasionally yachts. When you leave the Thames in a yacht the ship sails straight into one of busiest sailing areas in the world. The crew have to be especially vigilant in the English Channel.

A picture of Jonathon Drury about to leave harbour.

At sea the sailor is at the mercy of the captain – which is another way of saying the captain has the authority of life and death over the crew. The crew can contribute to decision making but need to leave the final decision to the captain.

When parents are helping their children towards the eleven plus examination they have to be the one in command. When parents employ a teacher or tutor to help their child that can respect the professional competence of the teacher or tutor – but have to continue making decisions on behalf of their children. The eleven plus teacher can suggest books, materials and exercises – but can not insist on the child doing homework, going to bed early and not eating sweets. These are all decisions that lie within the remit of parents.

The eleven plus child can also make decisions. Decisions can be made on the amount and scope of work to be done, when and where work is done and on how assiduously the project is embraced.

The simple message is that however uneasy a parent is about taking control of the whole eleven plus experience someone has to have ultimate responsibility. What better person than you?

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