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Friday, November 16, 2007

Eleven Plus Chances

Tom Brown's Schooldays is about a boy who goes to Public School, makes friends with a rather wild character and the two of them go on to defeat a bully called Flashman.

Later on in the book Tom is encouraged to look after George Arthur. George joined Rugby School as a weakling. Tom acted in the role of a `mentor’ and helped George. In the process Tom helped himself.

Arthur becomes worried about Tom – who has shown great qualities of manliness and honesty.

"Dear Tom, I ain't going to pitch into you," said Arthur piteously; "and it seems so cocky in me to be advising you, who've been my backbone ever since I've been at Rugby, and have made the school a paradise to me. Ah, I see I shall never do it, unless I go head over heels at once, as you said when you taught me to swim. Tom, I want you to give up using vulgus- books and cribs."

The `vulgus - book’ refers to a book where the boys had to translate Greek and Latin. Some boys copied from each other. Arthur wanted Tom to stop cheating. The `crib’ was the sheet that children used when they were trying to cheat in examinations.

We are extremely fortunate that children no longer have to be able translate Greek and Latin. Yet we select children for Grammar School using tests that require similar skills like the ability to interpret and translate. (What about those code noon = 5885.)

Thankfully too our children do not have any need for crib sheets – because there is certainly no place for them in competitive examinations.

One of our girls was chatting about the eleven plus arrangements in her school. The twenty odd children taking the examination were in the hall – with widely separated desks. The rest of the school had the morning off so that the Eleven Plus children had the best possible opportunity – with no noise or possible interruption. The Head Teacher, along with two of his staff supervised the tests.

Lucky children. Enlightened school!

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