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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Eleven Plus Papers

The M25 was virtually empty. In a few hours the road would be full of frustration and vehicles.

The car slid into the car park – just three spaces from the bus stop. The bus was a few hundred yards from the bus stop when we arrived. There was no waiting. The bus stopped outside the entrance to the terminal.

The walk to the departure gate was brief. With only hand luggage there was no waiting and no queues. The boarding card printed out the previous evening did its job. No smiles or eye contact with the man at the desk – but quick service. There was no waiting at the scanner and x-ray – and again no words were spoken.

It took no more than nine minutes from parking the car to passing scrutiny. Fantastic service by BAA. I wonder if this was a world record?

All went very well until we were sitting on the plane. With just five minutes to go the captain announced that the plane was carrying a cargo of cold foods. Too much weight had been in the front cargo compartment and some needed to move to the rear. His voice came over the tannoy a few minutes later to say the plane had missed its slot and would be leaving an hour late.

So we need now to fast forward to the day of the Eleven Plus examination. The children are all sitting in their seats. The examiners and invigilators are standing around the table. The Head Teacher whispers a little message. A sharp eared eleven year hears that the car carrying the key to the safe has been blocked in by the refuse cart. No key = no examination.

Should the Head have had two keys?
Should the carrier of the keys have remembered that it was collection day?
What else could go wrong?

Think of the security behind the papers. They will arrive with registered security. The Eleven Plus papers will be signed for by a designated person. The papers will be locked away in the safe. Very few members of staff will have access to the safe. The papers will be opened in front of the children – and this will be monitored by an outside observer.

After the examination the papers will be locked up. They will be collected and signed for.

So how does the Head Teacher entertain the children while the school is waiting for the safe to be opened? Community singing? A quiz? Some last minute advice? Should the children simply sit in silence locked in their own thoughts? How much longer will every one have to wait?

When the Head writes the report on the day’s proceedings is there a plea for some form of compensation for the children? Will the Eleven Plus authorities take any disturbance of this nature into account?

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