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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Eco Friendly Eleven Plus

There must be a way to make the Eleven Plus examination a little more eco friendly.

On the day of the examination the `CANDIDATE’ has to be transported to school. This could mean a car, a bus, a tram or train. Let us keep it simple. A car needs steel, aluminium, rubber, plastics and many other chemicals. A car is going to need petrol or diesel to power it. A few parents will be able to allow their child to cycle or walk to the examination.

Even fewer parents will be able transport their child to the examination in a Toyota Prius – which is the hybrid vehicle using electricity or petrol. We have had children picked up from our lessons in cars, small buses, taxis and lorries. There has been a range of vehicles from a restored VW campervan to a brand new Bentley. I can not recall, however, ever seeing a Prius.

To obtain the petrol or diesel we need oil wells and refineries. To drive the car we need roads, land, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and a mass of signs. When the car is old we need to crush it and then recycle as much as possible.

Bright children who have passed through good grammar schools sometimes take between eleven and thirteen GCSE examinations. A child taking eleven GCSE subjects would need to spend at least two hours on each examination. If the child did not walk to school then there would need to be eleven trips in a car to school and eleven back. It could be argued that all this driving around contributes towards ecological damage.

Thousands of children writing Eleven Plus examinations must also contribute towards any eco damage. Think of the trips in the car to ferry the candidate to extra lessons or to buy Eleven Plus books.

There is a heart warming story, however, behind all this depressing reading.

My car developed a knocking noise in the engine as we drove into today’s leisure centre to do some teaching and assessments. The AA responded with fifteen minutes. There followed a brief period of consultation and diagnosis. Thirty five minutes after my initial phone call I was delivered, by the AA, to a local car hire centre because the AA provided a three day replacement car. Within fifty minutes I was back at my car transferring `stuff’ from my car to the new car.

The new temporary car is a Ford Focus – a manual gearbox, good speakers and remarkably easy to park. This `little’ car used around half the amount of petrol that my car would have used over the homeward journey.

So thank you to the AA.
Thank you to Ford as well.

I arrived back feeling virtuous that I had helped to save the planet.

It looks as if the problem is not the children who are writing examinations but the teachers who are teaching the children who are writing the examinations. All teachers and tutors involved with the Eleven Plus may need to drive smaller cars and thus reduce their carbon foot print.

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