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Friday, May 23, 2008

Eleven Plus Questions

It would save some of our Eleven Plus children a lot of time and effort if the answers were printed on the back of the answer sheet. We have been reading articles over the last few days how children writing a GCSE music examination were offered the answers. Some children, we are led to believe, did not turn over and see the final page.

Many years ago, when I was training to be a teacher, our RE lecturer called all the third year students into the hall. This was an unusual event – especially for a Thursday evening. Sheets of paper were handed out – with about ten questions on the page. There were bullet points with the answers under each question. We sat in increasing disbelief as he went through the questions. He avoided all discussion and spoke solidly for around thirty minutes.

We left the hall bemused. (This was not unusual in my case.)

The RE examination the following day had seven of the ten questions. The students that had listened must have done well.

It transpired that the questions were from a paper four years before – but the syllabus had changed. We had not covered the work.

There were heated debates about the ethics of the operation. Was it worse because it was an RE lecturer? Should the lecturer have simply written a new paper? Were the students who could not be bothered to listen disadvantaged? Should the lecturer have explained the problem to us – and thus given everyone an equal opportunity?

It would be a real problem to some parents if something like this happened to their child. In one way it is a little like picking up a twenty pound note in the middle of a supermarket. You can’t hand the money to the nearest person. How do you know that an all invasive camera is not recording your integrity? Many people will either hand the money to the nearest security officer or take it to customer services. (I suppose, however, that some would buy twenty lottery tickets in the hope of even more fortune.)

Scenario One

Half the children in one school have the answers on their Eleven Plus papers. This error is only found out while the children are writing the examination.

Should the children be made to re-write or should the authority make other arrangements?

Scenario Two

All the children in the whole county have some answers printed on the sheets. This means that the children can only be marked on 45 question – and not 75 questions.

Should the children be marked on the 45 answers or should some other arrangement be made?

Abraham Lincoln may have been able to make a contribution.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

We can paraphrase this:

You can fool some of the parents all of the time, and all of the parents some of the time, but you can not fool all of the parents all of the time.

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