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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Understanding the Eleven Plus Child

We would need a strong and powerful leader to have the presence and power to change the nature and content of the Eleven Plus examinations. We have had leaders in the past who were ahead of their time and had the ability to embrace the future.

Many of us will have a great respect for Boudica. She was a war leader who fought the Romans. She was against the laws, taxes and slavery. She would have been a person who would have carried all before her and would have been able to talk to the `Eleven Plus Test Writers’ and demanded that they change much more than the style of Eleven Plus questions. She would have forced the `experts’ to rethink the nature and the content of the Eleven Plus examinations.

The next person we would need would have to be Piaget. He was concerned with the way a child’s mind worked – both as a means of understanding and educating the child. He used two main methods in his research. In the first he recorded everything that was said by the child over a period of time. The other method was a series of standard questions or tasks. He was not concerned with age levels but with how the brain and intellect of a human unfolded.

There is another group of people that we would need to bring to the party. The Hadlow Report of 1926 stated:

“There is a tide which begins to rise in the veins of youth at the age of 11 or 12. It is called by the name of adolescence. If that tide can be taken at the flood, and a new voyage began in the strength and along the flow of its current, we think that it will move on to fortunate.” These words did so much to convince educators and administrators that transfer should take place at the age of eleven. At that time the school leaving age was fourteen so eleven was selected because it gave enough time for a form of senior education.

To make changes in the Eleven Plus we need people who can take up a cause, understand how children develop and have the authority to be able to force change.

There is no doubt that some parents will do their best to help their child towards the Eleven Plus examinations – but at the same time will offer a little prayer to Boudica, Piaget and the authors of the Hadlow Report. The reason for the prayers is that many parents will have experienced that `tide’ which just seems to rise in eleven year olds at time.

When the inevitable tide rises in their child, mothers and fathers will need to show the leadership of Boudica, the understanding of Piaget and the ability of Hadlow to recognise that if we go with the flow all will `move on to fortunate’.

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