In any discussion on the Eleven Plus the question of elitism must be aired. Why should bright and able children be offered extra resources when it is possible that they should be able to make good use of the existing educational system?
A number of Eleven Plus children must fall into the group called the very able or `gifted’. We, in Etc, are sometimes privileged to be able to work with children who are in the top one or two percent of the population. We then have the opportunity of being able to try to help to develop the children in a variety of way.
As we are dealing with nine to eleven year olds we are sometimes able to discuss the type of Eleven Plus work with the child and the parents. Some `families’ opt for acceleration so that the child is able to do the work of older children. We have a specialist Eleven Plus room in one of our centres where very bright children can meet once a week and work together in an atmosphere of endeavour and excitement. Other children, and their parents, simply prefer enrichment and more directed Eleven Plus work.
Coping with a wide range of Eleven Plus children does demand a need for individualised learning programs. Many of our brighter children love having the feeling of control over their work. Some children are perfectly happy to work on their own, at times, and relish in a struggle to solve problems. Some of the less able candidates prefer to have the work explained to them in fine detail. Occasionally, however, we meet a really bright child who demands to have work explained – just to be able to have the opportunity of engaging in endless discussions and arguments.
We do expect `Eleven Plus’ children to make a significant contribution later on in life. Some of the Eleven Plus children will go on to become important leaders. Naturally some children who did not go to grammar school will also emerge as leaders. Attending a grammar school will open some doors – but not every door. Thank goodness that `born leaders’ will emerge from a wide spectrum of schools.