For some children the Eleven Plus examinations represent a form of rite of passage.
Initiation ceremonies prevail in many civilisations. Most of us will carry images of young African children taking part in ceremonies that may seem to be hostile to our eyes. We are also aware of the transition that marked, many years ago, the passage of young Red Indians into adulthood.
At one time the gentle Christian confirmation marked the initiation of children into adults. This was not so much a confirmation ceremony, however, but acceptance into the Church.
For some Eleven Plus children preparing and passing a competitive examination can be likened to some form of initiation. We start with a child, closely protected by parents and teachers, and suddenly thrust `The Candidate’ into the world of competition and work.
Many years ago boys were sent to sea as cabin boys – and then on to become Midshipmen. Imagine your eight year old being pushed onto a ship leaving for far off lands. You would worry that you might not see your child again. Your child would need to adapt from a child centred life to one where everything is adult orientated.
In the Eleven Plus examination your child will be faced with a battery of questions. The work will be timed. You will naturally prepare your child as best you can.
On the day of the examination you will make sure that you offer a healthy meal. You will check for a clean handkerchief. You will offer a warm hug and final words of advice. Your child will leave your arms and go forward bravely (you hope).
To all intents and purposes your child will leave you as a primary school child and return as a potential grammar school pupil. A big jump for both of you!