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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Eleven Plus

Many years ago Charles Darwin became involved in studying children. He watched their behaviour and development – and presented a picture of children who were genetically structured to adjust to the environment.

His half-cousin, Francis Galton, demonstrated that children really were individuals – and that they conformed to norms.

It was left to Burt, back in 1921, who popularised testing on a more scientific basis.

Today there are many teachers, educationists and parents who feel that the SATs testing at 7, 11 and 14 is un-necessary.

There are also many opponents of Eleven Plus testing. We met a mum at the recent Kent Show who argued vehemently against the Eleven Plus. She maintained that her bright and able child would do just as well, if not better, in a comprehensive school. We wish the family well.

Standardised tests give us the ability to select on as level a playing field as possible. The problem is the tests we are using today to test children are remarkably similar to those set all those years ago when selection tests were first mooted.

After the Second World Way the five day cricket test was all important. Today every one is talking about Twenty Twenty. The game is still cricket – but the rules have changed. We still have two sides. We still have a wicket. There is still a ball, bowlers, fielders and batsmen. Standing at either end there are the umpires. Today, however, the umpires are aided by modern technology – and a match judge. Twenty Twenty is pulling in the crowds. The game is still cricket – but not cricket as it was known fifty years ago. Time has marched on.

Time must also march on for the psychologists who are devising Eleven Plus tests. New and exciting tests are needed. Children today have had TV from birth; they have mobile phones and access to technology that was not even dreamed of fifty years ago. Surely the Eleven Plus tests should reflect this?

Our organisation is responsible for preparing hundreds of children. There are many more thousands of Eleven Plus children working hard towards the examinations. Surely our children deserve more? It is just not cricket!

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