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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eleven Plus Expectations

These holidays I have had the privilege of working with a number of very bright children. It is fun to look ahead and try to suppose how these children will change over the next fifteen years.

We can look round and find evidence of change in all our families. We all know of an archetypal Uncle Fred who left school at sixteen, with no qualifications, and has landed up a construction engineer. (Uncle Fred is the only one who really can afford a holiday.)

We can easily look at some of the eleven year old girls and wonder how they will change by the time they are eighteen years old. Somehow, and in time, the eleven year old girl will change to become a woman. This will bring about multiple changes of behaviour and attitude. It is very likely that becoming a mother, at what ever age, will bring about even more significant change in personality and expectations.

It must be difficult for some parents to appreciate the tremendous demands made on their children by the Eleven Plus. Children have to have the time and energy to do the extra work. We demand that prospective Eleven Plus candidates adopt both the role and the characteristics of the academically able. At school, however, the self same child may not be in the highest groups. He or she may be happy to be in the middle group. The necessary change in attitude to work required by the Eleven Plus may be stressful.

What is exciting is when the child from `the middle group’ suddenly realises that he or she can do the work on the `top group’.

The whole point of doing Eleven Plus work with our children is to try to help the children to be able to choose what expectations to live up to. The alternative of a child trying to live up to a parent’s expectation does not really bear thinking about.

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