Teaching children towards the Eleven Plus is part art and part science.
The part art comes in because we are not always sure what makes a child learn. The children we work with will have learnt different things from school. The children will also have been offered different support from their parents. Their peers will have different attitudes towards studying and sitting the examination.
If we could work out what enables a child to learn the Eleven Plus syllabus – and how the child will be able to retain and use the information – then teaching towards the Eleven Plus examinations could become more of a science.
At times the parents of Eleven Plus children will want their child’s teacher to be able to wave a wand to excite and stimulate their child. At other times parents may demand a more scientific approach – with clearly defined objectives.
The Eleven Plus examinations are set to try to find children of ability – and who will benefit from a grammar school education. The debate about what constitutes a fair and proper examination needs to continue. Parkinson’s Law reminds us:
“The defect in the intelligence test is that high marks are gained by those who subsequently prove to be practically illiterate. So much time has been spent in studying the art of being tested that the candidate rarely has time for anything else.”
All this is to say that children should feel that working through practice papers is a means to an end – and not the end itself.