The challenge of the Eleven Plus examination starts in many different ways. Some children learn about the Eleven Plus through their friends at school. Others will know about the examination from older siblings. Some children will have been offered the: “Eleven Plus Talk.”
Children will be shown eleven plus materials in a variety of ways. First glimpses may be offered as the family walk purposely past Eleven Plus papers in local book shops. Other children will be handed down books and papers from friends, relations and friends of friends. (“If they were good enough for your sister, they will be good enough for you.” Sometimes an unsuspecting child will see a pile of books placed prominently on the table. (“Aren’t you lucky dear? Just look at all those lovely books. We are going to have fun.”)
There could be preliminary visits to tutors who have previously worked with family and friends. (“I know you will just love Mrs. H. Your sister thought she was wonderful.”) Some families will be looking for a new tutor or a fresh start. Other children will start with an assessment and then lessons.
“Why not try this little test on the computer? It does not matter if you make any mistakes. We are just going to try it out.”
“Mum, you know I hate the computer. I don’t like having to do all the working out in my head. You know I like to write my tables down when I am doing multiplication and division.”
“Oh mum, these C.D.s are fantastic. They are so helpful. I like the way they tell me if where I am going wrong.”
Some children will ease into regular lessons gracefully and thankfully. There will always be a few who resist any advice and help. There will be some children entering lessons smiling, happy and confident. There have also been the children who will walk in with downcast eyes, and never seem to attempt to engage the tutor. (Often these are the children who fail to say thank you.)
Some families will prefer to work at home on their own with their children. There will be some adults and children who will be privileged enough to be able to share the journey. These families will experience many ups and downs – but it will be a personal experience.
Naturally there will be some factors that parents feel they have no control over. Some children will be ready to become involved in regular study. Other children may be very able – but emerge with no desire to be competitive. There will also be the also be the children who will need to work very hard and will be prepared to do that `little bit extra”.
Finally there are the parents who will be talking in the play ground:
“Last year twenty nine children out of sixty in our school passed the Eleven Plus.”
“We managed five passes in the whole of our school. I am not sure if it is going to be any better this year.”
“What do you mean that your child goes to two different tutors? Why do you think that is really necessary?”
“Oh well, we will just do the best we can. After a pass is a pass.”