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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eleven Plus Pressure

I wonder if any parents have ever used the words: “You will need to box clever if you are going to pass the Eleven Plus!”

Boxing used to be regarded as a valuable sport for youngsters. I remember years ago back in Zimbabwe watching inter-schools boxing. It was the tradition that if a heavy blow had been landed then hands would be raised above the head accompanied by a little dance. One teacher trained all his fighters that if an opponent raised hands and started `showing off’ to the crowd, there was an opportunity to swoop forward and punch an unprotected jaw. Needless to say one school emerged as the winners – to the jeers of almost all the crowd.

If your child questions you about the efficacy of boxing you may feel that you are in a position to list a few points and thus open up a discussion:

No-one is forced to box
No-one is forced to watch boxing
Young men and women can achieve fame and fortune
It promotes sportsmanship, courage and dignity
It teaches the need for law and order
It can be regulated with medical safeguards.

You will also need to discuss the `other’ side:

The terrible potential damage done to the brain

I thought of this analogy while a vital and successful Eleven Plus girl was describing her Eleven Plus route. She has recently passed the Bexley and the Kent Eleven Plus tests. She will be writing the Newstead Wood tests on Saturday. Newstead Wood is a popular and highly academic grammar school in Orpington. There is tremendous pressure for places in the school.

She explained that during one of the tests a child had been caught cheating. She commented that an invigilator had moved between the desks of two children to stop one of the girls looking at the paper of another girl.

I feel sorry for the girl who was caught cheating. She must have put herself under tremendous pressure to pass the examination. Her parents too must have played a part in adding to the child’s anxiety. I was relieved too to hear that the school had `sorted’ the problem sympathetically.

All we can pray is that her parents did not advise her to `box clever’ during the Eleven Plus examination.

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