Back in the nineteenth century Her Majesties Inspectors visited schools and examined children under pre-specified `standards’. A government grant was paid to the school board according to the children’s performance.
“My dear Miss Winters. Your children can all manipulate numbers. Congratulations. We will raise your stipend by two shillings a month.”
“Oh thank you. George has gone to work for Lord Miles. He is the best one at number work. We will miss him.”
`Her Majesties Inspectors’, formerly the `HMI’ now ply their trade under the guise of OFSTEAD – the Office for Standards in Education.
“Good morning Miss Rabbis. Good morning children. I am going to sit at the back of the class. Please do not mind me.”
“Oh, Mrs Watson. Here are my schemes of work. They are all ready as you can see in this folder. My C.V. has also been included. We are working today on an important strand. Please take a seat at the back of the class. Can I bring you anything?”
Parents may feel it unnecessary in these stringent times to pay a weekly levy on each lesson to pay for Eleven Plus tutors to be subjected to a mini OFSTEAD visit. Some parents, however, may find it very reassuring to know that their tutor was going to be inspected.
“Mr. Hobson. I have brought Harry, my oldest to you. You now have Rosina. I am not going to pay you any extra. If you want to be inspected – you pay the fees to the inspectors. I am satisfied with what you are doing.”
It seems, however, to be very unlikely that mere inspections will offer a systematic solution to the problems that appear to exist within the world of the Eleven Plus.
“Mrs. Head Teacher. We have been paying for a tutor for my child. His teacher here, at school, feels that he is improving. She says his marks are now around average. Do you think he will pass the Eleven Plus?”
The Eleven Plus examination, however, is not only to do with performance in an examination. There must be many indirect gains from working towards a competitive examination.
“My son is much happier now. He feels he can concentrate. He loves working on a one to one basis. He really wants to go to grammar.”
The Eleven Plus examination is trying to predict future success – rather than present performance.
“The better the results on a verbal reasoning test, the more likely your child is to do at the `A’ level examinations.”
Efforts to try to measure the competence of experienced and successful eleven plus tutors may occasion fierce resistance. If, however, the Eleven Plus syllabus is to change – then the some input will have to come from the vast and experienced bank of eleven plus tutors.
“You have tutored many children towards the Eleven Plus. What do you think should be in the new examination? Where can we make changes?”
Parents pay the tutors. Parents too will need to be consulted.
“What do you and your child think should be in the examination?”
(It would be wonderful to have the opportunity!)