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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Eleven Plus Destiny

Winston Churchill summed it up for us: `It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”

Your child, as the eleven plus grows closer, will meet and benefit from many `links’ in the educational chain. What you, as a parent, will hope is that one or more of the links will stimulate and excite your child to aim high. Even the coolest and most laid back eleven plus candidate still needs to have ambition.

At this moment in time, with the world in financial turmoil, industry has to be innovative. Change, for some established institutions, becomes essential for the organization to survive.

The schools your children attend are likely to have a rather formal organizational structure. Your child will come into contact with the Head Teacher. There could be one of more Deputy Heads. Each school could then have a different name for a head of department, as well as a graded specialist post. Somewhere there is your child’s class teacher. In one way this is a network of prestige, relationships, power and career structures.

Your child could be under a teacher in the pre eleven plus year who is ambitious to earn a post of responsibility, or is studying to become a head teacher. Equally your child may have a very happy and productive year with a teacher who simply wants to be a teacher.

Your child’s attitude towards the eleven plus will be affected by the knowledge, skills, beliefs and personalities of many different educationalist at school. There will also be the policy of the school towards the Eleven Plus, the personal feelings of the head teacher and the class teacher. There will be many shades of opinion.

Teachers have to be very careful talking to a parent about the eleven plus. How can a teacher say that a child should pass or can pass? Schools are not usually privy to full details of eleven plus preparation. We all know of children who pass the eleven plus with remarkably little preparation. “My child never did a paper, I don’t believe in eleven plus preparation.”

Other children benefit from additional work in mathematics and English – as well as verbal reasoning. Some children pass the eleven plus from the starting point of being in the middle sets at school in mathematics and English. Eleven plus coaching has helped some `average’ children starting Year 5 to gain Level 5 in mathematics and English. Eleven plus coaching has helped some children to leave `average’ behind and gain entrance to a grammar school.

If the `average’ child does win a grammar school place then it is hard not to think that everyone at school will be delighted to share a moment of reflected glory. After all all concerned at schoool are invluable links in the chain.

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