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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

From the Eleven Plus to the 12+

If your child has not won (or earned) a place in a grammar school, then at some time or another the school will need to do an assessment. Some Local authorities opt apply the eleven plus tests to all the children in the borough. The advantage of this is that the senior schools have SATs results as well as Eleven Plus results to gather an early picture of a child’s attainment and academic abilities.

Some schools will proceed to implement, at one stage or another, some form of streaming – but do not always make rigid and unflinching decisions. If there is an element of steaming then, as children are assessed continuously, the school leaves plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Even schools which offer mixed ability teaching need some for of assessment to ensure the classes have a fair distribution of children. Some schools like to offer a completely random system of allocation of pupils to a class – and so use means like initial letters of surnames. Most, however, in the eleven to thirteen years appear to desire a mix of high ability and slow learners.

One of the most important reasons for a series of early assessment just after transfer to senior school is to try to find the children in need of additional support.

Some schools have what could be called the `express or `grammar’ stream Where able and hard working children are encouraged to accelerate their learning. A number of children flower in an environment where they feel that they are top of the year group – rather than struggling with the pace of a grammar school.

If your child does not pass the eleven plus then all is not lost. Some children will simply shrug off the `failure’ of not passing the eleven plus and get on with their lives. Others, admittedly a much smaller number, will still express a desire to `get to grammar’. In some cases it will genuinely be the child’s ambition – but in other cases parents will be the driving force and will try everything possible to help their child win a place in a grammar school.

What ever the motivation, the prospective 12+ or 13+ candidate has to take a lot of responsibility. The eleven plus examination is most often an open and shut – pass, fail or appeal. Factors such as the ability to try hard at school, an untimely and upsetting occurrence in the family personal pressure and problems at school only really come out in an appeal situation. Much more preparation than working through a number of selection papers is needed at the 12+ and 13+ levels.

Books, assignments and notes need to be immaculate. It may become difficult for some parents to become involved in the school work of a 12 year as often the child is not used to close scrutiny. Where possible, however, parents could check every single possible bit of work to ensure that there are as few spelling mistakes as possible, that work is rules off and underlined. Pictures, diagrams and maps have to be completed. Where a teacher has made a comment – then every effort needs to be made to make sure that the work has either been redone or the relevant corrections applied.

What can happen at the 12+ stage is that entry to the grammar school may ask for a report from the secondary school. Of course you want a good report showing diligence and a positive attitude to learning. In some cases your child’s school books may also be asked for. It would be sad if your child lost a place in grammar school on a technicality. If the science teacher had said, for example, “Underline all heading and complete the previous two experiments,” and your child (and you) has not complied, then the grammar school could justifiably offer the coveted place to a different child.

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