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Monday, April 20, 2009

Eleven Plus Changes

Bright children are constantly urged to work hard and do their best. Some parents and some teachers will extol the opportunities that arise with a place in a grammar school. Children with exceptional talent should enjoy this interest because it means that their talents are appreciated and not wasted.

One of the reasons for entry to grammar school that some parents must quote would be the chance to develop highly valuable economic skills. In other words grammar school plus university equals well paid and successful job.

We know that important demands placed on children as they work towards the eleven plus. Eleven plus children are expected and even willed to climb to academic heights well above those reached at school. Of course not all children manage to pass the eleven plus through no real fault of their own. Ability and opportunity must play a significant part.

How could we do a better job and provide a broader and more comprehensive pre eleven plus education? We know that a verbal reasoning test is a significant tool in the eleven plus examination. Many of the questions, however, are remarkably similar to those produced over fifty years ago. This in itself does not prove that the questions are inappropriate – but it does suggest that the view of education and ability espoused all those years ago still has a place in our society today.

We can be sure that verbal reasoning tests are still valid and important – but the tests and the questions only cover a small selection of the talents and ability often shown in really bright children. A ten year old child with Grade 6 in music will probably do well on verbal reasoning papers – but entrance to grammar school does not recognise this. Exceptional talent with a cricket bat will not open up a grammar school place – but the grammar school should be able to profit if the child is able to pass the entrance test.

We want creative and imaginative children. Surely these are skills and talents that are more important in the long run than an ability to pass a multiple choice test?

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