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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Scope of the Eleven Plus

During the Second World War was necessary to train older men and women in skilled trades so that younger workers could be released for more specialised tasks. Experimental and occupational psychologists were used to investigate the factors involved in the acquisition of skills in various jobs.

It is not hard to think that when parents are learning new eleven plus skills with their children, there must be occasions when their child picks up a new skill faster than the parent.

The work of the psychologist during the war was to try to work how machinery and equipment could be designed to allow for human limitation – and so to minimise accidents or errors.

Some of the publishers of present eleven plus material do not appear to have thought successfully about the role of training parents to work through eleven plus papers with their children. Some parents, for example, may need more than the answer before they can help their child.

Some publishers do, however, seem to making grounds in their use of the internet to disseminate help and information. The problem is that the eleven plus has been around for many years – with remarkably little alteration in the scope and extent of the questions. Indeed there must be some parents and possibly some grandparents who sat the eleven plus years ago and are now working with their children.

There has been very little new and exciting in the world of the eleven plus. One school of thought could be: “If it ain’t broke – don’t try to fix it.” The eleven plus is obviously doing it job and is selecting the right kind of children for grammar schools.

What happens if there are children who can not pass the eleven plus – but could make excellent use of the academic education offered by grammar schools?

We could be pessimistic about the eleven plus but in truth most bright children love and thrive on the rigors of the present eleven plus. After all it is all we have at the moment.

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