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Friday, June 12, 2009

Eleven Plus Change

If there are good arguments that there is a need to look closely at certain aspects of the eleven plus examination, then there will also have to be a discussion on how to make the necessary changes. It may seem to be a good idea to change elements of the selection process – but this will need to involve a lot listening to stakeholders.

The grammar schools set out a stall for the type of children they want. Parents look at the various educational options and some, not all, opt for trying to help their child secure a grammar school place.

If parents start demanding a fairer and more inclusive selection process then they have to be aware that they are starting on a journey where the end is not clear. Years ago, for example, the transition to grammar school, in some areas, took place at thirteen. Now the children sit selection tests at eleven. Whereas there could be an argument for many girls being ready to transfer at eleven, there may be a good case for some boys to transfer at thirteen.

There is so much at stake in the eleven plus process that a number of parents may prefer to opt for no change. (The devil you know …..) Other parents, coming from different backgrounds and having different interests, may embrace change and feel strongly about throwing down the gauntlet and looking forward to vigorous debate.

At the very least changes to the eleven plus examination would affect people politically and socially. Governments swept in the eleven plus in an attempt to differentiate the education of the young. A concerted wave of opinion then demolished many of the early grammar schools.

No government, at the time of writing, appears to want to engage in any eleven plus debate. The present government seems to have enough problems in broad areas of finance and education to want to rake up old ashes.

If, however, a fresh and invigorating discussion could engage the interest of the public - then it is likely that change could be effected.

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