Most of us look at statistics with some degree of caution. We also know that some children facing the eleven plus examinations will have to do well on a standardised test. Other children will win a place in a grammar school by being first past the post.
Statistics are used to standardise procedures and then draw conclusions. “Children over this pass mark will go on to do well in grammar school and are likely to do well at university.” Not all children who go to grammar school stay happy at school and university. Some children do not manage at grammar school for a variety of reasons. Yet on the day they do pass we wish them health, wealth and happiness.
We could set up a stand at the entrance to a large supermarket. Ten year old children, entering with their parents, could be tested on three eleven plus questions. The children who pass all three questions could be deemed selective. We could make a prophecy that the children who pass are likely to do well academically.
In the actual examination a child could win a place in a grammar school by answering three more questions correctly than a child who does not manage to pass. Benjamin Disraeli was supposed to have said: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics!” Can some eleven plus statistics lie?
There must be a finite number of places at the various grammar schools.
The children must be within certain age levels.
Race, colour and creed can not come into the equation if a child achieves a pass mark.
Vacancies may suddenly appear at a grammar school if a child decides not to take up a place.
The appeal system can not be `fair’ to all children – as it must be possible for one child with the same final scores as another child to be offered a grammar school place.
There must be a wide number of plausible factors why one child will `go to grammar’ and another lose out. All parents can do at this stage with some many examinations being so close is to keep focusing on the missing three questions. Working through full papers may be of limited value at this stage. It may be more fulfilling to concentrate on strengths and weakness. After all any sound eleven plus child will tell you that:
Three is the only prime number which is one less than a perfect square.