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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Passing the Eleven Plus

I wonder just how easy it would be to add a little creativity to the Eleven Plus curriculum. Parts of the eleven plus, like insisting on just a few different types of verbal reasoning question, must appear to be a remarkably narrow examination.

Even though creativity is not tested, our eleven plus children must already be creative in their own ways – but not necessarily in the same areas. Some will be good at dance and others at design. Some may be able to write a new song while others may be able to make something out of nothing. A local academy, for example, asks children to bring something they have designed and created when the children come to an interview at the prospective school.

Of course interviewing each prospective eleven plus child would be vastly expensive and time consuming. What happens, however, if the present eleven plus system misses a really good candidate just because he or she worked slowly through a section of a verbal reasoning paper?

Creative exercises could offer eleven plus children the opportunity to learn to find new solutions to problems. Surely that is a valuable eleven plus skill? Solutions to problems do not always come after prolonged study. Sometimes a child may solve a problem when engaged in a different activity. We will all experienced pleasure when a solution to a problem suddenly comes clear while we are working on a different topic.

A ten year old boy who is remarkably good at surfing in the sea may be potentially an excellent grammar school candidate. He may, however, may miss a place in his local grammar school because he misses a few questions on paper when he runs out of time.

An eleven plus girl, on Grade 6 on piano and flute, may remember all her passages faultlessly – but forget how to do an algebra question. It is obviously fair that girls who pass a strict examination should be rewarded. A girl, however, with exceptional talent in other areas, should also have an opportunity to have access to a successful grammar school career.

Creative attributes will emerge at the appeal stage – if a child does fail. Here the talented piano player will then need to complete for a prized place alongside a girl who missed an examination though a passing, and temporary, illness.

Perhaps there could be room for eleven plus children to fill in a form that could submitted before the examination:

Outline your accomplishments

Describe your interests

How can we solve problems of waste?

A passing eleven plus score could then take a little more into account than a pass mark on a couple of examination papers.

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