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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eleven Plus Discussions

You are standing in the playground waiting for your much loved child. The discussion moves towards the eleven plus. Pretty soon the group of you display widely differing views.

“I would never force my child to do any papers. If she is good enough she will pass. If not then she goes to our local school. I do not believe in coaching children. It is so artificial.”

“Well we started two years ago. We looked at some of the questions in the 9 – 10 papers and did a few each week. Nothing serious – we were just getting used to the different types of questions. We now have a tutor and our son loves the weekly lessons. We want him to go to grammar school and want him to have the best possible chance.”

The traditional way of solving a playground argument is for all the parties to arrange a night out at the local curry house. The complimentary bottles of wine will enhance the discussion – and the tasty food will relax the inhibitions. Decision can be made. Opinions can be listened to – and then is no real reason for a purposeful agreement.

No doubt you will be lucky to find one of the mothers who is working on her Open University `Management in Education’ degree. This will help to draw up the battle lines. As the wine goes down – literally and figuratively – a work sheet will be developed on the back of napkin. The children in the newly designated eleven plus experiment will need to be properly screen at all times.

You will need a little pilot project with one or two children from each side of the divide. Of course you will also need an external moderator. Who better than the lecturer in charge of the Open University studies?

It will also be very important to take lots of care of the children on the experiment. The children will need to be told in great detail about the reason for the experiment – what will be expected of them and how long the experiment will run for. You may also need to reassure some children that whatever the outcome of the experiment their parents will not be isolated or ostracised. (Losing mothers will not have backs turned on them in the playground.)

An investigation into whether children should be prepared for the eleven plus.


Some children will respond to eleven plus preparation. Other children will not need any extra work. (It is possible now to see how the original discussion has become distorted.)

Some children (subjects) are offered extra help. Others do not.)

The variables will need to be stated. How many children. How much tuition.

This will be a detailed log of all the events involving all the children.

Oh dear! This will be down to individual interpretation. It was fun while it lasted!

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