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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winning an Eleven Plus Place

As from the 3rd of March 2010 all children applying for places in Grammar Schools will need to supply a hand written C.V.

No child will be admitted unless the 200 word C.V. is completed. The two referees will need to supply day time telephone numbers and be prepared to submit a written reference.

A child who has been on this earth for ten whole years will have plenty to put on a C.V. There won’t be much opportunity to enter a section on the gap year spent helping the disadvantaged in Peru or the stints of working part time at Christmas in a large department store but self sufficient and self respecting grammar school candidates should be able to come up with something of interest.

It is likely that professional C.V. writers will want to engage new markets. Parents will also come into their own, for once, as they bring their expertise and experience to bear on the problem. Grandmother too will essay a trip into the loft to find her copy of the first C.V. she wrote when she was nineteen and desperately wanted a part time job. Of course Uncle Fred will throw in his opinion that C.V.’s are a waste of time. “Look where I got and I never wrote a C.V.” (Uncle Fred won the lottery when he was just seventeen years old.)

Children will quickly come to understand the need to take considerable trouble over their C.V.s. They will no doubt be informed over and over that this will be the first impression that the grammar school will have. Children will be warned that in spite of passing the eleven plus with outstanding marks – entry will only be offered if the C.V. stands up.

Now would be a good idea to remind children not to lie on their C.V.s. There will be little point in adding in a twenty third Cub Scout badge if it is spurious and misleading. Chance would have it that someone on the C.V. committee will be the Chief Scout.

We would hope too that children would not need to apply on specially designed forms. This would not allow an earnest ten year old girl to apply a wheel of sprightly yellow butterflies to her C.V. Who would want to crush originality in a ten year old? When children are thinking about all the factors in their favour – like interests, experiences and accomplishments – then they should be allowed some freedom of expression and presentation.

Some children will no doubt not listen carefully to their parents and write their C.V.s in the form of a story. “One dark and stormy night a girl wanted to go to Grammar School. She walked up to the forbidding iron gates and saw a school bag draped over the nearby railings. She thought: “I am going to be enterprising. I really want to go to this school. I will solve the mystery.”

Of course any self respecting C.V. will need to have a word limit. If the detailed instructions ask for a word limit then the children will need to adhere to the word count. There will be no place for the bright ten year old boy to try to be funny and write the whole of his life in fifty words. Equally a verbose, articulate but earnest girl may be denied a place if she offers 500 words. This will show that she can not count and may be too self opinionated.

Some children may prefer to submit their C.V. without making a neat copy. No doubt there will be some who will argue that grammatical errors and the odd spelling mistake will not be noticed and will not really count. One or two may even insist on handing in their C.V. written in pencil. They will want to stand out – but they may not be counted!

Finally children will have to ask their referees for permission. Like writing to thank relatives for Christmas presents, children will need to learn to contact their referees to tell them whether they were offered a place or not.

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