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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eleven Plus Criteria

There is a website that advertises that they are an independent organisation specialising in scouting young players for professional football clubs. The scouting is done, according to the website, by professional coaches. At this point I need to declare that I know nothing about the organisation other than what is available on the website. I can not endorse or condone any activity. I just like the idea of professionals taking time to look at children with ability and potential.

The cost appears to be little. It is but £5.00 to register and £20.00 for the trial day.

“Mother, please let go on the trial day. It should be so much fun. I really want to play football professionally.”

“The literature does not say if girls can also attend. Perhaps we can contact them. I know you love football. Surely you would prefer to pass your eleven plus?”

We must wonder if something like a trial day can be organised for the eleven plus. There is so much more to a child that a single overall eleven plus pass or fail mark.

Parents could simply register their child for an eleven plus day. Teachers from a number of local grammar schools could meet the children and watch interaction and communication. The teachers could look for leadership skills and the ability to organise oneself. (Has he or she remembered his or her coat?)

Specialist teachers could meet key children and discuss common interests. Suppose, for example, there is a bright and highly musical child with outstanding musical skills but relatively poor mathematics. This child may not pass the eleven plus. Enter a champion from the music department of the grammar school who could argue a convincing case for the child to be offered a place. It is always galling to hear of a bright ten year old being rejected for the eleven plus – in spite of extraordinary ability in other fields.

A different ten year old, wishing to win a place in a grammar school, may be uncommonly suited to life in a canoe. This child may have the potential to be picked for an England canoe team in a few short years time. Of course it can be argued that first of all the child had to prove academic potential by passing the eleven plus. The discussion could then continue that once the child is in the grammar school he or she could then develop with both sport and academic studies. The same child, however, if a grammar school place was not offered, could lose interest in learning and academic studies. The physical education specialist at the grammar school, after observing the child in action, may want to do build a case for the child’s inclusion.

“Young Ben (or Sarah) is clearly outstanding at canoeing. He (she) has an impressive physique at this stage – and should certainly be part of our rowing team over the next few years. His (her) marks at school are sound. He (she) is clearly motivated. If he (she) reaches a good enough grade, we should serious consider making an offer.”

The eleven plus pass mark could then be broadened to include observations by specialist teachers who could mentor precocious candidates. Grammar schools must want the best candidates.

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