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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Fairness of the Eleven Plus

The protests over the Biology examination that were posted on Facebook are entirely relevant to the present system of the eleven plus.

Can an eleven plus examining body pose questions in new and different ways? Of course they can. But is it fair? How would you feel if your eleven plus child complained that there were unexpected questions? We ran eleven plus courses for around six hundred children last year. One mother (out of the entire cohort) complained because her daughter met a section of work that was not in the `official Eleven Plus syllabus'. As a mother she had every right to complain because her child met unexpected work. We were told that her child had done all the eleven plus papers - and that the addition of something unexpected could knock her child's confidence.

We add bits and pieces to courses because we deal with some very bright children - who expect to get full marks. Their eyes sparkle when they meet something unexpected. Their antennae quiver. Their brains engage - and solving an unexpected problem gives an obvious thrill.

Do eleven plus teachers teach towards an `average eleven plus pass' or is their role to try to cater, occasionally, for the very brightest?

Do the upset `A' level students have a case? Of course they do. Why should an examination board experiment with the futures of so many?

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