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Monday, March 22, 2010

Eleven Plus Appeals

Some worthy children, and their equally worthy parents, face the dreaded prospect of `The Appeal’. Some appeals will be held in the very near future. Just as the parents of the eleven plus children may have woken up rehearsing their marriage vows, so the words they hope to speak in the appeal may be hurtling around their brains.

“Do you as a school take my child to be your lawfully constituted pupil?

Do you promise to teach, honour and take care of my wonderfully precious child?

Will you do your best through thick and thin and not think about other children all the time my child is in your care?”

The eleven plus examination presupposes a supply of suitable candidates – and with this the need to reject a percentage of them. Some grammar schools will have the real problem of selection of wondering whether they have selected the right children – as well as the concern that they may have rejected other able children who have simply not reached the required mark on the day.

Parents must enter the appeal secure in the knowledge that it is likely that there will be some vacant grammar school places – and that the school needs to fill the empty seats. “The school needs my child more than my child needs the school.”

As soon as the results of the eleven plus are posted we have a range of children with different attributes vying for a limited number of places. Before the pass mark is announced we have large numbers of children who have to reach a specified score. After the results there will be a variety of reasons why a child may not have done as well as expected `on the day’.

One of the various rationales of the eleven plus is that the examination is designed to predict future academic success. Parents do not, however, have the opportunity of being able to question the `goodness’ or the `appropriateness’ of the examination. Of course some parents may be able to see the papers their children sat – and then have the opportunity of discussing the papers in the appeal.

After all the appeals have been heard the children will be put into various categories. A major factor in the classification of the children will be the ability of the panel to be able to predict how well they think each child will perform in a grammar school.

To a degree the appeal board will need to have a picture of a composite child. Naturally there will be extenuating circumstances affecting the outcome.

For parents – one final gesture of good fortune. There is a section in the Christian marriage ceremony where the priest says words to the effect:

“Speak now or for ever hold your voice.”

After all when you walk away from the appeal you want to keep in mind the saying:

“Speech was given to conceal or disguise man’s thoughts.”

Don’t give your chance away.

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