It is probably time for some research into the eleven plus. The internet has helped to expose the strengths and weaknesses traditional eleven plus materials. The same internet has allowed an abundance of materials to flood into homes. There is no case for regulation but a controlled trial may offer some parents useful information.
There is no time and no place for an experiment into the value of different teaching materials – because this would be very risky for the families and the children involved. An investigation could, however, cover at least three main areas:
1. Do eleven plus materials actually boost a child’s performance?
2. Would children have made the same progress if different materials had been used?
3. Do children forget everything they have learnt very soon after the examination?
The trial would need to have a number of schools that would be willing to participate. There would be little point in conducting a trial if the head and all his staff were violently opposed to the eleven plus. If schools were not willing to co-operate then alternative methods of sampling would be needed.
The eleven plus work could be tested against reading and verbal reasoning quotients – and some areas would be able to add mathematics. Children would be tested before starting on any eleven plus work – and then re-tested after six or seven months.
The children who were in the control group (no eleven plus stimulation) would simply continue with ordinary work.
We would expect:
1. Eleven plus materials do not really help.
2. Different materials do not really make a difference.
3. Children will forget most of what they have been taught within six months of the eleven plus.
The report would be published and read with considerable anticipation by widely varying groups. Anti eleven campaigners would be able to latch onto some of the findings to prove that the eleven plus is a vile and un-necessary examination. Some parents would be grateful that they had an opportunity of helping to determine their child’s future – with out being told that the National Curriculum: `Does not do it that way.” Tutors would read into the conclusions what ever they wanted to find. Other parents would acknowledge the value of the research but would continue to try to do the best for their children. The lives of the researchers would be examined. At least two researchers would land up on the couches of the early morning news programs.
Publishers would continue to publish.
Examiners would continue to examine.
Parents would continue to worry.
Children would continue to sail through the year.
Life would go on.