Some schools do not take children who have passed the eleven plus. These schools have a wide variety of names and ways of coping with, and educating, a wide range of children. Some parents may be heartened when they drop their child off at the first day of their senior school career because they will have heard that at some stage or another children will be put into some form of an ability sets. Years ago this used to be called streaming.
The ideas are that children are put into homogeneous sets according to their capability to do well academically.
The children who are placed in the lowest set or stream may have some difficulty with learning, or may have special needs. This in its way can cause an unstimulating class room environment.
When I was at school I was put in charge of the ninth cadet platoon. I was called the sergeant. The boys in my platoon were the boys who had difficulty in marching, did not always wear, or want to wear, the right uniform and most of them had a rather sceptical attitude to authority. These fifteen and sixteen year old boys were not interested in doing extra marching practice. They did not want to go to the firing range as a reward for extra practice. They certainly did not want any homilies from me about working together as a team and trying hard.
What ever problems I had caused the teachers at my school were avenged when I was put in charge of the ninth platoon. At this stage you must be waiting for a happy ending. No chance! On the final march past our platoon was last to move. They had seen prizes given to the glory boys. They had listened to uplifting words from some visiting dignitary. They were hot and tried.
The eighth platoon march off in good order. Left right, left right.
Some of our platoon did not start off on the correct foot. By the time the platoon reached the saluting point we were out of step. Two boys had fallen behind and were running to catch up. The command “Eyes Right” was ignored by some. I was told afterwards that two boys had turned their heads to the left.
Sadly, some of the crowd laughed. This did not go down very well. There were mutters and softly spoken words. The cadence was completely destroyed and there was no effort to march to the stirring music. For a few precious moments we were a team. We were a band of brothers. We were united in our hatred of the system of cadets, school and the world in general.
When I had received my sergeant stripes I was unconsciously proud. Possibly I was to learn that pride comes before a fall. When we stripped off our uniforms and handed them in after the parade I was proud and very relieved. For the rest of my school days I was not offered any position of responsibility.
Would group of boys from the ninth platoon in a grammar school behave differently? Would they be more mature? Would they respond to any special educational treatment? Would they volunteer for extra duties? Would they strive to be the best?