Eleven plus examinations depend on far more than the ability of a child to reach 80% on an eleven plus selection paper. One of the early aims of the eleven plus was to try to ensure that children began a secondary education that was appropriate their skills and abilities. Fifty years ago it was hoped that the eleven plus would emerge as a all embracing predictor of future academic success.
Selection scores, however, are not straightforward indicators that children have reached the required level to be considered as worthy of a grammar school education. The determination of parents must also be taken into account. Some children will want to enter grammar school because it is expected on them. The parents and grandparents, for example, may all have enjoyed academic educations. Other children will be urged towards the eleven plus because of the drive and desire of the parents to try to ensure a different sort of life for their children.
It is probably likely that the home environment plays a very large part in the life of an eleven plus child. Authorities over the years have tried to provide young children with as good a start as possible. One of more favourable consequences of the previous government’s attempt to spend its way out of recession was the development of Sure Start – aimed at educating preschool children and their parents. We hope that some of the children offered opportunities under Sure Start will emerge as convincing eleven plus candidates.
Of course the environment that the children are exposed to at school must play a strong part. A school geared towards the eleven plus will offer advantages that children in a school opposed to eleven plus can not enjoy. It may even be possible to think that the classroom teacher can also play a definitive part in the selection process. Some parents would hope, for example, that the school could provide a good range of homework activities. The homework does not need to be an eleven plus paper!
Good school buildings may also play a part. The Building Schools for the Future program was developed to upgrade and replenish existing school stock. A child being taught in a modern building, with eager teachers, may possibly do better than a child in a dismal out dated classroom with an unhappy teacher.
It is not just ploughing through endless papers that will ensure an eleven plus pass. There is more to life than choosing between an `A’ a `B’ a `C’ and a `D’.