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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Eleven Plus Under Fire

Has much of the published eleven plus content become a little too docile? We hear of some children and some parents who have become preoccupied with the number of questions answered correctly on online tests and exercises. We have also been told stories of tutors who work doggedly through paper after paper.

The eleven plus for ten year olds could, for example, involve critical reading and wide searching examinations. The whole eleven plus experience for some children is to do with preparing `objective' or `multiple choice' answers. There is little room for criticism or detachment.

Some children will be able to pass the eleven plus after working through hundreds or even thousands of questions with answers that are either right or wrong. There is little room for shades of grey! Does the act of reasoning actually come into the examination?

It is a massive achievement to pass the current eleven plus. First class teaching from the thousands of well thought of eleven plus teachers from all over the country help children to `go to grammar. Even the most gifted teachers must, however, be constrained by the tight bands of the some of elements of the eleven plus.

Very bright children are subjected to a caricature of an examination. We have an incredibly able boy with us who is aiming at achieving marks in the top two percent. He tears through questions - at twice the speed of other able children. He does not need lessons as he can cope with the mechanical aspect of the present eleven plus. His face only lights up when he meets an occasional demanding problem. We have told him, and his parents, that he does not need lessons yet the family feel that he still needs to go through the motions of examination preparation.

Should we offer the present `eleven plus syllabus' or is it our responsibility `to go where no boy has gone before?'

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