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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Eleven Plus and A.D. 826

We can go back to the Seventh Century to find schools established by the Church as Grammar Schools. Some of the schools were established only for the children of the laity. Other higher schools were also for the clergy – but there were lessons that were of interest to those who were not going to enter holy orders. The General Council in 826, for example, wanted schools that also taught grammar and the liberal arts.

The major cathedrals had `song schools’ and a grammar school for the education of the professional classes. Lessons took pace on astronomy and ecclesiastical arithmetic. Children were also taught rhetoric, singing, about animals and birds as well as different kinds of numbers and geometrical figures. In some schools law was considered to be an important subject. Back in those day educators were looking ahead!

There have been many reports over the years about the value and the nature of education. There have also been many different attempts to modernise schools and prepare children for leaving school. As universities have become more expensive the pressure on apprenticeships seems to be growing. Our brighter school children are being advised to avoid soft `A’ level subjects if they want to gain admission to a `good’ university. One of our assistants is taking the Internal Baccalaureate with a view to going to university. She wants to follow a degree focusing on Public Sector Management. The day of the gifted amateur being able to run big businesses and take responsibility for the public sector seems to be over. The continual cry is for qualifications and experience.

I suspect, without any hard evidence, that many parents, quite rightly, simply want a grammar school place for their child. I bet, however, that there were many parents back in 826 who also simply wanted a place for their children in a grammar school.

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