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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Grammar and the Eleven Plus

There must have been many influences on the men and women who formulated the early ideas of the eleven plus. The idea of catering for bright and deserving children was not new after the Second World War – but it was a time of change and evolution.

At that time a lot of time and effort was being put into the teaching of grammar. There was little evidence then that primary school children would profit from an early introduction to terms such as noun, verb and `phrases in apposition’.

Macaulay wrote about the `Difficulty of Grammar’ in the British Journal of Education Psychology XVII back in 1947; He reviewed the grammar syllabus for Scottish school. At seven and a half children started on a grammar syllabus which involved a period of around thirty minutes a day. He tested a number of groups of children after five years of grammar on the recognition of:


No group reached fifty percent on the test!

Children did even worse on:


There is no place for grammar in today’s eleven plus but rote learning without full comprehension must still play a part in some eleven plus exercises.

I have a 1992 book on Reasoning Ability (ISBN 0340487836) and it has this gem:

In a certain code the word GET is written as COL and the word HOLD is written as APIN. Write the code word for THE.

It is difficult to know if learning, by rote, how to cope with a question of this nature will leave a lasting impression on any one!

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