One of the significant problems facing the parents of eleven plus children is that the eleven plus examination is an examination that has to be passed or failed. Naturally there will be some exceptions. Some children `almost pass’ and then `get there’ on appeal.
A lot of earnest and erudite people will have been involved in setting the eleven plus examination and then determining the results. The appeals for help from anxious parents are not directed to those who set the examination – but to individual schools and local authorities. The men and women who make up the examination `board’ are not answerable to anyone. They will not be subjected to an emotional plea for help and no mother or father can pray for succour on bended knees.
Some parents, at times, must wish that there was some form of a recording mechanism that could contribute towards the dreaded `pass’ or `fail’ marks.
The reactions of children in the examination room could be monitored. Are there children who are unduly upset? Could noise from an internal or external source upset the tenor of the day? Does someone in the room suddenly start crying?
Some parents may be delighted to be able to write a hundred and fifty word essay on why they want their child to go to grammar school. The results could be analysed according to certain criteria.
Children could be asked to prepare an explanation of why they want to pass the eleven plus and then go to grammar school. Of course some personal statements may need to be subjected to reality checks.
The opinions of other school children may also provide some insight into a child’s potential to do well academically. In 1928 Hartshorne and May devised the `Guess Who Test’. Children were asked to give and impression of each other. The question: “Who will do best at a grammar school?” may offer some considerable insight.
And finally the eleven plus candidate may be prepared to ask some close friend or relation to them to write a personal statement.
These findings, and possibly some others, would not be used solely in an appeal situation – but could, possibly, contribute towards a pass or fail mark. Would a grammar school, for example, prefer a child who was willing to give up the occasional Sunday afternoon to hand out tea and cakes at an old people’s home than a child who had worked through seventy five different eleven plus papers?
There must be a lot more to some children than the ability to pass an eleven plus test. Words like honesty, dignity and responsibility spring to mind. It may be possible to pass the eleven plus examination without a child being enthusiastic and open minded. In later life the ability to get a job done while being friendly and supportive may become important.