One of the reasons why the Eleven Plus became the `Eleven Plus’ is because the Hadow report of 1926. The report called `The Education of the Adolescent’ confirmed a school leaving age of fourteen. It was thought, then, that children only needed three years of secondary education. A break seemed to be indicated at the age of eleven.
Grammar schools were already taking on eleven year old children – and bit by bit the age of transfer for more and more children to a wider range of schools took place when the children were eleven.
The elementary schools were called `all age schools’ but the second Hadow Report recommended that more Junior Schools should be established for children aged seven to eleven. The five to seven year olds were already in separate departments called infant schools. A primary school covered children between the ages of five and eleven. It took a further thirty years for a universal education system to emerge. The third Hadow report, of 1931, brought up how slow change took place.
Many schools had classes of around sixty children. The lesson was taught and was then followed by a series of drills and practice sessions. A lot of time was spent on testing in those days. Teachers were encouraged to help their children to memorise facts. D.H. Lawrence suggested that children were encouraged to work hard and pay attention.
The Best of School
The blinds are drawn because of the sun.
And the boys and the room in a colourless gloom
Of underwater float: bright ripples run
Across the walls as the blinds are blown
To let the sunlight in: and I, As I sit on the shores of the class, alone,
Watch the boys in their summer blouses
As they write, their round heads busily bowed:
And one after another rouses
His face to look at me
To ponder very quietly
As seeing, he does not see.
As your eleven plus child ponders an answer – do you sometimes feel that you are seen but not seen?