Does the eleven plus depend, to a degree, on a stubborn resistance on the part of the examiners to change? Visualise the scene. The meeting is in progress.
“Is there a need for change?”
“I am not sure. Let us look at a question together. If A = 10, B = 8, C = 2 and D = 4, what is D + A divided by C + D?”
“But we used a question like that in 1963.”
“But it is not out of date. There is no need for innovation for the sake of it.”
The eleven plus seems to maintain a steady state over the years. We appear to take it for granted, for example, that one organisation can claim that their selection papers are the official ones used in the actual examination. Anyone teacher or parent who would want to question the proprietary of the advertisement would have to expect remarkably little sympathy – because the advert – and the intention behind the advert – is not misleading.
Some parents seem to be expected to fill a stylised role. It is anticipated that they will provide their children with the ritual of papers and exercises – all remarkably similar in both intent and content. There seems to be little need for any eleven plus parent to feel the need to step out of line. “Start with these papers, continue with these and finish off with this pile. Our family followed this routine and all my children passed.”
The structure of eleven plus preparation appears to depend on children achieving key grades at pre-set intervals. It looks too as if parents need to follow a structured command line with remarkably similar objectives and goals. But it does not look as if there is time for parents to be unpractical or innovative. The date of the examination marches remorselessly forward.
The eleven plus, however, is about far more than parents, papers and examination dates – it is also to do with children. Is there a set description of the eleven plus child?
Hard working – loves doing papers
Capable of intense concentration
Reads widely and extensively
Pleasant peers and friends
Good at school and examinations
A delight to teachers and parents alike
Is this the stereotype of a fortunate clean cut eleven plus pupil? With a target audience of this nature why would examiners want to change?