When parents are chatting in the playground about the eleven plus there is usually some form of fluidity about the composition of the groups. Sometimes, but not always, one of the parents takes it on to become the leader of the group. This form of leadership has little to do whether the `playground guru’ is liked or not - but it does seem to revolve around whether the leader can keep the group `task orientated’.
The eleven plus task could be the date of the examination – and how many weeks are left. An eleven plus task could be recounting what the highly recommended eleven plus tutor said about the child of the `leader’. A different monologue could be offered on the selection, by the class teacher, of key children to make up a high achiever `eleven plus group’.
Some parents may not want to hear the comments of others about the readiness of the class to start on eleven plus work. One or two may even drift away when the `natural leader’ is in full swing. To keep the group going, and to add credence to the leader’s opinions, there has to be some interaction. Without being able to participate, the leader simply becomes a lecturer. Not many people enjoy being lectured in the middle of an open playing field at 8.40 in the morning!
The leader needs to play on the group’s emotions to hold them together. He or she will be considering:
The cohesiveness of the immediate group
Their solidarity and agreement with the leader
The morale of the parents in the group
How efficient the leader is at getting the message across.
However, and there is almost always an `however’ one great thing about playgrounds is the potential for fluidity. If the playground leader becomes the playground bore there are always children about. It is always easy to leave a group: “Oh look, I must just tell `***’ that she has ballet tonight after school.”
The quacking sound of the bore recedes into the distance and your true eleven plus stalwart can leave secure and confident. Your child is as good as if not better than the bore’s child. Onwards and upwards!