When eleven plus parents look around their family and friends they must be proud of the number of worthy role models for their children to follow. Who can the candidate talk to about life in a grammar school? Are the stories about homework real? What should I do after university? A good role model will try to help.
Think back to one of the most famous role models of all time. The great King Arthur. He was wounded in battle at Lyoness – the fabled land submerged between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles. He was borne by barge to be buried at Avalon, which we all know is really Glastonbury.
Sir Bedivere was entrusted with Excalibur to return the sword to the lake. You will, no doubt, remember the story how the sword was raised above the water by an arm that was dressed in silk. Tennyson wrote about the last journey in `Morte D’Arthur’.
So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fall'n in Lyonness about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
Eleven Plus children must, at times, feel that they too are in a battle for higher marks and better scores. Could there be a mother in the whole of England who would not utter a little sigh if their child achieved 99% on a paper instead of the fabled 100%? Some parents may even be inclined to study the mistake to see if the answer book could be wrong!
We think of King Arthur sitting at the round table accompanied by his knights planning, plotting and discussing the future, the present and the past. Is this much dissimilar to the eleven plus family gathered around the dining room table planning, plotting and discussing the future, the present and the past?
As the exceeding bright and able eleven plus child looks to summon up the answer to one wrong question – their minds may fleetingly hark back the sword being drawn from the stone. Because if your eleven plus child could work out how to answer that one really tricky question on the paper – then eleven plus success can be assured.
We always seem to have a number of eleven plus children who want to achieve full marks on all the eleven plus papers. To reach this goal there has to be considerable work from the teachers, parents and the candidates. The work has to be focused and dedicated.
There is, however, one big and real difference between King Arthur fighting a losing battle with is enemies and our eleven plus children. King Arthur was searching for the Holy Grail. Our children may only be searching for the right answer.