Christmas is officially over – it is Boxing Day. The last of the turkey has been eaten. The sprouts have been consigned to sprout land – which is far from any dinner plates. Stories of successes in the sales have been analysed and commented on. Welcome cups of tea have been poured and Christmas cake nibbled on. There is a general feeling of well-being. Someone, who will be nameless, brings up the topic of the eleven plus. Various children scattered around the room make immediate moves towards any available exit. The children are called back. This is now an official `Pre New Year Eleven Plus’ discussion.
In any confab between member of the family about the eleven plus and the chances of success, there must, at times, be some form of synthesis of ideas. Oh yes! Even in a family! It is possible through the course of the conversation that there will be some guiding questions, some suggestive clues and a number of sub-currents. The dialogue will probably cover at least some of the following ten points.
The intellectual ability of the eleven plus child
The amount, and degree, of energy the child will put into studies
How much self- assertiveness has been demonstrated – and what is likely to happen as the examination creeps closer
The nature of adaptability and the ability to cope with new situations
The child’s general habits
The breadth and extent of recreational activities
The usual mood and optimism
The attitude towards self
The attitude towards others
And finally, how realistic the different members of the family are to the chances of success in the examination
Of course other factors may play a part in a true eleven plus discussion. Some members of the family may want to bring up ancestry, heredity and a variety of environmental factors. Other parents, for example, may want to express their feelings of their child’s school, teachers and tutors. Books, papers and the value of the internet will also possibly weave a thread through the conversation.
The one person buried under a blanket of emotion is the candidate. Up to now he or she has enjoyed Christmas and had been treated as a regular member of the family. As the spotlight passes over the recumbent and almost lifeless form, a little mumbled mantra can be heard. “Please leave me alone. I promise I will work in the New Year. Please don’t talk about me in front of me. I am a member of this family. Please leave me alone. I just want to go to my room. Please?”