This is a theme that parents and children return to every year. The circumstances and the families are different. The eleven plus children are not cast in one mould. Drastic and dramatic action is sometimes needed. This is called the `Preparing the Eleven Plus child for the New Year’.
The family need to meet on neutral ground. A visit to an art gallery or the aquarium may be indicated. A formal, yet family, approach is needed.
A chairperson is needed – to lead, organise and take responsibility. This does not need to be the candidate or the parents.
A note-taker or minute-maker will keep a record of the main points.
A reporter will try to assemble the thoughts and issues and offer them to the family gathering.
The `Eleven Plus Child’, hereafter called `The Candidate’, should be encouraged to talk about the eleven plus, what it means to him or her and what could be done in the future.
Parents should talk in turns – and not over each other – and recognise that their words are not laws but ideas to be evaluated and discussed.
Other members of the group should attempt to assess their own contributions towards the eleven plus.
Before the chairperson tries to draw all the treads together the candidate should be offered the opportunity of making a final declaration or closing statement. Encourage the opportunity to promote dreams, ideas and do not dwell on routes that should not be revisited. The chairperson should press for imagination and inventiveness.
The meeting should then break for ice-cream and fancies. The father should not be allowed coffee in case it makes him hyper.
This is called `Building the Action Plan’.
The Action Plan is only needed in the New Year, a complete break is needed over Christmas.
Eleven Plus papers are not allowed in Christmas stockings.
The Eleven Plus should not be discussed on Christmas Day.
There should be a general recognition of the issues and areas of engagement for all parties.
The candidate should appreciate that self-awareness is necessary.
The written record of the meeting and the subsequent action plan should be distributed to all concerned.
Grammar school places should be made available to all families who are able to maintain the plan.