'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
“Eleven plus teachers can make up their own minds about what they teach.”
The first statement fills us with a wry smile. The second has the ability to send shivers up our spines. There is no `Eleven Plus Syllabus’ for teachers to follow. There are books, texts and papers prepared by publishers and teachers which, however, we can follow religiously - when necessary. There is no one in supreme authority who can tell an eleven plus teacher what to teach and when to teach it.
Traditionally eleven plus pupils have been offered little choice in a curriculum. Children seem to understand that working through papers and eleven plus exercises will help. If their understanding is a little fusty – then their parents and teachers usually are fully capable of telling them what to do.
An eleven plus child may have a list of objectives:
Passing the eleven plus
Getting into a grammar school
Working hard at school
Listening to my teachers and parents
Parents, however, may see parts of the eleven plus differently:
Giving my child the opportunity to do well at school
Helping my child to learn how to work independently
Passing the examination
Naturally these lists cannot be applied to all eleven plus children and their parents. There may well be marked differences between aspirations on the part of both parties. (“To be with my friends,” for example – may play a part!)
There will always be some form of hidden curriculum in the eleven plus. Many of us will be eternally grateful that there is no great need for conformity. Most of us will probably be reasonably happy with: “If it is not broke – do not try to fix it.”