There were several reports in and around 1963 concerning themselves with ability. There is still considerable relevance to this debate because it does seem that it is possible to help a child to do better on an ability test. The Newsom Report of 1963 stated that: “Intellectual talent is not a fixed quantity with which we have to work but a variable that can be modified by social policy and educational approaches.” The Newsom Report (Page 6) felt that the kind of intelligence measured by intelligence tests was largely an acquired characteristic.
The Spens Report of 1938 – on which the 1944 Education Act was based – suggested: “Intellectual development during childhood appears to progress as if it were governed by a central factor usually known as general intelligence.” The 1944 Education Act developed the concept of the eleven plus. The Spens Report felt that it was possible to predict with some degree of accuracy the ultimate level of a child’s intellectual powers.
What happens to an eight year old child working at Level 2 on the National Curriculum but identified by an educational psychologist as being in the top one per-cent? Should this child sit the eleven plus? Should the school make a special provision? Should the grammar school take the report from the educational psychologist and admit this very bright child before children who can work at Level 5?