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Friday, May 10, 2013

An Eleven Plus Write Off!

I was given a copy of `The Backward Child’ by Cyril Burt by my first and only headmaster Mr W.W. Wilson. The book was first published in 1937. My copy is the 4th Edition of 1958. In Burt’s discussion on General Intelligence he writes about `The Undiscovered Genius’.

He maintained that Newton, Darwin, Goldsmith and Sheridan, Watt and Stevenson as well as Wellington and Clive were all `duffers at lessons who proved a genius in disguise’. If this is true is there hope for an eleven plus child who does not particularly shine at school?

Burt quotes statements made by friends and family who may be biased.

“He will grow out of his dullness as he grows older.”
“He will be all the better for not developing too fast.”
“The slow boy is usually the sure boy, he goes further in the end.”
“When he comes to the turn of life at seven, at fourteen or at twenty one – he will put on a spurt and make up for what he has lost.”

Does this mean that if a child is not doing well on a set of eleven plus papers there is no chance of passing the eleven plus?

We must all sincerely hope not. Some authors of eleven plus papers may write in a style that is hard to follow. Some eleven plus children may do well on one type of paper – but struggle with another. And there are exceptions to the rule!

We had a child a few years ago who really struggled on a course. He found almost everything very hard. If we had been asked at the end of the first day, of a three day course,  about his eleven plus potential we would have to have said that he would struggle. It transpired that the boy was a recent immigrant. He had not been to school in England. He had done no eleven plus preparation.

His loyal mum just wanted the best possible start for her son. We met the mother a few years later with a different member of the family. The first born did make grammar school – but only in the 6th Form.

Can you ever write a child off?

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