If we were to ask one hundred eleven plus parents to why they want their child to `Go to grammar’, we may find an interesting set of results. How many would say: “To have the opportunity of being able to get a good job and be happy’?
The change from being a potential grammar school child and looking for a `proper’ job happens gradually. There is no rite of passage. Attending the right school may help some, and choosing the right university courses may help others.
Years ago some fortunate girls of eighteen made a formal entry to society. Some even had the privilege of being presented in court to royalty. I must confess that I do not live in those sorts of circles so I am not sure the custom persists.
Young men were offered the `Grand Tour’ where they could work off their excesses far from home. Of course equality has made sure that girls now also have the ability to hitch-hike around the world and demonstrate their independence.
It is possible, however, that the present eleven plus continues to reflect the morays and cultures of earlier generations. It is easy to think that passing the eleven plus represents the doorway to future academic success.
Many eleven plus parents have to gird their loins and do the best they can to ensure that their child enjoys as good an education as possible. Many families have to endure financial hardship to give their child the opportunity to excel in an examination. The family can, in certain circumstances, feel that they are under pressure.
We know that eleven plus examinations are there to distinguish the children who are potentially high-flyers from the less able – but the children who probably suffer most are the children on the boarder-line.