Thursday, 16 October 2008

Eleven plus

I can't let this week pass without mentioning the eleven-plus. We still have it in this area; I've taught for over ten years in a local grammar school; and Sally has just taken the exam. I know how this will sound, but I've become increasingly unsure about the whole procedure. It's always been something of a blunt instrument - many, many excellent pupils seem to miss the cut and sometimes those who pass seem woefully misplaced. But now that the results are out the inevitable sadness of enforced separation hangs over many, many friendships to say nothing of the stigma of apparent failure. The roll-call among Sally's friends of those who've passed and those who haven't, those likely to appeal and those who won't, is poignant. Fortunately there is another good school in the area that Sally could attend if things don't work out. But she was keen to take the test, and did her practice papers diligently. Then came the waiting, and the news that the results would actually be sent out one week earlier than scheduled. And so on Tuesday, an envelope arrived, and everybody knew what it contained. News. Bad news for some; good news for others. The headache that she had all weekend, on and off, I'm sure was down to this. The cloud hanging over the beginning of her final year at primary school has been this test. It will go on casting a shadow, too, for some. But Sally passed. We're proud of her. And grateful, too.
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