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.


  1. congratulations to your Daughter. Is that a private school? I wondered how she got her results so quickly. Sorry, just nosy.

    Well done

    JS xx

  2. Thanks, Jenny. No, it's one of the few remaining state grammar schools, and the results were rushed out this year because they didn't give the primary schools a week to challenge them!

  3. My son is the same age and I am glad we no longer rely on an antiquated system. You must be very proud of Sally, but there is enough pressure on children without subjecting them to exams at this young age. My mother failed the 11+ and went to the "other" school for one year until it was noticed that her and a few others stood out and were then transferred to the grammer school a year late. One of the others later became a teacher herself!

  4. well done to sally. i know how difficult it is to get into a grammar school. in my area of london there were 11 girls chasing the one place when my daughter was 10.

  5. Way to go, Sally!

    We don't have anything remotely like the 11-plus here in Australia... sounds totally ridiculous to me! How crippling for a developing sense of self-worth and pride to 'fail' would that be for an 11-yo to experience?!? That's horrid!!!

    Hope you all had a good time at Grandma's :)

    Mal :)

  6. Thanks for popping over to my blog. I can't believe they still do the 11+. Isn't it illegal? I can remember hours and hours of practising with a book called "First Aid in English" which I have to say, has helped me enormously in later life, but still.... . Anyway, well done Sally!

  7. Congrats to your daughter.

    I passed the 11+ (many moons ago) and, obviously, was pleased but even then I thought it a tad unfair. Of course, there have to be exams and tests but this is a "big one", and 10 is a young age to be faced with this pressure.

    It's tough for the children who have opened the envelope only to see the word FAIL and then know they won't be joining their best friend at the next stage of their schooling.

  8. Well done to Sally.

    When I took the eleven plus we sat the exam in the spring and I insisted on going to school with flu. I was expected to pass but failed. Taking it in the autumn when there are fewer bugs around seems to be much more sensible.

  9. Congrats to her. But to be deemed as a failure,as some inevitably will be, at 11 is a very bad thing. For some, those feeling stay with them and stop them achieving for the rest of their lives.

  10. Well written. I enjoyed that read… and the rotten git you are, you kept me waiting until the last line. What a fabulous result for your daughter.

    I can liken being ‘woefully misplaced’ to the time I scored the top mark on a chemistry paper. I was moved from the second stream to the top stream and I was way out of my depth and had no chance of catching up. In the end a scraped a C grade O Level but the experience killed my interest in chemistry.

    It’s a great feeling to experience pride in your children.

  11. Hello The Dotterel, thanks for dropping by my blog. Lovely to make your acquaintance too. I'm an ex-11 plusser too but I don't remember there being any pressure, in fact I was really excited about it but then I've always loved taking exams. Just a bit weird I guess. Maybe it's changed now. We always knew who'd pass and who wouldn't. My sister missed out by one place but ended up far more qualified that my brother or I, both grammar school kids. She says she never felt like a failure. Bright children will do well wherever they go.Félicitations to your daughter. VLiF

  12. Congrats to your daughter!!
    Im one of those that took it,passed and then bombed. Not the teachers fault I'm afraid - more to do with teenage hormones.

  13. Well done Sally. I also took it and passed and look where it got me - loafing about in the French countryside. So there's hope for Sal yet.

  14. We still have the eleven plus and it's so devisive. The notion of 'passing' or 'failing' when you are eleven is terrible. Pupils are simply at different stages of development. One of our local schools for 'failures' was denied the opportunity to open a sixth form for their pupils to do A levels as they weren't supposed to be A level material!!! Haven't they heard of late developers?

    Also my friend had twins and one 'passed' and one 'failed'. They were distraught at having to be separated at age 11 and go to different schools.

    AND (I'm on a roll now) did you know that the man who came up with the idea of an eleven plus and grammar schools for the government actually falsified all of his research, so the whole system has no educational basis and still parents insist on keeping it!!

    Rant over.

  15. It all seems such a lot to put them through doesn't it. I wonder what our children will do, I'll remeber your post in a few years time, cheers! MH

  16. Congratulations to your daughter. I'm a great believer in streaming and was lucky enough to go to a good Grammar School before the introduction of the incomprehensible system. To get a similar education to mine now would cost £10,000 p.a. yet mine cost my parents nothing at all. And that's progress?

  17. It's very difficult to decide - we have streaming in our local comprehensive school but there are still 1400 children, I'm sure that must be too many!!

  18. Interesting stuff, and well done Sally.

    I remember very well the polarising effect of the 11-Plus....when the results came out our playground immediately split into "grammar boys" and "comprehensive boys", with mass fights as a result.

    I went to a school you no doubt know, Carre's Grammar in Sleaford.

  19. Well done Sally! (gratulationes!)
    Hope her friends have done well too. Yes I agree with all that has been said but glad her headache has gone!

  20. Congratulations, a story with a happy ending :)


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