Like them or loath them, 11 Plus exams have been with us for a long time.

There are only a few regions in England now that still support the 11 Plus selection process as part of their educational provision. Most counties got rid of this kind of streaming decades ago. But there has been some talk about whether this selection system should be more widely introduced.

Discussed on the programme Inside Out for Lincolnshire recently, it may well be raised again at next year’s elections and throws up serious questions all parents (and voters) should consider.

  • Does the test set out to do what it’s supposed to do? The value of testing has been discussed here before and the same flaws apply to the 11 plus test. The most important being; children are ‘typecast’ on a day’s performance resulting in a self-fulfilling future based on one result irrespective of later progress; the segregation of opportunities and quality of education; children being coached to pass and ending up with an education they’re not suited to; unnecessary pressure for all; children being groomed for academic achievement rather than a broader educational experience; perpetuation of a hierarchy that negates equality. These are the pitfalls of any testing. Interestingly a group of Uni students on the programme sat the test and all failed to pass a particular section.
  • Why do parents want this system anyway? Is it a genuine belief that a grammar type education is better or is it just snobbery? Parents assume their child will have a ‘better’ education, as this is the propaganda commonly believed, but this raises questions about what is a good education, what do their local schools provide, what their child’s real needs are and why aren’t all children receiving the same quality of educational experience?
  • What about personal potential and growth? A child at eleven is very different from a child at fifteen obviously, but a child’s rate of achievement also varies with their development. They may be achieving slowly when young, then have a surge in development which accelerates their potential very quickly. So it is impossible to predict at eleven how a child’s learning potential will develop and the danger is that children are labelled to test results for life without anyone noticing the reality of their personal growth.
  • Is it not right and just that all children have equal opportunities that are suited to their individual needs and rates of development at the time, whether that’s ten or thirteen or sixteen, whatever those needs are and at whatever rate they progress?
  • And is it appropriate that all kids are shuffled by one process? Our children are diverse. We need them to be for the survival of the species. They all need and are entitled to a diverse, opportunity rich, inspirational and broad education. Parents should question whether the use of the 11 plus system enhances the delivery of such.



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