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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:02 pm 
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Recently my daughter's primary school in Bexley held a discussion for parents whose children were starting their penultimate year. As their children will be taking the 11 plus next year, many parents were asking the teachers questions about the 11 plus. There was a marked unwillingness to discuss this subject at all and teachers repeatedly tried to steer parents away from the subject. The school does not even disclose how many children passed parents are discouraged from mentioning the 11 plus at the school gates (even though a popular subject!) Why is there this prejudice against the exam? If teachers/schools are opposed to selective education, surely they should leave their politics at home? And surely schools should help parents by providing information about the 11 plus not avoiding the issue.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:40 pm 
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crashtestdummy wrote:
Why is there this prejudice against the exam? If teachers/schools are opposed to selective education, surely they should leave their politics at home? And surely schools should help parents by providing information about the 11 plus not avoiding the issue.
This exam and the preparation for it are nothing to do with primary school teachers at all though. They have enough exam-mania with the SATs, by which their lives are pretty much governed, their status (and if the government has its way, their pay) is determined and their stress levels elevated. I don't think it is fair to say that they should 'leave their politics at home' - why would they want to use an open meeting to discuss an exam they have no part in, especially one which many children won't take? To a teacher it would be a bit like discussing ballet classes or out of school swimming team training - it really isn't anything to do with them and most teachers understandably in my view don't want anything to do with it. They may or may not be 'politically' opposed - they just have enough other things to think about and do.

(I realise this won't be a popular view - sorry).


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:52 pm 
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I agree with Amber. Also, if you were one of the parents. Whose child is not taking the exam, imagine how fed up you would be if a large section of a meeting intended to inform parents about their child's last year at primary was dominated by discussion about an exam that is irrelevant to your child. If it were me I would not be happy. Teachers are also well aware that getting buy in, commitment, support from parents with less able children is far harder than getting the same from us highly engaged parents, and it won't help if those parents feel sidelined or ignored in all the eleven plus talk.
They are hugely busy so even a private offline talk might be discouraged, although I feel their should be no objection to a private 'we'd like little johnny to take the exam, do you feel he might have a chance?'


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:07 pm 
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Except in Bucks of course, Amber (where we are unique, as you know :lol: :lol: ). Here there is an opt-out system so every child takes the 11+ – or nearly every child, not sure how many don't take it – Sally-Anne???

In such circumstances you could argue that primary school teachers should be doing all they can to help as that is more likely to level the playing field between those children whose families are knowledgeable about the 11+ and those whose aren't…

I appreciate that isn't relevant to OP's situation, but as this thread is in General Topics, thought I'd just mention it :D


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:27 pm 
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Thought i would throw my 2 pence worth in.
I know the teachers at our school discourage any open talk about the 11+, i have heard comment before about the impact on the ones who take it and dont pass, it can really knock their self esteem so all 11+ talk is 'left at the door'. The yr 6 teacher has always been happy to discuss individual cases with the parents, i've always taken the opportunity at parents evening to discuss my DD's. But agree shouldn't be addressed in general meetings.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:28 pm 
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Rob Clark wrote:
In such circumstances you could argue that primary school teachers should be doing all they can to help as that is more likely to level the playing field between those children whose families are knowledgeable about the 11+ and those whose aren't…
Social engineering into the job description as well eh? I don't really see how a class teacher trying to explain things would improve access for those children who are denied it by the current system. I think it would only further alienate those who already feel disempowered by the high-stakes testing which determines their children's future while further encouraging those who already know what to do.


Sorry, cynical reply - and I know Bucks is a 'special' case, but I can't agree that this has anything to do with the remit of a primary school teacher. Given that no place can be found for any kind of citizenship or social justice agenda in primary schools now, things which might really help to 'level the playing field', I think the efforts of teachers are better directed elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:54 am 
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You could say that the refusal to discuss the subject at any level is in itself social engineering in an opt in area. As I have said before I know a DC who is currently attending an outstanding Grammar school rather than a comprehensive in Special measures because the headmaster of her primary ignored the instructions not to tell parents they do have an option. She was not tutored unless you count DIY by the DC herself as tutoring (without that it is doubtful she would have got her place) and doesn't come from a 'middle class ' family. Refusal to inform parents of their choices most definitely excludes a large section of the population from Grammar schools. Maybe the people who make the rules who will be well educated themselves and undoubtably aware of their options and rights like it that way.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:12 am 
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I take that point - in an opt-in area many parents never get the information they would need if they wanted to put their child in for the 11 plus. Notwithstanding that I am talking hypothetically as I would love to see the end of selective education, I suppose while it exists someone ought to be making sure all parents have access to accurate information. I just don't think that person should be the class teacher. Perhaps there should be a standard powerpoint sent out to all schools in an area to get the Head to deliver at a special parents' meeting, and then give the parents a copy to take home - and send it to all those who didn't come to the meeting. I reckon though whatever you do, you will not significantly increase access for those groups who currently don't apply.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:45 am 
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Rob Clark wrote:
Except in Bucks of course, Amber (where we are unique, as you know :lol: :lol: ). Here there is an opt-out system so every child takes the 11+ – or nearly every child, not sure how many don't take it – Sally-Anne???

2014 state school cohort: 6021
2014 tested cohort: 4811
2014 opted-out cohort 1210 (20%)

The number opting out has increased fairly significantly in recent years (in 2010 only 13% opted out), presumably because parents are aware that, without tutoring, the chances of success for a less-bright child are slim.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:29 am 
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Amber wrote:
I take that point - in an opt-in area many parents never get the information they would need if they wanted to put their child in for the 11 plus. Notwithstanding that I am talking hypothetically as I would love to see the end of selective education, I suppose while it exists someone ought to be making sure all parents have access to accurate information. I just don't think that person should be the class teacher. Perhaps there should be a standard powerpoint sent out to all schools in an area to get the Head to deliver at a special parents' meeting, and then give the parents a copy to take home - and send it to all those who didn't come to the meeting. I reckon though whatever you do, you will not significantly increase access for those groups who currently don't apply.


The taking of the selective 11+ tests is a taboo subject in most UK state primary schools, seen as "elitist" or "pushy".
I didn't know of any DS' classmates taking the 11+ until I actually saw them standing in the queues for QE and Latymer. Everybody kept schtum until then.

The only people ever to mention or recommend the 11+ tests were the non white ie Chinese and Indian teachers at the school, as a private aside to me, when I asked them specifically.

Why the hypocrisy - it's better than half my DS' class going to Mass every Sunday ( I could see them all sitting in the front pews, just so the priest would notice them! So obvious!! ) so that they could get the SIF signed to get in to the Wren and other faith schools etc. :roll:


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