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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:40 am 
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In asking this question I perhaps should say I was a teacher in several Grammar Schools for very many years and, most recently, an LEA adviser. I also had my own children go through the 11+ and GS system so know it well as a parent too.

FIrst, don't be surprised at how puzzling/frustrating/unfair (for some)/challenging etc etc the whole process is. I never resolved my doubts about the whole process, either as a teacher or parent.

Anyway, I worked exclusively in schools that had a very low proportion of children who spoke English either bi-lingually or as a weak second language. So I never thought about the suitability of the various tests used, in particular the VR tests, for children whose ability was being assessed using a language with which they were not wholly comfortable. I know little about the problems faced by children who perhaps speak English only in school.

Have the various 11+ test procedures used across the country for the past 70 years ever taken account of any special, individual or group needs of certain children - as has long been the case in GCSE, A-level and degree-level examinations?

As KCG points out below, blue is reserved for moderator comments so I have changed the colour of your font to black. - moderator.


Last edited by andyrob on Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:46 am 
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As a postscript, and as a variation on the above, I've just read (from http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/school ... re-11-plus) about entry arrangements in Boston, Lincolnshire - an area which in recent years should have been addressing the language issue I raise above.

The entry standard in any year will be the lowest raw mark attained by any child in Lincolnshire who attained 220 standardised marks. Effectively, there is no age standardisation but a minimum score tied in with the consortium’s standardisation process. The reason is that the schools have been struggling with falling rolls and financial problems and are trying to keep their heads above water until the projected population rise in a few years time. They also have reintroduced a non-statutory review process which no longer exists for the rest of Lincolnshire Grammars – primary headteachers who have pupils who have performed less well than expected are invited to contact the schools.

Interesting, I don't know from when it dates. Does anyone reading this know?

It suggests that when it suits their own purposes the Boston Grammar Schools Federation is prepared to take more than the nominal top 25% of the ability range that the standardised score of 220 represents, but in a way that discriminates against younger Y6 children. They are willing to admit children whose score is below the usual 220 score when this is the result of their raw score being adjusted downwards, as is normal practice, by dint of their date of birth (because they've been as much as a year longer in education).

Isn't this effectively discriminating against younger children and removing what is the only procedure that attempts to make the test fair for all? Ageism seems to start early in Boston. Of course, because of the Sex Discrimination Act no adjustment can be made to account for the fact that Y6 boys will usually perform less well than girls, especially in VR tests, with the consequence that there will often be rather more girls than boys that pass the test.

And I have to say that I like, very much, the concept of the involvement of primary headteachers but for a whole variety of reasons, unfortunately, this opens yet another, rather large, can of worms .


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:51 am 
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I believe that blue writing is supposed to be reserved for moderators.

It is and I have changed the font colour accordingly. As a first timer the OP wasn't likely to have realised this.

I think nobody is responding to you, because everyone is asking themselves WHY are you asking this? It seems to me you have an agenda and, to be fair to forumites, perhaps you should be clear, open and honest as to what that agenda is, whilst posing your questions?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:50 pm 
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"I think nobody is responding to you, because everyone is asking themselves WHY are you asking this? It seems to me you have an agenda and, to be fair to forumites, perhaps you should be clear, open and honest as to what that agenda is, whilst posing your questions?"

I don't think it is possible to explain the reasons for the lack of contributions from others - how would you know? My guess would be that most readers here are parents of 9 or 10 year olds whose interest is in getting their child into a grammar school, rather than the operation of a selection test which is what I am writing about.

But, as you (KCG) have suggested that I have an agenda I will be respond to that now - the weekend I start preparing the appeal for a parent whose child, in my view, has been seriously disadvantaged by the mechanics of the 11+ test used in Lincolnshire and elsewhere. If you are implying I am not being 'clear, open and honest' then I think this says something more about you, especially as you offer nothing by way of an answer to my question.

The details of the case that prompted my original post are personal and confidential but, take it from me, these problems happen each and every year the 11+ is used to select some children for a grammar school and the rest for wherever else is left for them to fight over.

Every year there are children who gain entry to selective grammar schools not just by dint of their native ability which, supposedly, the 11+ test attempts to measure. Entry is also thanks to the considerable efforts of some teachers, some parents and the financial resources those parents choose to allocate to the goal - employing private tutors for example. For good or ill, that's a fact of life which has existed for decades, but it does result in a distortion of the true rank order of children by their ability, and so the allocation of grammar school places.

Delivering the 11+ in a way which does not allow extra time for slow readers/writers is unfair and not what public examinations do all the way through to university and beyond. These exams recognise the disadvantages that individual pupils can have and provide a mechanism to compensate for that.

The need for this extra time can be, and often is, identified by specialist primary school or LEA staff. For example, when dyslexia is diagnosed or there are reading and writing problems caused by bilingualism. And now it seems, or whenever Boston did this, we don't even recognise the accepted effect of age on 11+ scores. Were it not for the Sex Discrimination Act we might even see as many boys in grammar schools as girls, which is rarely the case. Intellectually, at this age, boys are several months behind girls and I seem to remember that, pre-SDA, this might have been recognised in the standardisation procedure.

Life is unfair, we know this. But if we are to select some children for some schools that are considered by some to be 'better suited' to the top 25% by ability we should at least use a procedure that does just that.

So, I repeat, have the various 11+ test procedures used across the country for the past 70 years ever taken account of any special, individual or group needs of certain children?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:11 pm 
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andyrob wrote:
But, as you (KCG) have suggested that I have an agenda I will be respond to that now - the weekend I start preparing the appeal for a parent whose child, in my view, has been seriously disadvantaged by the mechanics of the 11+ test used in Lincolnshire and elsewhere. If you are implying I am not being 'clear, open and honest' then I think this says something more about you, especially as you offer nothing by way of an answer to my question.




Andyrob, I think the reason you didn't get any answers in the first place was because people didn't quite understand what you were wanting to know and yes, they were concerned that there was indeed an agenda.
We have had journalists who are seeking info for stories who make their initial postings in a very similar way, and while this may not be the case here, it can make some people wary of answering.

KCG is a respected member of the forum with over 2000 posts and will always help where possible - I don't think your comments are appropriate


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:15 pm 
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I'm not really clear what you're asking to be honest, but are you saying that Boston has stopped standardising ny age and this is unfair?
If so, Essex does not standardise by age either so Boston is not unique. My personal view is that by the time you get to year 5/6 then the effect of being a summer born is no longer a problem. My son is one of 5 children from his primary who have just successfully gained a place at the local grammar. 4 of these children (including my son) are July & August birthdays. I don't feel he was discriminated against by his score not being age standardised.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:17 pm 
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hermanmunster wrote:
andyrob wrote:
But, as you (KCG) have suggested that I have an agenda I will be respond to that now - the weekend I start preparing the appeal for a parent whose child, in my view, has been seriously disadvantaged by the mechanics of the 11+ test used in Lincolnshire and elsewhere. If you are implying I am not being 'clear, open and honest' then I think this says something more about you, especially as you offer nothing by way of an answer to my question.




Andyrob, I think the reason you didn't get any answers in the first place was because people didn't quite understand what you were wanting to know and yes, they were concerned that there was indeed an agenda.
We have had journalists who are seeking info for stories who make their initial postings in a very similar way, and while this may not be the case here, it can make some people wary of answering.

KCG is a respected member of the forum with over 2000 posts and will always help where possible - I don't think your comments are appropriate


Thank you, hermanmumster. Much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:22 pm 
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I also thought it was an odd post. I also think that if you are helping prepare an appeal, the best thing would be to post on the Appeals Forum. You don't need to put sensitive or identifiable information. Anything specific can be emailed to the Appeals Box. If you do this, the information helps future posters in the same or similar situation. As this is a forum run by volunteers and their limited time should help the most amount of people. The other advantage is that other people do help. Most importantly, you need to read the information from the Appeals section and realise that whatever you say, you need to demonstrate that the child would cope well at a grammar school.
Oh, one more thing, a lot of people give up half way reading a long post!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:57 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
andyrob wrote:
Were it not for the Sex Discrimination Act we might even see as many boys in grammar schools as girls, which is rarely the case. Intellectually, at this age, boys are several months behind girls and I seem to remember that, pre-SDA, this might have been recognised in the standardisation procedure.

I have been tracking the qualification rates for children in Bucks, one of the largest selective areas in England, for over 10 years. Although the rates for boys vs. girls may vary by a couple of percentage points either way each year, the end result is an almost exact 50/50 split over time.

Quote:
So, I repeat, have the various 11+ test procedures used across the country for the past 70 years ever taken account of any special, individual or group needs of certain children?

All areas have procedures for granting modifications to the test to individual children who have Special Needs. It is a requirement enshrined in law by the School Admissions Code:

Admissions Code 2014 wrote:
1.32 Admission authorities must:
b) ensure that tests are accessible to children with special educational needs and disabilities, having regard to the reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils required under equalities legislation


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:51 pm 
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Thank you all for your recent comments and information.

My first post concerned the generalities of bilingualism in the context of the 11+ test so I deliberately didn't post in the Appeals section. Bilingualism and EAL (English as an Acquired Language) is not an issue that can be used to get an EHC Plan (Statements, as was) although nearly 20% of all primary school children do not have English as their first language.

'Plans' are much more difficult to get now, because of the cost, and so won't often figure in 11+ arrangements. But there are government (Standards and Testing Agency) guidelines for 'Access Arrangements' which are used for GCSE and A-level examinations. Though I've supervised several thousand children taking their 11+ tests I was not aware of Access Arrangements being used in any of those, or 11+ tests taken elsewhere.

And whilst some may think that this issue applies mainly to immigrant communities, I know many children with German/English parents and their bilingual upbringing caused some significant problems at both primary and secondary school.

The Buckinghamshire gender balance - that's interesting, and full marks to the council for publishing such detailed data. My experience is that there are often more girls than boys who pass, and not often more boys. In my own mixed GS (as many in Lincolnshire are) the 'worst' year was a four-form entry for which we decided to have a girls-only class in order to achieve a gender balance in the other three. With hindsight, not a good idea.

Finally, to respond to the opposition to age standardisation, many studies have shown how important this is so, if you're in Essex or Boston, read on. Even at GCSE and beyond, national statistics show the significance of a late birth month. If you're interested see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/s ... -RR017.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chil ... gher-gcses

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/98 ... rents.html

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/ ... esting.pdf


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