Do it for the kids: A reflection on the grammar school system

I never find time to write so much anymore, or to research the little fascinations that would grab me as I delve deeper into the world of the past. But, I did want to make time to reflect on a research presentation that I watched this morning.

Our education system survives by labeling pupils. Even if a student will never know it, the world that they move in everyday is fraught with name-calling, segmentation, categorisation, etc. You could be FSM, EAL, SEN, PP, MAT, in need of intervention, TA supported, on a behaviour report, and so on. Most of these labels, and the tests that ascertain whether you deserve them are solely for the benefit of the pupils. Whether that be so that they can be provided with adequate sustenance, provided with extra funding or provided with a little extra support in and out of lessons.

There are hundreds of tests like this, and thousands that will determine your IQ level, intellect, and qualifications. But, there are few like the 11+. No other test carries such cultural significance, in terms of separating those who can pass from the meager ‘rest’. No other test, rests so highly on your economic background, and whether daddy can afford a tutor. No other test, quite like this one, generates that ‘make or break’moment for people so young.

‘You need to pass this test, darling. You don’t want to go to that horrible school with all the other children…’

What effect is this immense pressure having on today’s youth? Children are reaching high school with anxiety problems, high stress levels and eating disorders. Is it right that children are being forced to fight for a place at a school where it is largely predetermined who will succeed the entrance exams based on wealth and primary school attendance?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. Nor do I know a great deal about the system. But it was heart-wrenching and fascinating to question it for a while this morning.

Let me know what you think

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