Covid-19 to Unveil the Myth Behind High School Selection | Fiona Millar | Education


The summer vacation is just around the corner, and no one knows what the fall term is all about. Although there is nothing more normal, one thing seems certain: at a time when all the other children of the country have not taken any test or exam, the 11-plus, the most indestructible of English institutions, is to continue, whatever happens.There are high schools in a quarter of the English local authorities, 12 of which are fully selective. Grammars take far fewer children from disadvantaged households, or with special needs or disabilities, or from certain ethnic minority groups than their neighboring schools.

Their existence is based on the idea that there are intelligent children and everyone, and that a series of tests over a few days in September can determine the abilities and potential of a 10-year-old child.

Preparation and coaching shouldn’t be necessary, say their proponents, because fixed ability is an almost magical property that some children have, and others don’t. But even then, its definition varies. Some selective areas use some form of IQ test, others include curriculum-based material, such as math and articles in English, which inevitably move away from the area of ​​prior learning and feed into a lucrative industry. private lessons.

So how do you manage this in the middle of a pandemic? Selective areas and individual high schools seem to disagree. Some plan to take their tests as usual in September, others hope to wait until the end of the fall to give the impression of helping children on the income and digital divide to catch up .

The government’s draft guidelines, which have yet to be released, suggest sensitivity to allegations of inequality in this antediluvian process. At a time when ministers are trying to give the impression that more poor children can be placed in selective schools, they risk being left behind so that children have more time to prepare.

But it is proof, if we ever needed it, that selection is not a test of fixed innate ability – and that such a thing does not exist. If the lost learning time makes it more difficult for students from certain backgrounds to take the test, then more learning time – the norm for wealthy families in the most selective areas – should make it easier.


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