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Eleven plus – hurrah for Colchester

January 23, 2015

The staff at Evelyn Street Primary School in Sankey Bridges were concerned about children passing the eleven plus, but whatever they tried, somebody always passed.

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Their method was to arrange for those children identified as being most at risk, to skip the penultimate year, so they repeated their eleven plus year. The boredom resulting would create the required aversion to education. Sadly the method had flaws. Variations introduced into the course material offered a hint of interest.

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For example:
The map of the Roman roads of Britain, drawn on 27th September 1965, includes Colchester. In the map of the Roman roads of Britain, drawn on 29th September 1964, Colchester is absent.
The drawing of an “eskimo” igloo of 28th April 1966 has the entrance on the left. In the drawing of the same igloo of 28th May 1965, the entrance is on the right.
The “inverted commas” exercise of the 5th October 1965 introduces the character “Jack”, absent from the “inverted commas” exercise of 7th October 1964.

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I think it was this hint of novelty, plus a nascent interest in criminality, that carried me through the eleven plus exam. I was the only Evelyn Street boy to pass, which I think put me at a disadvantage socially at the grammar school compared with kids from the more competent primary schools. The eleven plus exam doesn’t deserve to be called “selective”. It is arbitrary and divisive, and poor at identifying unusual ability. Good riddance to it.

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