|The Rushden Echo, 4th March 1966, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Schools’ Selection is Confusing Parents
One of the deciding factors in a person’s life is the “eleven-plus,” but this years’ method of selection has caused doubts and confusion among parents at Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
A new method of selection, intended to cut down the number of children who sit a written examination was introduced this year. Most children’s fate now depends on an IQ test and a report submitted by the headmaster.
After the IQ tests and head’s reports have been considered the children are selected for the type of school considered best for them. The borderline cases sit a written examination in English and arithmetic.
Some parents in Rushden and Higham Ferrers believe that the head’s recommendation could mean less passes or unfair passes.
One Rushden head pointed out a weakness in the new system.
Is it fair on the children or the headmaster that so much should depend on his judgement?
Could human frailties hold a child’s future in their balance?
“No to the second question,” says a spokesman of the County Education Authority. “The head’s report should match up to the results of the intelligence tests.
“But any parent who isn’t satisfied with this system can still enter his child in the written examination which the borderline children sit.”
Last year, under the old system, when selection was made on the written examination, 60 per cent of the age group took the written examination. This year the figure was cut down to 12 per cent.
A headmaster, Mr. R. R. Lawrence, of Alfred Street Primary School, feels that the liability of error under the old system was very small, and there was always an opportunity to review any possible discrepancy. “This is where the head teacher’s comment proved most useful,” he said.
A weakness in the present system is in standardising the grading’s between schools, Mr. Lawrence thinks. “A” graded children from one school may not be at exactly the same academic standard as “A” graded children from another.
“It seems that more emphasis is put on IQ tests than previously, when this was just used to substantiate written tests.
“However, if comprehension is so close, I wonder why this new system was introduced this year?” he said.
The results this year match up pretty well with previous years, according to Mr. F. C. Astle, headmaster of South End Primary School, although the results of the borderline tests aren’t yet known.
Mr. F. Dyment, head of Newton Road Primary School, observed: “The most important things in schools are not examinations but teachers. “Give me more teachers and I’ll teach in a barn.”