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    April 22

  • 06:38 AM

RON IN COMMON: 11-plus is but a phase

ERIC SMITH, ericsmith@nationnews.com

Added 11 June 2017

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IT IS THE DREAM of parents for their children to do well, even if they have certain intellectual, physical or emotional weaknesses. Little wonder the Common Entrance Examination is such a big deal.

Parents who attended one of the leading older grammar schools are often eager for their offspring to do the same.

At the same time old scholars of the so-called newer secondary schools may well not warm to the idea of their children attending their alma maters.

One could only guess what the reaction would be if a parent attended an older secondary and the child’s grades don’t reach that standard.

So little wonder parents are in a pickle as to what schools they should choose based on their zone. It is not surprising many people use the address of an aunt, uncle, a grandparent or some other relative who lives in a zone where they feel the options are better.

You can be assured that despite Minister of Education Ronald Jones’ comments about the pleas for a swap in school, many parents will be ignoring him and his talk. People will be pulling all the strings they have to ensure their child gets to a favoured school. Please don’t take seriously 99 per cent of the excuses you will hear why the transfer is needed.

In the WEEKEND NATION, there were some words of wisdom from Susan Sealy, who did not excel in the 11-plus examination, but thanks to determination, the will to succeed and the support of a very loving and caring mother, she and her sister Cheryl are wonderful examples of not letting one examination define the future.

The problem with the 11-plus examination is how we have come to treat it. It may, after all, be the best type of examination to determine the transfer from primary to secondary school.

It may also be the fairest in that it allows for a consistent level of meritocracy so that you don’t get into a school based only on who knows who. Just imagine if there was no common entrance exam. It would be terrible ’bout here.

At both primary and secondary levels there needs to be a greater understanding and embracing of all the students. We need to know, understand and seek help for children with psychological and psychiatric problems, learning disabilities and from the poorest households.

The Ministry of Education. 

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The schools and the ministry need to start tracking the performance of their students, not only those who end up in the legal fraternity or take the Hippocratic oath, who become accountants or auditors or for those who go into a range of white collar jobs, including teaching at whatever level.

Seven, ten and 15 years after the Common Entrance of 2000, 2001 and 2002 the Ministry and the schools should be able to provide the information to see where the students are; who have dropped through the cracks, who are decent law-abiding citizens, and those who have sprung major surprises.

While we wait on the research, it is necessary that the secondary schools undertake a promotional blitz. All schools in Barbados have produced students that they can be proud of. The older secondary schools have established records of students with outstanding achievements.

Thankfully, the Barbados Community College and of lately the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic have been equalising elements for so many students who would not have normally made it to the sixth forms of the elite schools.

We must be very proud of these older grammar schools as they have been outstanding in their service to this country and its people.

But the newer secondary schools have also stood out. There are so many examples all across Barbados today. Dr David Browne, principal of Queen’s College, should understand the point; so too should Julia Beckles at Alleyne and Errol Brathwaite at Ellerslie.

There are few entertainers as popular in Barbados today as Edwin Yearwood and Lil Rick; one went to Parkinson and the other Graydon Sealy. Patrick Husbands and Jalon Samuel, both popular jockeys, are products of newer secondary schools; Marilyn Sealy, a senior executive at Flow, is always eager to say she attended St James Secondary (now Frederick Smith) and there are scores of others.

In the NATION’s editorial department, our best business writer, Geralyn Edward, is always full of pride speaking about Ellerslie Secondary.

The newer secondary schools need to promote and highlight their outstanding students so that parents and guardians understand that a lot of what’s good about Barbados came through those doors. Please, show your true colours. Help our children to understand that the 11-plus is but a phase in their lives.

• Eric Smith is the NATION’s Editor-In-Chief. Email: ericsmith@nationnews.com

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