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Students don’t need pressure


John Sealy

Students don’t need pressure

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A?NOTED?EDUCATOR is appealing to parents not to pressure their children as they prepare for the annual Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, also known as the Eleven Plus Exam, being held tomorrow.
Over the years parents have used the exam as measuring stick for their children’s future and demand of them the kind of work that would land them in one of the “top schools”.
But Matthew Farley, principal of the Graydon Sealy School has cautioned parents and guardians that their charges will not do significantly better in the exam than what they demonstrated over the last three or four years.
Farley, the moderator on STARCOM Network Inc’s call-in programme Down To Brass Tacks, yesterday was making his comments against
the background of an article in the SUNDAY?SUN in which Caribbean Examinations Council officials were asking Barbados to replace the Common Entrance with their Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA).
“Your child is not going to do any different from he has been doing over the last three or four years. If your child has been getting 40 average in English, he might get 42 or 43, but he will not  get 90 all of a sudden out of the sky,” Farley said.
“Your children will be performing as [they did] over the years, whether at the top end or bottom end. What is required is that you recognise that your children have ability. What is required is that the Eleven Plus examination is only one examination taken on one day of your life and certainly one day of your life cannot be determined on one examination taken at a time under pressure, under circumstances that will probably never exist again in their lives.”
He said there were many examples “of children who were told that they had failed the Eleven Plus but who have gone on to prove that failure at the Eleven Plus does not mean failure for life”.
“I have been fighting sometimes alone against that exam because it has outgrown its usefulness, but, of course, there are those who believe that it is the only hope for the nation and for some children. As time goes, you will see other truths emerging in relation to the test.”
He, however, wished the children well and cautioned them that whichever school they went to they had to work.Mary Redman, president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, also a guest on the radio programme, wanted to know how the children would be allocated to secondary schools, if the CPEA was adopted here.
“Are children still assigned to schools on a discriminatory [basis] where children are assigned to specific schools based on a grade over the two-year period?” she asked.
“Is there a zoning process in these countries? If there is no zoning and if it is still a process where children are still allocated according to grades, all it does is to remove the stress of an exam over one day in a year and spread that stress over a longer period of time where set exams are done over a two-year period.
“I do not see that from what I have heard that this addresses in any meaningful way a problem that people perceive with making children do an exam into high school except to provide more income to CXC.”
Pedro Shepherd, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), also in the studio, said his union believed that there must be an exam to prepare students for the secondary level.

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