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Abolish 11+ exam?

Rhonda A. Blackman

Abolish 11+ exam?

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THE Secondary Schools Entrance Examination affectionately known as “the Common Entrance Examination” results are back and kudos to all students on their successful completion.
The first phase of the educational journey of these students is almost completed and they are now preparing to enter secondary education.
Hats off to all teachers who have worked tirelessly in helping to shape and prepare these children not only for the examination, but for life.
Too often the work of teachers in the earlier years of the children goes unnoticed and it appears that recognition is only given to Class 4 teachers. Education is like constructing a house – without a good foundation, the house cannot stand. Therefore, unless the prerequisites are adequately covered, children cannot reap great success in Class 4.
There has been much debate and discussion on the fairness of judging children on the results of a “one-shot examination”. Others queried if the Common Entrance should be abolished and if so, what should replace it.
I posit that children should be continuously assessed and just as there is a School Based Assessment component to some secondary CXC examinations, the same should be applied within primary school. This will also make provision for children who do not perform to their maximum under exam conditions. Just imagine that a child is having a “bad day” or is not feeling well on the day of the examination; what happens as a result?
Many parents are of the opinion that the Common Entrance is the only fair system for the “poor man” child to get into a “good school.” By “good school” I could only imagine that parents are referring to the older secondary schools. This mindset must go, there is no such thing as a good or bad school. Many newer secondary schools continue to soar and produce students who are well rounded and can make a significant contribution to the development of this country. It is not the school but what children do when they reach the respective schools that matters.
Parents must be cognizant that all schools, older and newer, are given the same examination scripts.
I am one who supports full zoning – children will go to the school that is in close proximity to their home. However, if there is to be full zoning, there will be no “pecking order” of schools.
All schools will have a “broad and balanced” curriculum that caters to the diversity of the students attending. This model has been successfully implemented in British schools and they have seen an improvement in school performance and school success.
Parents need to support their children in their new transition to secondary school and empower them to stay focused on their educational goals.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, National Development Scholar, and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc. [email protected]