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Should Wales have the 11plus Exam

The 11+ in Kent or Wales - a comparison

Kent coast image

Comparing the 11+ in Kent with the Welsh school system.

The discussion surrounding the 11-plus exam, or in Kent's case, the "Kent test," reflects deep-seated attitudes towards education and social mobility. It's evident that the system evokes strong emotions and nostalgia, particularly among those who experienced grammar school education themselves or benefited from its perceived advantages.

The intense pressure and competition surrounding the 11-plus exam in Kent, with parents seeking tutors and strategically choosing primary schools, harkens back to a bygone era where passing the exam was seen as a ticket to opportunity and success. However, it also underscores the disparities in access to educational resources and opportunities, as not all children have equal access to tutoring or support.

The debate over whether Wales should reintroduce the 11-plus exam mirrors broader discussions about the effectiveness and fairness of selective education systems. While some advocate for the return of grammar schools, citing concerns about underachievement and disruption in comprehensive schools, others argue that such systems perpetuate inequality and limit social mobility.

The question of whether pupils who pass the 11-plus would fare better in a grammar school compared to a modern-day comprehensive school is complex and multifaceted. While grammar schools may offer a more academically rigorous environment, success in education depends on various factors beyond the type of school, including individual motivation, teaching quality, parental support, and socioeconomic background.

Ultimately, the decision about educational policies and systems should prioritise creating inclusive, equitable, and high-quality learning environments for all students, regardless of their background or postcode. Instead of reverting to selective systems like the 11-plus, efforts should focus on addressing disparities in resources, improving teaching and learning outcomes, and promoting equal opportunities for all children to thrive academically and socially.

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