Torbay just can't stop meddling with its 11 plus

11 plus

It was only just over a year ago that I was writing a blog post on changes to the Torbay 11 plus and here I am again writing about some more proposed 11 plus changes which are much less drastic this time and also, perhaps less beneficial.

Just over two years ago the Torbay grammar schools introduced the "tutor-proof" CEM test to take the place of the two verbal reasoning papers which they used previously. However they retained the 1 hour maths paper and 1 hour English paper, this meant that there was quite a lot of duplication since the CEM test includes maths, English grammar and comprehension in addition to verbal and non-verbal reasoning. However, due to its multiple choice format, the CEM test does not test the candidates' writing skills. So, in September 2017, the Torbay grammar schools dropped the English and maths papers and replaced them with a 30-minute writing task. However, according to a consultation document posted recently on the websites of the three grammar schools "The proposal is to remove the English writing paper as the four schools believe that the two CEM tests adequately cover the testing of English. It will mean less testing and may also result in the lessening of the advantage of extensive tutoring." The four schools referred to are Churston Grammar School, Torquay Boys' Grammar, Torquay Girls' Grammar and Spires College (formerly Westlands School), which is a bilateral school, meaning that it is largely non-selective but also has a grammar stream). The consultation closes on 31st January 2018 so if any changes are made to the Torbay 11 plus they will not be confirmed until after that date.

Last year I made the point that it was likely that tutors might have spent more time tutoring on writing skills after the writing test was introduced and I highlighted the positive impact this could have when children started their secondary education, especially in subjects such as English, history and geography. If this proposed change takes effect, I and other tutors will spend less time tutoring on creative writing skills so that we can spend more time on the other components of the 11 plus such as maths, English grammar, comprehension, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. As much as I value writing skills, it is inevitable that my 11 plus tutees from now on will not be so skilled in creative writing as in previous years, I can think of one particular tutee who will be absolutely delighted at the prospect of no more writing homework!

The Torbay 11 plus consultation document can be found at http://www.tggsacademy.org/tggsadmissions

I appreciate that many of you reading this will not be from Torbay and that the 11 plus in your area may also be changing this year (this is certainly the case with the 11 plus in Buckinghamshire). Any changes to the 11 plus format will be posted on our website (the Bucks 11 plus format is already there) and also publicised via our twitter account @11plusonline.