Torbay parents celebrate as drastic cuts are proposed to the 11 plus format

11 plus

Although the consultation period does not finish until the end of January, it seems certain that the content of the eleven plus in Torbay will be drastically reduced, negating the need for the exam to be spread over two Saturdays. I am sure that any parents who respond to the consultation are going to approve of only having to take their child for an exam, spending the next three hours biting their nails, on one week rather than two, although most of the children seem to take the whole 11 plus process in their stride.

The eleven plus in Torbay has changed several times over the last few years. In 2015 the CEM test was introduced into the Torbay 11 plus to take the place of the verbal reasoning tests provided by GL Assessment. The CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, part of the University of Durham) developed the supposedly "tutor-proof" 11 plus tests which were first used in Buckinghamshire in 2012. The CEM 11 plus tests are supposed to comprise all the elements needed to assess children for suitability for grammar school although when Colyton Grammar School in Devon adopted the CEM 11 plus tests last year they also included a writing task since the CEM 11 plus tests are multiple choice and do not test a child's writing skills. The format of the Torbay 11 plus in 2015 and 2016 was two CEM papers in week 1 and a maths paper and an English paper in week 2. CEM papers test verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths and English comprehension so there was a duplication of the maths and English comprehension components which has now been eliminated.

It is not all good news though because there is still the need to cover the same range of topics as before as only duplicate subject areas have been removed. The Torbay Schools have not yet indicated how the English writing task will be used, but up to now it has been necessary to obtain a score of over 50% in both the maths and English exams. Children who struggled to obtain 50% in the writing section could offset that by obtaining over 50% in the comprehension. Since the English test is only going to be a writing task it is more important then ever for Torbay children taking the 11 plus to be competent at creative writing and to be able to attain at least 50% in the writing task. 11 Plus Tutors like me are likely to be spending more time helping children to improve their writing skills than in previous years. This will have positive benefits for children when they reach secondary school.

The Torbay 11 plus consultation document can be viewed at http://www.tggsacademy.org/sites/all/themes/footprints/downloads/11plusConsultation2016.pdf and changes to the 2017 11 plus in Torbay and elsewhere will be fully documented on the Roots 2 Success website.