New 11+ ‘will limit the effects of test coaching’

Stephen Lehec, headteacher of Aylesbury Grammar School
Stephen Lehec, headteacher of Aylesbury Grammar School
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Aylesbury Grammar School head teacher Stephen Lehec says parents and pupils should not be afraid of changes to the 11+ test.

He believes the updated examination should be fairer and restrict the affects of coaching.

But an 11+ tutor, while acknowledging the new test is harder, is confident his business will not suffer.

Mr Lehec said:“The new version is a greater test of an individual student’s ability. I understand there will be initial anxiety, particularly from parents, but once the test is taken those fears will be allayed.

“Verbal reasoning is no longer regarded as the only indicator of ability,” he said.

“The new test will also use non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning.”

Mr Lehec feels the new test is fairer across the board but admits extra work and support outside school could still have a positive effect on results.

He said: “It will be difficult for the current 11+ coaching industry to coach to the new 11+ but that’s not to say it won’t be possible.

“Coaching and tutoring plays on people’s minds. I think it is good if you can create a test that is more resistant to practising and tricks of the trade, but still make sure that good learning in and out of the classroom is beneficial.

“We do not want to harm positive parental support or penalise the effort of hard work. Every test has some susceptibility to coaching and hard work. “But we are trying to limit the effects of coaching; spatial awareness for example cannot be tutored.”

Saba Sasdar who runs the Eleven Plus Study Centre at Fairford Leys on Saturday mornings admitted Mr Lehec has a point.

Mr Sasdar said: “With the current 11+ you could coach children to pass it if they had a certain level of ability. The new test will be more challenging, and I think children will need more of a natural ability to pass it. But it will not stop people from using tutors.

“If children work hard on their maths and English ability at school, with good all round preparation that will help them.

“I don’t believe our business will suffer or go under. We’ve had many calls coming through and held a meeting for parents . I don’t believe tutoring will stop and if that is why this was done it won’t work.

“People will still send their children to us to improve their maths and English generally. Parents will always want the best for their children.”