7th March 2016

Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus

The Eleven-plus exam has long been controversial. It’s used in England and Northern Ireland to select students for grammar school, effectively through a process of streaming.

On 7 March 2016, Guernsey’s five secondary-school heads wrote a letter recommending that the exam be scrapped. Its ending would be part of a larger plan to effectively merge each of the island’s senior schools to create a single unit, albeit spread across multiple sites and with discrete staff. Following the exam’s axing, spaces would then be allocated according to each school’s catchment area. If nothing else, this would at least make travelling to each site much easier for the students.

Ongoing debate

The letter from the secondary heads supported one that had already been written by the heads of Guernsey’s primary schools, mindful that the issue was being debated by the States.

Whether the letters were to thank or not, Deputies voted to end the 11-plus later the same month. The decision was confirmed in December by a second vote, this time on a move to overturn the original vote, which itself was defeated by a majority of just two. The Eleven-plus’s death warrant looked like it had been signed, and the last pupils to sit it would be the year six candidates in the 2017/18 academic year.

However, in January 2018, the debate arose once more as a further amendment was tabled to keep the 11-plus in use at least until the new comprehensive system had been fully costed and rolled out.

Eleven-plus origins

The Eleven-plus was introduced in 1944. The exam had traditionally been used to determine whether each student should have an academic or practical education going forward. What the student actually wanted was, it seems, fairly irrelevant. It has been criticised for being skewed along class lines (“higher”-class students traditionally did better academically). The stress it puts 11- and 12-year-old students under is also seen by many as unfair.


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st