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Going back to a future of pass and fail

I have been the acting head of this eight-to-12 middle school since January on a two-term secondment from my deputy headship in Warwick. I was not in post when the Year 7 children took their 12-plus exams in the autumn term.

This week I had to take a Year 7 class due to the absence of their class teacher. They had all spent the previous day visiting their future secondary schools, some of which were grammars. Naturally, they were in the right mood to exchange views and information.

This was a perfect opportunity to set up some constructive speaking and listening work. The class was divided into five almost equal groups based on gender and schools visited with as much of a mix in each group as was possible. Naturally, not every group had a child from each secondary school, and some groups had to have more than the statutory boy and girl from the most popular school. However, a good balance was struck and compromises were made amicably.

We set about deciding on the "rules" for discussion (for example, only one person talks at a time) and the areas to be spoken about (for example, what I'm looking forward to or dreading) together with a time limit and how they would report on their findings.

Five minutes into the session, while I was sitting next to group 3, a boy from group 5 asked me if he should go to another group. When I asked him why he didn't say "because I'm bored with my group"; nor "because they won't listen to me"; nor "because they don't stick to the rules" nor any other typical 12-year old's excuse for changing groups. He said "Because I passed".

I am at least certain that his parents are in favour of grammar schools. I just hope Mrs Shephard knows what she's letting us all in for, again!

Paul Milner Headteacher Bloxam Middle School Webb Ellis Road, Rugby

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