Primary school in the UK had many challenges, even at a young tender age we would find ourselves pushed to be the best, and at my school being the best meant being "removed" from all the other kids and put into a special class.
Unbeknown to us we were being watched from about 8 years old, the way we worked, our interaction skills, awareness and all-round characters, all this leading to when we would all have to sit an end of year test before moving into the final year of primary school. The test itself was a breeze, but not for everyone! Test result in.. 12 names called out, me included, we have been selected, we are now “removed”.
“Remove” was a class specially for a small set of children and headed by one teacher, Mr Clarke, who’s sole responsibility was to prepare the 12 for the 11 Plus exam and get every one of the 12 into Grammar school. Mr Clarke had a unique educational style, the day would start with a defined set of tasks listed on the blackboard, no time limit but one goal, finish the tasks and finish them to the highest possible standards.
These tasks included everything from Maths to Geography, Literature and Grammar. Once done we could do what we wanted, we could go out and play, sit in and work, it didn’t matter because we had completed our tasks for the day.
Before we knew it, the year had passed, the 12 had become close friends, in fact one of the 12 was my first ever girlfriend. There we are, it's 11 Plus exam day, the 12 at the front of school hall, the rest of the year behind us. The instructions where clear, turn the papers over and answer as many questions we can within the allotted time, once complete you can get up and quietly leave.
You could sense the tension in the room, in fact you could smell the fear, well to be precise the fear Chris felt because we crapped his pants and had to be taken out of the exam hall before he gassed us all!
The bell rang, papers turned, silence fell, and every second felt like an hour, but in unison 12 removed kids all finished within seconds of each other, all 12 looked at each other and all 12 quietly walked out of the exam hall congratulating each other leaving the rest to complete the exam in the remaining 40 minutes they had.
Two weeks later we got the results, 12 had passed and made it into the local Grammar schools, the rest all into the comprehensives.
This is how the world works, it happened 40 years ago and is still happening today, our children are being identified and selected, and we are playing along, we are strengthening the elitism model and most parents are proud of it. Every child has talent, every child has an ability to be outstanding in their field, but not every child gets removed!