Will we go back to paper?

In common with many selective schools, we have brought our entrance exams earlier this year, and the first 11+ candidates were in school this last Saturday. Huge thanks to the Admissions Team who this year ran with the common ISEB exam, on-line and doable at any centre (of which of course Whitgift is one). So some candidates will ‘sit’ our exam in their own school, thus easing pressure of numbers. All very sensible, though it was a strange sight, the Marlar Halls and Big School fully equipped with laptops, and prospective entrants cheerfully using them … will we, I found myself wondering, go back to paper?

Well, things have a habit of not changing as quickly as we think. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I can certainly well remember chatting to a fellow teacher back in 1995, when our respective first children were born, and she saying very authoritatively that by the time our sons were at school everything would be done through virtual reality. It hasn’t happened … yet. Probably will, but a bit slower than we thought.

I also found myself thinking: if ten year-olds can turn up and do exams, after the turmoil they’ve had, and if we can organise and run them in the middle of the winter, then you bet they can be done this summer nationally. And why lower the bar by saying they will be treated more leniently now? We all know schooling has been disrupted, but by now learning at home should be reasonably efficient everywhere, and allowances can be made later for those who have been most badly affected. We’ve always believed in raising the bar at Whitgift, not lowering it, so our students will, I fully trust, be not taking any feet off any pedals, and nor will we.

One Head I worked for (he’d been in the Navy) had a tedious line in nautical end-of-term metaphors (nearing port, seeing the twinkle of the lighthouse, heaving to … that kind of thing). Well, we are, and my grateful thanks for all who are sprinting to the finish. Which comes of course on Friday, not before!

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