Mixed emotions on 11-Plus Exam Day

It was a big day in the lives of hundreds of Class 4 students in Barbados who sat the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination across the island.

From as early as 7 a.m., 11-Plus Exam students, some as young as ten, had assembled at the gates of secondary schools before making their way into classrooms for the 9 o’clock scheduled start of the national examination. The 3,525 students –– 1,784 males and 1,741 females –– displayed mixed emotions.

Some boasted how ready they were to have that first test paper before their eyes, while others admitted having butterflies in their tummies. A few acknowledged that answering the mathematics and English language papers –– which they had heard so much about in the past year –– would make the biggest day of their lives.

Barbados TODAY chatted with some of the students and their parents about how they were feeling about the big day.

Xavier Farley, of Deacon’s Primary, was outside the gate of Ellerslie Secondary listening to comforting words from his grandmother Ann Ifill, who accompanied him. Sharply dressed, and with his required tools in hand, he was yet nervous. He felt the papers would be challenging.

Xavier Farley of Deacon’s Primary, being embraced by his grandmother Ann Ifill before making his way into the examination centre at  Ellerslie Secondary.
Xavier Farley of Deacon’s Primary, being embraced by his grandmother Ann Ifill before making his way into the examination centre at Ellerslie Secondary.

He said to prepare he had put in lots of extra revision with his mother and gone to sleep at 7 p.m. on school nights.

“I hope to achieve a lot. I hope the best for everyone. I want to pass for Coleridge & Parry,” Farley declared.

Granny Ifill would be with Farley for the day’s proceedings because his mother had to go to work. Ifill said she had advised her grandson to sit quietly, focus on his work; and if a pencil broke, to just leave it and continue writing with another.

“When I collected him this morning he was in good spirits. I just hope he keeps it up. This is the fourth time I am doing this, because I have three sons,” Ifill said.

David Abraham, ensuring the preparation process had started months ago, divulged that this morning he made sure his son Dominick Holder had a solid breakfast and said his prayers.

Dominick Holder (at left) receiving a good luck “knock” from his little brother Davonte Abraham.
Dominick Holder (at left) receiving a good luck “knock” from his little brother Davonte Abraham.

“He was always calm. He went to lessons for a long time and put in his work. I don’t want to frighten him or anything; I just want him to do his best, and I will be satisfied.
We leave it in God’s hands,” Abraham said.

As for little Holder, who too was a little nervous, he just wanted to do his best so he could attend The Alleyne School.

Kerri Ann Lewis boldly declared her daughter Kaela from St Stephen’s Primary would put her best foot forward, as she had advised her to. She said the child, who wanted to attend The St Michael School, had been busy working on improving her weak areas in recent weeks.

Kerri Ann Lewis making sure her daughter Kaela Lewis has all the necessary tools in her bag.
Kerri Ann Lewis making sure her daughter Kaela Lewis has all the necessary tools in her bag.

“I feel a little anxious. I think that I am going to do my best in all of my tests,” Kaela stated.

Lisa McClean did not pressure her son Kobe Lara Williams. McClean said she allowed him to be free in the past week, letting him have some fun time in an effort to relax his mind.

“I told him to go in there and do his best. It doesn’t matter what school he goes to; the five years he spend there matters. The CXC will be the end result. I told him he could go to the so-called low school, it doesn’t matter,” McClean said.

Lisa McClean giving her son Kobe Lara William that last hug before he made his way to write the Common Entrance Examination.
Lisa McClean giving her son Kobe Lara William that last hug before he made his way to write the Common Entrance Examination.

Shaquon Jordan shed a few tears before he too went through the gate. But his mother Carol Jordan was there to wipe those tears away and to tell him “everything is going to be just okay”. Shaquon’s father Shawn Jordan said the family did not pressure the St Stephen’s student, but just wanted him to put his all into the examination.

Shaquon Jordan getting that sip of water he needs from his mother Coral Jordan as his father Shawn Jordan looks on.
Shaquon Jordan getting that sip of water he needs from his mother Coral Jordan as his father Shawn Jordan looks on.

This was the seventh time mother of ten Sharon Semple was waiting at the gates until her child had completed her tests. This time it was for little Tyra Forde, with whom she said she would be satisfied, whatever her results were.

“I am accustomed to it. She is in a comfortable mood this morning. She’s relaxed,” Semple said.

Most of the students were looking forward to their reward for putting in the months of hard work. They simply wanted to get the tests over with, so they could head to their repspective homes to celebrate.

anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb 

2 Responses to Mixed emotions on 11-Plus Exam Day

  1. ch May 4, 2016 at 2:08 am

    This circus gets more ridiculous every year.
    This exam served its purpose in a bygone era. Now, it’s simply about bragging rights for parents and teachers at the tortuous expense of these little children.
    There is a high failure rate in the secondary schools because our primary children are relentlessly forced beyond their natural capacity just to “pass this exam”. They cannot sustain it when they actually have to rely on natural ability and self-motivation after their school experience was reduced to lessons. lessons and more lessons ad nauseam for this one exam.
    That approach belongs in a factory, not a school.
    I do not believe that the majority of children lack the intelligence to learn within regular school hours over the course of seven years.
    I do not believe that all of our primary teachers are incompetent. So the primary syllabus clearly needs revision.
    And this useless exam should be abandoned in favor of continuous assessment and full zoning in mixed- ability groups.
    The great disadvantage now is to the many children who are herded into certain schools with low marks and lower expectations. The outcome is poor, as expected.
    They need the impetus of the mixed group.
    The truly “bright” child is not the issue because he/ she will excel in any group.
    Our modern social systems aim to be holistic and dynamic and it’s time our educational system got on board.

    Reply
  2. Tony Webster May 4, 2016 at 6:20 am

    @ch: amen. The problem is, that would mean grasping nettles, a pastime not favoured by politicians. Especially those in the run-up to general elections. And more particularly so, by those afflicted by GSM syndrome (Grand Celebratory Mode). Even though a reform of our educational system is the single greatest challenge (and opportunity) to secure anything like a sustainable future both for our society and our economy….these folks haven’t even taken out the road-map…far less, to look at it: they are too busy, just now.

    Reply

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