Is it just me, or does Iain Dale’s memory appear to be going?
In 1973 I failed my eleven plus. I failed it because I wasn’t even told I was taking it. We had taken so many government tests that year that we all decided not to take this one seriously. Whadda mistaka da maka (as Captain Bertorelli in ‘Allo ‘Allo might have said). So I ended up at the local Secondary Modern, turned bog standard comprehensive. I was lucky. Saffron Walden County High School did me proud, despite the efforts of Education Secretary Shirley Williams to deprive me of school books.
Government tests? In 1973? What the fuck is Dale talking about.
I’m slightly younger than Dale and moved up to primary school in 1973, and in the four years I spent at the school – a standard CofE primary on a council estate – I sat precisely no external tests, government or otherwise.
There was no government testing regime for 7-11s at the time, and the only test I actually recall taking was a reading age test* about a week after I started at the school, having moved up from the infants school next door, on which my score went off the scale, which topped out at 13 years of age. After that, they skipped the whole business of reading tests, pointed me to the school library and told me to pick any book I liked the look of – I actually spent much of my time in reading lessons helping out some of the other kids with their reading, but then I was a bit of precocious little bastard at the time.
In those days, I should explain, reading tests were scored by assessment against the expected reading ability at different ages.
Apart from that, the only externally driven test I was ever offered (and turned down) was the chance to take the 11+, but as the nearest grammar schools were in Birmingham and most of the kids who went there looked a right bunch of socially inadequate misfits and complete tosser, I passed on the chance and went to the local comprehensive. There were other tests, of course, but these were all internal an nothing to do with a formal government testing regime – tests at primary level just weren’t the done thing during the 1970s
I wonder if politics is playing tricks with Dale’s memory here as I’m almost certain that the only formal tests he would – and could – have taken at the time would have been preparatory tests for the 11+.