11 Plus Failures Can Succeed

 In pensioners, Social Life

It’s strange how ones past comes to the fore. For instance, I was talking to my hairdresser as she vainly sought grey hairs to snip. She told me that a local person had called her a windjammer, reflecting that she had moved into the area from London. She then asked me whether I would go back to Shrewsbury, where I schooled. Without a moments thought, I said no because people there have long memories. Somebody would say, “I know him, he was an 11 Plus failure”. In those early days perhaps it never occurred to me that 11 plus failures can succeed.

Early life

Why, as a child entirely dominated by the adults around me, do my schooldays have to matter? I left a Secondary Modern School in 1961 with no qualifications because my life in the preceding five years had been bad. My stepfather made childhood hell and there was no joy in going home. Because nobody, including my mother, saw education as more than a daily routine that kids go through. I cannot think of a single person in my street of council houses who had any educational objectives; postmen, drivers, why would they need an education? Fortunately, I was a avid reader of books picked up for pence at rummage sales. Robinson Crusoe took me to the Pacific Ocean.

The Workplace

However, it was the workplace that saved me. People saw potential in me. I passed various ICCM examinations and I slowly moved upwards into management. I am ever grateful to them. Then, at the age of 45 years, I funded a post graduate diploma (DMS) at Business School. I was conscious that academics, people with a degree, overawed me. Working with them proved a revelation. For instance, some were clever, some were idle, most, like me, had strengths and weaknesses. Most were decent people. I was at ease for the first time in my life with higher education. I passed my exams and felt fulfilled. That inadequacy, that little Shropshire gremlin reminding me of failure, fell off. Well, I like to believe that it did.

11 Plus failures can succeed

Failing an exam is not the end of the world. It also begs the question as to what is success. For certain, it cannot only be measured in academic qualifications. Writing books is my current focus but I can hardly call it a success based upon sales. The answer, I think, is simply a readiness to learn no matter what age. That means you take an interest in people, in their story and travails. It also suggests that you understand that education is lifelong; no matter how bad your start in life, you can still become a well rounded person in our open and albeit imperfect society.

The power of the internet

Consequently, I realise now that being labeled as a failure at the age of eleven years is really damaging. Through the internet it is now apparent that I am not alone. Because lots of you out there went through this. I sincerely hope that you found a way to brush it off and find fulfillment.

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