Random Vignettes from my Life Story – 5

The Camp School and failing my 11 plus.

In 1951 when I was five years old, I began my education at The Camp School in Kent. It was idyllic. Set in bluebell woods the school was made up of ex army huts from WW2. Each hut was surrounded by a garden where we grew our own vegetables. Those vegetables were used for our daily lunch eaten in the main hut.

Along with learning the three rs.- I remember days filled with colour, laughter, country dancing and much more.

Everyone walked to school….very few people had cars in those days. I remember certain teachers very fondly and to this day I still have good friends that I met there.

Then came the infamous 11 plus examination….taken when we were 11 years old. This examination was to determine our path through life. Those who passed went onto the Grammar School which lead to university and higher education…those who failed went to a secondary modern school, which lead to trades etc.

I failed the Eleven Plus twice!

I failed twice because I didn’t pass the IQ test. (intelligence quotient)

I now understand why. Back then, there was no understanding of left brain/right brain thinking.…or for that matter the word dyslexia had yet to be heard of. In short, it was all pretty black and white. My brain didn’t and still doesn’t work that way. I saw multiple answers for the IQ test rather than the one answer prescribed by the examiners…..

Along with the practical element of ‘what were my parents going to do with me – there was the strong emotional upset that this caused for me and probably many others

In hind sight failing the 11 plus was probably my first major rejection…the first of many to come!

I was fortunate in that my parents could send me to a small, private girls school, which is another story – or should I say the source of more vignettes. That school opened the door for me to go to art school when I was sixteen years old………something I will be forever grateful for.

So what did I learn from this rejection…..??? To pick myself up and get on with whatever fate had presented to me…and most importantly – to never give up.

27 thoughts on “Random Vignettes from my Life Story – 5

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Two of my friends started life at the Camp School with me. They got married and have been together for 50 or more years. I do remember things well…and over the years have always written down my thoughts which helps. I find that when I write down one memory…it triggers several more…you should give it a go. Thanks Brad:)

  1. George Dinwiddie

    Hmmm… I often saw multiple right answers on standardized multiple choice tests, and had to think about the assumptions of the test makers to decide which THEY though was THE right answer. And then there was the elementary school teacher who used multiple choice questions on science tests, and often ALL of the options were wrong. She was less predictable than the committees that made up standardized tests.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you George for this comment. When I think of how many people get lost in a system that doesn’t work for so many….it saddens me a great deal. I know that I have been one of the fortunate ones to find what I love to do and do it against all the odds…!
      Hope all’s well with you and that you are getting in some painting. Janet 🙂

  2. Don't Lose Hope

    Those IQ tests are biased in favour of a very small subset of intelligences. It’s very sad to think how many people formed a wrong (and poor) view of themselves based on those types of tests. I’m glad you found your true calling in the art world. Your work is amazing. I love looking at the pics you post!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I know how much I suffered because of not being understood….and also know through teaching how many others suffer. I recognise that I am one of the more fortunate ones. Thank you very much for this comment. Janet.

  3. Andrea Stephenson

    Your school sounded great but shame about the 11 plus. I know that my mother did pass the 11 plus but they couldn’t afford for her to go to grammar school, so either way it seems it wasn’t a great system! But I’m glad you got to where you needed to be.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank. you Andrea. I have heard of cases where people passed but couldn’t afford to go onto the Grammar – which is awful – almost more awful than failing! It was an ill thought out system….We still have sooo much to learn.

  4. snowbird

    The 11plus was a nightmare for so many children, also a very middle/upper class test. I’m glad failing it didn’t result in anything negative. Loving your darling hummers.xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Dina. I had never really thought of it that way, but it was a means of separating children – and class did have a lot to do with it. I was able to go to a good private school because my parents could afford it, but for most that would not have been the case particularly so shortly after WW2. I really dislike systems that separate people through whatever means. We still have soooo much to learn. XXX

  5. tidalscribe.com

    I passed but as we were about to emigrate to Australia where state education was comprehensive, It didn’t make much difference to my life. But looking back it seems a ridiculous system. At the time the boys and girls took the exam separately and it was rumoured the boys had an easier exam because of their late development. One mother was rumoured to have stayed indoors for a week when a girl in my class failed!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for this comment. You were fortunate to go to Australia at that time.. One of the fall outs from my not passing was that my two best friends (still close friends all these years later) went to the Grammar and I to another school…In short we were separated – made to feel different from one another…! I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if that was true re boys testing….so much went on that we will probably Never know about. I believe to this day that the system (11 plus) was not a good one. Another aspect that has been hotly debated is that how can you take eleven year olds and treat them as if they are fully formed….We now know that many people are late bloomers.


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