Aspirations and Expectations

Belinda Shaw: The Eleven Plus

Belinda was born in Leeds in 1947. Her mother died when Belinda was just four years old and she was sent to live with another family. This traumatic event had a lasting impact on Belinda's life, and her schooling. Belinda attended mainstream primary and secondary schools.

Here Belinda describes her anxieties about the Eleven Plus exam.

  • Belinda Shaw
  • Belinda Shaw


The main thing about my education at the Castle Yard Junior School was we knew that this Eleven Plus thing was coming up and it seemed to me that this was a really pivotal and important thing and if you failed at it, it was going to be a disaster. And I remember thinking, you know, I’m sure like everybody else, I’m going to have to pass it and I was really serious that I had to pass it. And I remember going into Smith’s and finding what must have been like swatter books of in effect IQ tests but they were kind of old exam papers for the Eleven Plus and practising these things, it’s quite – I had quite a lot of initiative actually. And low and behold when it came to the Eleven Plus I’d had some practice at these IQ, what I think seem to me now like IQ tests, but they were just like Mastermind or something, things like that as I remember it. And the last situation I remember at this school was I was so nervous on the day I knew the exam results were coming out, that I couldn’t go to school, I was very poorly and I took to my bed and stayed in my bed and then my friends came around and knocked on the door to where I was living and said they wanted to tell me that I’d passed. And then this woman that I called my mother, or my auntie by then, she brought them all upstairs and I was quite pleased then because I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to pass.

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