The April 1921 edition of ‘The Draconian’, shortly to be published, will contain this article I have written so that our parents may know a little more about the organisation to which we are affiliated, and to inform the boys that their headmaster has sadly lost his battle to abolish the Common Entrance Examination to the Public Schools!
The Association of Preparatory Schools.
I have had the honour of being elected as Chairman of the Council of the Association of Preparatory Schools for 1921. The Association has increased very much in size and influence since it was first founded in 1893, when I was one of the original members and first editor of the ‘Preparatory Schools’ Review’…
It is also a privilege I greatly enjoy to be a member both of the Joint Committee of Public and Preparatory Schools and on the Board of Management of the Common Entrance Exam. With the latter institution I am not at all satisfied. Its influence on our Schools seems to me to be disastrous. The papers are stereotyped in form. Thousands of back copies are purchased and used as a standard and as a means of ‘cramming’ boys for the examination. Instead of a boy being judged by his real merit, character and attainments, he is judged by his mark-getting powers in a very specialised examination, and this seems to me to be destructive of anything like originality or individuality in teaching and training. I should greatly prefer for admittance to the Public Schools a series of well-chosen questions to be answered by the Preparatory Headmaster of the candidate, something like the paper questions put to the Headmaster of Naval Candidates*, but with rather a wider scope. This might be followed by one day’s literary examination, and then if there were any doubt about a boy’s fitness, an interview might be held…
I put these considerations to the Conference of Preparatory Schools in December, but alas! the vast majority of those present voted that the examination as at present conducted is altogether satisfactory!
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The history of this august organisation dates back to 1892, when fifty headmasters of Preparatory Schools first met to discuss that most important of concerns: the size and weight of the cricket ball to be used by their boys at their schools (!)
[* One such question posed is, ‘Does (the candidate) tend to lead other boys? If so, is his influence on them good?’ ]