Reported in the News Letter on August 29, 1963: Study reveals ill effects of 11-Plus on schoolchildren


Disturbed sleep, stomach pains, loss of appetite, vomiting, loss of confidence, and sleep walking, are some of the effects on children of the 11-Plus examination, according to two Belfast doctors, writing in today’s “Family Doctor”, who made a survey on a group of Northern Ireland schoolchildren.

About one-fifth of 300 Belfast children investigated were found to have psychological and physical upsets because of the examination.

The doctors, Dr J H MacLoughlin and Dr A L Walby, were surprised at the number and severity of the children’s complaints.

Speech defects, food fads, bed wetting, nausea, diarrhoea, nervous tics, nail-biting, withdrawal from society, and skin eruptions were among the disorders.

Although none pointed directly to the 11-Plus examinations as the cause, they were all reactions to mental stress due to some unfavourable influence.

The symptoms usually appeared soon after the children entered the qualifying year, and increased in frequency and severity right up to the exam and disappeared promptly afterwards. In a few cases the symptoms returned about the time for publication of the results.

“Where your child gets to in an 11-Plus exam is important, but it should not be the beginning and end of his world,” say the doctors.