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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Numbers, Levels and Words

Your child’s teacher at school may discuss `National Curriculum levels’ with you. Your child’s tutor may talk about `11+ levels’. To all of us it is just a numbers game. Some 11+ work can be floated between different levels.

We are all used to dealing with a house number, or a registration number, or a telephone number. Each one of these types of numbers suggests a different kind of numbering system. Moving between Level Numbers in the National Curriculum and the levels a child is aiming to reach in 11+ examinations is an inexact science. At first glance it may look as if an 11+ candidate needs to be preparing for an examination a whole level higher than the National Curriculum. This could be a red herring.

Take the two words bark and barque. A ship can be a bark – because this is a word that can be used for a ship. The word barque is largely a rather technical term used for a type of rigging of a ship – or even a ship. The word bark does not need to need to be anything to do with a tree or the sound of a dog or even barking up the wrong tree! At what National Curriculum Level number should a child be able to define or even comprehend the difference? Should children working towards the 11+ need to know the intricacies of the word?

National Curriculum Level

Year 3 Achieving Level 2 Working mainly at Level 3 in class.
Year 4 Achieving Level 3 Starting to work at Level 4 in class.
Year 5 Achieving Level 3 Working at Level 4 in class.
Year 6 Achieving Level 4 Starting Level 5 in class

In National Curriculum terms each level represents 2 school years, therefore a child is not expected to progress a whole level per year. Levels may have an A, B or C grading – where A is the highest.

11+ Examination

Year 3 Achieving Level 3 Working mainly at Level ¾ in Lessons
Year 4 Achieving Level 3/4 Starting to work at Level 4 in Lessons
Year 5 Achieving Level 4 Starting Level 5 in Lessons
Year 6 Achieving Level 4/5 Working mainly Level 5 in Lessons. Revising Level 4.

All parents can do is encourage their children to read as wide a range of books as possible. Some Year 3 children will naturally pick up a wide vocabulary. Other children may meet the word `barque’ for the first time on an 11+ paper. All parents can do is try to add as many words and their meanings to their child’s vocabulary as is sensible. Anyway all parents are sensible all of the time!

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