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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday Night and the Eleven Plus

Today is Saturday. This means that the weekend is in full swing. Eleven Plus parents and Eleven Plus children will be doing the `Eleven Plus’. It sounds as if there is a song in the words `Doing the Eleven Plus’.

`Doing the Eleven Plus’ could even spark a prime time Saturday night competition where grown men cry their eyes out before seven million people. The men would be crying because they could not answer the eleven plus questions.

Question 1. What is the derivation of the word `Barmy’ and what it its relationship to the Eleven Plus examination?

We know that we should never use this word when talking to our children. We think that barmy is a slang word for the feeble minded – but we are not 100% sure. A possible explanation is that that it comes from Barming in Kent – where the county’s lunatic asylum was situated. The word barmy then is applied to a rather unexpected eleven plus answer.

“What is the product of 6 and 9? Oh dear that is rather a barmy answer. Product means multiply.”

Question 2. What is a Hall Mark – and how is one awarded for the Eleven Plus?

A Hall mark is the official stamp used at Goldsmiths hall in London. The Goldsmith Company marked gold and silver articles. So a Hall Mark is a distinctive mark or token of genuineness, excellence or worth.

“Mum, Dad, I achieved 56% on this paper. The first time I have reached over 50%. I am so pleased.”

“We are so proud of you. We will demonstrate the hall mark of our approval by taking you to the cinema. Well done!”

Question 3. Where is the significance of the word `marathon’ in the mythology of the eleven plus?

We know that the marathon was a running race over 26 miles and 365 yards. Now we use the word for a protracted event. The event could be wage negotiations – how much any marks over 89% are worth. The word marathon can also be sued in international talks – if passing the eleven plus is worth a trip to Disneyland Paris or Florida.

So we now have all the ingredients of an eleven plus rallying song.

We know that at times we will feel a little barmy.

We know too that at times we will feel the need to have our efforts rewarded.

And finally we know that the eleven plus journey will be long and arduous.

All we need now is the BBC Light Orchestra; twelve weeping would be Josephs and four well meaning judges. (It all sounds rather like preparing for an eleven plus appeal.) The contestants will need to write the words, prepare the lyrics and sing the songs. All this amounts to about the same angst and emotion that every eleven plus parent goes through.

Break a leg!

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