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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"He has a good Eleven Plus chance."

What does it mean if you have a child who has been identified as having `a good chance of gaining a grammar school place’.

We should think that your child is above average. You child may also have qualities that set him or her apart from their peers. You may sometimes hear the statement: “Oh he is a bright one!” Does this mean that he is a bright one intellectually, or is he good with words or even just a charming cheeky chappie?

The word `bright’ must apply to many different situations. Sadly, however, in terms of passing the eleven plus the word `bright’ only relates to obtaining a certain score on a certain day.

Your child may only be bright in terms of taking a certain type of test on a certain day. For example his intelligence may shine through on the verbal reasoning test – but he may come up with an unexpected score on the non verbal reasoning test. He may have completed the non verbal reasoning test in a third of the expected time – but at the same time missed two pages. You child may never have done anything like that in all papers you have done together. Does missing a couple of pages on the day of a vital test make your son less bright?

We had this happen to us very recently. A very able boy did a retest after six months of tuition. He did very well on the mathematics and verbal reasoning tests. He missed the third and fourth page of the non verbal reasoning test. He only made one mistake on the paper – but left out seventeen questions. His mother asked him why and he simply shook his head. I think that this demanding test was just a bit too easy for him and he lost concentration.

His non verbal reasoning score still came out above average – but no one would be able to call him `bright’ on the basis of that score. So how did his intelligence `fly away’? He just made one mistake of turning over two pages – not seventeen mistakes. That one error could cost him a place in grammar school.

So you can’t call a bright boy `average’ on the basis of one test result. The `Eleven Plus System’ in his area can easily call him `non selective’. The appeal panel can also reject him on the grounds that he did not fulfil the selection criteria.

It all seems illogical and very unfair. In eleven plus terms a bright child is intellectually able. He may also be bright, charming and articulate. On the day of the examination he has to prove his `bright’ side. Please remind him to read the instructions at the beginning of the test, check he has completed all the pages and look back over his paper. Above all remind him not to `switch off’ while he is being told what to do at the start of the test.

He will remain as having `a good chance of a place in grammar school’ if he keeps `bright and alert’.

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