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Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Remember in Examinations

One of the mums was chatting to me on Saturday. She came up with the familiar lines:

“He has a memory like an elephant!”

Now elephants live for around sixty years so elephants may have to remember the commands of many mahouts in their time. I suppose remembering to an elephant is a bit like going through school with a succession of teachers.

The elephant actually has the largest brain among all of us land mammals. Their communication skills are also advanced. An elephant can communicate by touch – but can also make contact with an elephant about five miles away. Humans would have to use a mobile phone to achieve the same effect!

Now I took a careful look at the rather handsome boy in question. In particular I looked at his ears. This is not some strange aberration – I looked at the boy’s ears because we all know that elephants use their ears to cool their brains. So I looked at the boy to see if his ears were flapping as I spoke.

Now we have all been taught that when an elephant lifts his trunk and flaps his ears it is time to move away. So now we are going to have to look closely at our eleven plus children,

If you see your child pulling his or her ears – and sniffing the air at the same time – don’t be too concerned. It may be no more than a sign that your child is thinking.

Just pause and think of the poor teachers in charge of the final eleven plus examinations. We know that the teachers will be walking quietly round the room keeping a careful check but this year the eyes of the teachers will be drawn to the ears of the children writing the examination.

So armed with this information parents can change their approach to their children. Parents will be able to stop their poor children working through eleven papers. Parents will no longer need to go to the expense of hiring tutors. The solution is much cheaper.

All parents have to do is to go to their local chemists and ask for the new `prescription free’ remembering cream. The box is easily recognisable. There is a picture of an elephant with little forget-me-nots resting in a crown on the head of the elephant.

As the whole family sit there in the evening watching TV, mum will be rubbing cream into one ear and dad will be rubbing the special eleven plus cream in the other ear. Mum and dad will be singing quietly in a sweet duet:

“Here is your `exam special’ memory cream.

So off now to sleep and have a good dream.

Rubbing your ears has helped brighten your brain,

And you can wash those exam papers straight down the drain.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

How to be happy.

About three miles from our head quarters in Gravesend is an area called Springhead. We landed up developing out headquarters in an Industrial Park because of the number of cars visiting us on a Saturday morning. Parents drop their children off for lessons, collect them and also arrive for assessments and chats.

Some parents have to pass through the area called Springhead to arrive with us. We have noticed a strange phenomenon. The parents and the children always appear to arrive relaxed, calm and smiling. We think it is because the Springhead area was an important centre for a wild pagan religion based on the `Cult of Source’.

This cult is to do with healing and fertility – and all temples and shrines were usually situated near to a spring. As an extra tuition organisation we could not offer an opinion on fertility. This would not be up to us. We can wonder, however, about healing. Any cars have to pass close to around six Roman Celtic temples. At one time these temples would have been enclosed by walls.

It looks as if people visited the temples to try to find a cure.

So today I can reveal a world first. A planned trip to Springhead for all parents who feel they may need a cure for the dreaded disease of `Eleven Plus Itis’. The symptoms are when you look at your child with a sense of exasperation. You may, at times, feel exasperated and frustrated. How can a normal intelligent child suddenly become unable to want to sit down to yet another eleven plus paper? Your doctor will only be able to offer you pills and advice to seek counselling. Well we have a much better alternative. We have a three hour mediation session.

All parents will sit in a large circle and will hold hands. No words will be spoken because who wants to hear about anyone else’s problems. The wind will pass through the grass. Parents will be able to hear leaves falling from trees. The traffic on the nearby A2 will retreat to a faint dull roar. Pages of verbal and non verbal reasoning papers will be passed around.

The faces of parents would lose their lines. Their faces would be restored to `pre children’ levels. The sadness and the hurt would leave their hearts.
Parents would return to their families restored and confident to be able to take any problems that may lie ahead. Faith in humanity would be restored. Children would be loved once again. The words `I told you so’ would be forgotten. Love and happiness would rule.

We must surmise that the ancient Celts and Romans probably did not know too much about eleven plus examinations. If they had have had problems like those encountered by parents approaching the eleven plus it is highly likely that the Romans would have returned to Rome a whole lot earlier.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Eleven Plus Comprehension

One day all schools will be teaching text speak. This must come as schools and parents recognise that children should be allowed to learn useful tools for life.

We can see the advantages of children working through verbal and non verbal reasoning exercises. Our children must learn to concentrate and focus on a task. They must learn to work to specified time limits. The must also learn that preparing for a competitive examination requires hard work and dedication. So in all these areas eleven plus preparation is invaluable. We hope that there will be a positive carry over into other activities.

If our children become more confident then we will have achieved something that will be invaluable in later life.

Just because some adults think that they can not learn a new language then we should we deny our children the opportunity? Text speak is one learning activity that children will be able to relate to. They will be motivated to learn and will be delighted to do any home work that is set.

Once the children have mastered the basics we know that there will be new developments springing up. New dialects will emerge. The children of Manchester won’t want to be the same as the children of London.

Naturally the feel of eleven plus papers will change. Non verbal reasoning and mathematics will be affected to a lesser degree than English and verbal reasoning.

Take, for example, a comprehension passage from Treasure Island. Would Robert Louis Stevenson turn in his grave to see some of the passages translated? Take the section in Chapter 18 where the mutineers arrive:

4T paces farther we came 2 d edge of d W0 & saw d stockade n frnt of us. We struck d enclosure bout d midL of d south side, & almost @ d sAm tym, 7 mutineers--Job Anderson, d boatswain, @ thR head--appeared n full cry @ d southwestern corner.

dey paused az f takN aback, & b4 dey recovered, not onlE d squire & I, bt Hunter & Joyce frm d blok hows, had tym 2 fire. d 4 shots came n rather a scattering volley, bt dey did d Biz.

aftR reloading, we wlkD dwn d outside of d palisade 2 c 2 d faLn nME. He wz stOn dead--shot Thru d hart.

Do we ask the questions on the passage in a traditional form or do we use text speak? Exciting times lie ahead. Any changes like this could not be brought in without consultation. There is no time for this year’s examinations – but who knows for the future. There have been so many changes in education in recent months one more would simply fill another gap in the system.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eleven Plus Connections

I remember reading about Scheherazade. The story goes that there was once a betrayed Sultan who vowed to cut off his wife’s head at dawn and take a new wife every day.

Scheherazade arrived after a large number of wives had met grisly deaths. She was very clever at telling stories. She was able to prolong the day of her execution for one hundred and one days. By which time the king had fallen in love with her and could not bear to be parted.

Naturally the story has been embellished over the years – and stretched to one thousand and one days – and three sons later.

Now many of us have around one hundred days left to the eleven plus examinations. There is a bit less time for those children writing in October and November.

So if any mothers want to preserve their sanity – and their heads – why not take a little time every day to tell their children a wonderfully exciting story. You could mould the story in the way the great soaps of today work – by leaving each episode in the form of a cliffhanger. As the tension towards the eleven plus examinations grows you will be able to make your stories and tales so exciting and stimulating that your children will hang on your every word.

This is important as families need strong connections as the examinations approach. You want your children to be able to turn to you and say: “Oh please, mum, please let me know what happened.” You will be able to smile mysteriously, draw your children into your arms, and tell them tales of how hard you used to work at school.

They will look at you in awe and whisper to each other about how hard you worked at school. They will be enthralled by your story telling. You won’t be `mum part of the furniture’ you will be `mum the magnificent’. What a lovely thought.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Two points of view

I recently heard the words: “It is like getting blood out of a stone,” used by a poor long suffering mother.

The words were referring to a quiet, rather inoffensive, ten year old who simply did not want to work on eleven plus papers every single day. Instead of negotiating days and times the ten year old had simply put his foot down and declined to do any work without a major battle.

I think the picture of a mother squeezing a large stone with both hands – and relieving her frustration at the same time is appealing.

The mental picture of blood letting is far less attractive. Back in the 19th Century patients used allow `doctors’ to use a device called a `scarificator’. This had blades that cut into a patient and allowed blood to be drawn off. The theory was that drawing blood from a person helped healing by relieving pressure.

A far easier way for a mother to relive pressure is to simply insist that she gets most of her own way. The words `have a go’ are used by some ten year olds to describe a mother’s earnest plea for her child to sit down and do some work.

“You are always having a go at me,” to a child is a robust defence of an untenable position.

So here we have two different points of view. On the one hand the mother feels that her child is being obstinate and unfeeling. The child, however, thinks that his mother is relentless in her attempts to try to get even a modicum of work done.

Compromise could be the answer – but then both sides have to give a little. To give up an entrenched position is very difficult. But drawing blood out of a stone is also difficult.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The New Seven Wonders of the Eleven Plus

The October 2007 National Geographic magazine arrived in the post this morning. This edition covers Biofuels, Latin America from the Sky, Infectious Animals and the Space Age at 50. As usual this is a wonderful collection of stimulating articles. The cover picture is of an ear of corn grown by a farmer who hopes he’ll get a higher price from an ethanol factory opening nearby.

By chance there is a `Special Promotion’ in the National Geographic covering the `New Seven Wonders of the World’. This is a contemporary attempt to create an alternative to the `Ancient Seven Wonders of the World’.

Chichen Itza – A pre-Columbian archaeological site
Christ the Redeemer – The statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janerio
The Great Wall of China
Petra – The carved stones in Jordan
The Taj Mahal
The Colosseum
Machu Picchu

So naturally we need to bring the Seven Wonders of the Eleven Plus child up to date too with a child who:

Tidies the bedroom without being reminded
Settles down to homework with complaining
Never wants or eats junk food
Avoids arguing with parents
Does not fight with siblings
Believes in Father Christmas
Says thank you after being told off.

This list is simply endless. There must be many runners up to the above list. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wonder of Eleven Plus

I started thinking today about what information children might need in the eleven plus examinations. I suppose they may need to know some important facts:

Sound travels 1.6 km in 5 seconds.
1 litre of water weighs 1 kg.

Then I wondered if they needed to know about any currencies:

India uses the rupee
South Africa uses the rand.

Then we could look at languages:

Iranians speak Persian
The Welsh speak English and Cymric.

Naturally my thoughts went to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Tomb of Mausolus
The Temple of Diana
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Statue of Zeus
The Pharos Lighthouse at Alexandria.

So then what are the seven wonders of the Eleven Plus examinations?

This year parents have far more access to free downloadable eleven plus papers.
The examinations are not supposed to test facts (So all the above information is relatively worthless.)
Parents are just as anxious now about the eleven plus as they were earlier in the year.
Some children will love doing examinations and others will hate every second.
Teachers will tell parents that their children are `doing fine’ and are `border line’.
Your children will come out of the examination and tell you that they did their best.
Regardless of results you will throw a really big `post eleven plus party’.

If you think of any other wonders please let me know.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


We went to the beach today at Camber Sands. This is wonderful beach – very flat and very safe for young children. In addition to the beach there are large sand dunes – with lots of opportunities for games and playing.

Around three o’clock a blue land rover came trundling over the sands. A man climbed out and solemnly raised a red flag. The land rover then climbed between two sand dunes and disappeared.

There is a warning system on the beach with an orange flag to warn of an off shore wind – and then inflatables should not be used. A red flag warns of danger in swimming.

A group of four children were playing in the water with a yellow ball. It was hardly possible to see the red flag from where the children were. In any case I am sure that it did not enter their mind to look for a flag being raised as warning.

This is one of these situations where as an adult you don’t know if you should interfere or not. There were no adults within a twenty minute walk of the children. The tide was going out and the ledge was clearly deeper with occasional channels. I walked towards them through the surprisingly warm water.

Two men made their way across the sand towards the children and separated the two younger children but left the two older ones in the water. The men then started walking back to their group – taking the two younger ones with them. The red flag kept blowing in the wind.

Perhaps the men had local knowledge.

I would have liked to have done more but did not want to appear as an interfering busybody.

I wonder what you would have done?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Final Eleven Plus Result

In olden days wax was used to seal a document. The phrase `seal of approval’ may well have been derived from these words.

Suppose children had to seal their work before submitting it to their teacher. We hope before they sealed the work they had:

Read over key points
Looked for `little’ mistakes
Completed or even guessed at any missed answers.

Each child would need to be issued with his or her own seal. The children would be able to design a seal using a drawing package on their PC or even having their pen and paper sketch scanned.

Naturally the children would need to get used to open flames and hot wax. The simple act of making hot wax could be more terrifying to some parents than the actual eleven plus examination. I suppose some parents would want to go on fire awareness courses. I bet, however, that the children would really enjoy themselves. But think of the benefits:

Children would need to think before they acted.

Children would need to think about others.

Children would need to take full responsibility for their actions.

Children would need to check and recheck.

Children would need to plan ahead.

I am sure there must be moments when parents must wish that their children would adopt at least three items from this rather abbreviated list.

Children, however, would probably argue that what they really would like from their parents is lots of approval.

Parents, however, would just wish for an eleven plus result: “Signed, sealed and delivered’.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eleven Plus Focus - Blog 16/09/07

One of the problems that parents face as the eleven plus examination grow closer is how much they should expect their child to stay focused. Some children enjoy the working through papers. Though, these are usually the children who can do the work. For other children there can be no other torture as miserable sitting down to an eleven plus selection paper. Most children’s attitude to practice papers lies somewhere in between.

Some families find eleven plus examinations very hard work. I met a ten year girl last week who really wanted to be a dancer. She was used to going to dance classes five times a week. She moved beautifully and stood straight and proud. Her long hair fell to her waist. Every thing she did was a prelude to a career in dancing. Her mother spent a lot of time in the car and a lot of time simply waiting for the dance lessons to finish.

Her mum thinks she will pass, her school thinks she will pass and we think she should pass. She will sit down to her examinations having done very few papers and extra exercises. The only thing that could hold her up is that she is rather a slow reader. She reads `word by word’.

We all know that sometimes it is possible to get the gist of a question by speed reading and finding the main points. Our word by word reader does not appear to skim over any written material – she reads solidly and steadily. In her English examination there is a comprehension passage. This will be a straight forward passage – but there will be a lot of words she will need to plough through. We all know just how fast children need to move when they a tackling a verbal reasoning paper.

I am sure that no one would want, at this stage, to put any fear into her preparation. Equally it will be no good what so ever to advise her speed up without helping her to speed up. So we could start with advising her to look for key words. In the comprehension passage she could underline the key words. When she is working on verbal reasoning she must look for the words that could alter the interpretation of a question. I am sure we can all make a number of helpful suggestions.

So maybe one day, one of us will meet her as she is dancing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I hope we hear that she went on to do a degree in dance. I hope too that she will be able to chat about the books she has read and enjoyed. Most of all we just hope to hear that she is happy.

(BT Changed where we post our blogs on the BT server. BT did not tell us before they moved our work. The blog 16/09/07 was written but I could not post the blog.)

Eleven Plus Progress - Blog 14/09/07

Parents seem to want their children to be happy and contented at school. But parents also have other agendas.

When they are told about their child’s marks at school they naturally give praise where it is due. They then want to know how well their child had done compared to other children in the class. If their loved one has done better than a child acknowledged by all to be a leader then they, the mums and dads, are happy. If their poor child has to admit that they were beaten by another child in the class then the great inquisition begins.

So how can a parent assess progress?

1. Play ground chatting. This is a very powerful tool used by parents to disseminate information. Here a parent learns about life in the classroom, the school and the world in general.

2. Your child’s peers. This is possibly the most reliable method of finding out how well you child has done. Here you will hear about time spent in at break time. You will know who talks the most and who the class favourite is.

3. Casual Chats – these are incidental chats to your child’s class teacher. You approach the teacher smiling and happy with the school, your child and life in general. You get pleasant, relaxed – but rather hurried feedback.

4. Open Evening – this is the one time when a parent must not pick a fight. An open evening is to hear what your teacher has to say about your child. You listen respectfully – after all this is the professional in charge of your child. You arrange for any `loud discussions’ on any occasions when it is unlikely that any other parent can hear the conversation or dialogue.

5. The head teacher – this is where you write down what you want to say on a piece of paper. After all just being near a head teacher brings all sorts of emotions to the fore. Listen carefully, maintain eye contact, leave respectfully and offer a little prayer of thanks.

By the way – your child may also have some views on progress!

(I could not post this blog on the 14th because BT changed the root path of our blog - and did not inform us until after the event.)

Eleven Plus Copyright - blog of 13/09/07

Any text or graphic material is usually copyrighted for 70 years from the death of the originator or copyright owner. In simple terms this means that any thing produced for the eleven plus market today will be copyrighted until the year 2079. If we have really young author entering the eleven plus market, and he or she died in sixty years time, then I presume that the material would only go into public domain in many years time (This would make a good Eleven Plus question. If you do work out the answer, please let me know.)

You can’t fall foul of copyright material if a person paraphrases someone’s work. The work then is not copyright as it is the words that constitute the copyright – not the thoughts behind the word.

So you can make up Eleven Plus questions for your child – but you can not copy an Eleven Plus paper belonging to someone else. The usual consequence for infringing copyright is damages and/or a criminal conviction.

We disposed of our photocopy machine some eleven years ago. This has not only saved a lot of money – but has meant that there is no way that we, as an organisation, can be pulled up for a copyright offence.

Think too of the all the paper we have saved!

(This is the blog of 13/09/07 when BT changed the pointer to our blog - but did not tell us. BT hosts our blog.)

Lap Tops and the Eleven Plus

One of the worst parts of the whole eleven plus experience is the dreaded wait for results. The family as whole waits because the family does not know if they are going to have to move house to live closer to the school. Mums and dads wait because they simply want the best possible education for children. Grandparents wait because they know anyway that they have the most intelligent grand children in the whole world.

We could speed up the whole eleven plus process if every child did their test on a lap top – and the results could then be sent back to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) for marking, grading and normalisation.

If the tests are to be taken on lap tops then the children have to practice on laptops. (This is all to do with familiarity with the key board.)

Every parent is therefore ADVISED to buy a lap top for their child. So parents have to start looking at lap tops. I suppose a family can consider buying a lap top for less than four hundred pounds. (The sub £399 LAPTOP.) But most families will no doubt be looking at the sub £699 LAPTOP. Why? It costs more and does more. You get what you pay for.

You need to buy a lap top with a sound design. The screen has to be strong enough to be able to deliver good viewing with clear brightness, evenness of tone (whatever than means) and no dead pixels.

Battery life is also important – it is no good using a lap top where the battery collapses after thirty minutes.

If your child will only use the lap top for school work then you do not need to spend money on `gaming capability’. (These buzz words just fly off the tongue!)

After all what you really want is a basic machine that is built to handle standard tasks. Naturally your child will grow out of the machine one day – but they are as likely to grow out of the two thousand pound machine as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Vans, Lorries and Mums.

I went round the M25 to Reading today. This is a round trip of about 160 miles from Gravesend. This meant a few hours of listening to the radio and watching huge lorries thunder past. The little vans are always the most entertaining. It seems that a number of little van drivers talk on the phone. The vans also dart from lane to lane like swooping swallows.

The outside lane appears to be characterised by the shiny cars. These cars are either big and shiny or little and shiny. Middle sized cars seem to drive in the middle lane.

We know of a mother who drives her daughter thirteen miles to school. She then drives home. At the end of school she drives another thirteen miles and then another thirteen miles back.

We then need to add normal `mum type’ trips – grocery shopping, coping with the other children in the family and even having a little time to do something for herself.

So if any one needs to know about how to sort out or road system I can think of one person who should be on the think tank. (I know that she has to drive an extra twelve miles for a `lesson’ round trip. I know this because I asked.)

So the next time you see a car driven by a woman looking calm, resigned and relaxed spare a thought for our mum. It is quite extraordinary what parents will put themselves through to educate their children

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Checking Up on Dates

We host our blog on a BT Server. When I could not post my blog on the 12th – because of an error message from Google I naturally contacted BT. Chris, a very learned man explained to me in simple terms:

BT changed servers. As I said, the new root folder for the website is 'public' (instead of 'docs'), so you'll want to publish your blog to '/public/blog'.

This was an easy change to make, I understand, but our super IT guru was working in Madrid for six days.

BT had simply forgotten to warn its customers of the proposed change – otherwise we could have made the change earlier.

I solemnly kept writing the blog on a daily basis as the blog now has over 400 entries. I will try to load all the missing blogs over the next few days.

I am sure that you telephoned the church a few days before you were married – just to make sure. You will also have checked with the catering company that all was still `well’ with the food. You may even have checked on your minister – if you had any suspicion about his ability to live a pure and blame free life.

In just the same way you need to take your `Eleven Plus Dates’ letter out of your filing cupboard and check on the dates and times. Check with the school office if you still have any concerns.

I am pretty sure that you were able to change the order of the Church or Registry Office service. You will not have the same opportunity with the eleven plus examinations. The only way that you could effect a change is to move. (A rather drastic step?)

I wish now that I had had the forethought to know that BT would move all its customers to a new server. But imagine how sad I would have been if I had been unable to enter my child for the eleven plus examinations because I had not received a letter telling when and where the examination takes place.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Boosting Eleven Plus Memory

One of the first things we look at when we buy a new computer is the size of the memory.

We see the words:


2.0GB 667MHz Non-ECC DDR2 SDRAM (2*1,024MB DIMM) Memory

We then think to ourselves …. “Would it not be better to have a little more memory?


4GB DDR2 667 Quad Channel FBD Memory (4x1GB) with riser

Now comes the crunch. Is a Quad Channel FDB better than a Non-ECC DDR2 SDRAM?

The fact that one has 2.0GB and the other 4GB might seem to make a difference but I have no idea just how much. I just know that my memory is no longer either 2GB or 4GB.

So would it not be very useful to be able to simply buy a bit more memory for our Eleven Plus children? We would even buy the memory with elements of it pre-configured. Not sure of Long Division? Easy just buy the two or the four L.D. module. (The basic module is the 2.GB Long Division (LD) module but if you want short division then you simply purchase the L.D. 4.)

Then we come to the problem of where we are going to put the memory. We could book into one of the memory stores in one of the national chains. There your child would be taken into the new and smartly equipped “Memory Diagnostic Chamber”.

The technician would decide between an implant or an add on. Implants look rather like tattoos. The little memory chips are pressed just below the surface of the skin. We are assured it does not hurt very much. The other method adding memory is the add on. This could be in the form of a watch or a head band or even woven into the very clothes your child would be wearing on the day of the examination. (It would be terrible if your child spilt food onto the shirt on the morning of the examination and you had to insist on a changed shirt.)

A major problem then looms whatever method is adopted. The memory will no doubt need battery power. Batteries are not easily degradable. So here is your dilemma. Do you purchase extra memory to ensure that your child has the best possible chance of passing the eleven plus examination – or do you surrender to your green side and just hope that your child will do as well as possible?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Eleven Plus Motivation

Teachers and parents are continually faced with the challenge of how to motive their children. Sometimes a highly bright and able child will appear to have genuine difficulty in remembering facts – but will immediately be able to commit equally difficult facts about something of real interest.

We know that we are all supposed to demonstrate primary motivation – that is the motivation for hunger and thirst and so on. So, for example, if we are hungry we have the ability to learn very quickly how to do something. But the problem is that as a child gets older and more sophisticated is it more difficult to work out what is driving the motivation.

If your child sits down to do a difficult exercise because he or she wants to please you and earn even more security and love then this is very different motivation to completing an Eleven Plus exercise for the reward of a trip to the cinema.

We hope that some children will want to do well because of affection for their teacher or tutor. Other children will be driven by a need for the heady feeling of success.

But there is always that unknown factor when we are dealing with some children – that is that sort of counter motivation – where the child just does not appear to reach his or her potential. However hard a teacher or parent will try, the child will appear to put up a barrier. In spite of this some parents will attempt to run their whole Eleven Plus adventure with full praise and lots of affection.

The phrase the `headless chicken’ comes to mind. In the case of chicken the nerves will keep the body going long after the head has been chopped off. With some children and adults there could be symptoms of being disorganised and ineffective. At a low level this could manifest itself by simply delaying any attempt to start work. Further down the scale the child may attempt to pick a fight or argue about something both inconsequential and with limited relevance.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Learning Definitions

One way that parents can help their children by revising mathematics is by asking questions. Of course it does help if you know the answer too!

1. What is used instead of numbers in an equation?

2. What does S.F. stand for? What is a significant figure?

3. When is it easier to write a number in standard form instead of writing it out in full?

4. What is the highest common factor and how would you work this out?

5. What is the radius of a circle? How can you find this if you were given the diameter of the circle?

6. What must you do to both numbers first if you want to divide a number by a decimal?

You then need to supply the answers as soon as possible.

1) Letters are used instead of numbers.

2) It stands for significant figures. A significant figure is a digit that is not a zero, or it is a zero that follows a number that is not a zero.

3) Is it easier to write very big numbers and very small numbers in standard form instead of writing it out in full.

4) The highest common factor of two numbers is the biggest number that can be multiplied to give those two numbers. Two work this out, we write down all the factors for the two given numbers and pick out the biggest number that is present in both lists.

5) The radius of a circle is the length of a straight line that goes from the centre of a circle to the circle’s edge. A circle’s diameter is the length of a straight line that goes from the circle’s edge, through the centre of the circle and to the other side. So, we can halve the diameter to find the radius.

6) You must move the decimal points of both numbers by the same number of places until the dividing number becomes a whole number.

We all know the saying: “Little and often!”

Good luck!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Olympic Objectives and the Eleven Plus

I thought that it was important to set our Olympic Objectives for 2012.

1. We need to support local athletes with the potential to perform at 2012. Now this is going to be a bit difficult for most of out eleven plus children this year. There is not a long history of youngsters who have done well in Olympic events – but there are some. Swimmers and gymnasts spring to mind. I can not recall any weightlifters or pole vaulters. Having written that I am sure I will be corrected.

2. We need to make sure that our eleven plus children have access to as many sports as possible. After all if we can develop mass participation then this could serve as a catalyst for some stars to emerge. Some parents will find it difficult to fund developing a horse for the Olympics – but could perhaps manage a table tennis bat.

3. We need our children to have the best possible athletic coaches inside and outside of school. This should be a major priority. After all if there is talent we want to be able to develop it as best we can.

4. When we won the Olympic Games our children were given a great opportunity to be able to become more active. Perhaps more members of the family will become involved in a regular sport or leisure activity.

So how will this affect our children?

Some will be writing their GCSE examinations by 2012. Other may already have passed a few GCSE examinations. The Olympics will give the children a great opportunity to see that to reach the top you need to work very hard.

For those few short weeks the children will be drawn into a different world. They will see athletes who have been given every opportunity to do well with support from governments and huge fund raising activities. They will also see athletes who have had to most of the work on their own – with little funding. Of course there will be stories of athletes winning medals from small communities and impoverished facilities. Good luck to them too!

Just as we wish the athletes the best possible coaches we wish for our children to have the best possible teachers and schools. I relish the stories of children who pass the eleven plus when only four out of sixty children are successful. This is real triumph over adversity. We hope too that all our children have focused and effective eleven plus preparation.

We know too that at times the whole family will be united in anticipation and excitement as certain events take place. There will be a few seconds when the bonds of the family will be strong and binding. This must be very similar to same bonds that families feel when they hear the results of successful eleven plus examination. Good luck to all concerned.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Listening to Mother

Mothers keep giving advice to their sons. After all mothers are expert at marital advice. I do realise that it may appear be a little early to start talking to your ten year son about marriage but this is a topic that will surely come up over the years to come. Boys who are just entering Year 6 probably do not have thoughts turning to good jobs, mortgages and marriage.

I remember reading that a man should always look at the prospective mother in law’s ankles. The theory is that if the ankles of the mother in law are `sturdy’ then it is likely that his slim and lissom wife to be will land up with rather thicker ankles. I am sure this is no more than a myth. Equally too, I have not made it my life’s work to study ankles over the years.

There is one topic that your boys could be reminded of. This is to choose a wife who has some degree of tolerance for an addiction. Warn your son that an addiction to computer games and the internet does count as a potential problem area in a marriage.

A Chinese housewife He Ling solved the problem of her husband’s addiction. She was tired of his being on the computer all the time. He did not pay enough attention to her. He simply stared into the screen for long periods. (I wonder if he made something similar to the rather unmelodic `grunts’ that some ten year olds give when they are too busy to give a reasoned answer?)

Mrs Ling simply chopped his arm off as he sat staring at his computer. Mr Ming told a local newspaper that he had felt a sharp blow, felt lots of pain, and saw pools of blood on his mouse mat.

You will note that I have been very careful not to advocate violence of any kind to any boy. I should also make a point that mothers of brides and grooms should be steadfast in banning sharp implements as wedding presents – when the time comes. I would hate too for any eleven plus child to have a bad dream and wake up in the night clutching his mouse hand to his chest.

It would not be a bad thing, however, if he woke up very occasionally at night muttering to himself: “I wish I had listened to my mother.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Helping Your Child's School

Please spare a thought for all those mothers and house fathers who are slumped in their chairs (for all of three minutes0 wondering what on earth they are going to do with the rest of their lives.

Their last child has just entered formal school. Their day now stretches from around nine am to around three o’clock. What a potential force is about to be released! All that power and intellect! Every one of these men and women has so much to offer to society.

But the ripples go wider. What about the support family that are released from their obligations. These are the family and friends – the grandparents, the aunts and uncles. They know they will be called upon again in the holidays – but for the moment peace and quiet.

Many years ago the senior pupils in school acted as monitors. They would help the teacher with the administration and provide support to the children. Some of the monitors went on to become teachers – with or without external training.

Schools today still have monitors – who help with art table or act as prefects. I met a charming boy yesterday for the first time who had just been made a monitor. He took his responsibility sternly – and knew just what was expected of him. He was remarkably proud of his elevation to a position ore responsibility.

There is a clear path now for parents to act as classroom assistants – helping the teacher as best they can. Some parents go onto to become Learning Support Assistants. The LSA’s have tremendous responsibility within the classroom – and must save the sanity of many teachers.

So here is just a `little’ suggestion. If you have some time, and want to help your child, your child’s school and your child’s teacher why not become a volunteer? You would not be expected to work a full day from the start. You may enjoy the challenge. You will receive tremendous support from the school. You will become a member of a wonderful community. Teaching and helping children is enormously rewarding.

So don’t delay. Act today! You can only ask. After all if the school does not need you just at this moment you could always go back to being a doctor or a lawyer or whatever.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Post Eleven Plus First Day Back

Today my thoughts are very much with the parents of the children who will be starting a new school year.

We know of a number of our past eleven plus children who will be starting grammar school this week. They will be walking through the school gates – no doubt a little nervous – and excited. I wonder how many will think back to their teachers through from Reception to Year6. I am sure that some of those teachers will be saying a little prayer for them.

Some children will be taking lunch money as well as a packed lunch. Someone will emerge in the class as a natural leader and decree for or against packed lunches. Some children, on a day like this, may prefer comfort food rather than the healthy option.

If you think of your child wandering up and down unfamiliar corridors and stair cases – then surely they will be too busy for them to be able spare a thought for you. It is very likely that the next time they think of you is when the school day is over and they think of food. (We are back again on the comfort food versus healthy discussion.)

You will look at your child fondly as he or she enters your home. You will wonder just how that mark appeared on that brand new blazer.

You will ask about homework and friends.

You just hope for three or more sentences strung together in a coherent and willing manner.

You will enquire about food. You will ask what happened to the tasty snacks you stuffed into the lunch box. You brain will think again about food and tomorrow. The cycle is under way.

Good luck – and enjoy it while you can. The next few years will go very quickly. Far too quickly!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Selective Listening

I believe that around five million people in the United Kingdom have Tinnitus. This is a continual nose in the ear. There a number of causes of tinnitus but the problem are often related to the inner ear.

Tinnitus is a very useful tool for Grand Parents. When a grand child asks for something that the grand parent does not want to supply then the bar of tinnitus is applied.

“Excuse me, I did not hear that. Did you say that you were afraid of the dark? Oh I see. You said you would like to go to the park.”

Parents adopt a different version of not hearing demands and requests. Parents have the power to be able to apply the sanction of simply not hearing anything they do not wish to hear. Parents would not hear a demand for an upgrade on an ipod. Parents would not need to respond to a suggestion that their child should be able to eat just one more chocolate.

The third generation to have what is commonly called `Selective Listening’ is the eleven plus child. This is the child who will respond enthusiastically to a quietly whispered suggesting that it is time to open the presents. The term of a `Selective Listener’ is often applied to a child who can not hear a quietly spoken suggesting that it is time to settle down to work.

When we are doing verbal reasoning exercises we are often asked for opposites. While we know the opposite of Black is white – is more difficult to find the opposite to `Selective Listening’. The opposite of selective listening is certainly not `Attentive Listening’. You will need to let me know – please.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Anxiety and the Eleven Plus

Some children seem to be naturally cheerful. They seem to show a talent for making other people happy. Naturally this seems to make the child a little more interesting. As teachers or parents we are able to approach happy children more easily. These cheerful and happy children seem to be good children because they appear to be interested in others. We think that they must feel pressure as the eleven plus examinations approach – but we hope that they will simply ride the uncertainty and `breeze’ through the experience.

Some children, however, appear to be naturally rather timid and non-aggressive. These are the children who never want to harm anyone. They listen carefully to their teachers and parents and do their best to please. In the playground they will watch the games and activities and enjoy the pleasure and excitement that other children get from play time. They won’t join unless they are invited – and even then they would be more likely to offer a polite refusal. We need to get these children to talk about their feelings. We need these children to communicate.

Other children seem to be naturally anxious. They are fearful of making a mistake at school. They are worried that they are not pleasing their parents enough. The children are concerned that their friends will not like them. It is almost as if every new change of situation is accompanied by fear. It is not only manifested in fear of the dark and needing to sleep with a light on. As the eleven plus examinations grow closer we don’t want our children to feel even more anxious.

Parents, however, are not supposed to be good psychologists and good teachers all the time. They can simply do all they can to help their child to understand the relative importance of the eleven plus examinations. Not all children NEED to pass the examinations in order to be come good citizens and happy and successful adults. So if your child occasionally shows some timidity and anxiety all you can do is simply take it in your stride. Give backup and support – and hope it passes quickly.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Reporting on Progress

Many, if not nearly all, school teachers like their children to be neat and tidy in their work. I understand too that there are some school teachers who even enjoy writing school reports. I imagine too that there are some Head Teachers who like school reports because they kind of `tidy up’ the year. The hard working teacher writes a collection of school reports about the children in the class. The Head Teacher then reads the reports and adds a few words of encouragement. The reports go out. The year or the term is done.

Honour is satisfied. The school has done its job. In my function within Etc I get to read many school reports from many different teachers. I am always grateful to see how other professionals view their children. Teachers no longer appear to choose to write derogatory comments about their children. “Should have tried harder,” has been replaced with more conciliatory comments. I feel pretty sure that the words, “He will never make anything of himself,” no longer appear on school reports.

What do parents want from a report about their children? I suppose they want to keep informed about progress. They want to know if their child has been working hard. In the case of children attending extra lessons I should imagine that parents want to know if they have been spending their money wisely.

I suppose a parent wants to know if their child is neat and tidy in school work – but I doubt that being neat and tidy ranks very highly with most parents. I should imagine that most parents would like their child to be at least average or above. I doubt very much if most parents really want their children to be gifted. I am sure that many parents would want their child to demonstrate some degree of conformity. They would like their children to obtain good or reasonable marks on tests.

When we are preparing children for eleven plus examinations we spend a time – as the examination grows closer – by doing a range of practice questions. As parents and teachers we offer the children the type of questions that are likely to be asked. We also provide revision sessions where we go over ground already covered.

We like to think that all this effort helps the child to do as well as possible in the examinations.

But as teachers and educators we are mere mortals – we can only do the best we can. A report that a child is doing the best we think it can, may not satisfy some parents.

We are privileged to have a girl starting as a teaching assistant with us today who has just heard that she has ten A* GCSE grades. This is a rarely gifted person. I look forward to her chatting to a mother or father about the work she has done with their child. She must naturally be a role model for every child. I hope that she shows insight, warmth and interest. A smile and a word of approval from her must lift the hearts of every parent.