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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nailing the Eleven Plus

In all DIY jobs preparation is the key. There are many of us who believe that there is no substitute for natural materials. Traditionalists enjoy the beauty, texture and warmth of a wooden floor. To prepare the floor takes time. There is a lot of vacuum and dust. Protective clothing, a nose mask and goggles are all used during the `little five minute’ job.

There is something really special in hiring an industrial sanding machine and using it to change a scratched and discoloured floor into a warm, smooth and golden colour. Thank goodness too for quick drying varnish.

One of the most enjoyable jobs is dealing with the nails that are holding the boards down. The nails have to be punched to about 3 mm below the surface. This takes lots of tapping and noise. It is a job where you start and go to the end.

In just the same way watching a child working systematically through eleven plus papers is a highly satisfying experience.

I watched a girl who `nailed’ a section of a non verbal reasoning paper. She brushed aside the explanation. She put her head down with a little twist. She mumbled a `thank you’ and went to work.

Three and a half minutes later her hand was in the air. She only smiled when the work had been marked – and everything was correct.

I don’t think that our eleven plus children will be able to take a powered nail gun into the examinations. Some of the highly able children that we work with, however, have the ability to power their way through a test. They don’t just master the work – they demolish it.

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