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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Eleven Plus English

We have a boy who is working with us at the moment.

He did remarkably well on the initial non verbal reasoning test. (We test all children before starting any lessons.) His reading and spelling are well below his actual (chronological) age. He has difficulty in interpreting what he has to when he is reading questions. He becomes confused when he is trying to read some verbal reasoning questions. If the question is read to him he is usually able to give the answer without pausing.

As part of the Kent Eleven Plus tests children are asked to write a story. This is not marked but is kept in reserve just in case evidence of the ability to communicate in writing is needed.

His written plan for the story covers key points – but he does not follow the plan when he comes to do the writing. It is painfully obvious that he is altering the structure of his sentences to accommodate his spelling. He works on the principle of not wanting to use a hard word he can’t spell if he could use an easier word.

We seem to have fallen in the routine of him writing a planned story in one lesson – while he dictates the plan and the story in the next lesson. When he enjoys a scribe writing down his thoughts we can see his obvious grasp of the English language as well as the richness of his ideas and words.

Buried deep in his mind there seems to be a fear of communicating in writing. When he is writing he often leaves out basic punctuation – but he knows all the terms around punctuation. In his written work he will make mistakes on a wide range of words – even some rather simple words.

He loves the idea of multiple choice tests because he does not have to do so much working out. The Kent tests are multiple choice.

There is a good chance that he will pass the Eleven Plus tests – especially if all concerned can help him to understand the different types of questions that could be asked. He may not need the written part of his work to gain a coveted place in a grammar school.

At school he is the middle mathematics group. With us he is stimulated by the challenge of Level 5 mathematics. He is on the bottom table at school for English. We expect him to obtain full marks on the Kent non verbal reasoning test. He is working through non verbal reasoning papers at the rate of around 14 seconds a question.

If he reaches grammar school he will love the sciences. He will certainly struggle with any of the romance languages. He won’t enjoy doing the reading for the literature GCSE.

Wherever he lands up at senior school we hope that he is happy.

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