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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eleven Plus Morals

The Telegraph and the Guardian reported today on tactics suggested to try to catch children cheating in examinations – including CCTV, tagging with radio transmitters and microtexting papers during the printing process.

Graeme Paton, Education Editor of the Daily Telegraph, maintained that over four thousand children were caught cheating - out of over a million students taking GCSE and `A’ level examinations.

Apparently there was also an increase in the number of teachers coaching children to answer questions.

What a worrying time for parents. They would obviously be concerned if their own child was offered the opportunity to cheat – but naturally would hate the advantage some other child could gain by cheating.

Most of us will be able to remember the story of the American bank employee who programmed the bank’s computer to take 10 cents off every account – and add the money to the last account in the books. Of course all the bank’s customers were listed alphabetically – so the employee opened an account under an assumed name – starting with the letter `Z’.

Everything went very well until a Mr Zydel opened an account. He noticed that his bank account kept increasing. He was an honest man and reported the facts as he knew them.

Some major banks have schemes where eleven year olds can start saving. All the eleven year old needs is £1. (This varies from bank to bank.) The child is offered a cash card – with the ability to withdraw up to £50 a day.

Nearly every child would immediately notice if their bank account increased, on a regular basis, by mysterious lots of 10p. I am equally sure that nearly every child would mention this to someone in authority.

What happens in the examination if the self same child is able to see, by some chance, the multiple choice answers of the final three questions on the paper? Does the child avert his or her eyes? Should a hand be raised in the final moments of the examination and a statement made that he or she had seen the answers to the final three questions?

We saw an Eleven Plus boy last year who copied out the answers to a section of a verbal reasoning exercise. When he was collected after his lesson he explained excitedly that he had achieved ten out or ten. He was then asked, by the doting parent, if that was ALL the work he had done. This poor child was obviously under great pressure to do well academically. I wonder if the mother every realised that her pressure was forcing her child to behave in a highly inappropriate manner. If the boy felt he had to cheat in an ordinary lesson – he must have felt some strange urges as the day of the actual examination dawned.

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