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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eleven Plus Promises

Sometimes you may have the feeling that your child is working passively. This is when you realise that your child is simply waiting for instructions and information.

You may feel that all you are doing is repeating your instructions – but your child does not really understand what you are saying – or even making an effort to understand.

You notice the yawns and the: “I am so bored with this work. Please can I do this later when I am not so tired?”

You hear the challenging sentiment of: “Mum, do I really have to do this work? You know I can do non verbal reasoning. You know I am better than you at non verbal.”

You say to yourself that enough is enough. You call a family meeting. Decisions are made. You write down the outcomes. Your Eleven Plus child will maintain the following precepts:

I promise to be more involved in what I am learning.

I will try harder to listen to what you are saying.

I will never again eat chocolate just before I am due to do some work.

I will make sure that I concentrate on my work. I will not argue that I need music or the T.V. on when I am working.

I will try to avoid having a short break every few minutes to check on what is happening in the rest of the world.

If you actually are right, I promise that I will acknowledge that, and try not to argue.

I will try hard to do my work when it is convenient to the rest of the family.

I will remember to say: “Thank You”.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning

We don’t really know when language arose. It probably goes back over half a million years. It is possible that there was a need for language when man started making tools. In the Stone Age man made flint tools – and later on the tools of bone, ivory and antler.

We can see wonderful painting on walls of caves from long ago – along with carvings and engravings. The finest achievements of Stone Age man are only around one hundred thousand years ago – so it is possible that language was flowering in those days.

When we look at the language our Eleven Plus children need we have to be aware that a child’s language needs are very different from those of adults. So while we expect a child to learn words like `mummy’ and `doll’ and `spoon’, it is possible that adults many years ago were developing language around hunting, fishing and feeding families.

The Bronze Age was a mere five thousand years ago – and the Industrial Revolution is far more recent. Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution language has developed at an extraordinary rate.

If the Eskimos had Eleven Plus examination then the examiners would have to be very careful of the word `snow’. The Eskimos have words for `soft snow’, `new fallen snow’ and `hard snow’. We visited the Science Museum over the weekend – and saw, once again, Stevenson’s Rocket. The impact of this machine on the world must have generated many new and descriptive words.

Bright eleven year old children use language to influence the behaviour of their family, friends and school mates. The children want (or need) food, money, sleep entertainment – along with a desire to pass examinations. If the child does not have a wide vocabulary it becomes very difficult to manipulate words and ideas.

Eleven Plus children need to read and write. It does seem hard to reduce language to: “as AB is to CD find the letters after EF …….”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eleven Plus and Examination Traditions

I have a `First Impression” copy of the book `Hearts not Heads in the School’ by AS Neil. It was published in 1945 with the warning: THIS BOOK IS PRODUCED IN COMPLETE CONFORMITY WITH THE AUTHORISED ECONOMY STANDARDS.”

He was publishing ideas on education around the time that early thought on Eleven Plus examinations were being formulated.

On Page 40 he writes:

I grant that, owing to our iniquitous examination system, most children are compelled to develop the head at the expense of the emotions and the body, but I am taking it for granted that in the school of tomorrow the child will not be ruled by the old men who keep up the examination tradition.”

The school of tomorrow has arrived. To some bright children the Eleven Plus is still an `iniquitous examination system’.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eleven Plus Roles

On any given Sunday a ten to eleven year old child can assume many different roles.

On waking the child can be a child – eating food brought by loving hands.

After breakfast the child can suddenly become a T.V. critic – with a great and determined desire to `just see the end of the program’.

Then there could be time for a little Eleven Plus work. Here we see the role of the serious student. Irritable, short tempered and wanting help `NOW!’. (Please.)

In the car the child becomes a navigator – and starts arguing with the Sat Nav. “We didn’t go this way last time.”

On arrival at the Science Museum the child becomes a child again – wondering afresh at the range of exhibits that span such diversity and depth.

The Launch Pad is very popular. All we can do is hope that the Eleven Plus candidate feels happy, secure and highly stimulated.

Co-operation suddenly becomes more than a buzz word.

Children work together without arguing.

Grandparents give love and stability. This allows the child to change from being a prospective scientist to a much loved grandchild.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Eleven Plus Reading

“What can I do? I’m bored of the books I have. I want something to read.” Familiar words? I hope so.

You will probably have read aloud all the well known books like “Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame when your `Eleven Plus Candidate’ was little. Even though this book was written in 1908 it could still be enchanting to a ten year old – because it has fantasy characters and the story is about an illusion. Your child may want to re-read a timeless classic.

No doubt the Dr Dolittle stories (Hugh Lofting), which date back to the 1920s could also give still a good re-read to a ten year old. Other authors from the twenties like A.A, Milne with `Winnie the Poo’ and J.R.R. Tolkien with `The Hobbit’ could also stand the test of being read aloud. All you have to do is find an audience for your child to read to.

In the 1930s authors like Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons and Emil Kastner’s Emil and the Detective enthralled many children – and the appeal persists today.

Recently members of our family have been listening to the Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories on audio and the romance of the stories persist. Perhaps you could encourage the writing of a short and simple book – and then recording the book to read to others.

In today’s world there is such a proliferation of books – that there must be something out there that will catch your child’s interest. T.V. brings stories to life in a different way to words on a page. Reading books based on television series can bring great pleasure. The Hannah Montana books, for example, are deeply satisfying to some ten to eleven year olds.

Even though paper back books are relatively cheap – buying ten to twelve of them quickly adds up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eleven Plus Learning

The house is quiet.

The television is off.

The siblings are involved in something or other.

A parent sits down with an Eleven Plus child.

The very bright and highly motivated child does not seem to understand. Oh dear! Emergency! Think of hiring a tutor. Phone the partner. Consider a little parental temper tantrum. Call in reinforcements. Oh dear!

It may help to remember that the way an adult learns is different to the way a child learns.

An adult is able to rely on prior knowledge.

An adult is able to rely on previous experience.

An adult may think that the method that is being used to explain to the child should be easily understood.

An adult may have a set attitude towards learning.

So the parent must say:

“Oh dear – I must remember that to understand this, my child needs information.”

“Oh dear – My child has no previous experience of this. How can I help?”

“Perhaps my method may not be the best.”

“I need to be a little more flexible.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Class and the Eleven Plus

There is a fascinating article in the New Statesmen today by Danny Dorling.

One of the points he made was that in time gone by more boys were able to attempt Eleven Plus examinations because there were more places for boys.

He argued that the Grammar School boys created a class classification based on men's occupations.

If we look forward to twenty years time, our present Eleven Plus boys and girls will be busy building a new world.

I have the feeling that ability, money and privilege will still count.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sleep and the Eleven Plus

There is great excitement in the shires tonight. A mother has just re-invented a Sleep Learning.

She spent the afternoon going over percentages with her ten year child. At one stage both parties were in tears. There were hugs and kisses – and a general air of reconciliation developed – and emerged.

The much loved daughter went to bed – and mother sat beside her for an hour reading the notes they had developed on percentages.

“To find ten percent of a number, simply divide by ten.”

We understand that the daughter finally dropped off to sleep with her mother’s voice extolling the delights of percentages. A few minutes later the mother fell asleep in mid sentence – but continuing to read percentage rules to her daughter.

The mother is working on the theme that the brain keeps working - even when the body is asleep.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eleven Plus Class Sizes

Class sizes up to sixty children were common a hundred years ago. There used to be a single teacher who was both revered and feared. Discipline had to be taut. Control had to be absolute. Pain and beatings were administered for small misdemeanours.

The teachers used lots of drill exercises. The class could not progress at the speed of the most able. The teacher could only allow the class to move forward at the speed of the slowest. The children who learnt quickly were expected to help the less able.

Gradually teachers and educationalists were able to argue that education was there to help a child achieve his or her potential. To achieve this laudable aim class sizes had to drop.

We still have one teacher teaching a class. The size and composition of the class can show considerable variation.

Many of our Eleven Plus children are very bright. We tested a child in one of our centres this week who only made three mistakes on two standardised tests. This places the class teacher in his school under tremendous pressure.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Group Tests and the Eleven Plus

Most of the children are writing Eleven Plus examinations will be writing in a group setting Some children will be in their own school. Other children could be at a variety of venues including the local grammar school, the Authority headquarters and sometimes, a different primary school.

Some children will have the advantage of sitting the examination with their own peer group – while others will be working with strangers in an unfamiliar environment.

Some children will relish the idea of a new setting – because they will be pleased to show just what they can do. Others will be less sure of the physical surroundings.

Before the children go into the examination the test will have been standardised and validated on a large number of children. All children, therefore, will be offered the same set of written and oral instructions.

The reliability of the test can only be questioned if the physical circumstances are vastly different from one group of children to another.

Group tests are naturally going to be less accurate than a test administered on a one to one or more personal basis.

Talk to your child – explain what you think will happen in the actual examination room or hall.

Discuss the toilet facilities.

Explain that even in a group setting, with unfamiliar children all around, that it is essential that your child asks for help if there is a problem. There will be little help once the examination is under way – but your child should ask if he or she does not know exactly what to do.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Challenge of the Eleven Plus

We have been told over and over again that an individual’s intelligence develops as a result of interaction between nature and nurture. We would also like to think that the majority of the children writing the Eleven Plus will have had a broadly normal development. All things being equal; the Eleven Plus children will have enjoyed the fruits of a similar environment. We must presume that if a child attends a good school he or she will be stimulated and extended. We all hope that a good home background will contribute towards good results on intelligence tests.

Psychologists, however, can not agree on what intelligence is so the Eleven Plus Authorities have turned towards reasoning tests as a primary selection tool. A reasoning test is designed to use pre-planned questions in order to arrive at a normal curve of distribution. The questions are analysed on an item by item basis. Questions that do discriminate are kept – and the rest discarded.

The scores on Reasoning Tests are then validated against similar tests – and if all is satisfactory – the test is standardised. All books, papers and Eleven Plus exercises are designed to try to help a child to do as well as possible on the reasoning tests.

At the start of the first `real’ Eleven Plus test we all hope that test sophistication will have a bearing on the final scores. It does not necessarily follow that eleven year old children need to do a practice Eleven Plus paper every day. After all ability to do well on reasoning papers is a combination of a number of different abilities. It would be exciting for all of us if provenance of the present reasoning tests could be challenged.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eleven Plus Relationships

“Thank you, but why do we need to learn algebra?”

Some children are not simply passive learners – they want to know why and how.

Algebra deals mainly with equations, which are mathematical statements. The statements contain an equals sign such as 3x + 6 = 12. Early on in the primary school the algebra is mainly shown in diagrams and drawings. As children move towards the end of KS2 into KS3 more formal notation is used.

When children say that they `love mathematics’ they are often talking about the creative side of mathematics – where they are encouraged to solve problem. We sometimes work with our more able Eleven Plus children on the equation: y = mx + c.

There would be a general outcry if Eleven Plus papers asked children to cope with ‘y = mx and c’, but bright ten year old mathematics can cope – and enjoy.

“Algebra helps to describe relationships between numbers.”

Some teachers and parents are to be envied if there is time to be able to spend a morning exploring the relationships between numbers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Eleven Plus Marking Problems.

There has been lots of discussion on the recent debacle with the results of the SATs tests.

At the turn of the century the `early’ objective tests often had essay questions. The problem then, as today, was that there was considerable difference in the marking. Different examiners marking the same paper would give different marks. The same examiner marking the same paper on a different occasion could give different marks.

This lead objective testing to tend towards lots of short answers. Then along came multiple choice testing. Multiple Choice is the commonest form of objective testing.

The construction and standardisation of tests is done by the large organisations like (NFER) and Moray House.

Reuters has prepared an informative article on the state of progress towards nationwide SATs results.

Within this BBC website
:there is a fascinating article on the problems facing markers.

Eleven Plus examinations are now, however, usually multiple choice.

We sometimes have the pleasure, however, of preparing children for Eleven Plus tests where there are no multiple choice questions on certain papers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eleven Plus Vocabulary

Our children writing Eleven Plus examinations first of all have to know something. They can not write an Eleven Plus examination with some knowledge.

The children also have to understand what they know. It will be almost impossible for them to be able to answer a question on volume without some understanding of the concept.

In some Eleven plus questions our children will need to be able to think. This could be critical thinking – or distinguishing between facts and opinions or even `thinking outside of the box’.

The children will also need to be able to demonstrate technical ability. This could be the ability to read and understand the instructions at the start of a section and then proceed to answer a number of questions correctly.

There is also the question of communication. This is more than an Eleven Plus child communicating with his or her parents, communication be simply writing down the right answer.

We know, for example, that vocabulary is a vital factor in many different types of examinations. A good vocabulary is essential in verbal reasoning.

Suppose the children were asked to define the concept of `orange’.

Some children would immediately opt for the colour orange.

Other children would interpret the definition of orange being a fruit – and thus describe the word orange in terms of a member of a family or grapefruit, lemons and limes.

Any children watching the recent European Football Championships will recall the vast swathes of orange as Holland played. The orange there was celebrating the House of Orange.

To arrive at the right answer in a verbal reasoning test – where the word `orange’ is involved - our children need to be able to follow different thought processes:

They will need to know in which context the word is being used.

They will have to think to distinguish between the different definitions.

They also have to be able to communicate the answer.

Question 1A: The fruit of an evergreen tree
Question 1B: A colour between read and yellow
Question 1C: The colour of a ruling family in Europe

Eleven plus parents will be working with their children on vocabulary but, as we have just seen, even everyday words can stimulate discussion and conjecture. Keep a dictionary close to hand – especially when working through papers. Talk about words and ideas. Help your child to recognise that exploring words can be exciting and refreshing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Eleven Plus

Many years ago Charles Darwin became involved in studying children. He watched their behaviour and development – and presented a picture of children who were genetically structured to adjust to the environment.

His half-cousin, Francis Galton, demonstrated that children really were individuals – and that they conformed to norms.

It was left to Burt, back in 1921, who popularised testing on a more scientific basis.

Today there are many teachers, educationists and parents who feel that the SATs testing at 7, 11 and 14 is un-necessary.

There are also many opponents of Eleven Plus testing. We met a mum at the recent Kent Show who argued vehemently against the Eleven Plus. She maintained that her bright and able child would do just as well, if not better, in a comprehensive school. We wish the family well.

Standardised tests give us the ability to select on as level a playing field as possible. The problem is the tests we are using today to test children are remarkably similar to those set all those years ago when selection tests were first mooted.

After the Second World Way the five day cricket test was all important. Today every one is talking about Twenty Twenty. The game is still cricket – but the rules have changed. We still have two sides. We still have a wicket. There is still a ball, bowlers, fielders and batsmen. Standing at either end there are the umpires. Today, however, the umpires are aided by modern technology – and a match judge. Twenty Twenty is pulling in the crowds. The game is still cricket – but not cricket as it was known fifty years ago. Time has marched on.

Time must also march on for the psychologists who are devising Eleven Plus tests. New and exciting tests are needed. Children today have had TV from birth; they have mobile phones and access to technology that was not even dreamed of fifty years ago. Surely the Eleven Plus tests should reflect this?

Our organisation is responsible for preparing hundreds of children. There are many more thousands of Eleven Plus children working hard towards the examinations. Surely our children deserve more? It is just not cricket!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Eleven Plus Journey

For some children the Eleven Plus examinations represent a form of rite of passage.

Initiation ceremonies prevail in many civilisations. Most of us will carry images of young African children taking part in ceremonies that may seem to be hostile to our eyes. We are also aware of the transition that marked, many years ago, the passage of young Red Indians into adulthood.

At one time the gentle Christian confirmation marked the initiation of children into adults. This was not so much a confirmation ceremony, however, but acceptance into the Church.

For some Eleven Plus children preparing and passing a competitive examination can be likened to some form of initiation. We start with a child, closely protected by parents and teachers, and suddenly thrust `The Candidate’ into the world of competition and work.

Many years ago boys were sent to sea as cabin boys – and then on to become Midshipmen. Imagine your eight year old being pushed onto a ship leaving for far off lands. You would worry that you might not see your child again. Your child would need to adapt from a child centred life to one where everything is adult orientated.

In the Eleven Plus examination your child will be faced with a battery of questions. The work will be timed. You will naturally prepare your child as best you can.

On the day of the examination you will make sure that you offer a healthy meal. You will check for a clean handkerchief. You will offer a warm hug and final words of advice. Your child will leave your arms and go forward bravely (you hope).

To all intents and purposes your child will leave you as a primary school child and return as a potential grammar school pupil. A big jump for both of you!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Handwriting and the Eleven Plus

A very pleasant couple approached me at the Kent Show yesterday and asked if we could help with hand writing. Naturally I went through a short series of key questions:

Is he left handed or right handed? (Right)

How old (14 years)

Where is he at school? (Grammar School in Kent)

Has he always had a problem? (Yes – always.)

What is the problem he is having? (Generally untidy.)

Does he want to improve? (Oh yes. The teachers are complaining – and one teacher said he won’t mark any work next year.)

A few suggestions:

Remind him that his work had to have been relatively neat at one time or else he could not have survived at grammar school.

Point out too that in the days of Queen Elizabeth the First `gentlemen’ had to have neat writing.

Suggest too that most teachers have untidy writing because they see so much untidy writing from their pupils.

Conform that in years to come he won’t have to write any thing down because of computers, phones and keyboards. (At school he has to be neat – or else!)

Some practical points:

Never let any letters touch the line. Always write just above the line.

Space the words very carefully – this makes the writing look regular.

Write with both feet flat on the floor – to drive a good posture.

Angle the page correctly – the page should be faced away from the body.

Work especially on the tails top letters for example the tails on a `y’ or a `g’.

Don’t slouch.

Want to write neatly.

Accept a `big’ bribe gracefully.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Eleven Plus Future

A conversation at today’s Kent Show.

The time about 08.45. (The show opened officially at 09.00.)

A couple walking by our stand:

“Nice to see you again. My two came to your centre some years ago. X. is twenty nine now and Y is twenty seven.”

“Good morning. Thank you for stopping. It is good to see you again.”

“Yes your people were brilliant. Both children loved the centre.”

“Thank you. What do they do now?”

“They both went to university. X is working as a management consultant. Y is still in Kent. He has started on a new job”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is this an Eleven Plus Question?

I heard this at the Kent Show today. Please help.

The scenario: A woman and a child standing a few feet from our stand - deep in conversation:

"I am fourteen years older than you."

"How old are you now?"


"That is right. I had you fourteen years ago."

If any one can work this out - please let me know.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Eleven Plus and a White Paper

There was a Government White Paper in 1958 “Secondary Education For All: A New Drive.” (Sounds familiar?)

The paper contended that since children were different they needed courses that would nourish their individual abilities and interests.

The White Paper felt, however, that that it was wrong for a child’s future to be determined by a selection test at the 11-Plus. The government wanted to experiment with comprehensive education in rural communities – and in selected urban communities.

The major political parties voted against each other – and drew battle lines – just as today.

Today’s parents could look back in their family history and work out who voted for the Eleven Plus – and who was against.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eleven Plus Bullies

I listened to a mum today at the leisure centre. She described the problems her daughter has had with bullying at school. The girl is now ten years old and will be taking her Eleven Plus after the summer holidays.

The girl is very bright. She has found Level 5 work easy to cope with and loves the challenge of new work. She is perfectly happy to tackle hard and demanding questions – and is friendly and unassuming. We have enjoyed her company.

It transpires that she has been bullied at school on a regular basis.

Her parents have followed the correct paths. They have spoken to the various teachers, and the head teacher. The mum said: “The teachers have been brilliant. We could not ask for more.”

The girl has had counselling because, in spite of energetic intervention, the problem has persisted. The bullies, apparently, have been unrelenting.

This is a sad tale. The statement was made that it was unlikely that the bullies would follow the girl to grammar school.

The academically gifted have been persecuted for ages. History abounds with able people who have been hounded and pilloried.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Eleven Plus and the Psychologist

If your daughter showed precocious athletic talent aged nine it is very likely that you would, at some stage, turn to a sports psychologist for help and advice.

You would want the psychologist to help your child to relax and focus – and really pay attention.

You may agree to your child engaging in other forms of exercise – like Andy Murray did very recently with yoga. He was, we are told, aiming at strength and direction. Before that he had attended an academy in Spain to hone and develop his skills.

The wonderful little Laura Robson who won the Wimbledon Junior Girls title had been coached when she was nine years old by Jo Durie. Over the years Laura must have had the best possible preparation.

So here are some of the components of future Eleven Plus champions:

If you feel you need extra help, find best possible teacher who can relate to your child.

Be prepared for you, and your child, to move out of your comfort zone.

Recognise your child’s strengths and weaknesses – and accept them.

Keep smiling and cheering and offer lots of praise even when all seems to be going down hill. After all your child may, at times, be able to fight back.

If some one other than you appears to understand your child better than you – listen and use what you need for your on-going relationship with your child.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

11+ Mothers

A mother mentioned today that she thought she would `put her child in' for a number of Eleven Plus examination.

The first examination would be `as a trial'.

The second examination would be the `real examination'

The other two would be backup tests.

Two of the mathematics examinations are multiple choice.

One examination has a story which is not marked. (Unless it is needed.)

In a different Eleven Plus examination the English is marked.

All four examinations do verbal reasoning. Two with multiple choice and two traditional answers.

Fortunately the `Eleven Plus Candidate' is a bright boy - and should enjoy the challenge.

He will write in four different locations.

If he passes one of the Authority Eleven Plus examinations he will be allowed to appeal to try to reach the school of his choice - even if he has already sat the examination and not passed.

Now most mothers have quite busy days. On top of looking after the family, the spouse, a job and serving as an unpaid taxi driver the poor mum has to try to keep everything in her head. Examination dates, transport problems, extra lessons, horse riding, drama, cricket, and Irish Dancing all have to be satisfied and classified.

We wish the family well.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Parents and the Eleven Plus

Parents sometimes have difficulty in encouraging their children to participate fully in the `Eleven Plus Experience’. Another way of developing this concept is to suggest that the much loved child, on this occasion, simply does not want to do any extra work.

Naturally this calls for a parental pep talk. A pep talk where parents go though the full range of emotions. One moment they are appealing to their child’s better side, the next a threatening frown flutters across the face and then the straight forward bribe is offered. Only a parent can rationalise all these three threads into one three minute pep talk.

You child needs to understand that it is essential that he or she is attentive.

It is also important that your child wants to learn.

And thirdly the work must be appropriate. It is no good asking for a speed test on a full Eleven Plus paper when your child simply does not feel like doing the work.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Eleven Plus Food

“You have had your chips. I am going to sort this out!”

If you tell your child that he or she had had his chips it either means that something bad is going to happen or that he or she is going to get what is deserved.

The Schools Minister has just announced children at secondary school are going to have to stay at school at lunch time to encourage healthier eating. Primary school children have much less freedom to leave the school’s premises within school hours.

When you child arrives at grammar school, after all that hard work, it could be that a basic freedom is denied. No lunch time chips.

This means that there is possibly a third meaning, which your Eleven Plus child will have to get used to. “You have had your chips,” may mean no more than no more potato chips until your child has left school.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Starting Eleven Plus Work.

Four sets of parents asked today:

"My son is leaving Year Three. When should he start lessons?"

"Is he reading?"

"Yes, a little, but he loves maths."

"Please encourage him to read. Develop his reading vocabulary. He will find that he needs a strong reading vocabulary."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sats and Eleven Plus

We heard today that the SATs results are to be delayed by a week.

Poor children.
Poor parents.
Poor teachers.
How sad for every head teacher.

We hope that this will not happen to the Eleven Plus results.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Eleven Plus Examinations

"Have you got your phone, dear?"

"Yes mum."

"Is it fully charged?"

Yes thank you mum."

"Did your sister give you back your sim card?"

"Yes thank you mum."

"You are not on pay as you go. You are on a new contract so you take your time over the answers. Don't rush!"

"Yes mum."

Conversations like this will be taking place all over England when a radical change is made to the Eleven Plus examinations. Children will be tested through their mobile phones. They won't need to sit in stiff rows answering questions. They will be able to `chill' and do their examinations in comfort. Many boys and girls will love the challenge of the new technology.

Eleven Plus standards will rise. Grammar schools will benefit.


Because a lecturer has found a new way of communicating with his students. We can use this leap in technology to force through much needed changes to the way the Eleven Plus examinations are administered.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Eleven Plus Papers

There is more to preparing for the Eleven Plus than working through a range of Eleven Plus papers. We need to draw a little picture. We have a boy who is the `top’ groups at school. He is well liked by everyone in the class, good at games and enjoys work. He tells his parents that he wants to go to grammar school.

The family go out to buy the latest Eleven Plus papers. They also download lots of free papers. They lay the papers out all over the floor and try to get a picture of just how much has to be done. They down load a copy of the prospectus from the internet.

The next morning the family drive to the nearest grammar school and walk as far as they can around the perimeter. They sit in the shadow of a big tree and pass pages of the prospectus around. The family then find the nearest bus stop and work out the logistics of school journeys.

This then is evidence of good preparation – possibly even establishing an Eleven Plus framework. But when the hammer beats down how will our Eleven Plus candidate react?

He will need to be able to cope with lots of verbal information. He will need to learn facts, make generalisations and, at times, think!

He will need to be able to demonstrate that he has high level intellectual skills. It is a temptation to call a person an `intellectual’ when they are given the opportunity to be able to demonstrate their wide vocabulary.

He will need to have the right attitude. He must be able to listen – and reflect. He must be willing to learn. He must want to `get to grammar’.

Finally, he must want to work through a selection of Eleven Plus papers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Are Eleven Plus Children the Elite?

In any discussion on the Eleven Plus the question of elitism must be aired. Why should bright and able children be offered extra resources when it is possible that they should be able to make good use of the existing educational system?

A number of Eleven Plus children must fall into the group called the very able or `gifted’. We, in Etc, are sometimes privileged to be able to work with children who are in the top one or two percent of the population. We then have the opportunity of being able to try to help to develop the children in a variety of way.

As we are dealing with nine to eleven year olds we are sometimes able to discuss the type of Eleven Plus work with the child and the parents. Some `families’ opt for acceleration so that the child is able to do the work of older children. We have a specialist Eleven Plus room in one of our centres where very bright children can meet once a week and work together in an atmosphere of endeavour and excitement. Other children, and their parents, simply prefer enrichment and more directed Eleven Plus work.

Coping with a wide range of Eleven Plus children does demand a need for individualised learning programs. Many of our brighter children love having the feeling of control over their work. Some children are perfectly happy to work on their own, at times, and relish in a struggle to solve problems. Some of the less able candidates prefer to have the work explained to them in fine detail. Occasionally, however, we meet a really bright child who demands to have work explained – just to be able to have the opportunity of engaging in endless discussions and arguments.

We do expect `Eleven Plus’ children to make a significant contribution later on in life. Some of the Eleven Plus children will go on to become important leaders. Naturally some children who did not go to grammar school will also emerge as leaders. Attending a grammar school will open some doors – but not every door. Thank goodness that `born leaders’ will emerge from a wide spectrum of schools.