Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eleven Plus Rules

Always put something down - especially in tests incorporating multiple choice answers.

Read the question and you think you know what you have to do.

Read the question before writing the answer.

A few random guessed answers can not do any harm.

Do not spend too long on a question. It will be a remarkable question that will trip you up completely.

Look for a different approach if you cannot see a solution in a `reasonable' time.

When you can look back over your answers. Concentrate on questions you may have found hard.

Eleven Plus Thoughts

"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there is some corner of a foreign field
This is for ever England."

Rupert Brook was writing about `The Soldier'.

Perhaps one day one of our Eleven Plus children will become as revered and well known as him. Perhaps someday one will write some stirring lines that begin:

"As I have passed, thank you to all concerned:
Thank you dear parents, and thank you - my teachers too
Without you, I may not have passed."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Eleven Plus Mathematics

The steps an Eleven Plus child, as well as those of the parent, go through when trying to understand a mathematics problem, are many and varied. The child has to understand the problem. The parent also has to understand the problem. Then, after many shifts and turns, one person will start nodding as the argument is proved.

The steps towards full comprehension are many and varied. The order of progress towards that `Eureka’ moment will change according to circumstances.

First of all one or other of the two parties will need to try to come up with a solution.

A period of reflection will then take place. The hypothesis will be examined.

The answer then needs to be explained and while this is going on there will be an element of self verification.

Communicating the steps leading up to the answer needs to be executed in a peaceful and purposeful manner.

This is the stage where the infamous: “But I don’t understand!” comes in.

There then needs to be a very big effort to understand the other person’s take on the solution. The first examination of the answer could be provoke heated discussion.

The words: “I am sorry. You were right,” could be whispered around the house.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Understanding Eleven Plus Questions

At a certain stage on our second Eleven Plus course we encourage the children to work together in pairs or a small group for around twenty minutes.

We present a number of problems – and inform the children that the problems represent the final two questions on a demanding eleven plus examination paper. To understand the relevance of this exercise we need to understand the social conditions the children have been working in. On course the children have been exposed to a number of Eleven Plus mathematics questions. The answers are not obvious and the solutions sometimes demand at least two or three working stages.

Because the children are on a pre Eleven Plus course we should be able to take it for granted that at least one of the parents will have used words like: “Do your best, and don’t worry.” It is difficult to imagine any parents saying: “Get in there and beat every other child.” Equally, few parents will say: “If you see another child who is stuck, then slow down and give them as much help as you can.”

Children from different schools and backgrounds readily work together on this problem solving exercise. Some of the questions are not typical eleven plus questions. After all we are trying to give the children confidence in tacking new types of problems and engage in a very different approach to that found in the traditional Eleven Plus papers.

We try not to offer questions like this:

185 (141) 97
89 ( ) 103

In this case the answer is found by adding the numbers outside the brackets and halving the result.

Some questions can be answered with logic:

A portion of the floor of a bathroom is to be covered with 36 tiles arranged in a grid 9 by 4. The decorator only wants back and white tiles.

There can be no straight rows (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) of three adjacent white tiles. What is the smallest number of black tiles that are needed?

Naturally a question like this can not appear in an actual Eleven Plus paper for one reason or another. Children on an Eleven Plus course can, however, enjoy some social interplay while they try to solve the problem.

In a charged situation like the one described it is likely that any last minutes words of advice from a well meaning parent are forgotten. The glory of the hunt for a logical solution will cause the blood to pound and the heartbeat to rise. The children immediately throw out all restraint and challenge each other. The spirit of competition holds sway – but co-operation is also paramount.

Why do we present the children with really difficult questions? We know that many children spend too much time trying to answer a question when they have not read the question carefully. The main idea of the children work in a small group is to try to help them understand just how much time is spent trying to answer a question – when they have not read the question fully.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eleven Plus Levels

We often use the words: “Oh yes, he (she) has reached an Eleven Plus level.

In the narrowest sense this could mean that the child has passed, or has the potential to pass, an Eleven Plus examination.

The words could also mean that the child is mentally ready to cope with not only Eleven Plus work, but also the pressures of an Eleven Plus examination.

Some children may be working at or around an Eleven Plus level for the duration of the pre examination preparation. Other children may have the ability to rise to the occasion and then surprise all concerned.

Reaching an Eleven Plus level may refer to one subject only – and not necessarily to the whole examination.

Some parents may choose to hear that the much loved child has reached an Eleven Plus level through the medium of standardised tests. Another child may be awarded the `Reached Eleven Plus Level’ accolade simply on the basis of the experience of the teacher.

It must be comforting for many parents when they realise that the eleven plus examination does not need to be approached in a set manner. One mother may, for example, prefer to work through eleven plus papers with her child, while a different parent may prefer to adopt a more diverse system.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eleven Plus Opportunities

Parents must often wonder just how to help their child to make as full a use as possible of all the opportunities that available. We have had some fantastic Eleven Plus Results. In Kent the children sit three papers – covering mathematics as well as verbal and non verbal reasoning. Full marks is represented by a standardised score of 140. One of our boys, in our centre at Dartford, scored 140 on all three papers. Full congratulations to the boy, his teachers at school, our tutor (Jenny) and her assistants. It is the parents, however, who need most praise for affording their child the opportunity to do well.

Sitting down and spending time chatting about examinations is an example of an opportunity.

A different set of opportunities lie in the hands of the teacher and the school. A sympathetic listening head and a caring and involved teacher must help.

Providing the right materials in the form of books, papers, CDs and access to the internet must ensure that the child has the best possible chance.

The magic steps to progress must include making a full analysis of the subject matter.

Looking carefully at examination requirements is required. Earlier a mother brought in around ten different Eleven Plus books that she had used with her son for the Eleven Plus. Her son had written everything in pencil – and the mother explained that she could rub every thing out and thus reuse the books with her daughter. This was all well and good. The boy, however, had sat an examination covering English, mathematics and verbal reasoning. The girl was to sit an examination which entailed a deep study of verbal and non verbal reasoning. Very little of the work the son had done was relevant.

The parents then have to think about providing the best possible emotional setting. I will always be able to recall the hurt on a girl’s face a few years ago when her parents stood outside the classroom door and wanted to talk. The Eleven Plus examination was the following week. The parents announced that they were separating. They followed with a bald statement that because the mother was going to be living in a smaller house, their daughter would not be sitting the Eleven Plus. It seems that the mother would have to move just outside the zoned area.

The bright, able and intelligent girl stood in stony silence. Events had overtaken her. The decision made by the parents was cataclysmic and unwelcome. I hold to today that she would have earned a place in a grammar school by sheer ability.

We never saw the girl again – or heard from her parents. What did happen in the end? Why didn’t the parents wait another five days to allow their much loved daughter to sit the examination? What happened to the poor parents in this drama? We had known the family for just over a year – and had enjoyed many chats about work, the family holidays and life in general.

There never can be a best time for parents to break up. A few days, however, before a `big’ examination, is possibly not the best possible time. What price opportunity?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eleven Plus Motivation

What motivates an Eleven Plus child to do well in the examinations?

For many children the motivation factors will be far more than chocolates, money and approval. There will be a self generated `good feeling’ factor which will grow as the child begins to recognise that a pass at the Eleven Plus is achievable.

Every time a child answers a group of questions correctly the confidence must grow and the child must feel better.

Just think of your child faced with a `big’ puzzle. Piece by piece the puzzle will build. It is highly unlikely that your child will want to complete the puzzle if offered mere `rewards’ of money or similar treats. The child will become driven by the satisfaction of completing the puzzle.

He or she may state: “I am going to finish this puzzle”. But making a statement like that will not be enough to drive the child to complete the task.

It may not be enough for a child working on a puzzle to hear: “Oh, he is so clever. He can do anything. He will finish puzzle come what may.”

Your child will need the inner satisfaction and drive that will come when success begins to tell its own story.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eleven Plus Knowledge

Eleven Plus children are not repositories for Eleven Plus `knowledge'.

Eleven Plus children must be able to make use of the different experiences they are offered.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Preparing An Eleven Plus Child

At times children working towards the Eleven Plus must wonder why examinations were invented. Of course examinations have a vital role in education. They provide:

Information to the child about progress
Knowledge to parents about development
Feed back to the teacher to evaluate what has been taught - and where more teaching is needed.

The results of competitive public tests are used to select candidates for further education. Schools allow children into the sixth form if they have gathered a specified number of GCSEs. The admissions departments of universities use results to decide who should be offered a place. Of course employers use examination results to select aspiring candidates.

The earliest formal examinations were conducted by the Chinese Imperial Service over 2000 years ago. The examinations were established to try to eliminate nepotism and other unfair processes.

The aim of the Eleven Plus was to try to predict future success. In order to achieve success parents and children have to work hard.

At the Horniman Museum, in South London, today there were two great attractions.
The first was an entrancing exhibition `UTSAVAM - MUSIC FROM INDIA’. The drummers and dancers were wonderful – not only in their precision but in their willingness to listen and learn.

None of this would have happened without the support of the parents.

There was also a new aquarium – with some wonderful creatures of the depth.

So what makes an Eleven Plus child? You need ability. You need imaginative parents. You need a reason to try to pass the examination. Exposing your children to the culture of local museums is likely to contribute towards a well prepared Eleven Plus child.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eleven Plus Knowledge

How much knowledge does a child need to have in order to pass an Eleven Plus examination?

There is no straight forward answer. Perhaps Sissa ben Dahir could have come close to answering the question. You will, no doubt, recall that he was offered a reward for inventing the game of chess. He asked a grain of wheat to be placed on the first square, two grains on the second square, four grains on the third square and eight grains on the fourth square. He wanted enough wheat to be able to cover all 64 squares on the chess board.

The King asked him why he has coveted so little.

Sissa ben Dahir explained that he had asked for more wheat than was in the whole kingdom. He had asked for two to the power of sixty four grains of wheat! This was 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 grains of wheat!

Eleven Plus parents simply have to start at the beginning and add grains of knowledge one square at a time. A little bit one day, a bit more the next and let the knowledge build and build.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eleven Plus Methods

At times scorn is thrown at `Traditional Teaching’. One objection to formal learning is that the teaching tends to become over generalised and thus becomes inadequate. More progressive methods are intended to try to cater for the needs of individual children. It really depends on what is being taught and by whom. A choir would be hard pressed to learn to sing in parts without a firm conductor.

In an effort to find an appropriate Eleven Plus method teachers and parents may need to experiment with a variety of methods at one time or another in the cycle of an Eleven Plus adventure.

The first, and possible the most obvious, would be to suggest some form of indoctrination. Here the teacher, or the parent, would be trying to instill a set of values and a positive attitude towards being examined.

A different form of Eleven Plus teaching could try to contain strong elements of conditioning. Here the teaching would probably attempt to include elements of the casual assimilation of knowledge.

A successful Eleven Plus tutor might be recognised as being highly skillful in helping a child to pass an examination. An Eleven Plus child, however, may need more than skillful teaching. What to teach and how to teach is a complex and emotional subject. Parents of Eleven Plus children have lots to think and talk about!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eleven Plus Results

Waiting for the Bexley 11+ test results today my mind kept thinking: “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”.

Just over six hundred Eleven Plus children were tested, or had lessons or came on courses with us last year. We are waiting hopefully for results.

Please let us know!

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eleven Plus Selection

I have in my possession a 1901 copy of `A FIRST LATIN COURSE’ (Thirty-Eighth Edition) by the late Sir William Smith. The book is a little battered now but it carries the name `Aubrey E Carr’.

It is pleasant to think of grammar school children over many years learning Latin. I wonder which school `Aubrey E Carr’ attended. Did a deep seated love of the language evolve? Did `Aubrey E Carr’ every use anything at all from all the hours of study? The book does not claim any thing more than: “For the Use of the Lower Forms in Public and Private Schools”.

A quote from the preface reads: “In some cases boys had been compelled to commit to memory all the grammatical forms and syntactical rules without having their knowledge tested by practical application.”

As I looked through some verbal reasoning questions with a very bright nine year old today I was struck by the fact that this boy was gaining knowledge without any practical application.

Page 4 of the primer reads: “When two Nouns in Latin are connected by the verb `to be,’ they are put in the same case: as Britannia est insula, Britain is an island.

I hesitate to copy out the section of the verbal reasoning we were working on today for two reasons. The first is a fear of breaching copyright. The second is that many parents will immediately identify the section.

In one hundred years time some parents may look back on work produced for past generations of Eleven Plus children. The parents could come across some of the content of an `Eleven Plus Primer’. They would turn to each other and say: “How on earth did children manage to be educated to a good standard when they were faced with such an arcane method of selection?”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eleven Plus Research

It has taken a long time. The penny drops for some people very quickly. Others need `a little more time’. Perhaps this Eleven Plus blog has, at last, come up with a solution.

The question is:

“Who will fund research into finding new ways to assess Eleven Plus children?”

Back in 1890 the good folk of England allowed the `Whiskey Money Act of 1890’ to be promulgated. This was a tax on spirits where the money was credited to the county councils to allocate the money as they thought fit. The original scheme was for the money to be used to for police superannuation and the partly for the purchase of publican’s licences in order to buy up redundant public houses.

This proposal was challenged and the money was used to support technical education in England. Counties were given a free hand and 93 out of 129 councils spent their `whiskey money’ on technical education.

It is easy to see where this line of thought is going. We need to revive a long forgotten tax and use this money to fund research into the Eleven Plus. Naturally the money would need to be collected locally – and there would be no need, initially, for any to land up in the coffers of the treasury.

All it would take is for every mother and father of an Eleven Plus child to buy a bottle of whiskey. The tax would be used to fund researchers, educators and psychologists.

Eventually the Government would want to jump onto the band wagon. An `Eleven Plus Quango’ would be established. There would be a `Minister of the Eleven Plus’. In time the minister would have a full department. The first `Minister of the Eleven Plus’ would be honoured and find a place in the House of Lords.

The Act of Parliament would be called: “The Eleven Plus Whiskey Act’ 2008”.

Every parent who sipped a little dram of 20 year old would be `doing good’ for the youth of England. How proud would they feel?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eleven Plus Competition

Competition for entry to grammar schools is heavy; not only because of the limited number of places, but because of the associated prestige.

To qualify for entry does not, however, guarantee a place.

What we need is a new White Paper that will look at a new shape for entrance requirements.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eleven Plus Planning

“This is my first Eleven Plus child. I have heard so many different stories about the eleven plus that I am not all that sure what I should do. Some say get a tutor, others say why bother – do it all yourself. I have heard that last year’s examination was quite hard, and I don’t know how much I will need to push my child.”

Step 1: Find out what subjects your child will need to study. Some English papers, for example, are called `English’ because there is a multiple choice comprehension exercise. Other English papers may require a written story.

Step 2: Make a plan. It is easy to change the plan in the light of further knowledge – but you do need to start somewhere.

Step 3: What ever you do, it is wrong to rely simply on working your child through paper after paper – you, and your child, will need a lot more structure.

Step 4: Work out when and how your child will learn. Once again, this needs to be a flexible arrangement to fit in with the rest of the family

Step 5: Work out how you are going to evaluate progress.

“Oh, he is doing fine,” will suit some mothers but not others.

To help new parents through the mysteries of the Eleven Plus there is a large body of literature, a wealth of opinion and a network of interested people. All that parents can do is to listen, share, wonder and participate.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Eleven Plus and Communication

Over many years the word mandrake has conjured up a vision of a drug that so powerful that men and women have craved it.

In `Anthony and Cleopatra’ Shakespeare used the word to describe a woman driven to despair.

Cleopatra: Ha, ha! Give me to drink mandragora.

Charmian: Why, madam?

Cleopatra: That I might sleep out this great gap of time. My Antony is away.

Parents may sometimes feel that there is a gap between their knowledge of the Eleven Plus and the steps they need to take to help their child pass the examination.

There could be a gap between what the teacher at school is permitted to say and what the parent wants to hear.

There could be a gap between the dreams of a mother and the needs and desires of the Eleven Plus child.

A gap could arise between a tutor and a pupil.

There could, sometimes, be a gap between the expertise of the teacher and the demands of the child.

In all the above uses of the word `gap’ we are looking at an imbalance – or some form of disparity. The different forms of gap need to be filled in different ways. Some gaps can be completed with knowledge. Understanding some one else’s points of view could help. It does seem, however, that many gaps in Eleven Plus knowledge can be filled by communication.

After all Cleopatra did herself away with an asp – because she thought that all was lost. If only Anthony had been able to text her in real time - and tell her his feelings. Then the two of them may have gone on to produce offspring capable of passing the Eleven Plus.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Variables Affecting Eleven Plus Results

There are a number of variables that will affect a child’s performance in the Eleven Plus examinations. Each child will affected differently by the preparation and the events of the actual examination. Some factors will include:

The examination room condition
The extent of preparation
Attitude of the child towards the tests
Mother’s final pep talk. (Don’t worry dear, just do your best.)
Dad’s last minute advice. (Go get them Tiger!)
Visits to the toilet.
Late night.
Examination nerves.

Teachers and tutors have luxury of being able to take some of these factors into account when they are talking to mothers and fathers. Building a coherent picture of the child is easier after a few lessons and tests. “Oh yes, he is doing fine,” may be true at a certain stage of the preparation – but not as valid if offered the day before the actual examination.

The term `continuous assessment’ can be used to describe the terms of a child’s preparation – but the final examination is a one off. The Eleven Plus is one examination that can not be re-taken.

Of course parents could monitor scores on test papers themselves.

Suppose Heather scored:

Paper 1 2 3 4 5
Mark 45 50 40 45 50

The average mark Heather reaches is 46. (Average is total divided by number.)

We can now see how variable these marks are by calculating the variance from the average:

1 45 -1
2 50 +4
3 40 -6
4 45 -1
5 50 +4

If a variation from the mean suddenly grew to a remarkably high number then a fluctuation could be due to far more than `examination nerves’ or `illness’.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Comparing Eleven Plus Papers

A problem that parents are faced with is how well their child is doing as work towards the Eleven Plus progresses.

“My son always gets over 80% on papers. He finds them easy. His tutor says he should pass the Eleven Plus.”

“My son is only reaching around 50% on papers. His tutor says he should pass the Eleven Plus.”

Which papers were they? Published by whom?

At what stage of the Eleven Plus journey was the paper administered?

Did the tutor or teacher help `just a little’ during the course of the exercise?

Had the child done the paper before? Had the answers been explained?

Had the mum or dad been through the paper the night before pointing out potential problems?

Was the paper done late at night or after a good night’s sleep?

We have children who are being prepared for a number of Eleven Plus boards or entrance tests. The content of the mathematics syllabus could be different for two children sitting side by side. A girl could be asked to write and essay for one board – but only do verbal reasoning for another.

80% on a recognised Eleven Plus paper could be very different from 80% on a downloaded paper. An underlying assumption that parents have to accept is that the papers are comparable.

Naturally any one involved in the extensive Eleven Plus market will try hard to ensure that the elements of a paper are broadly comparable with other papers. As the market stands at the moment any one can build an Eleven Plus paper and publish their work.

Parents, therefore, have the ability to choose what sort of paper they would like their child to work through. If their child is being tutored then the tutor might recommend a particular set of papers. The parent can naturally follow the advice – and then still go out and purchase a different set of papers.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Constructing an Eleven Plus Test

Do the men and women who develop the Eleven Plus tests try to present tests that are theoretically sound or are they building tests to select Eleven Plus children who have had access – and exposure - to T.V., the internet, ipods and mobile phones?

A number of the present Eleven Plus Selection books, that are available in bookshops or over the internet, were developed some years ago. Some children, however, are still confronted with questions like: `Which letter occurs in stream but not in disaster?’ Children today can go on MSN and communicate. Our eleven year old children can download music from a website and then share their labours with friends and family.

The people child write the actual Eleven Plus Tests must have a theoretical picture of what an ideal Eleven Plus child should look like. The picture painted by authors of books designed to help children pass the Eleven Plus does, however, seem rather gloomy at times.

A theoretical psychologist sets up construct a test with an expected outcome. Suppose, for example, one criteria for a successful Eleven Plus child was to be able to cook a cake. Cookery schools would develop in all Eleven Plus areas. We would be offered questions like:

“The correct term used to describe baking a cake is: A. burning B. cooking C. roasting D. freezing.”

If a preset number of children are able to answer the question correctly then the cooking question would be included in the test. (Naturally the question should discriminate between a child who should pass the Eleven Plus, and one who should fail.)

When one day there is a concerted push from parents to demand a rethink of what should be in an Eleven Plus test, then perhaps we may be urged to try to develop our Eleven Plus children in new and innovative ways.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Chances of passing the Eleven Plus

How bright do you have to be to pass the Eleven Plus?

Francis Galton learned to read at the age of two and a half. He signed his name at three and wrote a letter at four. The day before his fifth birthday he wrote the following letter to his sister Adele:

Mt dear Adele, I am 4 years old and can read any English book. I can say all the Latin substantives and adjectives and active verbs besides 52 lines of Latin poetry. I can cast up any sum in addition and multiply by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10. I can also say the pence table. I can read French a little and I know the clock.

Francis Galton
February 1827.

It is obvious that Galton had a good start in life. He turned out to be an eminent man. He had the advantage of three elements:

Natural ability
Personality traits

So how bright do you have to be to pass the Eleven Plus?

It seems you need ability.

You need to have a desire to pass the examination.

You need inspiring support from parents, school, teachers, family and peers.

Parents often ask teachers: “Will my child pass the Eleven Plus?”

All the teacher has to answer is: “Well he has the ability, the desire and the right support. I would say he does have a good chance.”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eleven Plus Common Sense

Today, a little offering of common sense. Which of the following statements are `True' and which are `False'?

The marriage of cousins is likely to result in children of inferior intelligence.

Long slender hands indicate artistic temperament.

Especially intelligent children are likely to be weak and retarded physically.

Eleven Plus children are likely to become stressed.

Common sense observations are likely to be superficial. We need to listen to others - but make up our own minds.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Eleven Plus Syllabus

A famous psychologist called J. S. Bruner, although an American would have influenced the education of many of the people reading this account. He was concerned, among other things, with trying to make the curriculum better.

In his book: ‘The Process of Education’ he argued that teaching specific topics or skills without making their context in the broader fundamental structure of the field of knowledge is uneconomical.

In Eleven Plus Terms this is like expecting a child to pass an Eleven Plus examination by working purely through a prescribed range of selection papers.

In the first place it makes it very difficult for the eleven plus child to be able to generalise from what he or she has learnt to what will be encountered later.

In a selection paper there could be a question about division of fraction before a question on lowest terms. Most teachers would agree that it is probably better for the child to have a working knowledge of lowest terms before tackling division of fractions.

If a child feels that a subject is worth knowing then he or she may be in a position to make the knowledge usable is a different situation.

A child may know, for example, that Area = Length times Width, but may be unsure of how to multiply out the area of a shape that 3⅜ cms x 2⅝ cms. To achieve the correct answer a child needs to know what an improper faction is. The mixed number has to be changed to an improper to top heavy fraction. Some children may immediately change the fractions to decimal fractions. We would thus have 3.375 times 2.625. This combination of numbers may be easier for some to handle.

If a child does not have a coherent collection of skills then it is likely that the child, even a very bright eleven plus child, will forget what has been learnt.

Eleven Plus parents who work with their children may find that they are best served by followed a recognised Eleven Plus syllabus.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Eleven Plus Mistakes

To pass an Eleven Plus examination means that a child has had to answer a number of questions – with remarkably few mistakes. It is rather sad to think that lots of questions with few mistakes ensure a successful Eleven Plus outcome.

The role of the Eleven Plus teacher then becomes one of trying to make sure that their child makes as few mistakes as possible. The teacher, therefore, has to give the child the methods and techniques of answering questions with out making mistakes.

This ensures that `mistake – avoidance’ becomes one of the main educational aims of eleven plus preparation.

The more experienced the teacher at anticipating where a child will make mistakes, the more likely the child is to pass the examination.

Avoiding mistakes offers us a totally gloomy approach to the eleven plus.

The heads of grammar schools must have at their `disposal’ some of the finest teachers in the land. Surely these `super teachers’ can come together to propose a new battery of eleven plus tests that allow children to make mistakes?

When these dedicated grammar school teachers look at their Year 7 children, they must see children who want to learn, and who have worked hard to earn a place. They must also worry that some of their children may have become preoccupied with a culture of avoiding errors.

Could the eleven plus examinations have provoked a climate where originality is stifled?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Eleven Plus Apprentices

In the tale of Oliver Twist Mr Sowerberry took on Oliver as an apprentice. Oliver was not very happy about this so wandered around with a rather miserable face. Mr Sowerberry was an undertaker, so there was no wonder that Oliver was not all that happy. Oliver’s role was to attend funeral of children.

For many poor children becoming an apprentice must have been a wonderful opportunity. An apprentice would usually have had food and lodging along with an opportunity to learn a trade. The ambitious apprentice could, in time, become a master - with all the attendant perks of the job.

Many parents have a dream about their children following an academic career. There could be a real opportunity for a team of CRB checked academics to take on a team of young pre Eleven Plus children and guide them towards an academic career.

The children would have to work through Eleven Plus papers for no more four hours a day. Two hours would be spent in reading improving books. Twenty minutes each day would need to be spent on maintaining an on-line diary that was accessible to their parents. The day would fill up very quickly.

It would not take long for some children to become involved and caught up in the race for academia.

Indeed some children would be able to turn to their savants, and plead in heart breaking tones: “Please Sir, I want some more Verbal Reasoning.”

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Eleven Plus Journey

Year 5 parents are no doubt talking about the approaching Eleven Plus examination – after all the September / October 2009 examinations are barely a year away.

An early point of discussion by parents must be as to what kind of experiences are needed to ensure that their child wants to learn.

Parents are also going to endure exhaustive research into what kind of resources are necessary to help their child prepare.

There will need to be some thought about whether the extra work should be formal, informal or a combination.

Parents no doubt will be able to be immensely creative in their desire for answers that will suit their child’s circumstances. Parents also know that rewarding their children for hard work and success is an essential part of the Eleven Plus process.

During the Eleven Plus journey, parents will at some time or another, plan, research, discuss, be creative and also be unafraid of giving praise when it is due.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

True Eleven Plus Ability

When parents are chatting about the Eleven Plus the point is sometimes made that the Eleven Plus fails to get at the true ability of their child. Parents naturally feel that a child’s ability to do well on reasoning and mathematics is affected by his home background and other social factors. “My child comes from a good home. His dad went o grammar. We work on papers every night. He has a wonderful tutor.”

Parents hope that if they find out about the Eleven Plus, buy books and work with their child they will enhance the child’s ability to do well on different types of Eleven Plus tests.

The question of home background affecting scores could possibly be true in a town setting where children come together from many different backgrounds.

Some Eleven Plus children, however, come from a similar background. The children could, for example, come mainly from a leafy suburb. Their primary schools would be generally similar. The backgrounds of the home would also be very comparable.

If the Eleven Plus examination sat by these children only looked at reasoning, then we could expect that the test should be able to find the `true ability’ of the child.

Once we look for `true ability’ in mathematics and English a vast number of other factors could affect the Eleven Plus results.