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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?

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