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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eleven Plus Lessons

When we are working with some very bright children we are continually challenged to provide bright and meaningful lessons. We have, for example, some children with us who will pass the Eleven Plus without any extra help from us. These children will not really benefit from Eleven Plus papers and exercises – because they can already do the work. The parents are aware that the children do not need regular work on papers; the children too know that there is not much for them to do. The children come because they quite simply enjoy themselves.

The Foundation GCSE paper of the WJEC lasts for two hours. Candidates are asked to spend around 50 minutes on Section A. Section B is made up of two questions with 35 minutes for Question B1 and 35 minutes for Question B 2. There are 40 marks for Section A and 40 marks for Section B.

Question A1 of a recent paper asked the candidates to read a leaflet and find five places in Warwick Castle to visit. (5 marks). This is quite an easy question and all the children have to do is make a list.

In Question A2 the candidates are tasked to find 5 pieces of information. (5 marks) Once again this is reasonably easy for a child with a high reading age.

Question A3 read: “How did the leaflet persuade you to visit the castle?” (10 marks) Some children fall down when they demonstrate that they are not sure of how to write persuasive language.

Question A4 required a different article to be read and Question A5 needed a comparison between the two sources. (10 marks each). The children are likely to have read the first passage carefully (covering questions 1 – 3) but some may tend to skim the second and shorter passage that is used in A4 and A5.

Our brighter Eleven Plus children can usually cope very easily with questions one to three. They tend to struggle with A5 (10 marks) – simply because comparing two passages is not a skill taught at the eleven year level in most primary schools.

The Questions in Section B are different. This part of the GCSE paper looks at writing skills including presentation. There is a stern warning about the need to take special care with handwriting, spelling, punctuation and layout.

There is also a highlighted suggestion that: “The quality of writing is more important than its length. You should write about one or two pages in your answer book.”

Question B1 was an article recommending places to visit. Question B was a letter to the newspaper about the proposal by a business man to hold an outdoor music festival in the area.

Why not allow some of our super bright eleven plus children to have a go at trying to reach a `C’ grade in at least GCSE English and mathematics? They could then `bank’ these results until they were needed on their C.V. The teachers at grammar school would surely welcome the idea of having certificated children in their top Year 7 classes – thus allowing a much wider curriculum and truly innovative teaching.

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