Search This Blog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Eleven Plus Problems

One of the problems of the eleven plus is that the examination makes an assumption that all children are in the same state on the day of the examination.

Just think - what must run through your child's mind when you say: "Well dear, today you are going to take your eleven plus."

Some adults become almost hysterical at the idea of being tested in one way or another. How is it possible that we expect all the eleven plus children to enter the examination room and then behave in a similar manner?

It does seem that what is being tested, in the some children, is the amount and the extent of eleven plus preparation. You want to give your child a menu of lots of papers and tests, the best possible tuition and then expect the your child to walk into the examination and perform to the best of his or her ability.

All parents can do is the best they can. It is, however, a sobering thought.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eleven Plus Programs

Set 4
An Introduction to Eleven Plus Programs

Page 1

Are 492 and 0.29 both written in the decimal system?

Answer A: Both 492 and 0.29 are part of the decimal system - Page 4

Answer B: Only 0.29 is writ en in the decimal system - Page 8

Page 4

You are correct both 492 and 0.29 are part of the decimal system.

The decimal system uses a base of 10.

If you have heard of a different number system go to Page 12

If there is no other system go to Page 2

Learning like this may appeal to some children. They would enjoy the journey - and like the feeling that they are in charge of their own destiny.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why should children pass the Eleven Plus?

Apart from saving the fees at a top class independent school, why would parents want their children to pass the eleven plus?

It has been estimated that:

A primary school education increases a man’s productivity by 50%.

Secondary school education by 110%

University education by 315%.

Parents will want to try to explain these thought to their children by a variety of practical methods. There must be flaws in the following arguments.

Method One. Use a big juicy apple.
Take an apple as the whole. Cut it into three parts – representing the 300%. Take one section so we are now down to one third – or around the 100% mark. Cut this last third in half and we are down to 50%. Dog the pip out and this is where education starts to count.

Method Two. Empty the piggy bank.
Count 315 pennies into one pile.
Count 110 into another pile.
Count 50 into another pile.
Place one small penny all by itself.

Use the evidence to try to drive home the need to keep working and trying hard.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eleven Plus Mathematics Books

We are often asked about mathematics books parents can use with their children. The problem with papers is that they set questions – but do not always help the children with setting out of examples and the steps leading up to the correct answer.

The Edexel Foundation GCSE Mathematics book, Heinemann, ISBN 978-0-435534-08-0 provides part of the solution. The sections on algebra look particularly clearly laid out.

A bright eleven plus child man enjoy the two sample GCSE Foundation papers. As eleven plus children approach their examination they could be surprised to see just how well they can do on a GCSE Foundation paper.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eleven Plus Communication

Teachers at school, parents in their social settings and eleven plus tutors all play a part in helping the eleven plus child towards the examination. Some children will readily work at home through papers - other children may need a little more help.

The intricacies of the eleven plus examination emerge slowly. Parents can not hope to master the content of the examination without learning about the examination, themselves and their children.

There is a wealth of information around about the types of questions that will be asked and how the questions will be presented in the examination. The teacher at school, however, can not be wholly responsible for the performance of a child in an external examination. After all there are many factors beyond the control of the school. Parents can only do the best they can in helping their child prepare. The children themselves will, most often, simply do their best.

One important element is communication. Parents can not expect a teacher at school to be able to answer a direct question: "Will he pass?" There are too many variables.

Parents will have knowledge of what their child can and can not do. Parents can simply hope that their child does as well as possible in the examination.

The tutor (if there is one) adds breadth and depth to the program.

The candidate, we hope, will appreciate the urgency of the endeavor and will work accordingly.

Your eleven plus child will benefit from understanding where each of the parties come from. This is part of eleven plus communication.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eleven Plus Reading Errors

If your child happens to misread a question it could be more than carelessness. Ask your child to read the question aloud. Record any mistakes:

Gross mispronunciations.

Add to the equation a lack of understanding of the word - as well as poor comprehension of the question.

You will need to keep everything in perspective. It can be argued that errors in reading can be ignored provided your child grasps the meaning of what is being read.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

National Grammar School Association

The National Grammar School Association web site gives information about grammar schools in an authoritarian and in formed manner.

The site is full of research and information and is well worth a read.

We all want children to do well in eleven plus examinations in order that the children have the best possible education and opportunities.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eleven Plus Holiday Reading

The school holidays are here. Your eleven plus child can not spend the whole time doing papers. There is, perhaps, a little time to do some reading. What could or should be read?

An eleven plus child is naturally reading independently. This has probably meant that for some time you, as parents, have had little to do with the selection of books and reading materials.

You may, however, decide that your child needs to read books that will be of value. This is where you feel that you have the competence to be able to present your child with material that enrich and expand the eleven plus vocabulary. This is where a trip to the library could help. “I have a bright ten year old child; please suggest some books around the thirteen year old level.”

If you, and your informed sources, get it wrong all you will have achieved is frustrating your child. This is where you will be informed, in no uncertain terms, that the book is boring and that it fails to hold attention. (Or words to that effect.)

You may also overcompensate by choosing a book that is too easy or too hard.

Teachers call the process of arriving at the right level of book as an `Informal Reading Inventory.’ Of course some parents will need to present the book on bended knee and offer a credible bribe to read the book. Other parents will be able to leave the book lying around rather casually in the hope that their potentially avaricious reader will fall on the book and attempt to devour it in a sitting. Most children will enjoy a holiday reading path some where between these extremes.

Many book shops tend to group books in bands of readability. Internet searches can also offer fruitful rewards.

And now for the parents' `Informal Reading Inventory’.

“Did you enjoy that book?”

“Would you like to read another book like this one?”

“Were some of the words a bit too hard?”

“Would I enjoy reading it?”

“Should we suggest this book to any one else?”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Challenge to the Present Eleven Plus

There seems to be very little that is being written about the Eleven Plus by the authors of eleven plus materials, or tutors or the parents that can be subject to `astringent intellectual scrutiny’.

Publishers do not appear to be calling for eleven plus change.

Eleven plus tutors do not seem to demand change.

The authors of the actual eleven plus tests do not seem to be searching for change.

There have, however, been extraordinary changes in the world over the past fifty years. Why has no new form of examination emerged to challenge existing procedures?

Suppose there was a `Royal Commission’ or a white paper that examined two elements of the present eleven plus.

The first must be to establish exactly what the aims of the eleven plus are – and what kind of curriculum is needed.

The second part of the eleven plus discussion must cover the procedures of learning and teaching that are appropriate.

Sadly it is only the parents who have found themselves in an `appeal situation’ that are offered the opportunity of being able to argue a case for `astringent intellectual scrutiny’. Why can't other parents be offered part of a platform of eleven plus change?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eleven Plus Blues

Some teachers find the occasional parents rather intimidating when they are questioned about their work. The teachers, or tutors, of eleven plus children may, at times, also feel under pressure. Teachers are simply ordinary people – but they are also expected to effect change in a child in extraordinary and super human ways.

Teachers can become stressed, just like other members of the general public, through tension, frustration, anxiety, anger and depression. It is possible, for example, that some teachers may be affected by the current downturn in economy. We remember the words of Harry Truman who said:

“It is a recession when your neighbour loses his job: it’s a depression when you lose yours.”

Teachers must be affected by the demands made on them by parents. The eleven plus teacher can not easily change the circumstances at home. It would be possible, for example, for a teacher to suggest that the T.V. is turned off while the eleven plus child is working through a paper. The teacher can not, however, take over the remote control.

Stress in Eleven Plus teachers can come from a variety of sources. A primary cause must be the attitude of their pupils towards work. A child who does not want to work becomes a challenge to the teacher. The teacher is being paid by the parent to do a job. Naturally the teacher will want to do the best possible job in the time allowed.

Sometimes the sheer enormity of the task can cause stress. A pleasant and hard working child may simply be working a little too slowly. No teacher would want to try to change a worthy child – but the date of the eleven plus examination is fixed. Time is remorseless.

Sometimes eleven plus teachers must feel that they are simply swimming against the tide. Their pupil takes on yet another activity. “Give me a busy man and we will get the job done,” may be true in some circumstances – but a child needs time to reflect and rest. Parents need to make sure that their child does have time to rest and reflect. It is not, however, a teacher’s role to appear to criticise a parent.

A teacher, however, has many rewards that can help to `blow away the blues’. A child learns her tables – yet again. This time it works. More confidence with tables leads to an understanding of lowest terms in fractions. This in turn helps with percentages. There can be few jobs that offer that satisfaction.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Freud and the Eleven Plus

Freud made us aware of the need to understand the human mind. He stressed the difference between conscious and unconscious thought.

He postulated ideas that long ago that led to a feeling that psycho analysis would help to engender free and natural development through the prevention of repression. Of course his ideas led to many half baked theories about the need for `free discipline'. The real benefit of his work was a deeper understanding of the causes of delinquency in childhood - and an understanding of some of the ways in which such causes can be avoided. Freud also made us aware of how different approaches could contribute to methods of handing problem children.

In eleven plus terms Freud would have pointed out that a child learns best when the child's energies and drives are properly engaged.

There is an old saying in education: "There are no such things as problem children, only problem parents."

In Freudian terms a child identifies with his or her parents - and with his or her teachers. For some children it is all too much to have a parent who is also a teacher. This leads to the emotional peaks and troughs of the relationship between the child and his or her parents.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Putting Fun Into The Eleven Plus

Parents will want to try to help their children feel happy about working towards the Eleven Plus.

Parents will want an atmosphere of co-operation and consent. Most parents will want any arguments nipped in the bud because of the fast moving nature of life. Most parents will remember `King' as there is probably no other game that so encapsulates a sense of fairness.

King is a ball game in which one person has a ball and throws it at one of the other players. There is no retaliation. Anyone who is hit by the ball joins the thrower in trying to hit the rest of the players.

The rules are simple.

You can not run with the ball.
You can pass the ball.
You can punch the ball away with your fist.
The game ends when all the players have been hit.

The start of the game is simple. The players stand around in a circle with their legs apart. The is thrown into the ring and when it passes through the legs of one of the players then that person become the `King'. As soon as the ball passes through the legs everyone runs - except for the `King' who has to catch the ball.

Parents with children who complain about the eleven plus may consider playing this game with their children. The adults will find plenty of opportunities to bring fairness into the conversation. After all the whole game breaks down if one person does not follow the rules. Point out to your child that the whole eleven plus project can be compromised if the basic rules of co-operation and endeveour are not followed.

If you can achieve this state of mind then you too will be King (or Queen - if you wish.)

Eleven Plus Advice

The idea of good `bug' is a broken down exterior but a `hot' set up. This picture was shot at Bug Jam 2009.

I bought my first VW when I was training to be a teacher. The first car had been a Wolsey bought by selling my racing bicycle - it was big and heavy on everything. There was no power steering in those days. The second car was a Ford Popular - because of a broken leg. It was much lighter to drive. The third car was a 58 VW. It was dark blue with bucket seats.

A feature of this car was the petrol tank. There was a little switch situated just behind the gear level that held the key to the reserve petrol tank. As a student I needed that switch over and over again.

In those day I used to play the double bass at parties and dances. A double bass fits neatly into a VW bug - but does not leave much room for passengers. Passengers were essential as they had money.

As parents give their child advice about what to do after leaving school they will probably warn them that it of little having a car as because of the cost of insurance and petrol. Parents will probably also point out that hiring the vehicle for profit will probably nullify the insurance. Some parents too will want their child to buy a car that is safe and reliable - and big enough to take a `big' musical instrument.

Posted on Sunday - as there was no link to the internet in the middle of a field at Bug Jam 2009 at Santa Pod.)

Eleven Plus Opitimism (Friday)

It is likely that almost every set of parents will approach the eleven plus in a highly individual manner. Parents will rely on different books, exercises, tutors and advice. Their children mainly just accept what is offered.. Of course the children may argue about the amount of work that has to be done. The children’s defences must surely collapse when they are offered those heart felt words: “We are only doing this because it is for your own good.”

We are at Bug Jam 2009 today. The are VWs from all over Britain and Europe. It is obvious that certain activities bring people together with common interests. The VW enthusiasts adorn their vehicles with paint jobs and extras. Naturally a split screen pre `58 is highly desirable.

Some of the camper vans seem to have had their rust painted on in an effort to add authenticity and glamour. This is a bit like a parent engaging a number of different eleven plus tutors to `ensure’ that their children pass the eleven plus.

It has rained nearly all day so that there has been no drag racing because the organisers won’t allow anyone near the track if it is wet. There is an old and oft used phrase: “Tomorrow will be better.”

This is a great phrase to reflect on when dealing with the eleven plus. Parents have to be optimistic. They have to be confident. Their children have to believe in their parents – and children have to believe in their parents.

(Posted on Sunday as the mobile card to link the lap top to the internet did not work in the middle of a field.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Magic of the Eleven Plus

Today we are going to embrace the Eleven Plus Spell. This is a useful spell for any mother or father on the eleven plus road with just a few precious days to go. As a parent you should be able ease yourself into the eleven plus mood.

This is where it gets a bit hazy – which could possibly be dangerous for any one tempted into the world of magic. You have to decide if the eleven plus spell is for you or if it is for your child.

The Eleven Plus Spell for your child:

I wish my child can pass the eleven plus.
I wish my child will pass the eleven plus.
I wish my child has passed the eleven plus.

(Remember for a spell to come true you have to say it three times.)

The Eleven Plus Spell for Parents

Collect five pebbles and put them in a ring on the steps leading out of the house.

Place a candle inside the ring. (Ignore the ignorant neighbours at this stage.)

Lift a cup into the air and say:

“As the most auspicious day approaches I call upon the elements to bring fame and fortune to my child.”

If you are honoured with a clap of thunder you know that global warming is on the way. If the thunder is accompanied by lightening you know it will rain.

When your child asks you what you are doing simply smile mysteriously and say: “You are too young to know. I will tell you after the eleven plus.” (By then you will know if your spell actually worked.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Eleven Plus Ombudsman

Primitive societies, without a written language, have limited fields of awareness about their past. History tends to become distorted – and drifts between myth and real history. It is felt that a story can hold its own for about twelve generation before significant change are made.

I have just looked at Stephen Fry’s Twitter. As of this moment there are 3402 updates with 54 877 following and 655 666 followers. It would have taken a medicine man many many years to build up such a large group of adherents.

Mr Fry must now feel that his twittering is a habit that he has to feed – when ever he is in the mood. There is however a difference between pure memory and habit memory. Pure memory would be Mr Fry remembering incidents and facts that actually happened. Habit memory is a little more complex. Habit memory takes into account memories of the past – including traditions, information gleaned from school, the neighbourhood and society in general. So some of Stephen Fry’s twitters could help us to develop our thoughts and ideas. His last twitter included the words: “God bless Bill Gates. (I never thought I’d say that.)”

These words open up feelings about Microsoft, Bill Gates, philanthropy and spending money. Mr Fry gives us the ability to reflect as well as look to the future.

It is possible that twittering could possibly be a modern manifestation of the development of language – all encapsulated is a restricted number of characters. Twittering naturally can involve the past, the present and the future. Twittering, however, is a written language so there is a digital record. There is no need to twitters to be passed down through twelve generations.

If we look back to the past some societies used drums to communicate brief – but sometimes powerful messages. Just like twittering – it must have been possible to interpret the drum beats in different ways.

One problem with the present eleven plus is that there is now so much information available through the internet, books, papers, teachers and other parents that it must be difficult to work out what is myth and what is reality. If Stephen Fry twits something it must be right – otherwise any one of his thousands of followers would be able to put him right.

Who can put the worried parent right? We are long past the sound of jungle drums. We can not believe everything on the internet. There must be trusted books and publishers. Certain playground gossip must be correct - at times. Perhaps we do need an official eleven plus twitterer. So here we are with the first clarion call for the: “Eleven Plus Twitter Ombudsman.” Any takers?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eleven Plus Technique

A well known, and much discussed, eleven plus concern is that of guessing multiple choice answers. What happens if your child does not guess the right answers – but another child does guess a few correctly and then goes on to win a place in grammar school?

Of course guessing can take place in any examination. A bright and able child should be able to construct a sensible and thoughtful answer even if he or she does not know much about the subject. A number of parents will be able to look back on their school days and remember an examination that they passed more by luck than hard work.

Parents will, however, have to deal with the problem of what to do about guessing in the actual eleven plus examination.

Suppose the eleven plus examiners could tell the children that a missed question would result in a mark being taken off the total.

“Now listen carefully, dear, if you miss a question you will loose a mark.”

“But that is not fair. I may not finish the paper and so I would loose marks.”

But what would happen if every time a mistake was made on an eleven plus paper – and a mark was deducted?

“Dear, in the verbal reasoning examination you will need to be very careful. If you make a mistake you will loose a mark.”

“That is even worse. I don’t want to do the eleven plus. I will be frightened about making a mistake – or leaving a question out. I’ve said before – it is not fair!”

“Yes, it would be much easier if you knew all the answers. You may, however, have to work even harder. Even so we don’t really know what will be in the examination.”

Suggest to your child that a look could be made at the odds available when guessing:

Two options – one right and one wrong. The odds are fifty fifty.

Three options – one right and two wrong. The odds have changed and increased.

Four options – one right and three wrong.

Five options – one right and four wrong.

If the examiner constructs the answers so that there is only one plausible answer the chances of making the correct answer are increased. Examiners seem to prefer having four options – but then they can really have only one other plausible answer.

Think how difficult it would be for your child if there was one correct answer and five wrong answers. If the examiner then added the complication of three plausible answers then any advice that you offered to your child would have to be quite impossibly complicated.

With a four option question, favoured by the eleven plus examiners if there was only one question the odds of obtaining full marks is one in four. With two questions the odds of full marks are one in sixteen. With three questions the odds are one in sixty four. With seven questions the odds climb to one in sixteen thousand three hundred and eighty four. If your child does answer all seven questions correctly – the odds are that he or she actually does know something about the answer.

In some eleven plus areas, in some examinations, children have to answer eighty eleven plus questions in fifty minutes – so the chance of scoring full marks decreases markedly.

All this to say – if there are four options - encourage your child to work out the answer. Then remind your child to reject the two implausible answers and simply check between the remaining two plausible answers. This is called examination technique.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Eleven Plus Development

Mental Development is supposed to grow rapidly during early childhood and the intermediate years and gradually tape off in late adolescence. There is a graph which suggests that one half of child's mental status is achieved by the age of three and at ten years old and by around ten years old about eighty percent of mental capacity will have been reached. Every parent must be reassured to know that the terminal point for advances in mental development occurs at around twenty one.

Another figure that is quoted quite often is that there is only about 0.6 correlation between mental ability and test scores. This means that there are many factors other than mental ability that enter into school success.

Factors like teaching methods, exposure to the the correct eleven plus syllabus, the child's interests along with social, physical and emotional security must all play their part.

A child who does very well on verbal reasoning questions but who is not motivated to do well at school may not do as well in the eleven plus examination as a child who is focused on winning a place at grammar school.

It would be very interesting to read about research into verbal and non verbal reasoning test results at the age of eight - and future success in `A' level results.

Great decisions are made about children aged ten years old - that could affect their future education. Surely the results of the eleven plus - in some cases - must be treated with great caution. There must be a case to argue that it is likely that there could be fluctuations in test scores. Thus a child who is denied a place in grammar school because he or she is one or two marks off the pass rate may have a case that their appeal needs to treated sympathetically.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Faster Connection

We are about to install the new BT Business Broadband.

The potential speed on our line is 4.5 mbps - according to

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How fair is the Eleven Plus?

In English elementary schools the principle of an annual examination conducted by an impartial outside examiner, in the person of an inspector, prevailed from 1862 for about thirty five years. The examination was individual in key subjects – and by class or group in other subjects. The amount of Government subsidy was determined by the results of the examination. This was the plan called `payment by results’.

In those days there was little connection between examination and payment. This was in effect the idea of an external examination – that it selected children who would do well in secondary and elective schools. There was, as there is now in the eleven plus, a clear distinction between educational and competitive examinations.

Competitive examinations like the eleven plus are not meant to be educational. They are meant to select children for entry to grammar school. In some schools the influence of the eleven plus begins in reception.

The eleven plus is designed to be fair for children who are in the top twenty five percent. Some questions, therefore, may be unfair for children who are not of above average ability. The problem with the present eleven plus, however, is that forces within the school – and outside of school – can affect the results of children. In other words an able child attending a good school dedicated to helping children to do as well as possible academically, along with involved parents and the possibility of a good tutor may have a better chance than a child who is not give similar help and support.

There will always be stories of able children who do not pass an eleven plus examination. Back at H.Q. we often talk about an outstanding girl who failed one eleven plus examination but passed a second with extraordinary results. She did not want to attend, under any circumstances, a mixed eleven plus school which was near to the home – but wanted an all girls school.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hard Eleven Plus Problems

One of the classical grand systems in psychology is called the `Gestalt Theory’. A strong element of this system is that the brain gathers information and then assembles it in a form that can be used.

Some kinds of traditional eleven plus training books seem to take the view that there are a number of key types of question that will occur in the eleven plus examination. The presentation of the eleven plus exercises is therefore often in a logical order – and many eleven plus books seem to follow a remarkably similar order.

The supposition is that if your child learns, and practises, a number of key eleven plus types then your child will be able to apply this practice in the actual examination. Parents work on the premise that if their child goes over the different types of question again and again then bit by bit their child will gain examination ready confidence.

The Gestalt theory (as seen in eleven plus eyes) seems to lean towards the idea that the brain is able to vacuum up a whole collection of seemingly random types of eleven plus question and then classify and organise the information into usable chunks. Then when your child is solving a problem the brain tries to assemble variables and then deal with them in a structured and organised manner.

Nevertheless your child will not be able to dig into a paint pot of colours and ideas and solve a hard eleven plus problem unless he or she has been exposed to some sort of system. Parents can make an important and lasting contribution to their child’s eleven plus education if they occasionally expose their children to difficult and intriguing problems.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Eleven Plus Boys and Girls

How does one account for differences between boys and girls as they study for their eleven plus?

A dated and sometimes unfamiliar stereotype of males seems to hover around men being more interested in adventure, physical activity, mechanics, science and business. Women, according to past observations, were more interested in domestic, artistic and humanitarian activities. Males were supposed to be more aggressive, rough and fearless. Females were more timid, sympathetic and emotionally expressive.

All these statements are not as true today. Just watch a determined and able eleven plus female candidate tearing through an eleven plus practice paper. The words: “No prisoners” spring to mind. She can be determined, focused and dedicated. She will be dismissive of the speed of calculation of an ordinary human. She will relish problem solving and will have her eyes set on winning a place in grammar school.

Words like `timid' and `emotionally expressive' will not enter her thoughts and vocabulary.

This week I have worked with an eight year old (She is nearly nine).

I hope she leads our country one day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Eleven Plus and Time

It is not hard to feel privileged when working with eleven plus children – because they are bright and alive. The repartee and speed of response is sometimes breathtaking. Some of them, however, do seem to have a problem with time. We all know about absent minded professors, or egg heads, and time – and but wonder if the ability to maintain a careful watch on time is a cross some seriously bright children have to bear.

Timing is not a problem on easy, medium or hard questions. The problem comes when a really difficult question emerges. That is when the adrenalin kicks in – the eleven plus child in on this earth to solve this problem.

Having a watch helps. Ask your children where the word watch comes from. You will be reminded that five hundred years ago watch keepers used to walk through the streets at night. They carried clocks and called out the time every hour. After a while the clocks were made smaller and smaller and were called `watches’ after the men who carried them.

Some of the early watches looked like eggs – and were a similar size and shape. Bit by bit the watches became more reliable and kept better time. Today we even have watches that are updated by radio signal.

Watches can vary very much in size and cost. Your eleven plus child needs a watch with a large face. It is important that your eleven plus child needs to understand how to use a watch to time work.

You could spend a profitable afternoon going for a walk, whilst calling out the time every quarter. This could build an awareness of time passing – and the need to maintain close contact.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Cat's Whiskers and the Eleven Plus

There will be some among us who still remember how to improve the reception on a crystal set. Every enthusiast probably had a set way of dealing with the problems – but there must have been some common elements.

The cat’s whisker may have moved – so try a new point.

The tuning dial may have moved.

The aerial may be fouling something.

The earth may not be secured properly.

Try a new crystal.

If there are no sounds examine all the connections carefully.

Check that no foreign matter has lodged under the terminals.

Make sure that the ear phones are working correctly.

By now you will have built up a picture of a cat’s whisker. You know that you will receive sounds. You know that you may have a little more trouble with obtaining good reception using the cat’s whisker – than you would using the radio on your mobile phone.

Your child will probably follow a similar set of thoughts as he or she struggles with a question. If years ago you knew that you have an unreliable aerial then you would immediately look to moving or replacing it. In just the same way when you encourage your child to think about multiple choice questions you will to follow a set of rules:

Read the question.

Re-read the question.

Look at the multiple choice answers and immediately eliminate the answers which are patently absurd.

It is possible that your list of do and don’t must fall over far more than one page. With a crystal set – suddenly there was the most exquisite noise and you thought to yourself: “I did that”

When you say to your child, in a happy and pleased manner: “You really are the cat’s whiskers!” you know that you are really thinking that your child has tuned in and is actually listening to you.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Steps to Eleven Plus Glory

You may think sometimes that your child is approaching the eleven plus syllabus almost as if he or she is learning by grazing. A little knowledge is nibbled here and a little understanding there. This system of learning may seem to be unorganised and lacking in any direction – but it may suit a particular stage of learning.

Some parents will argue a convincing case for structure. Indeed a number of eleven plus teachers may feel constrained to follow a highly systematic order.

What ever the `system’ that is used the overall aims must be remarkably similar.

Step 1
Try to encourage your child to become an independent learner. Some children find this hard – they are so used to being told what to do by all concerned at school and at home.

Step 2
You may need to explain the relevance of what is being learnt. This could be very difficult on some types of verbal reasoning question – but less so for mathematics topics like ratio or proportion.

Step 3
You may need to try to help your child to use time effectively. Some parents will need to organise their child’s time. I met a family this weekend who wanted to start eleven plus work at the beginning of the new school year – when their son entered Year 5. On two nights a week he had two activities after school. On the other three days he only had one activity – and only one on a Saturday. When would he have time to read? When could he spend time on a paper? When as his time to reflect? Could he ever have time to day dream?

Step 4
Parents will, at times, need to `get involved’ and struggle with finding answers to questions. I met some parents over the weekend where both parents went through an eleven plus paper the night before their child worked through the paper. The parents went to these lengths because of the nature of their child. This degree of involvement will not suit all families – but may be useful on occasions.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

16 Years after the Eleven Plus

"Hello Shaun, do you remember me?"

"Good afternoon, I do recognise your face. How are you?"

"You don't remember my name do you?"

"No, I am sorry."

"Well my son did the Eleven Plus with you sixteen years ago. His name is Daniel. He went to university and became a Civil Engineer. He is working in America now."

"That is wonderful. Please send him my best wishes.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Eleven Plus Changes

What would happen if the the authors of the `Real Eleven Plus' were prepared to ask opinions about the composition and the nature of the tests? There can have been only minute changes to the examination over the past fifty years - and a lot has happened in this time. Wars have come and gone. Education Secretaries have come and gone. Some types of Eleven Plus are still there.

1. Introduce critical thinking tests - as some universities are trialling.

2. Extend other tests - such as projective tests to help in the process of measuring ability.

3. Have each and every child rated by a group of adults and professionals.

4. Measure his or her preference for stressful situations.

5. Spend even more time taking more children though reasoning tests to make it fairer for all.

6. Offer a standard learning task to see how much is learnt and retained.

Of course some will welcome change. Other will argue against change for change's sake. Some will say: "If it ain't broke don't try to fix it. All we can hope is that one day the silent majority will have a voice that can ask for an investigation into thr Eleven Plus examinations

Friday, July 03, 2009

When to do Eleven Plus Papers

Parents are sometimes able to argue with some conviction that there is a strong case to leave eleven plus revision to simply working through a few papers just before the examination. “We only did a two or three papers, untimed of course, and my daughter passed with flying colours.”

These parents have strong evidence, of course, to back up their claims that go back over many years.

Case 1: Salamanders
Salamanders reared with little opportunity to swim freely learnt to swim remarkably quickly when they are offered the opportunity.

Case 2: Chicks
Chicks reared in darkness fir a few days actually learnt to peck accurately with a far faster rate of improvement than did chicks that were give every opportunity in learning to peck.

Case 3: Children
Children who were given special practice in stair climbing and tower building showed improvement – but children who were not given such special practice learnt the same skills but took much less time.

Case 4: Hopi Indians
Hopi Indian children who were reared on cradle boards, so they could not use their legs, learnt to walk at much the same time as other Hopi Indian children.

Parents of Eleven Plus children will no doubt rejoice in the results of this research. They will be able to justify in their own minds that there is little need to purchase piles of eleven plus papers. The parents will be able to say that there is little need for tutors and eleven plus courses. Playground gossip will agree that their no real need for their school to be blamed for not doing any extra eleven plus work.

There will naturally be some unconvinced parents who will maintain that: “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Eleven Plus Parents

Research carried out some fifty years ago suggested that intelligence does not decline or decrease after the age of thirty.

Naturally this information will be of vital importance to parents of eleven plus children. If you can not do some strange eleven plus question it does not mean that all your brains are shrinking, it could be simply a poorly conceived eleven plus question.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Fair Eleven Plus Examinations

There are a few lines from a lyric at the beginning of "My Fair Lady" which seems to sum up the parts of te current state of the eleven plus.

Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning.
And Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English you're regarded as a freak.
Why can't the English,
Why can't the English learn to speak?

We are taking booking for courses all over the country. Every county wants its own take on the examination. Individual schools want to show how individual they are by designing their own eleven plus examinations.

Why can`t the eleven plus authorities agree on a common examination?