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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eleven Plus Study Methods

Do you remember the Mock Turtle chatting to Alice?

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

We can build this into an Eleven Plus chant:

“Will you study a little harder?” said a mother to her child’
“The exam is close and near to us, and its stressing out my mind.
See how eagerly the other children study
They are working on their Bond books, won’t you do some too?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you do some work?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you do some work?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eleven Plus Algebra

Some eleven plus children absolutely love algebra. Their eyes sparkle. They become animated and highly receptive.

Some adults, and some children, seem to have a negative emotional response to symbols and letters.

Some lucky children, however, do not need to have any barriers broken down because the challenge is all. It is new and exciting. Give me more!

Letters or symbols may seem to be rather general or abstract. The fact that a symbol can transform into a different value is also perplexing to some children – but others love to be intellectually challenged.

2a = 16.

Find a.

Love it or hate it – it is part of our lives.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zen and the Eleven Plus

Our eleven plus children live in a fast moving world of excitement and endeavour. Life cannot be boring if there is always eleven plus work to be done. A mother told me today of her daughter who only dropped three marks in her eleven plus examinations. The ten year old achieved 140, 140 and 137. A lot of hard work had gone into marks as good as these!

Do you remember the story of the Zen student? He had trained for many years. He was asked a straightforward question:

“Where does your Zen training lead?”

“It is only a step by step approach. I wake up in the morning and think that the world is so beautiful that I can hardly stand it.”

It must be obvious to any eleven plus reader:

“Where does your Eleven Plus work lead?”

“It is only a step by step approach. My child and I wake up in the morning and think that eleven plus work is so beautiful that we can hardly stand it.”

Enjoy the moment. Your child is growing remarkably quickly through the eleven plus year!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eleven Plus Standardised Scores

There are several steps that have to be taken before tests are standardised. One criterion is to see that the test is representative of different children. It is no good trying to standardise a test based only on able eleven plus children. The results could be skewed.

An age standardisation test takes into account your child’s age, so that you have an indication of how well your child is performing relative to other children of the same age. In the olden days there was a look up table with the raw score down the left side of the page and the child’s age in years and months spread across the page. Each cell of the test contained a standardised score – which is the standardised score adjusted for your child’s age. In today’s world the eleven plus tests are marked by a device similar to a scanner – and it knows your child’s age and how many correct answers you child made – and so working out the standardised score is completed in milliseconds.

An average standardised score is 100 with a standard deviation of 15. This means that if your child achieves a score of 100 then your child is average for that test. About two thirds of all children will have scores between 85 and 100. About 16% will be above 115 – and this is where eleven plus children need to aim.

The pass mark – or the standardised score pass mark can vary from group of children to group and from year to year.

A lot of caution needs to be taken with tests and test results. We worked with a girl up to the recent eleven plus tests who started on her eleven plus course around February of this year with around average results. She passed the examination with outstanding marks – around and above 130. The difference was not because we taught wonderful lessons. She made the progress because she wanted to pass the examination, she wanted to go to grammar school, and she wanted to work very hard to achieve her goals.

Her mother believed in her. Her school were, we understand, delighted.

We ate the chocolates and basked in the reflected glory!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Eleven Plus Drum Roll

When a grand announcement is made there is often a drum roll.

We were working today on the roll out of our venture into developing a virtual eleven plus school – and the question of animation and sound was raised by one of the team. We looked for an animated gif of a drummer belting away at a drum – but all the animations looked a little tacky. The executive decision was made to abandon the drummer and his drum. The discussion then grew into the drum that Sir Francis Drake owned. When he was dying in the West Indies he ordered the drum to be returned to Plymouth. The drum still hangs in Buckland Abbey.

Drake vowed on his deathbed that if anyone attacked England he would return to fight.

When Napoleon was brought as a prisoner to Plymouth it is said that the Drake’s drum made a deep and resounding sound. The drum sounded again in 1914 when the First World War started.

In 1918, at the end of the First World War, a drum was heard on the battle ship the Royal Oak when the German fleet sailed into the Scapa Flow to surrender. No could find the drum or the drummer. When the Royal Oak dropped anchor the drum roll stopped – victory had been secured.

The drum was also heard during the retreat from Dunkirk.

Drum rolls are used in many epics of pageantry. Up in Scotland (where there is no eleven plus) a drummer often accompanies a piper or band of pipers – warning of a brave fighting spirit and a desire to win.

If any readers would be kind enough to roll their fingers in a mini drum roll across the key board that would be a spirited and joyous way for us to announce our virtual eleven plus school.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eleven Plus Standardised Scores

A question today was emailed in by a mother about how easy it is to compare standardised scores. Is one standardised score more reliable than another? In the eleven plus tests standardised scores are used to place children into rank order. The children who have scored high enough pass and these children did not quite make it do not pass.

A proper measuring scale has zero as an absolute point. An example of a scale that has equal units - but not an absolute zero - is a centigrade thermometer. The zero is placed at the temperature of freezing water. We can say that the temperature rises as much from 0 to 25 degrees as it does from 25 to 50 degrees. It is impossible, however, to say that we will find the temperature at 50 degrees twice as hot as at 25 degrees.

Strictly speaking the standardised score is standardised against complex criteria. We can’t say, however, that a child with a score of 140 out of 140 is twice as clever as a child with a score of 115. There are limitations that must affect the way we look at standardised scores. A child who passes one eleven plus test with a standardised score of 120 is not all that much better than a child who passes a different eleven plus test with a standardised score of 117.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eleven Plus Solutions

I was telephoned today by a mother with a dilemma.

Her daughter has just passed three different Eleven Plus Tests.

The family now have to make a choice of schools. The nearest school is a mere 20 minutes walk away from home. There are no transport costs involved. The location of the other two grammar schools, which have higher GCSE results, would include a walk, a journey by train or by bus, followed by a further much shorter short walk. Naturally there would be a reverse journey at the end of the school day.

The mum’s possible solution was to encourage her daughter to go to the nearest school – which would save a lot of potential transport problems over the years.

Her rationale was that her daughter could move schools in the sixth form if necessary.

Attending the nearest grammar school seems to be a viable and a practical solution to a real problem.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Early Development of Eleven Plus Skills.

It may be useful sometimes to remember the work of Skeels and Dye. They wanted to see if they could improve the orphanage environment by making it more active. They initiated a controversial experiment.

They transferred one and two year old orphanage children to a training school for feeble minded girls. These girls acted as mother substitutes and cared for the children, talked to them and played with them.

Two years later the I.Q.s had improved by 27 points. The I.Q.s of children who remained at the orphanage had dropped by around twenty-six points. The children placed with the feeble minded mother substitutes had made considerable progress.

Some parents, during the eleven plus year, may be tempted to concentrate on academic development. The experience, as out lined by Skeels and Dye with the babies must however remind us that there is far more to the eleven plus year than work and more work. Some parents may need to be reminded that their children must be able to play and live relatively normal lives – to try to ensure that their children do not become too one sided.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Responsibility of Eleven Plus Success

The results of an eleven plus examination gives all of us knowledge about accomplishments of some children and the individual failures of others. Acceptance of eleven plus results must also leave us with an attitude where a degree of give and take is necessary. We need to be grateful for any successes but compassionate for those that did not manage to pass.

What brought this to mind was working with an eleven plus boy today who had gained full marks on his mathematics test. He had achieved a perfect score. (This is a standardised score of 140.) He will complete Year 6 knowing that he has achieved a level of eleven plus perfection something that very few can hope to reach. Perhaps one day he will go on to become a leader.

There will always be men and women who are gifted and energetic – and extremely ambitious. Perhaps some of them started off as boys and girls who had to pass the Eleven Plus Examinations or even the Common Entrance. Perhaps some of them will also go on to achieve perfect scores on examinations at school and university.

The boy explained that his Head Teacher had been very proud of his results. The boy also added that his teacher had said; “Well done.” His school must naturally bask in the reflected glory of this boy’s success. It is unlikely that he would have scored 140 unless he had had extremely good teaching at school and at home.

All we can do is hope that he will use his obvious ability to overcome powerful obstacles and always behave in a scrupulous and responsible manner. What a lucky school to have a boy like this joining the ranks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stringing an Eleven Plus Child Along

The words `The Eleven Plus Stairs to Success’ have a solid yet imaginative feel. It is easy to imagine the impatient and eager eleven plus candidate springing lithely from stair to stair aiming at success and triumph.

Staircases are made by carpenters who measure, cut and fit together component parts with great precision. A staircase is not a piece of elaborate joinery – but it works!

A stair is made of three elements:

Treads
Risers
Stringers

The supports on the edge of the stairs are the stringers. The top edge of a string is made parallel to the lower edge.

Steps are often made from two boards – one being horizontal and the other vertical.

The strings often have vertical and horizontal grooves into which the risers and the treads are secured.

Wear and tear can overcome a staircase – in the same way that too much pressure can overcome an eleven plus child.

One interpretation of the word stringer is that a stringer prepares copy for newspapers – but this is not a regular job as a stringer works freelance. A theory is that a stringer is someone who is anxious about being strung along by an editor.

Eleven plus parents want their children to keep climbing towards the examination. They want their child to climb firmly and securely towards the goal. But few eleven plus parents would want to place their children under too much pressure so that their child beings to feel pressured.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eleven Plus Probability.

Some parents need to be very proud of themselves. You may well have played the game, even with your eleven plus child, where you ask your child to guess which hand you are holding something desirable.

The first time your child may choose the left hand.

For the next three times he or she may choose the same hand as the previous time.

The same hand gives you probability `s’.

The different hand gives probability `d’.

You then suggest that s + d = 1.

Your task then is to work out the probability that he or she will choose `s’ on the last occasion.

Parents always know best and will be able explain this lucidly to their eleven plus child – who will not say: “What?”

The mums and dads who did `A’ Level statistics at school or university will no doubt explain that (s + d) to the power of 3 and (s – d) to the power of 3 can be written as:

A half of (1 + (s – d) to the power of 3).

Other mums and dads might want to give a simpler answer. Both sets could be right!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eleven Plus Temper

Do any parents ever feel a sudden rush of blood to the head when their eleven plus child offers an apparently inconsequential answer? Imagine the scene, you have working peacefully together on a nonverbal reasoning exercise. (For the words non verbal substitute any other eleven plus term you would like.) You make a perfectly acceptable suggestion and this is rejected with no regard for your feelings. You experience a sudden rush of blood and are imbued with a desire to throw something or do commit a violent crime.

Step 1

Place your pen or pencil carefully on the table. You could do a serious injury with the point of a pencil in the thigh.

Step 2

Take ten great breaths. Breathe deeply and count slowly. If can count in Russian you may feel happier.

Step 3

Say to your self: “My child is only nine. My child is only nine.”

Step 4

Explain to your child calmly, but forcefully, that what was said was completely unsatisfactory. Try to avoid unsavoury and deeply wounding words.

Step 5

Try to forgive your child – but explain your forgiveness at great length – and use lots of repetition.

Step 6

Try to defuse the situation with humour and laughter. (This, however, is a last resort.)

Step 7

Never, ever, under any circumstance ignore the slight. You may grow frown lines and grey hair. You could harbour the rudeness for years.

Step 8

Temper! Temper!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Learning Eleven Plus Work.

Some of us may sometimes need to be rather careful that we do not insist on too much over learning. We probably over learn how to form letters. Some children may, for example, have to over learn some tables while degrees of over learning probably took place when the nursery rhymes were learnt.

We do know some things about over learning.

Eleven Plus children should not be drilled too much in case they lose the freshness, the wonder and the pleasure in tackling obscure eleven plus questions.

An eleven plus child will remember significant material longer than meaningless stuff.

It is likely that most parents will find that bright eleven plus children learn very quickly – and do not forget at the same speed.

We can’t be sure that if something is learnt at a perfunctory level that it will be forgotten. If parents and children spend time together on a topic then it is possible that some faint trace will be retained and even remembered at a crucial moment in the examination.

Ideally something that a child and a parent learn together towards the eleven plus will be retained to a lesser or greater degree. Parents can only hope that the valuable something of the subject is remembered when their child is sitting in the examination hall.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Synthetic Eleven Plus Scenario

Every now and then we are offered more information about the forty sounds that go together to make up the English language. The sounds are called phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit that can carry meaning.

Whenever we see films about children in America learning to read on farms we see the earth mother tracing letters of the alphabet – and the child going on from there to read the bible. We are also aware of children in prairie schools with all ages being taught by committed and distinguished teachers. These early schools had remarkably few resources. The children were, however, taught phonics.

Phonic based reading means linking letters, or combinations of letters, to other letters and groups of sounds.

Children who are taught synthetic phonics are expected to sound out the phonemes in a word – and then blend them together. The educational theory behind synthetic phonics is that learning to sound out words and then blend them together gives children the confidence to be able to read unfamiliar words.

Will there ever come a day when `Synthetic Eleven Plus Teaching’ is introduced? This is where children are taught to analyse a question word by word and then draw all the words together to arrive at an understanding of the question?

Some parents are already doing this – they are encouraging their children to read each question carefully and then synthesise the concepts to arrive at a meaningful answer. Various dictionary definitions of the word synthetic do not lead easily to linking the word `synthetic’ to the words `Eleven Plus’.

A synthetic product is made by a chemical process.

A synthetic answer can be insincere.

None of us would welcome a chemically induced eleven plus lesson. Very few of us would welcome an insincere approach to eleven plus work. Many of us would, however, welcome an approach when a child reads a question carefully before trying to supply the answer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eleven Plus Problems

How do Eleven Plus problems arise?

Usually it is teacher or a parent who sets the eleven plus problems – be it in mathematics or the reasoning skills.

Eleven plus children are used to problems like:

Underline the one word which is different from the rest:

Picture Drawing Painting Frame Photograph Portrait

A different eleven plus favourite is:

Find 10% of 56.

But eleven plus problems can also be found in areas like:

How much time should be spent every week on eleven plus work?

Is the eleven plus material that is being set at a demanding and useful level?

The eleven plus candidate can have problems with where and when he or she is expected to work. In the bedroom? In the study? In front of the T.V.?

The eleven plus child could be asked to write down a list of problems. There may be some that can be solved. Some, however, may not be immediately solvable.

You could ask your child to keep a record of problems – social, emotional and physical – as well as intellectual. For example at one time or another:

Mum might be a problem.

Dad might be a problem.

A sibling might be a problem.

Mum might solve the problem.

Dad might solve the problem.

The sibling might solve the problem.

Many eleven plus problems can be solved after a good night’s sleep. The real problem is establishing whether or not the problem is really important and pressing. If solving the problem is likely to be profitable and important to the eleven plus journey then it may be worth addressing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eleven Plus Congratulations

I went round a number of our centres today to thank our teachers for the hard work they had done in the lead up to the recent Eleven Plus examinations. We have had some incredible results in the Bexley examinations.

Congratulations too to all the mothers and fathers. They must be very proud of their children.

I spoke to one set of grandparents – and grand mother had tears in her eyes with excitement over the opportunities that now lie ahead.

Well done to all the children for all their hard work and endeavour.

And finally well done to all the teachers at all the different schools - without their inspired input our children would not have achieved their dreams.

We can only hope that next year will be better!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Eleven Plus Noise

What would it be like if you could simply dial one number and have instant access to all the different eleven plus information you need? Your child’s needs will change over the next few months. Your desire and demand for information will also need to be serviced. The `One Stop Eleven Plus Shop’ could help. Here you could find all the eleven plus social media including at least popular forums, books, papers, advice from tutors, advice about tutors, publishers, Face Book applications, DVDs, CDs and Twitter comments. This would give you access to a veritable cornucopia of ideas, advice and solutions. You may even be able to have s sensible dialogue about `Sound and the Eleven Plus Child’.

It is possible that your child would really like a sound proofed bedroom. Unfortunately there are few really practical ways of keeping sound out of the Eleven Plus Room’.

Perhaps others in the family will need to be good neighbours. A thick carpet outside the door could eliminate at least one pet hate. Moving siblings is not so easy – unless you live in an `Eleven Plus Castle’.

Every parent will use the technique of moving a wardrobe or cupboard to the wall where most noise emanates. A cupboard full of games, clothes and general `junk’ will help to eliminate most noise.

When the `Studious Eleven Plus Candidate’ complains that he or she can still hear the source of the sound – then parents could consider building `An Eleven Plus Wall’. This would be a new wall – spaced away from the existing wall with battens and plaster board. The cavity would need to be filled – but most mothers would have ideas on that point. (Foam or expanded polystyrene may spring to mind.)

The space around the doors is another potential source of noise. Draft proofing may help.

One further thought. The famous `No Entry – Eleven Plus Candidate At Work’ sign may bring immediate quiet through out the home.

The best thing about a sound proofed room could be something that may not spring to the eleven plus mind.

Your child may occasionally hear those dreaded words: “It is time now to go to work”.

A sound proofed bed room could keep out any crashing and banging.

What price `Eleven Plus Peace?’

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eleven Plus Books

Some eleven plus parents have a problem finding books for their aspiring candidates to read.

“What about all those lovely books I got you last Christmas. We are in October now and you have not read any of them. Your Aunt Edna will be so disappointed that you did not find time to read the trilogy that she bought you.”

“But Mum, they are so boring.”

“Yes, but your father and I love reading. We can’t understand why you will not read. You are always playing on the computer. You never pick up a book and sit down to have a `nice’ read.”

There could be a solution.

John Grisham has written `Theodore Boone – Half the Man, Twice the Lawyer’. (Hodder and Stoughton 2010 ISBN 978 1444 71448 7) It is about Theo Boone who is only thirteen years old and thinks that he is a lawyer.

If your ten year old child ever needs to read a book that is inspiring and utterly compelling then this is the one. I can not believe that any bright child will not be able to identify with Theo Boone.

I hope also that reading the book turns some very able children into believing in themselves. A child who is able and articulate may not always feel that they can fit into the company of `mere mortals’. Theodore Boone is loved, respected and admired. These are all attributes that some eleven plus children crave.

Every single Eleven Plus parent in the world will want their child to be loved, respected and admired.

A word of warning. If you do hand the book over you may not be offered a single word until the last page.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Eleven Plus Black Box

Your mission. You have been tasked to obtain the Back Box recording of your child sitting the first Eleven Plus examination.

You are waiting for your child’s results. There may have been some confusion with the instructions in the examination room. You have been told that two experienced invigilators were on duty and `running’ the examination on behalf of the authorities.

The examination was due to start at 9.30 in the hall. This is situated in a normally quiet and peaceful section of the school – rather away from the other buildings and definitely shielded from the busy road. You know too that any dustcarts and lawn mowers were banned from the school over the duration of the eleven plus examinations.

We pick up the transcript just as your child notifies the invigilator of an approaching disaster. Were this an unforeseen circumstance, plain neglect or lack of training?

Invigilator to Class: Er, good morning. We are just about to start the Eleven Plus examination. I would ask you all to listen carefully – but if you do not understand please do not hesitate to ask for help.

Class Member: What do we do if it rains today?

Invigilator to Class: That is possible, but try not to think of anything that you can not control. Just focus on the task.

Class Member: I am getting drops of water on my paper.

Invigilator to Class: Please try to stop crying. You will only upset yourself and the rest of the children. Just use the tissue you were asked to bring.

Class Member: I am sorry to speak again. The drops are growing in size. My paper is getting wet.

Invigilator walks towards the right rear of the room: Er, what is happening here? (Looks up at the ceiling.) Oh! There is a large puddle forming in the roof. We had better move away.

The children, teachers and invigilator leave the room in a hurry. Papers, pencils and rubbers are left on desks.

There is an ominous sound and a section of the roof gives way to a flood. The Eleven Plus Back Box picks up shouting from outside the room.

Questions

Depending on the circumstances; do the parents of these children have a right to appeal?

Should there be a Black Box recording of eleven plus examinations so that parents can know exactly what was going on?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eleven Plus Planning

What next after the Eleven Plus?

It is easy – fleeting thoughts will enter your mind about Grammar Schools, GCSE examinations, the A Levels and the International Baccalaureate. Your focus will move to which university will deliver the goods. It looks as if university students are going to have to pay more for the privilege of attending university. Which course would offer the best return?

Step One is UCAS (http://www.ucas.ac.uk/) where the application is made.

Step Two is BMAT (http://www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/) the admissions tests from Cambridge.

Step Three is UKCAT (http://www.ukcat.ac.uk/) the UK Clinical Aptitude Test)

Step Four is LNAT (http://www.lnat.ac.uk/) the Law Aptitude Test.

Step Five is for pupils interested in studying in the USA (http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings.aspx).

It is not too early to start planning ahead. After all you started planning for the eleven plus before your child was born – so the next few years will go very quickly!

Good luck!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eleven Plus Stars

We have been thrilled to receive the results of the Eleven Plus children from the Medway towns who have passed. Congratulations to all these wonderful children and their fortunate parents. Earning a place in a grammar school could change the course of the lives of some of these children.

The Medway examination is interesting because a proportion of the marks are awarded to the ability to communicate in writing. One of the children who has passed has always had some problems with his spelling. We added a little spelling to his program to try to help.

Some educationalists look at a spelling problem and try to categories it into two different areas. One area suggests that the child may well have a reading and a spelling problem. A different child may simply have a spelling problem.

When a child reads there is often the ability to look at contextual clues to help with spelling. Spelling, however, demands a recall of words that have been learnt and assimilated.

The eleven plus child with a spelling problem may have to be able to generalise rules before being able to spell unfamiliar words. Children sometimes use one strategy for writing words down – and a different one for checking the spelling. Some children may even be able to analyse the word into components – like root, suffix and prefix.

Eleven plus parents will hope that their child will be able to pick up spellings easily and intuitively.

Some children find it useful to collect all their spelling mistakes into one place – and then try to learn the words. Rote learning of spellings, however, is sometimes very difficult. It may be more helpful for the bright child to learn various strategies.

So congratulations to all the stars that have passed. Super Nova congratulations to the star that had a spelling problem and still passed!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eleven Plus Control

“My dear, the answer lies in cybernetics.”

When a ship drifts off course the helmsman has to move the rudder to the port or the starboard to compensate for deviation. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word for a `steersman’.

When the eleven plus child drifts off course then gentle chat is sometimes needed to guide the candidate back onto the preferred route.

Suppose your child starts reaching failing marks on eleven plus exercises. You hope that your words will help to bring his or her grades up `Controlled guidance’ could be an invaluable asset.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Persuasion and the Eleven Plus

Some parents may sometimes feel that their attempts to persuade their child to feel a little more confident are falling on deaf ears. Naturally by the time their child has reached ten years old, parents have a pretty fair idea of how their child will react to most situations. Some parents may feel, on occasions, the need to be slightly heavy handed in their persuasive methods.

The eleven plus, however, because it is such a demanding examination, may sometimes throw up apparently childish perversity and utterly unpredictable behaviour. Some parents may also feel that their conventional methods of persuasion are being treated with some degree of suspicion.

One problem that some children may fear is that the dialogue with their parents is heavily weighted on the side of the parents. Their parents are urging them to respond in a particular way – but the children may not offer the hoped for response.

Able and articulate eleven plus children are probably good at more than just answering multiple choice questions. Combinations of sport, dance, drama and chess could be part of the makeup of the after school life of the eleven plus child. Work and study may need to fitted into a busy academic and social life.

We have a boy who comes to us for an evening lesson – and he has already done two after school activities.

Somehow some eleven plus children may feel they need a balance in their lives. Missing the odd lesson or exercise because of fatigue or overload is not going to upset the final balance of marks in the examination.

Some children may need to feel that they are keeping their parents pacified. These children may want their parents to be easy, thoughtful and appreciative. Persuasion, under these conditions, may be less consuming.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Taking Stock of the Eleven Plus

All the big retailers – and many of the smaller ones – will take part in a stock take. Years and tears ago the stock take took place on a certain day and everyone joined in the count. The results were laboriously collected and then analysed.

It would a dream for every retailer if all the stock could always be sold – but some items will remain obstinately on the shelf. Unsold goods must be taken into account when calculating the gross profit at the end of a financial period.

Every time we go into a large supermarket we see hardworking people counting and analysing stock. Of course the tills will record every transaction and warn when stock levels drop – but canny shop keepers also make their own regular checks.

We could, for example, illustrate the importance of stock with a little eleven plus example.

Mrs.Winterton, who runs a wedding hire business, has a child working towards the eleven plus. She needs to buy some stock for her shop.

July 14th Buys 6 six small chairs for £80.00 each

July 15th She sold two chairs to a customer for £160.00 each.

July 16th Bought two more chairs for £100.00 each.

July 16 Paid £20.00 for flowers.

July 18th Sold three chairs from her original lot for £500.00 the lot.

July 18th Paid delivery charge for £20.00

July 18th Paid chair covers £20.00

The eleven plus question: `What is the value of her stock?’ An eleven plus child can work out the actual arithmetic in this question. But the value of the stock is a bit more confusing.

Any book keeper or accountant would tell you immediately that a debit is made in the Stock Account while a credit is made in the Trading Account.

Eleven plus parents take stock of their child’s progress every day. All week long parents are crediting successes – and debiting failures. All parents can do is hope that they land up in a profitable situation at the end!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Eleven Plus Interests

The interests of eleven plus children are changing all the time. The interests of bright and able children will cover diverse areas like T.V. programs, music, mathematics, art, dance, literature and science. It would be wonderful for many children if more eleven plus questions could touch on some of these areas.

Many, but not all, eleven plus questions seem to follow a fairly rigid formula. Just because questions from major publishes seem to follow a remarkably set pattern, so the myriad of teachers, tutors and smaller publishers have churned out eleven plus questions that all seem to be remarkably similar.

If we asked children to devise their own tests for entry to grammar school we could conceivably be enchanted by questions that do not fall into the present categories.

Chatting to an eleven plus child a teacher could conceivably ask:

Which would you prefer?

a) Going to school
b) Visiting an art gallery
c) Going to an adventure centre.

What is most important when you are studying towards the eleven plus?

a) Keeping fit
b) Working through eleven plus papers
c) Being the best you can at school

The responses of some child would naturally follow a desire to answer in a manner that would please the teacher. Other children would answer for themselves. Others would enjoy the whole experience and offer unexpected and delightful answers.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Eleven Plus Expectations

The perennial question – how easy is it to meet the expectations of eleven plus parents?

Teachers, schools, tutors and publishers are all concerned with satisfying at least part of this weighty anticipation.

Parents want, at each stage of the eleven plus process, information about how much work has been done, what work needs to be done and what are the chances of passing. There are many factors to take into account:

The health of their child;
The emotional maturity of the candidate;
The degree of social adjustment;
And, of course, the innate intelligence and motivation.

Many parents are reassured by marks and percentages – as these give physical evidence of progress. Factors like work ethic and study skills are far more difficult to quantify.

It can be argued that teachers and tutors with access to evaluative instruments and carefully constructed standardised scores should have an advantage. Who can argue, however, against the confidence of the much loved and highly experienced tutor who can tell at a glance if a child can pass?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Special Eleven Plus Brains and PHP

One day, is possible, that some of our current eleven plus students will decide to go into computers. Some may want to manufacture, others to sell while one or two may decide to concentrate on web design. It is almost a certainty that any web user will have come across a website written in PHP.

PHP is a programming language designed for creating dynamic websites. It fits into a web server and processes the instructions in the web page before the instructions are sent to the server. PHP talks to a range of data base systems. A good example of PHP in action is an online store – where you enter the search word and then find the product that you want.

When we log into an online store we may decide to change the number of items that we are purchasing. For example there may be only one product in a particular line – but the customer can be given the opportunity to change how many are purchased.

A brain that can cope with this sort of programming does not necessarily have to be an eleven plus brain. Eleven plus brains have to be able to think and reason – and perform a range of calculations. Some even have to cope with comprehension and written English.

Eleven plus brains have to be mature and forgiving. (Is there ever an eleven plus child who is able to say accusingly: “But I have already done it!”)

Eleven plus brains can not say that the dog ate their eleven plus paper – especially if there is no dog in the family.

Eleven plus children have to respectful and accommodating. (Sometimes parents are right!”

What parents do want is for their child to adopt a dynamic approach to the eleven plus. They want their child to be able to check work carefully. They want their child to be able to follow instructions. Parents do not want to have to repeat something – especially if it to be contentious.

Receptive Eleven Plus brains are pretty special!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Eleven Plus Change

How can an eleven plus child suggest to his or her parents that there may be an alternative route towards the eleven plus? Some children may choose to use a form of a suggestion scheme – but this depends on how receptive their parents are likely to be.

One problem an eleven plus child may face is that his or her parents may not want to hear the solution that is being promoted. Eleven plus children learnt when they were very small that timing is all important. How ever good the suggestion is, it could fall on deaf ears if the timing is off.

One suggestion to any child who is thinking about changes in attitudes towards the eleven plus is that it is possible that a novel approach is needed. It may not be good enough to argue and keep arguing. Eleven plus children seeking change may need to create a whole new image for themselves.

Any eleven plus suggestion may need to include saving time. Parents may feel that they under pressure – and that prolonged negotiations can only waste time. (That is when children go on and on!)

Children may also take note of how governments for years have brought in change – namely the leaked secret. The leaked drip could be offered with maximum publicity just twenty four hours before any crucial meeting. Eleven Plus children may have limited financial resources – but major emotional resources.

So eleven plus children wishing for change may need to:

Argue less
Think of novel approaches to developing suggestions.
Forget negotiations.
Try dripping away.
Play on the emotions of the parents.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Eleven Plus and Arbitration

Some eleven plus children need to embrace change. Working towards the eleven plus examination will mean changes to their lives. Some may need to adjust to working to a schedule. Others very bright children may need to do some real academic work for the first time in their lives. There could even be a group of children who, although they are doing very well at school, are challenged by the complexity and the range of eleven plus work.

Listening to some eleven plus children it almost seems as if they don’t understand that targeted work will help to give them a better opportunity. There are even a few who appear to think that resentment is a necessary price before change and improvement takes place. Some children will not try to be negative but if there appears to be a hint of criticism then the emotions can become turbulent.

When things go wrong in the adult world there are various mechanisms to help mediate and give advice. Some adults may feel the need to turn to Samaritans, others to the Citizens Advice Bureau – while others will need to engage professional negotiators – witness how strikes are handled.

The eleven plus child does not have access to a professional body. The `sometimes grumpy little face’ may feel that there is no one to turn to. But parents must have non arbitrational rights. No child can be allowed to breach health and safety. No child needs to be rude and offhand. No child needs to be disagreeable. Eleven plus children probably want to be treated in a right and fair manner. Many will want to voice their thoughts – which can be useful - unless it goes on and on!

In the world of business people usually try to effect change when the business is expanding. The expansion helps the business to be able to move people to different jobs without losing their seniority or suffer pay cuts. The eleven plus child does not have this luxury.

If agreement can not be reached within the immediate family then any unresolved disputes may need to be submitted to arbitration. The arbitrator could be a much loved grandparent, or an aunt or uncle. Sometimes an older brother or sister could help immensely.

Imagine the pride of Grandmother Molly. Her new family title:

Grandmother Molly – The Eleven Plus Arbitrator.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Eleven Plus and the Ryder Cup 2010

A number of us will have been working with eleven plus children – and then enjoying watching shots of the Ryder Cup.

A number of eleven plus children will have been watching the Ryder Cup with their parents.

Today was Day 2 – and the Ryder Cup foursomes were out in force. The commentators were commentating, the players were playing and the crowds were crowding.

Eleven plus child can learn from golf – they can learn the need to concentrate. They can also learn the need to play as part of a team. (The attire of the players from both teams was a thing of beauty.)

The one extraordinary habit that I hope no eleven plus child will pick up was displayed by both sides. This is something that we never see a boxer doing after a good blow to the head of an opponent. An Olympic swimmer can not do this action in the middle of a race. The winner of the stage of the Tour de France usually raises both hands as a salute – but then he has cycled 200 kilometres.

These Ryder Cup golfers – on both sides – when they have sunk a putt – raise their eyes to the crowd. They then clench their fist and use a dramatic pumping movement to show their joy at sinking the putt.

The hope is that your precious eleven plus candidate does not get into the habit of clenching the fist and pumping after every answer. This could be quite off putting to others in the middle of the real examination!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Variety in the Eleven Plus

It is very hard to generalise – but here goes – a reasonably significant number of parents will hope that their eleven plus children will go onto university.

When their child reaches university there will be a bewildering variety of courses to choose from.

The primary school is already a veritable cornucopia to some bright children – with the opportunity of a wide range of activities and a number of different subjects to study. There is often time for a variety of outside classes and activities. There is also the spectre of the eleven plus. Preparing for the examination takes time and effort.

The eleven plus examination itself can be regarded, in some areas, as a remarkably narrow examination. Coping with analogies, for example, in verbal and non verbal reasoning is a skill that can be learnt.

The GCSE years can be full and exciting – with many GCSE options to choose from. I have already mentioned the ex GCSE grammar school boy who has just joined us to work with our super bright eleven plus children and who has thirteen A* GCSE subjects!
There is some degree of specialisation in the A Level years – but still a range of subjects to choose from.

Why can’t a fresh look be made at the present system of the eleven plus? Some ten year old children may miss out on a prized university place simply because the examination is much too narrow in scope and design. Naturally it must be argued that once a child has jumped over the hurdle of the eleven plus then he or she can be called fit to be able to cope with the variety that will become available in later life. Yet the eleven plus examination may militate against some super bright children..