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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Eleven Plus Device

Your child is about to enter the eleven plus examination hall. You look anxiously to see what state of mind your child is in. Will he or she enter happily, calmly, feeling well prepared and quite laid back? Will he or she enter the room with the light of battle in his or her eyes – ready to take on the other thousands of candidates – pumped up and looking for an eleven plus fight? (One or two children may even be in the middle – a bit laid back and a bit pumped up!)

If your child is ready for a battle he or she may need a heraldic device. Your child takes his or her genealogical attributes from the two of you as parents. The work ethic and amount of work done is up to your child. By the time you have reached the day of the examination you will have done your best. Heraldry presumes precedence, honorary distinctions and armorial bearings.

In the Middle Ages, long before the eleven plus, knights assumed heraldic devices in a big way – these were shown on badges, crests, designs on coats, pennons and helmets. The armorial insignia was placed on a shield – where the knight could chose a design made up of forms with bends and chevrons. Ten degrees of coats of arms were recognised.

You could ensure eleven plus success for your child if you made sure your child was carrying a shield into the examination. Your child could have on his or her shield:

The `Official Eleven Plus Candidate’ chevron.

The sign saying – We did this at home with no outside help.

The mark to show that your child is in the top sets at school.

The colours proclaiming that your child had worked through more than twenty different eleven plus papers.

The background showing that you have told your child to do the best he or she can.

And finally, the mark in the centre of the device that told the world that you had said: “Don’t worry dear. Just do the best you can. We will still love you whatever the outcome.”

Parents will be aware that the College of Arms, who ratify the shields of each and every ` Official Eleven Plus Candidate’, will not entertain the idea of three rampant lions, swords and lances. The eleven plus children are doing battle with themselves and no one else. Richard 111 promoted the first College of Heralds. We all remember Shakespeare’s take on Richard 111. In Act 5, Scene 7 Richard called out those memorable words: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

If your child leaves you on the way into the eleven plus examination muttering: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I do hope I do well!” you will know that all your last minute exhortations have worked!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eleven Plus Decisions

Every now and then eleven plus parents need to make decisions. Some decisions are easy – which eleven plus books should I buy? The eleven plus family enters the bookshop. One member of the senior management team consults. Another member of the senior team asks why the family should not buy the lot. A junior, but most important member, feigns disinterest but reacts miserably as paper after paper and book and after book are added to a growing pile. The most junior member is not all that interested as a copy of The Prince and the Wizard has caught her attention.

Decisions have to be made. If the candidate does not make a decision then something will happen and it may not be to his or her advantage. The `candidate’ may lose control. There is absolutely no use in appealing to logic – as the candidate’s parents have changed their position. They are no longer talking purposefully about buying books for the eleven plus – they are now on a mission. “Only the best will do. My child will not be disadvantaged – we are agreed. Buy the lot!”

Intuition reminds the `candidate’ that few things will distract the parents from their odyssey but craft could help. Would pressing the fire alarm clear the shop? Should a fight be picked with the younger sibling to distract the parents – making time to stuff at least half the books back onto the shelf?

The candidate now needs to consider the risks. This will tend to concentrate the mind - making the decision less difficult. What about offering a plea bargain? If I allow `them’ to buy all those books – what bargain can I broker? What do I really need? Should I be aggressive or laid back? Decisions, decisions!

I know – what about if I suggest that we leave the books on the counter and have a nice cup of tea while we deliberate? If `them’ turn back into the nice loving parents I have always known, then mum and dad may be more receptive to my suggestions. I need to appeal to their better sides. I won’t fight. I won’t argue.

“Mum, Dad – we need to take time and deliberate carefully. We really need to sleep on this. You know that granddad always says that sleeping on a problem helps the brain to come up with a solution. We may not need all the papers. Why not start with a few books then add to them as I work through them?”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Eleven Plus Methods

It is sometimes difficult not to make a sweeping statement – but there could be a faint chance that one or two mothers and fathers may feel a little worried about the challenge of eleven plus mathematics. There are some dread eleven plus words that may quicken the pulse:

“But we don’t do it like that at school.”

Add 472 + 345

Method 1

400 + 70 + 2

300 + 40 + 5

700 + 110 + 7 = 817

Method 2







Method 3




It should be easy for your eleven plus child to explain these addition methods to you. All parents have to do is keep an open mind.

But how is the family going to work together on this emerging mathematical exercise? Answering the question on folding paper is quite `eleven plus’ easy. The problem comes later when different members of the family become involved.

A piece of paper is folded in half. It can then be folded in half again. There are now four thicknesses of paper. Complete the table:

Number of Folds






Thicknesses of paper



How many thicknesses are there after ten folds?

The family now become involved:

“What a silly question. How can you fold a piece of paper ten times?”

“Well I saw it on T.V. We also discussed it in my A Level maths class. There is an equation."

“I don’t believe you.”

“Now children – we can work together nicely.”

“But mum. It can’t be done with that A4 sheet of paper. It won’t fold.”

“I hate the eleven plus. We are always fighting over answers. Anyway I am going to ask my teacher. My teacher will be able to work out more than one way of solving this problem.”

“In my day we didn’t do questions like this.”

“But you add up differently to the way my teacher teaches.”

(Mother, Father, Grandfather, Grandmother, Older Sister and Younger Brother all retire gracefully leaving the Eleven Plus candidate to muse on the inconsistency of man.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Caring Eleven Plus Demography

Do some parents may sometimes wonder about all the other parents and children involved in the eleven plus? The `Eleven Plus Population’ must be made of a wide variety of men, women and children. Some parents may, for example, worry about the competition – how many other bright children is my child up against? There could also be some parents who worry about the effect of failing on their child. Will failure devastate my child or will it all brush over?

It is conceivable that some statisticians will call the science of a population a demography. The word demography, however, allows us to try to ascertain everyone involved in the eleven plus at a given time. We could also look to see what changes were being made in the population. Then of course some people will have the ability to try to explain any changes – and also predict future trends.

Reducing the picture to simple terms – what is the radius around the grammar school of our choice? How close do I need to live to the grammar school? Has the recent drop in house prices stopped more people moving into the area? Is there a marked increase in the number of children?

The Eleven Plus Equation then becomes:

P2 = The Present Population of children eligible for entry into a grammar school.

P1 = The Previous Population of children eligible for the given grammar school.

B = Births

D = Deaths

NM = Net Migration can be positive or negative – more families could leave (emigration) an area than come in (immigration).

P2 = P1 + (B – D) + (NM)

Your eleven plus child should be able to substitute numbers for the letters.

The Eleven Plus Population cannot exist without people. The population needs adults who are trying to help their child to pass the examination and children who want to work hard to earn a place in grammar school. If the grammar school continues to be a desirable school – through good results or other reasons – then parents will continue to encourage their children to work hard and do their best.

Parents can simply reiterate to their children: “You are my favourite little demographic unit. I don’t really care what other parents and children are doing. We can only do the best we can. We will pull together.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Water and the Eleven Plus

A number of eleven plus parents may be rather preoccupied with what can be called “The Ontogeny of The Eleven Plus.” This describes the journey a child and his or her parents take from birth towards the eleven plus results. The amazing word `ontogenesis’ gives us a rather onomatopoeic rendering of an intimate comprehension of pre eleven plus developmental stages.

Stage 1 Mother chooses Father in the hopes that they will, in time, produce the ultimate eleven plus child. (Men who think that they are choosing the woman are usually sadly deluded.)

Stage 2 The family pour love, devotion and attention into the preschool candidate.

Stage 3 The early years of education

Stage 4 The eleven plus year

Stage 5 The aftermath

Many, but not all, parents will remember the work of Carmichael who studied the swimming behaviour of larval amphibians (1927). He reared embryos in a solution which paralysed the striped muscles but permitted normal growth.

Some animals were therefore prevented from swimming in the solution. If, however, the amphibians were placed in normal water they were able to swim.

There must be little need for the moral to be drawn – but some parents will be aware that all a parent can do is the best a parent can do. If parents try to find too rich an eleven plus solution they may find that they are stifling their child. Let your child develop normally and do not push too hard. Offer a normal curriculum. Give your eleven plus child plain water and not some fizzy and oxygenated drink.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Eleven Plus Family

Some parents face quite big problems when they are working with their children during the eleven plus year. Some may, for example, not have high enough expectations of their children. Some parents may feel that the whole family is not rallying around enough to offer actual practical help and support. Thankfully the great majority of parents get through year relatively unscathed. There may, however, be niggles:

Do I have the right books and teaching materials?

What should I say to my child if he if she does not want to maintain a good standard of work?

What should I do if my child does not want to do the eleven plus?

Should I give my child extra help?

How can I accelerate his or her learning?

How much time should my child spend on eleven plus work in a week?

How big a voice do I allow my child in determining the nature and the content of eleven plus work?

A little case study may serve to illustrate a minute proportion of the problems some parents may possibly face:

Case Study 1

Evo is a happy, good looking girl who is content to be in the middle set in her class for mathematics and English. She is universally popular with her classmates and teachers alike. Her parents are professionals with university educations and steady professions.

Evo is the middle child. Her older sister is at the local grammar school and is doing well academically.

Evo enjoys life. She is always busy with one thing or another. She does her homework willingly and has always read a good range of books. She is, however, a little concerned about being able to keep up with her older sister.

Her parents took the time to sit her down and talk about the eleven plus. They did not offer any promises. They outlined how much work they thought that Evo would need to do. They explained about the degree and extent of the support they would offer.

Evo smiled, listened and flatly refused. The family meeting was adjourned. (Older sister was encouraged not to comment.)

What should the family do?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Eleven Plus at a Glance

One of the reasons why the Eleven Plus became the `Eleven Plus’ is because the Hadow report of 1926. The report called `The Education of the Adolescent’ confirmed a school leaving age of fourteen. It was thought, then, that children only needed three years of secondary education. A break seemed to be indicated at the age of eleven.

Grammar schools were already taking on eleven year old children – and bit by bit the age of transfer for more and more children to a wider range of schools took place when the children were eleven.

The elementary schools were called `all age schools’ but the second Hadow Report recommended that more Junior Schools should be established for children aged seven to eleven. The five to seven year olds were already in separate departments called infant schools. A primary school covered children between the ages of five and eleven. It took a further thirty years for a universal education system to emerge. The third Hadow report, of 1931, brought up how slow change took place.

Many schools had classes of around sixty children. The lesson was taught and was then followed by a series of drills and practice sessions. A lot of time was spent on testing in those days. Teachers were encouraged to help their children to memorise facts. D.H. Lawrence suggested that children were encouraged to work hard and pay attention.

The Best of School

The blinds are drawn because of the sun.
And the boys and the room in a colourless gloom
Of underwater float: bright ripples run
Across the walls as the blinds are blown
To let the sunlight in: and I, As I sit on the shores of the class, alone,
Watch the boys in their summer blouses
As they write, their round heads busily bowed:
And one after another rouses
His face to look at me
To ponder very quietly
As seeing, he does not see.

As your eleven plus child ponders an answer – do you sometimes feel that you are seen but not seen?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Virtuous Eleven Plus Answer

A number of strands may come to the fore when parents think about the eleven plus. One could be to what extent their child would benefit from a grammar school education. Another could be how much the whole year will cost. The name Protagoras must come to mind. Protagoras was very possible one of the first of the teachers to charge for teaching. He commendably argued, amongst other things, for virtue in life and work. Parents could also think – am I really helping my child or is there too much pressure?

Parents of eleven plus children could, in theory, help their children to understand what is right and what is wrong through shared eleven plus work. We meet children, for example, where the parents have taken the answers out of the book or folder. “My **** says I will cheat if I can look at the answers.” It could be argued, by some, that the answers in an eleven plus exercise are to help the parents to confirm an answer - rather than provide the facility for their child to be able to copy the answers. If a mother, or a father, look at the answers while they are helping their child to work through a paper – is that very different from them using the answers to mark the completed piece of work? If the child looks at the answers while working through a paper to see if he or she is right; is that cheating?

“Did you look at the answers?”

This could be a loaded question in the child’s mind. “Are you implying that I am cheating? I know the difference between right and wrong. Why that question? All I am doing is working out if I have the right answer. You told me last week to look at the answers.”

“Are you trying to be rude? You know this is a different set of circumstances.”

“You have hurt my feelings. I feel embarrassed that you brought this up in front of others in the family. Yes, I looked at the answers – but this was intentional behaviour. I know you are busy. I just want to see if I am right or wrong. If I leave the work for you to mark I know that I will have to wait until tomorrow.”

“Yes, you are right. But I am still not sure if this was all your work – because you did find some topics difficult last week.”

“I agree – but we went over those topics. This paper is very similar to the one I did last week. I do know the difference between what is right and wrong. Last week I struggled. This week everything was much easier. I just wanted to see if I could do the work.”

“All right dear, you win. We will leave the answers in the book – but please just let me know when you are going to look at the answers.”

“Mother, you taught me about Protagoras a few weeks ago. I know that I need to be virtuous when I am doing my eleven plus work.”

“Yes dear.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eleven Plus Preparation


When an eleven plus child starts `seriously’ on an eleven plus course, the child may, sometimes, feel a little disheartened. The bright eleven plus child will realise very quickly that when `the parents’ say: “Let’s do a little work today. The questions are just fun. They do not really matter. We will all just do our best,” the alarm bells need to ring. The child is bright and can recognise that `the parents’ are intent on some scheme or another. The serious side comes when `the parents’ arrive home with thirteen different eleven plus books, a new dictionary, a new desk, three packets of new pencils and a set of gold stars. Big trouble lies ahead!

An advanced eleven plus course presupposes a degree of mental maturity. This is not quite the same thing as emotional maturity. It is, for example, possible for the candidate to feel that an occasional tantrum is in order. We would want a candidate to be able to hold a conversation without slipping into `he said’ and `she said’ zones. The question of social maturity is yet another matter. How can your esteemed child look at you with horror in the eyes at the idea of all that extra work – but succumb quietly when the same work is suggested by an outsider.

The eleven plus child must be able to distinguish between fact and fiction whether on a paper or in a discussion. The eleven plus child needs to be able to cope with abstract and difficult ideas – whether the ideas are part of the eleven plus or pertain to emotions within the family.

Some eleven plus children are also exposed to weaknesses within their parents. The incredulous feeling that some children must meet will be highlighted when one of the parents can’t do an eleven plus question. Why can’t mum or dad do a relatively simple eleven plus question like: A plate costs half as much as a saucer. At a boot fair two hardly used plates and three saucers cost 60p. How much does each cost? Someone in the family should be able to work that out in less than a minute! “Oh, dear! My parents have holes in their knowledge. I know what – I will phone a friend!” (“My friend’s mum says it is 15p and 10p. Should I move families?”)

Eleven plus children may also have to work under pressure particularly when one or more parent is involved. The child may feel that the parents are vying to be the most persuasive voice in the eleven plus challenge. The old words: “Just wait until your dad gets home.” Or: “Just wait until your mother gets home,” may not be as effective if the child feels that someone else in the family will enjoy an opportunity of climbing onto a soap box to lecture on the advantages of passing the eleven plus.

Some parents could consider the need to pre-prepare answers and working out. (“Look dear. We did this paper last night and got them all right. We are ready to help you.”)

Would this take away some of the potential angst?


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Eleven Plus and a Half Eaten Mouse

Our cat, called `Cat’, adopted us some time ago. She arrived in the snow, cold, thin and hungry. We thought that she belonged to next door – but were told that they no longer had a cat. Cat has grown and filled out and is very good at one thing. She sleeps during the day and sleeps at night. She eats, she sleeps, wanders round the house, and then eats and sleeps some more.

She left us a portion of a mouse the other day – so that during the night she must have found a mouse. Our cat only eats dry food – she does not enjoy rice, branded cat food from tins, or even delicacies like fish and roast beef. She now really only likes one type of dry food – the one with a combination of chicken, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The label says that this food combination has all a cat needs nutritionally to keep healthy and happy. To balance the dry food Cat likes water. She does not like milk or any brand of bottled water. She just likes plain ordinary tap water. (Good cat!)

With this background we are not sure why she chose to eat some of the mouse. She ate the rear section of the mouse – including some of the blood and guts. If she was prepared to eat this why will she not eat the rice and chicken her veterinary surgeon recommends? After all if she has a shot for £39.50 – and the nice vet suggests rice – then she should follow his advice. “Eat your rice and chicken, Cat! The vet says it is good for you. It will also save us another £39.50 next week! Eat your rice, Cat.”

There is a theory that cats think that humans are an esoteric part of the cat family. Our little cat only has us as a family so she brought half the mouse for her family. We thanked Little Cat, scooped her up so that she would not see us dispose of the half eaten mouse, and proceeded to pop the remains into a place where cats do not look. If we had been cross with her we may have upset her feelings. We feed her daily. If she has the opportunity to feed us we should be grateful!

When your child brings a half-finished paper to you – do not recoil in horror. Treat your child the same way you would treat your cat. “Wow! What a good boy/girl! I am so proud of you. A half-finished paper is better than no paper at all. Can we look at this together?”

At this stage your spouse will hear your ecstatic cries and will come to join the celebration. The neighbour washing the car outside will rush to share the good fortune. Brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and a multitude of demi-semi relations will be attracted by the good fortune.

A lone voice may dampen the proceedings; “Wasn’t this the half paper you did last week?”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Nice Cup of Eleven Plus Tea

“Relax dear, just do your best. You have been working hard for some months. Your last eleven plus examination is next week. Sit back and enjoy the fact that you have worked hard and done your best.”

“I hear what you say, mum, – but I don’t feel all that well. Do you think please that I can have some of grandmother’s secret weapon?”

“Of course, dear. We can give your grandmother a ring and see if we can go over.”

“Hello Grandmother.”

“Hello dear. Your mum says that your last examination is very close and that you feel that you may need a little help in calming down?”

“Yes please. We don’t have any Chamomile at home – and I don’t really like the taste. It tastes like rotten apples.”

“Well dear, chamomile has been used for years for just about any problems associated with the digestive system. But don’t let your mother forget to cover the tea when it is standing. It loses some of the oils. I have always said that chamomile has a gentle relaxing action. Your grandfather used to give you a cloth soaked in brandy when you were teething – but we used to argue about this all the time.”

“Grandma, my eleven plus is coming up – I can’t drink any brandy. My head will go funny.”

“Well your mother used to read the Beatrix Potter story to you where Peter Rabbit is given some chamomile by his mother when he came home from his adventures in Mr. McGregor’s garden. You always had some then because Peter Rabbit was your hero!”

“Thank you mother – I had forgotten that. Let us go dear – we can read Peter Rabbit again together – that should relax you before your examination.”

“But mum, I am nearly eleven now. I don’t need to be read to any more.”

(Mothers sometimes have difficulty in winning.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bright Eleven Plus Children

Children writing the eleven plus examinations are among a pool of bright and talented children across the country. Some parents think that a grammar school education will provide most of the solutions and answer the great majority of the questions. A strictly astigmatic view can be that the grammar school will be the panacea to all educational, emotional and developmental problems. If only! Just wait until he or she is fourteen!

Eleven plus teachers cannot hope that all their children in all their lessons are going to be quiet, modest, hardworking and appreciative. We must operate from the thesis that that at times we will not be able supply a benign acceptance of behaviour and motivation when that is removed from what we call the `normal’. Normal behaviour of a bright nine year old candidate can be similar to that of other children – but the responsibility to pass an examination may seem to be more urgent.

As teachers and parents we have a responsibility to help our bright children to do as well as possible academically.

We need to be able to help the eleven plus child to recognise that while they are working on a paper the whole world does not revolve round them.

We need to try to adopt a problem solving approach rather than delivering lectures and monologues

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eleven Plus Insurance

Random thoughts on the role of grandparents in the eleven plus.

Sadly I do not have shares in any insurance companies – otherwise these musings could proclaim a vested interest. Some grandparents, however, may feel a burning need to secure a guaranteed cash sum to mature at the start of the eleven plus year. The money could be used for books, papers, computers, fees, parent’s petrol, child minders or whatever.

Some grandparents will always be on the lookout for special products that offer excellent benefits and great value for money. Before trying to work out just how much needs to be catered for, it may be worth while trying to estimate just how much money will be needed. How long is a piece of string? It depends on the child, the circumstances and the depth of the pockets of all concerned. Thankfully there will always be some children who simply need to glance over a couple of papers and then declare themselves ready. Other children, however, may need a little more input.

Now imagine if there was `The Eleven Plus Insurance Policy’. Grandparents could start contributing on their grandchild’s first birthday. The eleven plus is usually on a fixed date within a given month so the policy could, if necessary, end on this pre-set date.

The Eleven Plus Policy should have a guaranteed acceptance without a medical.

It should offer a good rate of return.

The first month’s cover should be free.

There should a free gift for the grandparents.

The policy should be regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The policy should offer value for money.

Telephone calls should be recorded.

It all sound too good to be true. If there are, however, any financiers around who would like to take up this challenge – we may even be able to find a few grandparents willing to risk at least some of their all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eleven Plus Results

The Newcastle Commission (1858 – 1861) grappled with the problem of schools and education. The commission had this reference: “To enquire into the state of public education in England and to consider and report what measures, if any, are required for the extension of sound and cheap elementary instruction for all classes.” There were two conclusions which had far reaching consequences:

The state should continue to try to assist churches in providing basic education

Grants made by the state should relate to the performance of the teachers.

There was a code in which the payment of grants to voluntary schools was based on the results of examinations by H.M. Inspectors.

Will there ever be a commission in England which looks into the eleven plus? Would the teachers in the schools within the feeder communities ever be subject to payment by eleven plus results?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eleven Plus English

Some eleven plus Local Authorities, and individual grammar schools, prefer to include English in the examination. There was some often quoted research by Hartog and Rhodes back in 1935. They investigated a wide range of subjects at various levels. They found that there was a considerable lack of agreement between markers and between the same marker on two different occasions.

The often quoted example offered by Hartog and Rhodes was a History paper where the same examiners marked a set of scripts separated by a year. In 92 out of 210 cases they changed their mind about a credit or a pass and fail.

How would you feel if your child lost out on grammar school place because the examiner did not think your child’s work warranted a pass classification? In reality today there have been a wide number of improvements brought about by standardisation of the markers. We would all like to think that the examiners not only had a comprehensive marking scheme but that individual examiners were mentored by a senior examiner.

In most examinations today a small set of scripts is set aside to be marked by a number of people to try to ensure the standard and consistency of marking. This allows adjustments to be made to the marks of an examiner who was inconsistent. If the examiner was marking too severely then all the marks could be raised. If the examiner was too lenient then changes could be made. We hear of examinations where the marks of two examiners are added and then averaged – in the hopes that reliability can be maintained. Does this happen in the eleven plus? Someone will know the answer.

The content of the eleven plus in each of the different authorities probably does not change much over the years. This means that it is likely that comparisons can be made between one year and another. Clever people can get to work to compare averages and deviations from the average.

It must be very likely that there can be little need for the great majority of today’s eleven plus parents to worry about the validity of the marks their child receives. We can easily visualise one marker taking on a set of scripts. Other markers will have similar papers to mark. The sets of marks can be averaged and compared. Reliability and validity can be maintained!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eleven Plus Choices

A short time ago a wide number of parents were asked to choose – and place in order – the senior schools they wanted their children to attend. Some parents will have put down grammar schools while others will have opted for different types of schools.

There is a branch of Sociology called `Sociometry’ which looks at how and why people make choices. The eleven plus scene may well confuse some students of sociometry. When school A is chosen over school B some parents will have asked the opinion of their children. Other parents will have gathered up opinions, ideas and thoughts from other parents, [personal observations, advice from tutor and teachers and a general `gut’ feeling.

One set of parents, for example, had a very easy choice to make. Their house was not only in the same road as the grammar school – but was actually separated by no more than a fence. The house had come down through the family - and the current father of the family had gone to the same school. Today’s generation passed two different eleven plus examinations so could attend the next door school or one some six miles away.

Choices are made in a variety of ways.

The Chain: A chooses B; B chooses C and C chooses D.

The Stars: A number of people will all make the same popular choice.

The Triangle: A wants B; B wants C and C wants A.

The role of the sociometrist (if there is such a word) is to try to find the isolates – these are the choices that no one seems to want. Why do some people not want to be part of a chain, a star or a triangle? Can these feelings affect the choice some parents feel they have to make?

Suppose the child mentioned above feels that he or she has been bullied right through junior school and that the bully will also be offered a place at the school next door. Is a round trip of twelve miles for the next six years worth being able to escape being bullied?

Experiments were carried out in the First World War where the privates were encouraged to suggest candidates to become non-commissioned officers or even officers. The officers also played a part and were also encouraged to choose candidates for promotion. Would any of the comrades recommend a highly unpopular individual for promotion – simple to help them out of the troop? Would officers want a detested individual in their ranks? Perhaps there was even the possibility of a scheme to ship the unfortunate out into a different contingent!

If only children had an equal say in the choice of school. Mum and dad put down their choices. Children put down their own equally weighted choices. Children could have the opportunity to justify their selections.

“I do not want to go to ** Grammar School because ** is going there. ** is a bully.”

A sociometrist would be in his or her element!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Predicting Success at the Eleven Plus

Some parents often ask the question: “With these scores, will my child pass the eleven plus?”

Other parents may ask: “As a result of these scores - what are the chances of my child passing the eleven plus?”

The parents are asking for some form of prediction. A predicted score is a kind of average score. When eleven plus results place a number of bright eleven year old children into the care of the grammar schools, parents are predicting that the school will draw the best out of their children – and that the Year 7 pupils will go on to have stellar GCSE and A Level results. Some parents may think: “On an average children who go to grammar school usually do well academically. If my child goes to grammar I can expect great things.”

If a parent went up to a complete stranger in the holiday resort of Disneyland Paris and asked: “Will my child pass the eleven plus?” The respondent could answer in a number of ways. “What is the eleven plus?” Who is your child – do I know him?” “Please – I do not speak good English – but I will try to help.”

Of course you may be lucky enough to meet the educational psychologist who last year placed your child in the top 2% of the population with an I.Q. of 162 – who would be able to reassure you of your child’s chances!

In any average score it is likely that there will be some form of range of results. It is this range that makes the powers of prediction so uncertain. A parent may argue that scores around 80% on eleven plus papers is supposed to be able to suggest that their child can pass the eleven plus. If the child has done two papers – and both of the results are over eighty – then a score of 80 might be enough. If the child, however, worked through a range of papers from different sources – and still achieved an average of over 80% - then this could, possibly, be more reliable.

A statistician has the ability to compare an Expected Result with an Actual Result. The difference between the ER (Expected Result) and the AR (Actual Result) may be small in some cases – but remarkably large in others. A parent, for example, may forget that they `help’ their child with odd questions while the child is doing the test at home. (The act of forgetting is called a Selective Memory.)

It the difference between that predicted scores and the actual scores is remarkably small – and possibly of no real consequence – then it is very unlikely that an error in selection has taken place. With a large gap between scores – then errors could creep in.

Suppose a Local Authority wanted 20% of the children who took the eleven plus examination to pass. This would mean, hopefully, that twenty children out of every hundred would earn a grammar school place. If, however, the authority picked – at random twenty children out of every hundred children – then some bright children would, possibly, win a place, some border line children could also be successful and other children (who may find grammar schoolwork too hard) would also have a chance.

We could argue, for example, that 30% of children in a Local Authority have the ability to cope with a grammar school education. If the Local Authority sets a limit of wanting just the top twenty per cent in the grammar schools then some very bright children may miss out.

"Yes but, will my child pass?"

"It depends."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eleven Plus Fairies

There may be the odd parents – at one time or another – who may wonder if their child really does have the ability to pass the eleven plus. We are talking here about the child who read before school, plays the piano to Level 4 and the flute to Level 5. He or she reached Level 4A in mathematics and English in Year 3 at school – and won the class prize three years in a row for achievement.

There is a phrase in the English language `Away with the fairies’. We know that the fairies represent proper fairies – but also elves, goblins and the like. We know too who used to live in `Never Never Land’ – and what happened in the end. We also know that that one interpretation of Never Never Land is the state of mind that a child seems to enter where nothing you say appears to make an impact. Your child just looks at you with open, trusting eyes – but you know that whatever you say is not being computed. You child is just `Away with the fairies’.

You know that your bright eleven plus candidate will enjoy a high respect for truth. If you asked whether or not eleven plus work had been done – you know that you will get a true and faithful answer. You know too that you can trust your child to do the right thing. The right thing in eleven plus terms is never arguing with parents, always doing all the work, being polite and well behaved and saying thank you whenever you offer any help. (Even if your answers is patently incorrect.)

You also expect your child to follow at least some of the traditions of the family. (But not that of Uncle Will who had to run away to sea because he had been a bad boy!) You really hope that your child will do well on the established route of grammar school, university, high powered and prestigious job, two car garage, index linked pension and a small castle in France.

When you child is `away’ then you cannot really suggest that he or she can cope with a string of utterances like:

“Make up your own mind.”

“You do as you please. I give up.”

“You go your way .”

You want to continue to be a true eleven plus parent: honest, kind, sincere and empathetic. When the fairies enter the soul then feel reassured that, in time, your child will return to the fold.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eleven Plus Chances

How can parents improve their child’s eleven plus chances? The eleven plus, as it stands, is a rather traditional examination. Questions that were used fifty years ago can still be used in one of today’s eleven plus examinations. Parents, therefore, may not need to have an intimate knowledge of the examination to be able to make some suggestions. (Especially if you also sat the eleven plus some years ago!)

There could be a range different styled ability tests – so that parents and children can choose the most appropriate learning style. Some questions could be offered in the format of traditional eleven plus question – and other questions could be far more creative.

A Record of Achievement could be developed – with an end result of `Recommended for Grammar’ or `Sorry, but we do not have a place. The school is, unfortunately, full.”

The types of questions can be changed. `How many sides has a circle?’ Answer: `Two – the inside and the outside.’

Have your child rated by all who know him or her. This could be interesting – with a sliding scale. Would the observation of past teachers be more important than those of the parents? Should a sibling’s score count as highly as that of the swimming coach?

Develop a sort of parachute test – with questions ranging from general knowledge to abstract reasoning. Only the mentally fittest would survive.

Give your child a reasoning test. Drill the answers and the rationale behind the answers. Then offer a remarkably similar test – with only minute variations on each of the questions. Calculate just how much progress was made after all that extra work.

There is little place, so it seems for originality and creativity. I am sure that many will remember the story of the little girl who took a piece of poetry to school. “This is no good. I wanted some more rhyme and rhythm. We have been working on this all week.”

In the staff room a different teacher saw the poem on the staffroom table. “This is wonderful. It must be read at assembly. How old is this girl? She has something.”

The little girl went on to read language at university – and, in time, joined a national magazine as an editor!

By the way: What form of transport has eight wheels but only carries one passenger?

Reroll steaks!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Useful Eleven Plus

Few of us will be able to disagree that we get the eleven plus examinations we deserve. The papers and eleven plus exercises we buy for our children – as parents and tutors – are geared towards the eleven plus. Year after year there must be some able children who miss out on a grammar school place because the examination does not suit.

We are used to hearing stories about young men and women leaving university without strong basics in mathematics and English. We read of employers who take on new graduates only to find that their ability to communicate is limited. In among these graduates there may even be some ex grammar school pupils alumni! Oh! Woe is me!

It is possible for some children to earn a place in a grammar school without equivalent strength in English. Does this really matter? The strident call can be made: “Leave it to the grammar school. The English department will sort them out!” If, however, children had to have elements of strength in aspects of formal English the role of the grammar school could be different.

Some eleven papers seem to be rather contrived and `twee’. This is where a formula developed by one established publisher is followed slavishly by a myriad of copy cats. It is fascinating to see new entrants to the market setting out papers in similar styles. Does this not erode the ability of our eleven plus children to think and reason?

When our eleven plus children are two years old, and are stringing sentences together, we do not teach them by saying: “The words you used in your sentence `I can play’ is in the present tense. Do you remember how you put the words into the past tense?” The eleven plus examination does not deserve a similar formulaic approach. In the same way we do not want the eleven plus to become a ground where children have to be able to distinguish between pronouns and prepositions. The examination needs to be far more creative and `useful’.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why we have an Eleven Plus Examination

The raison d’etre for the eleven plus is to try to help find children a place in grammar schools. Some grammar schools may even welcome the idea that even more children could earn a place and a chance at a different kind of education. Naturally there are special problems associated with developing tests that can select children successfully but generations of children have entered the system and fruitfully emerged at the other end.

The world of the eleven plus, however, is ever changing. New ideas will flow from publishers and new tutors will emerge to challenge the establishment. At the same time the eleven plus, is to a degree, weakened by a divergence of opinions that are held by the major participants – the parents, the children and the rest (made up of tutors, schools, publishers, book shops and the internet.)

Each of the `contributors’ will have some form of specialised knowledge. The children will learn to cope with different books, papers and teaching methods. Parents will learn from each other and sheer common sense. The providers will continue trying to capture as much as possible of the market. There will always be some fashion in the world of the eleven plus. Parents will always need to be able to send out feelers – and tasters – in the hope that something will work for their child. The magic wand is just around the corner!

The may be a need for some parents to play the `devil’s advocate’. “I do not mind if my child does not pass the eleven plus – I just want him or her to do the as well as possible.”

The child may retort, after hearing these soulful words: “My mum and dad keep buying papers and books for me to work on. If I pass they will give me a new watch. All the family will also go on holiday to Australia. There is a lot of pressure on me.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Eleven Plus Skills

By the time a child reaches thinking about the eleven plus he or she is being bombarded continually by all kinds of media. The Eleven Plus child’s parents will still rely on basic visual and auditory channels – but the outside work can addictively interactive. If only a test was recognised at the eleven plus level which could sort out how information is received and interpreted from the outside world.

We can test, for example, with a child’s ability to cope with some forms of information offered orally. Ask your child to repeat 342.Dictate the numbers with a slight pause between each number. Then add a number 6357. Keep going until your child falters. Ask your child to repeat the exercise with you. See who has the better short term memory!

One very useful eleven plus tool when reading questions is the ability to see associations. Find the two similar words: (Heart, Money, Cup, Passion, Glass). The processes of some children may go somewhat along these lines:

Comprehension – I can read the words. I know what the objects are. It is likely that `passion’ is not an object – so I can reject passion.

Evaluation – I can describe the different objects. I know for example that you can put liquids in cup and glasses. I like long tall glasses. They make me think of ice-cream mixed with coke. My mum calls this a brown cow.

Integration – the two objects that are similar are the cup and the glass – because we can drink from both of them.

Transfer – I choose cup and glass. That is my final answer.

Children often come across associations in eleven plus verbal reasoning questions because this type of question has the potential to trip up the unwary. Answering association type questions has much to do with ability. But could the more mature eleven plus child answer associative type questions more confidently than less mature children? After all maturity must have at least something to do with the ability to pass the eleven plus? If a very bright child, at the right age, struggles with eleven plus work then we could, possibly, think of some form of emotional block. If this was true then we would all seek a way of developing maturity as an important means of accelerating progress towards an eleven plus pass. Sadly even the immature can pass the eleven plus – so this is no panacea.

A wide number of grammar schools rely on verbal and nonverbal ability to help to select children. The research on the ability of a child to make association does not seem to be a subject for research. I cannot recall having seen a white paper developing a theme arguing that children who do well on associative questions deserve a place in grammar schools. Good comprehensions skills, along with the ability to evaluate the worth of an answer and then the skill of interpreting the question may be just as important. Almost as significant as the skill of being able to transfer the right answer to the answer sheet!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Eleven Plus Performance

Some of us may wish, at times, that the presentation of much of the eleven plus was not quite so serious.

What about: After passing her driving test Dawn walked home. She was very pleased with herself and kept taking little glances at her certificate. She went straight over a zebra crossing and the wrong way up a one way street.

Her driving instructor saw her! A passing policeman did not stop her and offer a caution! Why?

Every parent with a driving licence will immediately be able to work out the answer. After all we make decisions while driving in a remarkably short time. Of course Dawn was walking or riding her bike – but will your non driving ten year old work out the solution as quickly?

When parents are working with their child they are continually making split second decisions. Is my child’s answer to do with competence or performance? Competence on an eleven plus paper is to do with the basic ability to perform. Performance is the demonstration of that competence.

What do you get if you divide 40 by a half and add ten to the result? Eleven plus competence is knowing how to divide fractions. The performance is whether your child, who is able to understand how to divide fractions, works out that forty divided by a half is eighty – then simply adds the ten to give ninety!

To try to maintain a high level of elven plus performance is sometimes hard work for some parents and their children. A fair number of parents will strive, quite rightly, to keep as narrow a gap as possible, between the child actual performance and potential performance.

Scenario One

“Come dear, it is time for us to work together on your paper. I am sure that if we work together we will able to complete the task quite quickly. We can then go off for a lovely swim”

Scenario Two

“You will complete this paper this afternoon. I do not want any messing about. You will sit there until you are finished. I am very angry with you for not finishing the paper last night. If you do not obtain at least 83% this time you cannot watch T.V. Understand?”

Which scenario will have the best results? We can surmise that motivation to do well on a task depends to a large degree on the relationship between the child and the parent. The way the eleven plus task is presented - and the perceived outcome - could also affect performance. Very few eleven plus children will perform at the highest possible level if they cannot see a point to doing the work. A bit of humour and a little challenge could, possibly, go a long way.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Reliable Eleven Plus Scores

Every test score has the potential to be affected by chance errors.

“You obtained 76% last week. What has happened, you only achieved 74% today?”

“But that digger is still digging up the road outside, the cat demands to sit on my lap – and anyway I don’t feel all that well. I told you that before I went to school this morning.”

A testee can be affected by noise, or feeling slightly off balance. There may have been a fight at school with a `best friend’. Even misreading a question can affect a test result.

There can even be errors arising directly from the test. A question may be ambiguous or phrased in an exceptional manner. The 76% reached last week may have been an over estimation – and not a true reflection. (The mother may not have remembered that last week she gave some help on a group of questions – but did not offer the same help this week.)

Some children may even be a little careless in answering some types of question. There may be some questions which are so `easy’ that the candidate may not have noticed the `not’ hidden in the middle of the sentence.

Some types of question may not `suit’ the child. In non-verbal reasoning, for example, we meet the infamous cubes. Some children may see these immediately while others cannot see the solution even when standing on their heads.

Statisticians are able to distinguish between a true score and an expected score. This would be the score that your child obtained and the hypothetical score that could be obtained if there were no outside influences. The statistician looks at the variance between the scores and then looks to try to see reliability of the obtained data.

There may be some parents who would prefer not to make a statistical analysis – but take the `easy’ way out by saying: “Well dear, that did not go quite as well as last week. I am sure you did your best. There is nothing I could do about the digger and I can make sure that the cat is shut away in a different room. I am sorry that you were not feeling well today. Do we need to cancel your swim tonight?”

“Oh no – I am feeling fine now. I really want to swim. Please don’t stop me. I will do better next week.”

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Eleven Plus Bubble

When we think of a child preparing for the eleven plus we need to wonder if some children appear to need to enter a form of a bubble where he or she is protected from the outside world. It is almost as if an eleven plus candidate needs to acquires some form of prestige simply by declaring that passing the eleven plus is a worthwhile target. In a family positions are commonly based on sex and age – but parents can try, at times, to be an eleven plus tutor as well as an eleven plus mother or father. The mother and father can learn to acquire the status of being the `parents of an eleven plus candidate’.

The family can be drawn together by ties – but open conflict can erupt in a family if the candidate is perceived to be favoured more than other siblings. The eleven plus child can change appearance, clothes and the amount of money in the piggy bank. The candidate cannot, however, alter sex, age and a desire for recognition. So does the eleven plus child need to be pushy, demanding and focused or can the family revel in the eleven plus year – proud that they have a star in the making?

It must be hard for some eleven plus children to understand that they have a duty to the rest of the family. It means that sometimes the candidate has to give up free time to vacuum the floor and clear up. It means that the candidate has to be diligent – and respectful. If a reward is sought or even offered then the nature of the reward must be commensurate. The reward simply needs to be enough to ensure that it is in proportion to the effort. If however, the reward is too hard to achieve then every self-respecting candidate will simply turn away and reject all that is on offer.

An eleven plus pass is usually achieved by children who have a combination of inherent capability and the necessary preparation. There may surely be some children, however, who sadly have the intellect to be able to pass the eleven plus but do are not successful because they do not have the opportunity.

The eleven plus year is to do with duty, responsibility, effort and ability – but it is also to do with parents who recognise that it is not enough to rely on the school, the tutor, the internet and working through papers. It seems to be more to do with parents who give their children time. This means time for their child to grow and develop. Some parents may need to try to create time to listen to their children. Ideally parents will offer time to help where they can. Some parents may even need to give a little time to try to help their child to create the necessary eleven plus bubble.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Eleven PLus Habits

Some parents would welcome their eleven year old child acquiring new habits. We know that during the early years children cannot help but form some habits. Many years ago it was felt that there were two great forces involved in developing habits – namely that of the desire for mastery and strong wish to imitate. Adults are able to be instrumental in developing habits when the children are very young – but a good proportion of us would hesitate to feel that we can make eleven plus learning part of a habitual process.

Imagine, for one moment, that in the melee of family life you could find one evening, A Tuesday for example, where you know that your ten year old would be able to sit down to a meal at exactly 6.00 p.m. You would play your role by trying to ensure that every single week that the meal was delivered and consumed around six p.m. Your child has to be punctual, want to eat at that time and be willing to fit into an artificial regime.

Good eleven plus habits could include finishing work on time, treating teachers and parents with respect and being polite. A habit, however, only become established when it has become automatic. If a parent has to remind their ten year old child to want to work then it could be possible that the habit of study is not fully entrenched.

In the eleven plus examination we want the candidate to answer questions accurately and to be on time. The twin habits of accuracy and being on time are therefore potentially good eleven plus habits. Having an evening meal on a Tuesday on time may, possibly, be desirable but cannot guarantee success in the eleven plus.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Playing Around with the Eleven Plus

How do you know if your child is going to be successful in winning a place in a grammar school? It is easy! Abandon the tests, visits to tutors, internet based papers and eleven plus books from the major retailers. How do you do it? It is easy. Look out all your old home videos!

A very bright child is likely to have play interests that are highly intellectual. This is not to say that prospective eleven plus candidate does not play boisterous physical games in favour of quiet pursuits. The play of a bright child may be more like the play of older children. Some bright children even prefer the playing with children that are older than them.

One problem with a bright child is that he or she makes the games a bit too complicated for the other children. He or she may be considered to be too little to join in the games. The games a bright child may choose to play may be more varied and mature than those of some other children.

Act One

Scene 1

(A bright six year old child is playing chess against the computer. Her older brother is working through an eleven plus exercise. Mother is in anxious attendance – worried that her much loved son will score less than 80% on a paper.)

Mother: Find the number that does not fit: 1 4 13 40 122 364.

Son: I think I can see the relationship. But I’m not sure.

Mother: Do you remember that you have to use four rules? You did this so well on the last question.

Son: But I am not sure what to multiply and what to add.

Daughter: (Without even looking up from the computer.) Multiply by three and add one.

Son: Stop it. I hate it when you interrupt.

Mother: Good girl. Be nice to your older brother.

Son: Oh I see. I multiply 4 by three to get twelve and add one.

Daughter: Told you.

(A brief scuffle erupts with mother trying to keep the peace.)

But who influenced the little girl’s play? Did she learn to play the game on the computer by herself – or was the wise hand of father involved? Who, however, had fitted time into an incredibly busy schedule to take the little one to the local chess club that met at 7.15 on a Friday evening – and who had to wait patiently on a semi comfortable chair while adults heaped praise on the little one? Who sometimes wished that the chess club could meet on a different evening because the week was so full that everyone in the family was a bit worn out?

Bright children need to be intellectually stimulated – the eleven plus offers many children the opportunity to be challenged and extended. What eleven plus candidate cannot help to be enchanted by a question along the lines of: Four times a number is four less than a number that is ten more than thirty. What is the number?

If your old home video shows your two year old child playing a complicated game – then you KNOW that an eleven plus pass is in the offing!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Eleven Plus Behaviour

The great majority of eleven plus parents will want their child to feel motivated to do well in the examination. There may be, however, some families where one parent wants a grammar school education while the other opposes the whole concept.

Opposition to the eleven plus can come from:

· Ideological grounds

· Concern that the child can cope

· The school trip would be a nightmare

Eleven plus children need to feel that they are achieving. If mum and dad normally offer flowery praise for good work their child could, possibly, come to look upon that as a norm. If the child’s achievement is not recognised for one reason or another the child could, possibly, feel that the work they just done is unappreciated or even worthless.

Achievement can be offered in many ways. Some children may prefer a pat on the back, others will want their progress to be recognised by a certificate of participation. The really sensible children will opt for a trip to the cinema accompanied by two friends, large packets of popcorn and endless jugs of a sweet and fizzy drink. The thrill of the cinema trip may, however, become debased if it is offered too frequently.

We sometimes see the work that parents do at home with their children. Some parents seem to need the confidence to be able to pick up a pen or a pencil and write something pleasant to their child. We know that positive reinforcement is more likely to bring a favourable reward than negative remarks.

Teachers and parents alike have to try to arrange the appropriate re-enforcement that is contingent upon the child’s behaviour. Teachers and parents alike can, to a degree, dictate some form of desired behaviour – and then reinforce the good side. “If you do this – I will do this.”

Some parents will opt for their child working through a long eleven plus paper – and then going back over the answers. Other parents will encourage their child to complete the task using short learning steps – and then offer quick corrective feedback. There is no royal eleven plus way!

We expect the eleven plus candidate to be both attentive and receptive. The best of intentions fly away if our effort and not rewarded by appropriate behaviour from the child.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Successful Eleven Plus Candidates

Sometimes it is a good thing for eleven plus children to want to identify with others around them. The term identification loosely covers the satisfaction an individual derives from the success of other people. I remember reading, many years ago, about the identification involved in a mother duck leading a posse of her little ducklings towards the water. Mum leads and the little one follow! How satisfied must those little ducks have felt as they grew closer to the water and realised that they would soon be swimming!

Parents can identify with their eleven plus children and encourage their child to have success in fields where they are successful. Equally some parents may encourage their children to do well academically in fields where they may have failed. The word identification has many masks and covers many different scenarios!

Children may try to identify with their parents. The children could, for example, try to embrace the rights and powers of the parents. This could manifest itself in the language used in the arguments about the degree and extent of the actual eleven plus work. We know that some children, at some stage or another, have the ability to identify with heroic figures. Sadly, some children find an identity in groups or gangs whereupon their behaviour can alter dramatically. We all hope that as the child matures her or she will identify with the benefits of being able to understand and cope with abstract ideas.

A balance some parents may need to maintain and monitor in the build up to the eleven plus is that the process of identification may go too far. Their child could start to feel not only the pressure of the examination but the pressure of the work needed to be done.

In an ideal situation we would want our eleven plus child to be able to weigh up all the pros and cons of the `identification’. The tools could include the ability to discuss the form of the identification with an adult or mentor. Then the eleven plus child can understand the forces involved and be in a position to be able to understand his or her position. It would be an ideal situation if the child could regard the parents as heroes, feel part of the family gang and understand, in fairly abstract terms, the role and nature of identification. We just want a happy and successful eleven plus candidate!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Apostrophe and the Eleven Plus

Can a discussion about an apostrophe (“) ever end in complete agreement? We know that many years ago the old termination of a word used the letters es. Later on this was changed to become ‘s.

The word itself means `turning away’ – from the Greek.

The apostrophe was once used in plurals. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

An apostrophe stands for an omission as in can’t for can not.

We add an apostrophe for the Possessive – and we add an s when we can

We do not add an s if it makes a disagreeable sound. The mother’s books gives us the books of the mother. The mothers’s books – which would be the book of many mothers but the extra s sounds strange. The men’s hats is sound – we would not say the mens’s hats!

We use the Possessive Case for people. We very seldom use the Possessive Case for lifeless or in-animate objects.

It is to be hoped that your nine year old will be able to remember all these nuances of usage. We must all be grateful for the on-line references of WikipediA. I read about the `grocers apostrophe’ – even to criticism of Tesco! What a fascinating subject!

Any form of simplification of these complex rules, for the edification and illumination of our Eleven Plus candidates, would be gratefully appreciated! You see we can’t just give a candidate a rule – we need to be able to justify the rule. After all the most dreaded eleven plus words any one can hear are: “But my teacher says.”

Once `teacher’ has spoken we all need to back off!