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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slipping Through the Eleven Plus Net

One fear that possibly runs through the thoughts of some eleven plus parents is that they fail to prepare their child in the best possible way for the eleven plus. Could they have done more? Would another five papers have helped? Should the eleven plus work have started earlier? Will that silly argument about nothing at all affect their child’s chances? Should I have listen to the class teacher at the last open day?

This leads us to the question of what we can do to try to ensure that nothing slips through the net. To achieve this elusive, yet vital, goal it may be time to look at different types of nets. The main purpose of a net is, surely, to collect. A really simple net is one where an old nylon stocking is attached to a wire frame on a bamboo pole. But, like eleven plus preparation, collectors may want more than a simple solution.

The sweep net is a triangular or circular frame made for sweeping bushes for insects and other small animals. They are made from mesh cambric or nylon with a leather protective collar to prevent wear and tear. A butterfly net can be made from terylene or nylon – and the netting is usually white or green. (Eleven plus children with minds like butterflies need to avoid white or green test papers in case they get caught!)

Water nets are all shapes and sizes – and usually the net is pocket shaped so that the specimen can get be trapped and examined without being harmed. Mesh sizes can vary considerably – up to 180 to the inch for minute organisms. (The eleven plus equivalent is the child who works through a regular, sometimes daily, diet of papers to the extent that the child looks at a paper with resignation rather than excitement and anticipation.)

At this time of the year, with just ten days left to Christmas, some parents may be up ladders looking at the gutters – trying to ensure that the gutters are free in the event of snow falling on Christmas Day. Their children may be beside them urging their parents to make sure that no living organisms are crushed and swept away. Some children may even hand their mother or their father a small bottle with a magnifying glass to ensure that no `stone is unturned’. (This is the eleven plus equivalent of parents and children worrying about minute details rather than on broad sweeps of how to solve problems.) Some specimens collected off the roof may be damp. It is advised to place a paper label inside the jar in case the label outside the jar is inadvertently removed.

It can be seen from this rather brief foray into natural history that the eleven plus examination is more than a collection of esoteric and unwieldy questions. Ensuring that a child is properly prepared requires careful preparation of tools. Children need just the right number of papers and exercises. Parents need just the right amount of reassurance and support.

However much an eleven plus parent tries to ensure that that `no stone is left unturned', and that their child is prepared as well as possible, it just might be possible for the odd topic to `slip through the net'.

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