Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chaucer, Gutenberg and the Eleven Plus


A POVRE widwe somdel stope in age,
Was whylom dwelling in a narwe cotage,
Bisyde a grove, stondyng in a dale.
This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Sin thilke day that she was last a wyf,
5
In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.


Just think of the problems this poor widow would have had if she had had to cope with the stresses and traumas of the eleven plus year as well.

It seems that all she wanted was a simple life – and then came the eleven plus. It was no good her thinking about her sheep and pigs – she had to concentrate on verbal reasoning and mathematics.

We know that Chaucer lived between 1340 and 1400 and dear old Gutenberg developed his printing press in 1439 – so there may have been a little time lag!

All the verbal reasoning papers would have had to have been written by hand. The mathematics exercises would have taken time to prepare. The poor widow may have struggled to find adequate eleven plus resources. There may have been a further complication – how many places did the local grammar schools have? She lived beside a grove – down a dale – how would she have ferried her child to school, to activities and to little treats? Of course the price of petrol would have been cheaper – but with no car and far from any bus route – transport would have been something to consider.

How did families survive without the eleven plus?

Monday, January 30, 2012

An Eleven Plus Study Group


A number of parents find it relatively easy to build an eleven plus support network. There is the close fraternity of the playground as well as the attraction of the anonymity of the internet. To each his own!

But what about eleven plus children? How can they build support networks? We can easily visualise how children from different schools and varying levels could come together to organise an eleven plus study group. After all some eleven plus children have access to telephones, emails, and social networks. The work children could do in an eleven plus study groups could only be limited by their imagination.

Children, with the obvious consent of parents, could arrange to meet each other to encourage work on a variety of eleven plus activities.

The children could go over papers with each other to clarify points and work in close co-operation.

Some children may care to raise specific eleven plus problems – and would then be grateful for any help and assistance from peers.

Some children may find that simply listening to each other may be helpful.

All this sounds rather utopian – but the message is that some children may benefit from being able to talk about their problems, their successes and their failures – without feeling that they are being judged and categorised. There could even be some children who would want to discuss the consequences of success or failure without having to behave like mini adults.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Building Eleven Plus Confidence


There may, possibly, be one or two eleven plus children who feel a crisis of confidence at some stage of the eleven plus year. Parents, of course, are usually very quick to react. Some eleven plus children may need a little more support than others. Naturally parents will employ a variety of therapeutic techniques.

Supportive Therapy

This is often put into effect immediately to try to help with anxiety and panic. Mum and Dad try to be warm and genuine. The parents will strive for emotional security and try to take away any hint of implied criticism.

Insight Therapy

This is where the parents try to re-educate their child about the route towards the eleven plus. There will be discussions about what happens if the candidate is successful, the steps that will be taken if failure is on the horizon, and the effects on the family if goals have to be altered.

Working-Through Process

Each of the members of the family may have to make some form of adjustment. The eleven plus child, for example, may not want to be treated like a baby – but might be striving towards independence. Some parents may be asking too much of their child – and need to back off. The pressure may need to be taken off if the child begins to worry too much. The whole family may attempt to be more relaxed and accepting.





Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monkey Business and the Eleven Plus


Lots of children seem to like monkeys. Monkeys are sociable animals and live in warm regions – such as parts of Africa and Asia as well as Central and South America. Eleven plus children will know that monkeys make their homes on dense forests or on tropical islands. They have as their leader a wise male monkey who leads them to new homes. Of course monkeys are extremely sociable – and appear to chatter and play all day long.

Monkeys are very different from other animals in many respects – but one big difference is that while animals have four feet a monkey has four hands. A monkey can seem to be rather clumsy while walking – but can climb trees in the most marvellous manner – clinging to the branches with long and powerful fingers.

The following words can be made from the word `monkey’. (There may be others.)

me, no, on, key, men, Ken, yen, monk, yoke, okey, Nome, money and monkey


Could the word `okey’ be used in an eleven plus question? We know that O.K. is an endorsement – as is okey.  

The word `nome’ may not appear in the vocabulary of some eleven plus children – especially when we explain that the word is to do with an ancient province.

We know that eleven plus children need a strong vocabulary – but extensive reading may not throw up `okey’ and `nome’. It is likely that it would not be fair to include these two words in an eleven plus question.

What could be fair, however, is a little exercise on some monkeys racing for food in a zoo. All the monkeys were at the top of their cage – playing with an elaborate knitting of ropes. The keeper entered the cage with a bowl of fresh bananas. Half way down the ropes the first five were Simon, Gerald, Peter, Eugene and Roger. To the excitement of the watching spectators, some of whom captured the sequence on their video cameras, it became obvious that Roger had passed Eugene, Peter and Gerald. In a late surge – by dropping several feet – Edward overtook Peter.

Which monkey came first?
Which monkey came second?
Which monkey came third?
Which monkey came fourth?
Which monkey came fifth?

Some children will prefer finding words within words – and others will enjoy the challenge of solving problems. All parents can do is to hope that it all comes together on the day.





Friday, January 27, 2012

Eleven Plus Dreamers


What makes a boy or girl into an explorer? What drove Ellen McArthur to want to circumnavigate the world? Will working on eleven plus questions help a child to achieve greatness?

I used to like reading about Eric the Red. His son, Lief Eriksson, was blown off course on his way from Iceland to Greenland and was reputed to be the first European to reach America.

Of course another hero was Bartolomeu Diaz who was the first to round the Cape of Good Hope – right at the bottom of Africa. I used to sit on the beach while on holiday down in Cape Town and think of his bravery in setting off to see the world.

Christopher Columbus probably led too complicated a life for me to feel that I could idolise him. He wanted to prove that that the world was round.

I also liked Vasco Da Gama who sailed to India and brought back amazing goods for sale and as presents.

A name that must creep into any top ten is that of America Earhart. She coped with many problems before, during and after her great flights.

Men and women of this ilk are remembered and go down in posterity. All must have had key characteristics – some of these will be needed by ten year old children writing the eleven plus.

A desire to achieve and reach a goal

A dream that encompasses hard work and endeavour

A willingness to put up with personal deprivation and hardship

An understanding that failure is not an option.

Of course these are worthy attributes. Think, however, of the hardship undergone by a ten year old not going out to play because of the need to work on eleven plus papers. Think of little or no television for the duration of the eleven plus year. Imagine what it must be like to be a child and have to listen to homilies and eleven plus pep talks from parents and teachers alike.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eleven Plus Advice from Your Doctor


There may be a number of us – when we were much younger – who were very serious about distillation. You will recall that the problem with distillation is that if liquids mix – or do not mix – or if there is a solution of a solid within a liquid – then distillation may become something that has to be thought about.

Let us look first how to obtain a pure liquid from a solution of a solid within a liquid. If the solution is evaporated, then only the liquid boils off and the solid remains. You will also recall, possibly very clearly, that the term vapour is used, sometimes, to refer to a gas which can be easily condensed back to a liquid.  The process of evaporation – followed by condensation – is called distillation.

When we wake and find that our bodies have gone into toxic overload – with a blocked sinus and a heavy head – then we may need some form of help with our nutrition. (This `cure’ should also help if the bottle of wine that was enjoyed last night was emptied or left three quarters full.)
250 g carrots
50 g radishes
1 large apple
Ice cubes
Juice the carrots, radishes and apple. Pour the juice into a blender or food processor and process with a couple of ice cubes.

Your food classes at school will have told you that radishes are a great expectorant, carrots have lots of Vitamin A and apples help to remove toxins. Now every eleven plus parent knows that a hangover cure is not a replacement for advice from a physician. But can you imagine making an appointment to see your doctor.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning doctor. I was working with my eldest on eleven plus exercises last night and felt a powerful desire to distil some gin. The recipe changed into vodka and I think I tried it in too pure a form. I am not feeling very well.”

“I am sorry to hear that. Continue with the eleven plus work. Take long walks to reduce eleven plus stress. Let the vodka distil completely before you try it.

(There may be a long pause.)

I can remember when I was a medical student and we tried to make vodka in the labs. Some worked and some did not. I think I can recall fairly vividly waking up the next day.

If your eleven plus child is thinking of becoming a doctor – bring him in to have a chat with me about which universities have the best labs for brewing.

Thank you and good luck.”

“Thank you doctor.”


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Eleven Plus Border Line Zone



Is it possible, please, to think of a Local Authority that has grammar school places for 22% of all the children in the year group who will be completing their primary school? What is the minimum quotient that is needed for your child to win a grammar school place?

Playground chatter would maintain that last year the eleven plus was harder to pass than the year before, but this year the pass rate could be easier. But how is the cut-off point arrived at? The mathematics is reasonably easy and could, possibly, be understood by your eleven plus child.

The line separating the top 22% is at the 78th percentile. You will probably recall from your mathematics lessons at school that percentiles can be used as an alternative way of comparing marks.

If the border line between pass and fail is too narrow then some remarkably able children may fail to reach grammar school. Your local authority may have to examine the border line zone very carefully every year. The examination may or may not be any easier or any harder – but the border line zone may become narrower or broader.

In practice examination results tend to revolve around the number of grammar school places – and not about an eleven plus examination being too easy or too hard.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Music of the Eleven Plus


To some of us attempting to solve some of the more arcane eleven plus questions is both pleasurable and painful. Some questions seem to need a special language or vocabulary. It could be, for example, like trying to learn a foreign language or read music.

We can believe, possibly, that some eleven plus parents will have studied music at the Sorbonne – and thus have a far more gentrified knowledge of music than the rest of us. Think back to your music lessons at school when your music teacher broke away from trying to encourage the class to sing in parts and encouraged you to look into a little theory.

You will remember that the major scale of C is simply the white piano notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. If we start on one white note, B, for example, and use only white notes to write our scale we produce a different pattern of tones and semitones. From B to C is a semitone. C to D is a tone – and so on.

Years and years ago musicians composed music which fitted tone and semitones. They were called modes. You will recall that in your lesson on the 17th of May (some years ago) your music teacher chatted about the seven basic modes. The first three are:

Aeolian – TST TSTT – the white notes from A to A
Locrian – STT STTT – the white notes from B to B
Ionian – TTS TTTS – the white notes from C to C (We use this scale today)

So if we start helping an eleven plus child answer some abstruse question – and we start off on the wrong note – then we could be leading the child into a world of discordant sounds. Your pleasant, well-meaning and harmonious voice could, possibly, be promoting disorder and disaster. “Start as you mean to finish, my dear, start on Middle C!”

Some of the terms used in music would certainly apply in any organised eleven plus lesson.

Accel. = accelerando = gradually faster (Hurry up dear, I need to put the meal for the whole family on.)
Dim. = diminuendo = gradually softer (This does not represent how you feel about yourself if you cannot answer an eleven plus question)
Pp = pianissimo = very soft (How you feel in the head when your child is quicker than you at some questions.)

As the lessons ends you walk away shaking your head espressivo (with expression) and dolore (with grief) that your impetuoso (impetuous) child has to struggle with misterioso (mysterious) questions.


Monday, January 23, 2012

An Eleven Plus Topic


It may be a source of wonder to some eleven plus parents when they look at the content of some eleven plus questions. A stray thought may pass through their minds. “How can an exercise of this nature determine my child grammar school future?”

The eleven plus `experts’, who set the actual tests, are working on the premise that more superior or more able children will be able to solve more problems that children of a lesser ability. If we consider that that each of the questions in an eleven plus test counts as one mark, as is the case in eleven plus tests, then a test can be constructed.

If we take questions along the lines of: `Rearrange the Letters to Make Names of Animals” then a group of children can be given the exercise. The task is unequivocally specific – the answer is right or wrong. There are no degrees of success – either the child can answer the question or the answer is wrong. If the eleven plus candidate can unravel the answers then there is an enhanced chance of eleven plus success.

Before questions are included in the actual test they are tried out of sample groups of children – and questions and answers are checked. There is no point in setting questions that no children can answer.  In the `Rearranging’ exercise the task is similar for each animal that has to be found. Some questions may be easy – and some more difficult. If you did the following exercise on each member of your family you would expect some to be able to answer some questions – while others struggled.

You could try this at home!

Rearrange the Letters to Make Names of Animals

Snkuk
Niol
Snkuk
Niol
Rede
Tgrei
Barze
Selwae
Bnsio
Leum
Seomu
Shroe
Goroanka
Delopra
Hapletne
Kmyeon
Duonh
Yeteoo
Lqriurse
Kunmpchi
Rotligala
Laglroi
Tinram
Lettru
Clreoicdo
Peatnole

What now follows is a gentle suggestion. Gather two further families on Sunday afternoon. This could, possibly, give a total of six adults and three eleven plus children. Give each participant a sheet with the list of twenty four animals. Take the finishing time. Mark the answers. Compare the answers. Help those who need help.  Find solace in a timely fashion. Wonder why you ever started on this eleven plus lark. Ask yourself: “Why do they have questions like this in the eleven plus?”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knitting Through an Eleven Plus Problem


You have been working with your child on `Codes’ in verbal reasoning. The questions did not come from one of the major publishers in the eleven plus market. The paper came from a friend of a friend – so the provenance is unknown. Thankfully there is an answer sheet. You work steadily with your child – but seem to be struggling. Some of the jumps in the codes do not seem to have any material relationship. Your mind flickers.  Should we continue or live to fight another day.

Your child mutters: “Well mum – can’t you do these? Dad can!”

(Dad was working from the 8 – 9 book – not the eleven plus book – but if you try to explain this you could be thought to be a poor loser,)

There is not an eleven plus mother in the world who is not a quick thinker. You have a flashback to that wonderful moment when your husband to be, pulled the graphology card. You know, this is where you maintain that you can read someone’s hand. You explain to your child that an expert graphologist can read a person’s character from their handwriting. It may seem a little desperate to mislead your child but codes are codes and a desperate situation calls for a desperate remedy.

Every graphologist has a little secret. This secret is not always shared with everybody – but no graphologist ever says anything that could be construed as negative.  (Keep the positive vibes, man.) Your child will be amazed the uncanny accuracy of your predictions.

Prediction One: “This shows that you have a good sense of humour.” Now we all know that while the eleven plus is important, too many so called experts just do not appear to have a sense of humour. But eleven plus children can have a sense of humour. Your child would love to hear that you think that he or she has a sense of humour. Easy? Of course – you are starting to win the battle.

Prediction Two: “One day you will own a Jaguar.” A number of young people would like to own a Jaguar. It is possible that your child will think that you (the pretend graphologist) think that that greatness lies ahead.  This, of course, is cunning marketing when you present a status symbol as an achievable goal. Many people buy Jaguars – and many purchasers do not always go through a grammar school education. You have, however, planted in your child’s mind: “The eleven plus equals success which leads to owning Jaguars at an early age.”

Prediction Three: “Let us look at the answers and work backwards.” This could be fatal and undermine everything you have worked towards. Only some answers show the working out. Working backwards can be time consuming and sometimes misleading. Suppose we use the analogy of Newton and the apple falling to ground to prove gravity. It took Newton 25 years before this thesis was adopted universally. As an eleven plus parent you do not have that long.

You turn away from the table. You pick up the telephone. You phone your husband’s mother. “Please remind me how to do cable stitching.”

“Easy, dear.

Slip three stitches on a spare needle.
Knit the next three.
Then knit the three you slipped.”

You thank your child’s grandmother.

You say to your child: “I have it. Look at question fifteen. Slip forward three letters. Miss three more and then slip three more.” (You say to yourself: “No mother or grandmother can ever be beaten.”)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Eleven Plus Enforcer


You, and your child, are just approaching your child’s lesson.

“Mum, I don’t feel like going to work today.”

You have driven three miles. You have given up `your morning’.                You are in a hurry because you have to buy a birthday present for your younger daughter’s best friend. Your daughter has told you what to buy.

“What is the matter? Are you feeling all right?”

Thoughts run through your mind. You know that violations among some Bantu peoples often leads to restitutive and punitive actions. Your mind wanders a little. You could whisper to your son that for intentional injury a double indemnity must often be paid. Was your child trying deliberately to upset you?

Your thoughts flow on as step by step your hands guide your eleven plus candidate to the lessons.  You mutter, very quietly, to yourself that for some breaches of conduct an appropriate sacrifice or purification must be performed.

Your son grunts an answer.

There are only a few steps left to go before the two of you reach the lesson. You try again. “Please dear, what is the problem?”

Your much loved son turns to you and, with a twinkle in the eye, says: “Mum you always get wound up. I love my lessons.”

You are now the wronged person. You may feel, fleetingly, that you should apologise to your child. You do not want to react too much but you don’t want to feel pressure every week. You know that in a dispute the wronged party often returns to self-help. Would it make you feel better if you clipped your son around his ear? You know you would NEVER do that that. You do, however, have right on your side. You have some form of legal right towards your child and the eleven plus.

You are the final enforcer in the family.

You are the ultimate regulator of disputes.

It is your inborn duty to protect your child.

You look at your son and smile. “Nice try, love. In to battle now!”


Friday, January 20, 2012

Thinking ahead of the Eleven Plus.


In time your eleven plus child will be trying hard to secure a job. He or she will have on the C.V. some key and salient points.

Wrote and passed the eleven plus
Went to grammar school
Had a part time job with the same company for two years
Worked hard at University – and left with a good degree
Had a part time job in term time at University – in the same organisation
Had a great gap year – and worked my way round the year
Ready now for the challenge of a demanding and stimulating job in your glorious organisation.

The employer will look and wonder. “I am not so concerned with this candidate’s personality as much as wondering how he will fit in with the aims and staff in my firm. I like the fact that he went to grammar school. I like the fact that he had steady part time jobs at school and university. I like the idea of the gap year. This is obviously a good candidate – but will he fit in with my present staff?”

The employer may also ponder: “Will he fit in when we have our company party at Christmas? I can see the intelligence but will he try to dominate – or shows signs of authoritarianism? Will he become a leader? Our business has a strong moral backbone – will he show stability?”

We can now see some of the traits that the eleven plus candidate may need to be able to demonstrate:

A good work ethic
An adventurous nature
Bright
Good communicator

Parents could ask their eleven plus child to write down as many pleasant and unpleasant experiences that he can think of. This may offer food for thought – and help up some theories.





Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eleven Plus Parents

Some mothers and fathers seem, at times, to need to be able to regard themselves as a supply chain. From experience some parents will be able to recount in great detail how versed they are and how comfortable they feel with supplying goods, toys, telephones, lap tops and smart phones. There will have been days in the past when proud parents telephoned the grandparents to recount how the precocious one was able to turn on the digital recorder before he or she could even walk. To ensure that participation in the supply chain is maximised some parents will need to have a general understanding of the products that will be displayed before their eyes. We can see, for example, how useful a text messaging service could be to a ten year old – along with the requisite `pay and go’ mobile phone. Changing to a contract, for example, may be helpful for some children. If it is coming out of the family’s joint account then someone in the family, other than `the eleven plus candidate’, needs to understand the various permutations. When parents are dealing with their eleven plus children they have to be very aware of the advantages in being able to adopt a system where cost effectiveness is balanced against aspirations. Children need to be able to show that they are flexible and able to adapt. Children need to be able to listen to reasons why some events cannot happen – and why something must happen! All of this is to maintain that to some eleven plus children the eleven plus year can be a particularly fascinating period of time when parents spend money! Problem One – How can I Inspire my Eleven Plus child? Solution One – Buy as many solutions as possible to hasten the integration of voice, multimedia, video and data services. Self-respecting eleven plus children may feel that they need the best possible IT solutions. Children will possibly be able to explain to their parents how their parents can monitor any sites and how their parents can gather the money to be able to actually buy the ipad before school starts. Problem Two – Where can I get some eleven plus training? Solution Two – Ask experienced and well respected educational and IT providers. These consultants may not need to be paid as long as all parties can try to work out complementary reward system. Some rewards can be very simple. “If I clean all the shoes this week, can I have a top up of my phone?” A more complex system may need to emerge. “Mum, it is January now and the examination is some months away. (Mum thinks – time waits for no man!) I want to pass my eleven plus. (Mum thinks – what now?) There is a new ipad app that may well guarantee me a grammar school place. (Mum thinks more money!) I promise I will show you how to use it. (Mum thinks – maybe.) Mum, real do need a new ipad – and there is a boxed one on ebay and it is really cheap. (Mum thinks but will it help you pass the eleven plus?)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Taking an Eleven Plus Chance

Of course every single eleven plus child in the whole world has a properly organised eleven plus study plan. The study plan will detail the days the child will work, the subjects, the time and be in sufficient detail so that the child knows exactly what to do and when to do it. Inside the plan there will be notes about convenient times for the child to be able to shout, “Mum. Please help. I can’t do number twenty four.”

Because statistics are hard to gather, there may be one or two eleven plus children in the whole world, who are able to survive their eleven plus without the benefit of a timetable. It is possible, but not axiomatic, that the `candidate’ may be able to choose, sometimes, what he or she would like to do.

Picture the scene. Mathematics, verbal and non-verbal books are laid out over the floor. Scientific method of selection number one:

Task One – Pick the Subject
Up the ladder, down a ladder,
See the monkeys chew tobacco,
How many ounces did they chew?
Shut your eyes and think.
Three
One two three
And out you must go for saying so.
(In this case verbal reasoning was selected.)

Task Two – Pick the Page
My mother and your mother
Were hanging out the clothes,
My mother gave your mother
A punch on the nose.
Shut your eyes and think.
Green
G R E E N spells green, and out you go
With a jolly good clout upon your nose.

(This suggests that Page 5 was selected scientifically.)

Any truly self- respecting eleven plus parent will take umbrage at the idea of their child talking about tobacco. Other parents, or possibly the same ones, will question the need for an eleven plus child to know anything about imperial measures. Furthermore, the idea of mothers punching each other is naturally abhorrent. No child would countenance such happening. And is the word `clout’ slang or could it be found in an eleven plus paper?

Question: Does it really matter how the work is selected as long as some is done?
Answer: Sometimes
Question: Can an eleven plus family leave anything to chance?
Answer: Sometimes
Question: Do parents need to change much?
Answer: Sometimes
Question: Can Mum help with number twenty four?
Answer: Sometimes!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Eleven Plus Bill of Rights

Should eleven plus children have own `Eleven Plus Bill of Rights’? Some suggestions:


Child feels that parents are pushing too hard.

Parents need to listen to their child
Do not push for information
Make notes to keep as evidence

Parents feel that child is resisting full eleven plus work

The candidate needs to listen to parents
Try to understand why parents want them to do better
Resolve to try harder

Putting words into actions (Called `Good Working Practice’)

Parents and children treat each other with dignity and respect
Both parties become more sensitive to the needs of others
Unacceptable behaviour, on either party, must be addressed and resolved.

Health and Safety within the family

Parents must take good care of their own health and not become too stressed by the eleven plus
Children must be mindful that parents do have rights and do need to be listened to (at times).
Working areas of the eleven plus child need to be kept neat and tidy (By the child taking responsibility.)
One member of the family needs to be appointed the safety officer – and carry out a risk assessment daily.

Guidelines for Parents

The eleven plus is just an examination. It is not life and death.
Parents need to try to promote the health, growth and development of their children – and be nice to them when ever possible.
To be available 365 days a year to answer eleven plus questions and cope with related subjects and issues.

Guidelines for Children

Children must be prepared to maintain adequate timekeeping
Children must be aware that they need to do a fair amount of work – and must not upset their parents simply because they do not agree.
Children must be aware of the Equal Opportunities Policy within the home. (Parents need rest time too! Parents need a break from their children too! Parents have to win every single fight and argument because they are the parents.)

A General Procedure Applicable to Parents and Children

Each member of the family must be able to offer an oral warning
A written warning must be kept in a safe place.
If there is no improvement after a week then a final written warning should be offered.
Any final decisions can only be made the parents after a fair and just hearing (This applies even when parents have to hear themselves!)

The Essence of the Eleven Plus Year

Children will act politely and with consideration to their parents
Children will respond co-operatively to requests and instructions from parents
Children will do their best whenever possible
Children will ask for help when they need help
Children will read all questions twice before asking for help
Children will take an interest in the eleven plus

Finally, children will sometimes do some eleven plus work without being reminded!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Eleven Plus Clouds

The term `Cloud Computing’ is one of today’s buzz words. The `Cloud’ is not a product like an ebook for your Kindle or an on-line eleven plus test. The `Cloud’ is a service. The `Cloud’ – like real clouds – is scalable. Many different devices can link into the information and the applications held in the `Cloud’. I can recall at school learning about the cumulonimbus – you know the towering cloud that looks so dramatic in pictures. It is difficult to know from the poem which type of cloud Wordsworth was talking about – but his immortal line `I wandered lonely as a cloud’ will be with us forever.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

There will be many interpretations of William Wordsworth’s poem. Most of them will concentrate on imagery and attempt to capture the essence of beauty and happiness. Of course eleven plus parents won’t always see it that way.

When the eleven plus parent is wandering around trying to find the right books and materials he or she could enter a bookshop and see the abundance of eleven plus materials on the shelves. There will be so many to choose from. Or he or she could do a search on the internet and see page after page of books, materials and recommendations. There could be as many as ten thousand pages dancing on the shelves and on-line.

The question of feeling vacant and pensive is quite compelling. This is where the parent slumps onto the most comfortable chair in the house. A cool glass of something is close to hand. The spouse is on child duty. The moment of reflection and peace is at hand.

“I have bought a pile of papers.
I have found the best tutors.
I have organised on-line tests and exercises.
I have listened to reasons for not working.
I have done my best.
Tomorrow is another day.
Please fill my glass with another."

When your child seems to have his or her head in the clouds – you may well wonder if he or she is thinking about little drifts of stratus, eleven plus materials from the internet or just plain dreaming. What you cannot do is interrupt in case you break the spell.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eleven Plus Attitudes

In the absence of any major published studies on the needs of eleven plus children in their eleven plus year, it may be left to parents to make up their own minds. What a pleasure this must be to most parents as they now are able to find their own solutions without being told what to do! We seem to go through much of life having to follow rules and regulations. So long as the child is entered for the examination -and sits the examination – then a place in a grammar school could, possibly, come available.

Of course there are caveats – but there is no one golden rule for children to follow. Some children have tutors, some don’t, some do lots of papers – others do none. Some parents work with their children – other children manage without their parents.

It is possible, however, that there is some common ground that children who pass the examination need to cover. It seems likely that most successful elven plus children will have appropriate attitudes and values. They will probably want to co-operate actively. It could also be likely that a successful candidate will have to ability to listen to more than one side of an argument. A further thought – and this must be largely unproved – is that a true eleven plus child will enjoy sound attitudes, skills and knowledge.

What parents will hope is that their children will cope effectively with the explosion of knowledge that studying for the eleven plus must entail. Learning lots of `eleven plus’ facts will not help a child to cope with a knowledge explosion. Children studying for competitive examinations need a positive attitude to learning and a strong battery of inquiry skills.

The Eleven Plus Road

To some parents the eleven plus is a route of careering joys and triumphs. Other eleven plus families may feel, at times, a little despondent and unsure. There is a poem - some feel by Sam Foss and other attribute the poem to `Anon’. I am not sure just how old the poem is. The title to some is `The Genesis of a Road’ and by others to `Calf-Love’. It is all a bit confusing.

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

Some parents may enjoy reading the full poem as it charts how man follows a path and others follow. Some parents may even care to read the full poem with their children as it does seem to describe some of the events that some of us meet on our eleven plus journey.

Your conversation could, possibly, follow along some of these lines.

Parents: We can see how meandering along without a plan, as the calf did, can lead to great things – but would writing an eleven plus plan help us as a family?

Child: I wonder why the dog then the sheep had to follow the same path?

(At this stage you will see why you need to read the whole poem to make any sense of this discussion. Why not click on the link?)

Parents: The path became a lane. Why then did the crooked lane become a road?

Child: Well the road was there for a hundred years – it could have been beaten down by the passage of feet over the years.

Parents: How did the lane turn into a renowned metropolis?

Child: I suppose it is a bit like the eleven plus. I learn a little every day and one day I will be ready for the examination. My brain will be busy with ideas and thoughts. I am looking forward to the examination.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When you were reading to your child it is very likely that you came across the following words. Later on your child will probably have had equal pleasure in reading them.

“It's a friend of mine - a Cheshire Cat,” said Alice: “Allow me to introduce it.”

“I don't like the look of it at all,” said the King. “However, it may kiss my hand if it likes.”

“I'd rather not,” the Cat remarked.

Your child will, not doubt, be able to recall that Alice went on to say: “A cat may look at a King!”

The Queen said, of course, “Off with his head!”

It is very unlikely that the cat went on to do the eleven plus – he or she was probably a little bit too argumentative. The King was possibly a bit too regal and the Queen seems to have been a real mess. It leaves us with wondering if Alice could have passed the eleven plus.

To pass the eleven plus children need to be able to assemble their thoughts and they need to be able to think logically. Would the King, the Queen and the cat been able to work some of the intellectual skills a child needs when attempting ability tests? Parents, of course, will hope that their children will be able to:

Grasp the meaning of question on, at least, the second reading.

Work out if there is any ambiguity in any reasoning.

Make some kind of judgement as to whether certain statements contradict each other.

Work out which multiple choice answer deserves to be chosen

Decide if the reasoning of either mother or father is reasonable and specific.

Throw scorn on any unwarranted assumptions.

Work out when to re-read Alice in Wonderland.


Parents who work a lot with their children towards the eleven plus will probably hope that thinking and reasoning are acquired characteristics. After all – what is the point of working through hundreds of different reasoning questions if thinking and reasoning skills are not quickened? It does seem likely that Lewis Carroll understood the minds of at least some eleven plus children!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eleven Plus Solutions

Some eleven plus mathematics questions are indisputably of a practical or concrete nature. 101 – 35 can be performed by the great majority of eleven plus pupils in the months leading up to the examination. Some children will even be able to perform the operation in their heads. 101 – 35 can be called a mechanical procedure.

Some questions, however, seem to be of a more abstract phenomena.

It can be argued that there is a preliminary or groping stage – where the child can arrive at the answer through playful and exploring means. Children gain insight into the answer by assembling various stages and consolidating the thoughts.

The next stage is probably a little more structured. Where rules are developed and awareness and more direction seem to be taking place. These various activities appear to build to an eventual moment of insight.

Then comes a stage that eleven plus parents will recognise with some considerable relief. This is where the eleven plus child wants to use the insight and work through more examples. Your child will want to actually practice. Oh my word! This is an exciting step!

Your child is trying to anchor the concepts so that they can be retrieved and used at some later date. But how do you know when this stage has been reached? It may well be when your child does not ask you: “Do I add or multiply?”

Numbers are really quite abstract. Take a simple exercise. You are going on holiday with your family. Your ten year old has responsibility for packing his bag to take on the aeroplane. He is an avid reader – he is going to be given a Kindle on his next birthday – but for the moment he has to take the books he wants to read with him in his bag. The family are flying on a budget airline – and only 15 kilograms can be taken on the plane. Your son’s bag weighs 2.5 kilograms. The clothes – even the ones he selects – only come to 8 kilograms. He wants to take several books, however, and needs to be able to work out how many books he can take. He will need to leave some books behind. You sneak a quick look into his semi packed bag and see that he has left some staple clothes out of the bag.

Do you remind your son that he will need extra pairs of shorts and shirts or do you leave him to take responsibility for his actions?

Do you slip the additional clothes into his bag – and hide three books to keep the weight down?

Do you ask him to weigh the shirts and shorts that he `forgot’ to pack, weigh the books and come up with a compromise and a solution?

As he is an `eleven plus candidate’ do you simply suggest that he `sorts himself out’?

At what stage does the problem turn from simple meanderings around the potential problem to your child formulating rules and then coming up with a solution?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mental Ability and the Eleven Plus

Some parents may wonder what happens to their children if they do not pass the eleven plus. After all passing the eleven plus assumes such a monumental place in the psyche that it hard to look ahead. There was some interesting research back in 1941 about intelligence. It must be remembered that the eleven plus was being talked about in much detail in the early 1940s. The examination came fully into force later on in the decade with the establishment of more grammar school places.

The Terman-McNemar Test of Mental Ability (1941) looked at what happened to intelligence after the age of ten. It was believed that the ability to perform well on mental tests reached a peak at around fourteen, fifteen and sixteen years of age.

AGE NORMS FOR THE TERMAN-McNEMAR TEST OF MENTAL ABILITY

Age in . Standard . Increment
Years . . Score . . . . Over Preceding Year
10 . . . 77
11 . . . 84 . . . . . . . . . 7
12 . . . 90 . . . . . . . . . 6
13 . . . 95 . . . . . . . . . 5
14 . . . 100 . . . . . . . . . 5
15 . . . 105 . . . . . . . . . 5
16 . . . 109 . . . . . . . . . 4
17 . . . 113 . . . . . . . . . 4
18 . . . 117 . . . . . . . . . 4
19 . . . 120 . . . . . . . . . 3

It is not all that clear what happens after the age of nineteen, but could it be likely that mental growth continues beyond this point? After all life and thinking does not need to stop at nineteen. The research tried to show that there was a steady growth in intellectual capacity. Thorndike, another immensely popular psychologist at that time suggested that there was a decline of only fifteen per cent between the ages of twenty-two and forty-two!

Some parents, if we can still believe these statistics from many years ago, can take heart. If their child does not reach the required level at the age of ten – there is a chance that by nineteen everything will have evened out.

It only remains for some parents, as they look at some eleven plus questions, must wonder if the reported decline, at suggested by Thorndike, is actually taking place!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Eleven Plus Escritoire

Question: When it the eleven plus like an escritoire? Answer: When children work through a restricted number of eleven plus topics – and are prompted to label them and stack the contents into little boxes and shelves. Question: How do you cope with missing letters within a word? Answer: Go to box D5, open it, take the information out, peruse it, use it and then file it until it is needed again.

The eleven plus is supposed, we must presume, to try to help to develop rational understanding of a restricted number of topics. The end result of the all the study and preparation is a letter saying:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Plusa

It is with great pleasure that this missive confirms that your child is deemed to be selective.

Please tell your child well done.

You will be informed about his or her chances of obtaining a place in the grammar school of your choice in the near future.

Yours sincerely

Mrs I. Didmybest


The eleven plus mind is supposed to be rather like a doughnut making machine. All the ingredients are placed in a large bowl, a mixing process takes place and then the doughnuts are sent off to be baked. If a candidate misses an important step then there is a chance that he or she will not rise to the occasion in the examination. But if much of eleven plus work is compartmentalised and stuck into closed little boxes – there will be little chance of a consummate blending of ideas.

Some eleven plus children will have super-efficient machinery designed to open and close the boxes at the right moment. Other children may need a little grease to oil the runners. Practice and exercise can help considerably when efforts are made to get the best possible out of the candidate. Indeed it looks as if the eleven plus examination is designed to help children to become receptive about the right ideas and snippets of information, and getting the eleven plus machine to work properly.

When parents and children work through eleven plus papers they are trying to help to develop reasoning and thinking. There must be more to the examination – there needs to be a spirit of working together. My mind often goes back to the mother I met some time ago who maintained proudly that her daughter had worked on a full eleven plus paper every single day of her Year 5 year. Her mother said that she sometimes made her daughter repeat a paper as many as six times – to prove to her daughter that she should not make mistakes and that she should maintain high standards. This information could make us wonder if her daughter will ever be able to cope with the pressures of the actual eleven plus examination – much less years of grammar school education. The poor girl’s gruel just got a little more mixed!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Eleven Plus Anologies

Parents spend a lot of time trying to cater to the interests of their children. The family are off to swimming, then dance, then photography, and onto drama, cricket and football. Some parents will even provide the transport and the time to take their children cycling and to pony club.

The idea that the eleven plus can be included in the interests of children does not need to stretch belief. There must be many children bursting with enthusiasm at the idea of being offered the opportunity of being stretched and invigorated by puzzles and problems. These will be children who know that they are expected to work on papers and exercises. Some may even attend a tutor or have a tutor to the house. What would be very sad, however, if the welcome drive to succeed and do well academically was as a result of social pressure.

Parents can set educational objectives. Parents can be advised by colleagues, playground friends, relations, teachers, tutors and forums on the internet – and this will help to build a picture of which books and papers to buy. These materials will help to develop the objectives. Parents, however, will make their own judgement about which objectives to follow.

What is not so certain for some parents is how they build detailed yet purposeful objectives for their own children. “I will use papers, books, lessons, courses and advice to try to help my children to pass the eleven plus.”

But parents will need to try to classify the objectives. Some objectives could be short term. “If I can encourage my child to complete the paper I will reward myself with a glass of two of that nice white wine we didn’t drink at the New Year.” Other objectives could be longer term. “We will develop a timetable that will take into account all the family’s interests, work out where and when the eleven plus fits into the timetable, and put the plan into execution before the end of the month.”

But the eleven plus is not simply about learning facts – it is also to do with attitudes towards work, learning to balance leisure and study and developing positive habits of working for oneself. If the focus of the family only concentrates on books and papers then there could possibly be a danger that the objectives would become too narrow.

If we are to work with our eleven plus child on analogies – it may be useful to give some background of thoughts, ideas and theories on analogies. Would it help an eleven plus child to know that some of the ancient Greeks became involved and debating different types of analogies? Some children may be fascinated to learn how a study of analogies can help to develop thought and ideas. Some children, and their parents, may learn to understand just why analogies are included in a range of eleven plus questions. Parents could suggest to their eleven plus candidate: “Our objective today is to try to isolate, then understand, some of the different types of analogies found in eleven plus questions.” Some may try to complete this analogy:

The Eleven Plus is to children as …………………. are (is) to parents.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Motivation and the Eleven Plus

By now parents will be recording their motivational speeches. How many times can parents say: “Just do the best you can. Whatever the results we will still love you. Keep it up!” The eleven plus examination is a momentous event in the lives of most families. In fact it possibly can be compared with the real life wedding!

At most weddings the conventional programme begins with the bride’s father – who proposes the toast to the bridge and groom.

In eleven plus motivational terms it may be a good idea for the father(s) of the parents to deliver an inspiration speech on the turmoil and vicissitude that took place as the present candidate’s parents approached examinations. Perhaps a grandfather could even add a little humour. (Please remind grandfather to avoid clich├ęs like the plague.)

Next comes the bridegroom (or in this case the father of the candidate). He will be pleasant and won’t want to upset his son or his daughter.

After the groom the best man stands up to propose a toast. (We are, however, going to miss this out and look at the speech of the mother of the child.)

In all these speeches it is customary to make a big effort to be nice. In the case of speeches at a wedding most parties will be trying to pay a tribute. All the parties will try hard to compliment each other. Words of sincerity and praise will ring over the room. The eleven plus child needs the same. There should be carefully chosen words. Nothing said should be too miserable or patronising.

In many modern weddings it has become a custom of the bride to offer a few remarks. This is the speech that all concerned need to listen to carefully. It will be carefully structured. The speech will have a natural rhythm. It is unlikely that there will be tears as the bride is speaking. In fact the room will probably be mesmerised and involved.

This is the stage when we realise that the bride is the mother of the potential eleven plus candidate! We can expect the son or the daughter to listen to an uplifting pre eleven plus speech with reverence and silence along with rapt attention. Your child should listen to what you say – walk up to you with a hug and say: “That was the nicest thing you have said to me all year. I promise to work hard and do my best. Thank you for these kind words. Once again, thank you – I am motivated and feel that I am on the right track.”

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Eleven Plus Papers

Are eleven plus papers useful? Children, at times, may ask this question with a sense of wonder but fortitude. After all children trust their parents who almost always know better! Parents, however, know that working on an eleven plus paper is good for their child. Some parents may even believe in quantity over quality.

Most eleven plus papers are an entity in themselves. Some have 50 questions, others 80 and some even 100. The questions in papers are usually a reasonably varied selection – after all the papers are written by teachers for consumption by real children. It should not, however, be assumed that all the questions are carefully graded. If your child achieves 78% on one paper and then a `shocking’ 72% on a different paper – please remember there is no onus on a supplier of a test to ensure that the tests are entirely equivalent.

Sometimes a child will be encouraged to work through a whole paper. On other occasions the eleven plus candidate will only be asked to work on a section of a full paper. Naturally timing is important. The watch or clock needs to be on the desk in front of the child. Timing should be discussed as a matter of course.

Once parents have bought and paid for an eleven plus paper then naturally the paper belongs to the family. The paper can be cut up into sections – it can be written on – or even left pristine. Papers just can’t be copied or reproduced in any unlawful form. Sometimes children can be helped on a paper and on other occasions they have to work entirely on their own. Parents can prompt the correct and the incorrect responses. Parents can even do the paper the night before to make sure that they have covered all the answers.

If an eleven plus child is going to work on a paper under challenging conditions – then parents could consider trying to ensure that their offspring is fresh, fed and watered. Some parents may even try to ensure that the `eleven plus paper zone’ is kept as free as possible from younger siblings, radio, T.V. animals and even marauding older sisters.

By the way when parents are comparing one score with another – it may be politic to try to remember how many questions were answered with assistance. 72% with no additional help may be better than 78% with some help! Memory is often selective!

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Fairer Eleven Plus

Is the eleven plus a fair examination? Some would argue that it is – but others would maintain that the examination is flawed. One wonders if enough is done to counter the effects of practice and coaching. Is it unfair to compare the score of a child who had had extensive preparation with a child who simply sits the practice tests a few days before the examination? Do the eleven plus examiners need to prove that coaching does not have an effect on scores?

Would most children reach higher scores on ability tests if they had a few practice sessions? The questions could be different – but the basic examination could remain remarkably similar. What could account for a rise in scores?

Test sophistication

Knowledge of procedure

Reduction in anxiety

Practice in doing tests

There were, however, some findings a few months ago that if a person could not pass a driving test after two or three attempts – it became far more difficult to pass when the number of failed tests rose to around ten. If the same `halo’ effect took place with children writing eleven plus papers – then many children would be able to breathe a great sigh of relief! (Give over Mum. You know that research says I only need to do three papers.”)

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence available to parents about the value that expert coaching can add to a child’s performance. Some parents may even have feelings that unskilled coaching can be of considerable disservice. The plethora of eleven plus books and exercises, however, must give parents considerable reassurance that they are on the right lines.

What happens if we change some of the questions in the eleven plus to try to find fairer tests. Is this a question which may not be `fair’?

What is the word that means the same as the two words outside the brackets?

Smart ( . . . . . . . . . ) Bulge


The answer is `swell’ – because a swell is smart and a bulge can swell. Some children may never at home, or at school, come across the word `swell’ used in the same series as `smart’. If a child failed the eleven plus simply because of a rather old fashioned use of a word – would that be fair?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Comments on the Eleven Plus

Some parents may feel a strong urge, at this stage of the year, to re-organise their families. This could include taking the dog for a pamper and wash before the snow starts falling, trying to find a new type of cat food for the much loved, buying yet another new pair of shoes for school, trying to find different types of eleven plus papers and contemplating a visit or two to the gym.

Please read each question carefully. Each question should be answered by placing a star (*) in the appropriate box. A star should be placed in the Undecided box if you are undecided what answer to give to the question.

Question Yes No Undecided

Should eleven plus tuition be available for all children?
Yes No Undecided

Should eleven plus tuition be compulsory?
Yes No Undecided

Are you in favour of a four term year?
Yes No Undecided

Should the transition to senior school be at eleven?
Yes No Undecided

Are you in favour of more grammar school places?
Yes No Undecided

Is classification by ability desirable in junior schools?
Yes No Undecided

Should eleven plus teachers have special training?
Yes No Undecided

Could there be more collaboration between schools and parents over the eleven plus?
Yes No Undecided

Is information about the eleven plus readily available?
Yes No Undecided

Are you satisfied with present eleven materials?
Yes No Undecided

Are there additional points you would like to raise?
Yes No Undecided


Additional Points






Notes on Questions

There does seem to be a bias towards questions on the eleven plus- but then this is about the eleven plus! Any comments would be gratefully received!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Eleven Plus Rapport

The next time you contemplate encouraging your child to attempt an eleven plus paper – why not take the opportunity to invite one of his or her friends? You will then have the chance of seeing your child working with another on an academic task. The results could possibly be illuminating.

It may seem, at times, that the two children are functioning almost intuitively. They may work on questions without any gesture, speech or signal. On other questions there may be chatter, discussion, laughter and togetherness. On one or two questions they may act almost as if they are hunters.

Picture the two children on the trail of an eleven plus answer. They will be co-operating smoothly and almost silently. There could almost be an absence of words. If a hunter was working on his or her own then the hunter’s behaviour would probably be very different from when hunting in a group. It is conceivable that the same might be true of eleven plus children working together. You child working on his or her own may react very differently when working with a friend.

The exigencies of the patterns of behaviour expected of an eleven plus child working alone will be determined by a variety of factors. These factors will range from sheer pleasure in tackling unfamiliar questions to horror at the idea of yet more work. The complexity of working for one’s `mother or father’ could, in some cases, be swept away as a result of the unfamiliar circumstances of working with a partner.

Suppose the two children strike a problem. They will work together, then independently and then may, at some stage, ask for help. This could lead to a conference type of situation where ideas will be filtered into the discussion by the different parties. There could be suggestions, which are accepted or ignored, possibly some internal conflict within the family, along with compromises and repetition.

Hypothetically, joining up with other candidates and their parents, at times, will give insight, understanding and compassion. This would need to be tested with a number of friends and families.

It is no secret that I come from Africa. There was a custom among the Swazis which allowed news to travel remarkably quickly. When two people met on a pathway they talked about what they had done, who they had met, what they had learned and what they intended to do. In one form Twitter, forums and Face Book allow eleven plus parents the opportunity to communicate with other individuals and groups. But what parents and their children may find by working together they gain rapport.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Colour Schemes in Eleven Plus Areas

When does a man who is revered by all become someone who has the power to alienate at least fifty per cent of the population? Answer – when your name is Herbert Hoover. He explained that a man’s vision of a home was sometimes far different from that of a woman. Hoover felt that men also enjoyed comfortable homes – but that their idea of furnishing was bound to be different than that of a woman.

“I think that a man dreams of a place in the home when he can have a corner to call his own; a corner which will be free of feminine influence and reflect his ideas. This is as dear to him as a boudoir to the woman of the house – a room with a complete absence of frilly curtains or glaring colour schemes. Give a man a home – clean but not too immaculate, and he will think he has struck a little bit of Heaven on earth. But that is not all. He wants children running over the floors and filling the rooms with laughter. They give the finishing touch.”

There will be a number of eleven plus children writing their examinations `this year’. Some of these children may need a little corner of the house they can call their own. The list of furnishing needs to be reasonably simple. A desk, a chair and a book case will be the staple items. The safe to lock away papers that have been done may be a luxury but not a necessity. Oh –and the chair – leather of course with a good `swivel’ action to allow your child to spin away when the discussion become a little too intense.

Eleven plus children will need their own laptops with fast broadband connections. This will allow eleven plus papers and exercises to be down loaded. The same broadband and lap top can also be used for recreation – giving parents and children a distinct advantage – the two uses for one approach.

I am not sure about the frilly curtains and the glaring colour schemes. Each to his own I say. Perhaps some parents may consider asking their child’s opinion before buying the paint. (“That is disgusting. I am not going in there. Please bring my computer out. Leave the eleven plus papers as I can take them or leave them but, please, rescue my lap top.”)

Hoover did have one very important saying that could be in the eleven plus vocabulary of almost every eleven plus child. He liked to say that difference between dictatorship and democracy was simple: dictators organize from the top down, democracies from the bottom up. If parents become a little too pushy over the eleven plus year and forget that their children really can make up their own minds on all sorts of topics – they, as adults, may do well to reflect.

An eleven plus parent who is a dictator will rule – and their children will work through many eleven plus papers. A family, within a democratic environment, will probably vote for fewer papers but more involvement from the whole family. The eleven plus child just needs a little space at times. The furnishings may not be as important as the will to succeed.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Eleven Plus Resolutions

A few eleven plus parents will be considering New Year Resolutions for the family. The word `resolve’ has many meanings – and this is why a New Year Resolution is so attractive. If we go back to the Latin learnt at school - the word `solvo’ must immediately spring to mind. (In some parts of the Eleven Plus we are sometimes asked to pick out words within words.) Solvo comes from a familiar declension along the lines of: solvo, solvi, solutum and solvere. The word, in those days, meant to loosen, pay or dissolve.

It is for this reason that some eleven plus parents welcome the idea of resolutions - because they are not designed to hamper us – or punish us with draconian rules or edicts – a good resolution is supposed to loosen or dissolve the problems. In simple terms, and by definition, a resolution `sorts the problem out’.

Sample Resolutions

We will set up a motivational scheme for the family, and for our eleven plus candidate.

We will work on more joint problem solving – and less of rule by `I told you so’.

We will attempt to show more understanding and involvement.

We will design posters, adverts and leaflets to leave around the house intended to be available if s problem should strike.

We will establish an eleven plus honour board – adorned with pennants, titles and citations.

We will engage the wider family so that our candidate’s hard work is recognised on a broader stage.

We will accept that some ideas we had rejected earlier may actually be useful – and that we should listen a little more acutely.

Finally, we should accept that simple intangibles may give our eleven plus child the greatest feeling of security and purpose.