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For a parent, your child's move up to secondary school can leave a hole in your life! Now that I have no more children at primary school I no longer walk my daughter to school every day and have very little face to face contact with school staff unless one of my children forgets a text book or their homework! There is also a lot less contact with other parents at the school than there was with primary school as you no longer see them at the school gate so it's more difficult to assess the suitability of your child's new friends. The rest of this blog post has been written my daughter who has recently moved up to secondary school.

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moving up to secondary school

Although the consultation period does not finish until the end of January, it seems certain that the content of the eleven plus in Torbay will be drastically reduced, negating the need for the exam to be spread over two Saturdays. I am sure that any parents who respond to the consultation are going to approve of only having to take their child for an exam, spending the next three hours biting their nails, on one week rather than two, although most of the children seem to take the whole process in their stride.

The eleven plus in Torbay has changed ....... 

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11 plus

Statistics, as well as my personal experience as a tutor show that boys often find creative writing much more difficult then girls do. Many eleven plus exams require children to complete a 30-minute writing task which might be a story, letter, magazine article or even a speech. Some boys I have tutored have had no idea how to start a piece of writing, even if it is a story about something they are interested in. So half the battle is just getting them to start writing. Many boys are creative and have some great ideas, but just do not see the point of writing, let alone including lots of fancy adjectives, adverbs and literary devices such as simile, metaphor and alliteration.

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11 plus writing

On BBC Radio 5 live this morning, Mark Pritchard, Member of Parliament for The Wrekin said that the government would get the "best brains" onto the task of devising an 11 plus test which is resistant to private tutoring. In 2012, Buckinghamshire Schools introduced the transfer test which was heralded as "untutorable" in the media. The CEM test was devised by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, part of the University of Durham and has now been adopted by 68 of the 163 grammar schools in England, in 20 of the 36 local authorities which have selective schools. My first experience of tutoring for the CEM test was when I tutored a child taking the 11 plus in Warwickshire; the test was introduced to Torbay in 2015 and I tutored 15 children for the test including my own daughter. I have another batch of tutees ready to take the 11 plus in Torbay in just over a week's time.

One of the positive aspects of what the CEM has done is that it has replaced the verbal reasoning questions used in previous 11 plus tests with verbal reasoning tests that rely on the meanings of words (e.g. synonyms and antonyms). Some of the previous questions involved codes, sequences and other systems which could be tutored for. However .......

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We've just had "Super Saturday" followed closely by "Sensational Sunday" with Great Britain winning a total of 8 gold, 7 silver and one bronze medals over the weekend, not to mention the athlete who makes everyone want to be Jamaican, Usain Bolt, winning his third successive Olympic 100m medal. In about a month's time it will be Super Saturday for several thousand 10-11 year olds who will be taking their 11 plus exams. Youngsters in Torbay will have two Super Saturdays as their exam is spread over two weeks, whilst many children taking the 11 plus in London will have to take another test later in the year if they are successful in the first one. The Olympic athletes .....

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Olympics and the 11 plus