A highly effective way to help your children with their homework

One highly effective thing you can do to help your children with their homework and study in general is to get a whiteboard at home.

Over the years I’ve found that writing / drawing / explaining on an A4 pad has its limitations.

I fixed an A1 whiteboard to my a wall in my children’s bedroom and their answer any question (where possible) on the whiteboard. Once it’s up there, the children can reference it while they continue their homework.

It’s actually become a game, in that I can write a question on the whiteboard and usually in the following 24 hours it’s been answered.

It’s become a favourite at bedtime for me to pick a subject at random (last night it was “What is radioactivity?”). When my girls woke up this morning they were still thinking and talking about protons, neutrons, electrons, heavy metals and Marie Curie.

Including pens and the eraser it’s probably the most effective £45 I’ve spent on furthering my children’s education.


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What are CEM and GL?

CEM and GL are exam boards.

CEM stands for the “Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring” and GL stands for “Granada Learning”.

CEM – Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring

CEM exams were developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at the University of Durham. CEM exams were introduced in response to fears that existing 11 Plus exams had become too transparent. CEM do not publish practice materials and change the format of examinations to minimise ‘teaching to the test’.

GL – Granada Learning

GL Assessment develop and administer 11 Plus exams in many grammar school areas.

Main Differences Between CEM and GL

Although both CEM and GL Assessment exams broadly cover English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, there are a number of key differences.

GL covers English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Schools can pick to administer all subjects, or select those that best meet their requirements.

CEM covers verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning. Verbal reasoning includes many of the skills covered in a GL Assessment English test and numerical reasoning covers the main maths skills that would be tested in a GL maths exam.

More Information about CEM and GL

Click on these links to find out more about CEM and GL:

CEM (cem.org)

GL (gl-assessment.co.uk)


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What Are UK SAT Tests?

SAT stands for “Standard Attainment Tests”

The SAT’s are used in all state primary schools in England to assess pupils against the National Curriculum at the end of Key Stage One (pupils typically aged 7) and Key Stage Two (pupils typically aged 11).

Note that although not compulsory for independent / private schools, many do participate in the scheme.

SAT’s for KS1

SAT’s at end of KS1 are formed of two parts – the tests themselves and the teacher’s assessment. It is important to realise that the SAT test results are to support the teacher’s judgement.

The teacher’s judgements are for Maths, Science, Reading and Writing and it is worth noting that there is no Science SAT test.

SAT’s for KS2

During Year 6, pupils take the KS2 SAT’s which cover Maths and Reading (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) – note that Writing is based on the teacher’s judgement. For Maths, each pupil is assessed into one of these bands;

Working at the Expected Standard (Above Expected, or Expected Standard)

Has Not Met the Expected Standard (Below Expected)

Growing Development of the Expected Standard (Below Expected)

Early Development of the Expected Standard (Below Expected)

Foundations for the Expected Standard (Below Expected)

Below the Standard of the pre-Key Stage (Below Expected)

How are SAT Papers Marked?

KS1 SAT’s are marked by the teachers. However, KS2 SAT’s are marked externally and the results should be back with the school around July.

SAT’s Scores and Standards

The results are in three forms;

RAW Score – the actual number of marks a pupil achieves

SCALED Score – scaled from the raw score

EXPECTED STANDARD – a scaled score of 100 or more means the pupil has achieved the expected standard, whereas a score below 100 means the pupil has not achieved the expected standard

What’s the Best Way to Study for SAT’s?

SAT’s are about understanding the fundamentals and being able to reproduce methods and working out in the test.

What are SAT’s Important?

SAT’s are important feedback to the National Curriculum. There are, however, a number of critics of the SAT tests including teachers. For example see this article in the Independent.

What Can I Do Now to Help Prepare my Child for the UK SAT’s?

SAT’s are not intended to “catch pupils out”, so at Key Stage Maths we recommend a simple approach of targeted repetition. For example, if your child is having trouble with Number and Place Value, try this worksheet which focusses over 170 questions on this particular subject.

Remember – Practice and Repetition are King!


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