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Blue whales and bad hair

TESTING is a snapshot, a freeze-frame of a pupil's ability on a single day-and some children have bad days.

For one 11-year-old at a Leicester school it was a bad hair day. Ten minutes into the English test, the boy had still not picked up his pen. Instead, he was grasping the hood on his parka coat about his head.

After coaxing by the teacher, the child eventually relented to reveal a head of purple hair. He had experimented with his mum's hair dye the night before. "I think it was pre-exam nerves," said the head.

Many schools thought the reading test was boy-friendly this year. But one 11-year-old demonstrated typical male practicality when answering the section comparing a blue whale with a double-decker bus. When asked how the bus helps pupils to understand the information on the page, the boy answered: "You could put the whale in the bus and drive him to theseaside."

Another example of children living in a parallel universe came when one seven-year-old was answering sums in the maths test. In each box where pupils are supposed to show their workings, the girl drew a little picture of herself sitting at a desk, pen in hand.

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