Belfast Telegraph

He could work out percentages at age three... now Charlie is sitting a grammar school entrance test two years early

Nine-year-old in different league from fellow pupils

By Sophie Inge

At the age of three, most children can recite their ABC and count to 10. But Charlie Titterington was in a different league.

He was already working out percentages and reading books all by himself.

"When he was three, he wanted some toast and I remember him asking: 'Can you cut it into 25 per cents?'" his mother Cherith recalls.

"I looked at him and thought: 'Is he joking?' But he wasn't. Then he put two pieces of toast together and said: 'Two 25% is 50%. Is that right, Mummy?'"

This weekend, at the age of nine, he will sit the AQE test papers - an exam which 10 or 11-year-olds take to get into a grammar school.

It is no surprise to his parents.

By the age of three-and-a-half, Charlie, who lives in Bangor, was already reading books like The Cat in The Hat on his own.

"He kind of taught himself," said Cherith (46), who works as a marketing manager.

"We started him off with sticky letters on the side of the bath and he just picked it all up very quickly. He was very keen and capable from a very early age."

By the time he started going to school, he was already streets ahead of his fellow pupils.

In P1, while the other children were cutting and sticking, Charlie was adding and subtracting.

Charlie was so advanced, in fact, that teachers at Grange Park Primary School eventually decided to move him up a year.

"The staff have been phenomenal," said Cherith. "We want to thank the staff at Grange for picking that up and giving him that opportunity to move on."

Ahead of Saturday's test, Charlie has completed practice papers - scoring 100% on some - and his parents and teachers are confident he will deliver another impressive score on the day.

Despite Charlie's consistently good grades, Cherith insists that neither she nor her husband David (43), a special needs teacher, have put pressure on the boy she describes as a "laid-back and unassuming".

"I've never done homework with him - I've never had to," she said. "Everything for him just seems to be effortless. I don't know why, but he's never actually had to sit down and learn anything. He just seems to get it - whether it's spellings or times-tables."

At one point, the couple considered hiring a tutor for their son, but they were told that this would be a waste of money.

So, where does his ability come from?

Charlie has always been naturally inquisitive, said Cherith.

"He's a really funny, good-natured, bright and lively child," she added.

"He's not nerdy by any means. But from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning until he goes to bed at night, his mind is in overdrive. So from our point of view, he is hard work.

"He doesn't take anything at face value and questions everything. When he was small, it was things like: 'Is there a McDonald's in heaven?' and that sort of thing. And now that he's older, he asks me questions I can't answer about anatomy."

Constantly looking for new challenges to satisfy his curiosity is challenging, she admitted.

Charlie also doesn't appreciate being talked to as a child.

"He was at the doctor's yesterday because he had a chest infection, and the doctor was talking to him like a nine-year-old. She asked: 'Are you coughing up any green sticky stuff?' and he said: 'Do you mean phlegm?'"

At the moment, Charlie has his heart set on going to Bangor Grammar School, which his older brother attends. But he's not too worried about Saturday's exam.

"He couldn't care less," said Cherith. "It's his birthday on Monday and he's more interested in having a sleepover on Saturday night and his birthday party on Sunday. The test is just incidental for him."

Belfast Telegraph


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