Babies undergoing their nine-month health review are to be tested with questions inspired by Cambridge University’s gruelling entrance interviews under a shake-up by the NHS.
Tots will be expected to compare and contrast the painting styles of Picasso and Van Gogh as part of a series of questions in a new section on the NHS’s health check questionnaire.
GPs and health visitors believe the new questions will help to give parents a better idea of whether their child’s mental development is up to scratch.
Dr Edward Woodward, a government NHS policy maker, said: “We haven’t raised the standards of the nine-month health review in decades and it’s led to babies and their parents, frankly, slacking off.
“The existing questionnaire asks babies to do things like follow basic commands, pull up to a standing position and say three words, but this is not enough by a country mile.
“For too long we have allowed babies to simply spend their days dribbling all over themselves and laughing at their own reflections.
“The message is this is no longer good enough.
“We need the NHS nine-month health and development review to reflect the expectations we have of babies in modern Britain.
“At the very least, we expect fluency in three languages and a solid knowledge of War and Peace.”
Experts turned to the Cambridge University’s notoriously tricky entrance interview questions, citing this as a “solid benchmark” for where babies are expected to be by nine months.
Dr Woodward added: “Anything less than a 80 per cent pass rate and the red flag is going up.
“If babies don’t know their long division by nine months, when are they going to pick it up?”
Other questions borrowed from the Cambridge interview include:
Is this a question?
How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
Instead of politicians, why don’t we let the managers of IKEA run the country?
At what point is a person dead?
Asked how test cases had faired with the new questionnaire, Dr Woodward replied: “They were a terrible example to be honest.
“One snatched the pen out of their mum’s hand and started chewing on it, another hit himself in the face with his hand and wouldn’t stop crying, and the last didn’t get to answer any because she had the most explosive s**t I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was twice the size of the kid. I’m still trying to figure it out.”