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October 5, 2018

Why Don’t Mums Talk About the 11 Plus?

Since its inception in the 1940s, the 11 Plus has created competition amongst children. This is understandable – it is they who write the exams and they who face selection for grammar schools. But who would have thought that mums (and some dads, too!) Take this competition to such extreme lengths.

It’s one of those hidden secrets at the school gates that only emerge once all the registrations and exams are well and truly over. Mums just don’t talk about the 11 Plus as much as they should when their child is in Year 5. It can be a real shock to the system (I’ve been there!) when school mum friends suddenly play the silent game when the conversation of secondary school choices come up – especially when your children are the same gender. Read More

July 26, 2017

Everything you need to know about Bexley grammar schools – and how to help your child get into one

Are you considering sending your child to one of the Bexley grammar schools? Every year, more than five thousand children sit the Bexley Selection Test so at least that many parents are aware of them. But the 11 Plus can be a bit of mystery if you don’t know what it is; don’t know anyone who has put their child through it; or don’t know what’s required to help your child pass the test.

Bexley grammar schools

There are four grammar schools in Bexley:

  • Bexley Grammar School (Mixed)
  • Beths Grammar School (Boys)
  • Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School (Mixed)
  • Townley Grammar School (Girls)

In order to make it into any of these schools, children need to sit the Bexley Selection Test, which covers:

  • Verbal ability: covering vocabulary, comprehension and verbal reasoning. Verbal reasoning is not part of the national curriculum, so your child will need to be taught a good portion of it, which is where the expertise of an experienced 11 Plus tutor can be extremely beneficial.
  • Numerical reasoning: mathematical problem-solving, which Bexley Council says covers up to and including Year 5 level.
  • Non-verbal reasoning: this paper tests a child’s ability to see how objects relate to each other and to make logical deductions. Non verbal reasoning is largely an extension of maths topics including symmetry, rotation, reflection etc, but there is a little more to it. Again, non-verbal reasoning is not part of the National Curriculum, but at Geek School, we teach children the necessary techniques to master non-verbal reasoning.

There are two test papers during the Bexley selection tests, each containing mainly multiple choice questions that relate to all of these areas. Each paper lasts about 50 minutes, and is broken down into sections, each of which has an allocated amount of time. Children take both papers on the same day, with a break of 30 minutes in between.

What is the 11 Plus pass mark?

It is worth knowing that the pass mark for selection tests is not 50%. Instead, test scores are weighted to that 50% of their overall score is for verbal ability, and 25% each for numerical and non-verbal reasoning. The results are also standardised, which means they are adapted to take into account your child’s exact age. So, children who are the youngest in class will have that considered in their score with a slight adjustment in their scores.

The highest possible score is 280 and the mark children need to attain fluctuates every year, but is usually around the 214 to 216 mark. Every year, the Bexley Selection Panel decides what the threshold mark to be considered selective (i.e. the pass mark) should be that year.

As there are currently 800 places in total in the Bexley grammar schools mentioned before and 5,000-plus children writing the test, just passing will obviously not guarantee an offer of a place at one of the schools. In 2016, 1753 children achieved the selective score (i.e. 216 and above. As you can see, there were far more children who ‘passed’ than there are grammar school places, and in this case, each school allocates places according to their oversubscription criteria. In most cases, the deciding factor is how close the child lived to the school.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. One way to guarantee your child gets an offer of a place at one of the Bexley grammar schools is for your child to be one of the top 180 scorers. If your child achieves this, they will be guaranteed their grammar school of choice.

When to register your child for the Bexley Test

Registration for grammar school selection tests usually open in May or June (every borough sets their own schedule) and closing dates vary, but are usually in early July. Children are registered for the exam when they are in Year 5 – not Year 6, ready to sit the exam in the first or second week in September of Year 6.

Find out more information about Bexley grammar schools and the Bexley test at www.bexley.gov.uk/selectiontests. If you would like to discuss tuition for your child, contact Joycellyn on 05957397602.

September 2, 2016

The 11 Plus – should your child take the exams?

The 11 Plus Exam can be a stress-filled process for both children and their parents.
However, as it is the gateway to many prominent grammar schools across England and Northern Ireland, many have to suck it up and try to get through it with as little issues as possible. Here are a few quick tips to keep you and your child grounded throughout.

To 11 Plus or not to 11 Plus

One of the first things to consider is if grammar school is the right choice for your child. In the event that they seem academically capable to take on the at times dreaded 11 Plus exam, and you feel they will flourish at the grammar school level, then this could be a good move. On the other hand, for children who are a bit slower to catch up academically, and may need more prompting to keep those high marks, give them some more time to find their academic stride, instead of pushing this kind of exam on them.

Be prepared

If you decide to go ahead with the exam, make sure your child is properly prepared. You wouldn’t send a soldier into battle unarmed, and in this case, the 11 Plus is that battle. They may need extra lessons for at least fifteen months before the exam, where various 11 Plus topics and questions are covered. If their current school does not provide them, try to source tutors, or group tuition options close to their school or neighbourhood where possible. Lessons are usually after school and you don’t want your child having to travel long distances after an already trying school day, before being able to get back home and rest.

Don’t freak out!

Try not to go “exam batty” in the months leading up to it. If you stress out, so will your kids. They need you to be the supportive figure that nurtures their learning, while being calm and centred when they are feeling overwhelmed. This is the same for the days just before the exam. While your children may not be able to forget about it, it will help if you encourage them to relax and enjoy activities that don’t require them to think too hard. This will allow them to be rested and ready for the big day. As for you the parent, if you find yourself freaking out a bit remember that you’ve done your best for your child and because of it, they will try their best too. That’s all you can do, so don’t worry. Just breathe.

Rewards?

While it’s nice to offer to buy a new game, or some other reward that your child will love after the exam’s over, make sure you’re offering it for the right reasons. The 11 Plus is many children’s first view of intense academic examination procedures, and you don’t want them thinking that the only way you’ll be proud is if they do well. If you choose to reward them, let it be for being confident enough to take the exam in the first place.