Grammar Schools

How To Get Into Grammar School While Homeschooling

Homeschooling in the UK offers a unique and flexible approach to education. It lets parents tailor their child’s learning experience to their academic interests and emotional needs – setting them up for future success.

Lots of parents choose to homeschool during primary years, but opt for mainstream education when it comes to the more specialised study of secondary school. When it comes to getting your child into grammar school, there are specific challenges and steps to be aware of. 

This blog guides you through the process of preparing your homeschooled child for grammar school entry. We’ll focus on the crucial 11 Plus exam as well as helping your child thrive during the transition from home to secondary schooling.

How do I get my child into a grammar school?

Getting your child into grammar school while homeschooling is a commitment, but it’s totally achievable. First, you need to understand the application process and entry requirements. Grammar schools require students to pass 11 Plus exams, which assess a child’s skills in areas such as English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. You’ll then need to help your child prepare.

As a homeschooling parent, you’ll need to register your child for the 11 Plus exam. This is usually done through your local education authority or directly with the grammar school. 

It’s crucial to check the specific deadlines and requirements for each grammar school, as these vary. You might also want to contact schools to ask about any special arrangements for homeschooled applicants.

What are the challenges of preparing for the 11 Plus when homeschooling?

There’s no doubt, getting ready for the 11 Plus presents a unique set of challenges for parents and students. This is the case whether you’re homeschooling or not!

While homeschooling offers the flexibility to tailor education to a child’s needs, the strict nature of 11 Plus exams requires specific preparation. With this in mind, here are six challenges for homeschoolers and tips for overcoming them.

How to prepare for 11 Plus exams at home: challenges and tips for success

1. Access to resources and materials

One of the main challenges facing homeschooling parents is ensuring access to the right resources, information and materials for effective preparation.

  • Understanding the 11 Plus: 11 Plus exams typically include sections on English (including SPaG and creative writing skills), Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Familiarise yourself with the format and content of the exam by reviewing past papers from schools or exam providers.
  • Limited access to past papers: While many resources are available online, finding enough high-quality, up-to-date practice papers can be difficult. Reputable publishers and websites like CGP Books or Bond Online are good places to start.
  • Specialised knowledge: Unlike school students with access to a variety of knowledge and materials through their teachers (often with decades of 11 Plus experience), homeschooling parents will need to manage this process themselves. This will take time and dedication.

2. Structured learning environment

Success in the 11 Plus requires a structured approach to learning, which can be challenging to replicate in a homeschooling environment. Ensure you maintain:

  • Consistency: A consistent study schedule can be difficult when homeschooling, as the flexibility that’s often an advantage can lead to a lack of routine. Establish a regular timetable that mimics the structure of a traditional school day.
  • Focused study time: Ensuring study time is focused and uninterrupted is crucial. Designate a quiet, distraction-free area for study sessions and break down material into manageable sections. This ensures consistent progress and reduces the risk of last-minute panic.
  • Holistic development: It’s important to not get too focused on the 11 Plus. Encourage activities that promote overall well-being during the build-up to exams, with plenty of sports, reading for pleasure, arts and social activities.

3. Understanding the exam format

The 11 Plus exam has a specific format and types of questions that students must be familiar with. Focus on:

  • Understanding question types: Homeschooled students may not be as familiar with the types of questions in the 11 Plus, especially Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Regularly incorporate practice questions, exercises and mock exams to build familiarity and confidence.
  • Time management: Learning to manage time effectively is critical. Regular timed practice sessions will develop the ability to complete questions calmly and quickly.
  • Develop exam techniques: Teach your child effective exam techniques, such as reading instructions carefully, writing legibly and keeping cool under pressure. Exam nerves can particularly impact homeschooled children, so maintaining a calm and positive attitude is key. 

4. Access to expert guidance

Homeschooled students won’t have immediate access to 11 Plus experts for guidance and support. Here’s what to consider.

  • Seek professional support: Enlist the help of an experienced academic coach or tutor who specialises in 11 Plus preparation (like us at Achieve Learning!). A tutor can provide personalised guidance, monitor your child’s progress and offer targeted support in areas where your child needs extra help.
  • Mock exams and courses: If possible, enrol in online courses, workshops and mock exams that focus on 11 Plus preparation. Regular practice is key to success in the 11 Plus, and these group settings will build your child’s confidence.

5. Social and emotional preparation

Preparing for the 11 Plus can be a stressful experience, and homeschooled students might miss out on the peer support available in schools. To prevent this:

  • Enable peer interaction: Encourage interaction with peers who are also preparing for the 11 Plus. This could be through study groups, online forums or local homeschooling networks.
  • Stress management: Talk about stress management techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises and regular breaks to manage exam-related anxiety. When planning your teaching, it’s important to avoid a narrow focus on 11 Plus subjects alone.

6. Keeping up with changes

Schools might change the format and content of their 11 Plus exams each year, so staying updated with these changes is crucial.

  • Stay informed: Check the websites of your chosen grammar schools and local education authorities for updates on the exam format and content.
  • Adaptability: Be prepared to adjust your study plan and resources based on the latest information and changes. You should also regularly review your child’s progress and adapt accordingly.

By addressing these challenges head-on and creating a structured, supportive learning environment, you’ll help your child achieve their 11 Plus potential. Remember to stay positive and flexible, and seek professional help when needed to ensure your child is well-prepared and confident. 

With careful planning, access to the right resources and support, grammar school entry is entirely possible for homeschooled students! We wish you the best of luck.

What are common issues for homeschooled children starting grammar school?

Transitioning from homeschooling to a grammar school environment can be a significant change. While homeschooling can excellently prepare students for grammar school, there are common issues. This includes a period of social and emotional adjustment, changes to routine and structure, organisation and new approaches to academic study.

Here are the main issues to keep in mind, to help your child transition with confidence.

Social adjustment

One of the most common challenges for homeschooled children entering grammar school is social adjustment. Homeschooled students may be accustomed to a smaller, more intimate learning environment, often with one-on-one interaction. In contrast, grammar schools are much larger, with a different social dynamic. 

Homeschooled children may need to:

  • Adapt to larger class sizes: With 30 or more students often in a class, it’s harder for homeschooled students to get the individual attention they’re used to.
  • Form new friendships: Making new friends and fitting into established social groups can be challenging, especially if the child is more introverted or has limited experience with group socialisation.
  • Navigate peer pressure: Dealing with peer pressure and the social complexities of a larger school environment can be a new experience for many homeschooled students.

Emotional adjustment

Alongside social aspects, the emotional impact of transitioning to a school environment should not be underestimated. Homeschooled children might face:

  • Separation anxiety: Being away from the familiar home environment and family members for extended periods can cause anxiety.
  • Performance anxiety: The pressure to perform well academically and socially in a new environment can lead to stress.
  • Adjustment to authority figures: Adapting to new authority figures such as teachers and school administrators can be challenging for students used to an informal atmosphere.

Academic transition

The transition to a formal school environment can present challenges for some students. So it’s best to start talking about these changes early. Some issues might include:

  • Adapting to different teaching styles: Homeschooled children are used to their parents’ or tutors’ teaching methods, which may differ significantly from those in grammar schools.
  • Meeting new expectations: Grammar schools have a rigorous academic curriculum and high expectations for homework and exams. Homeschooled students may need time to adjust to these demands.

Routine and structure

The routine and structure of grammar school can be quite different from the flexibility that homeschooling offers. Homeschooled children may struggle with:

  • Fixed schedules: Sticking to a fixed school schedule, including start and end times, class periods and breaks, can be a big adjustment.
  • Organisational skills: Independently keeping track of class and homework assignments, deadlines and materials requires strong organisational skills. This might feel new to homeschooled students used to a more self-paced learning environment.
  • Extracurricular activities: Participating in after-school sports activities and other school events can add to the demands on your child’s time and energy. Getting the balance right is key.

Starting at secondary school presents several challenges – for all children. But understanding the potential issues will help you prepare and adapt effectively. By providing support, encouragement and practical strategies, you’ll help your homeschooled child thrive academically and socially.

Grammar School Quickfire FAQ

If you’re unfamiliar with the UK grammar school system, here are parents’ most frequently asked questions, along with extra resources.

What is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a state secondary school that selects pupils based on academic ability. This is typically through entrance exams known as the 11 Plus. These schools are known for their rigorous academic standards and high levels of student achievement.

For more information, read our in-depth introduction to grammar schools in the UK.

Are grammar schools free to attend?

Yes, grammar schools are state-funded and free to attend. However, some private schools call themselves grammar schools, and these charge fees. It’s important to distinguish between the two when applying.

What are 11 Plus exams?

11 Plus exams are entrance tests used by grammar schools to select students based on their academic abilities. Students usually sit these exams in their final year of primary school, around the age of 10 or 11. They generally cover English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning skills. 

Here’s our guide to 11 Plus exams to help your child prepare.

Why choose a grammar school?

Grammar schools offer several advantages, including high academic standards, a challenging curriculum, smaller class sizes and excellent opportunities for further education. These schools boast strong exam results, a wide range of extracurricular activities, and a stimulating environment that helps motivated students thrive.

Do grammar schools have catchment areas?

Most grammar schools have catchment areas, which are specific geographic zones determining eligibility. Living within a catchment area can increase your child’s chances of admission. But this isn’t always the case. 

Some grammar schools don’t have catchment areas and admit students purely based on 11 Plus performance. If you’re considering relocating, here’s a complete list of grammar schools in the UK without a catchment area.

Are grammar schools hard to get into?

Securing a spot at grammar school can be highly competitive due to the limited number of places and the level of academic ability required. While grammar schools offer many benefits, they may not suit every child. 

The rigorous academic environment can be challenging, and some children may thrive better in a different educational setting. To explore your options further, read our guide to the best private schools in the UK.

Are you considering grammar school for your child?

Homeschooling your child and preparing them for entry to grammar school is a challenging but rewarding process. At Achieve Learning, we specialise in personalised 11 Plus tuition. Whether you’re looking for academic consultancy, mock exams or an extra push with reading skills, get in touch with our expert team today. We’d be delighted to help.

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Dr Challoner’s High School: Your 11 Plus (11+) Entry Guide 2025

Are you considering Dr Challoner’s High School for your daughter? If so, here’s all the information you need about the school, its admissions process and deadlines, 11 Plus exam papers and how to prepare.

Dr Challoner’s High School, situated in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, is a highly esteemed grammar school for girls. It admits around 180 pupils each year and is renowned for its academic excellence and holistic education. 

Due to understandably high demand, competition for places is intense. To help you and your child prepare, here’s your comprehensive guide to the application process, test format and tips for success.

A Brief Introduction to Dr Challoner’s High School

Founded in 1962, Dr Challoner’s High School is home to just under 1,300 girls between 11 and 18 years old. In the Headmaster’s welcome to the school, he states their mission is “to provide the best possible education for girls”.

Regularly ranking among the top thirty state schools and the best in Buckinghamshire for academic progress, there’s no surprise Dr Challoner’s is so popular among parents and students alike. It’s judged as “outstanding” by Ofsted. The school is also only the ninth institution in the entire country to receive the “Exceptional Schools Award”.

This excellence translates into remarkable exam results. In 2023, 54% of A Levels grades were A* or A. Almost all students go to university, including Russell Group institutions and Oxbridge.

At the heart of the school is a tightly-knit community that prioritises compassion and commitment as well as a “strong instinct for the fun, creative and clever”. They promote learning for its own sake and gently encourage girls to achieve their full academic potential.

What’s the application process for Dr Challoner’s High School?

Dr Challoner’s High School is a selective grammar school. In short, this means your daughter must take (and excel in) their 11 Plus exams to be considered for a place. We’ll go into more detail below, but the 11 Plus for Dr Challoner’s High School is known as the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. 

If your child goes to primary school in the county, they’re automatically entered for the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. If not, you’ll need to register with Buckinghamshire Council.

Here are the key dates to know:

  • 11 Plus registration opens: 3 May 2024
  • 11 Plus registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 4 July 2024
  • 11 Plus test date: 12 September 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 24 September 2024
  • 11 Plus results published: 11 October 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 17 October 2024
  • Secondary application deadline: 31 October 2024
  • Secondary allocations: 3 March 2025

After they’ve sat exams, you’ll receive your child’s 11 Plus results near the start of October. If your daughter’s score meets the threshold for Dr Challoner’s, you can decide whether to apply for a place. You’ll need to list it as a “preferred school” on the secondary school “common application form” (or CAF). Final choices must be submitted by the end of October.

It’s important to know that passing the 11 Plus doesn’t necessarily mean your daughter will gain a place at Dr Challoner’s. When allocating places, the school also considers other admissions factors such as whether you live in their catchment area, receive pupil premium, whether any siblings already attend and more.

For 11 Plus application deadlines and exam dates across the country, read our complete list of key dates.

What’s the format of the Dr Challoner’s High School test?

The Dr Challoner’s High School 11 Plus exam is known as the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. GL Assessment creates and manages these exams. They consist of two-hour-long papers.

This includes:

  • English and Verbal Reasoning: Featuring comprehension questions, technical English (like spelling, punctuation and grammar) and verbal reasoning.
  • Maths and Non-Verbal Reasoning: With questions on Key Stage 2 Maths topics, as well as spatial and non-verbal problem solving using pictures and diagrams.

Students sit both papers in one sitting, with a break in between.

The exact question types and exam structure vary each year, so it’s best to familiarise your child with a range of sample papers. There’s also a shorter practice test taken two days before the real thing, which will help improve your child’s confidence.

Your daughter’s scores in both papers are age-standardised and then ranked. The combined scores determine each candidate’s overall result.

What’s the pass mark for Dr Challoner’s High School entrance paper?

Your daughter will need a score of 121 or higher to be eligible for a place at Dr Challoner’s High School. Unlike some other grammar schools, scores aren’t ranked beyond this level. So if more than 180 children achieve 121 or more (which is highly likely), the school’s other admissions criteria come into play.

For anyone who’s scored 121 or above, factors influencing admissions include:

  • Priority is given to “looked after”, internationally adopted, and previously looked after girls.
  • Those in receipt of pupil premium.
  • Whether you live in the catchment area.
  • Daughters of staff members.
  • Sisters of girls currently attending Dr Challoner’s.
  • Girls with exceptional medical and social needs that can only be met at Dr Challoner’s.

Does Dr Challoner’s High School have a catchment area?

Yes, Dr Challoner’s High School has a catchment area. This means you must live within this zone to be eligible for a place. It includes the areas surrounding Amersham, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont Common, Chesham, Gerrards Cross, Prestwood and Great Missenden. 

If there’s a tie-break between girls meeting other admissions criteria, those living closest to the school receive priority. There’s a catchment map and more details on the school’s admissions pages.

Who creates the test for Dr Challoner’s High School?

GL Assessment develops the test materials and papers for Dr Challoner’s High School.

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments. They focus on a range of skills, including numerical ability, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Their tests are designed to be fair and unbiased, ensuring equal opportunity for all students.

Where can I find Dr Challoner’s High School sample test papers?

Although Dr Challoner’s High School does not release past papers, GL Assessment provides free familiarisation papers.

You can also find similar papers (great for helping your child with a wide variety of skills and question types) online and at most bookstores from Bond 11+ and CGP.

To help your child ace the 11 Plus, one of the best things you can do is use a variety of past papers. Start by regularly going through these papers together. This way, your child will feel familiar with the exam format and more relaxed when the big day comes. 

Consistency is key. As you work through the papers, you’ll be able to spot any tricky areas (like specific topics or time management) they struggle with. This lets you build your daughter’s confidence and boost their performance.

Does Dr Challoner’s High School charge fees?

No, Dr Challoner’s High School is state-funded and does not charge tuition fees.

It’s one of 163 state-funded grammar schools across England that select students based on academic entrance tests.

To find top grammar schools near you, explore our lists of the best grammars in Slough, Kent, Hertfordshire, Barnet, London and the whole UK. If you’re considering options further afield, don’t miss our complete guide to grammar schools without a catchment area.

Is Dr Challoner’s High School part of a consortium?

No, Dr Challoner’s High School is not part of a formal consortium. The entrance test and admissions process are managed independently by the school. 

However, it is a member of The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS), an organisation formed by the thirteen grammar schools in Buckinghamshire to manage the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test.

While each grammar school operates as an independent academy with its own admissions process, they work together through TBGS to maintain a coordinated selection system. 

This system uses a shared 11 Plus test (instead of 13 separate exams!), preventing a time-consuming and stressful admissions process for parents and pupils alike.

How can I help my child prepare for the Dr Challoner’s High School 11+ exam?

Here are some tips to incorporate into your daily routine, to help your child prepare for the Dr Challoner’s High School 11 Plus exams. 

  • Consistent learning: Make studying a regular part of your child’s routine with short, daily sessions of 20-30 minutes. This “little and often” approach helps their brain absorb information better. Turn study time into a fun activity with colourful flashcards, educational games or apps that make learning interactive and enjoyable.
  • Reading: Encourage your child to read a wide range of books. Mix it up with different genres and authors to expose them to various writing styles and vocabularies. You can create a reading challenge with rewards for finishing books or set aside family reading time to make it a shared experience. Discuss the stories together to enhance their comprehension and analytical skills.
  • Practice tests: Once your child feels comfortable with the material, start incorporating practice tests. This helps them get used to the exam format and timing. Help your child concentrate by setting up a mock exam environment at home, complete with a timer and a quiet space. You could also consider mock tests from independent providers (like us at Achieve Learning!).
  • Celebrate progress: Set small, achievable goals and celebrate each milestone. This could be as simple as a small treat or a fun outing. Encourage a growth mindset by praising their effort and improvement, not just their achievements. Remind them that making mistakes is part of learning and that persistence will pay off.
  • Maths and English skills: For Maths, practice problem-solving with real-life examples, like calculating change during shopping or measuring ingredients for a recipe. Use workbooks and online resources for timed tests and exercises to improve speed and accuracy. For English, promote regular reading and descriptive writing activities. Encourage your child to keep a journal, write stories, or summarise their favourite books to strengthen their SPaG and comprehension skills.
  • Professional tutoring: If your child needs extra help, consider professional tutoring. A tutor will provide personalised attention, feedback and tips. They’ll tailor lessons to your child’s needs, ensuring they’re well-prepared for 11 Plus exams.

If you’re thinking about 11 Plus exams for your child, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning today. With personalised 11 Plus tuition and support, mock tests and academic consultancy – we’ll give your family the tools to succeed.

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Grammar Schools in Slough: Your Essential 11 Plus Entrance Guide

If you’re searching for Grammar Schools in Slough, you’re in the right place.

Slough has four fantastic Grammar Schools, all of which are members of the Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools.

In this article, you’ll find a complete list of Grammar Schools in Slough, as well as everything you need to know about securing a place. From the 11+ exam format to test providers and cut-off marks, here’s the latest expert advice, insights and guidance for parents and students embarking on this important educational journey.

So join us as we explore Grammar Schools in Slough and guide your child’s secondary transition with confidence.

How many Grammar Schools are there in Slough?

Slough, a bustling town and unitary authority, is home to four prestigious grammar schools. These institutions (all renowned for their academic excellence and pastoral care) include Herschel Grammar School, Langley Grammar School, Upton Court Grammar School and St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School.

All of these schools are members of the Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools. This means they work together and use a common 11 Plus entrance exam and eligibility criteria. So no matter which schools you’re applying to, your child will only have to sit one test.

Here’s a brief introduction to each Grammar School in Slough.

Langley Grammar School

Established in 1956, Langley Grammar School has a rich history of academic excellence and innovation. They describe themselves as an “innovative and forward-thinking school” committed to developing their students into “well-rounded, confident and successful young adults”. 

With a strong focus on STEM subjects (as well as the humanities and languages), they prepare students for the challenges of the future. Langley Grammar School has a student population of around 1,200 students from a wide range of backgrounds forming a “friendly and harmonious community”.

  • Students: Co-Educational
  • Ofsted: Outstanding (last inspected Nov 2021)
  • Exam Results: In 2023, 76.8% of GCSE grades were 9-7 with 30% at grade 9. 76.4% of A Level entries were A*-B with 53% A*-A.
  • Address: Reddington Drive, Langley, Berkshire, SL3 7QS

Upton Court Grammar School

With the values of unity, curiosity, growth and service – Upton Court Grammar School has remained a beacon of excellence since its establishment in 1988. They inspire their 1,000 students to become successful and engaged global citizens, in an environment where everyone fulfils their academic and personal aspirations.

Upton Court Grammar School prides itself on blending “tradition with a forward-thinking, internationally-minded educational philosophy”. Indeed, the beautiful campus provides a serene and supportive environment for learning and personal growth. 

  • Students: Co-Educational
  • Ofsted: Outstanding (last inspected Nov 2022)
  • Exam Results: In 2023 exam results, 67% of GCSE grades were 9-7 with 24% at grade 9. At A Level, 71% were A*-B with 40% A*-A.
  • Address: Lascelles Road, Upton, Berkshire, SL3 7PR

St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School

Founded in 1957, St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School holds the distinction of being the only co-educational Catholic Grammar School in the country. With these values in mind, they instil a strong sense of morality, compassion and social responsibility in their students. 

The school’s buildings and grounds are steeped in history and tradition, fostering a tight-knit community of just under 1,000 students. In the headmaster’s welcome, he champions the school’s “blend of academic challenge, spiritual development and enrichment” with an aim of “not to limit”, but “liberate” each and every child’s true potential.  

  • Students: Co-Educational
  • Ofsted: Outstanding (last inspected Nov 2023)
  • Exam Results: In 2023, 76% of GCSE grades were 9-7 with 20% at grade 9. 59% of A Level Grades were A*-B with 30% A*-A.
  • Address: 1 Langley Road, Slough, Berkshire, SL3 7AF

Herschel Grammar School 

Herschel Grammar School boasts a “warm and vibrant atmosphere built on an ethos of mutual trust, high academic standards and a commitment to nurturing and developing every individual pupil.” Dating back to 1952, the school has a proud heritage of academic achievement and cultural enrichment, providing the best opportunities to ensure “every child achieves their potential”.

With picturesque surroundings and modern facilities, it’s a dynamic learning environment “built on genuine collaboration and partnership between governors, staff, pupils and parents.” The school has a broad curriculum with specialist status in Technology, Maths and Computer Science.

  • Students: Co-Educational
  • Ofsted: Outstanding (last inspected September 2012)
  • Exam Results: In 2023 exam results, 74% of GCSE grades were 9-7. At A Level, 69% of results were A*-B while 41% were A*-A.
  • Address: Northampton Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, SL13BW

What Slough schools are 11 Plus?

All the Slough Grammars we’ve listed above use 11 Plus exams for admissions. They are all members of the Slough Consortium, which means they all use the same 11 Plus tests and eligibility criteria.

We’ll cover the specific test format in more detail below, but for a general guide to 11 Plus exams (and how to help your child prepare) don’t miss our comprehensive 11 Plus guide for parents.

The 11 Plus exam is a pivotal moment for students hoping to pursue a grammar school education in Slough. These notoriously challenging exams assess pupils’ critical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills and academic potential – ensuring only the most capable and motivated individuals secure coveted places in these prestigious schools.

Are Grammar Schools difficult to get into?

Securing a Grammar School place for your child is undeniably challenging and competitive. With a limited number of spots and a high volume of applicants vying for entry, the admissions process is rigorous and demanding.

Students hoping to attend Grammar School must excel in their 11 Plus exams, demonstrating proficiency in verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning skills. Because of the intense competition, diligent preparation, dedication and perseverance are needed for your child to stand out among their peers.

Factors such as the pass mark, number of applicants, and the overall academic performance of students will influence the difficulty of gaining admission from year to year. 

But while the process may be daunting, it rewards students who exhibit academic excellence, resilience and a commitment to learning… and is well worth the effort.

Is Slough 11+ CEM or GL?

For exams taking place in 2024 and 2025 the Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools is working with GL Assessment as their official test provider.

GL Assessment is a UK-based company specialising in educational assessment. Their tests are widely used by schools, educational institutions and educational professionals for various purposes. This includes admissions, progress tracking and identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses.

As well as creating exam questions, GL Assessment also marks and standardises students’ 11 Plus papers.

What is the format of the Slough 11+ exam?

Students sitting 11 Plus exams for Slough Grammar Schools will take two papers. 

These papers each last 60 to 65 minutes and contain a mix of questions relating to Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, English and Maths. 

They include:

  • Verbal Skills Paper: Combining Verbal Reasoning and English questions
  • Non-Verbal Skills Paper: Combining Non-Verbal Reasoning and Maths questions

Your child will face a variety of answer formats, which must be filled in on a separate answer sheet. Papers are marked by a computer (with the process managed by GL Assessment) so children must follow answer instructions carefully.

To understand the paper structure and question types, GL Assessment provides free familiarisation materials. It’s a good idea to use these example materials (alongside other practice papers and mock tests) to help your child prepare.

What is the pass mark for Slough Grammar Schools

There isn’t a single “passing” score that secures entry to Slough Grammar Schools. This changes each year, depending on the difficulty of the exam, competition for available places and the schools’ admissions policies.

Despite this, there is an “eligibility score” that allows your child to be considered for entrance at Slough Grammars. 

Based on standardised scores, the eligibility score is 111.

As a rule of thumb, pupils achieving 111 or above will be in the top third of students sitting Slough 11+ exams.

Remember though, achieving this score doesn’t automatically guarantee a place. All four Slough Grammar Schools are regularly oversubscribed, which means other entrance criteria come into play. 

You’re more likely to secure a place if:

  • You live within the catchment or priority area surrounding the school
  • Your child has a sibling already at the school
  • Your child is eligible for free school meals (pupil premium)
  • A parent has been employed by the school for more than two years
  • Your child attends a designated “feeder school” for primary
  • Your child is among the top 120 performing pupils on the 11 Plus exam
  • Your child is, or was previously a “looked after child” (i.e. in the care of the local authority)

It’s essential parents understand the admissions rules and catchment area of each school. Head to their websites to check these policies, which may change from year to year.

Is Slough considered London?

While Slough is located close to London and is often associated with the Greater London urban area, it is an independent town situated in the ceremonial county of Berkshire in the South East of England. 

The Borough of Slough is also separate from London. It’s a unitary authority (centred around the town of Slough) that extends to include Langley and parts of Buckinghamshire.

Despite its geographical proximity to the capital, Slough maintains its distinct identity, culture and administrative jurisdiction separate from London.

If you’re searching for schools in London, explore our guides to the best Grammar Schools, the best secondary schools, and the best private schools in the capital. 

We’ve also compiled a complete list of the best Grammar Schools in the UK and Grammar Schools without a catchment area for families who are flexible on location.

Are Grammar Schools really worth it?

The debate surrounding the value of grammar schools continues to evoke impassioned arguments from both proponents and critics. 

Advocates of grammar schools tout their track record of academic excellence, rigorous standards and enriched learning environments as strong reasons in their favour. 

On the other hand, critics of grammar schools raise concerns about the potential for elitism, social segregation and inequality perpetuated by selective education systems. They argue the inherent exclusivity of grammar schools disadvantages students from poorer backgrounds and undermines principles of inclusive education.

Despite this, there’s no doubt Grammar Schools foster a culture of aspiration, intellectual curiosity and academic achievement among their students. They consistently lead national league tables in terms of results, frequently outdoing their private counterparts.

With a challenging curriculum (going above and beyond national curriculum requirements), specialised resources and tailored support, Grammars empower their lucky students to realise their full academic and personal potential.

So are Grammar Schools really worth it?

This will come down to your circumstances, priorities and beliefs. While they may offer unparalleled academic opportunities, this might not be the best environment for every child. 

If you’re unsure whether the 11 Plus is right for your child, explore our exams consultancy services. We can advise on preparation and the best secondary options for your child.

Are you considering Grammar School in Slough for your child?

If you’re thinking about 11 Plus entrance exams, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning. 

With a proven track record of securing entrance at the country’s most prestigious schools, we provide 11 Plus tuition (starting from Year 4 and Year 5), mock exams and academic consultancy

Get in touch today and find out how we can help your child succeed and thrive.

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What are the Best Grammar Schools in Kent? Rankings and 11 Plus Exam Formats

If you’re searching for a Grammar School in Kent for your child, the great news is you’ve got plenty to choose from.

Kent has the most Grammar Schools out of any county in the UK. And in even better news, many of these Grammars are among the top-performing schools in the country.

So, what are the best Grammar Schools in Kent?

Here’s your top ten list of schools, as well as the lowdown on 11 Plus exams in Kent. We’ll explain the key content featured in both the Kent Test and the Medway Test, how many children get into Grammar Schools in Kent, as well as the score your child needs to secure a coveted place.

Does Kent have Grammar Schools?

Yes, Kent has an abundance of Grammar Schools!

Kent has more Grammar Schools than any other region of the UK (38 to be precise).

Grammar Schools are state-funded selective schools. This means parents don’t pay any tuition fees for their children’s education.

But, and this is a big one – your child must meet the school’s admissions criteria. This means passing their 11 Plus entrance exams. There might be other factors, for instance, whether you live in their catchment area or a sibling already attends the school.

To understand more about the Grammar School system, read our in-depth introduction. We’ve also collated a complete list of Grammar Schools in England without a catchment area if you’re looking further afield.

What are the best Grammar Schools in Kent?

Here are the top ten Grammar Schools in Kent, ranked by the influential Sunday Times Parent Power Guide. As the most authoritative league table of UK secondary schools, it ranks schools on academic performance at both GCSE and A Level. Kent schools’ outstanding results are a testament to the county’s unique educational heritage and ongoing excellence.

The top ten Grammar Schools in Kent are…

  1. Tonbridge Grammar School
  2. Dartford Grammar School for Boys
  3. The Judd School
  4. The Rochester Grammar School
  5. Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School
  6. The Skinners’ School
  7. Dane Court Grammar School
  8. Dartford Grammar School for Girls
  9. Weald of Kent Grammar School
  10. Invicta Grammar School for Girls

To find out more about each Kent Grammar School, their exam results and admissions policies, click on the link to their homepage above. 

For the Best Grammar Schools in the UK, read our top ten list with a brief introduction to each school.

What percentage of Kent children go to a Grammar School?

About a third of all secondary places in Kent are Grammar Schools. 

This means roughly 30% of children in Kent attend Grammar Schools. The remaining 70% attend either comprehensive schools, private schools or specialist colleges.

In England as a whole, only 5% of secondary students go to a Grammar School. So Kent is way above the national average.

What is the exam format of the 11 Plus in Kent?

To get into a Grammar School in Kent, your child must pass 11 Plus exams.

There are two 11 Plus exams your child might face. These are:

  • The Kent Test
  • The Medway Test

As the name suggests, schools within the Kent County Council area use the Kent Test. Schools within the Medway Unitary Authority area use the Medway Test. 

If you’re unsure which test a Grammar School uses, just ask their admissions team.

The Kent Test: Exam Format

Because all Grammar Schools in the Kent County Council area use the Kent Test, your child only has to sit one exam (unless they’re also applying to a school in the Medway area).

GL Assessments is the test provider, and there’s a handy familiarisation booklet available from Kent County Council.

The Kent Test involves two multiple-choice papers. Each lasts 60 minutes. There’s also a short creative writing task.

Paper 1: English and Maths

This paper is evenly split between English and Maths questions. There’s a five-minute practice exercise at the start of both sections to help your child understand the question types.

  • The English section consists of a reading comprehension, as well as general questions assessing spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammar (featuring things like fronted adverbials and powerful adjectives). This could involve synonyms and antonyms, spotting mistakes or completing sentences.
  • The Maths section features National Curriculum content (up to the end of Year 6). It could include topics such as fractions and decimals, percentages and ratios, geometry and arithmetic.

Paper 2: Reasoning

This paper covers spatial reasoning, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. It also lasts 60 minutes, with various practice exercises throughout, to familiarise your child with the question types.

Unlike English and Maths, these topics aren’t taught at primary school – so they give a better potential of a child’s “true” academic potential rather than just knowledge.

Creative Writing

As well as the two “formal” papers, children complete a creative writing task. This lasts 50 minutes, including 10 minutes planning.

Your child’s creative writing is only marked if they’re a borderline case (going to a headteacher panel) or a formal appeal.

To help your child prepare, check out our 11 Plus Reading List featuring a selection of books to boost their vocabulary and creative writing skills.

The Medway Test: Exam Format

The format of the Medway Test recently changed. From September 2024, it will consist of three separate papers. These include:

  • English: Featuring reading comprehension and writing tasks.
  • Maths: Including Maths topics from the National Curriculum (up to Year 6).
  • Reasoning: Including questions on both Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Note: Medway Council haven’t released the exact format for the new exams. This information will be published on their website on 15 May, so watch this space for further updates!

The Medway Test provider is also GL Assessments. So questions will likely be similar to the Kent Test.

What is the pass mark for the 11 Plus in Kent?

So, what is the score for Kent Grammar Schools?

Understandably, it’s one of the first questions parents ask. The answer is slightly different for the Kent Test and the Medway Test, so let’s take each in turn.

The Kent Test: Pass Marks

You’ll get three age-standardised scores for English, Maths and Reasoning.

These standardised scores range from 69 to 141. The highest overall score (for all three combined) is 423.

To pass, your child needs a total score of 332 across the three topics. They can’t have a single score of less than 107.

Even if your child achieves this “qualifying score” they aren’t guaranteed a place. It just means they’re considered for entry to Kent Grammar Schools. Then, factors like the number of applicants, catchment area and other school admissions criteria apply.

To find out more about deadlines and how to register your child for the Kent Test, head to the Kent County Council website.

The Medway Test: Pass Marks

Like the Kent Test, your child will receive an age-standardised score. This ensures younger children sitting 11 Plus exams aren’t unfairly disadvantaged.

This standardised score is converted into a weighted score – with more importance placed on English and Maths papers. The exact weighting is:

  • Standardised English Score x 2
  • Standardised Maths Score x 2
  • Standardised Reasoning Score x 1

Unlike the Kent Test, there isn’t a single pass mark for the Medway Test. This changes each year, depending on how well children perform.

Last year the top 23% of students passed the Medway Test. This top 23% were eligible for a place at Medway Grammar Schools if they met admissions criteria. 

If there are places left over, a further 2% can be selected as part of a review process. 

So in terms of scores, it’s best to aim as high as possible. But this should be at least the top 25% to be in with a chance of securing a place.

For more information on test dates, results and registering your child for the Medway Test, head to the Medway Council website.

How can I help my child prepare for their 11 Plus exams?

If you’re preparing your child for their 11 Plus exams, one of the most helpful things you can do is work with an experienced 11 Plus tutor. 

At Achieve Learning, we have an excellent track record of helping students gain entry to some of the most prestigious schools in the country. We help with every aspect of 11 Plus preparation, from individual tuition to academic consultancy and mock exams.

Whatever you need, we’ll help your child succeed and achieve with confidence.

What are the Best Grammar Schools in Kent? Rankings and 11 Plus Exam Formats Read More »

Grammar Schools Without a Catchment Area: Your Complete List

If you’re searching for an excellent secondary education for your child, you won’t go far wrong with Grammar Schools. 

But let’s face it, securing a coveted spot can be a lottery. They aren’t spread evenly throughout the country.

While some areas are spoiled for choice, others draw the short straw. For parents living in areas without Grammar Schools, your options can feel limited. 

Of course, you can cast your net wider and explore schools elsewhere. But there’s a catch – literally, catchment areas. Even if your child aces their 11 Plus exams, local candidates are prioritised.

So, what can you do?

Here’s your complete list of Grammar Schools in England awarding places outside a catchment area. For those outside the local area, entry is solely based on 11 Plus performance, unlocking a top-tier education for the very brightest students.

Do all Grammar Schools have catchment areas?

In short, no.

Out of 163 Grammar Schools in England, 43 offer places outside their local area.

A catchment area just refers to the geographic area from which a school draws its students. It’s essentially the designated neighbourhood or region surrounding the school. 

Catchment areas are often established by local educational authorities or school boards to manage enrollment and ensure schools can effectively serve their local communities.

The presence (or absence) of catchment areas varies depending on factors such as local educational policies, population density, school capacity and historical practices.

Which Grammar Schools don’t have a catchment area?

43 Grammar Schools in England offer places outside a catchment area. This means any child, no matter where they live, is free to apply and sit their entrance exams. Some schools have no catchment area at all. Others have a mixed approach, where a certain number of places are reserved for local students.

Here’s the full list of Grammar Schools without a catchment area (or those reserving a certain percentage of places for high-performing pupils outside the catchment area), broken down by region. 

For more information on catchment policies, head to each school’s website and read their admissions criteria.

South West

  1. Colyton Grammar School, Devon
  2. Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham
  3. The Crypt School, Gloucester
  4. Denmark Road High School, Gloucester
  5. Ribston Hall High School, Gloucester
  6. Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Gloucester
  7. Stroud High School, Stroud
  8. Marling School, Stroud

Did you know? Pate’s Grammar School is one of the top ten Grammar Schools in the entire country. For the full list, explore our guide to the Best Grammar Schools in the UK.

South East

  1. Dartford Grammar School for Girls, Kent
  2. Dartford Grammar School for Boys, Kent
  3. Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Medway
  4. The Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells
  5. The Judd School, Tonbridge
  6. Herschel Grammar School, Slough
  7. Langley Grammar School, Slough
  8. St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School, Slough
  9. Upton Court Grammar School, Slough

Commonly Asked: Do Kent Grammars have a catchment area?

Most Grammar Schools in Kent have a catchment area of some kind. There are 38 Grammar Schools in Kent, making it the county with the most Grammars in England.

For instance, Dartford Grammar School for Boys reserves 90 places for children living outside the catchment area. But the remaining spots go to children living near the school.

Other schools operate a “priority” system. So the Weald of Kent Grammar School (for instance) gives priority entrance to students living within their catchment area. If these places aren’t filled, places are awarded to “priority B” applicants, living elsewhere.

For more information on Grammar Schools in Kent, including the format of the Kent and Medway Tests and the top ten ranked Grammars in the county – read our in-depth guide.

Greater London

  1. Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet
  2. Beths Grammar School, Bexley
  3. Bexley Grammar School, Bexley
  4. Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, Bexley
  5. Townley Grammar School, Bexley
  6. St. Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington
  7. Wilson’s School, Sutton
  8. Wallington County Grammar School, Sutton
  9. Wallington High School for Girls, Sutton
  10. Sutton Grammar School, Sutton
  11. Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton
  12. Greenshaw High School, Sutton

Commonly Asked: Does Sutton Grammar School have a catchment area?

Because of its outstanding reputation, many parents ask if Sutton Grammar School has a catchment area.

Well technically yes. Most of the places at Sutton Grammar are reserved for students within the catchment area.

Even so, up to 60 places are allocated for students (passing their 11 Plus exams) who live outside this area. For these students, admission is based on academic merit, no matter their home address.

As a result, the school attracts students from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment.

If you’re searching for Grammar Schools in London, read our complete list of Grammars in the capital as well as the top ten best Grammar Schools in London.

The East of England

  1. Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Chelmsford
  2. King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford
  3. Colchester Royal Grammar School
  4. Colchester County High School for Girls

The Midlands

  1. Bishop Veseys’ Grammar School, Birmingham
  2. Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls, Birmingham
  3. Haberdashers’ Adams, Newport
  4. Newport Girls’ High School, Newport
  5. Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, Wolverhampton

Commonly Asked: Do Birmingham Grammar Schools have a catchment area?

Some do, and some don’t!

As you can see from the list above, both Bishop Veseys’ Grammar School and Sutton Coldfield Grammar School don’t exclusively use a catchment area.

Nonetheless, other Grammar Schools in Birmingham (such as King Edward’s School, regularly ranked among the top Grammar Schools in the country) do have a catchment area.

If you’re unsure, check with the individual school on their admissions criteria and catchment area rules. They’ll happily clarify.

The North of England

  1. Loreto Grammar School, Altrincham
  2. Saint Ambrose College, Altrincham
  3. The North Halifax Grammar School, Halifax
  4. The Crossley Heath School, Halifax
  5. Urmston Grammar School, Urmston

Why don’t some Grammar Schools have catchment areas?

Before we wrap up, it’s worth explaining why some Grammars have catchment areas and some don’t. It does appear a bit random after all!

Well, this quirk is due to the complex history of secondary education in England. 

Today’s Grammar system (as we know it) stemmed from the 1944 Education Act. This landmark legislation made free secondary education accessible to all. 

But in the 1960s, some voices (mainly championed by Labour politicians) argued academically-selective education deepened class divisions and favoured the middle classes. In response, by 1965 the government nudged local authorities to phase out Grammar Schools in favour of a comprehensive system.

Some counties (like Kent, Medway, the Midlands, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire) clung to selective systems while others like Gloucestershire, Trafford and Slough opted for a mixed bag. 

So in counties with a higher percentage of Grammar Schools, it made sense to keep catchment areas – to ensure fair access and serve the local community. In areas with less density of Grammars, it didn’t make sense that only a small percentage of the local population had access to a Grammar education. So in many cases, catchment areas were scrapped.

Nonetheless, you will find anomalies. Many Grammars stay true to their historical roots – whether that means admissions using a strict catchment area or not!

Are you preparing your child for 11 Plus exams?

If you’re preparing your child for 11 Plus exams, explore our expert tuition services.

With a fantastic track record of success, we offer individual 11 Plus tuition (starting as early as Year 4 or Year 5), specialised academic consultancy (to assess your child’s 11 Plus readiness) and realistic mock exams to ensure your child is comfortable with the exam format.

Get in touch today and find out how we can help your child achieve their academic goals.

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The Best Grammar Schools in the UK: Your Top 10 List

Welcome to your guide to the best Grammar Schools in the UK.

If you’re looking for a world-class education for your child (without the hefty fees that come with a private education!), Grammar Schools are the perfect choice. In this guide, we’ll explore the best Grammar Schools across the country, helping you make informed decisions and ensure your child gets the best possible education.

We’ll dive into the unique features and academic strengths of these schools as well as what sets Grammar Schools apart in general. We’ll also explore the top areas for Grammar Schools and whether students really perform better at these selective state schools.

So, let’s get started and find the perfect secondary education for your child’s future.

What are Grammar Schools?

Before we talk about the best Grammar Schools in the country, let’s explain what sets them apart from other schools in the UK.

A Grammar School is a type of secondary that admits students based on their academic abilities. Admission is determined through entrance exams, commonly known as the 11 Plus. 

Students take these tests during Year 6, when they’re around 11 years old (hence the name!). While entry also relies on factors like catchment area (i.e. where you live) or whether any siblings already attend, those achieving the highest scores in 11 Plus exams are likely to secure a place.

Another distinguishing feature of Grammar Schools is they’re publicly funded. This means there aren’t any tuition fees for parents. Despite being state-funded, these schools provide the very highest-quality education and boast a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Securing a place at Grammar School can be difficult, especially in densely populated regions like London. The rigorous nature of 11 Plus exams contributes to this competitiveness, ensuring only the most capable students are admitted.

For more information on the UK Grammar School system and entrance exams, read our in-depth introduction to Grammars.

What is the best Grammar School in the UK?

The best Grammar School in the UK, according to the Sunday Times’ influential Parent Power Secondary School Rankings, is Wilson’s School. Situated in Sutton, South London, this boys’ Grammar recently made headlines by surpassing even prestigious private institutions like Eton and Westminster to claim the number one spot. It’s not just the best Grammar, but the best school!

We’ll provide a brief introduction to Wilson’s School alongside the other top ten Grammars later in this article. But what makes this school quite so special?

Well, Wilson’s School has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence with some truly exceptional results.

In 2023, 94.9% of GCSE students achieved grades 9-7. At A Level, 96.8% of students secured A*-B grades. Out of 174 upper sixth students, 27 went on to study at Oxbridge.

But Wilson’s School is about so much more than exam results. With a focus on nurturing talent and instilling values of resilience, kindness, integrity and excellence in its students, Wilson’s School offers an exciting and inclusive learning environment. They welcome boys from all over the world (with over 40 languages and all major religions represented at the school) and proudly state in their prospectus: “No one is a guest at Wilson’s. Everyone is included.”

What is the second-best Grammar School in the UK?

The second spot goes to Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet, London. Like Wilson’s School, this boys’ Grammar is renowned for its exceptional standards and rigorous curriculum. As a result, Queen Elizabeth’s has consistently secured a place among the top-ranking Grammar Schools in league tables nationwide.

Founded in 1573, Queen Elizabeth’s boasts tradition spanning over four centuries. During this time it has maintained an unwavering commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and holistic development among its students. The school places a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities, encouraging boys to explore their interests beyond the classroom and develop essential skills such as teamwork, leadership and resilience.

Like many Grammars in this article, one of the key factors contributing to Queen Elizabeth’s exceptional standing is their rigorous selection process. Admission is highly competitive, with prospective students undergoing comprehensive 11 Plus assessments evaluating their academic aptitude, potential and suitability for the challenging curriculum offered. 

For more information on Queen Elizabeth’s School and Grammar Schools in Barnet, read our 11 Plus entry guides.

Which area has the best Grammar Schools in the UK?

There are just over 160 Grammar Schools in the UK. But these schools aren’t evenly spread throughout the country. While some areas like Kent have almost 40 Grammar Schools, others (like Norfolk, Bristol and the North East of England) don’t have any at all.

In terms of quantity, the best counties for Grammar Schools are:

  • Kent: 38 Grammar Schools
  • London: 19 Grammar Schools
  • Lincolnshire: 15 Grammar Schools
  • Buckinghamshire: 13 Grammar Schools
  • Essex: 8 Grammar Schools

But in terms of quality, there’s one area that’s head and shoulders above the rest – and that’s London.

London is a hotspot for outstanding Grammar Schools, attracting families from all over the world seeking an exceptional education for their children. The capital boasts a diverse range of Grammar Schools, many of which consistently rank among the top-performing schools in the country. Indeed, in our top ten list half of the Grammars are based in London!

The concentration of excellent schools in London comes down to its historical significance, continued investment in education and a diverse pool of talented educators. 

So whether it’s Wilson’s School in Sutton, Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet, or The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston upon Thames, parents in London have the luxury (or agony!) of choosing between some amazing secondary options.

Do children do better at Grammar School?

This depends on what we mean by “better”…

While Grammar Schools are renowned for their academic rigour and results, they may not be the best fit for every child. While some students thrive in this challenging environment (and bright children are less likely to experience bullying), others may struggle to cope with the intense pressure or feel out of place in a selective setting. 

As a parent, it’s crucial to consider your child’s individual needs, learning style and personality before making a decision. Factors such as commute time, extracurricular opportunities and school culture should also be taken into account when evaluating whether a Grammar School is the right choice for your child.

In terms of results alone though, generally speaking, Grammar Schools outperform other secondary schools. There’s some much-cited research, that almost all Grammar School pupils achieve five or more “good grades” at GCSE compared to two-thirds of pupils at comprehensives. Despite this, the British Journal of Sociology of Education points out that Grammar Schools’ “higher average attainment” is mainly down to their academic selection process.

Is Grammar School better than Private School?

The debate between Grammar Schools and private schools is nuanced. The answer ultimately depends on your child’s academic goals, preferences, personality and your family circumstances. 

As we’ve seen, Grammar Schools offer rigorous programs tailored to high academic achievers. They boast high standards of teaching and learning, as well as a strong sense of community. 

On the other hand, private schools provide a broader curriculum and diverse teaching approaches (often more tailored to individual students), albeit at a higher cost. 

Both types of institutions offer quality education, and the choice depends on what best aligns with your child’s needs and your family values.

Here are a few points to consider:

Grammar Schools

  • State-funded selective schools admit students based on entrance exams or academic merit.
  • Generally offer a strong focus on academic achievement and rigorous curriculum – which won’t be suitable for all children.
  • Often have larger class sizes compared to private schools but may offer a more diverse student body.
  • No tuition fees, making them more accessible to families regardless of financial status.
  • May offer fewer extracurricular activities and specialised facilities compared to private schools.
  • Provide an opportunity for academically motivated students to study alongside peers with similar aspirations.
  • Can offer a pathway to higher education institutions and competitive careers through strong academic performance.

Private Schools

  • Independent institutions funded by parental tuition fees, providing greater financial resources and autonomy.
  • Often feature smaller class sizes, allowing for more personalised attention and support.
  • Tend to offer a wider array of extracurricular activities, specialised facilities and resources.
  • Provide a more personalised approach to education, with additional support services tailored to individual student needs.
  • May offer a broader range of academic and non-academic opportunities, including international exchanges, leadership programs and community service initiatives.
  • Can foster strong networks and connections with alumni, potentially providing advantages in higher education and career opportunities.
  • Tuition fees are generally high, which may cause financial stress for some families.

The Top 10 Grammar Schools in the UK

Here are the top ten Grammar Schools in the UK, as ranked by the Sunday Times Parent Power League Table.

1. Wilson’s School

Topping the charts as the number one Grammar School in the UK, Wilson’s School, located in Sutton, South London, is an all-boys Grammar renowned for its academic prowess and exceptional standards. 

Founded in 1615, Wilson’s School has a long-standing reputation for nurturing talent. With state-of-the-art facilities, dedicated teachers and a supportive community, Wilson’s School offers a dynamic learning environment where boys thrive academically, socially and personally.

According to the school, parents regularly say just how much their boys enjoy their time at Wilson’s. They firmly believe “school life should be enjoyed for itself and not just as a preparation for adulthood.” As a result, enrichment opportunities are very strong, with a particular focus on sports and music.

2. Queen Elizabeth’s School

Founded in 1573, Queen Elizabeth’s School (located in Barnet, North London), is steeped in history and tradition. Indeed, the school celebrated its 450th anniversary in 2023. 

Renowned for academic excellence and high standards, this boys’ grammar consistently ranks among the top-performing schools in the country. Queen Elizabeth’s prides themselves on a “totally meritocratic environment” where all students teach their “considerable potential”. This plays out in exam results, with over 58% of A Levels awarded A* in 2023.

The school’s rich heritage is complemented by modern facilities, dedicated teachers and a vibrant extracurricular program, offering students a well-rounded education preparing them for future success.

3. Henrietta Barnett School

Henrietta Barnett School (in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London), is another incredibly well-respected London Grammar School. 

Founded in 1911, this all-girls school has established a reputation for consistently delivering outstanding results and nurturing generations of talented individuals. They are “committed to developing the whole person”, instilling confidence and a global outlook in their pupils.

With a strong emphasis on academic rigour, innovative teaching methods and a wide range of extracurricular activities, Henrietta Barnett School prepares its students to excel in an ever-changing world. The school is also set in beautiful, leafy surroundings – with a beautiful Grade II* listed Lutyens building.

4. Pate’s Grammar School

Founded in 1574, Pate’s Grammar School (in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire), is renowned for its strong academic focus and vibrant extracurricular activities. 

With a commitment to excellence, innovation, and personal development, Pate’s Grammar School provides students with a well-rounded education in stunning surroundings. 

The school’s supportive community, dedicated teachers and modern facilities create a stimulating learning environment. In their latest exam results, over 91% of A Level students achieved A*-B grades. 90% of GCSE candidates also secured exclusively 9-7 grades.

5. St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School

In Orpington, Kent, St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School boasts a legacy of academic excellence dating back to the sixteenth century. It provides a supportive environment with staff who “know their pupils well and serve their individual needs”.

The school prides itself on the diversity of its student body, championing respect and dignity for all. Indeed, there’s a strong sense of pride and loyalty right throughout the school.

As well as a thoroughly welcoming atmosphere, academic performance is also high. 91% of Olavian’s A Level grades were A* to B, with 41% at A*. 91% of GCSE grades were also 9-7 with 50% at grade 9.

6. Colchester Royal Grammar School

Established in 1206, Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) holds the distinction of being one of the oldest schools in the country. 

Located in Colchester, Essex, CRGS has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and holistic development. It joined the “Thinking Schools Academy Trust” in 2013 and offers a wide range of trips, extracurricular activities and global exchanges.

With a history spanning over eight centuries, CRGS combines traditional values with modern educational practices (and lessons designed to “stretch and inspire”) to provide students with a well-rounded Grammar education. It’s an 11-18 boys school, admitting girls for sixth-form study. 

CRGS is also one of the very few state-funded schools with boarding options – boasting a family-style boarding house for 30 sixth-form students.

7. The Tiffin Girls’s School

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Kingston upon Thames, The Tiffin Girls’ School is celebrated for its impressive academic achievements and inclusive ethos. 

Established in 1880, this girls’ Grammar provides a supportive and stimulating environment where students are encouraged to excel academically and develop into confident, independent young women.

In the headteacher’s welcome, the school’s “wonderful culture and ethos” is celebrated. Girls are consistently encouraged to pursue active citizenship and new challenges with a “real buzz” around the school. This inclusive and brave atmosphere stems from its motto “sapere aude” which translates as “dare to be wise”.

8. Reading School

With a history dating back to 1125 (founded as part of Reading Abbey), Reading School is one of the oldest and most prestigious Grammars in the country. 

Located in Berkshire, this boys’ Grammar School combines tradition with innovation to deliver exceptional education. Year 13 students consistently achieve the highest A Level grades, with over 90% of entries awarded A*-B. GCSE results are similarly high, with 85% of students achieving top 9-7 grades.

According to the school, these stellar results are a “necessary” but “insufficient” measure of education. Their outlook focuses on much more than grades, instead focusing on hope, society, culture and innovation – enabling “the best in humanity”.

9. King Edward VI School (KES)

With a history dating back to 1295, King Edward VI School (in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire), is one of the oldest and most prestigious Grammar Schools in the country. 

As the school attended by William Shakespeare, it combines rich heritage with modern educational philosophy, providing students with a dynamic learning environment in a truly historic setting. They ensure small sets in examination classes (for both GCSE and A Level), ensuring a personal approach for all students.

KES enriches its challenging curriculum with a “vast array” of activities including competitions, work experience, foreign exchanges, a visiting lecture program and field trips.

There’s also an exceptional girls’ grammar in this small town, Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls, affectionately known as Shottery.

10. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Established in 1910, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (based in Altrincham, Cheshire), has a well-earned reputation for academic excellence and personal development. 

With a focus on empowering young women through education, this girls’ Grammar m provides a supportive and inclusive environment where students thrive academically and personally.

The school is part of the “Bright Futures Educational Trust” which creates a wide range of educational and extracurricular opportunities. They foster “enjoyment of learning, self-discipline, concern for others and opportunities for leadership” with every student encouraged to develop their full potential.

Are you thinking about Grammar School for your child?

If you’re thinking about Grammar Schools and preparing your child for their 11 Plus exams, get in touch today. Our expert team at Achieve Learning offers one-to-one 11 Plus tuition, consultancy and mock exams. With a proven track record of success, we’ll help your child achieve their academic goals.

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Grammar Schools in London: Your Complete List

Unlocking Excellence: A Parent’s Guide to London’s Grammar Schools

Embarking on the secondary school journey is a crucial time that sets the stage for your child’s future success. 

But how can you choose a school that’s best for them?

In good news, London’s vibrant educational landscape boasts a network of distinguished grammar schools. Each has its own unique history, traditions and well-deserved reputation for academic prowess. 

As a parent naturally seeking the best educational opportunities for your child, navigating the array of options is exciting and daunting. To help you make an informed choice, here’s your comprehensive guide to all of London’s grammar schools.

Ready? Let’s dive straight in.

How many Grammar Schools are there in London?

There are 19 Grammar Schools in London, each offering a unique educational experience. These schools are all part of the broader system of selective state-funded secondary education in the UK. They follow the national curriculum (just like any other state school), but also offer extra academic opportunities for your child. 

These opportunities could involve additional subjects like Latin or Further Maths, extracurricular clubs or studying for more A Levels and GCSEs than normal (for instance, four or five A Levels rather than three). 

Grammar Schools strive for academic excellence and they’re essential to delivering the high standard of education London is known for. This doesn’t mean pastoral care goes by the wayside however. So rest assured your child will be supported and challenged in equal measure.

Admission to these schools is typically based on the results of the 11 Plus exam, a standardised test taken by students in their last year of primary school. 

To read more about the Grammar School system and how to prepare your child for their 11+ exams, take a look at our introductory guide.

A complete list of Grammar Schools in London

Here’s a brief introduction to each of the 19 Grammar Schools in London. We’ve linked to each school and broken the list down by area, so you can easily find the schools nearest you.

Barnet

Henrietta Barnett School

Established in 1911, this all-girls grammar school in leafy Hampstead Garden Suburb is renowned for academic excellence. In 2023, an amazing 97% of GCSE grades were 7-9. The school offers a wide range of subjects and extracurricular activities, emphasising a well-rounded education and personal development.

Queen Elizabeth’s School

Founded in 1573 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, this boys’ grammar has a rich history. It’s played a key role in the local community ever since and regularly tops league tables as the best grammar in the country. Today, it maintains high academic standards and provides a supportive environment with fantastic sports facilities.

St. Michael’s Catholic Grammar School

Located in Finchley, St. Michael’s has served the local community since 1908. As a religious school (founded by the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus), it blends academic achievement with a strong emphasis on spiritual and personal development. The school only admits girls for years 7 to 11, but accepts boys for sixth form.

Bexley

Beths Grammar School

With roots dating back to 1945, Beths Grammar School in Bexley consistently achieves outstanding results. It’s renowned for its exciting STEM provision and commitment to nurturing the “whole student”. Beths also specialises in preparing students for Oxbridge entrance.

Bexley Grammar School

Founded in 1955, this co-educational grammar school has a particularly strong academic reputation. Their curriculum includes at least two foreign languages and all three sciences at GCSE. Nonetheless, it’s still a supportive environment, aiming to “raise aspirations and grow confidence”.

Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School

Established in 1931, this mixed grammar school emphasises academic achievement and personal responsibility, with a range of extracurricular activities. Set within “extremely attractive grounds” that are almost unique in South East England, the school fosters a caring and happy community.

Townley Grammar School

Founded in 1933, Townley Grammar School for Girls has a proud history of academic success. It promotes a holistic and “socially responsible” education, encouraging students to excel both inside and outside the classroom. Praised by the Department of Education for its “character education” the school fosters a “desire to improve the world for others” in its girls.

Bromley

Newstead Wood School

Founded in 1957, this girls’ grammar in Orpington is known for its STEM focus and fantastic tennis centre. It maintains high academic standards while encouraging students to explore their personal interests. The school promotes “fundamental British values” and encourages democratic involvement in school decisions from all its students.

St Olave’s Grammar School

Dating back to 1571, St. Olave’s is one of the oldest schools in the country. This boys’ grammar school has a distinguished history and is rightly praised for its academic excellence. Impressively in 2023, 100% of students gained five or more 9-5 grades at GCSE.

Enfield

The Latymer School

Founded in 1624, The Latymer School (based near Edmonton Green) has a long-standing tradition of academic achievement. It’s one of London’s most successful and historic grammars. Indeed, the school is regularly listed as one of the top co-ed schools in the country. It boasts a sizable and diverse community of over 1,350 students.

Kingston upon Thames

Tiffin Girls’ School

Established in 1880, Tiffin Girls’ School has an enviable reputation. It’s recognised for its academic excellence, pastoral care, a strong commitment to extracurricular activities and creative subjects. The school’s latest Ofsted report particularly praised the “high profiles” of music, drama and the arts.

Tiffin School

Founded in 1888, Tiffin School for Boys has a proud history of academic achievement. Impressively, over 87% of A Level grades in 2023 were A*-B. It provides a truly stimulating and well-rounded learning environment with over 70 clubs and societies for students to take part in.

Redbridge

Ilford County High School

Established in 1901, this boys’ grammar in Barkingside has a strong academic reputation. In 2023, an amazing 31 students achieved straight A*s or As in their A Level exams. The school combines traditional values with modern educational practices, building “young men for the future”.

Woodford County High School

Founded in 1919, Woodford County High School for girls is known for academic excellence and a “palpable sense of community”. It offers a wide range of subjects and extracurricular activities, striking a balance between an “unashamedly academic” curriculum and innovative teaching.

Sutton

Nonsuch High School for Girls

Established in 1938, Nonsuch High School for Girls fosters a highly supportive learning environment, encouraging students to excel with confidence. With a strong focus on sporting, fundraising and creative activities, the school aims to create “perceptive and caring global citizens” prepared for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Sutton Grammar School

Dating back to 1929, Sutton Grammar School for Boys has a strong tradition of academic excellence. It provides a challenging curriculum and encourages students to reach their full potential (for instance, all students are expected to take four A Levels). The school also prides itself on “excellence beyond the curriculum” with enriching activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Law Society, STEM clubs and sport.

Wallington County Grammar School

Founded in 1927, this boys’ grammar school has a strong academic record. It promotes a well-rounded education, emphasising both academic and personal development. The school’s culture and ethos stems from its motto “per ardua ad summa” which translates as through difficulties to the heights.

Wallington High School for Girls

Established in 1888, Wallington High School for Girls is known for nurturing confident and capable young women. Ofsted has praised its “strong learning community” with 75% of A Levels awarded A* to B grades and 62% of GCSE entries grade 8 or higher.

Wilson’s School

Dating back to 1615, Wilson’s School in Wallington boasts centuries of academic success. This boys’ grammar school emphasises traditional values of integrity and respect, alongside a challenging curriculum. The school also prides itself on the “laughter, good humour and warmth” that marks student and teacher relationships.

What’s the best place to live for a Grammar School?

As you can see, London is dotted with many exceptional grammar schools, each with its unique charm and history. 

But if you’re planning ahead and thinking about location, which borough is the best for access to these schools?

Well, no matter where you’re based, there’s no guarantee of admission to Grammar Schools. Even if you live right outside the school gates, if your child doesn’t secure the grades they need in 11+ exams – you won’t secure a place.

That being said, statistically Sutton has the most Grammar Schools of any London borough. So you could be more likely to swag a spot if you live within the catchment area of multiple schools.

In terms of rankings however, Barnet has some of the highest ranked schools. Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for Boys and the Henrietta Barnett School are regularly listed as two of the top schools in the country.

In more good news for London residents, many of the capital’s schools consistently rank highly in national grammar rankings. In fact, most of the top 20 are usually London schools. So if you’re looking for a city that’s great for grammars – look no further than London.

We’ll also take a closer look at grammar school rankings in a follow-up blog, so watch this space.

Are you applying to Grammar Schools in London?

The competitive academic environment and rich cultural offerings of London undoubtedly contribute to the stellar reputation of its grammars.

As a parent looking at schools in the city, it’s so important to explore your options, consider catchment areas and most importantly find a school that aligns with your child’s unique strengths and personality.

If you need help with 11+ preparation, mock exams or personalised consultancy, contact our expert team at Achieve Learning today. Whichever school you’re aiming for, we’ll help your child unlock their full academic potential.

Grammar Schools in London: Your Complete List Read More »

Exploring Grammar Schools in Watford: A Parent’s Guide

So, you’re diving into the world of secondary education for your child? Exciting times. 

The move to secondary is an incredibly important transition in your child’s life. There are so many options to choose between, from state to private, grammars and academies. And of course, you want to find the perfect fit for your child.

With high academic standards and no fees, grammar schools are unsurprisingly one of the most popular choices.

To help your decision, here’s everything you need to know about Watford’s grammar schools. From catchment areas to entrance exams, results and rankings, we’ve got you covered with this parent-friendly guide.

Are there any Grammar Schools in Watford?

Watford has two excellent grammar schools: Watford Grammar School for Boys and Watford Grammar School for Girls. These schools have shaped bright young minds and provided a supportive yet challenging educational environment for many years. They’re well respected and highly sought after for good reason.

Did you know there are just 163 grammar schools in the country?

Some are “fully selective” with admissions based on a combination of academic ability and home address. Others (like Watford Grammar Schools) are “partially selective” with a certain percentage of places based on academic ability and home address, while the rest are “community places” assigned according to where you live.

To find out more about how grammar schools work and whether this unique environment is right for your child, take a look at our introductory blog.

Does Hertfordshire have Grammar Schools?

As well as Watford’s two outstanding Grammar Schools, Hertfordshire is home to another five partially selective schools.

These schools are all part of the South West Hertfordshire Consortium. They include:

There are also a few other partially selective schools in Hertfordshire. Even though they aren’t part of the South West Hertfordshire consortium, they’re still highly regarded with some seriously impressive exam results.

They include:

If you’re curious about Grammar Schools in wider Hertfordshire, explore our in-depth guide. As well as a fact file on each school, you’ll find more info on how to apply and support your child’s 11+ journey.

What is the Watford Grammar School catchment area?

Let’s take each in turn.

Watford Grammar School for Boys: Catchment Area

Watford Grammar School for Boys is partially selective. This means 35% of Year 7 places are reserved based on academic and musical ability.

Within these “specialist places”, preference is also given according to your home address. 60% are reserved for those living within the Watford area. The other 40% are reserved for the “rest of the admission area”.

Here are the postcodes included in each category:

Watford area 

  • WD17: 1-4
  • WD18: 0, 6-9
  • WD19: 4-7
  • WD23: 1-7, 9
  • WD24: 4-7, 9
  • WD25: 0, 5, 7-9
  • WD3: 3

Rest of the admission area

  • WD3: 1, 4-9
  • WD4: 8, 9
  • WD5: 0
  • WD6: 3
  • WD7: 7, 8
  • HA3: 6
  • HA5: 1-5
  • HA6: 1-3
  • HA7: 3, 4

As well as musical and academic aptitude, 65% of admissions are “community places”. 

This catchment area includes both Watford and the “rest of the admission area”. All postcodes within this area are treated equally, just like any other state school admissions process.

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping for a spot at Watford Grammar School for Boys but you live outside the admission area – this isn’t likely. In the school’s admissions information, they say the “level of oversubscription” makes it “unlikely that a boy from outside the admission area would be offered a place”.

Watford Grammar School for Girls: Catchment Area

In good news for parents of boys and girls, the catchment area for Watford Grammar School for Girls is exactly the same as the Boys Grammar (listed above).

So that keeps things simple!

They also keep the same number of places reserved for each category. This means:

  • 35% music and academic aptitude places
  • 65% community places

Just like Watford Grammar School for Boys, the Girls Grammar is equally sought-after. If you don’t live within Watford or the wider admissions area – it’s unlikely you’ll get a place.

So, to explain this extraordinary popularity, what is the ranking of Watford Grammar Schools?

What is the Watford Grammar ranking?

Watford Grammar School for Boys ranks 72nd in the UK for academic performance. 42.5% of A Level grades are A* or A while 57.5% of GCSE grades are 7 or higher.

Watford Grammar School for Girls boasts similarly impressive results and rankings. In 2023, 58% of all GCSE results were 7 or higher (just pipping the boys!). A Levels were ever so slightly lower, with 35% of grades either A*s or As. 

Both schools are ranked as “outstanding” by Ofsted. In its most recent 2021 inspection, Watford Boys was described as “remarkably friendly and welcoming” with praise for the boys’ “high-quality work” and “exemplary manners”.

Watford Grammar School for Girls was last inspected in 2007. Similarly judged as outstanding, inspectors praised the “focus on each girl as an individual” as well as the “relentless drive” to help everyone achieve their very best.

Both schools also go above and beyond the national curriculum, always striving for academic excellence.

What score do you need to get into Watford Grammar School?

Neither Watford Boys nor Watford Girls Grammar have a cut-off mark for their entrance exams.

There’s no minimum score to gain admission. Instead, places are offered based on students’ marks in descending order. This means the entry standard changes from year to year.

Remember, anyone applying for a community place (based on your postcode) or a musical aptitude place won’t have to sit the academic ability tests.

While the schools state that preparation for their entrance exams isn’t necessary, you’ll probably want to help your child understand the exam format and get some practice under their belt.

To help, we’ve already written an in-depth guide to the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11+ exams. You’ll find more information on the format of the exams, past papers, application deadlines and how to help your child feel ready.

But in the meantime, here’s a few extra tips.

What’s the best way to prepare for Watford Grammar School exams?

Here are four key ways to help your child prepare for Watford Grammar School exams.

  • Subject-specific content: Make sure you’re practising both maths and verbal reasoning with your child. These are the only two subjects tested, so you’ll want to make sure your child’s skills are sharp. Focus on understanding key mathematical concepts, problem-solving skills and practising a variety of mathematical and word-based problems.
  • Mock tests: Mock tests and past papers are essential. Whether you’re going with external providers (like us at Achieve Learning) or working on papers at home, simulating the real exam environment helps your child understand time management and eases exam-day nerves. The results also provide invaluable insights into areas your child needs to focus on.
  • Personal tuition: 1-1 tuition is the best way to unlock your child’s potential and unpack their unique strengths and weaknesses. With personalised attention, a tutor can identify areas that need improvement and customise learning plans accordingly. This builds your child’s confidence and makes studying more efficient, positive and ultimately more successful.
  • Building vocabulary: A broad vocabulary is vital for verbal reasoning, as well as your child’s broader education. Have fun reading together with books that challenge their vocabulary and introduce new worlds and ideas. This not only enhances their vocabulary but also improves comprehension and analytical thinking.

Does Watford Grammar School charge fees?

Neither Watford Grammar School for Boys or Watford Grammar School for Girls charge fees. 

Both schools operate as state-funded grammar schools, offering an exceptionally high standard of education without tuition fees. 

While there may be additional costs for things like uniforms, extracurricular activities and school trips, the core education provided by these grammar schools is funded by the state.

Thinking about Watford Grammar Schools for your child?

If you’re considering applying to either Watford Grammar School for Boys or Watford Grammar School for Girls, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning.

From mock exams to personalised 11+ tuition and academic consultancy, we’ll help your child thrive during this important transition to secondary school.

Exploring Grammar Schools in Watford: A Parent’s Guide Read More »

Do Grammar Schools follow the National Curriculum? Unraveling the Curriculum Conundrum

Choosing the right educational path for your child is a crucial decision. 

In the UK, parents must grapple with the choice between grammar schools, private schools, state schools and academies… and one of the key questions is whether these schools follow the National Curriculum. 

If your child attends a Grammar School (or any other type of secondary) – can you be sure of the teaching and content they’ll cover?

In this blog post, we’ll break down this complex topic and explore the National Curriculum in various types of schools. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the role of the National Curriculum and how it impacts the education your child receives.

Let’s unravel the curriculum conundrum together.

Do Grammar Schools follow the National Curriculum?

Yes, Grammar Schools in the UK follow the National Curriculum. Despite this, they also have the flexibility to supplement it with additional subjects and advanced coursework. They’ll teach core subjects like English, Maths and Science, alongside other topics to interest and challenge academically gifted students.

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s talk about what the National Curriculum is… 

What is the National Curriculum?

The National Curriculum is essentially a set of standards and subjects used by schools across the country. It ensures no matter where you live and what school your children attend, they’ll learn the same stuff. 

Some schools like academies and private schools don’t have to follow the National Curriculum. We’ll chat more about this below.

The National Curriculum uses Key Stages (KS) to organise learning. This refers to your child’s age, with KS3 and KS4 covering secondary education up to GCSE.

Grammar Schools, like all other state schools, use the National Curriculum to structure teaching and assessments.

At KS3 (11-14 years old), compulsory subjects include:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science 
  • History
  • Geography
  • Foreign Languages
  • Design and Technology
  • Art and Design
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Citizenship
  • Computing

Schools also have to provide relationships, sex and health education, as well as religious education – although parents can ask to remove children from some of these lessons.

When children get to KS4, most students (and especially those at Grammar Schools) work towards GCSE exams. 

Even so, there are still compulsory “core” and “foundation” subjects. Like all other schools, Grammars include these subjects in their curriculum – but also go above and beyond.

Core subjects are English, Maths and Science. At GCSE, many Grammars offer both “double” and “triple” award Science. The triple award qualification pushes students both in terms of level and content. Further Mathematics is also sometimes available at GCSE, for students hoping to pursue A Levels and Degrees in related subjects.

Grammar Schools also provide lessons in computing, physical education, sex education, religious education and citizenship. As part of their National Curriculum GCSE offering, they must also provide at least one of the following subject areas:

  • Arts
  • Design and Technology
  • Humanities 
  • Foreign Languages

As we’ve already seen, Grammar Schools usually go beyond the basic National Curriculum. So the chances are they’ll provide all of these subject areas (and more!).

Which schools in the UK don’t follow the National Curriculum?

Not all schools in the UK adhere to the National Curriculum. Here’s a bit more detail…

Private Schools

Private schools in the UK, also known as independent schools, aren’t obliged to follow the National Curriculum. They have the autonomy to develop their own curriculum and teaching methods. 

They certainly can opt-in (if they choose), so why don’t private schools follow the National Curriculum? 

There are a few reasons:

  • Curriculum flexibility: private schools can create a curriculum tailored to their students’ needs and the school’s educational philosophy. This lets them offer more subjects, educational approaches and extracurricular activities that might not be available in state-funded schools.
  • Emphasis on specialisation: many private schools focus on specialisation, which can include areas like the arts, sciences or sports. This results in a syllabus going beyond the National Curriculum, offering students a more niche or in-depth education.
  • Freedom from standardised testing: Private schools aren’t bound by the same standardised testing requirements as state schools. They have the freedom to design assessments, which can be quite different from the national standard.

Academies

Academies are publicly funded but operate independently, which gives them a degree of freedom in designing their curriculum. 

So, why don’t academies follow the National Curriculum?

Academies (which first appeared in the early 2000s) have gained increasing popularity for their independent approaches to learning. This freedom is the main reason they don’t always follow the National Curriculum.

These schools are known for:

  • Curricular independence: Academies have freedom to deviate from the National Curriculum. This lets them tailor their curriculum to better meet the needs and preferences of their students and community.
  • Innovative approaches: Academies can experiment with innovative teaching methods and subjects, resulting in a more diverse and dynamic educational experience compared to “standard” state schools.
  • Greater autonomy: Academies receive public funding, but they have control over their budget and operations. This autonomy extends not only to their curriculum choices, but buildings, staffing and extracurricular budgets.

Free Schools

Free schools are another category of UK schools that don’t strictly adhere to the National Curriculum. They’re state-funded but operate independently, similar to academies. 

They don’t always follow the National Curriculum for similar reasons. 

Like Academies, Free Schools are often established to introduce new and innovative educational approaches. This can include specialised subjects, alternative teaching methods and unique curricular offerings that may not align with the National Curriculum. They often design their curriculum based on the needs of local communities, leading to variations from the National Curriculum.

Are Grammar Schools better than private schools?

Comparing Grammar Schools to Private Schools isn’t straightforward. The choice between the two depends on various factors, including your child’s academic abilities and interests, your personal finances and preferences. 

Grammar Schools offer a high-quality education within the state sector and are known for their academic focus combined with a friendly, supportive environment. 

Private Schools, on the other hand, offer more curricular flexibility and greater freedom to meet individual children’s needs. This diversity in educational approaches provides parents and students with a range of choices. It also means the educational experience differs significantly between schools though – so there’s no substitute for attending open days and tours, to get a feel for which schools suit your child best.

While Private Schools often have more resources, both Grammar and Private Schools attract the most skilled and innovative teachers in the country. They’re usually close in terms of GCSE and A Level results, so you’ll know your child’s getting the best academic start whichever school you choose.

Is it worth sending my child to Grammar School?

Sending your child to a Grammar School can be a great choice if you think they’ll thrive in an academically challenging environment. 

However, Grammar School admission requires passing 11+ entrance exams (with components in Maths, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning), sat in the final year of primary school. To ensure success, long-term and careful preparation is essential. 

We’ve already taken a look at key tips for 11+ preparation, as well as reading lists to improve your child’s vocabulary and making the most of mock tests. So do have a read if you’re considering Grammar School for your child.

At Achieve Learning, we have over 20 years of experience in helping students prepare for their 11+ exams. Book a free academic assessment to learn how we can support your child’s educational journey. 

As well as mock tests and 1-1 academic tuition, we offer personalised guidance and resources to ensure your child is well prepared for the challenges of Grammar School and beyond.

Do Grammar Schools follow the National Curriculum? Unraveling the Curriculum Conundrum Read More »

What are Grammar Schools? A Guide for Parents

If your child is approaching the end of primary school, your thoughts are no doubt turning to secondary choices. 

But how can you decide between private schooling, specialist or faith establishments, state high schools or grammar schools? And for that matter, what’s the difference?

To help you navigate the UK secondary system, we’re taking an in-depth look at Grammar Schools. There are just 163 Grammar Schools, but their educational impact outweighs these small numbers.

To help your decision-making, we explain what sets Grammars apart from “normal” state schools, the 11+ exam system and answer some common questions.

What’s the difference between a Grammar School and a normal school?

There are around 3,400 state secondary schools in England. They are free for students to attend, with funding provided by the government. 

Out of these thousands of schools, 163 are Grammars. 

Grammars are different from “normal” state schools because of their selective admissions process. While regular schools provide a comprehensive education to all (regardless of academic ability), Grammar Schools have a different mission. They offer a more academically focused environment for students who excel in their studies.

Children are usually accepted on a combination of catchment area (i.e. where you live) and academic ability. Students’ intellectual aptitude is tested with the 11+ exam, which we’ll discuss below.

What is the 11+ Exam?

The 11+ exam is the main way grammar schools select pupils. 

Your child sits these tests in the last year of primary school. They’re a demanding combination of English (including comprehension, grammar and creative writing), Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. 

These exams identify which children are likely to thrive in an educationally challenging Grammar School environment. 

In terms of assigning places, some Grammar Schools rank students based on their score in the 11+ exam. Admissions are then based on these results. Other Grammar Schools use a combination of test results and other criteria like how far you live from the school and whether siblings already attend.

If you’re unsure about the entry requirements of a particular school, check their website or get in touch with admissions staff. Specialist tutors (like us at Achieve Learning!) can also help your child prepare and succeed at 11+ exams.

Do Grammar Schools follow the national curriculum?

In short, yes. 

Grammar Schools follow the standard national curriculum, just like other state-funded schools.

But the details are a bit more complex.

While Grammar Schools follow the national curriculum, they might supplement it with additional subjects or more advanced coursework. For instance, some Grammar Schools might include compulsory Latin for younger year groups (not part of the national curriculum) while others organise special projects, extra trips and learning opportunities.

Grammar Schools and their teaching of the national curriculum is a complex question that we know is important to parents choosing secondary education. We’ll explore this topic in more detail in a follow-up article, so stay tuned.

What are the advantages of Grammar Schools?

Grammar Schools remain popular with parents and pupils for good reason. 

Here are just a few advantages:

  • High academic standards: Grammar Schools are known for their rigorous and focused academic programs, which challenge and stimulate students who excel in their studies.
  • Smaller class sizes: Typically, Grammar Schools have smaller class sizes, allowing for more personalised attention from teachers and a positive, proactive learning environment.
  • Advanced curriculum: Grammar Schools often offer advanced coursework, enrichment programs and a wider range of subjects, allowing students to explore their interests in-depth.
  • Supportive peer groups: Grammar School students tend to be academically motivated, creating a peer group that inspires and encourages academic excellence.
  • Strong exam results: Grammar Schools often achieve higher exam results, increasing students’ chances of gaining entry to top universities and pursuing competitive careers.
  • Preparation for the future: The challenging yet caring nature of Grammar Schools is great preparation for the demands of higher education and professional life. These schools emphasise discipline, leadership and critical thinking, fostering well-rounded individuals.
  • Quality teachers: These schools attract some of the most experienced and dedicated teachers who provide quality education and guidance.
  • Access to resources: Although they’re state-funded, Grammar Schools often have more extensive facilities, resources and extracurricular activities – enriching the learning experience.

How do I know if my child is suitable for Grammar School?

Despite the many advantages, a Grammar School education isn’t right for every child.

But how can you tell if Grammar School will suit your child?

The good thing about the 11+ system is students are only admitted if they pass these rigorous tests. So if your child excels in the 11+, chances are they’ll thrive at Grammar School.

Although these schools focus on intellectual achievement, they’re also incredibly supportive and provide plenty of pastoral care. 

Gauging your child’s interest in pursuing an academically-challenging curriculum is sensible, but don’t worry too much. Grammar Schools provide all the usual extra-curricular activities and courses (like sports, drama, music and home economics) alongside more “traditionally academic” subjects like English, Maths and Science.

All Grammar Schools have open days, letting you explore classrooms and grounds, meet students and teachers and get a feel for the school. Attending open days in-person is one of the best ways you can tell whether a school is right for your child.

Are Grammar Schools free to attend?

Grammar Schools are state-funded, which means they’re free to attend. You won’t pay any fees for your child’s place.

Even so, there are other associated costs, such as uniforms, optional school trips (both in the UK and abroad) as well as extracurricular activities like after-school clubs and classes.

You should also know there are some private, fee-paying schools that call themselves Grammars. 

Why?

Well this quirk is due to the varied history of UK schooling. With changing attitudes towards education over the years, many Grammar Schools were taken-over as independent private schools. With a (well-deserved) reputation for academic excellence and intellectual curiosity, the “grammar” label often stayed. 

Check your chosen school’s website if you’re unsure whether fees apply. You can find a full list of state-funded Grammar Schools here.

How can I prepare my child for Grammar School tests?

Successfully preparing your child for Grammar School entrance exams is a long, thoughtful and dedicated process. 

We’ve already given some tips on helping your child tackle these challenging exams that you can find here and here

But well as tried and tested advice like making the most of mock tests and reading lists to boost your child’s vocabulary, here are some more ideas to help your child succeed in their 11+ exams:

  • Enrol your child in practice classes or 1-1 tutoring. With personalised help and advice, this is one of the best ways to help your child achieve their academic potential.
  • Explore online resources and games to make learning enjoyable. From BBC Bitesize to Twinkl and Kahoot, there are a whole host of fun online activities (all with an educational twist) that your child will enjoy.
  • Encourage your child to read widely and solve puzzles. Reading (not just novels, but anything from magazines and noticeboards to newspapers and comics) is the best way to improve their vocabulary. Reinforce reading with activities like crosswords, word searches and writing Haikus, as well as word and memory based games such as “I went to Market” or “I-Spy”.
  • Foster critical thinking skills through discussions and debates. Intellectual curiosity starts at home, so support your child by answering and encouraging any questions they might have. Researching any answers you don’t know is also a great bonding activity!
  • Develop organisation and exam-taking strategies. Of course, time-management for 11+ tests isn’t just for the exam hall. Get your child used to managing their own schedule during times like the school-run, homework before dinner or games against the clock.
  • Ensure they’re emotionally prepared for the admissions process. It’s important not to place too much pressure on your child. Nerves and anxiety don’t help anyone. As long as they try their best on the day, this is enough.

Ready to learn more?

If you’re exploring Grammar Schools and need expert guidance on preparing your child, book a free academic assessment with Achieve Learning. With over 20 years of experience, we provide practice tests and valuable insights, as well as 1-1 tuition and support to help your child succeed in their academic journey.

In this blog post, we’ve scratched the surface of Grammar Schools in the UK. Stay tuned for our follow-up article, where we’ll delve deeper into the National Curriculum and offer more tips on preparing your child for this educational path.

What are Grammar Schools? A Guide for Parents Read More »

Grammar Schools in Barnet: 11 Plus Exams Guide 2024

There’s no doubt. If you want your child to receive the best possible education and a supportive school environment, grammar schools are a natural choice. They’re famed for impressive academic results and university admissions.

It’s unsurprising these schools are enduringly popular among parents and students alike. But as you’ll probably know, entry is based on the 11 Plus exam.

These tests usually involve some elements of Maths, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. They test a student’s academic suitability for a grammar school environment – and are designed to be challenging. So if you want your child to have the best chance of acceptance to one of Barnet’s grammar schools… early preparation is essential.

In this article, we introduce the various grammar schools in Barnet as well as top tips on how to help your child prepare effectively and positively.

Let’s get started.

Grammar Schools in Barnet: A Brief Introduction

There are three grammar schools in Barnet, all famed for their exceptional academic results, high-quality student care and expert teaching. These are:

  • Queen Elizabeth’s School
  • Henrietta Barnett School
  • St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School

Here’s a very brief introduction to each school.

Queen Elizabeth’s School

In 2023, Queen Elizabeth’s School celebrates its 450th anniversary. It was founded in 1573 after Queen Elizabeth I announced a charter for a “free grammar school” for the “education, bringing up and instruction of boys”.

From humble beginnings (housing just 60-90 boys), the school now provides an excellent education to over 1,300 students. It’s regularly recognised as one of the UK’s leading secondary schools across both independent and state sectors.

  • Address: Queen’s Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN5 4DQ.
  • Year 7 places: Approximately 180 places.
  • Results and rankings: Ofsted rated Queen Elizabeth’s School as “outstanding” in all areas. The school consistently achieves excellent academic results. They recently enjoyed their best ever year for A Levels and GCSEs with 92% of A Level results at A*-A and 85% of GCSEs awarded level 8 or 9 grades.
  • 11 Plus test format: Queen Elizabeth’s School uses tests set by GL Assessment, a leading provider of 11 Plus exams. The exam consists of two multiple-choice exams in Maths and English. Each test lasts about 50 minutes, but the exact question types and exam format changes from year to year.
  • Familiarisation papers: Although Queen Elizabeth’s doesn’t provide past papers, you can find a variety of familiarisation papers on the GL Assessment website.
  • Exam registration dates: Registration opens on 1 May 2023 and closes on 14 July 2023.
  • Admissions information: Admissions information, including parent guidance, school policies and the history of the school is available on the Queen Elizabeth’s website.

We’ve previously written an in-depth guide to 2024 entry at Queen Elizabeth’s School (covering fees, the application process, sample papers and more), so have a read if you’re considering applying.

Henrietta Barnett School

Established in 1911, Henrietta Barnett is a leading girls’ grammar school that consistently ranks among the top schools in the country. Founded by the social reformer Dame Henrietta Octavia Weston Barnett, it was a central part of ambitious plans for the model Garden Suburb community in Hampstead, London.

Today, the school provides an excellent education for 800 girls. It remains well-known for its beautiful campus and historic buildings, as well as a pioneering attitude to social responsibility and community service.

  • Address: Central Square, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, NW11 7BN.
  • Year 7 places: There are approximately 90-100 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Henrietta Barnett consistently ranks as one of the top-performing schools in the country. It’s rated “good” by Ofsted and named as the top state school in the Parent Power 2023 In summer 2022, more than 97% of A-Level grades were A* to B and 94% of GCSE grades were 8 or 9.
  • 11 Plus test format: Like Queen Elizabeth’s School, Henrietta Barnett uses tests provided by GL Assessment. The first round of tests usually covers a range of English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers. If your child performs well in this first-round of exams, they’re invited for a second round of testing which includes a Maths and English exam.
  • Familiarisation papers: Henrietta Barnett doesn’t provide sample past papers, but you can find similar question types and paper styles on the GL Assessment website.
  • Exam registration dates: Applications for September 2024 open on 28 April 2023 and close on 11 July 2023.
  • Admissions information: Visit Henrietta Barnett School’s admissions pages for more information on academic criteria and school policies.

If you’re applying to Henrietta Barnett School, read our in-depth guide for 2024 entry. You’ll find more crucial information about the school and its application process, exam formats and catchment area.

St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School

Established in 1908, St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is a well-respected girl’s grammar school in North Finchley. From 2009 onwards, boys were also admitted for sixth form entry.

With trusteeship under the control of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus, the school dedicates itself to forming responsible and committed citizens. Although pupils of other faiths (and no faith) are also accepted, the school encourages academic attainment and social responsibility within a specifically Catholic environment.

  • Address: Nether Street, North Finchley, London, N12 7NJ.
  • Year 7 places: Approximately 240 places.
  • Results and rankings: Ofsted ranked St Michael’s as “outstanding” in every single category. In the latestschool performance information, A Level grades average A- (a point score of 45.94) and 100% of GCSE pupils achieved Grade 5 or above in English and Maths.
  • 11 Plus test format: Tests are provided by GL Assessment and consist of multiple-choice papers in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.
  • Familiarisation papers: Like most grammar schools, St Michael’s don’t provide sample past papers. Nonetheless, they provide links to GL Assessment familiarisation papers on their website.
  • Exam registration dates: Registration is already open for September 2024 entry and closes on 4 July 2023.
  • Admissions information: Further information on entry requirements and admissions policies are available on the St Michael’s website.

Are there any partially selective schools near Barnet?

In addition to these three grammar schools, there’s one partially selective school in Barnet.

This is Mill Hill County School, which is ranked “good” in all areas by Ofsted, with a strong academic record. Indeed,47% of GCSE grades were at 7 or above (far higher than the national average of 26%) with an average attainment score of 40.7 at A Level (equivalent to a B grade).

Like the grammar schools we’ve discussed above, GL Assessment provides 11 Plus exams for Mill Hill County School. You can find more information on entry policies and procedures on the school’s admission pages.

If you’re searching for other leading schools in the local area, you might consider the South West Hertfordshire Consortium. This group of seven partially selective (and highly sought-after) schools also use 11 Plus exams as part of their admission criteria. You can find more information on 2024 entry in our Parents’ Guide to South West Herts Consortium Schools.

How to prepare your child for 11 Plus exams: Top Tips

At Achieve Learning, we know preparing your child for 11 Plus exams (no matter what school you’re applying to!) can be a daunting task. But the good news is there are lots of different ways to help your child succeed.

So if you’re applying to  grammar schools in Barnet, here are a few key tips.

  • Understand the exam format: The exact format of 11 Plus exams varies from school to school, so it’s essential to understand the requirements of the school you’re applying to. This includes the types of questions (for instance, getting confident with verbal reasoning), time limits for each section and paper, and your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Practice is key to success in 11 Plus exams. Your child should prepare as much as possible, particularly in areas they need improvement. This includes working on Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English. Familiarisation papers are an excellent resource, giving your child insights into various exam formats and question types.
  • Find a personal tutor: A dedicated personal tutor (like us at Achieve Learning!) can be invaluable for helping your child prepare for 11 Plus exams. A tutor can provide one-to-one support and help your child develop the skills they need to succeed. They can also provide guidance on exam techniques and strategies, as well as identify areas where extra help is needed.
  • Set a regular study routine: Setting a regular study routine can help your child stay focused and motivated. This includes setting aside time each day for practice and revision, as well as ensuring they have plenty of breaks and time for rest.
  • Make it fun: Learning doesn’t have to be boring! Making study and revision fun can help your child stay engaged and motivated. This includes playing games that develop the skills they need for the 11 Plus exam, such as verbal and non-verbal reasoning games. Word games like Boggle, Bananagrams and Scrabble as well as logic games like Crosswords and Sudoku are all fantastic.
  • Stay positive: It’s important to stay positive and supportive throughout the 11 Plus preparation process. Encourage your child, celebrate their successes, and provide support when they face challenges. A positive attitude can go a long way towards helping your child succeed in the exam.

Discover how Achieve Learning can help your child excel in their 11 Plus exams. With over 18 years’ experience providing one-to-one assistance and academic support, we offer numerous practice papers, mock exams and specialised revision courses to help your child get ready.

Book a free assessment to speak with one of our expert personal tutors, and get your child’s 11 Plus preparation off to the best possible start.

Grammar Schools in Barnet: 11 Plus Exams Guide 2024 Read More »

Grammar Schools in Hertfordshire: A Parent’s Guide

Grammar and partially selective schools are a popular choice for parents all over the country… and for good reason! They give children the best possible education without the hefty fees charged by private institutions.

This is no different in Hertfordshire, where plenty of schools provide the highest quality education, a supportive pastoral environment and opportunities to study with like-minded peers.

So, if you’re considering applying to grammar schools in Hertfordshire, here’s your brief introduction to the best schools, academic results and how to apply. 

What are the best grammar schools in Hertfordshire?

While there are no fully selective grammar schools in Hertfordshire, there are a number of high performing and well reputed partially selective schools. These partially selective schools are known for their high academic standards, strong focus on traditional subjects, and excellent extra-curricular opportunities.

Seven of these schools (listed below) are part of the South West Herts Consortium. We’ve already written a guide to 2024 admissions and 11 Plus Exams for these schools, so take a look if you’re applying. As well as the South West Herts Consortium, there are several other highly-regarded partially selective schools in Hertfordshire.

Here’s your guide to some of the best schools in the area.

South West Herts Consortium Schools

Parmiter’s School

Parmiter’s School was founded in 1681 by Ralph Parmiter, who left money in his will to establish a school for boys from the local area. It became a co-educational school in 1982, with a strong reputation for academic excellence.

Parmiter’s is also one of the oldest schools in the country, with a history dating back over 300 years. With the motto “nemo sibi nascitur” (meaning “no one is born unto himself alone”), the school has a strong sense of community, with a famously supportive and inclusive atmosphere. 

Fact file:

  • Address: High Elms Lane, Garston, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD25 0UU.
  • Established: 1681
  • Single-sex or mixed: Parmiter’s is a co-educational school (open to girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 180 year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: The school is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. In 2022, 27% of all A Level grades were A* and 81% at A*/A/B. GCSE results were similarly impressive, with 62% of all entries awarded grades 9 to 7.
  • Specialities: Parmiter’s has a strong focus on academic achievement, with a wide range of extracurricular activities available in music, drama and sport.

Parmiter’s School admissions policy >

Queens’ School

Queens’ School was founded in 1898 by the “Church Schools Company” to provide education for girls in the local area. Ever since, it’s been a highly respected school with a strong tradition of academic excellence.

Today, Queens’ is the largest co-educational state school in Hertfordshire, with roughly 1,700 students. The school prides itself not only on strong academic performance, but also impressive facilities. They boast 12 “all-weather” sports pitches and extensive playing fields over 50 acres.

Fact file:

  • Address: Aldenham Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire, WD23 2TY.
  • Established: 1898
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 80 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated as “excellent” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate and “good” by Ofsted, Queens’ School has long enjoyed impressive academic results. 60% of A Level entries achieved A*-B grades, while 73% of GCSE candidates secured grade 5 or above in English and Maths.
  • Specialities: Queens’ has a strong focus on developing well-rounded students, with as much attention given to personal development as academic performance. As well as A Levels, the school also offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in sixth form.

Queens’ School admissions policy >

Rickmansworth School

Originally founded as a grammar school for boys, Rickmansworth School became a comprehensive in the 1970s and started admitting girls. 

Now a partially selective institution, Rickmansworth promotes their six “Ricky Rs” through their curricular and extracurricular activities – including responsibility, respect, positive relationships, resourcefulness, resilience and reflection.

 Fact file:

  • Address: Scots Hill, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, WD3 3AQ.
  • Established: 1905
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 240 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated as “good” with “outstanding features” by Ofsted. In 2022, 68% of A Level entries achieved A*-B and 79% of GCSE candidates achieved grade 5 or higher in English and Maths.
  • Specialities: The school offers a broad range of subjects (including subjects like Photography, Film Studies, Philosophy and Product Design), as well as a strong sports and music program. 

Rickmansworth School admissions policy >

St Clement Danes School

Established as a boys’ school in 1862, St Clement Danes started accepting girls in the 1970s. Since then, the school has undergone several impressive expansion and renovation projects to accommodate their growing student body.

The school is named after Saint Clement Danes, the patron saint of blacksmiths. Their motto “Fides Servanda Est” means “Keep faith” – an ethos that drives their positive work with students and the local community. 

Fact file:

  • Address: Chenies Road, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, WD3 6EW.
  • Established: 1862
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 300 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: The school is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. In 2022, 80% of A Level students achieved A*-B grades, while 82% of students achieved a 5 or higher at GCSE English and Maths.
  • Specialities: St Clement Danes has a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects, as well as sports and languages.

St Clement Danes School admissions policy >

Watford Grammar School For Boys

Founded in 1704, Watford Boys was originally established as a charity school for local boys. It later became a grammar school and has since developed a reputation for academic excellence.

The school enjoys a long-standing friendly rivalry with nearby Rickmansworth School, which dates back to the nineteenth century when the two schools competed in races on the River Chess.

Fact file:

  • Address: Rickmansworth Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 7JF.
  • Established: 1704
  • Single-sex or mixed: Single-sex (boys-only).
  • Places available: Approximately 190 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted. In 2022, 72% of A Level students achieved A*-B grades and 87.9% of GCSE students secured 5 or above in English and Maths.
  • Specialities: The school has a strong reputation for academic excellence, particularly in mathematics, science, and technology. It also offers a range of extracurricular activities in sports, music, drama, and more.

Watford Grammar School for Boys admissions policy >

Watford Grammar School For Girls

Founded in 1704, Watford Grammar School for Girls is the partner school of Watford Boys Grammar, located a few miles away. They were both established as charity schools, before becoming grammar schools in the nineteenth century.

The school’s alumni include several notable figures, including actress Emma Chambers, Olympic athlete Paula Radcliffe, and former BBC Director-General Jenny Abramsky.

Fact file:

  • Address: Lady’s Close, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 0AE.
  • Established: 1704
  • Single-sex or mixed: Single-sex (girls-only).
  • Places available: Approximately 190 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. The school celebrated “exceptional” progress in their 2022 exam results, with 28% of GCSE students achieving Grade 9 and 55% of A Level results either A* or A.
  • Specialities: The school has a strong reputation for academic excellence, particularly in English, languages, and the arts – empowering students to become “life-long learners”.

Watford Grammar School for Girls admissions policy > 

Croxley Danes School

Croxley Danes was established in 2017 as a free school, in response to growing demand for secondary school places in Hertfordshire. It’s part of the Danes Educational Trust, which also includes St Clement Danes School and Westfield Academy.

The school’s name reflects its location in Croxley Green and its association with the Danes Educational Trust. Despite being a relatively new school, Croxley Danes has quickly established a reputation for academic excellence and a strong sense of community.

Fact file:

  • Address: Baldwins Lane, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, WD3 3LR.
  • Established: 2017
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 180 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: The school is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. Over 20% of students averaged grade 7 or above across their GCSEs. The first A Level results will be collected by Croxley Danes students in 2024.
  • Specialities: The school has a strong focus on developing individual character and resilience alongside academic achievement.

Croxley Danes School admissions policy >

Other partially selective schools in Hertfordshire

Dame Alice Owen’s School

Dame Alice Owen’s School was founded in 1613 by Dame Alice Owen, a wealthy widow who left money in her will to establish a school for “20 poor boys and 20 poor girls” in Islington. The school moved to its current location in Potters Bar in 1973 and has since expanded to become a co-educational school with over 1,600 students.

The school’s alumni include several notable figures, such as actor and comedian Stephen Fry, former England cricket captain Mike Gatting, and politician Dame Margaret Beckett.

Fact file:

  • Address: Dugdale Hill Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, EN6 2DU.
  • Established: 1613
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 180 Year 7 places
  • Results and rankings: Rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. In 2022, 90% of all GCSE students secured a grade 5 or above in English and Maths. Even more impressively, 92% of A Level candidates achieved A*-B grades.
  • Specialities: The school has specialist status in music, but also enjoys a strong reputation for academic excellence with a wide extracurricular offering. 

Dame Alice Owen’s School admissions policy >

Bishops Stortford High School

Bishops Stortford High School is another relatively new institution, founded in 1957 to meet growing demand for places in the area. Today, it’s a large co-educational school with around 1,700 students.

The school’s motto is “Inspiring Excellence, Realising Ambitions”, reflecting its commitment to helping all students achieve their full potential. With this dedicated approach, the school enjoys consistently high academic results and student satisfaction. 

Fact file: 

  • Address: London Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3LU.
  • Established: 1957
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 300 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated “good” by Ofsted. 95% of students achieved 5 or more 9-4 grades at GCSE, while 74% of A Level candidates enjoyed A*-B awards.
  • Specialities: The school particularly champions language skills, as well as a “truly all-round” education for their students. 

Bishops Stortford High School admissions policy >

Chancellor’s School

Chancellor’s School was established in 1964 and has since become an incredibly popular co-educational secondary school with over 1,200 students.

With the motto “achieve, enjoy, excel”, the school has a strong tradition of academic excellence. They also enjoy a strong partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and other local schools – promoting and supporting the study of STEM subjects.

Fact file:

  • Address: Pine Grove, Brookmans Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7BN.
  • Established: 1964
  • Single-sex or mixed: Co-educational (girls and boys).
  • Places available: Approximately 160 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, the school’s 2022 exam results were impressive. 81% of GCSE students achieved grade 5 or above in English and Maths and 57% of A Level candidates secured A*-B awards.
  • Specialities: The school has a particular specialism in science and maths, and is a designated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) school.

Chancellor’s School admissions policy >

Hertfordshire and Essex High School

Established in 1906, Hertfordshire and Essex School originally provided education to girls in the local area. The school now accepts boys in sixth form and has a fantastic academic reputation.

As well as a Science College, the school is a “Matrix Maths Hub” School for Hertfordshire. They encourage debate on moral issues linked to mathematical and scientific development, as well as scientific study itself.

Fact file:

  • Address: Warwick Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 5NJ.
  • Established: 1906
  • Single-sex or mixed: Girls-only, but sixth form is mixed.
  • Places available: Approximately 150 Year 7 places.
  • Results and rankings: Rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. Exam results are excellent, with 88% of all GCSE grades at 9-5 and 75% of A Level students achieving A*-B.
  • Specialities: The school is a specialist Science College and embodies their mission of “excellence for all” with a wide range of clubs, community and charity work.

Hertfordshire and Essex High School admissions policy >

Grammar schools in Hertfordshire: How to apply

If you’re applying to any school in Hertfordshire, it is important to carefully check the individual school’s latest admissions policy. Admissions criteria differ significantly between schools, and even small changes in the criteria for selection can impact your child’s chances of getting accepted!

We’ve listed all the relevant admissions pages above, so you can apply with confidence – knowing you’ve met all the relevant deadlines and requirements for your child.

Remember, there are no fully selective grammar schools in Hertfordshire. But the application process for partially selective schools is similar. If you aren’t based in the immediate catchment area, admission to Year 7 is usually based on the results of an 11 Plus exam. This typically takes place in September of Year 6, but again, each school will have different dates and testing requirements.

Some schools also use additional tests (for instance, music or sports scholarships) as part of their selection process.

It’s important to start preparations for 11 Plus exams early, as competition for places can be intense. With this in mind, hiring a personal tutor to provide 1-1 guidance for your child is invaluable. A great tutor (like us at Achieve Learning!), will identify your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses and provide targeted support to improve their performance.

Supporting your child’s 11 Plus preparation with Achieve Learning

At Achieve Learning, we have over 18 years’ experience offering dedicated 1-1 tutoring services. We help parents and students in their preparations for 11 Plus Exams, building confidence and key skills.

From mock exam practice to personalised consultancy and 11+ revision plans, your child will be academically challenged and positively supported every step of the way. Book a free consultation today to learn more.

Grammar Schools in Hertfordshire: A Parent’s Guide Read More »

Grammar Schools in Harrow: A Parent’s Guide

If you’re considering a state-funded grammar school education for your child, you might be wondering about the options available near Harrow.

In this guide, we explain what grammar schools actually are, and the options for your child in Harrow and the surrounding areas. From admissions processes to test preparation, here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your child’s future.

What is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a type of state-funded secondary school in England.

These schools select pupils based on academic ability, with an entrance exam (commonly known as the 11 Plus) used to gain admission. Because they’re state-funded, this means parents don’t have to pay any fees for their child’s place.

They can be single-sex or co-educational, and often have a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and pastoral care.

Given the lack of fees, supportive atmosphere and strong academic record, it’s no surprise grammar schools are a popular choice for many parents. So, what schools are there to choose from?

How many grammar schools are there in the UK?

There are 163 grammar schools throughout England. 19 of these schools are found in Greater London, with the rest spread across 36 other local authorities. These schools offer a rigorous academic curriculum that prepares students for university and a wide range of future careers.

While there are a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, there are no grammar schools in Scotland or Wales.

In terms of catchment area, most grammar schools only accept children living in the local area. Despite this, some grammar schools take applicants no matter where they live in the country.

Whichever grammar school you’re applying to, admissions are highly competitive – so it pays to plan ahead and start preparations early.

Are there any grammar schools in Harrow?

While Harrow is home to the famous Harrow School (one of the country’s leading independent boarding schools), there aren’t any grammar schools in Harrow. In good news for parents though, two of the best grammar schools in the country are located in nearby Barnet. These schools are Queen Elizabeth’s Boys Grammar School and Henrietta Barnett Grammar School for Girls.

As well as Queen Elizabeth’s and Henrietta Barnett, St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is also a fantastic option in Barnet. It’s a girls’ grammar school with a Roman Catholic faith designation, meaning priority is given to Catholic students during admissions. Nonetheless, the school also accepts students of other faiths, or no faith. 

If you’re applying to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School or Henrietta Barnett Grammar School, it’s important to know each school has different entry and examination requirements. 

We’ve previously written a guide (linked above) to each school’s admissions process, but you should also check individual websites for the most up to date information.

What grammar schools are near Harrow?

There are a few other grammar schools near Harrow to choose from.

Latymer School is a highly regarded co-educational grammar school located in Edmonton, a district in the London Borough of Enfield. It consistently ranks as one of the top-performing state schools in the country, with an exceptional record of sending students to top universities including Oxford, Cambridge, and the Ivy League schools in the US. 

Like the schools we’ve already discussed, Latymer School is highly selective and admission is based on academic ability. Prospective students must take the school’s 11+ exam and also undergo an interview process. 

If you’re willing to relocate (to increase your chances of gaining admission to a grammar school), you could also consider schools in the Slough Consortium. There’s a fantastic choice, including:

In more good news, because these schools are all part of a single consortium, they have the same registration and 11+ tests. This means your child only needs to sit one exam (as opposed to four separate tests) to be considered for admission across all the schools.

Another popular option for anyone in Harrow willing to move, is applying to one of the many grammar schools in Buckinghamshire. These schools include:

Each of these Buckinghamshire grammars has an excellent reputation for academic achievement. Like all grammar schools up and down the country, admission is highly competitive. You’ll also need to consult each individual school’s website for admissions criteria.

Are there any partially selective schools near Harrow?

A further option would be applying to one of the “partially selective” schools within the South West Herts Consortium.

A partially selective school refers to schools combining selective admission (i.e., based on academic ability with 11+ tests) and non-selective admission (i.e., based on location and proximity to the school). These schools have a specific number of places reserved for students who perform well on entrance exams, while the remaining places are offered to students who live in the school’s catchment area or meet other criteria. 

We’ve previously written a guide to 2024 admissions and 11 Plus Exams for the South West Herts Consortium, so take a look at this. But in short, these schools include:

You could also consider another partially selective option, Mill Hill County High School in the London borough of Barnet. Established in 1953, the school has a designated number of places available for students’ demonstrating aptitude in technology, music, or dance (assessed through their entrance tests).

How to prepare for 11 Plus entrance tests

As we’ve seen, each school has their own unique requirements for 11 Plus admission. For instance, while Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School sets tests in Maths and English, academic aptitude tests for the South West Herts Consortium consist of Maths and Verbal Reasoning.

So the first thing you need to do is research your options carefully and check the admissions criteria on each school’s website.

Lots of schools use tests provided by GL Assessment, who provide a range of free familiarisation papers on their website. These are great for helping your child feel confident with a range of 11+ papers and question types – and it’s never too early to start practising!

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Start early: Begin preparations early to give your child enough time to learn and practise the skills required for 11+ exams. Most students begin preparing one to two years in advance.
  • Build vocabulary: Encourage your child to read widely and build their vocabulary by introducing them to a range of books, newspapers, and other materials.
  • Practice speed: 11+ exams are designed to test how quickly and accurately students complete questions. Practice timed exercises and encourage your child to work on improving their speed while maintaining accuracy.
  • Develop problem-solving skills: 11+ exams require strong problem-solving skills, including the ability to understand complex concepts and apply them to new situations. Encourage your child to practise problem-solving exercises and to approach questions logically and systematically.
  • Make the most of past papers: Use past papers to help your child become familiar with the types of questions they can expect on the exam. This helps build their confidence and reduce anxiety. You can normally find past papers on school websites, but there are also plenty available online and from bookstores.
  • Keep a positive attitude: Encourage your child to stay positive and motivated throughout the preparation process. Celebrate their achievements and progress, reminding them that hard work and practice can lead to success.

How Achieve Learning can help your child’s 11 Plus preparation

Achieve Learning offers a range of tutoring services to assist students and parents in their preparations for 11 Plus exams. From one-to-one tutoring and bespoke revision plans, to mock exam practice and personalised consultancy, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Whether you’re applying to grammar schools Harrow or elsewhere in the country, book a free assessment today to discuss your child’s needs and discover how Achieve Learning can help.

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The Henrietta Barnett School Eleven Plus Exams: A 2024 Entry Guide

If you’re considering applying for a place at the Henrietta Barnett School for your daughter, this guide is for you. 

The Henrietta Barnett School is a highly selective girls’ grammar school located in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London. The school was founded in 1911 by the social reformer and philanthropist Dame Henrietta Barnett, who championed education, housing and women’s rights across London.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the school and its application process, the catchment area, exam format – and how to help your daughter prepare.

Let’s get started.

A brief introduction to Henrietta Barnett School

The Henrietta Barnett School’s mission is to provide an outstanding education for its students, based on the principles of academic excellence, social responsibility, and personal development. Indeed, the school prides itself on fostering a diverse and inclusive community, welcoming girls from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures.

Its ethos focuses on fostering intellectual curiosity, creativity, and leadership skills, while also promoting social responsibility and a commitment to making a positive impact in the world. Despite its highly selective nature, the school maintains a warm and supportive atmosphere, with a strong focus on student well-being and pastoral care.

Henrietta Barnett School ranking

The Henrietta School ranking is impressive to say the least. The school is consistently classed as one of the top-performing schools in the country. Indeed, the Parent Power 2023 rankings named Henrietta Barnett as the top overall state school.

The school also has an excellent reputation for academic achievement, with over 89% of A-Level grades being A* to A and 97% being A* or B.  A remarkable 94% of GCSE grades were 8 and 9 for Summer 2022.

These are some of the best results in the UK, which also translates through to the school’s amazing successes with university offers. In fact, girls from Henrietta Barnett received 34 Oxbridge offers in January 2023, which accounts for 24% of the Year 13 group.

What’s the Henrietta Barnett catchment area?

The Henrietta Barnett School doesn’t have a catchment area. This means any child can take the entrance exam, no matter where they live. 

However, the school does give priority to candidates sitting the round two test (which we’ll cover in more detail below) who live within 3 miles of the school.

Further admissions policies and documents are available on the school’s website.

What are Henrietta Barnett School fees?

As Henrietta Barnett School is state funded, attending Henrietta Barnett School is completely free. The school does not charge any fees.

What’s the application process for Henrietta Barnett School?

The application process for Henrietta Barnett School (for September 2024 entry) opens on 28 April 2023. After this date, the school will publish details on their admissions pages.

There’s also an Open Day planned for 11 July 2023, which is a great way for parents and prospective students to get to know the school, its staff and facilities. 

As well as applying with Henrietta Barnett School itself, you’ll have to fill-in a “Common Application Form” with your Local Authority.

If you have any questions about the application process, email the school directly at: admissions@hbschool.org.uk

Are you also applying to schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium? If so, check out our Parent’s Guide for 2024 South West Herts Consortium 11+ Admissions.

Who sets the 11+ test for Henrietta Barnett School?

The first round of the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam is set by GL Assessment.

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments in the UK. Their 11+ exams are particularly well-known and respected; used by many selective schools as part of their admissions process.

Henrietta Barnett’s first round of test papers (created by GL Assessment) typically cover a range of Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and English multiple-choice assessments. The exams are designed to be challenging and are intended to identify the most academically capable students for admission to the school.

If your daughter performs well in this first round of testing, they’ll be invited back to sit another test. This second round (attended by around 300 candidates) is set by the school and includes an English and Maths exam. 

Where can I find Henrietta Barnett School test papers?

Henrietta Barnett doesn’t release any past papers.

Even so, you can find GL Assessment familiarisation booklets for the First Round entrance exam – with worked examples and practice materials.

Now, we know, preparing for an 11+ exam is a daunting prospect at the best of times. This is even more so when there’s no guarantee on the exact exam format your child will face.

Nonetheless, there are several ways you can use past papers to help your daughter prepare for the Henrietta Barnett test. Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice makes perfect: Encourage your child to practise with as many papers as possible, from different schools and exam boards. This will help them to become more familiar with the types of questions that might be asked and to develop their test-taking skills.
  • Analyse strengths and weaknesses: After your child has taken a test paper, go over the results with them to identify key strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to focus your preparation efforts on the areas your child needs the most help. 
  • Focus on core skills: When it comes to the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam, the core skills your child will need are reading, writing, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Make sure your child is comfortable with these skills by practising regularly.
  • Manage time: All 11+ exams are timed, so it’s important for your child to be comfortable working under pressure. Encourage them to practise working against the clock to develop their time management skills.
  • Develop test-taking strategies: Practice papers are a great way to develop test-taking strategies such as eliminating obviously wrong answers, using context clues to understand unfamiliar words, and reading instructions carefully.

Overall, the key to using test papers effectively is to practise regularly and to identify areas where your child needs most help. By doing this, you can help your child feel confident and prepared for the Henrietta Barnett exam, no matter the exact format.

How can I help my child prepare for the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam?

Given Henrietta Barnett’s high rankings and astounding academic performance, competition for spaces is unsurprisingly fierce. With this in mind, extensive preparation is required – giving your daughter plenty of encouragement and support throughout. 

The entrance exams are designed to be challenging, encompassing both Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning as well as Key Stage 2 Maths and English content. Advanced problem solving (for maths) and creative writing (for English) are particularly important skills for the second round of testing.

Work alongside your child to improve their speed and accuracy, and make sure they feel comfortable asking questions and talking to you (or professional tutors, like us at Achieve Learning!) if they need any help. 

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind: 

  • Start early: Give your child plenty of time to practise and build their skills gradually. You can’t wind the clock back, but whenever you’re reading this post, know it’s never too early to get started!
  • Make the most of practice papers: We’ve already spoken about the importance of practice papers (using as many different types as you can find!), but they really are essential for helping you identify areas of improvement.
  • Focus on time management: The Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam is designed to test your child’s ability to work under pressure. Work together on speed and accuracy, so your daughter can complete the exam within the given time limit.
  • Develop problem-solving skills: The exam includes advanced problem-solving questions, so it’s important to help your child approach problems from different angles.
  • Read widely: As well as key Maths content, the exam tests your daughter’s comprehension and creative writing skills. So, encourage them to read and write widely, including books, newspapers, and online articles… anything they enjoy!

Find out how Achieve Learning can help your child excel, whatever exams they’re preparing for. We have over 18 years’ experience offering one-to-one support and academic assistance, with plenty of mock exams and practice papers to help your child prepare. 

Book a free assessment today to chat with one of our experienced tutors, and receive personalised support for your child.

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Queen Elizabeth’s School (QE Boys) Barnet : A 2025 11+ Entry Guide

Are you considering applying for a place at Queen Elizabeth’s School this year?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Queen Elizabeth’s School located in Barnet, Hertfordshire (also commonly known as QE Boys), is a highly respected and top-performing grammar school for boys. The school doesn’t have a catchment area and admits boys from all over London and beyond. With an intake of around 180 pupils each year, it’s highly sought-after – with fierce competition for places.

To help you and your child prepare, here’s everything you need to know about the application process, test format and tips for success.

Let’s begin.

A brief introduction to Queen Elizabeth’s School

Queen Elizabeth I granted the school a charter in 1573. Ever since, this leading boy’s grammar school has prided itself on its well-deserved reputation for academic excellence and pastoral care.

Queen Elizabeth School has always focused on producing confident, responsible and able young men. They foster resilience and independent thought that stays with students throughout their adult lives. 

As one of the highest performing schools in the UK, Queen Elizabeth’s has consistently outstanding Ofsted ratings. In fact, it’s listed as “outstanding” in all five of Ofsted’s judgement areas, and The Good Schools Guide even praised the school as “one of the most inspirational learning environments” they’d come across, offering an education “even private schools struggle to compete with”. What’s more, in the 2022 Sunday Times Parent Power rankings, it was listed as the top boys state school in the country (for the third time).

This excellence also translates into school’s exam results. In 2023, over 89% of A Levels were awarded an A grade. In the academic year 23/24 , 62 pupils were offered places at Oxford and Cambridge universities – exceeding the previous Queen Elizabeth record of 47 offers.

Does Queen Elizabeth’s School charge fees?

 No, Queen Elizabeth’s School is state funded. This means there aren’t any fees for a child to attend.

What’s the application process for Queen Elizabeth’s School?

To apply to Queen Elizabeth’s School, you must complete an online registration form.

 This “entrance test request form” will be available from Wednesday 1st May 2024. It registers your son to sit the school’s September entrance exams.

 The deadline for these requests will be Friday 12th July 2024 at midday.

The school also holds an Open Day in July, which provides an opportunity for prospective parents and students to visit the school, meet teachers and pupils, and see the facilities.

The entrance test itself (consisting of multiple choice papers in Maths and English) is scheduled for Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th September 2024. More precise arrangements are sent by the school to anyone registered for the exam.

If your son is offered a place, you must also submit a “Common Application Form” (which means you’ve formally applied to the school) with your Local Authority.

If you have any questions about the admissions process, it’s best to email the school directly at: admissions@qebarnet.co.uk

Who sets the test for Queen Elizabeth’s School?

GL Assessment is responsible for developing the test materials and papers used by Queen Elizabeth’s School.

 As a prominent provider of educational assessments, they focus on evaluating a diverse set of skills, such as numerical ability, critical thinking, and problem-solving.  The QE Boy’s school have a particular focus on advance numerical problem solving, inference based comprehension and robust testing of spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.  

These tests are created to ensure fairness and impartiality, with no preferential treatment given to students based on their background or school affiliation.

Where can I find Queen Elizabeth’s School sample test papers?

While previous years’ papers aren’t released by Queen Elizabeth’s School, GL Assessment offers familiarisation papers for both Maths and English. These papers are available on their website.

The school also provides sample papers that might help your preparation, although they don’t follow the exact format of the exam.  For example, the actual format, number and difficulty of questions may differ from those contained in the sample papers.   

Because Queen Elizabeth’s doesn’t provide actual sample past papers, the best way to prepare is to familiarise your son with as many different styles of paper as possible.

Here are a few tips for making the most of practice exam papers:

  • Familiarise yourself with sample papers: While you don’t know what questions will come up, it’s a good idea to familiarise your child with as many different papers as possible, as early as possible. This will help them feel more comfortable and confident on the day.
  • Identify areas for improvement: Use the past papers to identify areas where your child needs extra support and guidance. Look at the questions they struggled with (analysing any mistakes together) and work on those areas.
  • Practice regularly: Make sure to practise consistently, using past papers and other materials. Regular practice will help build your child’s confidence and improve their performance.
  • Time management: Make sure your child practices managing their time effectively. They should learn how to allocate their time appropriately for each question and section of the exam.
  • Seek feedback: Consider getting feedback from a specialist tutor (like us at Achieve Learning!) on your child’s performance. This can help you identify further areas for improvement and give you a better understanding of how well your child is prepared for the exam.

What’s the format of the Queen Elizabeth’s School test?

The test for Queen Elizabeth’s School consists of two multiple-choice papers in English and Maths. These tests last roughly 50 minutes each, although the exact format and question types can vary from year to year. 

Both papers are taken in the same session, and scores are age-standardised and then ranked. The marks for Maths and English are combined to give an overall test result for each candidate. 

Overall, the test is designed to assess a student’s mathematical reasoning, problem-solving skills and overall English skills.

What’s the pass mark for the Queen Elizabeth’s School entrance paper?

In the past, any child who scored a minimum of 210 across both English and Maths was considered for a place at the school. For 2024, however, this increased to 220. 

It’s important to know that even meeting the minimum test requirement doesn’t automatically guarantee a place.

In 2022, there were over 3,000 candidates for just 180 places. The average scores for English and Maths were just over 100, with an average combined score of 200. For 2022, a minimum score of 234 was actually required to gain admission – showing how tough the competition really is.

You can find more admissions information (including further guidance on September 2024 entry) on the school’s website.

If you’re considering applying to schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium (as well as Queen Elizabeth’s School), check out our previous guide to 2024 admissions.

How can I help my child prepare for the Queen Elizabeth’s School 11+ exam?

We’ve already looked at tips on the best ways to use past papers, but there are plenty of other ways you can prepare for the Queen Elizabeth’s School 11+ exam.

There’s no doubt it’s a highly competitive test. Given the sheer number of applicants and high scores required, it’s important to focus on careful, consistent and targeted long term preparation.

Work on English and Maths Key Stage 2 content in the first instance, we would advise particularly for Maths that all the content (Year 6) has been mastered well before the actual exams. Your child should have a strong foundation in Maths, with a focus on problem solving and working with speed and accuracy. For English, focus on comprehension, spelling, punctuation, and grammar, as these are all tested in the exam. In fact, historically there have been two separate comprehensions in the test, so developing strong reading skills is vital.

  • For Maths, practice regularly and to focus on the areas where your child may need more support. This could include timed practice tests to help your child work on speed and accuracy, as well as providing opportunities for problem-solving. Regular practice with workbooks, online resources and games (to keep things fun!) will all help. In addition, encouraging your child to use real-life examples, diagrams and models (as well as breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable parts) will help identify key information and figure out complex problems.
  • For English, reading comprehension is fundamental. Encourage your child to read widely and practice summarising what they’ve read. Additionally, working on spelling, punctuation, and grammar through regular practice writing exercises (whether that’s journals, creative writing or school essays) will help your child develop the skills they need to succeed. There are so many online resources, quizzes and games available (to make practice a little more enjoyable) as well as worksheets tailored to specific age groups and skill levels.

Discover how Achieve Learning can help your child excel, no matter what exams you’re preparing for. We have over 18 years’ experience providing expert 1-1 guidance and support.

Take advantage of mock exams and practice papers and get in touch with our experienced tutors to discuss tailored support for your child. Book a free assessment today to learn more.

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South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams: Parents’ Guide For 2024 School Admissions

Are you preparing your child to sit the South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams in 2023?

If so, you’re not alone. Last year over 3500 children sat these exams and similar tests are used by selective schools up and down the country, to assess children’s academic ability and determine if they’re suitable for admission.

Preparing for any 11 Plus exam can be a daunting task. And as a parent there are so many questions. Should you hire a tutor? Invest in past papers and study materials? Or maybe you’re unsure how to support your child without adding too much pressure.

Don’t worry though. In this up to date Parents Guide for 2024 admissions, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus exams. From understanding the exam format to registration dates, minimum pass marks and study strategies, we’ll guide you through the process – and help you support your child’s academic journey.

What are the South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams?

The South West Hertfordshire Consortium is a group of partially selective schools in Hertfordshire. These schools use “11 Plus Exams” for children in the area, to assess their academic abilities. A high score in these exams can lead to admission in one of the participating schools. 

11 Plus exams look at academic potential and help decide whether a grammar school environment is right for your child.

Your child can only take the 11 Plus exam once per academic year. The tests usually take place in September (although the exact dates can vary from year to year). They happen when your child has just started Year 6 – their last year of primary school. 

Seven schools in South West Hertfordshire share these 11 Plus exams. This means your child only has to take one round of tests, rather than a separate exam at each school. 

Which schools make up the South West Herts Consortium? 

The schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium are “partially selective”. This means they are state-funded secondary schools that select a proportion of their intake each year by academic ability. 

Each school assesses students on sports, music, or academic aptitude – with some making entrance decisions based on one, two, or all three criteria. 

The seven schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium are: 

Music criteria only

Croxley Danes School

Academic and Music criteria

Parmiter’s School

Rickmansworth School

St Clement Danes School

Watford Grammar School for Boys

Watford Grammar School for Girls

Academic, Music and Sports criteria

Queens’ School

All these schools have a well-deserved excellent reputation for academic excellence. As you’ll already know – admissions are highly sought after, which means a high mark in the 11 Plus Exam is a crucial step to securing a place. 

Who administers the South West Herts Consortium test?

The South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam is administered by the Consortium itself. 

You can find the registration page here, with up-to-date advice on deadlines, dates for testing and familiarisation papers.

Who sets the test?

GL Assessment sets the test and creates the papers. 

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments to schools across the UK and Ireland. They specialise in tests designed to assess a wide range of skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and numerical ability. 

These tests are also designed to be fair and unbiased, with no advantage given to students from any particular school or background.

For free familiarisation papers, visit the GL Assessment website. You’ll also find information on question types and approaches to answers, parent guidance and tips for preparation. 

What is the format of the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus Exams?

The entrance exams for South West Hertfordshire Consortium schools consist of three different tests. 

These are:

Academic Ability: 9th September 2023

Music Aptitude: 4th September and 18-22nd September 2023

Sports Aptitude: 13th September 2023 (Queen’s School only)

You can choose which tests you want your child to take when you register. 

Here’s the format of each exam in more detail. 

Academic Ability 

The Academic exams consist of two multiple-choice papers: 

The Maths paper tests a range of mathematical skills, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data handling. It assesses your child’s knowledge of Key Stage 2 national curriculum objectives.

The Verbal Reasoning paper tests a range of verbal skills, including vocabulary, comprehension, and problem-solving. It assesses your child’s ability to spot patterns, manipulate verbal information and connect ideas. 

Both papers are timed (taking around just under an hour). Historically, the Maths test sets 50 questions in 50 minutes, while the Verbal Reasoning test sets 80 questions in 50 minutes. 

Despite this, the exact number of questions and timings can change from year to year – so it pays to be flexible and prepare your child with a wide range of past-papers.  For example, in 2022 the maths paper had 60 questions in 50 mins which caught a lot of parents off guard. 

Music Aptitude

If your child is applying for a music place, they’ll sit the Music Aptitude Test. 

This involves around 60 questions about topics such as rhythm, melody, pitch and texture. The test takes 45 minutes.

If your child performs well in this test, they’re invited back for an audition. During this performance, they can play their own choice of music – either vocally or on an instrument. Marks are awarded for musicality, accuracy and musical communication. 

Find more information on the SW Herts Schools website. 

Sports Aptitude

Queens’ School is the only school using the Sports Aptitude test. They state only children with “exceptional sports aptitude” who live within their catchment area should apply.

This test covers various aspects of physical fitness, with movement skills selected from the Council of European Physical Fitness. Elements include shuttle runs (testing speed and agility) as well as an endurance run (8 minutes) and things like standing broad jumps (for explosive strength) and the “flamingo test” (balance).

Find more information on the SW Herts Schools website.

Is there a minimum pass mark for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium?

There’s no minimum pass mark for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam.

Instead, the Consortium uses a scoring system to rank students based on their relative performance each year. This means students who achieve the highest scores are more likely to secure a place at one of the schools. 

However, it’s important to note that admission to these schools is highly competitive, and a high score doesn’t automatically guarantee a place. Schools define their own cut-off scores each year, based on their admissions criteria and student performance.

To get an idea of the previous years cut-off scores, take a look at each school’s website.

For instance, Watford Boys Grammar School lists the lowest scores required for a place, broken down by area, exam and year. For the Watford area, the lowest admission score was 202 for the academic test and 35 for the music test. For the rest of the admission area, this rose to 215 for the academic test and 39 for the music test.

Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean a similar mark would be good enough this year. So when you’re preparing for the exam – aim for the top!

What are the registration deadlines for 2023?

For 2023, online registration for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam commences on Tuesday 11th April and closes on 16th June.

It’s important to register your child as early as possible to ensure they have a place in the exam. Late registration may be possible, but this is subject to confirmation by the Consortium.

You can find more key registration information on the South West Herts Schools website. 

How should I help my child prepare for the tests?

Preparing your child for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam requires careful planning and dedication.

Because the Verbal Reasoning paper contains so many potential question types, familiarise your child with as many past papers and different questions as possible. This will improve their exam technique and help them stay calm on the day.

Focus on any weaknesses and help your child develop a strong vocabulary (for instance, going over synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and compound words).

For the maths paper, much of the content comes from the Key Stage 2 syllabus. So make sure your child’s familiar with this, and work on any areas of weakness or uncertainty. You should aim to complete the Year 6 syllabus well before the exam, with plenty of time for past paper practice.

Lots of children struggle with time-management (for both the Maths and Verbal Reasoning papers), so this needs to be tackled well in advance of the exam. 

Here are a few more tips: 

Start early: It’s never too early to start preparing for the 11 Plus Exam. Even if your child is in Year 5, start familiarising them with the exam format and questions they may encounter.

Practice papers: Practice papers are an excellent way to help your child prepare for the exam. You can find a range of practice papers online.

Set a study schedule: Create a study schedule for your child that includes regular practice sessions and plenty of breaks. Stick to the schedule (as much as possible!) to help your child develop good study habits.

Encourage reading: Reading is an excellent way to improve your child’s verbal skills, which are tested in the VR paper. Encourage them to read widely and discuss what they’ve read with you.

Consider a tutor: If you feel your child would benefit from additional support, consider hiring a tutor who specialises in 11 Plus Exam preparation (like us, at Achieve Learning!). A experienced tutor can provide tailored support and guidance, focusing on areas where your child needs extra help.

At Achieve Learning we have been delivering expert guidance and support for the eleven plus exams since 2004 and have a range of proven resources to help your child prepare for the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus Exams.

We offer mock exams and practice papers to help your child identify strengths and weaknesses. Our experienced tutors also provide tailored support to help your child excel in the exam. Book a free assessment today to find out more.

 

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