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The 11-plus exam for grammar schools: tests delayed until November?

If you’re deciding what type of secondary school (age 11 to 16) you want to send your child to in London, grammar schools will be an attractive option.

These institutions are top of the class when it comes to exam results and providing a bright future for pupils.

There’s just one slight hurdle to overcome before you can secure a place at one: they’re selective – entry is based on your child’s academic performance in the 11-plus.

When do children usually take the 11-plus?

Children usually take the 11-plus at the beginning (September) of their final year of primary school (year 6 – aged 10/11). Some schools test for entry at 13+ – and many re-open admissions at 16+ for A-levels, based on GCSE results. Entry is often possible at other times if places are available and the child meets the academic criteria.

Grammar schools must conduct the first round of tests in time to provide initial results before other state school application deadlines. This ensures parents know whether to include the grammar school on their list.

How has the 11-plus been impacted by COVID-19?

Due to enforced school closures nationwide, the government has advised that grammar school entry tests should be pushed back until as late as November this year – with parents given an additional preference in admission applications.

According to the Department for Education (DfE) – whose guidance is only advisory and will not prescribe a single course of action – no child is “likely to perform to their utmost ability in a test at the beginning of September” in the wake of school closures during the pandemic.

Under the normal process, most grammar school 11-plus tests for the 2021-22 academic year were due to be held in September. However, the DfE “strongly advises” that tests are moved back to “late October or November”. The guidance states that parents should use their preference for a local non-selective school if test results will not be known before 31 October.

Where possible, admission authorities in selective areas have been encouraged to offer all parents applying for a secondary place “at least one additional preference”.

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