Essentials Of The 11-Plus

essentials-of-the-11-plusQuestion: When did the 11-Plus first make its appearance?

Answer: In 1944 as part of the “Tripartite System”

The 11-Plus has been completely abandoned in over 80% of the country but for the regions and counties where it still exists it is an extremely important part of the education system.  Throughout the UK there are 164 remaining grammar schools and entry into them is usually determined by results of the 11-Plus examination. Grammar schools are renown for their very high standards but the sad fact is that they can accommodate only a small percentage of the children who apply for places.

Lincolnshire and Kent are the largest countries that still operate the system but it can also be found in some London boroughs, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and North Yorkshire amongst others. Unlike the National Curriculum which is implemented throughout the country, the 11-Plus can be used or not at the discretion of each local authority and this gives rise to it being hotly debated by teachers, academics and politicians. Nothing else in UK education stimulates as much passion and controversy.

The deliberations centre around one simple question – should children be segregated into different schools as determined by their innate ability? On the one hand we have the opponents of the 11-Plus who say that every child should be treated as equal regardless of their ability and each one of them has the right to attend the same school as their peers. On the other hand, the proponents argue that it is much better for all concerned if the more gifted children are taught in separate schools where they can be fast-tracked through their GCSEs and on to university.  These same proponents believe that this system is also better for the less academically minded children because they can be taught at a rate commensurate with their ability.

Whichever side of the fence you are on it is essential to realize that the system has been around for over 70 years and it doesn’t look like going away anytime soon. Parents in areas where this “Selective education” operates and who wish their children to attend a grammar school need to consider two main factors – what to expect and how to succeed.

The implementation of the 11-Plus is far from uniform across the country – each education authority has its own views on how to test the abilities of children. The examination can consist of some or all of these disciplines:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Mathematics
  • English

We recommend that you enquire at your primary school about which components of the exam apply in your own particular area. Armed with this information you can formulate a plan to assist your children to reach the required standards.

In all probability your primary school will not be allowed to take time out of teaching the National Curriculum subjects in order to prepare children for the 11-Plus and this inevitably means that the onus falls upon parents to take up the mantle. You have two choices: either you can tackle the job yourself or you can pay to have a private tutor.

The whole area of tutoring is the subject of my blog on the Education Quizzes website in seven days time but if, in the meantime, you are anxious to explore the do-it-yourself option then there are two great websites that will give you a feel for it. Firstly, The 11 Plus Website has a wealth of information about what to expect including some excellent advice for parents. Secondly, the 11-Plus section of the Education Quizzes website has sections dealing with all the various elements of the exam.

If there is anything you are unsure of in the field of education then look no further than our Knowledge Bank page. It’s full of articles which aim to answer the questions parents want to ask. Not only does it look at education in depth, Knowledge Bank also has important information on other parenting matters and useful advice which will help you to raise happy and confident children who are well prepared for school.

Why not explore the above websites along with your children? The sooner you start feeling your way around the less daunting will be the exam on the day!

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