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11 Plus In Primary Schools

Discover how, when and where the 11 Plus is used in primary education. Will your school prepare your child for the exam or will you need to assume the responsibility?

In What Year is the 11 Plus Taken?

The 11 Plus is usually taken in Year 6 when children are either 10 or 11 years old – this is their last year at primary school. The exam normally takes place in September.

Are SATs and the 11 Plus the Same?

No, SATs and the 11 Plus are completely different tests. SATs are used to measure a child's performance during their time at primary school. The 11 Plus is used to test a child's suitability for grammar school education at the end of their primary school education.

What are SATs?

SATs (Statutory Assessment Tests) are taken by students at two stages of primary school. The exams are used to monitor each child's progress and identify areas where they may need additional support.

The first SATs test occurs at the end of Year 2 when children are either 6 or 7 years old. Currently, they will be tested only on Maths and English. These are sometimes referred to as the 'KS1 SATs'.

The second SATs test occurs at the end of Year 6 when children are 10 or 11 years old, and they are often referred to as the 'KS2 SATs'. Here again, only Maths and English are tested.

Schools usually notify parents about Key Stage 2 results in late July.

SATs are used for two purposes. Firstly, to see how well individual students have learned; secondly as a yardstick to see how primary schools compare with each other. Local authorities and the government use the results of SATs to monitor individual teachers and schools. The results help to formulate education strategy.

The UK government produces comprehensive information about SATs that can be accessed from the page at Key stage 1 and 2 national curriculum tests: information for parents.

In What Months are SATs and the 11 Plus Taken?

  • KS1 Sats are taken at the end of Year 2 (Usually June/July) when the child is either 6 or 7 years old
  • The 11 Plus is taken at the beginning of Year 6 (Usually September) when the child is 10 or 11 years old
  • KS2 Sats are taken at the end of Year 6 (Usually June/July) when the child is 10 or 11 years old

Note that the 11 Plus is taken AFTER KS1 Sats but BEFORE KS2 Sats.

Are SATs used as Preparation for the 11 Plus?

Not directly, but SATs are a useful tool to measure a child's progress in primary school, providing teachers with valuable insights on how to support the child.

Why is There a Need for Both SATs and the 11 Plus?

The tests serve two different purposes. The intention of SATs is to assess a child's progress at two stages of primary education, while the 11 Plus is used to assess the suitability of a child to attend a grammar school.

Do SATs Results Count Towards the 11 Plus?

No, the tests are completely independent of each other – they will be marked by different people using distinctly different criteria. However, in some cases where a child is on the borderline of being accepted into a grammar school, the results achieved at primary school may play a role.

What are the Differences Between SATs and the 11 Plus?

The purposes of the tests are different, so direct comparisons are difficult, but these are the main differences that parents should be aware of:

  • SATs will be taken by all children but not all will sit the 11 Plus
  • SATs test a child's learning whilst the 11 Plus tests a child's innate ability
  • SATs measure progress to date whilst 11 Plus aims to measure future potential
  • SATs are relatively informal whilst 11 Plus is much more formal
  • SATs are usually less stressful for children than the 11 Plus
  • SATs are only concerned with Maths and English whilst the 11 Plus is wider-ranging
  • SATs have very little bearing on the child's next school but the 11 Plus is crucial to this
  • SATs subjects will be widely taught in schools, while 11 Plus subjects probably will not
  • SATs adhere to a national defined curriculum, while 11 Plus subjects do not

Can SATs Contribute to Success at the 11 Plus?

The contribution that SATs make to 11 Plus and grammar school acceptance is only marginal. KS1 SATs are used by teachers to assess a child's progress in mathematics and English, thereby determining the most effective teaching strategies for the future. However, in a very few cases, particularly with borderline 11 Plus exam results, KS2 SATs may also influence the decision regarding a child's suitability for a grammar school.

Will My School Automatically Enter Children For the 11 Plus?

Schools adopt many varied policies. Some schools automatically enter all pupils whilst others only enter the ones considered to be the brightest. Parents will invariably be consulted before a child is entered for the exam.

In areas where the 11 Plus is applicable, it is wise to check the policy of your individual school during Year 4 or early in Year 5 so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Will My School Prepare Children for the 11 Plus?

You should not rely on your school to provide support for the exam because policies vary dramatically. If you want your child to take the 11 Plus, then it is wise to take matters into your own hands…

Your first step should be to look at the Grammar Schools Arranged by County table to determine which school(s) would be your top choice.

Using the information you now have about WHICH schools you want, you can further your research by referring to our Grammar School Subjects table where you will find information about each school's specific requirements.

At this point, you will be able to talk knowledgeably to your child's primary school to ascertain what support you can expect from them.

Some primary schools take great pride in achieving a high success rate in getting their students into selective secondary schools. These primary schools are highly likely to offer dedicated preparation, often in the form of teaching out of school hours.

Other schools offer very limited time and resources to prepare their students. We hear distressing stories of children whose first experience of the dreaded non-verbal reasoning questions is when they turn over the question paper in the exam room!

A school should not be judged by the time allocated to 11 Plus preparation. A valid argument for NOT giving supplementary tuition is that it is the child's innate intelligence that is being tested and not their ability to learn and absorb knowledge.

It is essential to talk to your school, and if their policies don't align with yours, then you have a number of alternative routes. See our article on Best ways for my child to learn

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