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Why Do Schools Use the 11 Plus?

An explanation of why grammar schools use the 11 Plus. Understand the principles of selective education and why some people think it is unfair

What Type of Schools Require Children to Sit the 11 Plus?

Grammar schools nationwide primarily employ the 11 Plus exam as their principal means of assessing students' suitability for admission. Consequently, the 11 Plus is commonly known as the 'Entrance Exam,' and attaining satisfactory results is virtually imperative for securing a place in a grammar school.

What is a Grammar School?

Grammar schools are publicly funded secondary schools that admit students based on their academic aptitude, a practice commonly known as 'Selective Education.' These schools are frequently referred to as 'Selective Schools.' In contrast, 'Comprehensive Schools' do not use academic ability as a prerequisite for admission. Here is a list of all the UK grammar schools complete with a breakdown of Student Numbers and Gender.

Do Grammar Schools and Comprehensive Schools Occur in the Same Area?

Yes, in regions with grammar schools, comprehensive schools also exist. Comprehensive schools are much more numerous than grammar schools, with approximately 25 comprehensive schools for every grammar school nationwide. However, the distribution of grammar schools can be quite uneven, leading to varying accessibility based on geographic location.

What is Special about Grammar Schools?

Grammar school students often achieve better results in their GCSE and A-Level examinations due to their high calibre of students. Additionally, the quality of instruction tends to be higher, as these schools often have smaller class sizes. Many grammar schools maintain strong partnerships with prestigious universities in the United Kingdom.

How is the 11 Plus Different from Other Exams?

The 11 Plus exam stands apart from other assessments in its focus on assessing a child's innate abilities rather than their acquired knowledge. This distinction is particularly evident in the Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) section, which can be likened to an intelligence test akin to those administered by Mensa. NVR evaluates a child's intrinsic reasoning skills and does not rely on memorization or rote learning.

While not all grammar schools share this approach, some place significant importance on NVR results, viewing them as a strong indicator of a child's potential. You may encounter the term 'Tutor-proof' in reference to this type of test, but we'll delve into this concept further, later on.

Is Grammar School Always the Right Choice in Every Situation?

Grammar schools make a compelling case for the necessity of a stringent selection process to ensure that only students who can meet the academic standards of the institution are admitted. The prospect of a child struggling to keep up in a school and subsequently having to transition to a comprehensive school should be avoided wherever possible.

Are Children from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Under-Represented at Grammar Schools?

A recent report suggests that only 2.5% of grammar school students are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) compared with 13.2% who are eligible in all state-funded secondary schools.

What are the Criteria for Free School Meals?

Children can receive Free School Meals (FSM) if their parents or guardians are eligible for a number of different financial assistance programs. Qualifying government schemes include Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, and Universal Credit, provided that the household income is below £7,400 per annum.

Why do Disadvantaged Students Win Few Grammar School Places?

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to pass the 11 Plus. Secondly, even high-attaining individuals might not enter for the 11 Plus or choose not to go to a selective school.

Why Would Clever Children Choose Not to Go to Grammar School?

Clever children may opt not to attend grammar schools for various reasons. One significant factor could be the prospect of attending a different school than their friends or siblings, which can be socially isolating. Additionally, they might have encountered negative perceptions or rumors about grammar schools in their local area, influencing their decision-making. It's essential for parents to recognize that even at ages 9 and 10, children can be swayed by the opinions of those around them about significant matters.

As a parent, it is vital to engage in open communication with your child to understand their perspective on grammar schools. If you discover that your child has been exposed to inaccurate information, it's crucial to clarify and provide them with accurate details. Remember that in the confines of an exam room, it might be very difficult for your child to pass the 11 Plus but it is very easy for them to make sure they fail it!

Occasionally, a parent's political stance on selective education may influence their decision to oppose enrolling their child in a system that conflicts with their beliefs. While it is entirely within a parent's rights to make such a decision, it is crucial to engage in a conversation with your child to ensure they grasp the intricacies of the situation.

Why are Children from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Less Likely to Pass the 11 Plus?

Disadvantaged children are less likely to have access to out-of-school resources. Private Tuition, either in groups or one-to-one, is much more likely to be available to children with relatively wealthy parents; likewise, with online 11 Plus courses. Most out of school preparation comes at a cost – there are few free options.

Do All Grammar Schools Use the Same Selection Process?

The selection methods employed by grammar schools show significant variation across different regions and, in some cases, even within the same region. An analysis of 163 English grammar schools reveals that the most commonly assessed subject is mathematics, with 139 of these schools incorporating a mathematics component in their entrance examinations. Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning closely follow, with English trailing in fourth place.

It is noteworthy that the majority of grammar schools prioritise calculation and reasoning as their primary focus.

What is the Meaning of Tutor Proof in the 11 Plus?

The prevailing consensus is that admission to grammar schools should be based on a child's inherent potential rather than the extent of their exam preparation cramming. In line with this principle, grammar schools aim to create entrance exams that discourage excessive study and, as a result, they use the term 'tutor-proof' to describe this approach.

Is Tutor Proofing Possible?

"Debates exist regarding the feasibility and desirability of creating an examination that is impervious to tutoring. However, what remains certain is that a significant number of parents opt not to take any chances and enlist private tutors. According to a recent report by the Sutton Trust, 30% of Children Receive Some Form of Private Tutoring during their school years. Additionally, many children utilize online preparation resources.

To exemplify the necessity of some form of 11 Plus preparation, take a look at the typical 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning question presented below. It's undeniable that a child who has encountered such questions before is in a better position to answer them than a child who has never encountered a similar one!

Verbal Reasoning Image

Should You Tutor for 11 Plus?

Extensive evidence indicates that 11 Plus tutoring can be advantageous, albeit often costly. An alternative approach is to Utilize Online 11 Plus Resources, but it's essential to allocate time to work with your child to maximize their benefit.

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