Planning an 11+ Campaign
Parents find this site at one of three stages:
- Early Arrivals – those who have children in the early part of Year 4 or below
- Arrived On Time – those arriving in the latter part of Year 4 or early in Year 5
- Late Arrivals – those who find the site only a few months, weeks or even days before the tests
Whichever group you are in there is plenty that you can do to prepare your child for the 11+ test with DIY home tutoring, without the process becoming stressful for either of you.
If you are the parent of a child in Year 3 or 4 and have arrived here well ahead of time, we welcome you, but we would also like to offer you a few words of caution.
It is all too easy to look at the site, and our 11 Plus Forum, and begin to believe that every parent seeking a grammar school place began to prepare or tutor their child for the 11 Plus almost from birth. That is simply not the case! The great majority of parents or professional tutors will only begin to prepare for the 11+ in either September or January of Year 5.
There are aspects of your child’s knowledge that you can work on before then, simply to ensure that they have a good command of the basics, and we provide more specific advice for parents of children in Years 3 and 4 for that reason.
Such “preparation” is merely work that can supplement your child’s current schooling where that is necessary. If your child’s school is doing a good job – providing your child with firm foundations in English and maths, achieving good SATs results, stretching your child rather than leaving them bored with daily colouring exercises and so on – there is absolutely no need to supplement that with additional work at home. You can indulge in quality time by reading with your child instead.
If the school does not seem to be providing the basics in English and maths, then any time you spend with your child will pay dividends in the longer term, regardless of the outcome of the 11+.
In your own time you can begin to research the 11 plus, familiarise yourself with the test in your area and begin to find out more about your child’s Secondary School options.
Arrived on Time
If you have found this site at the end of Year 4 or the start of Year 5 it is the ideal time to begin your 11+ DIY “campaign” through home tutoring. Check out our Preparation in Year 5 page.
You may have heard on the grapevine that every other child is being taught by a professional tutor and be worrying that your child is missing out. Perhaps you have tried and failed to find a local tutor who still has vacancies? The gradual realisation that some parents were clued up about the 11 Plus long ago can induce a sense of panic in even the most level-headed parent. You may also feel resentful that no-one told you about this – that the whole process has been a well kept secret.
This site provides everything that you will need to prepare your child fully for the 11+, whether that is advice and reassurance, or practice materials and resources to help you prepare your child.
For specific information about the 11+ in your region our 11+ Schools pages will help you to understand the nature of the tests that your child needs to be prepared for, together with suggestions for appropriate practice materials where the content of the tests is known. There are certain areas where past papers or sample papers are not published, and the tests are described as being “tutor-proof”, particularly where the test called the “Durham CEM” is used. However even in those areas a good vocabulary and solid mental maths skills will always play a large part in success, so don’t be discouraged if you read that a test allegedly cannot be tutored for.
For the answers to questions as you go along our 11+ Forum is worth a visit because there is a wealth of advice there from parents who have been through the process with their children, together with information from teachers, tutors and other experts. If the answer you need is not already there you can register as a member and ask for the advice you need.
These are the people who possibly cause the most phone and email traffic at our Head Office, particularly in the summer and early autumn every year. The secrecy surrounding the 11+ tests in many areas can mean that first-time parents are completely unaware of the amount of preparation going on behind the scenes. By the time they find out they inevitably feel that it is too late and, even worse, that they have let their child down through their lack of knowledge of the system.
There are many stories of children who have qualified in the 11+ with very little advance preparation, and plenty of children qualify for a grammar school each year without ever having spent time with a professional tutor. In 2009 a member of our 11+ Forum who lives just outside the county of Buckinghamshire found out about the Bucks 11+ very late in the day, and beyond the deadline for applying to take the test at the normal time. Her child was permitted to take the test as a “late tester”, but they had only three weeks in which to prepare for it. His parent home tutored him and he qualified comfortably.
Although this is not the ideal way to prepare for the tests, there is still plenty that you can do to support your child, no matter how little time you have. For more information please see our advice on Emergency! Preparation for Late Starters which we hope you will find reassuring.