Yes, of course no essay writing for Essex....thank goodness tbh lol!!
I suppose, if anything, the VR (and non-VR, which of course we don't do) would probably be the most accurate indicator of a child's suitability for 11+ - suppose that's why it is also 50% of the mark. Because VR has maths and vocab and problem-solving kind of rolled into one, I think that is a generally good way to see how a child thinks and basically, well, yes, problem-solves!
If they have an aptitude for figuring things out - I suppose that it only follows quite naturally that they will (hopefully) have the means to figure out things elsewhere and use their logic as far as possible (as well as taught knowledge of course) when answering the English and Maths papers. However, the English of course relies heavily on vocab knowledge too which is hard if your child isn't really into reading.
I know that my girl has a very good brain in her head - I just hope that it has served her well on this occasion....