Welcome to our 11+ Countdown series – exclusive to Chiltern Chatter.
Each month we will be giving you tips and support to help your child prepare for the Secondary Transfer Test (Eleven Plus) in September.
This month, January, we are giving you an overview of the next 9 months, including key dates to pop into your new 2018 diary or calendar.
Whilst September still seems like a long way off, it is a good idea to plan ahead. If your child has already been attending 11+ tuition, then you may have had a review with their tutor at the end of last term to monitor their progress. Knowing where your child is starting from will help you to plan their preparation for the coming months.
If you are a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) 11+ parent, test your child to find out where they are in the four key areas of English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Then devise a plan that spreads the workload out across the coming months. With the recent changes to the Bucks 11+ test, there are now even more areas to cover so the sooner you start, the better. Leaving too much to the summer term is likely to stress your child – and you.
If you know your child needs extra practice of a particular area, now is the time to start bringing those skills up to the required levels, alongside any 11+ practice they are doing. Together with your child, work out a weekly timetable that sets out any extra-curricular activities, school homework and 11+ work. Aim to spread the workload across the week so that your child is not trying to cram everything into one night. For practising key skills such as vocabulary or mental maths, remember: little and often is far more effective than one long session once a week.
Don’t worry if you haven’t begun any preparation yet – it’s not too late to start. You may be holding back, wondering if sitting the Eleven Plus test is right for your child. If that is the case, it is advisable to send your child for an assessment or trial session with an 11+ tutor. An experienced tutor will be able to advise you as to whether or not your child has the potential to qualify for a grammar school place, however, do bear in mind that some tutors ‘cherry pick’ their students, only offering them a tuition place if they are already close to the required levels for grammar school entrance. Choose a tuition company or tutor that has an ‘all-inclusive’ approach to 11+ tuition and will not turn your child away for failing to reach a certain level as this can be very damaging to self-confidence.
Don’t be disheartened if your child seems to be far off the mark at this stage – children often make dramatic progress in a relatively short space of time with the right support. Talk to your child about how they are feeling and encourage them to prepare for the test as best they can. Remember that whether or not your child does sit the 11+, effective tuition will have a positive impact on your child’s progress in primary school and preparing for exams and learning new techniques will be of great benefit whichever secondary school they attend. As a parent, it is important that you reward your child’s efforts with regular, meaningful positive feedback – not just the results.
Many tutors and tuition companies, Flying Start Tuition included, will be running 11+ holiday courses and mock tests over the half term, Easter and summer breaks. Bookmark your favourite sites, sign up to newsletters and follow on social media to ensure that you never miss a communication, as spaces are limited and places are filled quickly.
February – June
Your child should continue to do regular practice and you should aim to introduce more timed exercises, gradually reducing the time allowed until they are working within the set time limits. During the half term and Easter breaks, make the most of extra holiday classes and check with your child’s tutor to ensure that you are clear where you child is in the process. Booking your child onto a spring mock test will help them to understand what they are aiming for and will give you a good idea of what they need to do to get there. Remember, though: there is still plenty of time to make up the ground on any weaker areas so don’t worry if your child does not fare as well as you’d expected.
The Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test portal opens at 3pm, May 1st 2018 for parents whose children do not attend a Buckinghamshire LA school to register. Registration is open until 28th June, 3pm. Children already attending a Buckinghamshire LA school will not need to register for the Secondary Transfer Test.*
Keep up the good work, and step up the practice. Make sure that your child is letting you know how they are coping and if there are any areas that they need extra help with. Invest in revision and practice kits (such as Flying Start’s ‘Mocks in a Box’) to work through at home during the holidays and book onto summer holiday courses and mock exams to boost your child’s skill levels and confidence. If your child has been attending term-time tuition with Flying Start, they will receive a holiday revision pack which includes a suggested revision timetable and plenty of practice materials to keep your child up to speed over the long break.
During the school holidays, schedule in revision time as well as time for fun and relaxation. Keeping a balance between holiday activities and exam prep will help prevent your child feeling overwhelmed. Don’t forget it really is never too late to start – even if you do nothing until August you can take advantage of intensive holiday courses and practice materials to help your child do some last-minute cramming.
This is the time for final revision and practice but, more crucially, it is the time to keep up confidence and maintain energy levels. Hopefully by now your child will be feeling prepared and ready to face the test so use this time to keep techniques front of mind, rather than expecting them to learn anything new. As children go back to school, it is understandable that they (and their parents!) may be feeling anxious or stressed. The final week before the test should be used for low-key, short bursts of practice, alongside plenty of rest. Ensure you celebrate how hard your child has worked and how far they have come.
Key dates in September for Buckinghamshire pupils are:
11th September – Preparation Test
12th September – Portal opens for secondary applications. It is recommended that you apply by 18th October in order to ensure that you receive an acknowledgement of your application. The deadline for application is October 31st at 3pm. Secondary schools’ open events take place during September and October.
13th September – Children sit the Secondary Transfer Test
* Dates and information for admission to Buckinghamshire LA secondary schools is taken from the Buckinghamshire County Council website and was accessed on 29th December 2017. Please refer to this or your local authority website for the most up to date information.