Though we had been expecting the announcement for some time, it was finally confirmed on 24th July that the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Tests (11+) will be postponed this year. The new test dates are as follows:
- 27th-30thOctober (out of county children)
- 2nd-5th November (children attending Buckinghamshire primary schools and partner schools)
The Bucks Grammar Schools (TGBS)informed parents some time ago that they were planning to delay the tests but they had been waiting for the go ahead from the Department for Education (DfE). This permission has now been granted and the DfE have in fact recommended that all grammar school areas delay their 11+ test dates, stating that: “DfE recognises that children are unlikely to perform at their best if tested at the beginning of September and also recognises the logistical challenges for schools of carrying out testing this year.” 
The Buckinghamshire test, originally scheduled for the 10th September, comprises two papers covering verbal reasoning, mathematical and non-verbal reasoning skills. Find out more about what the tests involve here in our Parent’s guide to the 2020 Bucks 11+ Tests.
Why the different test dates?
Children who attend a Buckinghamshire primary school or partner school will take their tests the week after those children who are out of county. The main reasons cited for the different testing dates are:
- To allow Buckinghamshire primary schools extra time to prepare for the new measures.
- Grammar schools are testing centres for out of county students. They will be running the tests during half term in order to ensure that their students are not on site at the same time as the 11+ candidates.
Some concerns have been raised about the potential riskof content being leaked in the interim between the two test dates, although up until fairly recent years the tests were taken on different days and that was not generally considered an issue. TBGS have addressed this in their FAQs with the following statement:
“All schools where testing takes place are required to follow strict security and confidentiality arrangements which include secure storage of test materials at all times. Children are also highly unlikely to remember details about test content accurately after they have left the test room.” 
In addition, it is unlikely that children sitting the test earlier would want to give an unfair advantage to those sitting it after them.
How will testing process be different this year?
The format of the tests will remain the same. TBGS website has confirmed the testing will be carried out in line with government guidance at the time of testing. This means is it likely to include measures of social distancing, with the potential that groups of children will set the test in different ‘sessions’ within a testing window, rather than all at the same time.
Is the postponement a good thing?
For many, the delay to the tests is a welcome announcement. Children will have chance to settle back into school after the interference of the Covid-19 crisis without the additional stress of an impending exam. Many children will find the return to school very tiring, so it will help them to build up their stamina, adapt to a new learning routine and focus on getting their core skills up to speed. It will also allow time for the schools to become accustomed to new Covid-19 working practices before facing the additional logistical challenges of safe exam practices. In addition, for those children who wish to prepare for the 11+ tests, the delay provides extra time for practice, enabling them to fine-tune exam skills and build up their confidence.
There are, however, some disadvantages. Some families would rather just get the test over and done with and see the extra wait as putting additional pressure on their children. This will be an issue for those children who find exams stressful and perhaps see the test as a big hurdle to get through. Another disadvantage is that parents will have to make their child’s secondary school choices without knowing whether or not they have achieved a grammar school qualifying score. This used to be the case some years ago and there are guidelines regarding this and other aspects of moving up to secondary school in the Buckinghamshire Council presentation on their website.
What 11+ support is on offer?
For those children wanting some extra help preparing for the 11+ tests, Flying Start Tuition are running 11+ Mock Test Experiences every weekend in October at our Little Chalfont and Chesham centres, with the option to book online mock feedback sessions.These are running in addition to our usual summer holiday courses and mock tests.
We will also be running online courses in maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning as well as 11+ Revision & Practice courses at Little Chalfont and Chesham over the October half term, which include 11+ Superpowers Workshops™, designed to increase confidence and teach children a range of strategies to help them focus for longer, avoid distractions and combat exam nerves.
For those who prefer a more ‘DIY’ approach, our Mocks in a Box can be ordered on our website and delivered to your address. Consisting of everything you need for realistic 11+ exam practice at home, these are available in sets of ten or twenty papers and have even been hailed by some as the ‘best 11+ papers on the market!’
For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898