Parents that had children taking the 11+ transfer test in 2019 will remember the debacle of incorrect answers on the answer sheet. It was a huge source of worry, as schools reportedly handled the situation differently, and those stronger in the literacy aspects of the paper worried their child would lose out from marks being removed as a result.
But no one could have imagined a few months later we would be discussing whether the 11+ would even go ahead.
So, what will happen, and how can you make sure your child is as best prepared as they possibly can be?
The test in September
Later this month, the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS), which manages and administers 11-plus testing for all 13 grammars in the area, has said that it will officially announce what impact the coronavirus school shutdown has had on their plans for the test.
They have already released their thoughts on their preferred option – to hold the test in early November, giving children an extra two months to prepare.
However, although this is their preferred option, they will not be able to move forward with this plan until they receive approval from the Department for Education.
Over in Northern Ireland, some schools have already taken the decision to not have the test at all.
A national catch up
In the meantime, with the assumption that the test will go ahead, parents will be keen to make sure that their children have the best possible chance of passing.
The Government has recently admitted that they will need to spend £1 billion to help children catch up the education they have missed, though a national tutoring programme over three years.
It’s clear that children have lost out on a great deal of education, and that this will be compounded by the well-known summer learning loss.
The summer learning loss is the phenomenon whereby children come back to school in September at a lower level than when they left in July.
There has been no suggestion so far that the 11+ test will change in style and format to take into account the lack of education some children have received over the last few months.
With all this in mind, there’s no doubt in my mind that children will have to work a little bit harder this summer to catch up.
What to focus on
There are some key elements that children should focus on in the next few months.
- Reading – as much and as wide variety of material as possible. The children understand the context of a word, the better they will be at answering the different types of English questions in the test
- Times tables – it’s the foundation of any maths work and, crucially, can speed up being able to answer questions by valuable seconds
- Practise – there are certain types of questions where your child will get better simply by repetition. The GL Assessment website has useful practise papers for free (as well as paid for options) that will introduce the style of the questions
We are offering free assessments to help you find out what level your child is at and how you can help them catch up. Do give us a call on 01494 773300.