Covid-19 and the 11-plus

With schools not yet fully reopened following the Covid-19 pandemic, there is uncertainty surrounding the 11-plus exams due to take place this autumn. This is what we know so far.

Exams:

A number of schools have said the 11-plus exams will go ahead while others say test dates are currently under review.

The Tiffin Girls’ School and Nonsuch High School for Girls have both told parents to assume that the September tests will take place as planned.

Tiffin School, Queen Elizabeth’s and Sutton Grammar School have not stated anything to the contrary.

The school admissions team for Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead told Grammar School Insider they were “not sure” whether the exams would take place and urged parents to contact individual school websites.

Wallington County Grammar School said the Selective Eligibility Test (or ‘SET’) is under review due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to socially distance.

The Grammar Schools in Birmingham also said they are monitoring the situation and will follow advice and guidance from the government.

Buckinghamshire Council said it is liaising with the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools Group which owns the test for the county to find a solution and is continuing discussions with the Department for Education.

It seems unlikely the exam will be cancelled, or postponed, especially if schools return in September. Exams are expected to take place with smaller numbers sitting the exam at any one time, with social distancing enforced.

Open evenings:

Some schools have already replaced open evenings slated for this summer with virtual tours while others are hoping the events will still be able to take place.

In Sutton, the grammar school open evenings are still in the diary.

However, St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls has announced that a virtual tour will take place at the end of June, so it remains to be seen whether the other schools in the area follow suit.

In Barnet, The Henrietta Barnett School open days for 2021 entry are still scheduled to take place on 16 and 17 July. However, Queen Elizabeth’s has cancelled its open day on 2 July, as it looks to present information on the school in alternative formats.

The Tiffin Girls’ School has said its 7 July open day will still take place but that arrangements may change between now and then due to Covid-19. Tiffin School’s open day is still scheduled to take place on the same day.

Mock exams and tuition centres:

Eleven Plus Exams in Harrow is offering online mock exams until the end of May. Beyond that date, nothing has been decided. The centre is following government guidelines but hopes to open for tutoring in September. 

Eleven Plus Centre in Hounslow is currently teaching all of its year 5 students by Zoom. Online mock exams are being developed presently and will be launched soon. The centre will reopen when the schools return. Social distancing measures will be relatively easy to put in place as the centre is spacious, a representative said.

Explore Learning which has 140 centres across the country is using Microsoft Teams to continue its 11-plus programmes for classes of up to six students and its one-to-one programmes.

“We’ve had such a good response from existing parents and new parents that we are thinking about continuing in this way after the pandemic,” a representative said.

Teach Test which has centres in Croydon, Kingston, Sutton and Wandsworth is currently sending out maths and English materials and offering pre-recorded online tutorials to its year 5s. Year 4s are also receiving English and maths packs and the homework they would have been given had they been attending a centre in person.

The centre is not offering classes online, admitting coordinating times when students and pupils could log on was proving difficult. But fees have dropped from £42 a week for two hours to £15 a week for year 5s and from £42 to £9 a week for year 4s.

Wallington County Grammar School familiarisation tests run by PTFA have been cancelled for June.

“We left this decision as late as possible in the hope that there might have been some easing of social distancing that would have allowed the tests to take place, however it is now clear even if there is some change before these dates, it won’t be possible to hold the tests as we would have insufficient time to put in place revised plans,” the PTFA said.

Tutors:

All one-to-one sessions arranged by Tutor Class in West London are now online. “Ninety-nine percent of children are loving it. Computers are second nature to them,” one tutor said of the new format.  

Holland Park Tutor & Education Consultants have moved one-to-one sessions online but rates of an eyewatering £68-£98 per hour have not dropped.

Materials:

Covid-19 does not appear to have led to any disruption in supplies of 11-plus materials.

Educational books company in Cumbria CGP said it is “business as normal” at the company  and that the pandemic has not interrupted printing or distribution of its books.  

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