North London Grammar School entrance exams. V Tough?

(41 Posts)
likestoplan Mon 04-Mar-13 17:40:46

I was wondering if anybody has an info on how the application for the Grammar schools work, and how hard / competitive the exams are?
Specifically looking at Henrietta Barnett School (Girls), Queen Elizabeth's grammar school (boys) and Latymer. I understand you have to live in Barnet to apply to the first two, but Latymer's catchment area seems to the whole of North London! Is this correct? Could you apply to multiple selective schools, but do they not accept you if you dont put them as first choice (ie Latymer no.1, Henrietta no.2)?

All three seem to have different entry tests; any info on the test would be great, as well as guidance on whether coaching required or how competitive the different schools are.
School places very stressful.

OP’s posts: |
mrsshackleton Mon 04-Mar-13 18:04:08

All I can tell you is v bright children I know, who sailed into various ultra-competitive private schools, failed at the first hurdle with all these schools. So, yes, they are very tough to get into. But someone has to do it! Sure others can tell you much more

FillyPutty Mon 04-Mar-13 18:38:50

They are very tough, and yes, it's possible to get into an ultra-competitive top 10 private school and not one of these.

I would avoid QEB though, it kicks out 1/4 of boys before sixth form.

Latymer does English, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Maths for example.

Basically you would either employ a tutor or buy literally dozens of papers and go through these with your child until they get close to 100%.

Be under no illusions about the amount of work involved - you are looking at hours of prep over years or at least months.

You can sit exams for every grammar school in London if you wish - they will take your preferences in order, so if Latymer was first but your child failed, then if you passed HBS and that was second, she would get in there.

Most children sit for multiple selective schools if they sit for one, and for that reason there can be quite a lot of overlap in terms of pass rates - a bright and/or well-prepared child may pass all of them, an ill-prepared child will pass none.

likestoplan Mon 04-Mar-13 18:59:26

How / why does QEB kick out a quarter of it's pupils?!

Is the entrance exam as competitive as N. London is another areas? So for example the Tiffin Schools in Kingston Upon Thames or St. Olaves (boys) and Newstead Wood (girls) in Orpington?

OP’s posts: |
lu9months Mon 04-Mar-13 19:25:32

Hi, my sons just got into Latymer from his state primary. He is bright, and was part of a tutor group for a year, but its not impossible. There's a big catchment but we preferred it to qe for our son. Have a look at the schools and get your child assessed to see if they've got a chance and then go for it

lu9months Mon 04-Mar-13 19:29:11

Ps I found the forum useful for questions , and our tutor knew details of the exams. u can apply to more than one selective state school

FillyPutty Mon 04-Mar-13 20:34:08

QEB admits 180 or something like that in y7, but only 140 go through to a levels. The rest are managed out or told to leave. A level students are presented with a list of the a levels that they will be allowed to sit, many dont agree with these choices and are effectively constructively dismissed so to speak, and go off to study elsewhere.


clb Mon 04-Mar-13 20:54:25

You don't need to live in Barnet for HBS; don't know about QEGS.

BagLady75 Tue 05-Mar-13 08:06:19

I don't think you have to live in Barnet for QE boys either. But my experience same as mrs s - super high-achieving classmates of my DCs who subsequently got into top indies failed at the first hurdle at QEB and HBS. I think you'd be looking at major coaching/tutoring to get in.

VinegarDrinker Tue 05-Mar-13 08:11:24

The vast majority of children who get into Latymer do so from normal state primaries. Yes there is more tutoring than there used to be, but it isn't unattainable by any means. It always used to be 1:10 got in.

Latymer also take a % of high achieving musicians who don't get in via the academic route.

Yes you can apply for them all.

JBX2013 Fri 08-Mar-13 12:56:21

Hi likestoplan!

We went through this for our daughter's 2010 entry at 11 plus. She is now at Henrietta Barnett School, having turned down Latymer. (She was also offered North London Collegiate and other indy schools.) A lot of her school friends have brothers at Q E Boys, some at Latymer. A lot has changed in recent years for the entrance exams - so I would check each school's web site first.

Good luck with your planning and prep. .... The HBS girls are bright, but they are perfectly normal as well, with a full range of personalities. What's distinctive is how active they are with everything and what a strong, driven personality each girl has. The entrance is tough but manageable.

You can private message me if you wish.

ladybyron Fri 08-Mar-13 14:47:41

Latymer operates a 1hour travel distance radius for potential applicants. QEB and I think HBS do not set any such criteria. Last year someone got in to QEB who was based in Newcastle, then chose to re-locate.
Agree with other posts re 6th form 'cull'. Boys are effectively forced to do A-levels elsewhere if QEB will not offer the subjects. Very harsh really as its all done on 'internal criteria', which is not made very transparent at the time. Boys, in particularly, are often last and manage to pull it out for their actual GCSE results, but by then it's too late for QE's sixth form.

TenthMuse Fri 08-Mar-13 21:45:14

I was a Latymer student in the '90s, and I know people with children there now. General consensus is that it has a slightly more liberal ethos than QEB - definitely no post-GCSE cull or anything like that. Emphasis was on independent learning and self-discipline - probably not the best option if your dc needs lots of pastoral input. Catchment covers most of North London, extending into parts of Essex and Herts - lots of left-leaning, Islington media types use it as an alternative to 'selling out' by going private!

It is incredibly competitive - 10 applicants for every place when I was applying, probably more than that now. I was tutored, as were most of my friends, but not intensively - 1/2 hours a week or so. It's probably a bit more hard-core than that nowadays, although I do know several parents who successfully self-tutored (all from ordinary state primaries). I now teach, and am aware than some schools that previously sent 20+ kids to Latymer annually now get 2-3 in at best, probably because the catchment area has expanded so much. Definitely not impossible though.

As for the test, unless it's changed again for this year (they do tend to tweak it - I'd check) it's non-verbal reasoning to whittle down to the final 500, then English and Maths. They do seem to have a slight bias towards maths and sciences, so the test may be slightly skewed in this direction (certainly the children I know who get in tend to be the mathematicians). Musicians can enter via a separate route, but still need to achieve well on the tests.

Look at the 11 Plus Forum that lu9months suggested and purchase past papers (think they're available from the school?).

OddSins Sun 10-Mar-13 09:18:03

QEB is a school you definitely need to visit on the Open evening. Many people are put of by the atmosphere, the cull at 6th form and the headmaster. The ethnic balance is skewed and is a point that is mentioned in hushed tones that I will not comment on, but again you may want to consider this.

Karenmum1 Tue 04-Mar-14 16:38:39

can anybody tell me what was the waiting list of QE last year and uptill what number of waiting list children got admission.

ladybyron Tue 04-Mar-14 17:00:56

Go to the Herts section on the 11plus forum.Lots of people are posting re QEB results

SAHDthatsall Tue 09-Aug-16 08:09:28

Yes. Yes they are...

LiKo1 Wed 29-Mar-17 13:44:55

Hello! What is the highest score this year and what kind of scores did the 180 students that got in to the Queen Elizabeth school achieve? Thank you

camcam1 Wed 29-Mar-17 14:56:21

My super
Bright ds who got offers from the top Hertfordshire Indipendents, did not get QE boys on national offer day, and a good score for Latymer, but we were out of catchment.
After these results it opened my eyes to how bright the children are that are getting into the north London grammars. To be top of my sons class (which is super competitive) and working for two years (with no tutor), simply wasn't enough. My ds friend got into QE few years ago, but he went to prep school, had two tutors and worked non- stop on weekends. I was not prepared to go that far. my ds has a high waitlist place for QE, but we've decided it's too much of a hot house and prefer the relaxed atmosphere at one of the independents he was offered.

camcam1 Wed 29-Mar-17 14:56:55

I believe lowest score on national offer day for Qe was either 231/232

AndromedaPerseus Wed 29-Mar-17 21:21:10

Friend Of DS2 got into QE last year he was 25th on waitlist got told he had a place last July; he didn't live in the area and the family had to relocated

Farfallina123 Wed 29-Mar-17 21:26:57

I would say children who get into QE/ HBS would most likely get into Latymer, but those that get into Latimer would not necessarily get into QE/HBS.

If you are living in North Finchley/Barnet, Southgate or Islington (and maybe parts of Enfield?) then you would be in catchment to apply for Dame Alice Owen's - partially selective, accepts siblings, children via a music selection rate and children from the local potters bar area. Also a sought after school in the selection stakes.

Children can and do get into such 'super selective' as the ones you have listed. If they are highly academic, happy to do additional prep in year 5 and like what they see when they go round the schools and parents are happy to go through the whole process then it's worth a go. Important though that these schools are never seen as a sure fire option, the numbers game just means you never know.

Most children are tutored or are taught by parents who are naturally good teachers. The important thing is whatever route is chosen, to be balanced and measured in approach. Slow, steady and supportive; an hour or two a week max in year 5.

It's important the children have a good backup option that they are comfortable with, so that if it doesn't work out with the super selectives then they are happy with the school they will go to.

Tissunnyupnorth Wed 29-Mar-17 21:35:34

My son is in yr9 at QE. There are a lot of 'myths' surrounding the school, which are best addressed by visiting yourself and making your mind up.

With regards sixth form admittance it is based on internal tests taken throughout year 10 & 11, not on GCSE results, so there is no 'last'. Parents & boys are very aware of the system and offers for A levels are made very early. I would say if you want your son to attend a school where he can guarantee carrying on into sixth form from yr11, QE might not be the school for you. The sixth form is seen as quite distinct & separate from the lower school. We took the view that the education he would receive from 11 through to 16, with excellent GCSE results, would set him up to take his A levels wherever he wanted (he has always thought he would like to attend a co-ed sixth form). All sixth forms have admittance requirements, my DD is at our local comprehensive where the admittance to sixth form has changed this year, requiring much higher GCSE grades. It really will be a panic in August if she doesn't meet these requirements. DD will probably be 'excluded' from taking various A levels, due to not meeting various requirements, such as A level Psychology, which the school now require GCSE grade 6 Maths.

A proportion of boys that leave at the end of year 11 do so by choice, for many reasons. They move to independent schools where they are offered scholarships, to co ed, other grammar schools nearer their homes, for example. It is incorrect to say that every boy that leaves at the end of yr 11, is 'forced' out.

With regards to the entrance exam, again I think there are a lot of myths surrounding this also. Yes, nearly 2000 boys take the exam, but many take it as a free 'mock' for other school entrance exams and have no intention of applying to the school. Most boys apply to multiple schools, including the independent schools and even if they score highly on the QE exam, take up a place elsewhere. It is a school without a catchment, attracting many eleven plus 'tourists'. There are 180 places in yr7 and I believe the school goes down to about candidate 300/350 to fill those places. Yes, you do have to be very good at Maths & English to do well in the exam, but my DS always maintained it was being able to work accurately, with speed, which was more important, as many boys didn't finish the papers. As teachers, we prepared DS ourselves, going through eleven plus papers and covering the yr6 syllabus, for about 5 months before the exam. QE was his choice.

Every child is different and school experiences are so subjective. DS has not found QE to be a 'hot house'. He has no more homework than his peers at other schools, he has made great friends and is very happy at his school. He is also receiving an excellent education.

orangeblosssom Thu 30-Mar-17 08:35:01

The ethnic balance is skewed ( in QE boys) and is a point that is mentioned in hushed tones

What does you mean by this? The school is ethnically diverse not skewed.
If a school has only ethnic group such as white British students then it is ethnically skewed.

EnormousTiger Thu 30-Mar-17 11:34:57

That puzzled me too. My children (who are white) are in a fee paying school in London where most of the children are not white. It reflects the people are around here. So is that skewed or unskewed? Whereas our nearest state primaries seem to be almost 100% white (C of E) and most non white and many little girls with head scarves and that difference to me seems a bit "skewed" although I suppose it's a religious divide so perhaps not skewed.

My children haven't applied to the schools mentioned but they are certanily very good schools; we just preferred the private system.

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