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Grammar School Entrance Exams

(12 Posts)
Taz786 Mon 31-Dec-18 12:35:31

Hi, I come from a working class background and have never had the best education. I left school at 18 to work with my dad on a market stall. I now have two beautiful young children and I want to give them every oppurtunity that I never had. My 9 daughter is top of her class in both maths and English and I’m told by her teachers that she seems to absorb everything very quickly. We can’t afford a private school but I’ve have seen that some allow children to go free providing they pass the entrance exam and interview. I work from 6am till 8pm and have been putting away money for a tutor, I have seen some that specifically tutor for entrance exams and was wondering if that was a bad idea? Do they teach in a different way than a normal tutor and would it be best just going with a normal tutor? I don’t want to hold her back and if she’s happy learning I wan’t to do my best for her.

OP’s posts: |
flossietoot Mon 31-Dec-18 12:37:26

You need to get an 11 plus tutor. There are various techniques for the exams/ how to make sure don’t run out of time etc. Best of luck!

LIZS Mon 31-Dec-18 12:42:26

Do you mean grammar (selective state school) or independent (some of which are confusingly also called grammar). You would need to check in advance what their bursary fund is and how many fully funded places they actually offer each year before you get your hopes up. It is more common for smaller discounts to be offered to several pupils than 100% to one unless they are very exceptional. Even then they are competitive so passing an exam and interview may not in itself be sufficient, as several pupils will be in the same situation. You also need to be prepared for your finances to be thoroughly scrutinised as part of a bursary application. If there is a particular exam or assessment involved she would at least need to be familiar with the format and style to complete it well.

PippaParty Mon 31-Dec-18 13:11:44

State grammar would be a free option if you have them in your area and your daughter passes the 11+.

KeepingTheWormsQuiet Wed 02-Jan-19 16:16:15

We don't which area you are in, but the Eleven Plus Forum is very good on local information for particular schools -

The forum is mostly about state grammar schools, but does have some information on independent schools and their exams. Best thing to do is to read the websites for the schools you are interested in and then contact them about bursaries and exams.

Beware, most schools will say officially that you don't need to tutor, but most children are tutored.

bluefolder Wed 02-Jan-19 16:31:46

What year is she in? for private or grammar if competitive you'd need to tutor from early/mid year 4 from a state school.

xyzandabc Wed 02-Jan-19 16:41:00

I think you're talking about independent schools (private schools) where you pay X thousands per year to attend, they tend to have entrance exams and interviews.

Grammar schools are only in a few counties now and are free to attend provided child has sat and passed the 11+ exam.

Tutoring will be available for both but you may want to ask MN to amend your title if it's independent schools you are interested in to get the right advice.

bluefolder Wed 02-Jan-19 16:52:37

^ I’ve have seen that some allow children to go free providing they pass the entrance exam and interview.^

the phrase you are looking for is bursary

I would ring up the private schools you might be interested, ask to speak to the bursar and ask him/her what bursaries they offer, entry criteria etc. Then you can make a short-list, see if you qualify etc.

FlumePlume Thu 03-Jan-19 11:41:32


You are exactly the type of parent that grammar (state selective) and the more academically selective private schools want to apply, and do lots to encourage. So go for it!

There’s lots of good advice above. I would say that the first things to do are to work out if there are grammar schools within commuting distance for you. If there are, use their websites to find out about the application process, the type of exam they set, when it is etc. Then you can start thinking about what you need to do next. It could be doing some practice using workbooks at home (you need to get the right sort, depending on the type of exam), it might be getting a tutor (but ask around as some are rubbish, you want one that’s recommended).

Work out if there are academically selective private schools within commuting distance for you. This is a bit trickier, as most private schools will they say are academically selective, but some aren’t in reality and some are very! This board will be good for helping you to find out which are the academically selective ones (start a thread with the names in the title) you should visit for open days. If you like the open day, use the school’s website to find out about bursaries (means-tested, can be up to 110% so covering the cost of uniform and trips). Ignore the stuff about scholarships, that’s much less money off the fees and is regardless of income.

W00t Thu 03-Jan-19 11:47:36

Could I also recommend the 11+ forum? You can look at your specific area on there (e.g. Kent, Berkshire, whatever) and the advice and information will then be school-specific. I'm afraid that the entrance exams vary from school to school, even within the same area (if you're including independent schools that title themselves as 'Grammar's)
There's a wealth of information on there, but do go to each individual schools' website too, and check the application dates, exam dates etc so you're fully prepared.
In my area, an 11+ tutor is unlikely to take on a 9yo if they're a Y5 9yo (because they don't want to jeopardise their pass rates) but will take a Y4 9yo.

What I would say for our entrance exams was that the questions were not difficult, only very pressurised for time, and the scores are given according to how many questions are answered.

Taz786 Thu 10-Jan-19 23:44:39

Hi All,

Thank you so much for your replies, my daughter currently attends an Academy school. We live in Manchester and both Withington Girls' School and Manchester High School for Girls is a 5 minute drive from our home, both are independent and around £12-13k per year and of course we even couldn't afford a quarter of that. They both offer bursaries ranging from 10 to 100% of the annual fee, dependent upon parents’ overall financial circumstances.

The free Grammar schools which require you to pass an entrance exam are the four in Trafford, there is one exam for all 4 schools.
I have looked over the past exams and I feel the maths I could help her with, but I suffer from dyslexia and for her english she would need real tuition. They ask for story writing, verbal and none verbal which goes way above my knowledge.

We have tried tutors a few tutors over the past week, however still yet to find one who really makes her feel comfortable and also one that has enough knowledge about the literature, logic and words she should be reading and practicing for the exams. has been a great help.

OP’s posts: |
DriveShaft Sat 12-Jan-19 15:48:50

I think you need to call both Withington and Manchester High. We used to live in the area and looked at both for DD who is considered gifted academically. Withington in particular is full of exceptionally clever girls. Many top of the class girls will miss out on a place but if your daughter is indeed very bright then I’d advise you to give them a call and talk through how likely 100% bursary really is because it may be that they only offer one or two a year then all others at 10-20%. They also have past papers on their website. Print off a set of the maths papers, both A&B. Girls offered interview will be expected to get close to 100% on paper A and upwards of 70% on paper B at 11. But that paper B is notoriously difficult. I know our London friends with a daughter at SPGS were advised to use Withington paper B to practice. Having said this, they will want very bright state school girls from disadvantaged backgrounds as they’re all about the merit. They will definitely set a lower bar for a girl like your daughter than they will for a girl coming from a prep.

However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re in south Manchester then have a think about applying for the Trafford grammars esp Altrincham Grammar School for Girls. Quite a few children from Didsbury/Fallowfield get in. Or look at moving to Trafford now. if that’s an option. But don’t forget the closing date will be the summer term of Y5. Good luck!

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