Making sense of the 11+ Process

St Nicholas Prep gives straight talking advice on how to navigate the 11+

The 11+ process is similar to the game of Bridge, bids are made, cards are played but
ultimately the match is won when there is a good fit between the players. So it is with the
11+ process – the aim is to find the best fit between your child and a senior school. Children will thrive in an environment where they are happy and feel that they belong.
For parents the process will probably start in Year 4 when you may want to start visiting
Open Days at possible schools. At St Nicholas Preparatory School, South Kensington, we
suggest open day visits as these can be useful to obtain an idea of the facilities and the
strengths of the school. However, for popular schools, they can be crowded, hectic and
somewhat overwhelming affairs which can be quite off putting for your child.

Once you have made a short list of schools it is also important to visit them when they are
in full swing with pupils present, in order to get a more accurate feel for the atmosphere and the culture as well as a more detailed view of what the school is offering. It is often best to wait for these small group tours to take your child to visit a school. By then you will have a good idea of the aspects that might particularly appeal to your child and will be able to present that school in the most positive light.

It can be a wonderful motivating factor for children when they see the breadth of
opportunities open to them in a senior school and children’s performance can substantially
improve when they have a target to aim for. However, children can only keep up this
enthusiasm for a limited time and so timing is everything. Rather like climbing a mountain,
one needs to pace oneself, gradually building up momentum whilst ensuring that there is
still enough energy to summit.

The interview is taking a larger role in the 11+ process as schools endeavour to find a way
to select on the basis of natural ability. At St Nicholas, we take care to help with preparing
for the interview, providing a mock interview with our Headmistress Jill Walker. It can be
tempting, as the amount of school work increases in Years 5 and 6, to drop all your child’s
extra curricular activities. But it is important, both for the child’s well being and for their
school applications, that they continue with activities which interest them. Schools want to
attract children with interests and talents who will be able to take advantage of all the
opportunities on offer. The interview gives children the opportunity to show those interests
in an animated and engaging way.

It is easy to think that there is only one “golden ticket” school in which your child will thrive. Usually your primary school will suggest a number of good options which may develop your child’s potential in a way you might not have predicted. Finally, it is worth remembering that many successful people have been rejected from their schools of choice including Richard Branson and Steven Spielberg. Even Albert Einstein was expelled from his school!

This is a sponsored post written by Samantha Gibbon, Deputy Head at St Nicholas Preparatory School, South Kensington. St Nicholas Preparatory School Ltd, Registered Number 03622490. A member of the Cognita Group of Schools Registered Office: Seebeck House, 1 Seebeck Place, Knowlhill, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK5 8FR