Girls’ 11+ Entry for September 2019

As schools begin the summer term, many families will be starting to think about secondary schooling for entry in September 2019. So, we thought it would be useful to share a little information with you about some of the leading independent girls’ schools in London and their new entrance arrangements.

Look out for more posts from us over the coming weeks, full of useful information for families and our clients in the Global Mobility Industry.

The Educatus Team

 

“We are nailing our colours to the mast of children's wellbeing”[i]: the 11+ and the new London Consortium explained

 

The London Consortium re-formed in October 2017, bringing together 12 independent London girls’ schools to operate a unified exam group for entry to Year 7 in September 2019. It replaced the former North London Girls’ Consortium.[ii]

Whereas the North London Girls’ Consortium was split into two groups which operated separate examination systems,[iii] the new London Consortium will simplify this process by introducing a single cognitive ability test.[iv] The exam is designed to identify potential, rather than to test the specific subject areas of English and Mathematics. This test will be sat by entrants for the first time on Friday 11th January 2019 at one of the Consortium schools they have registered with, replacing the English and Mathematics papers previously used. Each girl’s results will be shared with the other schools that she is registered with, within the Consortium, and there will be common dates announced for the publication of results, the making of offers and deadlines for acceptances.[v]

No further written exams will be used, and interviews will now have greater weight in the application process. Francis Holland School, for example, will invite all applicants for interview to assess their skills in problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity.[vi] A reference will also be requested from each girl’s Junior School using a common reference form. The interview and reference will form a major part of the assessment process, thereby reducing the emphasis on academic results and allowing schools to build a holistic view of each applicant. Francis Holland School explains that this process will enable them “to get to know each child individually, thereby giving…a more complete picture of your daughter’s unique personality and ability.”[vii] Some have also suggested that this process will be closer to an American model, with a greater balance between academic potential and ‘soft’ factors being considered.[viii]

So, why this change, and why now?

Firstly, this new system aims to simplify the application process for potential families. As the squeeze on state secondary school places across the capital continues, families can find themselves facing a complex and competitive battle for a space at their desired independent school.[ix] Creating a unified exam system across these 12 schools should help to make this process easier.

Secondly, the change may help to reduce the need for private tutoring, so often used in preparation for the 11+. This may go a little way to redressing the imbalance between the access that lower- and higher-income families have to private tuition. This follows a recent study by the Sutton Trust which found that 35% of those from more advantaged households said they had ever received private tuition, compared with only 18% of those from less well-off families.[x] Labelling private tutoring the “‘hidden secret’” in an “‘educational arms race’”[xi] the study claimed that tutoring perpetuates the advantage of higher income families. It explained that “Better-off families create a ‘glass floor’ for children in danger of low achievement, a barrier to social mobility.”[xii] The report also claimed that the use of private tutors is “exacerbating educational inequalities and limiting social mobility across the UK.”[xiii]

Speaking at the Tatler Schools Live conference in London, Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress at Francis Holland School in Sloane Square, said the new tests would make the process fairer for applicants who “‘don't have access, for financial reasons, to tutoring.’”[xiv] She continued, “‘We want to see what a child's baseline potential and ability is, and cut through the ability of a parent to pay for tutoring.’”[xv] Mrs Elphinstone believes the new tests, which will retain the verbal reasoning element of the past papers, will be “‘tutor-proof.’” She explained, “‘You can’t sit a child down at £70-an-hour and endlessly do verbal reasoning tests. These things are not tutorable for.’”[xvi]

Finally, and most importantly, this reduction in the use of private tutoring aims to reduce pressure on children by preventing “‘over-tutoring and the dreadful prepping for the tests’” that has widely taken place in preparation for the 11+ over recent years.[xvii] In the Consortium Statement of 10th October 2017 the Consortium shares its hope to “reduce the scope for excessive tutoring,” enabling them to “to identify the personal skills and traits we also value.”[xviii] Ultimately, in making these changes, the Consortium seeks to publicly recognise its “collective obligation to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of all of [its] pupils.”[xix] These changes, it says, reflect its commitment to “a dynamic education which nurtures a child’s self-esteem and spirit as well as her intellect.”[xx] Aptly summarising this new approach, Lucy Elphinstone declared; “We are nailing our colours to the mast of children's wellbeing.”[xxi]

 

A video of Mrs Lucy Elphinstone explaining some of the reasons for the changes can be viewed here.

 

Schools in the London Consortium

Channing School

Francis Holland School, Regent's Park

Francis Holland School, Sloane Square

Godolphin and Latymer School

More House School

Northwood College

Notting Hill and Ealing High School

Queen’s College

Queen’s Gate School

South Hampstead High School

St. Helen’s School

St. James’ Senior School

 

[i] Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress at Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, speaking at the Tatler Schools Live conference in October 2017, quoted in: Harding, Eleanor (10.10.17), ‘Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children’. Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.21pm at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964600/Top-London-girls-schools-decide-drop-11-plus.html  

[ii] For more information visit about the North London Girls’ Consortium visit: https://www.11plusguide.com/independent-private-schools/focus-london-surrounding-private-schools/north-london-girls-school-consortium/

[iii] https://www.11plusguide.com/independent-private-schools/focus-london-surrounding-private-schools/north-london-girls-school-consortium/ Accessed on 5.4.18 at 16.01pm.

[iv] For more information, see the ‘Letter from the Heads of the North London Girls’ Schools’ Consortium’ (10.10.17), available at: http://www.qcl.org.uk/cmsAdmin/uploads/consortium-statement-10-10-2017.pdf

[v] See admissions procedures at Francis Holland School, available at: http://www.fhs-sw1.org.uk/admissions/admissions-11-  Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.32pm.  

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Article from 10.10.17 at: http://www.londonpreprep.com/2017/10/north-london-girls-school-consortium/ Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.00pm.

[ix] Harding, Eleanor (10.10.17), ‘Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children’. Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.21pm at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964600/Top-London-girls-schools-decide-drop-11-plus.html  

[x] Richardson, Hannah (7.9.17), ‘Poor pupils get less tutoring and homework help – study’, Accessed on 6.4.18 at 10.25am at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41176329

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Jerrim, John (September 2017), ‘Extra Time: Private tuition and out-of-school study, new international evidence’ (The Sutton Trust), p.3: Available at: https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Extra-time-report_FINAL.pdf

[xiii] Ibid, p.28.

[xiv] Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress at Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, speaking at the Tatler Schools Live conference in October 2017, quoted in Harding, Eleanor (10.10.17), ‘Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children’. Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.21pm: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964600/Top-London-girls-schools-decide-drop-11-plus.html

[xv] Lucy Elphinstone quoted in Turner, Camilla (10.10.17), ‘Leading girls' schools scrap entrance exams amid mental health concerns’, Accessed on 4.4.18 at 10.00am at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/10/10/leadig-girls-schools-scrap-entrance-exams-amid-mental-health/

[xvi] Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress at Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, speaking at the Tatler Schools Live conference in October 2017, quoted in Harding, Eleanor (10.10.17), ‘Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children’. Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.21pm at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964600/Top-London-girls-schools-decide-drop-11-plus.html

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] See the ‘Letter from the Heads of the North London Girls’ Schools’ Consortium’ (10.10.17), available at: http://www.qcl.org.uk/cmsAdmin/uploads/consortium-statement-10-10-2017.pdf

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress at Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, speaking at the Tatler Schools Live conference in October 2017, quoted in Harding, Eleanor (10.10.17), ‘Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children’. Accessed on 5.4.18 at 15.21pm at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964600/Top-London-girls-schools-decide-drop-11-plus.html

Sarah Teasdale