How do we prepare children for the 11 plus?

Children playing a game with their fingers

As an Independent School we are mindful of, but not restricted by, the National Curriculum. Children at The Lyceum enjoy a topic-based ‘hands on’ curriculum, which places emphasis on creativity, questioning, and independent thinking. In Years 3 to 6, we sustain our emphasis on breadth and balance, ensuring that children enjoy their learning, whilst being mindful of the necessity to prepare them for the important senior school entrance exams that many of them will undertake in Year 6.

We make no bones about it – we are not a hothouse; our ultimate aim is to create happy, kind, resilient and confident individuals who ultimately end up at a secondary school that is right for them. Preparation towards 11+ is gradual and supportive, using our knowledge of the individual child and tailoring the preparation accordingly.  Through English, Maths and Reasoning practice papers, including computer-based assessments, children are taught to use, apply and develop their knowledge. Additionally, allowing individuals to take time to express themselves, reflect on mistakes, take risks and develop a growth mindset helps foster a sense of resilience and confidence to approach the process with realism and composure. At The Lyceum, our staff provides a range of support and guidance for parents and children to ensure a smooth transition to their chosen senior school.

There is a wide selection of independent secondary schools in and around London, many of whom set their own entrance examinations which take place at the destination school. Additionally, the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) Common Entrance exams are set by some independent schools as their entrance criteria. In the Summer Term, a Parent Workshop aimed at Year 4 and 5 parents is held, discussing aspects to consider when applying to schools. Parents are encouraged to keep us advised of possible secondary choices so that we can ensure that each pupil is prepared for their chosen path. Our small class sizes allow us to maintain a very personal approach so that parents feel supported, listened to and advised.

We have an extensive catalogue of past papers which we use to help pupils become familiar with the different styles of testing. From the Summer Term of Year 5 through to the end of the Autumn Term of Year 6, pupils are invited to attend 11+ Booster Groups focusing on Maths, Reasoning, Creative Writing and Comprehension skills. These weekly sessions are free of charge, led by teachers and take place before or after school. At the start of the Autumn Term, Year 6 pupils undertake a mock exam week, sitting past papers in Maths, English and Reasoning papers under exam conditions. Exam papers are marked and discussed with pupils with written feedback provided to parents. In addition to preparing for the exams, the week also focuses on group activities, promoting teamwork and collaboration.

Most independent secondary schools interview prospective pupils as part of their selection criteria. Regular Current Affairs sessions are held in school and pupils are encouraged to take an interest in events both globally and locally. Pupils are tasked with creating mini CVs which highlight their interests and achievements. The Headmistress and one of the School Governors conduct mock interviews with pupils to ensure that they are well prepared and are able to present themselves at their best.

At The Lyceum, we pride ourselves in wholly preparing our pupils for secondary school examinations. Our pupils leave us knowing they have worked hard and shown themselves at their best. Our carefully tailored and specialised coaching for these exams leads to outstanding results with many of our pupils being offered places at their first-choice secondary school. By promoting strong foundations from the outset, our pupils approach the 11+ process as enthusiastic and independent thinkers and learners, with growth mindsets. Perhaps most importantly, they display strength and resilience. Our specialised 11+ and exam preparation helps them hone the skills they have already learned, and allows them to approach exams with confidence.

10th June 2021

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