Back to blog

Benenden School: parents’ guide to Year 7 entry

School guide

Jan 31, 2023, 2:18 PM

Benenden School: a parents' guide to Year 7 entry


Benenden School is an independent day and boarding school in Cranbrook, Kent for girls aged 11 to 18. Benenden focuses on developing girls’ skills and experience across five key areas: mind and spirit, global awareness, creativity and culture, physical health and wellbeing, and skills for life. The school’s modern boarding approach is central to its education; most girls board full-time at Benenden, with long breaks at home, to ensure that they have the best opportunities to develop social and emotional skills.

Girls live and learn at Benenden on 250 acres of parkland, less than an hour by train from central London. In 2015, former pupil Anne, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, launched a 10-year development plan for enhancing the school facilities in advance of Benenden’s centenary year in 2023. New developments include a state-of-the-art music school and a school hall, in addition to an all-weather pitch and pavilion and staff accommodation.

Benenden offers a unique academic programme which aims to encourage a lifelong enthusiasm for learning and discovery. In the lower school (Years 7–8), pupils study a bespoke curriculum called the Benenden Diploma, before moving on to take ten or 11 GCSEs in Years 9 to 11 alongside a unique personal and professional development programme. Exam results are consistently high; in 2022, 67% of A levels were graded A* or A while 50% of GCSE results were awarded 9 – the highest possible grade.

Directory of private schools in Kent

Key information for Benenden School

  • Head: Mrs Samantha Price

  • Address: Benenden School, Cranbrook Road, Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 4AA

  • County: Kent

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 01580 240592

  • Age range and gender: 11–18, girls only

  • Number of pupils: 550

  • Open day date: Tuesday 24th January, Saturday 25th February, Tuesday 7th March and Tuesday 24th March 2023. Book a place via the school website

  • Overview of selection procedure: ISEB Common Pre-Test, preview weekend, English and maths tasks, interview and school report

  • Registration closes: first-come first-served basis

  • Assessment date: autumn term in Year 6

Benenden School fees and financial assistance

The current fees at Benenden School are £14,501 per term for full boarders and £10,883 per term for day pupils. The school fees are reviewed each year, with updates published in June.

Benenden School is able to offer means-tested financial support, known as bursary awards or bursaries, to parents/guardians of girls who meet the entrance requirements but who would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. There are three types of bursary awards available for 11 plus candidates:

  • 11+ Fourth Awards programme: up to 100% of means-tested financial assistance is available to girls who attend a local primary school within a 7.5-mile radius of Benenden School.

  • Benenden Bursary Awards: a general bursary award programme which is open to all UK resident candidates. Financial assistance may cover up to 100% of school fees for children from a family with a joint net disposable income of less than £30,000, with assistance offered on a sliding scale up to a ceiling bracket of a combined income of £120,000.

  • Continuity of Education Allowance supplement Bursary Award: typically 10% of fee-remission may be available for children in receipt of the UK government Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) for Service Diplomatic Children.

Everything you need to know about bursaries

Scholarships are available for 11 plus candidates at Benenden School, but these do not carry any remission in fees. Music scholarships include two 30-minute lessons per week of free music or vocal lessons.

Benenden School term dates

The term dates at Benenden School for 2022–23 are:

  • Autumn term: 6th September – 10th December 2022

  • Half term: 14th–30th October 2022

  • Spring term: 4th January – 24th March 2023

  • Half term: 10th–19th February 2023

  • Summer term: 16th April – 1st July 2023

  • Half term: 26th May – 4th June 2023

The term dates at Benenden School for 2023–24 are:

  • Autumn term: 3rd September – 13th December 2023

  • Half term: 20th October – 5th November 2023

  • Spring term: 7th January – 23rd March 2024

  • Half term: 9th–18th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 6th July 2024

  • Half term: 24th May – 2nd June 2024

Admissions process for Year 7 entry to Benenden School

1. Registration

Registration for 11 plus entry to Benenden School is open throughout the year, but it is recommended to register your daughter at least two years before the entry date as the school operates a first-come-first-served policy. This means that you should ideally register your daughter before she enters Year 5. To register your child, you will need to complete the registration form and pay a non-refundable registration fee of £350.

2. Preview weekend

Once you have registered your daughter, she will be invited to an 11 plus preview weekend held in the autumn term of Year 6. This will involve staying overnight in boarding accommodation at Benenden School, meeting some current pupils and enjoying a weekend of fun activities. All children will have pre-assessment activities during the weekend, including English and maths tasks and an informal interview with a member of Benenden School staff.

A guide to private school interviews

In advance of the preview weekend, Benenden School will write to your daughter’s current school to request a confidential report, including her most recent CAT test scores (or equivalent).

3. ISEB Common Pre-Test

In addition to the preview weekend and bespoke assessments, all children who are registered for 11 plus entry to Benenden School will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. Benenden will be in touch with your daughter’s current school to ask that she take this test after the preview weekend and before 30th November in Year 6.

You will need to register your daughter separately for the test via the ISEB website. Your child will only need to take this test once, regardless of how many schools you are applying for.

What is the ISEB Common Pre-Test?

4. Offers

When deciding which children to offer places to, Benenden School will consider each child’s performance in the ISEB Common Pre-Test, the tasks and activities during the preview weekend, the informal interview and the school reference.

Firm offers of places will be made in December when your daughter is in Year 6. All places will need to be accepted by a date in early March of the following year.

5. Scholarships

Children who have performed particularly well in the preview weekend pre-assessments may be awarded an academic scholarship. If you think your daughter may be eligible for a sports or music scholarship, you will need to apply by 1st December in Year 6. Scholarship exams, assessments, interviews and auditions will then be held in January and February:

  • Music scholarships: 11 plus applicants will be expected to have reached Grade 4 or 5. They will have a pre-audition with the director of music, after which shortlisted candidates will be invited back to Benenden for the formal audition. This will include an interview, aural tests and three performances.

  • Sports scholarships: 11 plus applicants will attend a sports scholarship assessment day in January. They will be assessed on their physical competency and sport specific technical capabilities, attitude and life skills through a combination of performances, fitness tests, interviews and external references.

How to prepare for 11 plus entry to Benenden School

If your child is applying for 11 plus entry to Benenden School, she will take several academic tests and have an interview with a member of staff.

Atom Learning is an all-in-one exam preparation platform which can help your child consolidate everything she needs to know and prepare effectively for success in the Benenden admissions process.

Exam preparation with Atom Nucleus

All candidates applying to Benenden School for Year 7 entry take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This is an online adaptive exam which takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. Questions span four subjects:

  • English: 40 minutes available. The content covers reading comprehension and SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar).

  • Maths: 40 minutes available. Pupils are tested on Key Stage 2 maths, which includes number and place value, calculations, fractions, decimals and percentages, measurement, geometry, and statistics.

  • Verbal reasoning: 30 minutes available. Candidates are tested on their logic and comprehension, including problem-solving techniques, trial and error skills, the ability to work logically, the ability to recognise suitable solutions, and knowledge of vocabulary and definitions.

  • Non-verbal reasoning: 36 minutes available. Pupils will be asked to analyse 2D figures and diagrams and look for patterns, and manipulate 3D figures and diagrams to visualise them in different ways.

Atom’s online learning platform Atom Nucleus will give your child access to over 90,000 interactive questions in English, maths, science and verbal and non-verbal reasoning, in addition to unlimited online practice papers that replicate the ISEB Common Pre-Test.

All content is automatically marked, and you’ll get instant score breakdowns and data-led insights to help you track your child’s progress. You can use your parent dashboard to effectively help your child set targets and create exercises to target the content they find more challenging.

See how Atom Nucleus can help your child prepare effectively for the Benenden School entrance exam – start your free trial today.

5 day free trial

Interview preparation with Atom Tuition

As well as academic tests, all candidates applying for entry to Benenden School will have an interview with a member of staff. This is a common practice at independent schools, as it can provide a more holistic insight into your child’s abilities and interests. However, even informal interviews can still be daunting for many 10 and 11-year-olds!

Atom Tuition offers online mock interviews with experienced tutors who are specialists in the private school admissions process. A one-hour session consists of a 30-minute interview, a 10-minute break, 20 minutes of feedback and a follow-up report.

These mock interviews are an ideal opportunity for your child to:

  • Encounter typical private school interview questions

  • Learn and practice techniques that will serve them well in the real interview

  • Develop their conversational skills and storytelling style

  • Demystify the interview process and know what to expect

  • Reduce any anxiety and feel confident for the real interview

One mock interview, including one-to-one feedback and a follow-up report, costs £115 (or book two mock interviews for £200). Book a mock interview today and give your child the benefits of expert guidance and a confidence-building experience.

Book a mock interview with Atom Tuition

More support for private school entry

Book a call with an Education Expert

Confused about applying to independent schools, and not sure what you or your child needs to do? Atom’s friendly and informative Education Experts are on hand to support you and your child every step of the way. Book a call to discuss any questions you have about admissions processes and helping your child prepare for entry to a private school.

Book a call

Join our WhatsApp groups

Why not join over 2,000 parents already using our Atom Learning community WhatsApp groups? You’ll get access to free resources and advice, while our Education Experts will be on hand to provide instant answers to any questions you have about the school admissions process and your child’s exams.

Join today

Subscribe for the latest education advice

Subscribe to Atom’s mailing list and get free resources to help your child master core subjects, excel in their entrance exams and build academic confidence.

You’ll get access to exclusive discounts to Atom Nucleus, invitations to relevant parent webinars, free downloadable resources to support your child’s learning – and much more.

Subscribe now



Follow Atom Learning

Atom Learning Ltd. is registered and incorporated in England and Wales. Company Registration Number: 10867907 VAT number: 316903508 Copyright Atom Learning Ltd. All rights reserved.