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Benenden School 11 plus guide

By Atom | Oct 3, 2023, 2:23 PM

Benenden School, Kent

Considering Benenden School for your daughter? Find out everything you need to know about 11+ entry. Learn about the admissions journey, what's on the entrance exam, and how to give your child the best chance of success.

About Benenden School

Benenden School is an independent day and boarding school in Cranbrook, Kent for girls aged 11 to 18. The school provides modern boarding, which is central to its educational approach. Most girls balance full boarding with long breaks at home, helping them develop social and emotional skills.

The school occupies 250 acres of parkland, less than one hour by train from central London. In 2015, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (a former pupil) launched Benenden's 10-year development plan. This includes a new state-of-the-art music school and school hall, and an all-weather sports pitch and pavilion.

Benenden School offers a unique academic programme to encourage learning and discovery. Pupils in Years 7–8 study a bespoke diploma which fosters curiosity, intellectual growth, and critical thinking. For a few days each term, the structure of the normal school day is suspended to allow pupils to work on projects in a cross-curricular way.

The school is one of the only schools in the UK to provide a comprehensive professional skills programme. Sixth formers learn skills such as coding, understanding finances, and negotiating tenancy agreements. In 2023, 15% of students secured a place at a Top 10 World University.

  • Head: Mrs Samantha Price

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

  • County: Kent

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

  • Number of pupils: approx 550

  • National league table rank (Sunday Times Parent Power): 75

  • A level results (2022): 87.1% A*–B

  • GCSE results (2022): 89.3% 9–7

Key info for Year 7 admissions

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 01580 240592

  • Open days: regularly throughout the school year – book a place online

  • Entry process: English and maths tasks, interview, school report, and ISEB Common Pre-Test

  • Registration deadline: two years in advance of entry is recommended (end of Year 5 at the latest)

  • Assessment date: September in Year 6 (preview day), November in Year 6 (ISEB Test)

Benenden School fees & financial assistance

The fees at Benenden School in 2023–2024 are £15,800 per term for boarding pupils, and £11,860 per term for day pupils. The school fees are reviewed every year, with any changes for the upcoming year normally published in June.

Financial assistance

Benenden School is able to offer means-tested financial support, known as bursaries. These are available to girls who are offered a place but whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the fees.

There are three types of bursary awards available for 11+ applicants. Further details and information about how to apply is available on the school website.

This award is available to one or more girls attending one of Benenden's local primary schools. Up to 100% of school fees can be covered (subject to means-testing).

The eligible schools are:

  • Benenden CEP

  • Colliers Green CEP

  • Cranbrook CEP

  • Frittenden CEP

  • Goudhurst & Kilndown CEP

  • Hawkhurst CEP

  • Headcorn Primary

  • High Halden CEP

  • Horsmonden Primary

  • John Mayne CEP

  • Rolvenden Primary

  • Sandhurst Primary

  • Sissinghurst CEP

  • Smarden Primary St Michael’s CEP (Tenterden)

  • Staplehurst School

  • Tenterden CEJ

  • Wittersham CEP


Children applying for 11+ entry to Benenden can also apply for a scholarship. These are honorary awards which are given to recognise talent, and do not include any fee remission.

Academic awards are automatically given to children who perform well in the entry process. Girls can apply for a music or sports scholarship.

Benenden School term dates

The term dates at Benenden School in 2023–2024 are:

  • Tuesday 5th September: term starts

  • Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th September: closed weekend

  • Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th September: exeat

  • Friday 20th – Sunday 5th November: half term

  • Friday 24th – Sunday 26th November: exeat

  • Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th December: closed wekeend

  • Wednesday 13th December: term ends

Benenden School 11 plus admissions process

1. Visit the school

If you're considering Benenden School for your daughter, it's a good idea to visit first. The school values its relationships with parents and welcomes visits from prospective families. You can visit the school as many times as you like.

You can book a personal visit – including a tour and a chat with the headmistress – by contacting the admissions team. The school also holds frequent open events throughout the year.

2. Register for 11+ entry

When you're ready to begin your daughter's application to Benenden, you'll need to complete the registration form.

You can register your daughter at any time, but the school recommends registration at least two years in advance of entry (by early Year 5 for 11+ candidates). This is because the school offers places in order of entry, and has a waiting list for when the main registration list is full.

Registration costs £350. If you're applying for bursary support, you should complete Form B which does not have a registration fee attached.

After registration, the admissions team will be in touch with your daughter's current school to request a confidential report.

3. 11+ Preview Day

Your daughter will be invited to the Benenden 11+ Preview Day, which is a lively weekend of fun activities in September in Year 6. Your daughter will be able to experience boarding and showcase her abilities and interests.

During the weekend, your daughter will have pre-assessment activities. These include English and maths tasks and an informal interview with a member of staff.

Following the Preview Day, the admissions team will write to you with their feedback from the pre-assessment. If your daughter has performed particularly well, she might be awarded an academic scholarship.

Free English & maths practice papers

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4. ISEB Common Pre-Test

After the Preview Weekend, your daughter will need to complete the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This should be taken at your daughter's current school by 30th November in Year 6.

If your child's school can't facilitiate the test, you can arrange for it to be taken at a recognised test centre – such as a local British Council Office.

What is the ISEB Common Pre-Test?

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is an online entrance exam with questions in English, maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. Find out which topics are tested, see example questions, and learn how it's marked in our comprehensive guide.

Read the ISEB guide
ISEB test on Atom Nucleus

5. Offers

Firm offers of places will be made in December in Year 6. Offers are made on the basis of performance in the ISEB Common Pre-test, school reference, interview and Preview Day activities.

If your daughter is offered a place, you will have until 1st March to accept.

How to prepare for the Benenden 11+

There are lots of different activites and tasks involved in the Benenden School 11 plus process. Here are top tips to help your child prepare and feel confident.

It can be tempting to jump straight into practice papers to prepare for school exams. However, this is not an effective way to learn and can cause children to feel demotivated.

Your child should have a good understanding of the content they’ve been taught in Year 5 before testing their knowledge with practice papers. Using a ‘little and often’ approach when recapping content is key, as our brains encode new information more effectively when dealing with smaller ‘chunks’ of information. Experts recommend study sessions should last no longer than 30 minutes for children aged 10–11.

All-in-one exam prep for Benenden School

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