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Dame Alice Owen's School 11+ guide

By Atom | Apr 22, 2024, 2:39 PM

Dame Alice Owen's School, Hertfordshire

Thinking about applying to Dame Alice Owen's School? Find out everything you need to know about admissions in 2024–2025 and how to prepare your child for success in the school’s 11 plus entrance exam.

Key information for Dame Alice Owen's School

  • Address: Dame Alice Owen's School, Dugdale Hill Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, EN6 2DU

  • Number of pupils: 1,400+

  • Admissions contact: [email protected]

  • Number of academic places in Year 7: 65 (33% of total intake)

  • 11+ exam: GL Assessment (Part 1) and school’s own (Part 2)

  • Catchment area: yes

Dates for your diary

  • Thursday 2nd May 2024: online test registration opens for Dame Alice Owen’s School

  • Tuesday 11th June 2024: online test registration closes

  • Thursday 18th July 2024: Dame Alice Owen’s School open afternoon

  • Monday 2nd September 2024: entrance exam part 1 (verbal reasoning)

  • Saturday 28th September 2024: entrance exam part 2 (English and maths)

  • Mid-October 2024: parents notified of children’s exam scores

  • Thursday 31st October 2024: secondary school applications close at 5pm

  • Monday 3rd March 2025: secondary school national offers day

About Dame Alice Owen's School

Dame Alice Owen’s School is a large mixed secondary school in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. It was founded by philanthropist Dame Alice Owen as a boys’ school in Islington in 1613. In 1973, the school moved to its Potters Bar site and became co-educational.

Academic standards are high at Dame Alice Owen's. Students consistently achieve excellent exam results and many go on to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. A wide range of extracurricular activities includes clubs, sports, drama, competitions, and overseas trips.

In December 2023, Ofsted rated Dame Alice Owen's School 'outstanding' in all areas. Ofsted praised the school's "palpable sense of community" and "high aspirations for its pupils". Ultimately, the report said that Dame Alice Owen's is "a wonderful place to come to learn".

How to apply to Dame Alice Owen's School

Dame Alice Owen's School is a partially-selective school. While most places in Year 7 are non-selective, children can be prioritised for a place based on a particular ability. Academic and music places are available at Dame Alice Owen's School for children who live within one of the school’s local priority areas. We’ve included more information about the school’s priority areas (catchment area) below.

If you live within the priority area and you would like your child to be considered for an academic place at Dame Alice Owen’s School, you’ll need to register your child to take the entrance exam. Online registration opens on the school website on Thursday 2nd May 2024 and closes on Tuesday 11th June 2024.

There are two parts to the entrance exam at Dame Alice Owen’s School. All children who have been registered take the first part (verbal reasoning) on Monday 2nd September 2024. The highest-ranking children (based on the test scores) are then invited back to take the second stage of the exam (English and maths). This will take place on Saturday 28th September 2024. You’ll receive your child’s results in mid-October.

To apply to Dame Alice Owen's School, you’ll need to name the school as one of your preferred schools on the secondary school common application form. This will be available on your home council website from early September and must be submitted by Thursday 31st October 2024.

Remember – passing the academic ability test doesn’t guarantee that your child will be allocated a place under the academic criterion. Many selective schools are often oversubscribed with qualified children. Schools and their admissions authorities work through admissions criteria to prioritise children for places. We’ve included the admissions criteria for Dame Alice Owen's School below.

What’s on the Dame Alice Owen’s School entrance exam?

The Governors’ Entrance Exam for Dame Alice Owen’s School consists of three papers, separated into Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1

All children who have been registered for an academic place by the deadline will be invited to take Part 1 at Dame Alice Owen’s School.

Part 1 consists of one verbal reasoning paper. It is provided by GL Assessment – one of the UK’s leading providers of 11 plus exams.

Verbal reasoning is not taught on the national curriculum. It’s a type of reasoning which assesses how well your child can apply logic and solve problems with written information, such as letters, words, symbols and numbers. Many grammar schools use 11 plus verbal reasoning papers because they indicate potential, rather than learned knowledge.

The paper takes 50 minutes to complete and consists of 80 multiple-choice questions. Your child will be given a question booklet and an answer sheet for each paper. The answer sheet is marked using OMR (optical mark recognition), which scans the marks your child has made to indicate their chosen answer(s) for each question.

Part 2

After the verbal reasoning test, children’s scores are placed into rank order. The top 325 children are then invited back to Part 2 of the Dame Alice Owen’s School entrance exam.

Part 2 consists of an English paper and a maths paper which are created internally by school staff. The English paper consists of a reading comprehension task and a creative writing task. The [maths] paper tests your child’s knowledge and understanding of the concepts taught on the Key Stage 2 national curriculum.

Both papers in Part 2 take one hour to complete.

Guide to GL Assessment 11 plus exams

Find out everything you need to know in our complete guide to GL Assessment 11 plus exams. Plus, get access to free 11 plus resources to help your child feel confident for the entrance exam!

Learn more
Verbal reasoning paper

How are the Dame Alice Owen’s School entrance exam papers marked?

Part 1

After Part 1, your child’s verbal reasoning answer sheets are marked using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR). This technology picks up the marks your child has made to indicate which answers they think are correct. Your child receives a mark for every correct answer.

These marks are then age-standardised. Age-standardisation is a common practice in 11 plus scoring and ensures younger children aren’t disadvantaged. Standardised age scores for each paper normally range from 60 at the lowest end, to 142 at the highest end.

  • A single standardised score of 80 or below represents the bottom 10% of the year group

  • A single standardised score of 100 represents the average score for the child's year group

  • A single standardised score of 120 or above represents the top 10% of children in that year group

The highest standardised age score a child can achieve for a single paper is usually 142. This score would place them within the top 1% of children taking the test.

All children’s standardised scores are placed in rank order from highest to lowest. The 325 children with the highest standardised scores are invited back to Part 2 of the entrance exam. Children who are ranked below position 325 are not eligible for consideration under the academic criterion, and will not be invited back to Part 2.

Part 2

After Part 2, your child’s marks in the English and maths papers are age-standardised. These are then combined with your child’s Part 1 standardised score to create a total combined mark.

Children are ranked in order of their combined marks from highest to lowest. This rank order is used to offer places under the academic criterion.

How are academic places allocated at Dame Alice Owen’s School?

There are up to 65 places available for children selected by academic ability. Children are allocated places based on their rank order from their total combined mark in the two parts of the school entrance exam.

If two or more children have the same total combined mark, the verbal reasoning mark is used as the tie breaker. If this mark is also the same, the English mark is used as the tie breaker.

Historical information can be useful as a guide to how many children take the exam each year, and how many children are offered places. Here is some of the key historical data for academic place admissions at Dame Alice Owen’s School in the last few years:

  • 2023: 1,007 children were registered to take the entrance exam. 65 academic places were offered up to and including the total ranked position number 102.

  • 2022: 1,011 children were registered to take the entrance exam. 65 academic places were offered up to and including the total ranked position number 102.

  • 2021: 1,021 children were registered to take the entrance exam. 65 academic places were offered up to and including the total ranked position number 85.

  • 2020: 1,083 children were registered to take the entrance exam. 65 academic places were offered up to and including the total ranked position number 114.

Does Dame Alice Owen's School have a catchment area?

There is a catchment area at Dame Alice Owen's School. This is split into ‘priority areas’. Only children who live within the priority areas, or are educated within the London Borough of Islington, are eligible for academic places at Dame Alice Owen’s School.

The priority areas cover:

  • Hertfordshire parishes and towns: Aldenham, Bayford, Brickendon Liberty, Colney Heath, Elstree & Borehamwood, Essendon, Hatfield, Little Berkhamsted, London Colney, North Mymms, Northaw & Cuffley, Potters Bar, South Mimms and Ridge, Shenley, and Welwyn Garden City

  • Postcodes within the London Boroughs of Barnet, Enfield and Islington: EN2 (sectors 7 and 8), EN4, EN5, N11 (sectors 1 and 3), N12, N13 (sectors 4 and 5), N14, N20, N21, and all London Borough of Islington postcodes

Atom’s top tips to prepare for the entrance exam

The Governors’ Entrance Exam at Dame Alice Owen’s School is designed to be challenging. The school uses it to identify the most able children in their year group. Here are our top tips to help you and your child feel confident for exam day.

Bitesize learning

It’s important to build a good knowledge base before the exam. Using a ‘little and often’ approach when learning is key – our brains encode new information more effectively when dealing with smaller ‘chunks’ of information. For children aged 10–11, child psychologists recommend regular study sessions of 20–30 minutes.

Atom Home makes learning a more enjoyable process for your child. They'll explore exciting worlds full of interactive questions, earning coins to spend in the Atom shop. Atom adapts to your child, showing them questions at just the right level of difficulty to keep them motivated.

A maths learning journey on Atom Home

Read widely

Part 1 of the Dame Alice Owen’s School entrance exam tests verbal reasoning. This involves analysing and interpreting written information. Regular reading is a great way to help your child build these skills.

Encourage them to read books from different genres and by a diverse range of authors. Increasing the variety of your child’s reading will help them understand different styles, tones and purposes. Meanwhile, reading a little every day will help widen their vocabulary, sharpen their analytical thinking, and enhance their imagination.

Refine exam technique

When your child feels confident with the topics they’ve learnt in Year 5, they’ll be ready to put their knowledge to the test.

Practice tests can help your child develop problem-solving skills and build confidence working under test conditions. They’re also a great way to consolidate learning and highlight knowledge gaps for further improvement.

With Atom Home, you'll unlock online mock tests and printable practice papers for 11 plus verbal reasoning, English and maths. Enjoy automatic marking and progress tracking with the online tests, and help your child get familiar with the real exam experience with printable practice papers.

Celebrate progress

Setting regular, achievable goals and celebrating your child’s progress – no matter how big or small – will help keep their motivation high.

Make sure to encourage a growth mindset. This means celebrating effort, as well as achievement! When your child makes mistakes or struggles to understand a particular topic, help them understand that they’ll improve through practice. Regular praise will help your child improve their resilience when tackling new and challenging topics.

Tailored preparation for the Dame Alice Owen’s School entrance exam

Wish you could give your child a roadmap to success in the entrance exam? You can. Atom Home has everything you need to get prepared, in one package.

You don't need a tutor to get into your top-choice school. You just need Atom. We’ll create a tailored plan for your child and support them along their fun revision journey.

  • Online and printable 11 plus practice papers

  • 90,000+ adaptive questions

  • 500+ hours of on-demand video lessons

  • Automatic marking and instant progress data

Atom Home

Navigate the entrance exam with confidence.

In 2024, 91% of Atom users got offered a place at their top-choice school.

Start your free trial today. Our specialists will get to work on your child’s plan. Relax, entrance exam prep is sorted.

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