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Holcombe Grammar School 11 plus: 2024 entry guide

By Atom | Mar 13, 2023, 10:32 AM

Holcombe Grammar School, Medway (Kent)

Are you considering applying to Holcombe Grammar School? We've collated all the information you need to know about 2024 entry to Year 7. Keep reading to learn about key dates, the admissions process, and tips to help your child succeed in the Medway Test.

About Holcombe Grammar School

Holcombe Grammar School is a selective state school for boys with a mixed sixth form in Medway, Kent. Students are offered the best opportunities to develop mastery of learning and the self, to show endeavour and become a thinking community. In 2022, the school was awarded Advanced Thinking School status by the University of Exeter for its commitment to helping students develop habits for success and become life-long learners.

Students at Holcombe Grammar School study an ambitious curriculum that is designed to challenge and inspire. In addition to traditional academia, pupils can choose to study an array of less conventional subjects at GCSE and A level with options including astronomy, creative iMedia, criminology, financial studies, law, politics and sociology.

Holcombe Grammar School is due to become co-educational from 2024, under plans put forward by Medway Council. The proposed changes mean that 5% more children who pass the Medway Test could get a place at a grammar school in the area, resulting in a more equal split of boys and girls' places.

  • Address: Holcombe Grammar School, Holcombe, Letchworth Avenue, Chatham, Kent, ME4 6JB

  • Local authority: Medway Council

  • School type: boys' grammar with mixed sixth form, becoming mixed from Year 7 (2024 onwards)

  • Headteacher: Lee Preston

  • Number of pupils: 1,000+

Key info for Year 7 admissions

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 01634 830 083

  • Number of places in Year 7: 150

  • Open events: Saturday 7th October 2023

  • 11 plus registration opens: 1st June 2023

  • 11 plus registration closes: 30th June 2023

  • 11 plus exam date: 12th–13th September 2023 (or 16th–17th September for children not attending a Medway primary school)

  • 11 plus exam type: Medway Test

  • Common application form (CAF) deadline: 31st October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2023

Holcombe Grammar School term dates

The term dates at Holcombe Grammar School for 2023–2024 are:

  • Autumn term: 4th September – 15th December 2023

  • Half term: 23rd–27th October 2023

  • Spring term: 3rd January – 28th March 2024

  • Half term: 12th–16th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 19th July 2024

  • Half term: 27th–31st May 2024

How to apply to Holcombe Grammar School

Holcombe Grammar School is an academically-selective school and accepts pupils based on whether they have passed the 11 plus exam. All six grammar schools in Medway use the same 11 plus exam, known as the Medway Test.

If you are considering grammar schools within either Bexley or the Kent local authority area, you will need to register separately. Grammar schools in these areas use different 11 plus tests and have different timetables.

1. Register for the Medway Test

Before you register your child for the exam, speak to their teacher to see if the Medway Test and a grammar school education are right for them.

Registration for the Medway Test will open on the council website on 1st June 2023. You will have until 30th June 2023 to complete your child's application.

By the end of August, you will receive a test invitation letting you know where and when your child is due to sit the test. If your child attends a Medway primary school they take the test at their own school on either Tuesday 12th or Wednesday 13th September 2023. If your child does not attend a Medway primary school, they will take the test on either Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th September 2023 at a local test centre.

2. Apply for school places

You will be sent your child's results on 3rd October 2023. If they have achieved the pass mark in the exam, they will be eligible for a grammar school place. You can then name Holcombe Grammar School as one of your preferred schools on your common application form.

Make sure to check the admissions policy for the school before you complete your common application form. Passing the Medway Test will not be a guarantee of a place as more children reach the qualifying standard each year than there are places available. We've summarised the key points in Holcombe Grammar School's admission policy below.

The application form must be submitted to your home local council by 31st October 2023. The form must be completed for your home local authority – i.e. if you live in Medway you will need to complete the form on the Medway Council website. If you live in a different local authority (e.g. Kent County Council), make sure to apply on the relevant council website.

What's on the Medway Test?

Children applying for Holcombe Grammar School will take the Medway Test in September in Year 6. The test consists of three papers:

  • Maths & non-verbal reasoning: 1 hour

  • Verbal reasoning: 1 hour

  • Extended writing: 40 minutes

The maths and reasoning papers are supplied by GL Assessment and consist of multiple-choice questions. The extended writing paper is supplied by Medway Council and will assess your child's ability to write a creative response to a prompt.

Medway Test exam guide

Find out more in our comprehensive guide to the Medway Test and get free 11 plus practice tests and resources to help your child prepare with confidence.

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Verbal reasoning paper

How is the Medway Test scored?

Your child's test papers will be marked to provide 'raw' scores. The maths and reasoning marks will be based on the number of correct answers, while the extended writing piece will be marked against specific criteria.

The raw scores will then be standardised to ensure that children born later in the school year aren't disadvantaged.

A total weighted score will then be calculated for each child using this formula:

(Extended writing standardised score x 2) + (maths & non-verbal reasoning standardised score x 2) + (verbal reasoning standardised score x 1) = total weighted score

The total weighted scores will then be ranked in order.

What's the pass mark for the Medway Test?

The Medway Test is designed to select the 23% of children working at the top academic ability range in their year group. A further 2% of children can then be selected through a later review process.

There is no set pass mark for the Medway Test, as it can only be confirmed once the tests have been marked and the weighted scores ranked in order. However, in the last four years, the pass mark has consistently been between 480 and 490.

Achieving the minimum score doesn't guarantee a place at the school of your choice, as schools are often oversubscribed with qualified candidates. We always recommend researching the admission policies for your target schools, looking at their oversubscription criteria and their catchment area. We've included the key points from Holcombe Grammar School's admission criteria below.

Holcombe Grammar School admission criteria

There are 150 places available in Year 7 at Holcombe Grammar School. Children who have met the pass mark and who have a statement of special educational needs (SSEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which specifically names the school will automatically be offered places. The number of remaining places will then be reduced accordingly.

If the number of eligible children who apply to Holcombe Grammar School is greater than the number of places available, the school will apply oversubscription criteria. Places will be offered in the following priority order:

  1. Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children

  2. Children who have a sibling attending Holcombe Grammar School

  3. Children who attend any of the following primary schools in the Thinking Schools' Academy Trust: The Gordon Children's Academy, New Horizons Children's Academy, All Faiths Children's Academy, and Cedar Children's Academy

  4. Children of staff employed by Holcombe Grammar School

  5. Children who have written medical evidence which demonstrates a specific health reason to attend the school

  6. Children who live closest to the school, based on the shortest distance between the school and their home address

If the school fills 150 places within any of the above criteria, random selection will be used to prioritise applications within that criterion.

There is no designated catchment area for Holcombe Grammar School, but children who live closer to the school (measured by the shortest available safe walking route between their home and the school) will receive priority for places.

How to help your child prepare for the 11 plus

Here are our top tips on how to best prepare your child for the Medway Test.

Cover all the content

The 11 plus assesses a large breadth and depth of learning objectives across the Key Stage 2 national curriculum and beyond.

We recommend that your child starts revising content at least one year before the test. Setting aside study periods using a 'little and often' approach will give them time to build the skills and knowledge they need. When preparing, avoid falling into the trap of over-focusing on either the topics your child enjoys or the topics they find hardest.

Atom Nucleus is an 11 plus online course that tailors your child's personalised learning journey to cover all elements of the Medway Test at the right pace for them.

No surprises

Your child will encounter lots of unfamiliar types of questions in the 11 plus exam. Building exam technique with 11 plus test papers will help your child to feel fully confident with the styles of questions they'll encounter in the exam, reducing the potential for stress on the day.

Celebrate their progress

Setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help keep motivation high. Atom Nucleus offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress towards mastering the 11 plus curriculum, making it easy to see where they need to focus next.

Nucleus maths fractions demo

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Personalised 11 plus prep for your child

Wondering how to make sure your child covers the depth and breadth of the entire 11 plus curriculum, stays on track with their progress, and gets help when they're stuck? Online learning is a particularly efficient, cost-effective (and fun) way to do this!

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Children work independently through over 90,000 interactive practice questions in English, maths and reasoning. Teacher-created helpsheets and videos help them discover new concepts and consolidate their learning.

Atom's algorithm keeps children on their ideal learning path, tailored to their unique learning style and pace to keep them challenged and motivated.

Medway Test practice papers

Atom Nucleus gives children access to online 11 plus practice papers. Our online tests are designed to mirror the format and style of the real Medway Test, so your child will go into the exam knowing exactly what to expect.

And what's more, everything is automatically marked for you.

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Personalised 11 plus support for you

We know how keen you are for your child to do well in the 11 plus, to give them every chance of securing a place at their school of choice. Our dedicated team of Education Experts are on hand to support you and your family every step of the way:

Ask us anything

We're happy to help with any questions you may have about admissions processes and helping your child prepare for entry to Medway grammar schools.

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