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Registering for the 11 plus: what you need to know

May 9, 2024, 2:49 PM

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Are you considering a grammar school for your child? You’ll need to register them to take the 11 plus exam to be eligible for a place.

In this article, we’ll help you understand more about the 11 plus registration process. You’ll learn:

  • What’s involved in 11 plus registration

  • Registration deadlines for your local 11 plus exam

  • Why you might need to complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF)

  • How school catchment areas work

11 plus registration: what does it involve?

Grammar schools are selective secondary schools, so your child will need to take the 11 plus exam to be considered for a place. The exam takes place in the autumn term – usually September – in Year 6.

Most grammar schools require parents to register their child for the exam. There are a few exceptions, so make sure to check with your target school. For example, in Buckinghamshire, all children attending Buckinghamshire primary schools are automatically registered to take the Secondary Transfer Test. Only children who live outside of Buckinghamshire need to complete the Secondary Transfer Test registration form.

If you need to complete a registration form for your target school’s entrance exam, there will be a link to complete this on the school website. Note that this form is separate to the form you complete to apply for school places (often known as the common application form).

If your child belongs to a priority group, you may also need to complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) in addition to the main exam registration form. We’ve included more information about this below.

When you complete your child’s registration form, you’ll need to provide details such as:

  • your name and contact details

  • your child’s details (such as their full legal name, date of birth and home address)

  • your child’s current school

  • any access arrangements your child might need to complete the exam

  • a passport-style photograph of your child

The 11 plus registration deadline varies depending on the school or consortium. Take a look at our 11 plus dates for the most up-to-date information on deadlines in your area.

11 plus registration deadlines

Find out when to register for your target school’s exam in our complete up-to-date guide to 11 plus dates.

Registration dates in my area

Once your child’s registration form has been received, they will be marked down to take the 11 plus exam for your target school. The school will be in touch with you later in the summer or early autumn with information about the test day.

Make sure your contact details (such as your email address and postal address) are correct so you don’t miss any important information. If any of your contact details change after submitting your child’s registration form, let the school know as soon as possible.

What are Supplementary Information Forms?

Supplementary Information Forms (SIFs) are usually additional forms that you can complete alongside your child’s main 11 plus registration form. These can be interchangeable, as some grammar schools refer to their main registration form as a SIF. Make sure to read your target school’s website and admissions policy carefully to ensure you complete all the necessary forms.

In most cases, a Supplementary Information Form is used to decide on the order of place allocation after the 11 plus exam. Grammar schools are often oversubscribed with high-performing children, but they only have a certain number of places in Year 7. If the number of children who meet the standard for entry exceeds the number of places, the school uses oversubscription criteria, or priority criteria, to decide which children to offer places to. This information is printed in the school admissions policy for your child’s year of entry.

Certain groups of children are more likely to be prioritised for places at the school. This varies between schools, but priority groups often include children who:

  • are in care or previously in care (known as ‘looked after children’ and ‘previously looked after children’)

  • are eligible for the pupil premium, or receive free school meals

  • have a specific medical or social need for attending the school (usually children with an Education, Health and Care Plan)

  • live in a catchment area

  • have a sibling attending the school or a parent working at the school

  • have a particular religious faith (for instance, Catholic children applying to a Catholic school)

A Supplementary Information Form is used to determine if your child meets any of these criteria. For example, if your child receives free school meals, you may need to complete a SIF with evidence of your child’s status to apply for a place under this priority criteria.

All schools have a deadline for SIFs to be returned. Make sure to pay attention to this deadline. Children applying for a priority place whose SIFs are returned after the deadline are unlikely to be considered. And remember – completing a SIF is not the same as applying for a school place. You will still need to complete your secondary school common application form!

What are catchment areas and should we live in one?

Around half of grammar schools in England have a catchment area (sometimes known as a priority area). Children who live within this area and meet the required standard for entry are more likely to be allocated a place than children who live outside the area.

The size of the catchment area varies depending on the school. If your target school has a catchment area, this will be outlined in the admissions policy. It’s important to read this before registering your child for the exam.

Types of catchment areas include:

  • Map based areas: a map which is marked with a clear catchment area.

  • Postcode based areas: a list of postcodes which are defined as within the catchment area.

  • Distance based areas: addresses that fall within a certain distance of the school site are within the catchment area. The distance is usually measured in miles from the main school entrance.

Catchment areas can cause confusion and rumours in parent communities are common. The important things to note are:

  • Living within the catchment area is not a guarantee that your child will be allocated a place at your target school. It just means that if your child meets the required standard for entry, they are more likely to be allocated a place.

  • Living outside the catchment area is not a guarantee that your child will not be offered a place at the school. Children who live in the catchment area still need to achieve the required standard. If your child scores high in the test and there are still places after catchment places are filled, they might be allocated a place.

  • Schools can change their catchment areas. If a school becomes increasingly oversubscribed with children who live within the catchment area, the size of the catchment area might be reduced.

  • A few grammar schools in England only accept children who live in the catchment area. For example, the Redbridge grammar schools have never offered places to children who live outside of their common catchment area – regardless of their test score.

Some schools and consortiums publish historical data for place allocations. This data indicates how many children living outside a catchment area were offered places in recent years. This is not a guarantee that the same will apply to your child's year group, but it can be a useful guide to decide whether it’s worth registering your child for the exam.

If your child doesn’t live in your preferred school's catchment area, think carefully before considering whether to relocate. Moving house is a stressful ordeal for the whole family and often takes longer than planned. Plus, there’s no guarantee that even if your child lives in the catchment area they will get a place at the school.

And most importantly – don’t be tempted to cheat the system. Making a fraudulent application can have serious consequences. Some local councils employ investigators who cross-reference applications and do spot-checks on addresses. The result could be the withdrawal of your child’s school place – even if they have already started at the school.

What happens after registration?

Once the school has received your child’s registration form, they’ll send you information about the exam day. If your target school is in a very popular area, the test venue might not be the school you're applying for. Don't worry if this is the case – it won't make a difference to your child's application!

You'll find out whether your child has been successful in the 11+ exam in October. If your child achieves the qualifying standard for your target school, you can name it as a preferred school when you apply for school places.

Completing the secondary school common application form

Read our complete guide to completing your CAF, including which order to list your preferred schools.

Learn more
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Local authorities open applications for secondary school places in early September (the exact date varies depending on the council). The national deadline to apply for a secondary school place in England is 31st October.

Remember to apply for school places using the form on your home local authority website. If any of the schools you are applying for are in a different local authority, you must still complete the form for your home authority. The information will be shared with your target school's local authority.

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