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West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus guide

By Atom | Jun 29, 2023, 8:52 AM

Birmingham Consortium 11 plus guide

Are you considering a grammar school in the West Midlands for your child? Find out how to apply and prepare for the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus for September 2024 entry. We've collated everything you need to know to ensure you and your child are fully prepared.

West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus: key info

Dates can vary, so always check with your target schools!

What is the 11 plus?

The 11 plus is an entrance exam used by UK grammar schools (state selective secondary schools). It's used to estimate children's academic potential and decide whether a grammar school environment will suit them. Children can take the test in September while they are in Year 6.

What is the West Midlands Grammar Schools partnership?

From 2023, the 11 plus testing process is shared by all grammar schools in Birmingham, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Walsall and Wolverhampton. You only need to register once and your child only needs to take one test to apply to grammar schools in all of these areas. The scores are shared and the schools apply their own admissions policies.

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How to apply to West Midlands Grammar Schools

1. Register for the 11 plus test

Before you register you should speak to your child’s teacher to see if the 11 plus and grammar school is right for them.

When your child is in Year 5, register them for the 11 plus on the West Midlands Grammar Schools portal. Registration opens at 9am on 9th May 2023 and closes at 4pm on 30th June 2023. If your child needs any reasonable adjustments to take the test, there is an earlier deadline of 14th June for requesting these.

After you register, you'll get an email in September with information about your child's test date and venue. If you're applying from outside the area, the admissions office will contact you for more information, such as evidence of your intent to move to the area.

2. Apply for school places

Once your child has taken the exam, their results will be sent to you on 20th October 2023. You can use the results to decide which schools to include on your local authority application form.

Before listing a school on your form, check its admissions policy and make sure your child is eligible. How close you live to a school can be very important. Schools have cut-off distances which change each year based on demand.

The application form must be submitted to your home local council by 31st October 2023.

3. National school offer day

On 1st March 2024, you will find out which school your child has been allocated a place at. They will be allocated a place at your highest-preferred school for which they meet the entry criteria and which has places available.

If no places are available at your preferred schools, they will be offered a place at another school in your area. You can appeal the decision via an independent panel.

What's on the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

The West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus test is provided by GL Assessment.

It consists of two papers, each lasting about 60 minutes. A few minutes are allocated at the start of each paper for children to listen to instructions and complete some unmarked practice questions.

Both papers are divided into smaller, individually-timed sections that assess:

  • English comprehension

  • Maths

  • Verbal reasoning

  • Non-verbal reasoning

The test is entirely multiple-choice format, with no writing sections. Children record their answers in a separate answer booklet which is marked electronically.

The maths and English questions assess your child's understanding of Key Stage 2 national curriculum content, including Year 6 objectives. It tests their ability to reason and apply knowledge accurately.

The reasoning questions assess your child’s logic and problem-solving ability. Verbal and non-verbal reasoning are not typically taught at school. They are intended to measure how well children can spot patterns with, connect and manipulate written and visual information.

Free 11+ practice papers

Get your free 11+ practice paper bundle today to help your child feel confident for their 11 plus exam. Includes four practice papers, similar to the format used by GL Assessment:

  • English

  • Maths

  • Verbal reasoning

  • Non-verbal reasoning

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11 plus maths practice paper

How is the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus scored?

Each paper is marked to provide 'raw' scores. Next, the raw scores are standardised to even out any age disadvantage for children born later in the year. A total score is calculated for each child, and these are ranked in order.

The grammar schools do not provide raw scores, nor any information on how many marks are available on the test.

What's the pass mark for the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus?

Pass marks for the current year cannot be calculated until the tests have been marked and the standardised scores calculated and ranked. This is because the pass marks depend on the size and performance of the year group. Scores from recent years can be used as a general guide only.

In 2022 in Birmingham, the qualifying score was 205. This is the minimum total standardised score at which a child could be considered for a grammar school place. Children who scored 224 or above were prioritised for a place.

Achieving the qualifying score doesn't guarantee a place at the school of your choice, as schools are oversubscribed with qualified candidates. We always recommend researching the admission policies for your target schools, looking at their oversubscription criteria and their catchment area.

For example, many schools are more likely to admit a lower-scoring pupil in their priority zones than a higher-scoring child who lives further away. Other criteria are applied – for example, children may be prioritised if they:

  • Have a sibling at the school

  • Are the child of a staff member

  • Receive Pupil Premium

  • Have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

  • Are currently, or were previously, a Looked After Child

Here are the cut-off scores in Birmingham in 2022–2023:

  • Bishop Vesey's Grammar School: 223

  • King Edward VI Aston School: 213

  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys: 217

  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls: 236

  • King Edward VI Five Ways School: 218

  • King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School for Boys: 211

  • King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School for Girls: 215

  • Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls: 221

How to prepare for the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus

Here are our top tips on how to help your child prepare for the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11 plus exam.

Cover all the content

The 11 plus assesses a large breadth and depth of learning objectives. Starting at least one year before the test, using a little-and-often approach will give your child 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. Why not make this process easier with Atom? Atom tailors your child's personalised learning journey to cover all elements of the Birmingham 11 plus test at the right pace for them.

No surprises

Make sure your child is familiar with all styles of questions they will experience in the test. This reduces the potential for stress on the day and will give them confidence to answer the questions to the best of their ability. Building exam technique with 11 plus test papers will help your child to feel fully prepared.

Celebrate their progress

Setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help keep motivation high. 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.

Award-winning preparation for the West Midlands 11 plus

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!

Atom is an online learning platform that gives your child everything they need to prepare for the 11 plus exam.

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.

GL Assessment 11 plus mock test on Atom Nucleus

West Midlands Grammar Schools 11+ papers

Unlock unlimited online and downloadable 11+ practice papers, all tailored to the West Midlands Grammar Schools 11+ exam. Help your child understand exactly what to expect on exam day!

Start your 11+ journey

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Example of the Atom Nucleus platform

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