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Wiltshire grammar schools 11 plus guide

By Atom | Apr 15, 2024, 11:07 AM

Wiltshire 11 plus

Are you considering a grammar school in Wiltshire for your child? We’ve collated everything you need to know about admissions in 2024–2025. Keep reading to:

  • Find out more about grammar schools in Wiltshire

  • Learn about the 11 plus exam for each school

  • Discover which subjects your child will be tested on

  • Plus, get exclusive resources to help your child prepare!

How many grammar schools are there in Wiltshire?

There are two grammar schools in Wiltshire. Both schools are single-sex from the ages of 11–16, with mixed sixth forms. Both grammar schools are in Salisbury.

Dates for your diary

  • Monday 15th April 2024: 11+ registration opens for Bishop Wordsworth’s School

  • Saturday 1st June 2024: 11+ registration opens for South Wilts Grammar School

  • Sunday 1st September 2024: 11+ registration closes for South Wilts Grammar School, and Wiltshire County Council open the secondary school application portal

  • Friday 13th September 2024: 11+ registration closes for Bishop Wordsworth’s School

  • Saturday 14th September 2024: Familiarisation test for South Wilts Grammar School

  • Saturday 21st September 2024: South Wilts Grammar School 11+ exam

  • Saturday 28th September 2024: Bishop Wordsworth’s School 11+ exam

  • Friday 11th October 2024: South Wilts Grammar School 11+ results day

  • Thursday 31st October 2024: secondary school common application deadline

  • Saturday 1st March 2025: national school offers day

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

What is the 11 plus?

Grammar schools are academically-selective schools. This means that children applying to these schools for a place in Year 7 (aged 11) need to pass an academic test to be eligible for a place. This test is commonly known in England as the 11 plus.

The test is designed to be challenging. Grammar schools use the 11 plus to select children working in the top ability range in their year group. Children who are working at least within the top 25% of their year group are normally well-suited for grammar school.

The exam takes place in September in Year 6. Children who were born between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2014 will take the 11 plus in September 2024.

What’s on the 11 plus for Wiltshire grammar schools?

The two grammar schools in Wiltshire have different 11 plus exams. Both schools use test papers provided by GL Assessment, but the content is different for each school.

GL Assessment 11+ papers are multiple-choice. Your child will have separate pre-printed answer sheets, which they will use to mark the answer(s) they think are correct.

Bishop Wordsworth’s School

Boys applying to Bishop Wordsworth’s School will take two GL Assessment 11+ papers on Saturday 28th September 2024. Each paper lasts approximately 45 minutes. There will be a short break between the tests.

  • Verbal skills: this paper assesses English (including reading comprehension, spelling, grammar and punctuation) and verbal reasoning. There are approximately 26 English questions and 32 verbal reasoning questions.

  • Non-verbal skills: this paper assesses maths and non-verbal reasoning. There are approximately 25 maths questions and 40 non-verbal reasoning questions.

South Wilts Grammar School

Girls applying to South Wilts Grammar School will take three GL Assessment 11+ papers on Saturday 21st September 2024. Each paper lasts approximately 45 minutes to one hour. There will be a short break between each paper.

  • Maths: questions are based on the Key Stage 2 maths national curriculum. This includes the areas of number, algebra, measures, shape and space, and handling data.

  • English: this paper is also based on the Key Stage 2 curriculum. Questions will assess reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar.

  • Verbal reasoning: 11 plus verbal reasoning assesses how well your child can use logic and reasoning to solve problems with written information, such as letters, words, symbols and numbers.

South Wilts Grammar School also holds a familiarisation test the week before the exam. This consists of a verbal reasoning practice paper to help children get familiar with the types of questions and the exam surroundings. This paper is not marked. If you would like your daughter to attend this session, you should accept the invitation on your child’s 11+ registration form.

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Verbal reasoning paper

How is the 11 plus scored?

After the test, your child’s 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.

Your child’s marks from each paper are then age-standardised and added together. Age-standardisation is a common practice in 11 plus scoring and ensures younger children aren’t disadvantaged. 141 is the maximum standardised score for each paper. As a guide, a score of 100 indicates that a child is working at the ‘average’ level for their age group, while 110 would place them within the top 25% of the academic ability range.

What's the pass mark for the 11 plus in Wiltshire?

The pass mark for the 11 plus is usually decided after the tests have been completed, because it can depend on the number of children who take the test. After all the marks have been standardised, the total standardised scores are placed in rank order. Each grammar school then decides on its ‘qualifying’ score, which is the cut-off.

If your child meets the qualifying score, this means that they have met the required standard for entry to the school. You can then name the school as a preferred school on your secondary school common application form. This must be submitted by 31st October* when your child is in Year 6.

Achieving a qualifying score isn’t a guarantee that your child will be allocated a place at their target school. Every grammar school uses different admissions criteria to prioritise places. We’ve included the admissions criteria for the two Wiltshire grammar schools below:

How to apply to Wiltshire grammar schools

If you're considering a grammar school in Wiltshire for your child, it's a good idea to speak to your child's teacher first.

Grammar schools are academically-selective and select children working towards the top of their year group. Your child's teacher will be able to indicate whether they think your child will be able to keep up with the pace in a grammar school.

1. Register for the Wiltshire 11 plus

If you would like your child to be considered for a place at one of the grammar schools in Wiltshire, you’ll need to register them to take the entrance test.

Registration for Bishop Wordsworth’s School is open from Monday 15th April 2024. Registration for South Wilts Grammar School opens on Saturday 1st June 2024.

2. Apply for school places

Your child’s test results will be sent to you in mid-October 2024. You’ll find out if your child has met the qualifying standard to be eligible for a place at your target school.

You can use these results to decide which schools to name on your secondary school common application form. Before listing a school on your form, check its admissions policy and make sure your child is eligible.

Your common application form will be available on the website of your home local authority:

The application form must be submitted to your home local council by 5pm on Tuesday 31st October 2024.

3. National school offer day

On 3rd March 2025, 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 via an independent panel. Information about how to appeal will be sent to you by your local authority along with your school offer on National Offers Day.

How can I help my child prepare for the Wiltshire 11 plus?

The 11 plus exam is designed to be challenging. Here are our top tips to help your child prepare for the 11 plus in September 2024.

Bitesize learning

It’s important to build a good knowledge base before the 11 plus. 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

11 plus exams test your child’s ability to analyse and interpret 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 the Wiltshire 11 plus. 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.

A maths mock test for South Wilts Grammar School 11 plus on Atom Home

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 11 plus

Wish you could give your child a roadmap to success in the 11 plus? 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 grammar 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 for Wiltshire grammar schools

  • 90,000+ adaptive questions

  • 500+ hours of on-demand video lessons

  • Automatic marking and instant progress data

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