How is the coronavirus crisis affecting the 11-plus this year?

Updated 29/07/2020

The Department for Education has published guidance suggesting grammar schools should move 11-plus tests to late October or November. We do not believe that this fixes the problems of the unequal education children have experienced during four months of school closures. Most 11-plus tests judge English and Maths skills which are taught in year 5, yet we know that many children experienced problems with homeschooling in these key curriculum subjects. Some children lacked laptops and internet connections, some had busy working parents with no time to help with school work, while wealthier families could simply pay for one-to-one tuition online. If 11-plus tests go ahead as normal this year we are sure selection processes will be more unfair than usual.

We are keeping track of grammar schools response to the crisis on this page, monitoring how the 11-plus test will operate in the twelve fully selective counties, plus other areas where information is available.


Kent County Council will move the test date to October 15th. The results will be available in late November, so parents will make school choices without knowing the test result. KCC will increase the number of schools that can be named on the secondary school application form from four to six, enabling parents to name up to two grammar schools without reducing the number of non-selective schools on their application.

Kent’s selection system uses a ‘Head Teacher Assessment Panel‘ to select a significant number of pupils for grammar school. The Kent pass mark is set to select 21% of Kent children, with another 6% recommended by head teachers. The Head Teacher panels usually look at school work to make their judgements, but with work completed at home and online it seems unlikely this process can be fair – surely it will benefit pupils with a keen parent giving help with online school work?

Six Kent grammar schools in deprived areas offer their own tests because not enough local children pass the county-wide test. Most children sit two tests in these towns, even though one test could be used. It seems particularly harsh, this year, to expect children to sit two stressful tests, and nor does this meet DfE guidance that admission authorities should work together to ensure ‘complexities for parents are minimised’ and, ‘ensure that children can be assessed once for eligibility for a number of schools.’


The Bucks Grammar Schools have moved the test date for most pupils to 2-5th November, in line with the DfE guidance. Again, parents will make school choices without knowing the result of the 11-plus test.


The Lincolnshire test dates had only been moved back one week, with a June announcement  that the test would take place 18/19 September and 25/26 September. It’s probable these dates will be reviewed in light of the new DfE guidance. This is the only 11-plus test based on an ‘IQ style’ paper with no curriculum-based Maths and English questions. However, it seems unlikely that Lincolnshire grammar schools will want to get into a debate about whether their test is a test of ‘innate ability!’ They might argue that no extra time in school is needed, but that would lead to a can of worms about whether most grammar schools are mostly judging tutoring and test preparation. Fiona Millar’s excellent article discussed exactly this point.


The Trafford Grammar Schools’ CEM Consortium Entrance Test has been changed to 19 October 2020.


Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools has set a new test date on Monday 12th October 2020.

Southend-on Sea (Essex Test)

There is no update on the 11-plus test date since the DfE guidance was published, the website simply says, “Due to the ongoing pandemic the CSSE will be guided by ongoing government advice. “


The Selective Eligibility Test, due to be held on Tuesday 15th September 2020 has been cancelled. ‘This will allow candidates time to settle back into their normal school routines and for schools to plan the tests in light of imminently expected Government guidance.’ The grammar schools go on to say, ‘We will not be able to confirm a new date for the SET until the GCSE and A level examination boards publish their timetable for the Autumn Series as we will need to avoid any clash between the two. Our current intention is for the Selective Eligibility Test (and second stage tests for those schools who have these) to take place in November and we will confirm this at the beginning of the autumn term.’


A statement says the council are ‘waiting for DfE guidance’ but no dates are set.


There appears to be no announcement on the test date yet.


The test dates have been moved by around one month. The new test dates are October 10th-18th, with most Medway primary schools offering the test on October 13th-14th. The Medway results will be sent to parents on November 2nd, with reviews of the grammar school decisions taking place up to November 24th, and parents final school place decisions needed by November 30th.  The letter to year 5 parents says, “The format of the test papers will be the same as originally planned however the test day will be slightly different. For instance, schools and test centres will be following the social distancing guidelines and we will continue to follow government advice.”  It’s not clear why Medway council is the only authority to move the school application deadline by a month, while everywhere else still has school applications set for October 31st. It’s possible this will be the only grammar school area where parents will see 11-plus results before making school choices.


It appears the tests are going ahead on September 26th. Though it’s not clear if this information was published before the DfE guidance.


An update says, ‘We are also looking to spread the testing over two sittings to reduce the numbers on site at any one time, given the present Covid-19 pandemic. Subject to DfE confirmation, we are therefore provisionally planning to hold the test on Saturday 17th October, with the day divided into two testing sessions with each child attending just one of the sessions.’


The seven grammar schools in Gloucestershire had been due to run an 11-plus test on September 12th, but the plan now is for the test to be taken by children on October 17th.