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

Updated 22/06/2020

The coronavirus crisis means that schools are closed and pupils working at home, with most pupils not back at school until September. This poses unique problems for authorities that operate selective education and grammar school tests. Most 11-plus tests judge English and Maths skills which are taught in year 5, yet we know that many children are having problems with homeschooling. Some children lack laptops and internet connections, some have busy working parents who have no time to help with school work, and we also know that schools are offering inconsistent approaches to learning with many private schools offering video lessons while others offer no more than paper worksheets. If 11-plus tests go ahead as normal this year we are sure they will be much 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. At present grammar schools seem to be mostly hoping it is ‘business as usual’ with small delays to the test date. But surely they can not ignore the obvious unfairness caused by some children having limited education in the months before the test?


Kent County Council are proposing that the test date is moved  a month, to October 15th. This means that results are unlikely to be available until late November, so parents will make school choices without knowing the test result. KCC is proposing that the number of schools that can be named on the secondary school application form is increased from four to six for one year only, 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 or online it seems unlikely to work in the usual way. It would be very easy for a keen parent to give a lot of help with online school work and ensure their child has a back-up of a grammar school place this way.

Six Kent grammar schools in deprived areas offer their own tests because not enough local children pass the county-wide test. In practice, most children in these areas sit two 11-plus tests to maximise their chance of a grammar school place. It seems particularly harsh, this year, to expect children to sit two stressful tests.


“At this time we are exploring a range of options with our colleagues at Buckinghamshire Council and GL Assessment. We are also supporting the Grammar School Heads Association (GSHA) in their discussions with the
Department of Education about what adjustments might need to be made to the usual arrangements at local and national level to ensure the testing process is completed with due consideration for the current situation.
The discussions are wide-ranging and include the timing of testing, administration considerations, and how to keep children and staff safe. We do not yet have a date for when plans will be finalised due to the ever
changing nature of the current advice.”


The test dates have been moved back one week. The new dates are as follows:
Friday/Saturday 18/19 September Verbal Reasoning
Friday/Saturday 25/26 September Non-Verbal Reasoning

This means that year 5 children in Lincolnshire will have at best 12 days of classroom schooling before they sit the test.

The current situation with COVID-19 and school closures is obviously disruptive to our 11+ planning. We have been working closely with GLA, our 11+ provider, to ensure that the 11+ procedure for September 2021 entry has minimum disruption. Our decision making must be guided by current government advice and so dates may still be subject to
change. Current plans for Linconshire’s practise tests state, “If schools are back and social distancing measures are such that we can go ahead with tests we will do these as usual. However, if schools are still closed or social distancing measures means exams and tests are not possible, these will not go ahead. We are waiting to hear what the government decides regarding schools opening. In the meantime please use the free familiarisation materials available from GLA.”


It is hoped that schools will reopen in September 2020 at the latest and that the Trafford Grammar Schools’ CEM Consortium Entrance Test will go ahead on 14 September 2020 as planned. Parents should register their children for the test by the deadline – 12 noon on 26 June 2020.  Should Government instructions cause the date of the test to be changed we will publish details of any changes in the arrangements for test day.”


Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools approach to socially distanced exams appears to be to put parents off applying for the test where possible!

“Provisional information about testing arrangements will be emailed to registered candidates during week beginning 13 July 2020. Full details of the date, allocated testing venue and time of session will be emailed to you in early September. As arrangements are still being made, no further information can be provided at this stage

With the restrictions imposed by the Government and Public Health England it is challenging to arrange testing for large numbers of children this year. Please consider if your child will be eligible to apply for a Slough Consortium Grammar school if they achieve the eligibility mark and whether or not it is appropriate that they take the test.”

Southend-on Sea (Essex Test)

“Due to the ongoing pandemic the CSSE will be guided by ongoing government advice. ”


“The SET participating Schools’ current view is that we are still planning for the SET to go ahead as planned on 15th September 2020 but this is under constant review. Any changes to holding the Selective Eligibility Test will be published on this area of the website. So refer back to this section nearer to the date of the test. ”


“Published assessment dates are currently intended to go ahead as planned. However, changes might be needed in order to comply with Public Health England guidance, including social distancing. We are waiting for further guidance from the Department for Education. If there are any changes to the arrangements parents will be notified as soon as possible.”


No specific information, but appears to be going ahead as planned.


The test dates have been moved by around one month. The new test dates are October 10th-18th, with Medway primary schools offering the test on October 10th. 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, “I am sorry that it is not possible to delay the test any further. The reason this is the case is that the Medway Test must fit in with the wider, national, secondary transfer process as set out by Department for Education guidance. If we were to delay the test any further, we would no longer be adhering to the timescales which could jeopardise the school application outcomes for our children.

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.” 


No information, presumed to be going ahead on planned dates.


No information, presumed to be going ahead on planned dates.