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Secondary Transfer Testing 2019 introduction

1. Secondary Transfer Testing 2019 introduction

This guide is for Secondary Transfer Testing (formerly the 11+) for pupils who will be joining Year 7 in September 2019. Additional information will be added to these pages as it becomes available.

There are two types of mainstream secondary school in Buckinghamshire: grammar schools and upper/all-ability schools.

  • Grammar schools admit children based on their performance in the Secondary Transfer Test
  • Upper/all-ability schools admit any child, regardless of ability

Each of the grammar schools in Buckinghamshire is its own Admission Authority. Buckinghamshire LA acts as the Secondary Transfer Testing process administrator for the thirteen grammar schools as represented by The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS). This information is provided on their behalf. Further details can be found on the TBGS website including links to each grammar school website.

The test provider for the Secondary Transfer Test for September 2019 entry is GL Assessment.

The Secondary Transfer Test is taken at the beginning of the autumn term of Year 6. It is independently produced by GL Assessment. The test has been specially designed to work out a child's potential and the skills measured in the test should make sure that all children go to a school that can best meet their educational needs.

The Secondary Transfer Test is a test of children's ability to think through and solve problems posed in three different contexts: verbal, numerical and non-verbal. This gives children the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in a range of ways – using words, numbers and pictures or diagrams.

There has been a great deal of research internationally and for many decades about the nature of children's abilities and how best to measure them.

The Secondary Transfer Test reflects modern research into the nature of ability and the quite widely-held view that people have multiple abilities. It is therefore considered appropriate to test children's ability to think in a range of different contexts.

To make sure that children have had the chance to see the style of the tests and to try out some of the question types, there is a Familiarisation booklet to work through at home. Then, before taking the Secondary Transfer Test, children will also take the Practice Test.

2. Testing timeline

Would you like your child to take the Secondary Transfer Test?

If yes:

  1. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school they will automatically be registered to take the Secondary Transfer Test. If your child goes to any other school you should have registered them for Secondary Transfer Testing by the deadline of 3pm on 28 June 2018. Late test registration is only available after this date for children moving into the area.
  2. Children prepare for the test by completing the Familiarisation booklet at home and then by taking the Practice Test.
  3. Practice and Secondary Transfer Tests are taken in September.
  4. Results are released in October before the secondary school application deadline. If your child does not qualify you will be able to ask for a Selection Review and/or (after 1 March 2019) an Admission Appeal.

If no:

  1. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school then you will need to let their headteacher know in writing that you do not want your child to take the Secondary Transfer Test.

Important note - All parents will need to apply for their child's secondary school place during the first half of the autumn term. Apply to the County or Borough in whose area your child lives. The National Secondary School Application Deadline is 31 October 2018.

3. Test dates

Children who go to Buckinghamshire LA primary and Partner schools take the Practice and Secondary Transfer Tests at school on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 11 September 2018 - Practice Test
  • Thursday 13 September 2018 - Secondary Transfer Test

Children from out of county schools will be tested on the same days, usually at one of the Buckinghamshire grammar schools.

The parents of children due to be tested at a grammar school will be emailed during July to confirm the date, time and school where their child will be tested.

The parents of children taking the Secondary Transfer Test at a grammar school will receive an ‘Identification and Fit for Secondary Transfer Testing' form with their testing invitation.  The completed form must be brought to the Secondary Transfer Testing session at the grammar school on 13 September as, without it, it will not be possible for the child to take the test. The purpose of this form is not only to enable the parent to confirm that their child is well on the test date but also to provide a photograph to confirm the identity of the child undertaking testing.

Children attending Buckinghamshire LA and Partner schools are not required to complete this form as their identity does not need confirming.

Children living abroad

Children currently living abroad will not be tested until they return to the UK.

4. Illness on Secondary Transfer Test day and Late Tests

It is very important that children do not take the Secondary Transfer Test if they are unwell.

Children attending Buckinghamshire LA and Partner schools who are ill on the dates of the tests, will always be offered alternative dates on which to take the Practice and Secondary Transfer tests.

If there are supported exceptional circumstances why a child cannot attend testing at the grammar school on 13 September 2018 then one alternative date will be offered. Children who do not attend testing at the grammar school on the day of the Secondary Transfer Test without a reasonable explanation will automatically be withdrawn from the testing process.

If your child does not attend testing at the grammar school due to illness, you will need to submit a letter from your GP to confirm that your child was not well enough to take the test.

If a child becomes unwell during testing, and is unable to complete a test paper, it is not possible for that test paper to be re-sat at a later date, but the other paper can still be sat on another date if it has not been started.

5. Registration

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school they will automatically be registered for the Secondary Transfer Test. As this test is not compulsory, it is useful to think - before they sit the test - about whether a grammar school place would be suitable for your child. All parents will be provided with a familiarisation booklet which shows the type of questions that will be asked. If you would like to withdraw your child from the Secondary Transfer Test just let your child's headteacher know as soon as possible, in writing.

Parents of children going to all other schools (Partner schools and all schools outside of the county, including those in Milton Keynes) needed to register their child for testing by 28 June 2018. Late test registration is only available after this date for children moving into the area.

Registration closed on 28 June at 3pm

There is no charge to parents for their child sitting the entrance test for Buckinghamshire grammar schools however the cost of testing is paid for by the grammar schools. To avoid unnecessary cost please think very carefully about whether a Buckinghamshire grammar school place is really suitable and what you want for your child. If, having registered them, you no longer want them to be tested, please let us know straight away and we will withdraw them.

Please bear in mind that the GL Assessment Secondary Transfer Test is designed for entry into Buckinghamshire grammar schools and therefore cannot be considered as ‘practice’ for tests in other Local Authorities.

Parents can access statistics from previous allocations which show how many children from areas outside of Buckinghamshire were able to gain grammar school places. You should note that to qualify in the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test a child needs to achieve a Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS) of 121 or above. When applying their admission rules grammar schools do not use STTS scores to rank order children so children with higher scores are not at an advantage for entry to grammar school. Grammar school entry is entirely dependent on whether or not a score of 121 has been achieved. Beyond requiring a qualification score of 121 or above each grammar school sets its own criteria for admissions (please refer to each individual grammar school’s admission policy for details).

Registration closed on 28 June at 3pm

Children can be tested later if, for example, they are ill on the date of the test, or if the family has very recently moved into Buckinghamshire. However, if testing is not completed on 13 September 2018, we cannot guarantee that the results will be available on 12 October 2018. We will also consider later testing for children who move into the area after 28 June 2018 and by 28 June 2019.

6. Adjustments to the testing conditions

If your child has Special Educational Needs or a disability, you may like to talk to their headteacher about testing and suitability for grammar school.

Where a child who has an Education, Health and Care Plan, or a disability that could be described as having ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities', is to take the test, you may wish to discuss your child's access to the test with their headteacher. If the disability might affect access, you should discuss whether any special testing arrangements should be made. The same principle applies to everyday access to the curriculum so you should make sure that your child’s school is aware of their needs so that, if necessary, reasonable adjustments can be made.

If it is felt that adjustments should be put in place for the test, then your child's headteacher should contact us. Where it is not possible for the headteacher to contact us, please fill out our contact us form.

Further information, including the deadlines by which requests for adjustments must be received, can be found in our EQA guidance document.

We need to know about this in advance of your child sitting the test so that an application can be considered beforehand. In considering a request for adjustments we will always look for evidence of how the normal day-to-day delivery of the curriculum is adjusted to meet your child's particular needs at their current school and for other professional evidence to support your request. For this reason, we will contact their headteacher for further information.

Please note that it is not possible to offer extra marks to compensate for any special needs a child may have. This is because in each child's case it would be impossible to say, in the light of each child's individual circumstances, exactly how many marks would be appropriate. However, where we believe a child to be disabled within the terms of the Equality Act (2010), or where the child has a disability that will have a clear impact in relation to the format of the test, we will try to make sure that appropriate and reasonable special arrangements are put in place to make the test as accessible as possible.

If your child's Secondary Transfer Test score is considered not to reflect their abilities, and they do not qualify for grammar school, you can request that the Selection Review Panel and/or the Independent Appeal Panel consider the Special Educational Needs and disability issues.

All papers submitted in relation to a request for adjustments to the test papers or conditions will be included with the Selection Review information provided to the Selection Review Panel and/or to the Independent Appeal Panel.

There is more information about the Selection Review Process and Admission Appeals here.

7. Under-age and over-age testing

Occasionally, we agree that a child can take the Secondary Transfer Test before the school year in which they have their 11th birthday. This can only happen if they are of outstanding academic ability, are exceptionally mature and have been working well (for a number of years) with other pupils in the year group chronologically above them. We will not agree to test an under-age child just because they have been in some classes with older children, or if they have been working in a class comprised of mixed year groups.

Very occasionally, we will agree to test a child who is over the age of 11. This would be because in the past there were educational reasons (which have continued) for your child to be in a lower year group. This might also be because your child has missed at least a year of school because they were ill or living abroad.

Going to a school in another country, or your child being born late in the school year, are not on their own sufficient reasons for us to agree to test your child later than with their chronological year group.

If you would like to apply to register an under-age or over-age child, please contact us urgently. We will ask you for more information and we will contact your child's headteacher for an assessment before we decide if we will offer testing. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school or Partner school, you should speak to their headteacher as soon as possible.

8. Secondary Transfer Testing process

Familiarisation and Practice

Children attending Buckinghamshire LA and Partner schools are given a Familiarisation booklet to take home during the summer term of Year 5. For children attending all other schools, a copy of the Familiarisation booklet is available online to download and print off.

The booklet contains information about the content of the test, some advice about tackling the test and sample questions. Before taking the Secondary Transfer Test in September, children will take the Practice Test.

The Practice Test looks the same as the Secondary Transfer Test and has the same instructions. Children sit the two multiple-choice Practice Test papers in test conditions. These are both timed like the Secondary Transfer Test, with instructions given to children via an audio soundtrack.

The Practice Test enables children to become very familiar with the different types of questions and the style of the test, to use a separate answer sheet and to experience this under test conditions. The Practice Test papers are shorter than the Secondary Transfer Test and take about 35 minutes each. They will not be marked or sent home. The purpose of the Practice Test is not to see how well the children have done but to give them a good opportunity to prepare themselves for the Secondary Transfer Test.

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner school ,they will take the Practice Test at their own school. They will not sit the Secondary Transfer Test until they have taken the Practice Test.

Children attending all other schools will be invited to take the Practice Test, usually at one of the grammar schools, on 11 September 2018. It is strongly recommended that the Practice Test is taken before sitting the Secondary Transfer Test but it is not essential.

How parents best help their children to prepare for the test

There are a number of things that parents can do to help their children. They can ensure that they have experience of working quietly on their own, uninterrupted by noise or distractions. They can ensure that their child does any homework that is set. They can help their child to read with understanding, for example by asking them what certain words mean and what is happening in the passage or book that they are reading. They can encourage them to solve problems by themselves or to look up things for themselves. They can work through the provided familiarisation materials.

Parents can also access free familiarisation materials from the GL Assessment website.

The Secondary Transfer Test

The Secondary Transfer Test will be taken on 13 September 2018. There are two Secondary Transfer Test papers. They are multiple-choice. Paper A tests Verbal Reasoning Skills. Paper B tests Mathematical and Non-Verbal Skills. Each paper is about 45 minutes long (60 minutes including the introduction and examples) and children are given instructions via an audio soundtrack.

9. Marking and the results of the Secondary Transfer Test

The test results will be available on 12 October 2018 for all children tested on 13 September 2018. Results for any child tested later will be released as soon as possible afterwards. This means that for most children the test results will be available before the secondary school application deadline.

The Secondary Transfer Test papers are marked by GL Assessment. The marks are then ‘standardised'. Standardisation balances the overall performance of children from one year to the next and makes sure that all children are placed on an equal footing and that no child is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged because of his or her age. It takes into account the child's age in years and months on the date they take the test. A child's ‘standardised score' will be between 0 and 180+. The standardised score needed to qualify automatically for a grammar school has been set by GL Assessment, in agreement with the grammar schools, at 121 or more.

Your child's scores from the two Secondary Transfer Test papers will be added together and expressed as a Standardised Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS). The STTS will be the sum of the following:

  • 50% of the standardised score for the verbal sections
  • 25% of the standardised score for the mathematical sections
  • 25% of the standardised score for the non-verbal sections

If a child's STTS is 121 or more they are automatically qualified for grammar school. We anticipate that about 33% of children will get an STTS of 121 or more. Under the Data Protection Act, Schedule 7, Section 9, candidates do not have the right to see their test papers once they have been handed in. The Freedom of Information Act does not override the Data Protection Act in this matter.

Parents of children who do not score 121 or more in the Secondary Transfer Test can ask for a Selection Review and/or an Independent Admission Appeal. The Selection Review Panel will consider your child's review case. Selection Reviews take place from late November 2018 to January 2019. An admission appeal cannot take place until after 1 March 2019 following the written notification of the decision of the admission authority to refuse admission.

Your child will be considered as suitable for any grammar school if they qualify through a standardised score of 121 or more in the Secondary Transfer Test, or if they are successful at Selection Review.

A child may also be considered suitable for a particular grammar school should they be qualified by the Independent Appeal Panel.

A child's STTS is not used to work out whether they are more or less likely to be offered a grammar school place. All children who score 121 or more are treated as ‘qualified', and a higher score will not mean a child has a higher priority for a grammar school place. Once they have qualified, children are prioritised for a grammar school place according to the admission rules for the particular grammar school they have applied for. Make sure you look at the rules for the schools you are interested in.  You will note that none of the Buckinghamshire grammar school use score as an admission rule.

If your child qualifies, but does not join a Buckinghamshire grammar school at the start of Year 7, their Secondary Transfer Test qualification will expire during the academic year starting in September 2019. Further details can be found in the admissions policy for a particular grammar school.  Parents who are interested in their child joining a grammar school other than at the start of Year 7 may find the information about the Late Transfer Procedure of help.

10. Secondary Transfer Test results

Remember that the outcome of the testing process decides which type of school will best meet your child's needs: an upper/all-ability school or a grammar school.

When will I receive my child’s Secondary Transfer Test results?

Primary School type

Did your child take the Transfer Test on 13 September 2018?

When will I get my child's results letter?

How will I receive the results letter?

Buckinghamshire
LA  primary or
Partner school

Yes

12 October 2018

Your child will
bring the letter
home from school

No

As soon as possible after 12 October

By first class post

All other schools

Yes

12 October 2018

By first class post
– we will post
the letter on 12
October 2018

 No

As soon as possible after 12 October

By first class post

What the results mean

The letter you receive on 12 October will be tailored according to your child's Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS).

If your child's STTS is 50 or more, the letter will contain a detailed analysis of the score together with information about whether the STTS qualifies the child for grammar school admission.

Where a child's STTS is lower than 50, a less detailed letter will be provided. It will not detail the exact STTS but will just state that the STTS was less than 50. The child will not be qualified for grammar school; however, should you want a detailed breakdown of your child's score you will be advised of how this can be requested.

If your child's STTS was 121 or more, they have qualified for grammar school. This means that we will do our best to offer your child a place at one of your preferred grammar schools on 1 March 2019.

If your child's STTS was less than 121, they have not qualified for grammar school.

Once you know the results

All parents need to ensure that they have applied for their child's secondary school place by the deadline of 3pm on 31 October 2018. It may be that you have delayed making an application until you have received your child's Secondary Transfer Test results. If so, ensure you apply by the deadline.

Otherwise, you only need to do something if your child did not qualify and you feel strongly that they would be suitable for a grammar school. If this is the case, you have two options:

Either

  • You can ask for a Selection Review. Reviews will be heard from late November 2018 to January 2019. If your review is successful, all Buckinghamshire grammar schools will accept that your child has qualified for a grammar school place. This would mean that we would be able to consider all of your grammar school preferences for the allocation of school places on 1 March 2019.
  • Should your child not qualify at review, if you wish, you will be able to ask for an independent admission appeal for a place at a particular grammar school after the allocation of school places in March. Admission appeals will be heard from May 2019. If you choose to appeal and your child's case was considered at Selection Review then the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide whether the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective' and only if they do not agree that it was 'fair, consistent and objective' will they go on to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the particular grammar school.
  • Or
  • You may decide to wait and ask for an independent appeal for a place at a particular grammar school once the outcome of your application is known on 1 March 2019. Your grammar school preferences will have been refused as your child did not achieve 121 or more in the Secondary Transfer Test. Admission appeals will take place from May 2019.
  • You may wish to talk to your child's primary school headteacher before you ask for a review (or appeal) so that you can discuss in detail whether their STTS was as they expected and whether a grammar school would best suit your child's needs.

11. Selection Review

A Selection Review is an opportunity for you to explain (in writing) to a panel of headteachers, why you feel your child would be best placed in a grammar school. The panel will be able to decide whether your child would be suitable for a grammar school even though their STTS was less than 121.

Selection Reviews will be held from late November 2018 to January 2019. Each Selection Review Panel will consist of three headteachers – two grammar school headteachers and one primary school headteacher. The headteachers will be chosen from a group of headteachers who have prepared for, and understand, the nature of the decisions they are taking. They will not consider cases of children known to them or from schools in which they have an interest.

Cases will be allocated to panels randomly and broadly in date order of receipt of completed requests. The Selection Review Panel will not be provided with the secondary school preferences of cases coming before them. Cases including Educational Psychologists' reports or other specialist reports (for example, medical consultant or ophthalmologist reports) will be referred to a particular panel at which an Educational Psychologist (EP) will be available to provide expert information. However, the EP will not have a vote when it comes to the decision-making process.

Some things for you to think about

Academic evidence will be vital to the success of any Selection Review so before you decide whether to request a review, you should bear in mind that the Selection Review Panel (SRP) will be looking for clear academic evidence to show that your child would be appropriately placed in a grammar school. The Panel will also want to see evidence of any exceptional reasons to explain why your child may not have done as well as you, or their headteacher, had expected in the Secondary Transfer Test.

We will give the SRP information about how your child performed in the Secondary Transfer Test. The Panel will be given your child's scores in the verbal, mathematical and non-verbal sections of the test as well as their STTS. Additionally, if your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner school, the SRP will also have information from their current headteacher, decided upon in advance of the test results being known, about whether they believe your child would be suitably placed in a grammar school as well as their attitude to work (learning).

12. Grammar School suitability

Your child's headteacher can recommend your child as:

  • Exceptionally able, so very highly recommended, or
  • Very able, so recommended without any reservation, or
  • Recommended with reservation, or
  • Not recommended for grammar school.

Your child's attitude to learning can be described as:

  • Enjoys challenge and is a highly motivated independent learner, or
  • Consistently hardworking and reliable, or
  • Output varies, or
  • Lacks self-organisation, requires support.

Buckinghamshire LA primary and Partner school headteachers provide us with this information shortly before the results of the Secondary Transfer Test are known, and it will be shared with the Selection Review Panel. If your child attends an out of county school, their headteacher will be able to provide a current level of recommendation if they complete a Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet on your child's behalf.

The Selection Review Panel values this information as it gives them an idea of the context in which a child is working at his or her school and also enables them to consider how unexpected a child's STTS was when compared to their headteacher's recommendation.

 

13. Exceptional reasons for not qualifying

You may believe that an illness or upset in the family has resulted in your child not qualifying for a place at a grammar school when the academic evidence indicates they would have done so.

If this is the case, ensure you include third-party evidence to confirm the situation. This might be, for example, a GP or medical specialist's letter for the child or the family member; a letter from an employer to explain a lengthy parental absence (particularly for forces families where a family member has been serving in a combat zone); evidence to show significant issues such as the death of a close family member near to the time of the test or a very recent house/school move. Please always provide copies not originals.

You should also ensure you show that the Secondary Transfer Test results are exceptional and that your child would be academically able to meet the demands of a grammar school. You can supplement the Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet with previous school reports, but not school work, as this will not be considered by the Panel.

14. How do I request a Selection Review?

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner school, you should ask their headteacher for a Selection Review pack. This contains the forms you need and information about the Selection Review Process.

You have until 2 November 2018 to return the Selection Review Request Form and your supporting information.

If your child goes to any other school, please ask us for a Selection Review pack by completing the form.

The review pack will also contain a Headteacher’s Selection Review Summary Sheet which headteachers can complete so that the Selection Review Panel has up-to-date information about your child’s performance at school. It will be for you to decide if you wish to include the headteacher’s form with your review paperwork.

We will only accept completed review requests received after 2 November 2018 if your child completed the test after 13 September 2018 or there are supported, exceptional reasons for not meeting the deadline. The final date we will accept a completed review request is 14 June 2019.

15. When will I know the outcome of my review?

You will be told the outcome of your review in a letter posted on 8 February 2019. At the same time, the headteachers of Buckinghamshire LA primary and Partner schools will know the outcomes for children at their schools.

If your review was successful, and was heard during the main review sessions (November to January), then the allocation on 1 March 2019 will take the review decision into account. We will have been able to consider your child as qualified for admission to all of your grammar school preferences. If you have (for whatever reason) a successful review heard later in the year, then we will work through your preferences during the next allocation round and let you know the outcome.

No outcomes will be released until after all of the Selection Review Panels have been held and the moderation session is completed. At the moderation session there will be a final cross-check to ensure consistency has been maintained across the different panels. It is only once this part of the process is complete that the outcomes will be released.

16. Selection Review Outcomes

If your child has qualified at review you need do nothing further at this time. Any grammar school preferences you listed on your child’s application will be considered during the allocation and you will be notified of the outcome of your application on 1 March 2019.

If your child has not qualified at review you can do nothing further at this time. However, if you wish, you will be able to ask for an independent admission appeal for a place at a particular grammar school after the allocation of school places in March.

Admission appeals will be heard from May 2019. If you choose to appeal because your child's case was considered at Selection Review the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide whether the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective' and, only if they do not agree that it was 'fair, consistent and objective', will they go on to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the school.

More information regarding the appeal process is available here.