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Secondary Transfer Testing 2020 introduction

1. Secondary Transfer Testing 2020 introduction

This information is for the parents of pupils who will be moving up to Year 7 in September 2020.

 

We have two sorts of mainstream secondary schools - 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 thirteen grammar schools in Buckinghamshire is its own Admission Authority. Together these schools are known as The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS). Buckinghamshire County Council administers the Secondary Transfer Testing process for TBGS. We provide this information on their behalf. You can find more details on the TBGS website including links to the website for each grammar school.

GL Assessment will provide the Secondary Transfer Test for September 2020 entry.

Your child will take the Secondary Transfer Test at the beginning of the autumn term of Year 6. The test works out a child's potential. The skills measured in the test should make sure that your child will go to a school that can best meet their educational needs. 

We test if your child can think through and work out verbal, numerical and non-verbal problems. This gives your child the chance to show their skills in different ways - using words, numbers and pictures or diagrams.

We give each child a Familiarisation booklet to work through at home. This makes sure your child has the chance to see the style of the tests and to try out some of the question types. Your child will also take a Practice Test before taking the Secondary Transfer Test.

 

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

If yes:

  1. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school you don’t need to do anything - we register them for the Secondary Transfer Test automatically.
  2. If your child goes to any other school you will need to register them for Secondary Transfer Testing. The registration deadline is 3pm on 27 June 2019. Late registration is only available after this date for children moving into the area.
  3. Your child will get ready for the test by completing the Familiarisation booklet at home.
  4. Your child will then take the Practice Test followed by the Secondary Transfer Test in September.
  5. We let you know your child’s results in October. This will be before the secondary school application deadline.

If no:

  1. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school write to your child’s headteacher to let them know you do not want your child to take the test.

In both cases remember to apply for your 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 2019.

3. Test dates

Children who go to a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or Partner school

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner School they will take the Practice and Secondary Transfer Tests at school on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 10 September 2019 - Practice Test
  • Thursday 12 September 2019 - Secondary Transfer Test

 

Children who attend out of county schools 

Children from out of county schools will take the Practice and Secondary Transfer Tests usually at one of the Buckinghamshire grammar schools, on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 10 September 2019 - Practice Test
  • Thursday 12 September 2019 - Secondary Transfer Test

We will email you during July to confirm the date, time and school where the tests will take place.

 

'Identification and Fit for Testing' form for out of county children

If your child is taking the tests at a grammar school we will send you an 'Identification and Fit for Testing' form with your testing invitation. You must fill in this form and bring it to the Secondary Transfer Testing session at the grammar school on 12 September. Without this form we will not be able to test your child. This form is to enable you to confirm that your child is well on the test date. Attach a photograph of your child to the form so we can check their identity too.

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA or Partner school you do not need to fill in this form. Your child's identity is confirmed by the school.

Children living abroad

If you are currently living abroad we will not test your child until they return to the UK.

4. Illness on Secondary Transfer Test day and Late Tests

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

Children who go to a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA or Partner school and they are ill on the dates of the tests, they will be able to take the tests when they are well. 

 

Children who attend out of county schools

If your child is unwell and is due to take the test at a grammar school, you must give us evidence to show why your child is not able to take the test. If the evidence shows there were exceptional reasons for your child not taking the test, we will offer one alternate test date.

If your child does not attend testing at the grammar school on the day of the Secondary Transfer Test you will need to tell us why. Unless there is a reasonable explanation we will withdraw your child from the testing process.

If your child cannot come to the tests at the grammar school due to illness, we need you to send us a letter from your GP. This letter must confirm that your child was not well enough to take the test.

All children

If your child becomes unwell during testing, and is unable to complete a test paper, they will not be able to re-sit that paper at a later date. They will be able to sit the second paper on another date if it has not been started.

 

5. Will my child get a grammar school place if I don’t live in Buckinghamshire?

Our grammar schools are very popular.  Think carefully before you apply for a place.  Children who live in the catchment area get given a place before those that live outside of it.

Children living in some areas are unlikely to be offered places. This includes most of the London boroughs, Reading, Berkshire, Surrey and Wokingham. Check your area here.

We are often also not able to offer places to all children who live even closer to Buckinghamshire.  Check here for more information.

In the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test children just need to achieve a qualifying score of 121. A higher Secondary Transfer Test score will not give your child a better chance of getting a place (this is different to some other areas). 

The admission rules for each school will decide which qualified children get a place. You can find admission rules on each school’s website.

Places are usually offered to siblings of current pupils first, then to children living in catchment and then other children living near to the school.  This means children who qualify for our schools and live outside the school’s catchment area are often not offered a grammar school place. 

Most Buckinghamshire grammar schools also give some priority to children who are entitled to Free School Meals and/or Pupil Premium.’

Your child may qualify for grammar school but then have their application refused because there are more qualified applicants for the school than places available.  If this happens you can appeal against the decision, but most appeals for grammar school places are not successful, even for qualified children.  This is because the schools are already full, so please think carefully before making your appeal. If you decide to appeal please consider the following:

  • It does not make any difference if a child scores higher than 121 in the Secondary Transfer Test. A higher test score does not mean a place is more likely to be offered.
  • It is very unlikely you will be successful if there is an alternative school place available for your child in your area.   
  • It is also very unlikely you will be successful if you live outside the school’s catchment area.

In 2018, only 4% of appeals were successful for Buckinghamshire grammar schools for children living outside the county.

6. Registration

Children who attend a Buckinghamshire local authority primary school

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary we register them for the Secondary Transfer Test. This test is not compulsory, so do think carefully now about whether a grammar school place would be suitable for your child. We give you a familiarisation booklet which shows the types of question in the tests. If you decide to withdraw your child from the Test, contact your child's headteacher as soon as possible.

 

Children who attend out of county and partner schools

If your child goes to a Partner school or a school outside of the county, including those in Milton Keynes, you need to register your child for testing. We will only register your child after this date if you can show you have very recently moved to the area.

 

 

 Register now

Registration closes at 3pm on 27 June 2019.

 

There is no charge if you would like your child to take the test for Buckinghamshire grammar schools. The grammar schools pay for the tests. To avoid unnecessary cost, if you do not think a grammar school would suit your child, please do not register them for testing. If you do register your child for testing and then change your mind, tell us straight away and we will withdraw them.

 

The GL Assessment Secondary Transfer Test is for entry to Buckinghamshire grammar schools so your child should not use it as 'practice’ for tests in other areas.

Qualification for a grammar school

Statistics from other years show how many places we offered to children living outside of Buckinghamshire. To qualify for entry to one of our grammar schools, your child needs to get a Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS) of 121 or more in the test. When deciding which children to offer a place, grammar schools do not use test scores to rank order children.

Children with higher scores have no advantage over those with lower qualifying scores

Grammar school entry depends on your child scoring at least 121 in the test or qualifying through the Selection Review Process. Each grammar school sets its own rules for admission to decide which qualified children should get places. The admission rules for grammar schools are on each school's website.

 

Late Testing

We can test your child later if they are ill on the date of the test.  We also offer late testing if your family has recently moved into Buckinghamshire.

If your child has not completed testing on 12 September 2019, we cannot guarantee their results will be available on 18 October 2019.

We will also consider later testing for children who move into the area after 27 June 2019 and by 26 June 2020.

7. Adjustments to the testing conditions

If your child has special educational needs or a disability, you may want to think about whether a grammar school would be best for them. It might help if you also talk to your child's primary school about this too.

 

If your child's special educational needs or disability has ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities', you should talk to their primary school headteacher. If your child's situation might make access to the test difficult, discuss if special testing arrangements should be made. The same applies to everyday access to the curriculum. Also make sure your child’s school knows about their needs so that, if necessary, they can put reasonable adjustments in place.

 

If it is felt that adjustments should be made for your child to take 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. Make sure you tell us about this before your child sits the test.

 

Further information, including the deadlines for requests for adjustments 

 

When considering a request for adjustments, we look for evidence from your child's current school to show how they change the delivery of the normal day-to-day curriculum to meet their particular needs. We also look for other professional evidence to support your request. For this reason, we will contact your child's headteacher for further information.

 

We cannot offer extra marks to compensate for any special needs your child may have. This is because each child's case is different. It is impossible to say exactly how many marks would be appropriate. If we decide that your child:

  •  is disabled within the terms of the Equality Act (2010), or
  • has a disability that will have a clear impact in relation to the format of the test,

 we offer appropriate and reasonable special arrangements to make the test as accessible as possible.

 

If your child does not qualify and you still think a grammar school would be suitable, you can ask the Selection Review Panel and/or the Independent Appeal Panel to consider their case.

 

We give the information we have about your child's needs to the Selection Review Panel and/or the Independent Appeal Panel.

 

8. Under-age and over-age testing

Under age testing

Sometimes we agree that a child can take the Secondary Transfer Test before the school year in which they are 11. This only happens if your child is of outstanding academic ability. Your child will also need to:

  •  be very mature, and
  • have been working well with other pupils in the year group above them for several years.

We will not agree to test an under-age child if they have only been in some classes with older children.

We will also not test a child if they have only been working in a mixed year group class.

Over age testing

From time to time, we agree to test a child who is over the age of 11. This is because there have been, and continue to be, educational reasons 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. If your child went to school in another country, or if your child was born late in the school year, we will need other reasons before we agree to test them.

 

If your child is under-age or over-age and you would like us to test them, then please contact us straight away.

We will ask you and your child's headteacher for more information. We will then 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.

9. Secondary Transfer Testing process

Familiarisation booklet

The booklet contains information about what is in the test. There is also advice about tackling the test and sample questions.

Children who attend a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner school we give them a Familiarisation booklet to take home in the summer term of Year 5.

Children who attend an out of county school

If your child goes to any other school, a copy of the Familiarisation booklet is available online to download and print off.

 

Practice Test

In September your child will take the Practice Test before they take the Secondary Transfer Test.

The Practice Test looks the same as the Secondary Transfer Test and has the same instructions. Your child will sit the two multiple-choice Practice Test papers in test conditions. These are both timed like the Secondary Transfer Test. An audio soundtrack gives the instructions for the test.

The Practice Test will mean your child becomes very familiar with the different sorts of questions and the style of the test. Your child will get used to using a separate answer sheet. Your child will experience this under test conditions. The Practice Test papers are shorter than the Secondary Transfer Test.

  • They take about 35 minutes each.
  • They are not marked or sent home.

The purpose of the Practice Test is not to see how well your child has done. It is to give your child a good opportunity to prepare for the Secondary Transfer Test.

Children who attend a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

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 who attend an out of county school

If you child goes to any other school, we will invite them to take the Practice Test, usually at one of the grammar schools, on 10 September 2019.

We recommended your child takes the Practice Test before the Secondary Transfer Test but it is not essential.

 

How parents can best help their children to prepare for the test

 There are several things that parents can do to help their children.

  • Make sure your child has experience of working quietly on their own. Make sure there are no distractions or interruptions.
  • Make sure your child does any homework that is set.
  • Help your child to read with understanding.
  • You can ask them what certain words mean and what is happening in the passage or book that they are reading.
  • You can encourage your child to solve problems or to look up things for themselves.
  • Your child can work through the Familiarisation booklet.

 

You can also find free familiarisation materials from the GL Assessment website.

 

The Secondary Transfer Test

The Secondary Transfer Test is on 12 September 2019.

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.

They are about 45 minutes long (60 minutes including the introduction and examples). An audio soundtrack gives the instructions for the test.

 

10. Marking the Secondary Transfer Test

 

How the tests are marked

GL Assessment mark the Secondary Transfer Test papers. The marks are then ‘standardised'. Standardisation balances the overall performance of children from one year to the next. It also 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 each 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+...

Your child's scores from the two Secondary Transfer Test papers are added together.  This makes their 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.

 

What score does my child require to qualify?

If your child's STTS is 121 or more they qualify for grammar school. We expect that about 33% of children will get an STTS of 121 or more. Your child is suitable for any grammar school if they qualify by scoring 121 or more in the Secondary Transfer Test

Your 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 qualified. A higher score does not mean your child has a higher priority for a grammar school place.

We prioritise qualified children for a grammar school place using the admission rules for the grammar school you have applied for. Make sure you look at the rules for the schools you apply for.  You will see that none of the Buckinghamshire grammar schools use score as an admission rule.

 

 

How long does the qualification last?

If your child qualifies, but does not go to one of our grammar schools at the start of Year 7, that qualification will lapse at some point. Usually this happens in the school year starting in September 2020 but you should check the admission policy for the school you are interested in to find out.

Further details are in the admissions policy for each grammar school. If you would like you child to start at a grammar school after the start of Year 7, Late Transfer Procedure  

 

Remarking a Secondary Transfer Test

 If you ask us we will remark your child test papers by hand and check their Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS). There is a cost for this service. Talk to your child's headteacher about this.  They will tell you that it is most unlikely that your child's papers will have been incorrectly marked.

 

Under the Data Protection Act, Schedule 2, Part 4, Para 25, candidates do not have the right to see their test papers once handed in. The Freedom of Information Act does not override the Data Protection Act in this matter.

11. Secondary Transfer Test results

The result of the testing process decides which type of school will best meet your child's needs.  This could be 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 Secondary Transfer Test on 12 September 2019?

When will I get my child's results letter?

How will I receive the results letter?

Buckinghamshire
LA  primary or
Partner school

Yes

18 October 2019

Your child will
bring the letter
home from school

No

As soon as possible after 18 October

By first class post

All other schools

Yes

18 October 2019

By first class post
– we will post
the letter on 17
October 2019 and by first class post

 No

As soon as possible after 18 October

By first class

 

 

What the results mean  

On 18 October you will get a letter to tell you your child's Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS).  It will also tell you if your child has qualified for a grammar school.

The letter will give you your child's STTS. It will also tell you what your child scored in the verbal, mathematical and non-verbal sections of the test. It will say whether the STTS qualifies your child for grammar school admission.

If your child's STTS is 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 2 March 2020.

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

 

Understanding your options

Please complete the answers below to see what options are available to you.



 

This flowchart is also available as a downloadable PDF.

 

Once you know the results

You need to make sure you apply for your child's secondary school place by the deadline of 3pm on 31 October 2019.

You may have been waiting for the results of the test before making your application.  If so, make sure you apply by the deadline.

If your child did not qualify

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 take place between late November 2019 and January 2020. If your review is successful, your child will qualify for all Buckinghamshire grammar schools. We will be able to consider all your grammar school preferences for the allocation of school places on 2 March 2020.

If your child does not qualify at review, you can ask for an Independent Admission Appeal for a place at a particular grammar school. 
You cannot do this until after the allocation of school places in March. Appeals will take place from May 2020. If you decide to appeal and your child's case went to Selection Review, the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide if the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective'.

It is only if the IAP agrees that it was not, that they will then be able to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the particular grammar school.

Or

  • You may decide to wait. You can then ask for an independent appeal for a place at a particular grammar school once we tell you the outcome of your application on 2 March 2020. We will refuse your grammar school preferences as your child did not score 121 or more in the Secondary Transfer Test. Admissions appeals take place from May 2020.

You may wish to talk to your child's primary school headteacher before you ask for a review (or appeal). You can discuss if your child’s STTS was as expected and whether a grammar school would be best for your child. 

12. Selection Review

Selection Reviews take place from late November 2019 to January 2020.

A Selection Review is a chance for you to explain, in writing, why you feel a grammar school would be best for your child. The Selection Review panel will decide if your child would be suitable for a grammar school even though their STTS was less than 121.

Selection Review panel

On each Selection Review panel there are two grammar school headteachers and one primary school headteacher. We train all the headteachers who sit on the panels. They 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 are usually heard in the order in which we receive them. We do not ask the panel to hear cases in any particular order. The Selection Review Panel will not know the secondary schools you have applied for.

You might include a report from an Educational Psychologist or another specialist (for example, medical consultant or ophthalmologist) in your case. In this instance, your child’s review will be heard by a panel supported by an Educational Psychologist (EP). The EP provides expert information. The EP will not have a vote when it comes to the decision-making process.

Some things for you to think about

Strong Academic evidence will be vital to the success of a review.

The Selection Review Panel (SRP) will look for clear academic evidence to show that a grammar school would be best for your child.

The Panel will also want to see evidence of any exceptional reasons to show why your child did not do as well as 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.

Children who go to a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary or Partner school, the SRP will also have information from your child’s current headteacher. This will tell the panel if they believe your child would be suitable for a grammar school and their attitude to work (learning).  Headteachers give us this information before they know your child’s results.

13. 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.

Children who go to a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

Buckinghamshire LA primary and Partner headteachers give us this information before they know the results of the Secondary Transfer Test. 

 

Children who attend an out of county school

If your child goes to an out of county school, their headteacher can give us this information if you ask for a Selection Review. You can ask them to complete a Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet on your child's behalf.

How this information is used by the Selection Review panel

The Selection Review Panel values this information. It gives them an idea of the context in which your child is working at school. It also enables them to see how unexpected a child's STTS may have been when compared to their headteacher's recommendation.

14. Exceptional reasons for not qualifying

You may believe that your child did not qualify for grammar school because of an illness or upset in the family. The academic evidence suggests your child would have qualified if not for these exceptional circumstances.

 

If this is the case, make sure you include third-party evidence to confirm the situation. This might be, for example:

  • GP or medical specialist's letter for your child or family member
  • 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
  • a very recent house/school move.

 

Please always provide copies not originals.

 

You should make sure you show that the Secondary Transfer Test results are not as expected.

Also show that your child would be academically able to meet the demands of a grammar school.

When you send us the Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet, as well as your evidence you can also include old school reports.

Do not include school work as the Panel will not consider this.

 

15. How do I request a Selection Review?

Children who go to a Buckinghamshire local authority primary or partner school

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

Children who attend out of county schools

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

The Selection Review pack

The review pack will also contain a Headteacher’s Selection Review Summary Sheet. Ask your child's headteacher to complete this. This gives the Selection Review Panel up-to-date information about how your child is doing at school. It will be for you to decide if you wish to include the headteacher’s form with your review paperwork.
The deadline to return the Selection Review Request Form is 8 November 2019. Send us your supporting information and evidence at the same time.

 

Late reviews

We will only accept completed review requests received after 8 November 2019 if:

  •  your child completed the test after 12 September 2019, or
  • there are exceptional reasons for not meeting the deadline. Please provide third party evidence to confirm these reasons.

 

The final date we will accept a completed review request is 12 June 2020.

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

Review outcomes are not available until after all the Selection Review Panels have met and moderation is complete. During moderation we check to ensure consistency from panel to panel. It is only once this part of the process is over that we can tell you the outcome of your child's review.

 

We will tell you the outcome of your child's review in a letter posted on 7 February 2020.

At the same time, we tell the headteachers of Buckinghamshire LA primary and Partner schools the outcomes for children at their schools. 

The allocation on 2 March 2020 will take the review decision into account.

Successful reviews

If your review was successful, your child is qualified for admission to any of our grammar schools. We consider the grammar school preferences on your application.

 For successful reviews heard after January, we look at your grammar school preferences in the next allocation round. We will then let you know if we can offer your child a place at one of your preferred grammar schools.

 

 

 

 

17. Selection Review Outcomes

If your child qualifies at review

If your child has qualified at review, there is nothing else you need to do. We will consider your grammar school preferences and will tell you the outcome of your secondary school application on 2 March 2020.

If your child does not qualify at review

If your child has not qualified at review, there is nothing else you can do at the moment. After 2 March 2020 you can ask for an Independent Admission Appeal for a place at a particular grammar school.

 

Appeals take place from May 2020.

 

If you choose to appeal, as your child's case went to review, the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide whether the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective'.

It is only if the IAP agrees that it was not, that they will then be able to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the particular grammar school.

More information about the appeal process is available here.

18. Timeline for entry in 2021

Further information will be added to this timeline as it is available.

Children born between 1 September 2009 and 31 August 2010 will be moving up to secondary school in September 2021.

The dates set so far for that academic year are as follows -

5 May 2020 3pm – Secondary Transfer Test registration opens

The registration portal opens, for parents of children who do not attend a Buckinghamshire LA Primary School, to register for the Secondary Transfer Test. If your child attends a Buckinghamshire LA school, you will not need to register them for the Secondary Transfer Test, as they are registered automatically. However, if you do not want them to be tested, you should let the school know nearer the time.

 

25 June, 3pm DEADLINE Secondary Transfer Test registration closes

 

2 September – Autumn term starts

 

8 September – Practice Test

Children take the Practice Test

10 September  – Secondary Transfer Test

Children take the Secondary Transfer Test

16 October  – Secondary Transfer Test results

Parents receive their child’s Secondary Transfer Test results