Moving on at 11

Choosing a school is never easy and depending upon where you live it may be straightforward or it may be complex. To avoid any unnecessary anxiety it is always wise to start looking at secondary schools well before Year 6. Choosing a school is somewhat like choosing a house - you know as soon as you enter whether that type of education would suit your child.

We have included on the site ‘Questions to ask’ at senior school Open Days'. It is important to establish a clear picture of the opportunities available to your child for the future. Always have a realistic idea of your child’s abilities and strengths and choose a school that will accommodate these.


The Headteacher of your child’s junior school should give you an idea of which school in your area will be suitable for your child. In year 5 it is still early but if you have time, do look at all the choices. It is always a good idea to listen to the advice from the school as they really do know your child.  If you live in an area which uses the 11+ as part of its selection procedure to grammar schools, please check with the LA that you are in the catchment area, and with your child’s teacher that your son or daughter has achieved a high enough standard of education to be happy there. 11+ Selection to Grammar Schools. Remember it is your child’s happiness and confidence which matters.

State schools

There may be a selection of Secondary schools in your area. Some may be church schools which may need a letter from a vicar or evidence of some other form of your commitment to the ethos of the school. In other areas, you may have a choice of co-educational or single sex and this may make the decision easier for you. Some of the schools may be out of your catchment area. The easiest way to ascertain this is to contact your Local Education Authority and if you give them your address they will know the answer. You may want a specialist school with an area of expertise. This may be arts, business & enterprise, engineering, humanities, languages, mathematics & computing, music, science, sports and technology. Schools can also combine any two specialisms.

For detailed information on this please look at our pages on systems of schooling.

Independent Schools  

There are Independent school all over the country. You, as parents, have some choices to make to narrow down the selection.

  • Single sex or co educational
  • Boarding or partial boarding
  • Distance to travel
  • Fees and other costs
  • Examination results at GCSE
  • ‘A’ level and university entrance
  • Capable of scholarship/ bursary
  • Sport, drama or other strengths of your child
  • Opportunities for work experience, placements and careers advice

How to decide

  1. Send for prospectuses and read them carefully; look at the schools' websites.
  2. Listen to advice form the staff who teach your child.
  3. Make an appointment to visit the schools.

It is usually a good idea for parents to have discussed this decision before involving the child. Children can be like sheep and want to go where their friends are going. This, to them, may feel safer and may be a good choice but look at alternatives


It is possible, especially at 11+, to have your child entered for more than one school.

  1. They could enter for 11+,
  2. Independent schools with their own examinations
  3. Independent school with Common entrance examination.

To some children this would not be a problem but to others it would be detrimental.

The examinations at 11+ to Independent schools may include, as well as an interview:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non Verbal reasoning

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