11 Plus application guide

Preparing your child for secondary school

Every parent wants their child to have the best education possible. If your child is due to start secondary school in September 2023, you may already be looking into their options.

After all your child’s hard work preparing for their 11 Plus, making sure you register on time for the exam is crucial! September 2023 may seem like a long way off, but the process of registering with grammar schools for the 11+ exams begins as early as April 2022.

Our 11 Plus application guide will walk you through the exam registration process and how to apply for grammar and comprehensive schools for a place in September 2023.


11 Plus students raising their hands in the classroom 

What is a grammar school?

Grammar schools are selective secondary schools with a strong academic focus. Pupils are selected for entry into year 7 by sitting the 11 Plus exam. Unlike independent and private schools, grammar schools are state-funded. This means that they don’t charge fees, and there is a great deal of competition for places.  


Where are the grammar schools in England?

The following counties/metropolitan boroughs still have state grammar schools;

  • Berkshire
  • Bristol
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cheshire
  • Cumbria
  • Devon
  • Dorset
  • Essex
  • Gloucestershire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Kent
  • Lancashire
  • Lincolnshire
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Middlesex
  • North Yorkshire
  • Shropshire
  • Surrey
  • Warwickshire
  • West Midlands 
  • West Yorkshire
  • Wiltshire


What are the selection criteria for grammar schools?

Every grammar school has its own admissions criteria that can usually be found on the individual school’s website. As well as having to pass the exam, location plays a part too – most grammar schools give preference to children who live in their catchment area. 

It’s important to remember that high scores on the 11+ may not secure your child a place if you live some distance outside their locality. So to be on the safe side, it’s worth checking the catchment area for your preferred grammar school before you start applying for places.  

Find your school’s entrance exams requirements.


When can I apply for 11 Plus exams?

Each school has their own registration dates for 11+ exam entry. Most schools will be accepting applications from the beginning of May 2022.

Please check on your child’s school website for exact opening dates.


When is the 11 Plus application deadline?

Deadlines will vary from school to school and will be between June and August 2022

Please check on your child’s school website for exact closing dates.


Timeline for the 11 Plus exam application process 2022-2023

Here are the key dates and events in the grammar school application process. The exact dates will vary between schools and regions, so be sure to confirm important dates and deadlines with your chosen school;

  • April/May 2022: Most grammar schools will open their registration in April or May and set a deadline around June, July or August for parents to register their child for the 11+ exam. Buckinghamshire automatically enters all primary children for the 11+ exam and operates an opt-out system for parents who must actively choose to withdraw their child from the process.
  • September 2022: For most grammar schools, the 11+ exam will occur during the first two weeks of September 2022. There is some variability, so please check the date with your individual schools.
  • October 2022: For most grammar schools, 11+ results will be posted in mid-October 2022.
  • March 2023: National Offer Day: School allocations are confirmed on 1st March 2023.
  • September 2023: New intake begins year 7 at each of the 164 grammar schools.



Preparing your child for secondary school: Step-by-step guide


Consider the best schools for your child to attend

You can order prospectuses from schools at any time in the year, so it is best to start planning well ahead. It is important that your child is involved in this process to encourage them with their 11+ preparation and get them excited for the next step on their academic journey.


Make informed school choices

Make sure you do thorough research on schools – including school performance, pastoral care, facilities provided for students, catchment rules of schools, commute between your home and school and consider after-school clubs and social events arranged by the school.

It’s also a good idea to look at the Ofsted report or Independent Schools Inspectorate report – you can find these at reports.ofsted.gov.uk for state schools or isi.net/reports for independent schools to help you research the best schools for your child.


Check for local catchment areas

Many grammar schools do not have catchment areas, but several do, so it is worth checking the school websites. Some schools may also have a preferred catchment area but will accept students from outside the area. 

If you are registering with a school outside of your local area, contact the school as soon as possible to discuss any alterations to the application process – some schools will test on a different day for out of area students.


Attend an open day

This is the best way to find out all the information about the registration process for the particular school you would like your child to attend and to get a feel for the school environment.


Register for the 11 Plus

Now for the all-important registration process. In order to register, the school’s 11+ Application Form and the Local Authority Common form (CAF) must both be completed. There are two stages in the 11 Plus application process for 2022;

  • Parents have to apply directly to the grammar schools of their choice, by June-October 2022.
  • Once the 11+ exam has been taken and results known, they then have to fill out the Common Application Form (CAF) by 31st October 2022 where they put down their choices for both grammar and other state secondary schools (more details on CAF below).

The local authority then makes its decisions as to which secondary school your child will be allocated. This is made known to the parents on “National Offer Day” on 1st March 2023.

The deadline for registration varies greatly depending on where you are in the country. As a rough guide: registration can open as early as April/May, but open days can be as late as October. Registration periods are usually open for a couple of months from the start date – so deadlines can be from June to October.  

If you are applying for more than one grammar school, then you normally have to register separately for every exam your child will be taking, unless a set of schools are part of a joint consortium – which is the case for schools in Birmingham. 

All local authorities send out details of the secondary school application process in their area (including the 11 plus exams) to every year 5 child via the child’s primary school, well in advance of the actual test day. The application forms are usually available directly from the grammar schools or consortiums at the start of the summer term when your child is in year 5.


Common Application Form (CAF)

CAF is the form that you fill out for a secondary school place in the UK. This form is to be filled out and submitted to your local authority by 31st October 2022 in order to secure your child a place in a secondary comprehensive or grammar school in September 2023. 

You don’t need to add independent school choices to the CAF. Independent or private schools (fee-paying schools) require different forms to be submitted and you will find the details on individual school websites.

The golden rule is to fill out the form in order of preferred schools, as the local authority will work down the form. If the offer is not the first choice, your child will still be placed on a waiting list for that school. 

Ensure to put at least one local comprehensive on the list in case your child doesn’t get a place at their chosen grammar school.


Fill in a Supplementary Information Form (SIF)

Check to see whether there are any additional forms for you to fill in along with your application. Contact the school for details. Faith schools sometimes need a SIF to prove your commitment to that faith (for example, some Catholic schools require a written declaration from a priest that the child has been confirmed and/or attends church regularly).


Happy students in the cafeteria


11 Plus Application Form (CAF)


When are the results of the 11+ published?

The results for the 11 Plus exam are now released in early to mid-October, soon after the actual 11+ exams have taken place. You will only have a matter of weeks to get your Common Application Form submitted to your local education authority, with a closing date of 31st October.

The name of the secondary school your child has been offered a place at will be sent out via post or email on 1st March, or as near to that date as possible if it falls on a weekend. Obviously, some letters arrive sooner than others depending on the post. Your local education authority will be able to give you more details about how this procedure is carried out in your local area.


How do your child’s 11+ exam results affect your secondary school choices?


If your child hasn’t passed the 11+

You can now select your school preferences from your local, non-selective secondary schools.


If your child has passed the 11+

This still doesn’t necessarily guarantee them a place at your first-choice grammar school. If your first-choice grammar school is oversubscribed, additional criteria will be used to allocate places, including the distance between the school and your child’s home address.


If you don’t know your child’s results before making your selection

Most 11+ tests are set in September or very early in October, allowing time for results to be returned ahead of completing Common Application Forms. However, where the results are not known when you are making your selection things are more tricky. In this situation, your school choices need to cover both pass or fail eventualities.


An Explore tutor helping a student with their 11 Plus exam


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