We all want the very best for our children, so when it comes to preparing for the 11+ and choosing the right senior school, it’s important to make the most of the guidance and advice your school can offer to both you and your child. This makes the transition as smooth as possible.

At Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School, the curriculum ensures thorough preparation for 11+ entrance exams and the next stage of education, from timetabled lessons in verbal and non-verbal reasoning to current affairs. In Year 6 this extends into critical thinking, presentation skills, interview practice, scholarship preparation and weekly exam practice so they feel confident and prepared for their senior school entrance tests.

The school also has a dynamic and varied post 11+ programme once entrance exams have finished. The schedule includes visits to a wealth of cultural venues and exhibitions, sports leadership, first aid training, Latin and special career assemblies delivered by parents and external speakers to encourage high aspirations. Finally, the pupils take part in an annual residential trip where they face challenges such as abseiling, Jacob’s ladder and the leap of faith! This programme helps children develop key life skills that will support them not only for the transition to senior school, but in life after school as well.

11+ preparation can be a time of anxiety, so it is important you are able to support your child at home, helping them build the resilience they’ll need to head into assessments and interviews with confidence when the 11+ season is upon us.

If you want to ensure you are providing the best support at home for your child through 11+ preparation, Mrs Melrose, suggests the following:

  • Children look up to their parents and trust them. If you appear anxious about 11+ preparation, your child will be too, so remember to manage your own stress at this time as well as helping them with theirs.
  • Manage your son or daughters’ expectations by setting out what exam prep or revision will look like each week. Have a magic hour: 20 minutes of revision, 20 minutes of assessment, 20 minutes of marking and discussing what could be improved next time.
  • Encourage your child to keep reading lots of books (fiction and non-fiction) to help expand their vocabulary and ask them questions to make sure they understand the meaning of new words or inferred information.

We are so proud of our 21/22 Year 6 cohort, who will soon be taking the next step towards their future. This year’s excellent destination school results reflect the academic and creative talent across the year group,  proving how dedicated our school community is in supporting its pupils to achieve their very best. Prince’s Gardens’ 15 Year 6 leavers have been offered places at St Paul’s Boys School (13+), Latymer Upper School, Dulwich College, Wetherby School, Francis Holland (Sloane Square and Regents Park), Putney High School and many other successful day and boarding schools across the UK. See more about our destination schools here.

When the time comes to choose your child’s future school, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Prince’s Gardens ensures that parents are supported on every step of the 11+ journey, including shortlisting schools suitable for your child.  We also hold an 11+ information presentation for parents , as well as meeting regularly with parents to discuss choosing a senior school where their child will flourish.  Our annual presentation covers the transition to senior school, when to start looking, what to ask and how to support your child. Throughout the year, Talking Heads events also take place, giving parents the chance to meet and hear from Heads at a range of senior schools.

At Prince’s Gardens, we suggest parents start looking at senior schools when their child is in Year 4, as it’s the perfect opportunity to see what is on offer and define what you are looking for.

Although the facilities within a school are important parents should also pay attention to the opportunities available at each school; what subject-choices are available from 16+, what extra-curricular activities are on offer, and what is the ethos of the school, for example, is academic excellence the be-all and end-all or do they offer a more holistic education where exam preparation is only a small part of your child’s senior school journey?

It’s also important to answer those practical questions before you get too overwhelmed in the senior school search: are you interested in day or boarding schools? Do you want your child to attend a co-ed school or a single sex school? Will you stay in the city or move to a new area? This is a good way to narrow down your search.

When visiting schools we recommend being prepared with a list of questions,  such as the following:

  • How many pupils are there in each class and how many in the school?
  • What sort of pupil thrives at this school and what are you looking for in prospective pupils?
  • What is the sport provision?
  • Is lunch available within the school?
  • What are the transport options?
  • What is the homework philosophy?
  • What extra-curricular and residential trips are available?
  • How do you support well-being?

And finally, whether it is 11+ preparation or the senior school search, remember, they’re children! Make sure you still have fun, keep bedtimes regular and ensure it doesn’t become 11+ preparation everyone else in the family.