Changing admissions into top London girls’ schools

Last Updated on : 11th October 2018

The British education system….defined by its diversity and complexities – day, boarding, single sex, co-educational, 4+, 7+, 8+, 11+ and 13+ entry….the options are endless but one unique feature characterises all: challenging admissions processes.

The basic economic rule of ‘demand outstripping supply’ for school places has further fuelled the growth of expensive tutoring as parents further supplement education to ensure their child obtains a place at a top school.

Many recognise such potentially harmful pressure on children is not sustainable and thus welcomed the well-documented decision last year by the North London Girls’ Consortium to replace their current 11+ admission process, quoting:

“There will be no further written assessments at our Schools, and we will develop the creativity of our interview processes.”

The objective is clear:simplify and reduce the number of examinations children are required to sit, and devise an admission selection process not based solely on academic performance. The consortium hopes to design assessments that identify and showcase a range of skills thus allowing ‘best fit’ school to be matched beside a child’s profile.

Three-part admissions

New admission assessments comprise three distinct elements and each is to carry equal weight.

Head’s reference

To be compiled by existing head teachers using a grading structure beside an extensive list of key attributes and characteristics for each child.  The aim is to collate an accurate reference with a fresh emphasis on skills such as creativity and creative writing.

A Cognitive Ability Test (CAT)

This test will score a child in a number of areas and will be multiple choice verbal and non-verbal reasoning, maths and further tasks.  The bespoke test will be structured in such a way that it prevents preparation by tutoring.


This will consist of both individual and group scenarios incorporating problem solving tasks and the opportunity for children to demonstrate ‘individual creativity’ and the ability to ‘think outside of the box.’

The logic behind the three distinct elements is to allow children the opportunity to show a wide range of skills and in doing so, for future secondary schools to obtain a clear well-rounded picture of each child.  If, and it’s a sizeable ‘IF’, successfulthen the days of excessive tutoring and ‘teaching to the test’ could well become a thing of the past.

If we revert to the start of this article, the definition of the British education system arguably has just been complicated further with the introduction of yet another different admission process. This new approach, whilst welcomed by many, is to be implemented solely by a group of London girls’ schools.  Boys’ schools, co-ed and boarding school admissions remain unchanged.

Whilst the newly named ‘London 11+ Consortium’ hopes for others to follow suit, this will take time whilst head teachers eagerly await the results of this new structure early next year. For now, they continue to uphold their own established admissions assessment processes for parents and children to navigate.

Janie Richardson School Search offers bespoke and informed advice on all aspects of the British education system.  Janie recognises that whilst these changes are welcomed, they do little to demystify the complexities of the British education system.


Janie Richardson School Search

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