How the System Works.
The county of Buckinghamshire is one of the very few in the country to still operate a selective secondary education system. Selection exams take place at the beginning of Year 6 for children aged 10/11. The results of these exams form the basis of the selection process.
The children with the very best results will be “passed”, but a significant number of places are held back. Some of these will be taken by children who live outside the county, the remaining places will be allocated after “appeals” have been heard.
Preparation for the examination is limited in the county’s state primary schools where a strict procedure must be adhered to. Private schools. however, seem to have more scope in their preparations.
How the scores are calculated.
Children take two papers, each containing 80 questions. These papers are provided by NFER.
The papers are then sent back to Bucks County Council who forward them to NFER to be marked. The multiple choice answer sheets are automatically marked by an electronic optical reader.
Apparently the higher of the two scores will be used. We need to confirm this as we were first told that an average of the two would be used. We will update this page as soon as we know for sure.
A computer programme then standardizes this score. It also calculates the initial “pass” score. This will be calculated using such information as the number of grammar school places available in a specific area. Children who achieve this score should be offered a place at a grammar school without the need to resort to the review and appeals procedures.
Standardization is the process used in many educational tests that creates a level playing field between entrants by making adjustments because of their variety in age. Adjustments may be made using other criteria, but we cannot find anyone to confirm or deny this. Our research continues!
Scores obtained from the test sheets are known as raw scores.
A computer program then makes mathematical adjustments using the standardization criteria.
The final score is known as the standardized score.
This is the score that parents become aware of and is used in the selection process.
This standardized score is NOT a score out of 160. ( I.e. two papers of 80 marks each.)
Usually the top score obtainable is 141, and the pass mark is around 121.
How Many Childen Are Selected?
There have been a variety of figures, published and hearsay, regarding the proportion of entrants who achieve selection to the grammar school system.
The figure of 30% that so many parents seem to be aware of is TOTALLY INACCURATE.
We are currently researching the numbers of children from state primary schools that achieve selection.
We know that there are many children who take the test who attend independent schools. Rightly or wrongly, these schools are allowed to practise 11+ technique much more than State schools.
There is also a significant number of children who are admitted to the county’s grammar schools from outside the county. However, there is evidence that this is changing and that the number is coming down.
It may be that 30% of pupils of secondary school age attend the county’s grammar schools. This takes into account the large number of pupils in the 6th forms. Grammar schools have large 6th forms compared with other secondary schools. This does not take into account those who attended other secondary schools and go on to train at colleges of further education. College numbers do not contribute to the education authority’s figures.
We need to look at the percentage of children who are “selected” at the end of year 6.
This is certainly not 30% from state primary schools in Buckinghamshire.
With the enormous numbers of new family homes being built in the county the number of children is increasing all the time, but the number of grammar school places remains fairly static - so expect the percentage of pupils achieving a place to decline.
The Allocation System
Buckinghamshire county has change the way in which places are allocated. We are currenly studying the documentation and will update this site within the next few days.