For London families applying to leading girls’ schools for 11+ entrance for 2022 entry, the admissions process has been in flux due to Covid-19. The schools in the London 11+ Consortium have confirmed that they will all use the ISEB pre-test. We explore the ISEB pre-test and the admissions procedures of selected London girls’ school, both those within and outside the London 11+ Consortium of 11+ Girls’ schools including Godolphin and Latymer, Francis Holland Sloane Square and Wimbledon High School.
Godolphin and Latymer
Godolphin and Latymer are using the ISEB pre-test as they did last year. This will be sat in autumn term of year 6. Although Godolphin and Latymer don’t interview every student, the school is generous with their interviews. 50% or more of girls are invited back to interview in the January of Year 6. They value warm and friendly spontaneous conversation in interview and discourage pre-learned scripts.
Godolphin and Latymer is well known for its pastoral approach to all aspects of school life. The girl is at the centre of everything the schools does and there is a place for everyone. Every girl finds their niche here and the staff aim to tap into everyone’s passion, academic and extra-curricula interests. Pastoral care is centred around a girl’s form tutor, supported by heads of year and heads of section. Among central London schools, Godolphin is fortunate to have outstanding sports facilities on site. There are wonderful coaching opportunities and, every year, girls join national teams for a variety of sports. There are two separate pathways for sixth form: A-levels or IB. Every Godolphin girl can make a success of either programme. In order to be credited as an IB centre, the school has to show that it takes IB concepts seriously, such as international-mindedness. Sixth form tutor groups don’t follow in a silo – A-level and IB girls are in tutor groups together.
Wimbledon High School
Wimbledon High School receives 700 applications for 60 places, plus 40 girls come up from the Junior School. This makes a total of 100 places in Year 7 every year. Applicant to offer level maintains the ratio applying from the state and private sector: 40% state sector and 60% private sector. The admissions process for 2022 entry will be the ISEB in November 2021. It is followed by invitation to the 2nd stage in early December which will consist of in person creative group assessments in January 2022.
Wimbledon has a renowned pastoral programme. Peer counsellors provide support and buddies help new girls. Empathy and kindness is encouraged and fostered. The head, Fionnuala Kennedy, values the fact that Wimbledon High School is non-hierarchical. Facilities are outstanding and include a pool, playing fields and a new building project of a sixth form centre plus a new auditorium and playground for juniors. Modern foreign languages are fostered here and in year 7, girls chose two languages from Spanish, French or German. If girls are bilingual they are asked not to choose one of these languages. Latin is compulsory for all year 7s. Girls who are bilingual in other languages will sit a GCSE in their language, with Russian or Italian especially popular.
Wimbledon High School works hard to promote diversity. Girls know that everyone is equal, treat them with respect and expect respect from them. They celebrate Pride month and Black Lives Matter. The school is looking to find ways to reach local black community in next 3-5 years, so that the borough is better represented.
Francis Holland, Sloane Square
Last year at Francis Holland, girls were selected simply on interview and the reference from their prep school. The head, Lucy Elphinstone, feels that the 11+ test discriminates against girls who are dyslexic and coming through with English as an additional language. She would like to see a more creative method of assessment. But for 2022 entry, due to Covid-19, the ISEB pre-test will be used. However, Francis Holland, Sloane Square, is one of the only London girls’ schools to interview every applicant. The interview will involve a practical challenge to see how a girl works creatively. The reference from her previous school also carries huge weight.
At Sloane square, there are 600 applicants for 84-88 places. 20-22 girls in each form. The school is not looking for ‘brains on legs’ but rounded, creative girls who are going to grow into confident, fearless young women.
All year 7s are engaged in creative activity and work with outsiders from industry to nurture this. A business tycoon works with year 8s, and year 9s mentor year 8s. There are 25-30 businesses active within the school. Year 10s focus on design thinking and the school runs a design thinking challenge with a leading entrepreneur. As part of the sixth form enrichment, Francis Holland champions an innovation sprint. It takes girls from knowing little about business, helps them to gen up on business finance and how to showcase their business on social media. The school links in with alumnae and businesses run by parents to promote the notion that anyone can start a business. The head of the school acknowledges that the world has changed forever. Hence that the old regime of academic curriculum is completely outmoded, out of date and out of touch. She feels that headteachers need to prepare children for what the world will be like in 10 years’ time.
The ISEB pre-test
London 11+ Consortium for 11+ Girls’ schools have opted to assess via the ISEB test as a measure for the second year running. The ISEB Common Pre-Tests are normally taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7 and are an age-standardised measure of ability and attainment. They are online and adaptive. The tests include Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, English and Mathematics. They are in a multiple-choice format and take about two-and-a-half hours to complete. The tests can be taken together or at separate times either in the candidate’s own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered.