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How To Navigate The 11+ Exam & Admissions Process

For over 70 years, the 11+ exam has been a key staging post in many children’s lives. We all understand the pressure that children are under these days and so it’s important to prepare them properly for the 11+ exam without causing any unnecessary stress. I asked Arabella Northey, Headteacher at Meta Prep, to put together a piece about the 11+ and how to best navigate the school admissions process.

What is the 11+ exam?

The 11+ is an intelligence test taken during the last year of primary school (Year 6 in the UK). Since 1944, the exam for selective schools has tested the ability of a 10-year-old to solve a range of problems. The best way to fully prepare is to develop their thinking and learning using a metacognitive toolkit.

What are the different types of 11+ exams?

There are three 11+ exam boards and exam your child takes will depend on the region of the school. The exams your child may take are CEM, GL, ISEB Pre-test, ISEB 11+ and London Consortium.

  • CEM (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring) – creates papers for some Grammar schools and the London Consortium schools
  • GL Assessment – creates papers for the Grammar schools and writes the Cognitive Ability Tests (CAT4) used by many schools
  • ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board) – offers the online ISEB Common Pre-test and ISEB 11+, a long-form written test.

What is in the 11+ exam?

The exams involve the four different “disciplines” used for the 11+ tests – Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

The ISEB 11+ papers are an exception and cover a more traditional written exam: English comprehension; a creative writing task; a Maths paper without the use of a calculator and a Science paper.

What are the key dates for the 11+ exams?

Grammar school exams take place early in September.

The online ISEB Common Pre-Test is more flexible, most schools give a month’s window, closing in early December. The benefit of this exam is children applying to multiple schools which use the Common Pre-Test will only take one test in the academic year and their results shared with all participating schools.

The ISEB 11+ examination and the London Consortium paper are sat at the beginning of January.

How do I start selecting schools for my child?

For many parents, it can feel like the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario. Should you start with your child’s current academic potential or look at the schools you like and have a good reputation?

Schools start registrations for applications when children are in Year 5, so it’s good to have a list of potential schools together by this point. Each school has its own DNA and needs to match your values and academic goals, so this will help you to decide what is right for you and your child.

Meta Prep can be alongside you in this process. As your partner for selective senior school entry, Meta Prep identifies your child’s motivators and the environment that enables them to flourish and thrive.

Each child starts by completing a ‘Youth Motivation Map’. This provides an insight into their motivational drivers and the ways in which they learn best and are most engaged. This is combined with a baseline diagnostic assessment to pinpoint their academic strengths and weaknesses.

With this information, we are able to start considering options and advise parents accordingly. We continue to provide advice throughout and create an individual road map for each child.

The next step is school admissions. Each school admissions system is different, so once you have a list of potential schools, you need to check their website carefully. Meta Prep is further able to help with this.

How can I prepare my child for the 11+ exam?

The 11+ process can be complex for parents and competitive for children. In most schools, 11+ topics are covered by the end of Year 5. Unfortunately, this means that you have no time to patch gaps in knowledge or misunderstandings. No one wants to put undue pressure on their child.

Research shows that we learn best when we are able to break information down into small manageable chunks; space it over time and learn to retrieve that information from our memory.

At Meta Prep we start very gently:

  • In Year 4, there is one lesson a week teaching children how to learn and use metacognitive tools; sharpen their thinking skills, and build their confidence.
  • In Year 5, we double the number of sessions. This year covers the 11+ topics in sequence, breaking them down and getting them fully set before they even start Year 6.

The curriculum is targeted and coherent and taught by subject specialist teachers. 

Regular access to our Digital Intelligence Platform provides familiarity with exam technique reducing anxiety and enhancing performance.   

Meta Prep’s Partners:

Meta Prep draws on the expertise of both Moxams and My Learning Accelerator.

Moxams is an 11+ focused provider of exam and interview familiarisation materials and experiences. Its large bank of 11+ questions ‘mimics’ the questions which schools use to assess pupils, regardless of the major examination boards (CEM, ISEB, GL, CAT4) they base their assessments on.

With access to those questions, Meta Prep also has access to the ‘intelligent’ learning platform developed by Moxams. The algorithms identify which specific topics pupils need to focus on.

My Learning Accelerator provides one-to-one 11+ tutors who are trained as cognitive coaches. We often recommend My Learning Accelerator tutors, if we feel there is a specific requirement for one-to-one provision.

Can Meta Prep help me and my children?

Meta Prep provides an affordable alternative through the 11+ maze. It partners with parents and children in years 4 and 5 to provide them with advice, baseline assessments, outstanding teachers, 11+ focused curriculum up to date technology under one roof.

With small groups and direct access to a headteacher, Meta Prep helps to take the stress out of selective senior school entry by weaving fun, instilling key skills and learning behaviours to lift exam scores. It prepares children for entrance exam success and enhances their love of learning in weekly small classes, after school, with subject specialist teachers.

Meta Prep provides the best offered by prep schools, primary schools, tutoring and technology platforms under one, affordable roof.

To find out more you can join Meta Prep for a free lesson this December.

Monday 14th – Thursday 17th at 16.30

Sign up using the link below.

Article by Headteacher Arabella Northey | 

Beauty Spotlight

5 School Run Make Up Tips With ‘Not Such a Model Mum’

I have been a faithful follower of Jess & Caroline’s blog, Not Such a Model Mum since they launched about a year ago. It has grown from strength to strength over the year and become a go to fashion & beauty blog for a vast number of school run mums. With both a career in modelling, you know that their posts on fashion and beauty are written with solid experience and authority – and most importantly without being patronising to us mere mortals!

Jess, caroline & kids

Jess and Caroline met in 2003 as they were both signed to the same model agency, and have been friends ever since, despite not liking eachother when they first met!

The strength of their friendship also shines through in the beautiful photos that they use too.


Fast forward to 2010 and they thought we knew what we were doing – until they had children.


Coming back to work after having our kids, we realised how much the fashion industry had changed, and how much social media had changed the landscape of the fashion world. Like it or not, social media is here to stay, and if we wanted to stay part of the fashion world, we would have to embrace the change.


They had always spoken about setting something together, and with over three decades of modelling and fashion experience between them, they decided to set up a blog about all the tips they learnt from the fashion professionals, and the idea of NotSuchAModelMum developed from there – a fashion, mother and beauty blog with friendship at the heart.



Iridescent powder.

This neat little trick both brightens and opens the eyes and adds a little glow to otherwise shattered peepers – it works both on camera and most importantly, in real
life, off camera. Using your finger if you are in a rush, or a brush if you have more than two seconds, grab some MAC Mineralise Skinfinish Powder in the Soft and Gentle colour, or some Benefit High Beam and dab it in the inner eye around the tear duct and up slightly in the inner eye lid.


The trick here is to blend, blend, blend and blend some more so that only a subtle trace of the iridescence is left. Illuminating and highlighting this area serves to subtly conceal darkness around the eyes and adds a natural radiance that makes you look like you had at least five hours sleep! Blog post is here


By terry concealer and foundation stick

Covering under eye bags from sleepless nights and giving dull, tired skin an all over, even glow, these two products literally take a minute to apply and can be done whilst running out the front door with the kids in tow. I carry them with me all the time. In fact, they are, thanks to that catalogue shoot, part of my nappy bag essentials. Nappies; wipes; By Terry Light Expert Click Brush foundation; and By Terry Touch Expert Advanced Concealer.


Both products have complicated sounding names when they actually do something really simple. They work. Blog post is here.


The Eve Lom Rescue Mask

This has been around for ages. In the beauty industry, this longevity is the sign of a great product, and a winner in our book.


The clay based formula of this particular mask is packed with natural ingredients, from honey to almonds. The Camphor brightens the complexion and draws out toxins. The mask can be used as part of a weekly routine or for emergency breakouts, which, frankly, when dealing with unhygienic children, are part and parcel of our lives! For more, our blog post is here here

Paula’s Choice Intensive Wrinkle Repair Serum

This is a great night time moisturiser, with a little added punch of Retinol. Retinol sounds like a scary chemical, but is , in fact the chemical name for Vitamin A. Just adding Retinol to your skincare routine has been proven to reduce wrinkles, increase collagen, improve skin tone, texture and dark spots.


All this can be done with minimal effort- just cleanse as always and then add the serum and then slap on your nighttime moisturizer. For more info, our blog post is here

The Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess

This is a bronzer comes in a multitude of colours to suit every skin tone. Blog post is here.


Jessica’s Favourites

Hotel : Ham Yard Hotel, London. I am obsessed with Kit Kemp.

Restaurant : Le Gavroche – old school fine dining at its best.

Website : TheBlondeSalad, Southmoltonstreetstyle, thefashionguitar and London’s Little Thinkers on Instagram.

Shop : Anthropologie, anywhere in the world…an Aladdin’s Cave of fun.

Holiday destination : North Germany- stunning, off the beaten track and paradise in the summer.

Parenting Tip : “Don’t be afraid to cut corners, and don’t beat yourself up. You are doing great. And make time for a manicure and pedicure- this will make you feel amazing.”

Caroline’s Favourites

Hotel : The Treetop apartments at Chewton Glen.

Restaurant : El Nacional in Barcelona

Website : TKMAXX.COM

Shop : Sign of the Times.a little second hand store in Chelsea with the most incredible designer finds.

Holiday Destination : anywhere that has a kids club!

Parenting tip : Don’t forget to get some time for yourself to get a bit of balance back.


Sign up to follow the girls here

Have a fab day xx


TLM Monthly Edit

TLM Monthly Edit : September 2016

So many recommendations this month of September! How do people think of all these great ideas? Some people are ideas people and some people are just good at shouting about them – so here I am doing the latter!

In The Picture Artwork – Customised Artworks of Children & Pets

I am totally over excited about this company that can be found on Etsy. Based in Australia, send Jackie a few photos of your children, a topic and a preferred colour palette and she will wizz something AMAZING up for you and pop it in the post.  We love them so much, they have been hung up in the kitchen for all to enjoy (they are also the only recent photos of the children as I just lost 4000 photos on my iphone due to water and not backing up on my icloud – yes, my fault but I am also in need of a bit of sympathy!) Also on Facebook and Instagram.


Zipjet App – Washing & Ironing Service

This App has saved my bacon. The drum on our washing machine has broken (yawn) but thankfully to Zipjet, I have chosen a time slot (within 2 hours) for collection adn the same for delivery 48 hours later. I could get used to it…

Image result for zipjet

Little Dish Pots & Pies – Ocado, sainsbury’s & Tesco’s

These fed all three (yes my 6 year old loved them too) very succesfully. They are great to keep in the fridge, knowing that they are fresh, taste good and have all the necessary nutrients growing bodies need. Go Little Dish – you are unstoppable (and oh so useful!)


The Yummy’s Club – Exclusive Discounts

This is SUCH a good idea and I am so excited to be a member. Discounts on everything from children’s clothes, party entertainers, nannies, children’s classes and so much more all across London. There really are so many mega discounts (like proper dicounts, not just token if you know what I mean!) If I am on the hunt for something (kids interiors at the moment), this is my first port of call as it is literally cash back on all the savings you make. Congratulations on a brilliant company girls! Join today!


Buy A Gift – Over 5000 Experiences To Buy Online

What do you buy the man/woman/Grandma etc who has everything? An experience of course! I ordered a Luxury Two Night Break and have over 300 nationwide hotels to chose from. (Have to work out the childcare first. Hmmm).  I also have my eye on the Go Ape for the boys, Afternoon Tea for Granny and an Emirates Stadium Tour for Daddy.  The ‘experience’ arrives in a beautiful box with the voucher code in it for your recipient to take it from there. Brilliant!!



Picasso’s In The Park

If you have a budding artist, take them to Chloe & Laura’s art class in Barnes OSO Arts Centre on a Wednesday afternoon. They will explore different technique’s and subject matters and take home a masterpiece each week.


Oh La Label – Custom Sticky Labels

How did I label scooters, shoes, helmuts and the like before I had these labels? I didn’t! Thank goodness for them – I have been whacking them on anything that can move and as they are waterproof and washing machine proof – they aren’t budging. They come in all colours, shapes and sizes and you can pretty much customize them as you like.


Teachers Boards – Organisation Made Simple

No week seems to stay the same, so if you want everyone in the family to know what they are up to, I highly recommend this weekly planner from Teachers Boards. They also sell every type of notice board you can imagine, from chalk to white board and for the super stylish, magnetic glass boards! If you can’t quite find what you are looking for, you can design your own board.

Magnetic Planner Dry Wipe Whiteboard - Weekly or Monthly

Fo more great ideas, check out TLM Directory and if you fancy a bit of shopping, head to TLM Edit.

Family Life People Services Spotlight

Little Learning Seeds: Help You Help Your Child

Little Learning Seeds imageoffers many services to support a child’s learning; including 1:1 tuition, homework help, parent workshops, school workshops and online support through her blog.  It  was founded and established by Laura Clifford.



She has over 10 years of teaching experience and after speaking to many confused parents and researching what parents really wanted, Little Learning Seeds was created.

Her main focus is on early learning and supporting children through pre-school and the first few years of formal education. Her aim is to give confidence to parents in supporting their child’s learning at home, so if anyone is struggling with how and what to help their little ones with, Laura is your lady.

Laura’s Favourite’s

Shop: Darts Farm in Topham, Devon
Restaurant: Busaba Eathai
Hotel: La Petite Ferme in Franschhoek, South Africa.
Place to go: Any beach in the West Country

I urge you to contact her if you are not sure about the UK school system, your child is struggling in a particular area or you don’t have a clue what you are meant to be doing!

See her website for more information

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