The 13+ entry used to be a common entry point for boys heading into independent senior school education. However, over the years, the majority of London and Home Counties’ day schools have moved to an 11+ entry point at Year 7 for several reasons. This is aligned with our view at Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School, where our expertise in educating boys leads us to passionately believe 11+ is the best point for boys to move on to that next stage of education.
Teaching for the 13+ Common Entrance Exam requires a considerable amount of teaching time that, in our view, could be better spent providing a broader, holistic education. Outside of the confines of the Common Entrance Exam curriculum, at Surbiton High School, we have the freedom to create a bespoke curriculum, igniting passions and interests amongst a varied range of topics and subjects. Further to this, the majority of senior schools now use the result of their own bespoke 11+ process, entailing an assessment plus an interview as the deciding factor in offering places to pupils, irrespective of whether they continue to 13 and learn the Common Entrance syllabus. This dispels the myth that the 13+ allows younger, perhaps less mature children, to have longer to flourish. In actual fact, most prep schools will not accept boys into Years 7 and 8 unless they already have a senior school place secured at the end of Year 6. This further solidifies the argument which suggests that 13+ is now more relevant to boarding and international schools and not to the London senior market.
Some of the real benefits of sitting the 11+ for pupils revolve around them settling into their new senior school. Avoiding the 13+ process allows boys to settle in amongst a larger cohort, all of whom are in the same position. That big melting pot of new pupils makes navigating senior school and forging friendships a lot easier when children are younger and without the self-conscious awareness that adolescence can bring. New sports teams are formed from the outset in Year 7 and become established with their routines and playing positions. The pupils have a much greater opportunity to be chosen for specific teams on entry at 11+.
From an academic perspective, pupils joining in Year 7 can firmly establish themselves within their new school and routines, as well as exploring broad ranging co-curricular opportunities long before the reality of the GCSE years set in. They already have rigorous cycles of examinations with GCSEs and A-levels to contend with, without adding further tests one year before they embark on their GCSE courses. Sitting the 11+ provides the biggest break in formal testing needed for children to secure their next level of schooling. This ensures that these young individuals can enjoy being children and throw themselves into the wealth of opportunities that are open to them at their senior school. We love the model here at Surbiton High Boys’ Preparatory School because it instils in the boys a love of lifelong learning and a passion for their subjects, ready to embrace it all in their senior schools where they will naturally hit the ground running with such a breadth and balance to their skills.