In the middle of January 2021, the Calderdale schools quietly announced major changes to their 11 plus admissions test for September 2021. Instead of having two of the papers produced in-house, the three tests (maths, English and verbal reasoning) were moving to GL Assessment.
The implications for children preparing for the test in 2021 are significant. The extremely challenging English paper of the past has now become entirely multiple choice. The new paper involves comprehension; the children are required to read a passage and answer around 25 questions that test their understanding, vocabulary and grammar. There are also separate sections (around 8 questions each) on spelling, grammar and completing a passage with the correct choice of words. There is no writing involved in the new English test.
Moving the maths paper to GL Assessment is likely to mean the test increasing to 50 questions in 50 minutes (the old test was 40 questions in 30 minutes). The verbal reasoning paper was already produced by GL Assessment, and is set to remain at 50 questions in 30 minutes.
Although it is unfortunate that the Calderdale schools have decided to change their admissions test halfway through a school year (many children have already spend months preparing for the old test format), at Satchel we think there are many advantages to the new process:
The old English comprehension was, for many children, excessively difficult.
There were always concerns about the ability of the schools to mark their English paper accurately and consistently across the 1000 plus children who sat the test.
The new English test is still challenging, and it will reward children who are strong readers and accurate writers.
It is easier to prepare for the new maths papers as there are many GL Assessment practice papers available. The old maths test was always a bit of a mystery (there was one example on the schools’ websites) and it sometimes contained errors / typos.
There is less time pressure for the maths paper and less emphasis on exam technique.
It makes it easier for children to prepare for both the Calderdale schools and Heckmondwike, as the English tests are relatively similar.
At Satchel we have made a number of changes to our 11 plus preparation to reflect the new GL Assessment tests. These include:
Greater emphasis on grammar, vocabulary and spelling booklets.
More comprehension work to develop understanding.
Working on comprehension booklets other than fiction.
Practice English tests.
A greater emphasis on algebra for the more able students.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like discuss any aspect of the new Calderdale 11 plus test.
North Halifax and Crossley Heath Grammar Schools have recently announced the admission test dates for children currently in year 5 who are looking for entry in September 2022.
The exam this year will be on Saturday 25th September.
The schools have yet to announce whether they will be hold open evenings this year. They are normally in June.
Further dates and details on the registration process can be found at the Crossley Heath school website:
Congratulations on all the Satchel children who passed the Heckmondwike Grammar School exam!
At Satchel we specialise in the Calderdale examination but, over the years, have also helped children obtain places as a number of local grammar schools and independent schools. Please contact us if you’d like further details.
Parents in Huddersfield looking for a grammar school place normally have a choice between two options: Calderdale (Crossley Heath Grammar School and North Halifax Grammar School) and Heckmondwike Grammar School.
There are all excellent schools. I would strongly advise parents to visit the schools on their Open Days which are normally held in June (please visit the school websites for further details). Don’t leave it until Year 5 to visit the schools; there is no age restriction on children at the Open Days. I would suggest visiting them in Year 4.
Use the open days to help decide which school you prefer. They all obtain excellent results, so I would suggest going on your instinct about the ethos of the school from the headteacher’s talk, the children you meet during the event (are they engaged, confident, personable for example?) and the buildings / facilities of the school.
In addition, here are a number of practical suggestions you might want to consider when making your choice.
Journey Time – it will obviously depend where you live in Huddersfield, but it is generally easier to travel to the Calderdale grammar schools. Crossley Heath is the nearest school to Huddersfield and there are private buses that run from various locations in Huddersfield. A journey to Heckmondwike may involve 2 buses. Buses to Heckmondwike run from Huddersfield bus station, so consider how your children will get there.
Entrance examination – the Calderdale schools have a joint examination that involves English Comprehension, English Writing, Maths Multiple Mhoice and Verbal Reasoning Multiple Choice. Heckmondwike also includes Non Verbal Reasoning. It doesn’t have a writing paper and the comprehension test is multiple choice rather than requiring detailed, written answers. If your child is good at writing and enjoys English, I would say that the Calderdale test favours them over Heckmondwike.
Chances of success – I would say that is generally much easier to secure a place at the Calderdale grammar schools than at Heckmondwike. There are simply more places available as the test is shared between two schools. Just over 1000 children take the Calderdale test and a ranking of around 400 (417 in 2018) will secure you a place at Crossley Heath Grammar School. There are only 180 places at Heckmondwike and around 800 children take the test. In addition around a quarter of these places may go to children living in the catchment area around the school. There is no catchment area for the Calderdale test.
My experience is that only the most able children in Huddersfield (who might achieve a ranking in the top 100 in the Calderdale test) will be able to secure a place at Heckmondwike. If you want to attend Heckmondwike as your first choice, I would recommend taking the Calderdale test as a reserve option. However, if you prefer Crossley Heath, I would focus all your energies onto this test. You are unlikely to secure a place at Heckmondwike if you miss out in the Calderdale test.