Secondary School Choices


Anya Waddington unravels the intricacies of the 11+/13+ system.

There is nothing more confusing than the English school system. Traditionally girls attended junior schools from 5 to 11 and then moved to senior schools from 11 to 18.

Boys went to their prep schools from 8 to 13 and on to their senior schools from 13 to 18. With the emergence of co-education in the independent sector, the transitions have been thrown into chaos. Chuck into the mix an array of pre-tests, often several years before Common Entrance, and even the most dedicated of parents needs an Excel spreadsheet to keep track.

You need to think carefully about where you want your child to go to secondary school when you make your primary choices. It seems absurd but it can make life a lot easier further down the line. Our advice? Be upfront about it and speak to your preferred junior school at the outset. Ask about preparation for the 11+ and pre-testing for Common Entrance. Consider what your options are for Years 7 and 8 if you want them to board at 13+ and are sending them to a school that fnishes at the end of Year 6.

Above all, don’t think you are alone in fnding it muddling. 


Moving at 11+

Secondary London day schools, both co-ed and single sex girls, have their main intake at 11+ (Year 7).

Moving at 13+

Traditional boys’ public schools (many of which are now co- ed) have their main entry point at 13+ (Year 9).

Two-point entry

In London, there are a large number of boys’ and co-ed independent schools with two entry points (11+ and 13+) and several girls’ boarding schools with a main intake at 11+ also have a substantial 13+ entry.