Glossary

The important lingo for parents going through the 11 plus process.

11 plus

An examination taken by pupils in the last year of their primary education in the UK as part of the application process for a selective secondary school. The name is derived from the age at which point pupils enter secondary school.


Adaptive algorithm

Usually attributed to an app or software where the programming behaviour is changed based on certain rules. Atom Learning’s adaptive algorithm identifies your child’s ability and alters the route of their progress accordingly to help them improve.


Admissions

Refers to the process of applying for a school. Can also be used as the name of the school department that oversees this process.


Atom Assessments

Atom Learning’s bespoke entrance exams for selective schools.


Atom Learning Points (ALPs)

The points awarded to children when answering questions correctly on the Atom Nucleus platform. Between two and eight Atom Learning Points (ALPs) are awarded for each correct answer; the more challenging the question, the higher the ALPs available.


Atom Nucleus

Atom Learning’s online learning platform for home.


Atom Prime

Atom Learning’s online learning platform for schools.


Bilateral school

A bilateral school has both selective and non-selective 'streams', meaning that there are two groups of students who are taught separately: those who sat an 11 plus exam and achieved the qualifying score, and those who applied for the non-selective stream (i.e. did not sit an entrance exam).


Bursary (see also: fee-assisted place)

A predefined sum of money, normally paid by the school, awarded to pupils who meet a school’s entrance criteria but whose caregiver(s) cannot afford the required fees. Unlike a loan, this money does not need to be repaid.


Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM)

The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring is a leading provider of 11 plus testing in selective schools in England. The examination covers verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning content.


Common Application Form (CAF)

To apply for a secondary school place in England and Wales, parents must apply through a Common Application Form (CAF). This is done through your local authority (council) website and requires you to list between three and six schools in order of preference. Find your local authority's admissions site on gov.uk.


Common Entrance

An examination set by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) for pupils applying for selective independent schools. The 11 plus Common Entrance exam consists of English, Maths and Science while the 13 plus Common Entrance exam consists of English, Maths, Science and questions in subjects including humanities and languages.


Common Pre-Test

A test set by the ISEB for pupils in Year 6 or Year 7 as part of the admissions process for a selective independent secondary school. Common Pre-Tests are commissioned from Granada Learning (GL) and include English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning.


Consortium

A network of schools that share resources, such as the same application process. One of the most well-known is the London 11+ Consortium.


Custom Practice

Custom Practices are unique to the Atom Nucleus platform, where parents can set work for their child to complete. Features include enabling a ‘Test Mode’ (meaning the child won’t see answer explanations until the end of the practice), a ‘Tutor Mode’ (which excludes the practice results from the child’s scores) and setting a time limit for completion.


Education and Health Care Plan (EHC)

A support plan for children with particular educational, health and social needs. An EHC plan is subject to an assessment by the child’s local authority.


Eton List Test

An exam created specifically for entrance into Eton College, which applicants take after the Common Pre-Test. Developed by experts at Cambridge University, the Eton List Test is the second of three stages in the application process for Eton College and assesses future potential, as well as innate reasoning ability.


Fee-assisted place (see also: Bursary)

A predefined sum of money, normally paid by the school, awarded to pupils who meet a school’s entrance criteria but whose caregiver(s) cannot afford the required fees. Unlike a loan, this money does not need to be repaid.


Grammar school

A selective school into which pupils are admitted on the basis of their academic ability (i.e. by passing an entrance examination). Grammar schools are state schools and do not charge fees for attendance.


Granada Learning (GL)

Granada Learning is a leading provider of 11 plus testing in selective schools in England. The examination can cover English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning but it is up to individual schools as to which of these subjects to include.


Independent school (see also: private school)

A school that is not funded by the government and charges fees to attend. These schools do not have to follow the national curriculum. Some independent schools are selective and may require pupils to pass an entrance examination in order to be eligible for a place.


Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB)

The Independent Schools Examinations Board is an organisation that is best known for producing Common Entrance examinations, used by independent selective schools both in the UK and abroad.


Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)

The Independent Schools Inspectorate is the regulatory body responsible for independent schools in England and British schools overseas. Schools are subject to routine inspections and non-routine inspections, with routine inspections taking place during a six-year cycle. All independent schools are judged on how they adhere to the Independent School Standards.


Key Stage 1 (KS1)

Key Stage 1 is the ‘block’ within the English national curriculum for Years 1 and 2 (pupils aged 4 to 7). At the end of Year 1, pupils receive a phonics screening check and at the end of Year 2 they take Standard Attainment Tests (SATs).


Key Stage 2 (KS2)

Key Stage 2 is the ‘block’ within the English national curriculum for Years 3 to 6 (pupils aged 7 to 11). At the end of Key Stage 2, pupils take Standard Attainment Tests (SATs)) and most proceed to secondary school to begin Key Stage 3 (the exception is middle schools and prep schools, where pupils may stay in the same school until the end of Year 8).


Key Stage 3 (KS3)

Key Stage 3 is the ‘block’ within the English national curriculum for Years 7 to 9 (pupils aged 11-14). At the end of Key Stage 3, pupils begin Key Stage 4 and start preparing for national qualifications (usually GCSEs).


Local authority

Also known as ‘local council’, a local authority is an official organisation that is responsible for all the public facilities and services in a particular geographical area. Some local authorities administer their own school entrance exams. You can find your local authority/council on gov.uk.


Looked after children

Refers to children under the age of 18 who have been in the care of their local authority for at least 24 hours. This normally means the child has/is living with foster parents, has/is living in a residential childrens’ home or has/is living in a residential setting, such as a school or a secure unit.


National curriculum

A set of subjects and standards used by all state schools and some independent schools in England, at both primary and secondary level, to ensure that all pupils learn the same content at the same time. The national curriculum is organised into ‘key stages’ (blocks of years), from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4 (ages 4 to 18) and pupils are assessed on their progress at the end of each Key Stage.


Non-verbal reasoning

A test that assesses a person’s ability to analyse visual information and use logic and patterns to solve problems. Questions are based on pictures, diagrams and shapes.


Ofsted

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. The role of the organisation is to ensure that state schools and social care services are providing education, training and care to a high standard. All new schools are normally inspected within the first three years of opening; after this, schools judged as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ (the top two tiers) are inspected approximately every four years. Schools judged within the lower two tiers as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ will be monitored and inspected more frequently to check their progress.

Independent schools are not inspected by Ofsted. Instead, they are regulated by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.


Partially-selective school

A partially-selective school chooses its students based on a small percentage of selection (e.g. academic ability, or aptitude in a particular extra-curricular area), but it is not fully selective like a grammar school.


Private school (see also: independent school)

A school that is not funded by the government and charges fees to attend. These schools do not have to follow the national curriculum. Some independent schools are selective and may require pupils to pass an entrance examination in order to receive a place.


Pupil Premium

Pupil Premium is government funding given to disadvantaged pupils in England in order to improve their education outcomes. The amount of funding for each pupil is dependent on certain criteria.


Registrar

A school employee who is responsible for entrance applications and the admissions process. Also known as ‘Head/Director of Admissions’.


Selective school

Schools that offer places to pupils based on their ability (usually academic, but some specialist schools are selective based on applicants’ other skills, such as in sport, music or languages). Pupils applying to selective schools are assessed on certain criteria, normally through an entrance exam.


Senior school

A school for pupils between the minimum age of 11 and the maximum age of 18 (some schools may admit pupils at the age of 13). More commonly known as ‘secondary school’ within the state sector.


Standard Attainment Tests (SATs)

National English assessments that measure a child’s academic ability at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Key Stage 1 SATs are non-timed and assess maths and reading (with an optional test in English grammar, punctuation and spelling). Key Stage 1 SATs will be made non-statutory from 2022.

Key Stage 2 SATs consist of six papers across English and maths:

  1. English SPaG (Grammar and Punctuation)

  2. English SPaG (Spelling)

  3. Reading

  4. Maths (Arithmetic)

  5. Maths (Reasoning Paper 1)

  6. Maths (Reasoning Paper 2)


Star ratings

A metric specific to Atom Learning’s Nucleus platform that gives an indication of how much a child understands a particular topic. A completed island (topic) with one star means the child has mastered the content at the easiest level of difficulty. Two stars means that the child is working at the average level of difficulty and three stars indicates ability at the hardest level of difficulty.


Standardised Score / Standard Age Score (SAS)

A score that is calculated by taking into account a pupil’s raw mark on an exam paper and their age in years and months. The SAS gives an indication of how a pupil is performing relative to others of the same age and is the fairest way to compare the performance of different pupils within a year group, where there can be up to 12 months’ difference in age between the oldest and youngest.


State school

A school which receives funding through its local authority or government and does not charge fees to attending pupils. All children in England aged between 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school. State schools can be selective or non-selective.


Verbal reasoning

A test that assesses a user’s level of literacy by asking the user to comprehend written passages and determines how varied their vocabulary is. Questions are based on letters, words and sentences.


Working at greater depth

A level within the assessment framework that is set by the national curriculum. 'Working at greater depth', or similar variations of this phrase such as 'working beyond the expected standard', means that the child's academic performance is above average for their year group and they are exceeding age-related expectations.


Working at the expected standard

A level within the assessment framework that is set by the national curriculum. 'Working at the expected standard', or similar variations of this phrase, means that the child's academic performance is average for their year group and they are meeting age-related expectations.


Working below the expected standard

A level within the assessment framework that is set by the national curriculum. 'Working below the expected standard', or similar variations of this phrase, means that the child's academic performance is below average for their year group and they are not currently meeting age-related expectations

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