Guide to grammar schools and the Secondary Transfer Test

Last updated: 4 May 2023

Selection Review

Selection Reviews take place in December and January.

A Selection Review is a chance for you to explain, in writing, why you feel a grammar school would be best for your child.

The Selection Review panel will decide if your child would be suitable for a grammar school even though their STTS was less than 121.

Selection Review Panel

On each Selection Review Panel there are two grammar school headteachers and one primary school headteacher. All the headteachers who sit on the panels will receive training. They understand the nature of the decisions they are taking. They will not consider cases of children known to them or from schools in which they have an interest.

Cases are usually heard in date order of receipt. The Selection Review Panel will not know the secondary schools you have applied for.

You might include a report from an Educational Psychologist or another specialist (for example, medical consultant or ophthalmologist) in your case. In this instance, your child’s review will be heard by a panel supported by an Educational Psychologist (EP). The EP provides expert information to the panel to help them come to a decision.

Some things for you to think about

Strong academic evidence will be vital to the success of a review.

The Selection Review Panel (SRP) will look for clear academic evidence to show that a grammar school would be best for your child.

The Panel will also want to see evidence of any exceptional reasons to show why your child did not do as well as expected in the Secondary Transfer Test.

We will give the SRP information about how your child performed in the Secondary Transfer Test. The Panel will be given your child's scores in the verbal, mathematical and non-verbal sections of the test as well as their STTS.

If your child goes to a state funded Buckinghamshire primary or Partner school, the SRP will also have information from your child’s current headteacher. This will tell the panel if they believe your child would be suitable for a grammar school and their attitude to work (learning).

Headteachers give us this information before they know your child's results.

Grammar School suitability

Your child's headteacher can recommend your child as:

  • exceptionally able so very highly recommended, or
  • very able so recommended without any reservation, or
  • recommended with reservation, or
  • not recommended for grammar school.

Your child's attitude to learning can be described as:

  • enjoys challenge and is a highly motivated independent learner, or
  • consistently hardworking and reliable, or
  • output varies, or
  • lacks self organisation, requires support.

State funded Buckinghamshire primary and Partner school headteachers give us this information before they know the results of the Secondary Transfer Test.

Children who attend an out of county school

If your child goes to an out of county school, their headteacher can give us this information if you ask for a Selection Review.

You can ask them to complete a Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet on your child's behalf.

How this information is used by the Selection Review panel

The Selection Review Panel values this information. It gives them an idea of the context in which your child is working at school.

It also enables them to see how unexpected a child's STTS may have been when compared to their headteacher's recommendation.

Exceptional reasons for not qualifying

You may believe that your child did not qualify for grammar school because of an illness or upset in the family.

The academic evidence suggests your child would have qualified if not for these exceptional circumstances. If this is the case, make sure you include third-party evidence to confirm the situation.

This might be for example:

  • a GP or medical specialist's letter for your child or family member
  • a letter from an employer to explain a lengthy parental absence (particularly for forces families where a family member has been serving in a combat zone)
  • evidence to show significant issues such as the death of a close family member near to the time of the test
  • a very recent house/school move

You should make sure you show that the Secondary Transfer Test results are not as expected.

Also show that your child would be academically able to meet the demands of a grammar school.

When you send us the Headteacher's Selection Review Summary Sheet, as well as your evidence you can also include old school reports.

Do not include schoolwork as the Panel will not consider this.

Requesting a Selection Review

You can request a Selection Review as your child has not qualified for a grammar school. To complete this form you will need the following

  • Student ID number, you can find this on your child's results email
  • your child's school or Headteachers email address

By completing this request form your child's school will be sent a notification informing the school that you are considering a Selection Review and that you may request the Headteacher to complete a 'Selection Review Summary Sheet for Headteacher's' form for your child.

Request a review now

Submitting a Selection Review

You will be sent an email with information on the Selection Review process and a link to the online form that you will need to submit your child's Selection Review.

An email will also be sent to your Headteacher with a link to the online form for the Headteacher’s Selection Review Summary Sheet. Ask your child's headteacher to complete this.

This gives the Selection Review Panel up-to-date information about how your child is doing at school. You will be sent a copy by email once your Headteacher has completed the form. The Headteacher form will automatically be included as part of your Selection Review application unless you advise us you do not want it included.

The deadline to submit online Selection Review Form is 3 November. You will need to upload your supporting information and evidence at the same time.

Late reviews

We will only accept completed review requests received after 3 November if:

  • your child did not receive their results on 13 October
  • there are exceptional reasons for not meeting the deadline (you will need to provide third party evidence to confirm these reasons)

When will I know the outcome of my review?

Review outcomes are not available until after all the Selection Review Panels have met and moderation is complete. During moderation we check to ensure consistency from panel to panel. It is only once this part of the process is over that we can tell you the outcome of your child's review.

We will tell you the outcome of your child's review on 16 February.

At the same time, we tell the headteachers of state funded Buckinghamshire primary and Partner schools the outcomes for children at their schools.

The allocation on 1 March will take the review decision into account.

If your child qualifies at review

If your child has qualified at review, there is nothing else you need to do. We will consider your grammar school preferences and will tell you the outcome of your secondary school application on 1 March.

For successful reviews heard after February, we look at your grammar school preferences in the next allocation round. We will then let you know if we can offer your child a place at one of your preferred grammar schools.

If your child does not qualify at review

If your child does not qualify at review, there is nothing else you can do immediately but after 1 March you can ask for an Independent Admission Appeal for a place at a particular grammar school.

Appeals take place from May 2024.

If you choose to appeal, as your child's case went to review, the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide whether the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective'.

It is only if the IAP agrees that it was not, that they will then be able to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the particular grammar school.

Last year they decided that of the 106 grammar appeals heard where they had been to selection review, only 2 appeals were successful.

View more general information about the appeal process, and for more detailed information view grammar school appeals (qualified and unqualified).