The Head Start Programme of Study
Our programme of study is split into three terms; Michaelmas (Autumn), Hilary (Spring) and Trinity (Summer). It begins in October at the beginning of the academic year and runs continuously through to the 11+ exams in the September at the beginning of the next academic year. The programme consists of…
- 27 weekly classes, up to 2.5 hours long, spanning the academic year from October to July
- Two Mock Test sessions consisting of 4 mock tests in all disciplines within the 11+
- The 2-day Learning & Assessment course consisting of 16 hours contact time and 3 exams
- The 5-day Summer School consisting of 40 hours contact time, over 26 hours of tuition and 7 exams in July and August.
- Four 3-hour long revision sessions consisting of 12 hours contact time and 6 exams in August and September
Eight phases of unique and intensive education at its best
Within the three terms, there are eight ‘phases’ of study (plus the Mock Tests), designed to stimulate learning and development of a deeper understanding through our own inimitable teaching styles. This constitutes a thorough, structured and well-balanced programme of study throughout the year that will significantly improve your child’s’ prospects of success…
Phase 1 – ‘Introductory’
This first phase of eight stepping-stones to success, introduces your child to the Head Start programme, the fundamental elements of each of the 11+ disciplines, the question types they are likely to encounter, and the basic skills required to answer them, as well as introducing lateral thinking to develop a greater foundation for their preparations later on in the course programme.
Since the switch back to GL Assessment as the provider of the 11+ assessment in 2018, the curriculum has doubled in size and scope to include the traditional GL Verbal Reasoning element (pre-2012) in addition to the Maths, English Skills and Non-Verbal reasoning elements introduced by CEM (2012-2017). Due to the sheer amount of time required to cover all of the question types the children are likely to encounter, this phase is no longer an optional extra but a fundamental part of the course of study to ensure your child is adequately prepared for the year ahead.
This phase is also an opportunity for our staff to get to know the character of your child and their specific learning requirements at an early stage of the course. Equally we believe that it is very important that your child has the chance get to know us and to familiarise themselves with the structure of Head Start classes whilst developing the necessary attitude to learning required to succeed in the 11+.
This Phase is listed as ‘AM ONLY’, however if you wish to attend a PM class this can be arranged so please call us to discuss.
Phase 2 & 3 – ‘Preparatory’ and ‘Foundation’
These phases are designed to familiarize your child further with the essential elements of the 11+ and to build on the basic knowledge and skills gained on the Introductory Phase in such a way so as to allow your child to successfully implement what they have learned directly to the 11+ question format. Classes take the form of 2.5hr sessions with worksheets focussed on developing the children’s ability in each particular question type within each section of the 11+, supported by a weekly homework programme that reinforces what they have learned in class, improving their memory retention. We also work on the ‘visceral ‘elements of the 11+ curriculum – general knowledge, vocabulary, basic numeracy and English skills etc – all of which are often neglected by schools but are vital to success in the 11+, giving them the necessary preparation and foundation for the phases that follow.
Phase 4 – ‘Two Day Learning & Assessment’
This is an extremely important phase of the programme. On this course, the children are introduced to the notion of working against the clock and are taught the essential strategies required to help them manage time effectively. At this stage the children are also introduced to the multiple-choice answer format in the current 11+ selection procedures, and the format of the 11+ tests themselves. They also learn fundamental exam technique and strategy that will help them to approach and complete the test as efficiently and effectively as possible, in a way that will help maximize their ability and potential.
A large part of the two-day period is devoted to working through and familiarizing the children with the various types of questions and learning the appropriate methodologies and skills required to find the correct solution to the problems presented. The children will work through the exhaustive Head Start practice and familiarization booklet which will introduce them to and familiarize them with, every question type encountered in the 11+ and our Assessment tests. The children will take a 50-minute Preliminary Test, which acts like a mock test at the end of Day 1, which will familiarize them with the test format and prepare them for the rigors of the 2-test Assessment the following day. It does not count toward their final Assessment result but gives us a reference point when analysing and interpreting their performance in the Assessment Tests and thus their overall ability and potential.
The culmination of the two-day session is the Assessment examinations, set and conducted in the standard 11+ format, with the children taking one test in Verbal Skills which tests their verbal reasoning and English skills; and a second test of maths and non-verbal reasoning. These tests are typical of what the children can expect in the 11+ in regard to style, format and content.
The Assessment results and subsequent analysis will be compiled in a detailed report for your interest to aid in your decision making and how to guide your child in the months leading up to the 11+ and beyond.
This course has historically been held at Easter, however, with the increased demands of the GL syllabus, we recognize the need to provide such an assessment earlier on in the year. We are pleased therefore to offer parents this course in the February half term as well the Easter holiday, giving you and us more time to act on the results and more flexibility in terms of planning your holidays.
The Head Start Assessment Report
The ‘Assessment Report’ has been finely tuned over the 25 years that we have been providing education and tuition for the 11+ and 12+ examination procedure. In providing you with this report, we aim to give you comprehensive and throrough feedback on your Child’s current ability and learning potential; a snapshot, if you will, as to how your child would perform in the 11+ at that moment in time. The report forms a vital component of our assessment process and is the most effective way of communicating our thoughts and expert opinion to you as to how your child is doing together with a realistic prediction as to how your child may perform in the 11+ later on that year. This will hopefully aid in your decision making on how to guide your child in the months leading up to the 11+ and beyond, at school and at home.
The Assessment report will include…
- A table with breakdown of each of the tests with the total score; the score for each element of the test (maths, English skills, verbal & non-verbal reasoning), and score for each question type to help you identify specific areas of strength and areas for focus and improvement
- A comprehensive written analysis by and feedback from our tutors as to your child’s performance over the two days of assessment
- A graphical representation of your child’s results and their performance in each of the elements over both tests
- A projection of the score your child is likely to achieve in the 11+ based on their performance in class and the exams, and the time remaining until the 11+
‘The Head Start Assessment without the learning’. The Mock Tests are ideal for giving your child a taste of what to expect in the 11+. Children can attend one or both of the sessions on offer and will encounter two test papers written by and exclusive to Head Start Education and Tuition at each session, under examination conditions similar to that of the 11+. The tests will be similar in style and include content at a similar level of difficulty to that expected of the GL Assessment Tests that your child will experience in the 2022 Buckinghamshire 11+ selection procedure. You can think of the Mock Tests as a ‘rehearsal’ for the 11+ and, as such, play a crucial part in reducing the element of uncertainty and unfamiliarity that comes with taking the 11+ without any previous experience or practice. It also allows us and you to gain yet more insight into the areas of the curriculum where your child is strong or where they need to devote further attention, which is highlighted in our Mock Test Report and sent to you following the Mock Tests.
Phases 5 & 6 – ‘Progression’ & ‘Extension’
These sessions are designed for children whose parents would like their child to have a more protracted period of study so as to enable them to develop the knowledge and skills introduced during previous phases. In Phase 5 and beginning of Phase 6, we continue with the process of practise and familiarisation, reinforcing what has been learned previously, revisiting question types for a second and, where necessary, third time to give the children the opportunity to build upon, progress and extend their knowledge and understanding achieved during previous phases. This provides the continuity of learning and consequent growth of self-confidence so essential for success. We also place a heavy emphasis on exam strategy and time management with timed worksheets and, during Phase 6 in particular, mini tests written exclusively for our programme of study which allows the children to hit the ground running at Summer School.
Phase 7 – ‘Summer School’
Our very first course 25 years ago; the renowned Head Start Summer School is now our ‘flagship’ phase of study and the heart and culmination of the entire Head Start programme. Please see our separate Summer School page for more information.
Phase 8 – ‘Revision’
The Revision phase takes place immediately prior to the examination period, helping to maintain the momentum built at Summer School, providing our students with a ‘running head start’ as they approach the 11+ tests. The phase is comprised of four 3-hour classes and carefully structured to provide a comprehensive revision of everything learned to date.
Over the four sessions, the children will take six revision tests under exam conditions and go through every question they got incorrect with the guidance of our teachers. This process is invaluable as it ensures that our students not only retain the many vital skills and knowledge they have acquired in preparing for the 11+, but also provide an opportunity for them to fine-tune those skills and fill any remaining gaps in their knowledge and understanding that may be identified and address any issues that may arise. This is also the last opportunity for them to receive our infamous Head Start pep talks; to be reminded of all the important expert advice given to them previously and of course, for them to ask our experienced teachers any final questions about any aspect of the upcoming exams.
This course is conducive to a ‘leave no stone unturned’ approach and getting the children ‘match fit’ and ‘raring to go’ for the challenge that lies ahead. It is during this phase that children can gain that extra confidence needed to perform at their very best so is vital at such a pivotal stage of their 11+ preparations.
Although we strongly advise your child’s attendance on all phases of the programme, you may consider certain phases more relevant than others. With our flexible programme structure and payment options, we can, of course, accommodate your individual requirements. If you have any queries or would like to know more about the phases of the programme and what we can offer, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Head Start Staff
We are very proud of the high standards we set ourselves at Head Start, and equally as proud of the excellent results achieved by our pupils. To maintain the standards of Head Start, it is our policy to only recruit the very best teachers. To teach in such a specialised field, it is a prerequisite that all members of the teaching staff meet the very specific requirements needed to work for Head Start.
You can be assured that our staff are of the highest calibre, lead by experienced Head Teachers, working within the current education system at top educational establishments. All of our teachers are caring, experienced, interesting, entertaining and efficient, and every one devoted to your child’s individual and specific needs.