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Are pupils who do not live in Bucks allowed to take the 11+?

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

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The secondary transfer test in Buckinghamshire is one of the most competitive entrance exams in the country. The high quality of the grammar schools available, combined with the low number of spaces available, means that there is competition for spaces. The Grammar schools are so well thought of that pupils from all over the country take the 11+ each year, in the hopes of gaining a place at one of the prestigious schools.

How many pupils take the 11+ each year?

In 2021-22* a total of 9,520 pupils sat the secondary transfer test in Buckinghamshire. What you may find surprising is that only 5,908 of those pupils actually live in Buckinghamshire. The remaining 3,612 pupils (36%) who took the test were from ‘out-of-county’. The number of pupils who sat the Buckinghamshire 11+ who lived in London was greater than the number of pupils from the South Bucks demographic region. So why is this allowed?

Why are pupils from out-of-county allowed to take the 11+?

This is a good question. The 11+ has always been available to people who live outside of Buckinghamshire so that parents who were looking to move to the area did not want to miss out on a grammar school place if they did move. Now, it has become common place for pupils to sit the Bucks 11+ from all over the country. The grammar schools in Bucks are so well thought of that people are willing to up route their families in order for their children to attend one. One parent described it to me a few years ago when they said ‘we moved here because the Grammar Schools are better than Private Schools, but they are free’. When your options are a private school (at around £30,000 per year) or a free place at a state Grammar School for the same, or better quality of education and opportunity, it becomes very clear why so many pupils from out of county sit the secondary transfer test.

Does this put pupils from Buckinghamshire at a disadvantage?

In simple terms, yes. The more pupils that take the secondary transfer test, especially from out-of-county, the less chance there is that a child from Buckinghamshire will pass. You only need to look at the recent data published by The Bucks Grammar Schools to see the evidence of this (link can be found at the bottom of this article). This has been most profound in the Aylesbury Vale area, where the pass rate for pupil sitting the 11+ who attend a primary school in Aylesbury stands at around 21%. Which, when compared to an ‘out-of-county’ area such as Wokingham, which had a 75% pass rate, you can see the direct impact that the out-of-county pupils are having on pupils prospects in Buckinghamshire.

Does this impact the chances of my child being accepted at their first choice school?

Location (catchment) still plays a major role in allocation of school places. Someone who lives in Aylesbury is far more likely to be awarded a space at one of the three Grammar Schools local to the town (Aylesbury Grammar School, Aylesbury High School, Henry Floyd Grammar School) then a pupil from Worcester (for example). A pupil living in High Wycombe who passes the 11+ will be offered a space at one of the local Grammar Schools before a pupil from out-of-county.

What does this mean for the future?

Whilst it is a worrying trend that more and more pupils are sitting the Buckinghamshire 11+ from ’out-of-county’ each year, which is making it more challenging for pupils living within the county to gain a place at a Grammar School, it is very unlikely that there will ever be a cap on the number of pupils who sit the 11+ from out-of-county. This means that with the number of Grammar Schools not going to be increasing any time soon, yet the number of people living within Buckinghamshire increasing, and the number of pupils applying from out-of-county increasing, then competition for places is only going to grow.

For information about how we could help your child as they prepare to take the 11 plus please visit our course page ( or contact us directly via email at

All information for this article was gathered from The Bucks Grammar Schools website, specifically an article, which can be found at:

*all figure obtained from the Bucks Grammar Schools website (

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