11+ results: how do waiting lists work?

Feb 10th is D-Day for independent school 11+ results in London and many parents will be eagerly refreshing their emails in the morning.

When are 11+ results released?

Admissions departments will send results spread out throughout the day, with the majority to be expected between around 10am and 2pm, depending on the school. Some emails might come as late as 5pm. Admission emails often only contain the initial decision, whereas the outcome of scholarship applications might be sent by letter separately and arrive a day later.

Are all emails sent at the same time?

Given the large number of candidates, emails are often sent over a period of several hours. Some schools do split the email lists by categories (siblings might be first, scholarship holders might be last). Some schools also sent them in alphabetical order, though I have experienced both ways (from A – Z or Z- A). Please do not worry if a friend receives their email first, a later email does not necessarily mean bad news (and vice versa!).

What if my child is waitlisted?

The ideal scenario is of course a firm offer, or several offers. But waiting list offers are very common, so you might find yourself in the agonising situation of waiting for the outcome for months only to be told that there is some more waiting ahead. If you are still keen on the school that has waitlisted your child and you have not received an offer from a school you prefer, it is important to let the school know that you are still interested. Schools usually ask for parents to confirm if they would like to stay on the waiting list.

When will wait lists move?

While some schools advise not to expect movement until after state school offer day (March 1st), this is particularly true for schools in the vicinity of grammar schools (for example, Wimbledon High School or Kingston Grammar School in Southwest London, as well as NLCS or Highgate/Habs in North London). But there are some independent schools where waiting lists move as early as a week after offer day. They tend to be schools that have to over-offer significantly and hence find it trickier to forecast demand from year to year. These tend to keep a long waiting list and tap into it as soon as a significant number of initial offers have been declined.

Nevertheless, overall you should expect most movement between March 1st (state school offer day) and March 6th (acceptance deadline). It is quite common for the waiting list to move to a lesser extent in the days following the acceptance deadline all the way until the end of the Easter holiday. After that, there can be a tiny amount of movement all the way till the first weeks of September, but this would usually just be a few spaces.

If your child is waitlisted by your target school, I would advise waiting until the morning of March 6th to accept any firm offer. Following that, it is probably best to move on and accept your second option by noon.

Do waiting lists always move?

While occasionally there are cases when schools cannot go to waiting list at all – this happens when the takeup rate is far higher than they initially expected – in my experience, waiting lists will move in about 8 out of 10 if not 9 out of 10 schools. So a waiting list offer is certainly not bad news and there is usually a good chance there will be movement.

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