For parents, it can be confusing choosing a secondary school for your child. This guide explains the selective school system in Merseyside and our next blog will advise how to best prepare your child for the 11+ exams.

Merseyside operates a comprehensive schooling system with some schools offering entrance examinations to gain places. These exams can be in Maths, English, Verbal, Non Verbal Reasoning or some schools offer places based on Music and Drama examinations. Accelerate can help with preparations for all the academic entrance exams and more details follow below. If you are interested in the schools you can apply for, please follow the link to Liverpool Council’s website:

Merseyside’s selective schools all have differing entry requirements, at the time of writing this blog the information below was correct.

The Blue Coat School

The Blue Coat School is Liverpool’s only Grammar School, has Academy status but is wholly selective. It is a mixed school and admits 180 children each year into Year 7. The 11+ test is marked out of 450. Typically scores from children who are admitted range from 330-410.

Eligibility for a place is based on the following criteria:

  1. Up to 27 places for children who achieve a score of 320 or more and are entitled to free school meals
  2. Remaining places are allocated to highest scores
  3. In the event of a tie, the place will go to the highest non-verbal reasoning score. If there is still a tie, the highest English score will determine the result.

Liverpool College and Belvedere Academy

Liverpool College and Belvedere Academy operate a fair banding assessment process this means that pupils are separated into different bands based on how they perform in the exam and places are randomly selected from each of these bands. (Please note that private tuition is not a requirement for entrance into these schools as they offer fair banding).

All applicants to Liverpool College must sit a 30 minute non-verbal reasoning test. In addition there is a musical aptitude tests which has 2 parts. The first is a listening exercises and the top scorers are invited back for an oral test. There is no performance element involved. 9 places are given to the top children who complete the second Musical Aptitude test.

`The non-verbal reasoning scores are grouped according to the outcome and have 5 criteria which determines the likelihood of selection from each band. The first criteria is if an applicant has a sibling in the school, the second criteria is for looked after or previously looked after children and the third is for children of staff. Applicants of these three criteria are selected as a priority out of the banding groups. 50% of the remaining places will be offered to pupils in the band who live within a two mile radius of the main entrance gates of the Liverpool College site by random allocation.

The rest of the places are randomly chosen from the band. To increase the likelihood of getting a place, an applicant must either excel in the Musical Aptitude test or be considered to have one of the 3 priority criterias to have preference for selection, but there is no guarantee for any applicant to be awarded a place. For further information, please contact the school registrar at or 0151 724 1611.

The Belvedere Academy uses the results from the assessment to form 5 ability bands, each containing 20% of the cohort. They will then allocate places from each band in the following order; first to looked after or previously looked after children, followed by those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) that names The Belvedere Academy as the only school they can attend, then siblings, followed by children of teaching staff.

The remainder of places within each band will  be randomly allocated. 13 places are awarded to the children with the top verbal reasoning scores for their ability to learn Modern Foreign Languages so the only way to guarantee a place at Belvedere is by getting a score in the top 13 for verbal reasoning.

St Margaret’s, St Hilda’s

In addition, there are two partially selective schools in Liverpool; St Margaret’s and St Hilda’s. These are both Church of England faith based schools and take the majority of applicants based on their commitment to faith but there are some admissions for performance in the entrance exam. Applicants can apply using as many routes as they desire to gain a place.

St Margaret’s awards 136 places to boys who are “looked after” or previously looked after, boys with a statement of Special Educational Need that names St Margaret’s as the only school the boy can attend, boys who have particular medical or social need and the remaining are on the basis of faith. 24 places are awarded for performance on the exam to applicants who have not already gained one of the 136 places.

St Hilda’s admits 170 year 7 pupils every September and 135 places will be given for applicants with a parent teaching at the school, children who are looked after or have a statement of SEN and the rest for commitment to faith.

Due to the multiple ways to gain a place at these schools, the top 24/25 scores in the exams may already have a place so it is possible to gain a place through the exam by finishing in the top 70 or 80 because the other applicants may gain a place using an alternative route.

Merchant Taylors and St Mary’s College

There are two fee paying schools which have an entrance examination and both are based in Crosby.

Merchant Taylors’ has both an independent school for 11-18 aged boys and for 11-18 aged girls. It is a non-denominational Christian faith school with fees. To gain a place, applicants must complete an 11+ exam consisting of Maths, English and Verbal Reasoning and the minimum pass rate varies year to year depending on the number of applicants. These results are considered alongside a report from the applicant’s current school to award admission. Sibling discount is available. Each year the schools provide a limited number of assisted places to families who could not otherwise afford fees. These places are rigorously means tested.

St. Mary’s College is an independent Catholic school for boys and girl of all faiths which requires fees. Applicants are required to complete an interview, entrance exam and submit a reference from their Primary School. Successful candidates typically demonstrate in their academic assessments that they are at Level 4/5 in English and Mathematics. Art, Music and Sports scholarships are also available based on assessment of applicants’ ability in these areas. There is assistance with fees available to exceptional applicants, based on their academic ability but also taking parents’ earnings into consideration.

BLUE COAT - 0151 733 1407 MixedJulyMaths English Non-Verbal ReasoningLate September/Early OctoberSeptembertop 180 pupils12 Months Minimum
LIVERPOOL COLLEGE - 0151 724 4000 MixedJune
Non-Verbal Reasoning Multiple Choice
Optional Musical Aptitude Test
OctoberSeptember86 pupilsNA
BELVEDERE ACADEMY - 0151 727 1284 GirlsJune
Spatial & Numerical Non-Verbal Reasoning Verbal Reasoning Multiple ChoiceOctoberSeptember130 pupilsNA
ST MARGARET'S - 0151 427 1825 BoysJulyMaths EnglishSeptemberSeptember/October24 pupils admitted from exam
136 on faith or looked after/SEN basis
12 Months Minimum
ST HILDA'S - 0151 733 2709 MixedJulyaths English Non-Verbal ReasoningSeptemberOctober (Exam closing date: September 2017)25 pupils admitted from exam 135 on faith, looked after/SEN basis12 Months Minimum
MERCHANT TAYLORS' (fee paying) - 0151 949 9366 Separate Boys and Girls SchoolVisiting mornings through
Maths English Verbal ReasoningEnd of JanuaryEarly JanuaryUp to 90 Girls and 90 Boys admitted based on academic ability (a mixture of fee paying and assisted places are available)12 Months Minimum
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (fee paying)-0151 924 3926 MixedOpen Evening:
Thursday 27th September 2018, 4pm - 7pm
Open Morning: Saturday 29th September 2018, 10am - 12pm
Maths, English, Verbal ReasoningFriday 25th January 2019Mid January60-80 pupils based on the exam, interview and Primary School reference12 Months Minimum