Welcome to the learning-obsessed Team of One that is 11plushappy!

I’m Lee Mottram and I love teaching. I tutor full time one to one 11 plus tuition for grammar schools and independent schools;  KS2 English and Maths; and KS3 and GCSE English tuition (Grades 8s and 9s this year – well done, amazing students!)  I was an incredibly happy primary teacher and music teacher at The Priory Primary CE School in Wimbledon. I’m also an author (and have been since filling up several school jotters at a time with stories at the age of seven!), blessed dad and husband, and a songwriter in love with music, as well as a cyclist in love with nature.

11plushappy exists for parents, children and tutors. To offer parents encouragement and skills to start, maintain and complete 11plus studies and support their child as best they can. It exists because of an utter belief that access to an amazing secondary school is life-changing. My Dad worked in a factory his whole life, until redundancy introduced him to his own creativity and love for the countryside; at the other end of two generations of education, my own children are now an engineer and a medical student. That is not privilege, that is not luck; it is education and love and effort and commitment. And a love of learning.

11plushappy is where I blog 11plus and education tips, insights and support. It’s also where I offer 11plus and tuition-focused books and resources: creative writing guides, models of successful fiction and non-fiction, as well as eleven plus planners aimed at helping tutors, parents and children stay on the same page.

I’m also here to offer online tuition and a marking and assessment service for your child’s writing. Please get in touch at leemottram@11plushappy.com.

Why do I teach? I blame three early influences:

  1. My Mum and Dad. My Mum always said: “Children come 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last,” meaning children are the priority. Both my parents lived this – and still do with their grand children – and infused a love of wanting to help children be safe, thrive and discover the best life opportunities.
  2. My own primary head teacher – the unrepeatable Nancy Fitzgerald, who cared for and pushed her children with an energy as unrelenting as it was successful. Her favourite saying, always said with a smile, ‘Wheesht!” taught me much. It means don’t complain, get on with it. Show what you can do. Stop making excuses. Learn. Succeed.
  3. My own love for learning. It’s been around for as long as I have. Mum tells me I gave her book after book after book for her to read to me when I was a toddler. By 7, I was writing 3-jotter epic stories about fighting giant bugs underground. When we moved to the countryside, my best friends were books. Literally. The children of my small village school initially ignored me as a frightening outsider. By the time they were my friends, I’d read poetry, Hardy, Grassic-Gibbon, Kipling, anything I could get my hands on. When I became a dad, the only thing I ever wanted to do was pass on a love of learning to my children – the power of learning is unique. There is nothing more beautiful, more democratic, more enabling, more likely to bring opportunity, more likely to encourage a child to make their own opportunities. Education.

Fast forward, and I had the time of my life teaching my son prepare for his 11plus entrance exams, to Wilson’s School in Wallington. Such a good time that I wrote a kindle book about the experience. (Before that, I had enjoyed teaching him about the world so much that I became a primary teacher; it’s because of his endless questions and my endless love of learning that you’re reading this.)

My son was, thankfully, successful in securing a place in his first choice grammar.

It was then my daughter’s turn. Another two years later, and she, too, managed to gain a place into her first choice grammar.

Then came more books, and a transition to online teaching during COVID, which has turned out to be fantastic fun and highly effective. Places won include Wilson’s, Wallington Girls, Nonsuch, Tiffin for Girls, Surbiton, Kingston Grammar, Ibstock, Queen Elizabeth, Queen’s College, St Alban’s for Girls.

I’m currently in the process of re-writing and publishing updated paperback versions of the books, as well as a children’s story.

Again, the ultimate ‘about’ fact is that I believe a love of learning is the ultimate super-power, the ultimate source of freedom, growth and happiness.

I also love teachers, tutors and parents. My books and planners are those I use in my own tuition, with my own parents and families. Getting everyone on the same page is so important. For example, the planners I’ve put together are born from pain and overwhelm: emails, Skype, Whatsapp, texts, phone calls – just to stay on top of homework and be clear of learning. A single, paper-based planner puts the child at the heart of tutor/teacher/family/child communication. Everyone knows what is happening, every lesson, every piece of homework. It sort of sums up what I hope you find at 11plushappy!

In my blog, you’ll find insights and practical tips taken from my books, as well as learning and insights from my teaching sessions.  Every child is a teacher, and I have never yet left a lesson without learning something. (Hopefully, my students feel the same way.)

Most of all, this site exists to cheer you on and remind you are doing the right thing by putting your child first and jumping into the amazing marathon that is preparing for the 11plus. We know all success comes not from the big day, but from the thousands of small days that lead to it.

Even more special than the outcome is perhaps the greatest gift of all: the extra time you spend alongside your child. Being together as you learn together, creating fun learning moments – a maths cafe under the table, measuring the garden with spaghetti sticks…the opportunities for fun and relationship building are endless. I know that all the time I spent alongside my own children has given us strongly rooted friendships and trust. Similarly, seeing current parents and students on their path is hugely rewarding. Watching our children learn and grow is among our most special, privileged, peak life experiences. If this site can help you and your child along your journey, it will have succeeded.

Start learning, stay learning and stay 11plus happy.

To your child’s education, to your child’s future,

My best, Lee Mottram

London 2023

    • Hi Waleed, The second edition will be ready by the end of May, as will another two books. One is on recognising and beating the tricks tests play in Multiple Choice English, while the second book is a much-expanded version of the writing guide in the 1st edition, crucially with lots of modelled examples stories and non-fiction writing to help children see the tips in action. These will be ready at the same time, the idea being to offer children and parents a truly helpful, practical kit to conquer 11 Plus English.

      • Thank you,Lee, your book is an inspiration to me and my son. The resources are still relevant. I look forward to your new books.

        In the recommended books, Is it just the books recommended found in your blog, or all the books in the series. The Bond definetly had more books as well as CGP than the links in your website.

        It is a shame, I couldn’t access them directly from your book.

        Thanks again. I look forward to your reply.

        Best Regards,

      • Hi Waleed, I would honestly try all the books in the series, with one proviso. Supposing your son is 8, for example, perhaps try him on an age below to gain early success, but if he finds the age below him too easy, I wouldn’t buy any more in that series. Move to to the 8-9 yrs. Within his age bracket, I would recommend as many in the series as you can find and budget for, simply to gain wider practice with speed and different texts. The assessment papers, stretch papers and ten minute tests I all find very useful. Equally, there are lots of books, as you rightly point out, in the Schofield & Sims series. Again, these offer fantastic range – the Mental Arithmetic series I absolutely love. Other titles focus on one topic, e.g. Fractions. Perhaps be a little more discerning and specific in choosing from these titles according to your son’s needs. There’s little point in times tables books, for example, if he is managing these very well – there is a lot of available material elsewhere, and you would be better using funds for other titles down the road. It is a marathon.
        I agree completely that it’s frustrating not to be able to access the titles direct. Amazon don’t allow links to their website from within kindle titles -perhaps this will change at some point. This is why I thought the pages of links might still be helpful, as they do allow links to other websites. In our time-poor lives, however, I appreciate there is close to no time to add even one extra click to our lives!
        I hope the Easter period is a happy time of rest and learning, and I’m over the moon to think a parent and child could get inspiration from the book to help their journey.
        My very best, Lee

      • Hi Waleed, how is your 11 plus journey with your son? Is it over yet, or are you still preparing for next year? I wanted to follow up and let you know at last – a lot longer than I planned – the multiple choice and creative writing books are out at last. I hope all is well with you, my best, Lee

  • Hello Lee,

    My daughter has been looking at some bits for taking her Eleven plus exams in September, We haven’t had a tutor but saw your link for your course material

    The exam boards for the Grammer schools we have local to us are as follows

    One school does the verbal reasoning standard paper and the multiple choice paper set by

    The other set by GLA and covers both verbal and non verbal papers

    Are your publications suitable for both please

    • Hi Shirley, Thank you so much for asking about the suitability of the materials for your daughter’s entrance exam.
      If only verbal and non-verbal reasoning are being tested, then definitely not. If the multiple choice is an English exam, then the Happy Hacks Multiple choice book would definitely be a huge support, but it doesn’t discuss verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Similarly, The Creative Writing models focus on specific creative writing must-haves, which are not tested in verbal and non-verbal.
      I’m really happy you thought to ask first. What materials are you using to rehearse verbal and non-verbal?
      My best, Lee Mottram