Grammar schools

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Calls to scrap school admissions rule in Bexley

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Calls have been made to scrap a school admissions rule in Bexley which prioritises grammar students with high selection test scores even if they live outside the borough.

Opposition councillors are asking for the “180 rule” to be dropped after new figures showed 50.1% of grammar school pupils live outside Bexley.

The rule means places are prioritised for children living outside the borough if they are one of the 180 highest scorers in selection tests. Admission criteria also favour pupils who have siblings in schools or staff children above children living in the borough.

Councillor Wendy Perfect, shadow spokeswoman for education, said Bexley parents are being offered a false promise.

Cllr Perfect said: “They are being told that grammar schools are provided in Bexley to allow their children to fulfil their potential, but last year Bexley’s four grammar schools’ admission criteria resulted in less than 30% of those students deemed selective at the test living in Bexley.”

A spokesman for Bexley Council said: “The four grammar schools in Bexley are all academies and as such they set their own admissions criteria.

“This includes the guarantee that any child, regardless of where they live, will be offered the grammar school place they want as long they are one of the highest 180 scorers.

“The policy was introduced to ensure that all children from all across the borough had an equal chance of a grammar school place.

KCC leader calls for review of 11+ rules

Paul Carter, Kent County Council
Paul Carter was speaking on the day a BBC investigation revealed private schools were coaching

A ban on in-school coaching for the 11 plus exam should be reviewed, the leader of Kent County Council has said.

In-school coaching is not allowed by the council, to level the playing field for grammar school access across independent and state primaries.

But an undercover BBC reporter visited 10 fee-paying primary schools in Kent and found nine were tutoring pupils.

Council leader Paul Carter said: "Why shouldn't local schools, as well as private schools, be able to coach?"

A BBC South East reporter posing as a parent found the private schools were running extra classes and summer schools focusing on the exam.

Also referred to locally as the Kent Test or Medway Test, it consists of English, maths and reasoning.

Mr Carter told the BBC a review was needed. He said: "All schools should be helping and supporting those that have got the ability to get into grammar school, to help, support and prepare them for the 11 plus."

Asked if it was time to get rid of the ban on coaching within schools, he said: "That's my view. Why shouldn't local schools, alongside the private schools be able to coach their children to pass the 11 plus."

Angela Culley, from the Independent Schools Association, said she disagreed with stigmatising private school coaching, when families also had the option to hire private tutors.

She said: "Out there we have tutoring centres preparing children for the 11+ exam. What's the difference?"

Read the full story here.

Undercover filming at 10 Kent private primary schools
Nine out of 10 private primary schools are revealed as breaking rules around coaching for 11+ exams.
An anti-grammar school campaign says the Kent Test is unfair
An anti-grammar campaigner says the Kent Test is unfair and favours children from wealthy families.