Disadvantaged pupils offered Birmingham grammar school places

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Academy boss
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Heath Monk said the changes would lead to a "fairer and more transparent system in the future"

Almost 200 children from low income families are to be offered places at grammar schools, after a change to their entrance criteria.

The King Edward state grammar schools in Birmingham said the changes were to make its six free sites more inclusive.

The 193 disadvantaged children who passed the entrance exam, which is 30% more than last year, are to be offered places in the September intake.

The school said it was "delighted" to have increased opportunities.

The changes were made at King Edward VI's Aston School, Camp Hill Schools for Boys and Girls, Five Ways School and Handsworth Schools for Boys and Girls.

They meant the schools prioritised children who achieved higher exam marks and who also lived in the catchment area of their local selective school.

But each applicant deemed to come from a disadvantaged background and also living locally was permitted entry if they achieved the standard qualifying score.

Only about 900 places are available and admission criteria has not previously considered where an applicant lives, with places in 2017 offered to children as far afield as Derby.

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Image caption,
The changes cover all six free grammar schools including King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School for Boys

The changes attracted some opposition from parents, who said it gave "unfair advantage" to some children.

But last year the Office of the Schools Adjudicator found the arrangements were "objective" and did not operate "unfairly".

Heath Monk, executive director of the King Edward VI Foundation said: "We have always recognised that there would be winners and losers under the changes that we have made.

"But we believe that they will lead to a fairer and more transparent system in the future."

The catchment areas and scores will be kept under review, he said.

Handsworth School for Girls has also received a £2.7m grant under the Department for Education Selective Schools Expansion Fund, allowing it to offer an extra 32 places.

Head teacher Amy Whittall said: "The grant will not only allow the school to increase its intake, but will also enable us to create a modern Design and Technology facility, encouraging more girls to pursue careers in, for example, engineering."

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