Committee to debate fairness of 11-plus
Exam appears to favour pupils at private schools
GRAMMAR schools are to address concerns regarding the first set of results since changes were made to the 11-plus exam.
The Buckinghamshire Grammar School Heads group, who are now responsible for the Secondary Transfer Test (11+), will appear before the education, skills and children’s services select committee at County Hall, in Aylesbury, on Wednesday next week to answer questions about the changes.
The meeting follows criticism levied at the group regarding grammar schools being able to set their own admissions criteria as academies.
The new 11-plus exam was created by the Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring ( CEM) and was deemed to be ‘tutor proof ’. It was introduced last year at the grammar schools in the county.
But results obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the campaign group Local, Equal, Excellent, showed that fewer grammar school places were allocated to state school pupils.
The group’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Hickman, said: “Buckinghamshire grammar schools have spent tens of thousands of pounds of our money developing this new exam but now we know that it is fundamentally unfair.
“Grammar schools should be asked why children from less advantaged homes and from Pakistani and African-Caribbean communities continue to do worse than other children, under the new 11-plus exam.
“If you cannot develop an exam that is fair, then can the selective system itself ever be fair?”
The pass rates this year were 19.7 per cent of pupils at state schools and 70.1 per cent of private school pupils, compared with 23.4 per cent and 70.7 per cent, respectively, last year.
A private school child is now more than three-and-a-half times more likely to pass the 11-plus than a state school child.
Another topic on the agenda for next week’s meeting is the select committee’s inquiry into improving children’s social care in schools after Ofsted inspectors recently found provision in the county to be inadequate.
Committee members will also discuss the continuing inquiry into children’s internet safety and the way in which schools are striving for higher Ofsted rankings.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting, or watch the webcast via the Bucks County Council website.