Com­mit­tee to de­bate fair­ness of 11-plus

Exam ap­pears to favour pupils at pri­vate schools

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Lor­can Lovett lor­can.lovett@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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?”

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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.

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