PLANS TO GIVE KIDS IN CARE GRAMMAR CHANCE
Councillor passionate about helping looked after pupils
VULNERABLE children who failed the 11-plus exams could still be allowed to attend Bucks grammar schools in a ground-breaking move for the county, if new plans are given the go-ahead.
Bucks County Councillor (BCC) Gareth Williams is calling for Dr Challoner’s High School to be given discretionary powers to allow children living in care, who have not passed the entrance exams, to attend the school. If plans are given the green light, the councillor for Amersham and Chesham Bois hopes the new rules will be rolled out to grammar schools across Bucks in a bid to close the county’s attainment gap.
Dr Challoner’s High School in Little Chalfont and The Virtual School – which provides educational support for looked-after children - is working with BCC to attempt to change the admission criteria.
The council understands this could be a first for the UK.
Cllr Williams said: “I met a young girl at the Children in Care awards. She was articulate and was just coming back into the county following a successful foster care placement.
“She was an ideal candidate for the grammar school, however because she had not passed her 11-plus she wasn’t given a place.
“There is no leniency in the system for those who did not pass their 11plus, but had difficult circumstances. Particularly if there had been difficulties at home or had been going through a court case.
“It would allow the headteacher to admit looked after children as and when the virtual school recommends.”
Last month it was reported that almost two-thirds of vulnerable children are under-performing at primary school level – having not achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.
There are currently a “pitiful” number of ‘ looked-after’ children in the county’s grammar schools, according to Cllr Williams, however he added that talks are still in the early stages.
He said: “There may be some legal reason as to why we can’t do this.
“This is something I am extremely passionate about – it is pitiful the number of looked-after children in Bucks grammar schools.
“We are supposed to be corporate parents. I look at ‘looked after’ children as a parent. What do we have to try to do to make sure they have the opportunities and access to this form of education?”
If legally sound, the plans will have to be given the green light by the Government before they are implemented.