‘Keep top schools un­der scru­tiny’

Paul Fran­cis Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Nursery Birthday -

Schools should be mon­i­tored more closely over whether they are eject­ing un­der-per­form­ing sixth form stu­dents to boost their stand­ing in league ta­bles, ac­cord­ing to a cam­paign group.

The Kent Ed­u­ca­tion Net­work, which op­poses gram­mar schools, said KCC should over­see what poli­cies sec­ondary schools adopted over sixth form stu­dents who did poorly in AS ex­ams in Year 12.

Claims that some of Kent’s top sec­ondary schools en­cour­age un­der-per­form­ing stu­dents to leave have come un­der re­newed scru­tiny af­ter par­ents started le­gal pro­ceed­ings against St Olave’s Gram­mar School in Or­p­ing­ton.

The ac­tion was brought by fam­i­lies who be­lieved their chil­dren had been ex­cluded af­ter their first year in the sixth form for do­ing poorly in AS ex­ams.

How­ever, the school has now of­fered to take back the stu­dents it asked to leave – avoid­ing what could have been an em­bar­rass­ing court case.

Pub­lic­ity sur­round­ing the St Olave’s case is re­ported to have trig­gered dozens of sim­i­lar com­plaints from par­ents else­where in­clud­ing Kent.

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment, the De­part­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion un­der­lined that schools could only ex­clude pupils for dis­ci­plinary mat­ters, not for poor standards.

It is­sued a state­ment say­ing: “Our reg­u­la­tions make clear that schools are not al­lowed to re­move pupils from a sixth form be­cause of aca­demic at­tain­ment once they are en­rolled.

“Ex­clud­ing pupils tem­po­rar­ily or per­ma­nently for non-dis­ci­pli- nary rea­sons is un­law­ful.”

Jo Bart­ley, of the cam­paign group Kent Ed­u­ca­tion Net­work, said KCC should be more pro-ac­tive mon­i­tor­ing schools, al­though the power of au­thor­i­ties over acad­e­mies is limited.

“Some schools clearly care more about their po­si­tion in the league ta­bles than the wel­fare of their pupils. It is def­i­nitely some­thing that should be mon­i­tored and KCC should be do­ing it.”

Peter Read, a former Kent gram­mar school head­teacher and ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tant, was one of the first to flag up the is­sue.

He ques­tioned last year the num­ber of stu­dents who had left two of the county’s top-per­form­ing schools – In­victa Gram­mar School and Maid­stone Girls Gram­mar.

He said there were sug­ges­tions, firmly de­nied by the schools, that stu­dents who did not se­cure top grades in their AS lev­els were en­cour­aged to leave as a way of the schools main­tain­ing their rep­u­ta­tion for A-level re­sults.

“Schools are un­der pres­sure to de­liver re­sults. What they are do­ing is forc­ing chil­dren out… There’s some­thing very, very wrong.”

In­de­pen­dent ed­u­ca­tion ad­viser Peter Read flagged up prob­lems sur­round­ing the num­ber of pupils leav­ing top-per­form­ing schools

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