Last weekend the Observer
published an article about a new "tutor-proof" test that has been introduced by some selective schools, allegedly to try and increase the diversity of their intakes. Clearly the extremely low percentages of pupils eligible for Free School Meals gaining access to the grammars is becoming a bit of an embarrassment. Even the Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw
recently noted that grammar schools tend to be "stuffed full of middle class kids" and have little part to play in improving social mobility.
So how is the new "tutor proof" test going? In 2013, Bucks grammar schools introduced a new 11+ test for the 2014 entry, which they claimed would be ‘tutor proof’. An LSN supporter has sent us the data published by Bucks County Council in February 2014 showing how the test is working in practice. It shows:
Under the new 11+ test, a child from a state primary school in Bucks had a 20% chance of getting a grammar school place, while a child from a private school had a 50% chance. The probability of a child from a state primary school in Bucks ‘passing’ the 11+ decreased by nearly 4 percentage points with the introduction of the new test.
Between 2013 and 2014 the proportion of Bucks grammar school places going to children from local state primary schools decreased from 44% to 38%. Despite the number of applicants from Bucks state primary schools increasing by nearly 300 in 2014, 110 fewer children from these schools won a grammar school place.
The number of Bucks grammar school places going to children from out of the county increased by 336, or 40%, between 2013 and 2014.
In short access to grammar schools for the least affluent and local children in Bucks seems to be getting worse, not better. As I suggested to the Observer, parents with know-how and money will always be able to buy their children competitive advantage in selective systems. They will work out how to prep for whatever test is going. A much simpler solution to the blatant unfairness of the 11 plus test , which will always mean the majority of children are rejected at 11, would be to abolish it altogether.