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Can a grammar school pupil be forced to leave school due to ‘poor’ AS level results?

(66 Posts)
Sunshine786 Sun 02-Sep-12 22:06:39


I would appreciate any advice on guidance on an issue which is causing great anxiety and distress to my son and consequently the family.

Key questions:
-Can a grammar school exclude a pupil on the grounds of 'poor' results at AS level (Year 12) exams ?
-Does the pupil have a right to be allowed to repeat Year 12 in the same school with some different subjects?

My son achieved decent grades in his 10 GCSEs (2xA*(Physics and History), 1xA (Chemistry), 4xB (including Maths and English), 1xC & 2xD) in June 2011 and has been pursuing his A Levels at a LEA maintained grammar school. Based on his performance during the year, he was predicted 2 B's & 2 D's in his AS levels in June 2012 and was distressed to receive 2 D and 2 U grades when the results came out on 16 Aug.

Unfortunately the grammar school is now not allowing him to continue to stay there ? they state that as per their policy, pupils are required to obtain a minimum of 2 D and 2 E grades to continue to Year 13. They are also not allowing him to repeat Year 12 with a different set of subjects. My son is aware of another pupil at this school who had obtained 4 E grades in his first attempt at Year 12 and was allowed to repeat Year 12 with different subjects.

Whilst not statemented, my son has special needs - he has mild Aspergers and dyspraxia and was allowed extra time & use of a computer in his exams, following assessment & recommendation by an educational psychologist. To date, he does not have any behaviour or disciplinary issues at school.

My son is comfortable with his existing school and is very keen to continue there and be allowed a chance to repeat Year 12. He would like to repeat the two subjects he obtained a D grade (with a view to obtaining a better grade) and take two different (relatively easier) subjects instead of those he got U grades.

He is extremely distressed that the school is now forcing him to go elsewhere and if required to do so, given his Aspergers, I believe this will have a continuing greater adverse impact on his mental health and also his academic performance going forward.

I would be very grateful for advice on the following questions:

1. Can the school exclude him on the grounds of 'poor' results in Year 12 and force him to seek admission elsewhere ?
I have been advised that per the DOE guidelines, academic performance cannot be used as a criteria for exclusion. Does this apply to all schools or are Grammar schools exempt from this guideline?

2. Does my son have a right to be allowed to repeat Year 12? (with some same and some different subjects)

3. What are suggested next steps I should take to help achieve the desired result i.e. he be allowed to repeat Year 12, at his existing school, with minimum disruption?

4. I have only been informed verbally in a meeting with the Head, a couple of weeks ago, that the school will not allow him to continue and since then I have not received anything in writing. Is it necessary that the exclusion be notified in writing? Is there a notice period required to be provided by the School before the exclusion can take effect?

5. If I appeal against the school decision to exclude him, should he be allowed to attend school pending the outcome of the appeal decision (so that he doesn't miss out on the classes) or does the exclusion take effect immediately?

The new academic year starts in a couple of days time and I am concerned that if the school refuses to allow him to continue, and I go down the appeal route, it would be some weeks/months before the appeal process is completed and even if I win, he would then have lost considerable academic time.

6. Other local schools/colleges do not offer the combination of subjects offered by the grammar school, he would now like to take , so starting elsewhere, pending the appeal outcome, does not seem appropriate. If say he did start elsewhere with some different AS level subjects at another local school/college, will he would be allowed to return if I win the appeal? (i.e. having started at another school will not preclude him from returning back?)

My apologies for the length - just wanted to make sure I covered all the details. Happy to provide any additional information.

This issue is causing a great deal of anxiety and distress to my son which is having a negative impact on the whole family which includes two younger siblings.

Many thanks in advance for any advice and guidance.


JustGettingByMum Sun 02-Sep-12 22:34:38

Sorry that your son is having such a stressful time.
I don't know the legal answer to your questions, but anecdotally, my son has also just finished Y12 and 3 of his friends have not been allowed back to their state comprehensive as they failed to get a min of 3 x E at AS.
One of the boys did want to stay and repeat Y12, the school told him that they were oversubscribed for Y12s but that if there was a space following the GCSE results a week later then he would be able to take that space and start again. Unfortunately for him when the results came out, the school did very well and so everyone has taken up their place and he has lost out. Meanwhile, in the previous year, several students were allowed to re-sit Y12 because there were spaces. It wasn't anything personal, just the way the numbers fell.

What subjects is your son studying?

Toughasoldboots Sun 02-Sep-12 22:39:49

Can you pay for some legal advice? I think that I would want to speak to a specialist lawyer about this.

3littlefrogs Sun 02-Sep-12 22:43:52

I am so sorry for you, but many selective schools do this.

It is so important to read all the information supplied by the school before taking up a place - a bit like reading the terms and conditions of any contract.

2 of the selective schools near me dont even allow their pupils to sit their GCSEs at the school if they don't think they are going to get excellent results. They make them do them at an external centre.

One school (regularly quoted as the top state school in the country) won't allow pupils a place in the sixth form unlss they get all As and A* in their GCSEs. That is how they ensure they have the highest grades/best OFSTED report.

The trouble is, Grammar schools can often make up their own rules, and you sign up to those when you apply for, and accept a place.

Can you seek advice from the LEA?

Try contacting your MP.

Musomathsci Sun 02-Sep-12 22:45:42

Sorry, no useful advice to add, but I know that our local comp regularly boots out students at the end of year 12 if their results are not up to scratch. It seems very odd that you haven't had any notification in writing, and I think perhaps you do have some grounds for appeal, given your son's special needs, but you need specialist advice asap. What has been happening since results day? Seems a bit late to be sorting it out now?

funchum8am Sun 02-Sep-12 22:46:57

Did they use the term "excluded"? As I would be surprised if so - you would have to have received a letter. It sounds like he has failed to meet their entrance criteria for Year 13 and so has lost his place, rather than being formally excluded, which would be a sanction for serious poor behaviour rather than poor academic performance. After 16 pupils do not have to be in education and at a grammar school where performance dictates whether you get a place or not both at Year 7 and Year 12, I'd be surprised if they DIDN'T have an academic requirement to get a place in Year 13. I teach in a comprehensive and our students have to get three A levels (ie grades E or above) to continue into Year 13 unless there have been circumstances which explain their poor performance (eg illness/bereavement during the exams or similar).

I'm sorry to sound pessimistic but I'd say it is unlikely your son will be given a place at the grammar school, and the best you could do is contact the school tomorrow when they reopen to confirm, and then get onto other schools which may still have places. He will either have to restart Year 12, which schools will probably only let him do if they have space, or take the two D grade subjects through to A2 and do another two at AS this year.

tiggytape Sun 02-Sep-12 22:59:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Toughasoldboots Mon 03-Sep-12 06:47:25

3littlefrogs that is shocking about using the external centres. No doubt parents are fighting to get into these schools too.

sashh Mon 03-Sep-12 06:49:23

Can you pay for some legal advice?

Your son will be entitled to legal aid.

It is not uncommon to do this, particularly with grammer schools because they are worried about their place in the league tables, not the individual child.

If you force the school to take him back, either to repeat year 12 or to continue you need to think about how the school wwould treat your child. Most teachers are professional and would treat all students the same, some however are not.

EdithWeston Mon 03-Sep-12 06:57:55

The key thing here is that it is 6th form - ie non-statutory - education.

It is common to have minimum academic achievement as qualification to progress - and as others point out, this happens in comprehensives too. I had always understood that as long as the criteria were clear and applied fairly the there were adequate legal/regulatory underpinnings (will be watching this thread to see if any expert posters know exactly the position).

The only thing in OP that seems anomalous is that you say a pupil who did not meet the minima was allowed to continue. This suggests that the criteria are not being applied fairly. Do you know for sure about the other 6th former's grades? Are there any written discretionary conditions that might fairly apply to the other, but not your DS (I am wondering if the 2 x U might be the problem)? Does the other pupils have a statement? And of course, be aware the upshot might be that the other pupil's place is removed because continuation was the error.

senua Mon 03-Sep-12 09:56:12

I agree with what was said above:
- he is above the compulsory school age so I don't think that demanding legal rights is going to work.
- many schools have a minimum entry requirement for admission to Y13, it's not jut a Grammar thing
- I have heard similar stories this year where schools have give discretion in the past torepeat Y12 but cannot this year due to numbers
- if he has done so badly last year at this particular school, do you really want to return there? I understand that someone with Aspergers might like the continuity of the same surroundings but his peers will be different.
- get Plan B sorted! Different sixth form? Different exams? (and I don't mean just swap subjects; would something other than A Levels suit?)

prh47bridge Mon 03-Sep-12 10:09:58

You have repeatedly used the term "excluded". However, on the information you have posted, your son has not been excluded. He has simply failed to meet the entry criteria for Y13.

To answer your questions:

1. Yes. Sixth form education is not compulsory. Any school, comprehensive or grammar, can refuse admission to Y12 or Y13 on the grounds that the pupil does not meet their entry criteria. In this case the entry criteria are 2 Ds and 2 Es at AS level and your son has failed to achieve that.

2. No. There is no such right. It is entirely at the school's discretion.

3. The only thing I can see in your post that gives any hope is that another pupil has been allowed to repeat Y12. The question is whether they have a policy on allowing pupils to repeat Y12 and, if so, whether that is being applied consistently and fairly. If, for example, their policy is that pupils must achieve at least an E grade in all four subjects before being allowed to repeat Y12 the school has done nothing wrong. However, if their policy is unclear or has not been applied consistently you may have an argument.

4. As this is not an exclusion there is no requirement for the school to confirm their decision in writing, although it would be good practise for them to do so.

5. It is up to the school to decide whether or not your son can attend pending the outcome of any appeal.

6. If you win an appeal your son would not be prevented from returning to this school simply because he has started at another school.

To be honest, I think your chances of success at any appeal are limited. It appears that adequate allowance was made for your son's special needs and your son simply failed to achieve the required grades.

I am, however, concerned at the discrepancy between your son's predicted grades and the actual outcome. It may be worth asking about this and seeing if you should be appealing against his AS grades.

crazygracieuk Mon 03-Sep-12 10:12:22

Our local grammars do it too.

As a worst case scenario could you ask that your son only takes A-levels in the subjects that he got a D in and repeat the U subjects this year? I would then encourage him to take a gap year to upgrade the As levels to A2.

FellatioNelson Mon 03-Sep-12 10:21:47

I think this is pretty much standard policy for selective schools I am afraid. I know a boy who had terrible health problems throughout his GCSEs, and very much under-performed. He was at one of the most well known and top performing state grammars in the country, where 99% of people get strings of A* in everything.

Although they were supportive about his illness (numerous serious operations) at the time, they were quite insistent that he would be better off transferring to the local sixth form college post-GCSE once it became apparent that his health issues were going to be chronic and ongoing.They didn't want their precious league tables being dented.

Having said that, I also know a friend of my son's who had just been asked to leave the same 6th form college the other boy was told to join, because he has under-performed in his AS levels (D, E, E, U I believe) and they have said they do not believe it is appropriate for him to do re-sits.

But I suppose they show discretion depending on effort, attendance, and circumstances beyond the pupil's control.

LeeCoakley Mon 03-Sep-12 10:37:16

I think all schools not just selectives do this now. That's what the league tables have done to us! What school wants to slip down the rankings by treating year 12s as individuals? Luckily my own dds have got the required grades but many of their friends have either had to leave after year 12 or have their subjects stripped down and new ASs taken in year 13. What I never understand is how the predicted grades are so far from the actual grades. What's going on during the year? Aren't teachers stressing to the pupils how far they are from their targets and what the consequences are? Retaking year 12 is done on an individual basis I would imagine, taking into account whether places are available and the probability of gaining the required grades. Sympathies sad

tiggytape Mon 03-Sep-12 13:18:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

inkyfingers Mon 03-Sep-12 17:11:20

You need to be very sure that if he reseat he would get much better grades next time. It could be that he should do different A level subjects, but need to be sure that he would succeed at these. Otherwise, why not a new start with something else? Retaking year 12 won't be easy and friends all in the year above will not feel like a new start.

LeeCoakley Mon 03-Sep-12 18:04:34

I do agree with you tiggy but E grade at A level is still a pass. It may be enough for students who are leaving to start work or go to college. Why shouldn't they be allowed to finish their course?

prh47bridge Mon 03-Sep-12 18:24:03

The short answer is that Es and Us at AS level does not give confidence that the student will pass A2.

By the way, I am not convinced this is anything to do with league tables. Schools had entry criteria for sixth form (Y12/Y13) long before league tables appeared. However, separate criteria for Y13 have only appeared since A levels were split into AS and A2.

cricketballs Mon 03-Sep-12 18:28:24

In that scenario though Lee that would mean allowing students who didn't get a C (usually a B) at GCSE to study A levels - the schools/colleges have entry requirements due to the nature of the course i.e. the difficulty and how suited students are to attain a grade. A2 is more difficult than AS and an E grade at AS is not a good indication that they will magically be capable of more. (this is not only the point of view as a teacher but also as a mother to DS who got Us and 1 E at AS despite gaining a lot of A+B at GCSE so he has enrolled onto a BTEC as we have both realised that A levels are not the most suitable for him)

creamteas Mon 03-Sep-12 18:29:10

As said above, many schools do this now and there is little you can do about it.

Those that leave at the end of year 12 round here mostly go to the local FE college and either retake ASs or sign up for BTECS.

I have DC with ASD and I know how distressing change can be, if I were you I would stop trying to get your DS back into a school that doesn't want him and focus on an alternative as soon as you can in order to give him more time to get used to the idea.

GoldPicnminx Mon 03-Sep-12 18:35:39

This could be my school - it might well be actually.

The published entry requirements are low for a grammar school and your ds has not met them. I have to honestly say if my ds has attained 2Ds and 2Us I would be questioning whether ds was right for A levels, A2 will be more of the same if not harder? Rather than plowing my energies into battling the school, I be positively pursuing other options, particularly modern apprenticeships with major companies in the area, who train, pay and even fund qualifications. With massively increasing amounts of student debt, never getting on to the housing ladder until their mid 30s this is going to be increasingly the sensible option.

I am not unsympathetic, it must be very distressing and a real shock too. However, I think you'll find the Head has acted within their remit.

GoldPicnminx Mon 03-Sep-12 18:46:25

Or college would be another option, with a wider choice and better combination of Alevel/BTec/Other quals than I suspect the grammar can offer which might suit your ds' character better, and oddly make him more attractive to would-be employers and certain universities who aren't looking for the 12 straight A* but that mix of academic and practical that make them an interesting prospect.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 03-Sep-12 18:48:33

Prh47bridge gives excellent advice and you would do well to heed it.

I too don't want to offend, but the ntry criteria to your Y13 are lower than at many of my local comps. Prh47bridge is also right, in my view, to question whether your son is likely to pass the A2s. What are his plans for after school? Will low A level passes enable him to do what he wants to do?

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 03-Sep-12 18:50:16

Prh47bridge gives excellent advice and you would do well to heed it.

I too don't want to offend, but the entry criteria to your Y13 are lower than at many of my local comps. In themselves, they seem perfectly reasonable, as long as they are applied consistently. Prh47bridge is also right, in my view, to question whether your son is likely to pass the A2s. What are his plans for after school? Will low A level passes enable him to do what he wants to do?

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