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Is this a new National policy for Admissions into Grammar Schools?

(13 Posts)
FIMAC1 Thu 19-May-05 07:07:01

Is this a national policy for this new admissions system for Grammar schools?

This BBC Education item picks out my local Grammar as an example of how the new admission system in Gloucestershire is now meaning State School children are less likely to get into the Grammar schools, as on the admissions form we now need to put the local State school down as first choice, and now also need to put Grammar schools in the choices, which means usually not putting the Grammar school as first choice incase they lose their chance to go to the the local State school if they do not pass the Grammar test:


A government adviser is calling on ministers to scrap a new admissions system which he says has meant less choice for poorer families.
Sir Peter Lampl says a new system in England this year has deterred many families from applying to top schools.

He says parents are not prepared to gamble on getting a place in case they fail and are left with a poor school.

At a grammar school in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, fewer children applied from local primary schools this year.

And the school has seen the number of children being admitted from the private sector double.

Under the new system, parents have to rank their preferred schools in order.

In some areas, popular schools are saying they will give priority when allocating places to families who have put them first.

This means that if you put a grammar school first but did not pass the selection test, you might have little chance of getting your other preferences if they are also over-subscribed.

They would have filled their places with children who had put them as first choice.

In other areas, schools operate what is known as a "blind admissions system", where they apply their admissions criteria regardless of where a family ranked them.

'Opposite effect'

Sir Peter Lampl, the chairman of the Sutton Trust educational charity, advises the government on issues related to social class and education.

His charity had set up a scheme to encourage more children from poorer families to apply to Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham.

But the changes in the admissions system had led to fewer children from such backgrounds applying in 2005, he said.

Writing in the Sutton Trust's annual report, he said the new admissions system was to blame.

"If a child does not win a place at Pate's they risk being allocated to one of the most poorly performing schools in the area," he said.

Sir Peter believes many families are deciding to play safe and name a good local comprehensive as their first choice instead of applying to Pate's.

"A system intended to simplify school admissions and improve choice actually has the opposite effect, further benefiting those who can afford to pay for their children's education."

Chris Beal, assistant head teacher at the school confirmed Sir Peter's findings.

"The parents with a real choice are those who can afford to gamble because they can afford independent schooling if their child does not get in here."

He said this year the number of children arriving at the school from the private sector had "at least doubled".

It will affect our choice when we decide in the Autumn and I am sure many other families too

swedishmum Thu 19-May-05 08:30:36

This or something similar happens in Kent. The most popular comprehensive in the area will only consider pupils who do not apply for a grammar school. We opted for grammar schools first and second, being fully aware that the third school we named was not a suitable option for our daughter. We were pretty sure dd would pass (as sure as is possible anyway!) but I certainly know families who don't apply because they worry about being landed with a place in a poorer school, the only ones to accept you if you don't put them first! At least I think that's how it works. If it confuses me with my background in education, no wonder lots of parents are totally bewildered!!

bubblerock Thu 19-May-05 09:00:02

BIL went to Pates Great school! DH went to St Benedicts and he turned out ok!

FIMAC1 Thu 19-May-05 18:02:30


Anyone else affected by the new admissions policies to Grammar and State schools? If so are there any ways round this minefield....

Gobbledigook Thu 19-May-05 18:06:42

I think that's very, very sad.

I don't know how it works here but I know that our state grammar schools can pretty much now pick and choose who they want and the number entering from private schools is massive. When I went to the girls grammar in the 80's I don't think anyone I knew was from private school - just the local state ones.

My ds1 is only just going into reception in Sept but already this minefield worries adn frightens me as our 'catchment' state high school is dreadful

tiddlypom Thu 19-May-05 18:16:40

I'm not sure if I can explain this coherently but I'll have a go. Basically, as I understand it, under the new secondary admissions system, parents have to rank schools in order of preference - in our area, we got to rank six.

The problem you're talking about arises when a school, or schools, demand to be ranked first on a parent's list - giving preference to people who do rank them first. (Locally this was known as 'first preference first'.) This skews the system, because parents may not then be totally honest about what their real preferences are, but have to make mad calculations based on 'what if this' 'what if that'. So some parents play it safe and don't even try for a grammar school place because if they rank the grammar as first choice, and then their child fails the entrance test, they won't get into another good school which demands first place ranking.

Certainly in our area (London) the practice of schools demanding to be ranked first seems to be frowned on by LEAs because of this skewing. In my own boro, only religious schools demanded first place ranking, presumably seeing as a test of religious commitment.

I wouldn't be surprised if schools are discouraged in the future from demanding first place ranking - it's hard to see what they really gain from it, and it really winds parents up. HTH!

Freckle Thu 19-May-05 18:19:24

Whereabouts in Kent are you, swedishmum? It's the same system here. We are advised by the primary school whether our child is grammar school material or not and, to be fair, they have a 100% record in their predictions. If they say a child should sit the 11+ and they do, that child has always got to the grammar of their choice. If they say a child should not sit it, but they do anyway, that child has always failed. So still a bit of a gamble, but, if you follow the school's guidance, there is a little more certainty.

Celia2 Thu 19-May-05 18:35:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tallulah Thu 19-May-05 19:07:39

Another one from Kent here. They have changed the procedure just about every year. We had the dilemma 2 years ago, with a 'borderline" child, and a high school that always fills up on first choices. We were lucky that the local boys' grammar is never full, and with the advice of the grammar headteacher we put down the high school as first choice then the grammar as second. As it turned out ds passed the test and we had to go back to the LEA and say we wanted the grammar place instead. Had he been a girl we'd have been stuck because the girls' grammar is oversubscribed.

It would make far more sense for the results of the 11+ to be released before you have to choose a school, but the local comprehensive fought it saying it gave some parents 2 first choices... (ie parents do not send their child to the comprehensive once they know they've passed the 11+...)

jura Thu 19-May-05 22:50:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swedishmum Fri 20-May-05 01:18:41

We're in the country outside Ashford, Freckle. The comprehensive I'm talking about is Holmwood in Tenterden. Didn't really fancy it for dd so she chose Highworth, then Folkestone Girls' on her list. She is happy to be going to Highworth where her 3 best friends went last year. She's the only one in her class going there - it's just the way it works out in small schools I supppose.
Where are you, Freckle?

Freckle Fri 20-May-05 07:29:38

Maidstone. I'm not surprised about Holmwood as the head there is the leader of the Stop The Eleven Plus campaign, so he is bound to make life as difficult as possible for grammar school supporters.

We have the same situation here with our local high school. I'm not sure how it works though as the system was supposed to change this year whereby the LEA made the selections. We had to list our 3 preferred schools and the application went to the LEA. A copy of the application was sent to each school but with no reference to the other schools selected, so each school selected their pupils based solely on the application. However, certain schools slipped through this system as they are not under direct LEA control.

tallulah Fri 20-May-05 18:21:01

swedishmum, we are also in Ashford. You were very lucky to get your DD into Highworth! (it's Homewood in Tenterden, not Holmwood! )

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