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Our schools' 11-plus 'shame'
A GRAMMAR school headteacher has accused Southend primary schools of shocking failures in the way they teach 11-plus pupils.
Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend High School, said profound mistakes were being made by some primary schools, leading to falling numbers of Southend pupils passing the exam, which enables you to enrol at a grammar school.
Speaking as headteachers explained to Southend councillors on Monday why pupils lag well behind children from outside the borough in the selective school test, Mr Bevan revealed eight primary schools only managed to send five pupils to grammar schools between them this year.
Mr Bevan said: “It’s just shocking. If you take the eight primary schools that had the lowest number passing to grammar schools, they had 353 children in Year 6. Just five of those went to grammar schools. Something is more profoundly wrong than just providing more information to parents.
“Even if a large number are choosing to go somewhere else, where only five young people have managed to secure places something is profoundly not right and they are being let down in the process.”
Out of the 4,200 pupils overall who took the 11-plus last year, 53 per cent of boys and 44 per cent of girls scored higher than 303, taken as the mark necessary to pass.
But out of the 395 boys and 380 girls from Southend postcodes, just 37 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls scored higher than 303.
Mr Bevan, who has been carrying out statistical analysis of 11-plus test results for the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex for a decade, added: “You can infer about the extent to which those who sat the test have encountered sufficiently difficult material sufficiently early in their primary education.”
But Richard Spence, headteacher of Chalkwell Hall Junior School, pointed out that a higher proportion of Southend pupils than pupils from outside the borough took the test, meaning a higher proportion were likely to fail. He said: “The statistics could be skewed.”
She added: “There are some schools in Southend that are not performing as we would like, but we are all working really hard. Every single one of them will be working with our children at years 3, 4 and 5.
“We have to be careful we are not looking at the primary schools and saying we are not doing our job, because across the board we are.”
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