SOUTHEND Council could intervene in schools where poor teaching and leadership fails pupils, in an effort to halt the declining number of pupils passing the 11-plus.
The threat comes in a seven-point “pledge” to get more Southend pupils into grammar schools.
The action plan, drawn up by a cross-party team after a five-month probe, also recommends all bright Year 5 pupils are urged to consider taking the 11-plus and parents receive letters laying out the different secondary school options and calls for annual meetings with selective school headteachers to boost pass rates.
Councillor Alex Kaye, who spearheaded the project, said: “The project team was conscious of the fact grammar school education is not right for every child and supported the principle of parental choice.
“However, we felt it was important this choice comes from a knowledgeable position about what is available for all pupils transitioning fromprimary to secondary education.”
The council’s Tory cabinet will decide whether to adopt the plan later this year, but James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning, has already backed the proposals.
Mr Courtenay, who tasked the councillors with the study after the proportion of Southend pupils passing the 11-plus fell to almost one in ten in 2012, said: “Their work is invaluable and I will review this report in detail with education officers, once it is formally presented to cabinet later in the year.
“However, I believe we should be able to implement all the recommendations – I will certainly be suggesting we do.”
Primary school governors would be expected to monitor year-on-year trends of which secondary schools pupils apply to and whether they get in, under the proposals.
The council would “challenge” primary schools on their use of a £953-a-year top-up for each poorer pupil, known as the “pupil premium”, as just one in 16 Southend secondary school pupils on free school meals attends a grammar school.
The councillors quizzed 16 primary school headteachers, the headteachers of the town’s four grammar schools, more than ten school governors, the youth mayor and members of the youth council, before coming up with the recommendations.
THE 7 POINT PLEDGE:
- The council will intervene in schools where pupil progress, teaching and leadership are below the expected standard
- The council expects headteachers and governors of every primary school to encourage children expected to achieve Level 5 at Key Stage 2 to enter the 11-plus
- Southend members of the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex will be invited to an annual meeting to monitor and review grammar school applications and admissions from Southend primary schools
- The council will write to all Year 5 pupils to advise them of secondary school options and publicise the options in a feature in its magazine, Outlook
- Primary schools will be challenged on their use of the “pupil premium”
- Primary school governors will be expected to monitor and review trends over which schools pupils apply to, and whether they get in
- A directory of support and outreach services, provided by Southend’s four grammar schools, will be published each year