News review: No update on Kent and Bucks, call for teachers not to decide grammar school places

Bucks looking for way to hold 11-plus tests

Fears have been raised that several Bucks children could miss out on grammar school places because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bucks Free Press reports (4 May 2020).

The 11-plus tests are still set to go ahead in Bucks, the publication reported but Labour councillor Robin Stuchberry has raised concerns this could mean dozens of disadvantaged children will miss out on grammar school places because they are unable to access resources online while on lockdown.

The councillor asked education boss Cllr Anita Cranmer what the council is doing about the possibility of postponing the 11-plus exams taking place in September, and if they do go ahead, what procedures are in place to ensure disadvantaged children are not prejudiced.

She said: “I can’t give you a very clear answer but what I can say to you is the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools Group [TBGS] which are operating this testing process are co-operating and working with the GL assessment board to find some solution in this situation.

 “It hasn’t been completed yet and none of us know what it will be.”

No update on Kent Test

Kent County Council has told Kent Live (22 May 2020) it has no update on any delays as yet to the Kent Test.

 A spokesman said: “Applications for the Kent Test do not open until the beginning of June 2020.

“Parents will be informed closer to the time if any adjustments need to be made.”

So as far as parents are concerned, the test will go ahead as usual unless they are told otherwise, Kent Live said.

Ermysted’s Grammar School ‘open for business’

Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton remains ‘open for business’ as headteacher Michael Evans assured parents the school’s new admissions service is unaffected, the Craven Herald reports (7 May 2020).

“The new online application process is proving invaluable during the lockdown with our admissions officer responding to enquires from home,” he told the publication.

Registration for potential new pupils opened on 20 April and will run until July 6. Many applications have already been submitted online and the school office is open to receive applications in person. Testing is due to take place on 19 September, subject to Government guidance.

The new system means children are longer entered automatically for selection, and have to be registered with the school.

“As yet we are unable to say whether our open evening on 30 June will be able to go ahead but we are exploring other platforms for sharing information with parents,” Evans told the publication.

‘Unacceptable’ to ask teachers to make call on grammar school places

A Belfast primary school principal is calling on the Education Minister to clearly state that teachers will not be asked to project transfer test grades if a second coronavirus wave makes the exam impossible.

St John the Baptist headmaster Chris Donnelly told the Belfast Telegraph (25 May 2020) it would be “unacceptable to ask a teacher to make a call as to whether a child gets into a grammar school or not”.

This year’s post-primary transfer tests are being held two weeks later than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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