Group petitions government to cancel 11-plus this year

Campaigners have written to education secretary Gavin Williamson calling for 11-plus tests to be cancelled this year.

The letter, written by anti-selection group Comprehensive Future, asks him how it can be suitable to continue to test 10-year olds this year when it has been decided that to run SATs, GCSE and A levels would be “unfair and unsafe,” TES reports.

The 11-plus tests, for grammar school admission, will still go ahead this year albeit with certain changes planned, including that content will be cut and the test date will be moved back from September to mid-October in many grammar schools, the report says.

Comprehensive Future chair Nuala Burgess said: “To run the test is adding further disadvantage to already disadvantaged pupils.

She added: “Children’s education has been hugely unequal during lockdown. Some children come from families who have suffered unimagined hardship during the pandemic. Others are lucky enough to come from comfortable homes with strong parental support, access to technology and paid-for tuition. The lack of face-to-face teaching in schools leaves some children, though no fault of their own, in need of a far longer recovery period to get back on their feet.”

The letter is also addressed to MPs and councillors in 12 selective local authorities; Bexley, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Medway, Poole, Slough, Southend-on-Sea, Sutton, Torbay, Trafford and Wirral.

It says grammar schools should follow the example of Northern Ireland where twelve grammar schools have chosen not to run the 11-plus this year having decided that “running a comprehensive admissions system is the only possible and fair way to admit pupils this year”.

The letter states: “We also question how it can be thought suitable to continue to test 10 year olds when it has been universally decided that to run SATs, GCSE and A levels would be unfair and unsafe…If you support running of 11-plus tests this year we would be very grateful to have an explanation of how you feel it is possible to run them in a way that is safe for children and fair.”

Dr Burgess also says there is “still far too much uncertainty over how schools will be run once they open in September” and that the need for localised lockdowns could create chaos in selective areas where the 11-plus is an essential part of the schools admission system.

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