Outcry after grammar schools fail to consult parents on new 11-plus test

The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS) have confirmed that parents will not be consulted on the decision to change the 11-plus test provider for Bucks. In response to a freedom of information request, they also stated that, ‘No communications have been sent directly to parents’ about the new test.

TBGS announced in March that GL Assessment (GLA), who provided the 11-plus test for Bucks prior to 2013, will replace the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) and be responsible for providing the 11-plus test for all Bucks grammar schools from 2018.

Campaign group Local Equal Excellent have challenged TBGS on their failure to consult parents on the introduction of the new 11-plus test. In response, TBGS have claimed that there is no need to consult because the overall admissions arrangements will stay the same. However, information published on their website and on the websites of the test providers confirms that the content of the new test will be different. There will also be a change to the weighting of the three different parts of the test, with the non-verbal ability and maths sections now worth 25% each of the final score, and verbal ability worth 50%.

Grammar schools are currently consulting on their admissions arrangements for September 2019, but their draft admissions policies make no mention of the fact that the 11-plus test will be changing.

Katy Simmons, spokesperson for campaign group Local Equal Excellent, said:

“Reading the grammar schools’ draft admissions policies for 2019, parents will be under the impression that nothing is changing, when in fact there will be significant changes to the test. Parents are not only being left in the dark, they are also being denied a say.

“We suspect that the real reason that the grammar schools are refusing to consult parents is that they do not want to reveal that they only received one tender for the testing contract. As the current provider CEM did not tender again, TBGS were left with no choice but to appoint GL Assessment – the provider that they sacked five years ago because of concerns that their test was unfair. It is an embarrassing predicament for the grammar schools, but that is no excuse for not consulting parents.”

Local parent Yvonne Keen said:

“As a parent, I am very disappointed that we are not being consulted on changes to the 11-plus test. We are the ‘consumers’ of the education system in Bucks, and so should be fully informed of any changes to the selection methods for secondary schools and given the chance to feed in our views. The test plays such a big role in the future schooling options for our children. The failure to consult suggests a lack of confidence in the process for selecting the new test provider and this seems to be borne out with the news that only one provider submitted a tender.”

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Contact:  Katy Simmons:  01628 661583 or 07970 656153

Note to editors:

  1. The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools is the company set up by the 13 grammar schools in Bucks to manage and administer the 11-plus testing process.
  2. See LEE press release from March 2017 for quotes from headteachers on why the old GLA test was not working: http://localequalexcellent.org.uk/index.php/2017/03/29/newbucks11-plustest
  3. Limited information on the new test can be found at: https://www.thebucksgrammarschools.org/faqs
  4. Grammar schools’ draft admissions policies for 2019 can be found on their websites.
  5. Local Equal Excellent supports fair access to secondary schools for all Bucks children.  See localequalexcellent.org.uk