11-plus test ‘not fit for purpose’

The pandemic means children’s education has been severely disrupted, but many grammar schools are still planning to go ahead with their 11-plus tests in September.

Our chair, Dr Nuala Burgess, said, “The decision to delay 11-plus tests by a few weeks is a token gesture. It certainly can’t fix the fact that children have experienced widely different levels of education throughout lockdown, and it seems extraordinary that grammar schools still intend to run the test after months of disrupted schooling. Some children have been lucky enough to spend that last few months prepping for the test with the help of personalised online 11-plus tuition, a comfortable home to work in and parental support, while other children have had none of these things. Thousands of 10 years olds will be more seriously disadvantaged than ever when sitting the test this year.

“In England every public exam, apart from the 11-plus, has been cancelled. Comprehensive Future applauds the dozen Northern Ireland grammar schools who have scrapped the test and decided to use comprehensive admissions this year. For the first time in decades, pupils will go to their local school without having to sit a test.
“The idiosyncratic nature of the 11-plus has never been more evident. We have one area in Britain deciding the test is unfair this year, and cannot possibly go ahead, while another believes that a few extra weeks of schooling means it can be business as usual for the 11-plus. It’s a ridiculous situation, and especially unfair on all the children who will have to sit the test.
“Children have been through enough over these last few months. Some have had their lives turned upside down as a result of Covid 19. After all they have been through, it seems particularly unkind to subject 10 year children to the stress of a pass/fail test. This year of all year, it’s time to scrap the test.”
Adam Harris, a secondary teacher and SENCo shares his thoughts on the test this year, here.   Even supporters of selective education are concerned about the inequality for disadvantaged pupils this year, with one former Kent grammar head saying, “the change to the Kent Test, which simply delays it for five weeks next term, with no further changes in structure proposed, in no way changes its status as ‘not fit for purpose’ in this coronavirus year. “

James Coombs still fighting for 11-plus transparency

James Coombs challenged 11-plus test provider CEM at an tribunal in London on 4 March, hoping to win the right to see raw test score data and better understand how this secretive test works. Sadly James recently heard that he lost his appeal, and he writes about the case on his website here.

James will be appealing against this decision, and we wish him the best of luck. This test is not at all transparent, and the businesses selling these tests often profit from dubious marketing claims about being ‘tutor resistant.’

Our Zoom webinar ‘A relic of the past – time to phase out the 11-plus’

This year every formal exam has been cancelled yet the 11-plus is set to go ahead – isn’t now the time to rethink selection?

On June 25th at 7.30pm CF will be holding our first ever webinar, and just a few tickets remain.

We have an experienced panel discussing the problems of selection.

Fiona Millar, writer and campaigner on school issues, and author of ‘The Best for My Child. Did the schools market deliver?’

Katy Simmons, Chair of governors at Cressex Community School, and anti-selection campaigner with Bucks campaign group Local Equal Excellent.

Kieran O’Neill, chair of the Catholic Principals Association which opposes the transfer test in Northern Ireland. The CPA has been part of a successful campaign to persuade grammar schools to adopt comprehensive admissions this year.

Dr Gavin Morgan, vice chair of the British Psychological Society, Division of Educational and Child Psychology

Dr Nuala Burgess will chair.

We will be recording the event if you’re unable to attend, and if you’d like to join the webinar tickets can be booked here.