Exclusive: Governors at top grammar 'against plan for more poor pupils'

3,000 parents sign petition against plans to change admissions policy in favour of local and disadvantaged pupils

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has raised concerns about schools off-rolling pupils

Governors at one of the country’s top grammar schools have discussed resigning over proposed changes to its trust’s admissions policy to admit more pupils from inner-city areas, Tes understands.

The King Edward VI Academy Foundation trust, which runs six grammar schools in Birmingham, is consulting over changes which would give priority to local and disadvantaged children, provided they meet a certain admission score.

But governors at the King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, which is currently in the top 20 schools in England for EBacc average points score, are said to be “unhappy” about the plans, which would mean they would have to accept local children with lower admissions scores in preference to higher scorers from further afield.

A source, who did not wish to be identified, told Tes the governors had "discussed resignation" last month at the launch of the consultation, which proposes new catchment areas, although he said this was not now believed to be their course of action.

Around 6,000 children are said to sit entrance exams each year for 900 places at the six schools, which currently prioritise the brightest children, wherever they are from.

Grammar school plan to change admissions

Some pupils are currently believed to come from as far afield as Coventry, Solihull and Wolverhampton.

Executive director of the trust Heath Monk said some pupils currently came from Derby, which was a one-and-a-half hour school run, while bright children living on the doorstep of schools could not get a place.

He said the new admission system would make the schools’ population more representative of Birmingham as a whole, while increasing the proportion of pupils on the pupil premium from 20 to 25 per cent.

He told Tes: “We want a system that gives local children, particularly disadvantaged children, better access to their grammar schools

“Once you have achieved a certain score then where you live would become the deciding factor rather than how far above the score you get.

“No admissions system can please everyone. It’s not surprising that many more affluent parents, particularly those living outside Birmingham, are unhappy at what they see as a loss of entitlement to a place at their preferred school.

“On the other hand, we have received many messages in favour of the proposals from parents who have had to send their child across the city, despite achieving a high score in the entrance test."

Meanwhile, around 3,000 parents have signed a petition against the plans.

Started by parent Kaja Fawthrop, the petition says: “Everything is going smoothly with the current grammar school system in Birmingham and it is difficult to see the point of these proposals.

"Grammar schools are designed for academically high-achieving children.

"If entrance is decided on by postcode, what is the point of grammar schools? What is the point of the 11-plus test if catchment area is the deciding factor?

“Further, the ethnic mix in these schools might suffer. For example, some are in predominantly white areas of the city and other mainly Asian.

"Our pupils have a good understanding of many different cultures and faiths at the moment, something they would not have in an ethnically homogeneous school.”

Albert Quarmyne, commenting on the petition website, said: “The current selection system should stay the same so that able kids from other parts of West Midlands Authority – i.e., Coventry, Solihull, Wolverhampton, etc – should also have a fair chance of attending such prestigious schools.”

The chair of governors at Camp Hill, Barry Matthews, was unavailable for comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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