Test filters out the feckless

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Certainly Mossbourne academy operates its own banded admissions system ("Banding broadens academy horizons", TES, March 3).

The stated aim is to ensure that it admits pupils across the ability range.

But what is the actual impact of the process employed?

All Hackney parents who included, as I did, either of the two new academies or the Roman Catholic school on their preferred list received a curt letter requiring their child to attend for four hours and 15 minutes of cognitive abilities testing on a Saturday morning.

The letter gave 10 days' notice and no explanation of the nature or purpose of the testing. The ostensible purpose is to ensure that each school's intake represents a mix of ability.

The actual impact will have been to exclude any child with a parent who was confused or intimidated by the letter, concerned about abandoning their child to a test marathon (parents are told not to wait), or unable to free up a Saturday morning.

Since this also excludes the disorganised, feckless or simply awkward, we didn't follow through on that "choice" either.

Just to narrow the uptake further, the location map was unhelpful and failed to give any of the many relevant bus routes.

The schools select out all those kids with parents unwilling or unable to comply.

And compliant, competent parental behaviour certainly improves the schools'

odds.

I would be a hypocrite if I said I wouldn't put my child through a selective process - but I can at least hold out for some kind of transparency.

I am convinced this system doesn't broaden the academy's horizons, it simply narrows the challenge and leaves other Hackney schools to pick this up.

Wendy Forrest

Bouverie Road

London N16

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