Private schools in Kent have been found to coach pupils in preparation for their grammar school entry exams
The Telegraph has reported that some private primary schools have been caught coaching students on their eleven -plus, leading to threats of banning them from the exam.
A BBC reporter went undercover in Kent to pose as a parent and approach 10 private schools. Nine of these were found to offer training to pupils in helping them pass their exams; schools in the area will no longer be allowed to help pupils pass their grammar school entry exams.
Only one of the Kent schools that the reporter approached denied giving special training for the eleven-plus, stating: “No school should be coaching children.”
This news has broken at a time when private schools are under increased pressure to prove that they don’t favour children from wealthier backgrounds.
Grammar schools are currently up for debate in the media, as there have been calls for them to change admissions policies in order to better support children from less advantaged backgrounds.
Earlier this year, Damian Hinds announced a £50m fund for grammar school expansion, but only on the condition they can prove they will take in more children from lower income backgrounds.
Joanne Bartley of Comprehensive Future, which campaigns against grammar schools, said:
“[Exam coaching at private schools is] an open secret – everyone knows you pay for a primary and hope to save money on a grammar school.”
Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads’ Association, defended exam coaching to The Daily Telegraph:
“Those private schools have been there for many years and some will do everything they can to help youngsters to get through the eleven-plus.
“And actually, of the children who are at independent schools and those who are tutored, a very large number of them would pass anyway – it is referred to as ‘comfort tutoring’.
“A great deal of effort has been put into making these tests as resistant and possible to coaching. Of course most, or virtually all, grammars these days are trying very hard to provide as much support as they can to primary schools.”