Local schools for local children

There is a groundswell feeling amongst local parents that Reading and Kendrick schools don’t serve the communities in which they reside.  At the start of 2015 both schools were ‘consulting’ on admissions but this consisted of a passing reference on their websites inviting comments on their admissions policies.  Feeling that consultation should really involve those directly affected we contacted primary schools asking them to notify parents as well as providing press releases and giving interviews with the local media.  This website was created to provide an open forum for debate accepting posts from any perspective as long they don’t invade the privacy of children and the schools were invited to submit an article putting across their perspective which they didn’t take up.  In September 2015 the Schools Adjudicator said of the consultation, “I am certain that the consultees listed in the [admissions] Code would have been aware of the consultation and the issues even if it was not through the school’s sole efforts.

The Academies Act 2010 section (1)(6)(d) requires that Academies select children “wholly or mainly from the area in which the school resides” but information provided by Reading LA shows a marked difference in the way this is interpreted between selective and non-selective schools and over 600 parents signed a petition asking Reading and Kendrick schools to look at ways to admit more local children.  The schools declined to even discuss options with local parents instead choosing continue with the current policies which enable them to super select from a wide area children predisposed to achieve the best final GCSE results for the school.   See an interactive  map of Reading and surrounding areas showing where children travel from.

It would appear that until 2015 the schools consulted each year on their Y7 admissions, albeit without actually telling anyone, but since our campaign to get people engaged in consultation they have stopped.  (Reading consulted on the removal of Y9 entry although that was combined with an increase in Y7 admissions so was in effect just extending these 12 places to include years 7 & 8.)

This campaign came about through curiosity as to why Reading’s local grammar schools seem to be full of children from other towns but has subsequently thrown up a lot of analysis which is relevant to the wider debate about selective education.  Questions we feel should be publicly debated include:

  • Should children be permanently segregated from Y7 upwards?
  • Is the real driver behind selection good GCSE results for the school?
  • Can you adequately test a 10 year-old’s aptitude through two 50-minute multiple choice papers?
  • Is the current system prejudiced against children from certain socio-economic, ethnic backgrounds or genders?

The government are currently consulting on education and we’d strongly recommend that anyone who cares about education, whatever their views, contribute to this debate.

Consultation closes 12 December 2016. 

5 Responses to Local schools for local children

  1. Julie says:

    Firstly, I would like to point out that I am a firm supporter of grammar schools; my son started at Reading School this September, where he is now extremely happy, and finally receiving education suited to his ability (unlike his experience at his state primary school). I am also a former Kendrick girl myself, and believe that I received a fantastic education there.

    My main concern is the inequality between the number of grammar school places available to girls and boys in Reading. I understand that Reading School will shortly be offering 150 places for boys starting in year 7 (brilliant!), whereas Kendrick will be offering only 96. I completely understand that Kendrick is very limited for space in which to expand (I went there!), but I would be very grateful if someone could tell me who I should approach about this huge inequality and what, if anything, can be done to address it. My daughter is currently in year 5, and I do not think that her male peers should have such an advantage when it comes to gaining a local grammar school place. Does anyone have overall responsibility for this sort of thing, even though both schools are academies?

    I do sympathise with your campaign, as it would seem to me that there are far more “local” children who would benefit from a grammar school education than there are places available to them. (I would not consider sending my daughter to one of the Slough grammar schools due to the travelling this would involve.)

    • Steve says:

      Hi Julie, I think you would need to contact Kendrick re. any expansion. They are an academy and aren’t under the control of Reading Borough Council.

  2. Julie says:

    Thank you for your response, Steve. I feared as much. Unfortunately, Kendrick have no currents plans for expansion. I am still surprised that there doesn’t appear to be anyone who assumes overall control and responsibility for ensuring that boys and girls have equal access to education, academies or not. They are still state schools after all. Perhaps, if there is enough local demand, they will one day consider opening a further site as in Kent.

    I wish everyone currently going through this system the very best of luck. We found the waiting pretty stressful.

  3. Rachel says:

    Under ‘Resources’ you show individual results for 2015 entry….do you know whether you can get hold of 2017 entry results as well? Or can you tell me how you got the 2015 results? Now the 2017 entry results are out I am interested to see where my son was versus the group that took it, and also if there was an area he particularly fell down on…

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