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.