2015 campaign

Some time towards the end of 2014, notices quietly appeared, buried deep in the admissions pages of Reading’s two grammar schools’ websites saying they were consulting on admissions.  It was clear that the schools preferred to keep such ‘consultation’ to themselves so a group of local parents got together at the local curry house to form TRAK (Transform Reading and Kendrick) with the intention of opening up the discussion to a wider audience.

We wrote to the heads of all primary schools in the LA asking them to alert parents to the consultation, wrote press releases and appeared on radio and television news. We created this website welcoming comments from every perspective and published all but one or two because these contained offensive speculative intrusions into children’s personal details.

Many local people feel Reading and Kendrick schools are full of children from other towns and don’t serve the communities in which they physically reside.  We’re also concerned at the very small number of disadvantaged children who are admitted so we looked at ways the admissions could be changed to return these schools to the heart of the community.

We proposed a reduction to the catchment area which we based on demographic information from UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and also ran a petition asking the schools to re-instate admissions policies which benefit local children.  At the time we were unaware that at the same time the Sutton Trust were making very similar suggestions, “If catchment areas are large or open then more affluent parents can afford to travel further and coach their children so that they can access these increasingly selective schools. One suggestion was to reduce the size of the catchment areas to increase participation by local, high achieving but poor students.” (Crib et al 2013).

The petition gained hundreds of signatures compared to the one or two people who were in support of the current policy.  In complete disregard of public opinion both schools opted to continue selecting the very highest performing candidates from a wide catchment which preserves their position in the GCSE final results rankings.

Under current legislation schools are obliged to consult fully on their admissions every seven years or partial consultation for any proposed changes.  We asked the Schools Adjudicator to consider whether the consultation had been properly conducted.  His ruling was ambiguous.  On the one hand he agreed that the schools had conduced a full consultation but at the same time said they had left themselves insufficient time to fully consult.  These rulings (Reading and Kendrick) were seminal in that they establish admission authorities can confine the scope of mandatory consultation to maintaining the status quo in effect rendering the legal requirement for schools to consult on their admissions as meaningless.

On the subject of whether parents had been properly consulted the adjudicator dryly observed, “The campaign organised by [TRAK] produced a petition containing 611 signatures, and led to coverage in the local media. I am certain that the consultees listed in the Code would have been aware of the consultation and the issues even if it was not through the school’s sole efforts.”  Since then the schools have had plenty of time to consider making changes to their admissions but clearly have no intention of doing so.

 

Crib J, Jesson D, Sibieta L, Skipp A, and Vignoles A, 2013; “Poor Grammar.  Entry into Grammar Schools for disadvantaged pupils in England”  Sutton Trust.

107 Responses to 2015 campaign

  1. John says:

    Schools are funded by national taxation, not local taxation. A local child has no more right to go to a selective school than one living further away. Parents can move closer to a school.

    Children should not be discriminated on the basis of where they live. A selective school should select the best and it is up to parents to get the child to school. This becomes a natural catchment area.

    Local schools for local children is as obscene as local universities for local children.

    This is a misguided campaign that deserves to fail.

    Local non-grammar schools for local children may be acceptable, but not for selective schools. The local children should compete. If they are not good enough, then hard luck.

    • Grace King says:

      Hello
      I’m a 16 year old girl who could have very easily gotten into Kendrick school, however I was put off going by the fact that so many students live far away and maintaining friendships would have been extraordinarily difficult. My mother and auntie, having both attended Kendrick, agreed and supported my decision in choosing to attend a local comprehensive. I stand by this now as I have friends who attend Kendrick and live an hour and a half journey away, it is difficult to see these friends and had I gone to Kendrick this would have made my social life even more difficult. I am not the only girl from Reading who didn’t attend Kendrick for this reason and many other able students who are achieving similar grades to those being achieved at Kendrick were put off as well. With the greatest of respect many students currently attending Kendrick are those with pushy parents who had their children tutored to pass the exam and these students are now struggling to maintain grades as they are not as naturally bright, I am at a local comprehensive secondary school and am able to maintain A & A* grades that some Kendrick students are struggling to. This petition is not about grades, it is intended to highlight how the population of the school has changed and it’s not necessarily healthy for the students there. Education is about much more than just your grades, it’s about socialising and learning the skills needed to function as an adult in later life.

      • Spencer says:

        Brilliant post and great perspective! Thanks Grace

        • David McK says:

          Agree Brilliant post. It is sad that not enough people can even imagine the benefits (including to the local community and the nation) of everyone going to a local school.

      • Anonymous says:

        Grace,
        I am 15 years old and go to Kendrick and I strongly disagree with everything that you have said. Growing up I was one of the brightest at my primary school but coming to Kendrick I found myself struggling to keep up. The students here are some of the most intelligent I have ever met and I find myself having detailed and heated discussions about politics and global issues at break rather than wasting my time talking about boys and clothes. I find your statement that you could easily have gotten in to Kendrick offensive and disrespectful to all those who took the test. Having friends who live far away has helped me to strive to make new friends by joining clubs and helping my community. My closest friends go to reading boys and pygott and I regularly go out and do things with my friends. As well as having this social life I am predicted 11A*s and enjoy school life so I do not think that you have the right to tell me that I am not prepared for later life and that I don’t have a social life. Furthermore neither me nor any of my friends were pushed or tutored to take the test and we certainly weren’t ‘tortured’. I understand the frustration about the catchment but your argument is belittling and offensive to the students at this school.

      • Rebecca says:

        Hello,
        I currently attend Kendrick school and as politely and respectfully as possible I would like to disagree with every point you have made and speaking from direct up-to-date experience, assure you that the vast majority of my year group live within a half an hour radius of the school and those who do not, commute via train journeys- all of which are under an hour. I would also like to point out that it is extremely bold of you to state ‘I could have very easily gotten into Kendrick School’ (whilst, might I add using the incorrect conjugation of the verb to get) when there is absolutely no certainty in this.
        As well as this, I am not sure as to how you would know whether students at Kendrick are struggling to cope with demands or not. I can assure you, that speaking as a Kendrick student of 5 years- all of my friends who received tutoring to get here are extremely high achievers with strong work ethics and grades that could easily match those here (like myself) who received no tutoring whatsoever. As with all schools, of course there are bound to be a minority of students who struggle to maintain their target grades. This, however, does not correlate with any history of tutoring, ‘pushy parents’ or a ‘lack of social life’ as you imply and is simply down to how hard they are willing to work as after all hard work is just as important as intelligence.
        I have greatly valued all of my time at Kendrick and I believe that it is an exclusive and unique school with a rich diversity and a sense of student to teacher respect that fabricates an extremely close-knit community.
        Kendrick allows students of all backgrounds to receive great opportunities regarding their education. I think it is very important to value this rare and anti-elitist approach to schooling that may not be as accessible to a large proportion of the school if the admissions scheme was to be altered in such a way. Unfortunately, local children have no more right than those further away to attend Kendrick as the selection process is based on INTELLIGENCE not LOCATION and a selective school giving priority to those nearby would no longer be a grammar school. Lastly, often students who come from a distance do not have a grammar school in their area as they are very rare.

  2. Vanessa Holburn says:

    I have 2 academically-able girls & live in Twyford. Their chances at Kendrick however are reduced by students as far away as London taking places. The limited places force parents to hot-house children, an approach widely condemned by childcare experts. Parents of children from outside Reading & Wokingham do not pay local authority taxes and generally offer less support to the school. Current admissions policy is detrimental to children & results in less community participation in schooling.

    • Diddles says:

      London is not included in the current catchment for Kendrick.

    • Nigel says:

      The admissions policy for Kendrick for 2015 intake doesn’t include any London postcodes. (Generally speaking, the catchment area is a 15 miles radius from the school.) I imagine the whole education system could be viewed as a hot-house system, with children being streamed or put into groups/classes of different ability. I think this benefits the children when they are put into groups of similar ability/mentality as they can strive to reach achievable goals within their peer group. (I wouldn’t want my child to be put into a group of extreme achievers, or extreme underachievers, or a group of both; the child would be very frustrated in any of these groups in one way or another.)

      If your girls are keen to take the test for a selective school, support them in their choice. They may very well get in. (Who’s to say that your girls aren’t as smart as some who live in London?)

  3. DEBORAH CHAPMAN says:

    I agree with your petition that Reading & Kendrick schools catchment area is reduced to 13 full postal districts including the Reading and Wokingham urban areas in which the schools reside and surrounding countryside. I don’t believe it benefits children’s education to be outside of that area as they’re having to travel such a long distance to get to school thus causing them stress and tiredness which impacts on their learning process, they would also not have the opportunity to partake in other activities near their homes. In addition, friendships become difficult to maintain because of the geographical location of everyone’s homes. I was sent to a fee paying school for a few years and it was 20 miles away from home and I felt isolated, it’s different if you’re boarding there as then you make friends with people from everywhere but it’s not a good idea for the day students.

    • Bob says:

      Parents are best placed to decide what is right for their child, not you. I don’t believe there is any evidence to support your views.

      You say “I don’t believe it benefits children’s education to be outside of that area as they’re having to travel such a long distance to get to school thus causing them stress and tiredness which impacts on their learning process”.

      In reality, going to one of the best state schools in the country massively benefits a bright child, which impacts on their learning process.

      There are loads of children nationally who commute considerable distances to state comprehensives, because they have no choice or maybe because it’s their parents preference. What would you suggest is done about their stress and tiredness?

    • Bill says:

      “I don’t believe it benefits children’s education to be outside of that area as they’re having to travel such a long distance to get to school thus causing them stress and tiredness which impacts on their learning process”.

      Maybe it should be be parents choice rather than just imposing more rules.

    • Alice says:

      I am currently attending Kendrick and my travel to school includes a 20 minute train journey and then a walk from Reading station to Kendrick school. You say that being educated outside the local area has no benefits to a child’s education, yet there are no local schools where I would have received anywhere near the standard of teaching that I have had during my time at Kendrick. I also have maintained very strong friendships with all my peers and so, in my opinion, your point about strained friendships to be invalid. Outside of school, I participate in many extracurricular activities such as swimming over five times a week. I have never failed to keep up with my work and have maintained my grades as well with almost all predicted as A*’s. So in response, no, my slightly longer travel to school has not impacted my learning ability and has no reason to.

  4. Sasha ellis says:

    Totally agree with these changes

  5. manjot Roy says:

    Local school for local children. We should benefit from a community school. The school will benefit from locally engaged parents. Aftet school events and community events will be betyer attended

  6. Pete says:

    The first paragraph of this post has been removed by the moderator as it speculates about the abilities of certain children from a position of ignorance.

    Schools are NOT funded from local authority tax, so this is an irrelevant argument.

    All children should have an equal chance to attend any grammar school irrespective of where they live, just like Birmingham, Walsall and Gloucestershire.

    • Grace King says:

      I think you are missing the point of this petition, any parent who cares about their children’s social life would have reservations about sending them to a school where other students live so far away, that it is difficult to see them. I am a local 16 year old and could have attended Kendrick, I know many girls attending Kendrick who live over an hours journey away, this has greatly affected their social life and mental health as they struggle to keep up their work load and mainting friendships. Some students were also vigorously tutored to pass the exam and are now struggling to maintain A&A* grades that girls at comprehensive schools are managing.

      • Bob says:

        Implying the parents of Kendrick children don’t care about their social life is nonsense and naive. When you say you know MANY Kendrick girls who live over an hour’s commute away, just how many are you referring to? It may help give some perspective to your point.

        You have of course neglected to mention that many hundreds of Kendrick girls do actually live in Reading or certainly less than an hour’s commute from the school.

        Sorry to hear your Kendrick friends are suffering mental health problems due to their commute, but how many children nationally, from all types of school, do you think have to travel an hour+ to school each day, including those who walk and cycle? I would hazard a guess that it would be in the hundreds if not thousands. If you believe an hour’s commute to school each day really is that detrimental to a child’s health, why not campaign for all school children rather than just using it to criticise Kendrick?

        Random anti-tutoring point raised at the end of your post. Have a look at the points I made under the ‘Catchment’ tab on this website. Again, I am just trying to add some balance to a point that is regularly used unfairly as a stick to beat Grammar schools.

        Feel free to provide evidence which may add credibility to your post.

        • Troll Spotter says:

          @Bob: Nice work – nothing like a bit of online bullying heh ? Especially of a 16 year old….

          @Grace: You make some good points in your posts. I think sometimes parents see the grammars as some kind of ‘badge of honour’ and don’t always think of the other aspects of school life (or how much taxi-driving they’ll have to do).

          Well done you for considering your options carefully, and well done your parents for letting you choose. Good luck in your exams

          [TRAK – corrected name]

          • Bob says:

            Sorry, no-name but who made you police of this site? The comments are mediated so it you have an issue, report me.

            If Grace is old enough and bright enough to contribute to this debate, which clearly she is, then I do not think it unreasonable to ask he to justify her claims.

            Your ‘well done’ comments have a terribly patronising tone.

          • Steve says:

            ‘Bullying’ may be a bit extreme Troll Spotter but Bob, using terms like ‘nonsense and naive’ isn’t really necessary to support a debate is it ?

          • Anonymous says:

            I go to Kendrick school and completely agree with ‘Bob’. After finding Grace’s posts today there were a number of discussions in the classroom at Kendrick and a lot of students were getting very upset about this issue. Troll spotter you call out Bob for bullying here when in reality Grace is trying to diagnose young people with mental health issues just because of the type of school they go to. Not only is this offensive to us as students but also completely belittles people whose lives are massively effected by mental health problems. Having asked around the ‘many’ people at Kendrick that Grace knows amounts to two and, of the 96 people in my year, only two said they travelled for over an hour each day and neither of them knew Grace. I respect peoples’ right to an opinion but maybe consider all of the young people attending Kendrick currently who are subject to your views.

      • Year 11 Kendrick Student says:

        As a current student at Kendrick, I have been left feeling quite bemused about the audacious claims you have made about our lacking social lives due to our dispersed locations and our ‘mental health struggles.’ I think most importantly before you state these claims you should have substantial evidence before tainting our school’s reputation. Plastering our school as an institution filled with children with bullies for parents who are not naturally intelligent is ridiculous. Our school prides itself on creating a nurturing environment due to its limited amount of students. Most, not all, as I don’t intend to make unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims, leave our school feeling positive about their Kendrick experience and with good grades. However, I think it is essential to remember that no student is the same and not every child is capable of achieving 11 or 12 A*s- that is just unrealistic. Most importantly, whilst you are achieving great grades it would be ignorant to suggest that all students in comprehensive schools are achieving at the same level as you. Annual statistics state otherwise and that is yet another example of how individual’s strengths differ between schools. As a selective grammar school, students at Kendrick, because of entrance examinations, are of a certain intellect essentially that is what grammar schools are about: encouraging students to challenge each other in a strong, academic environment.
        What I found most challenging to accept was your claim that you would have been able to gain a place at Kendrick Grammar School in year 7 when you have had no prior experiences of our entrance exams. With all due respect, the entrance exams have evolved since your mother and auntie attended our school. Moreover, your predicted grades are not an indicator of your eleven year old intellect.
        I live locally and I have a brother who missed the mark to gain a place into Reading Boys by half a point. Although it was devastating, it indicated that unfortunately his results were not competitive enough and as a family we had to accept that. He is now extremely happy at his school.
        Finally, I would just like to end with the fact that I am happy with my social life and work balance, I don’t suffer with any mental health issues and I’m on target to achieve 12A*s, I partake in numerous sports and music groups and I still have time to socialize with friends from my school. I’m not from a well off background so I credit Kendrick entirely for my education, without its academic and nurturing environment it would not have been possible for me to be the person I am today.

  7. Rian Whelan says:

    Totally agree this is a misguided campaign and all children should be able to attend. Many parents are sending their children to schools far away and they are coming back with great results.

  8. Paul says:

    School catchment areas should be reduced, you should have local schools for local children. This cuts down on traffic and prevents the lower standing schools falling further behind. You need a mix of abilities and restricting catchments can only eventually benefit all schools. If you really want to go to a certain school move closer don’t fill our roads up with unnecessary traffic

    • Tom says:

      “…prevents the lower standing schools falling further behind”. You are right to point this out. Couldn’t we just raise the standards of other nearby schools (eg Bulmershe) rather than dumb down one of the best schools in the country?

      “You need a mix of abilities” Why are children in almost all secondary schools put in sets for all their subjects then? One of the main benefits of having the brightest students all in one location is that lessons can be taught at an accelerated pace without fear of less academically gifted students falling behind. Lowering average standards means lessons will be far too easy for some and far too hard for others, which has few benefits for either.

      The argument for traffic seems fair, yet 90% of the kids I know go to school by public transport – not increasing traffic at all. Maybe it could be argued that they fill these up though I personally don’t find the public transport system overstretched because of this.

    • Steve says:

      Good points there Tom – I can’t really comment on the standards of the other schools but I don’t think this proposal will change the quality of the grammar intake very much

      All pupils will still have to achieve the pass mark of 110 (this is the score the grammars set, above which pupils will benefit from a grammar education). This is just a different way to allocate places to those that achieve the magic score

      • James says:

        The use of ‘standard’ is extremely misleading here as it implies some kind of repeatable objective measure. On the Wechsler scale a score of 110 merely indicates that the applicant is 2/3σ above the mean. The mean depends on who else is taking the test. If all the other applicants were say goldfish then you’d expect any 10 year old to get 145+ … although then again, these are multiple choice tests so the fish may do well … 😉

        To give a more concrete example Reading School standardised the 2013 late test results as an entirely separate group. As a result two candidates who had answered less than the average number of correct answers were given scores putting them in the 100 places. Check the bottom half dozen rows of the full test results: http://trak.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ReadingSchoolTests-2011-2013.xlsx

        A standardised score doesn’t depend on how ‘good’ you are but who takes the test at the same time.

  9. Bob says:

    Reading and Kendrick remain hugely popular and are massively oversubscribed every year. I believe this is due mainly to their consistent levels of excellence and the desire of ordinary parents to try and get the best state education for their children. Both schools have a fine tradition of turning out some of the brightest minds in the land.

    This petition calls for a reduction in catchment area claiming it would benefit the local community. I suggest this would result in dumbing-down two of the finest state school in the country. Lowering the standard of entry would lead to a drop in performance and both schools falling down the league tables.

    Nationally, Grammar schools consistently achieve high standards, not just academically but also in terms of behaviour and confidence, turning out rounded individuals. If a gap does exist between selective and non-selective schools, I suggest the education authorities should be aiming to raise the standards of non-selective schools rather than lowering the standards of selective schools, as a smaller catchment area would surely result in.

    Those behind this petition must believe Grammar schools are fundamentally a good thing as their aim to reduce the catchment areas would imply. Why not then simply petition for more Grammar schools thus providing more Grammar school places for the local community? This seems a far clearer and simpler objective.

    Both the Grammar schools in Reading offer places based purely on their entrance exam results, nothing else. If two applicants achieve exactly the same test results, one of the tie-breaker criteria is distance, so those living nearer the school would have the advantage. The vast majority of pupils attending Reading and Kendrick come from Reading and the surrounding area, not Oxford or Slough. Some may, but it’s a small number. Reading is one of a very small number of state schools that offer boarding facilities with 60 places available to live-in pupils, which goes some way to addressing the issue of living far from the school.

    Grammar schools generally provide the best state education available for the brightest non-private school children, regardless of their background or ability to pay. Without these high-achieving schools, the already considerable gap between private and state education would become a chasm. How could this possibly be a good thing?

    This petition site is misleading.

    • Steve says:

      Interesting viewpoint Bob, could you explain what you mean by ‘dumbing down’ and what impact that would have in real terms. You mention league table positions but I feel that is irrelevant to most parents. Is there anything else that would be affected? And can you quantify any changes ?

      I’m not sure if you’ve read the TRAK proposal in detail but it doesn’t involve lowering the ‘pass-mark’ (above which the schools deem that pupils will benefit from a grammar education)

      • Bob says:

        Ok Steve, reducing the catchment area would reduce the pool of applicants. There are a number of opinions expressed on this website that it would be preferable to make places available to ‘locals’ (RG postcode pupils) even if it meant prioritising them over pupils who had scored higher in the entrance exam. I didn’t make these comments but hope this helps you understand what I was getting at.

        Reading school has only 100 day and 12 boarding places available for 600+ Y7 applicants. Should its catchment area be reduced it would mean a small handful of children, who would otherwise have been offered a place based on their entrance exam result, being rejected in favour of a small number of local (RG postcode) pupils who scored less in the tests. Incidentally, these favoured locals could live up to 12.5 km away, still a fair hike from the school.

        If you seriously believe that league tables are not important to every school in the land, every local authority and the vast majority of parents, you are deluded. League tables are readily available online and any decent, sensible parent would want to check out the track record of a school they were considering sending their child to. It will be interesting to see if anyone supports your view that league tables are “irrelevant to most parents”. There are of course other important factors parents rightly consider when looking at secondary schools.

        You ask if anything else would be affected other than league table standings should the catchment areas shrink. Erm… not that I can think of. Apart from speculation, it is difficult to quantify change in this instance.

        There is no ‘pass-mark’ to get into Reading or Kendrick. It’s a first-past-the-post system.

        I think it is you Steve who hasn’t read the website properly. Try reading the section above titled ‘Rational’ where the author of this website correctly describes a ‘cut-off point’ meaning a first-past-the-post system and refers to changing the entry rules to favour those who “scored slightly lower” in the entrance tests based on their proximity to the school.

        • Steve says:

          Actually there is a pass mark – as stated in the school admissions policy. The over-subscription critera then decide how places are allocated to those that passed.

          So would this be a fair summary of your post: “There may or not be a slight fall in the league position of the schools?”

          • Bob says:

            The pass mark to which you refer is a minimum requirement and in no way relates to the actual marks those who are offered a place get. As far as I am aware they offer the top 100 a place. Please correct me if I am wrong.

          • Steve says:

            We seem to have run out of replies….

            The admissions policy states “A qualifying score
            will be determined and applicants on or above that qualifying score will be deemed to have reached a standard which is suitable for a grammar school. ” The score is 110.0

  10. Mark Hayward says:

    I support this campaign for the following reasons:

    1. There is an acute shortage of school places in Reading. This is easily verified with bulge classes being created in most Reading primaries.

    2. Many academically-proficient children from poorer backgrounds living in Reading would have vastly improved life chances by attending a grammar school. Reading (technically, the largest town in the UK) like many cities has numerous deprived areas.

    3. The catchment areas of Reading School and Kendrick School far exceed the boundaries of the borough encompassing areas which have their own grammar schools (Slough has 4 grammar schools and is half the size of Reading!)

    4. These grammar schools were set up to serve the local community and this was enshrined in their original charters.

    5. Parents of children living in Reading have a Hobson’s choice of schools which are either full or poorly rated, particularly RG2.

    6. Academically-proficient children living locally are failing to gain access to these schools because norm-referenced evaluation leads to children living much further away pipping them at the post with slightly higher marks.

    7. Children should be able to walk, cycle or take a bus to school. I see hundreds of children arriving in the morning at Reading Station wearing Reading School and Kendrick School uniforms and therefore are probably not local (Twyford, at a stretch).

    8. Travelling long distances to school is tiring for pupils, pollutes the environment and prevents pupils socialising when the schools are closed (friends could be living as far away as 30 miles from one another).

    As a teacher my views are informed by research and a good knowledge of the local area and its schools.

    If I think of anything else I will post another message. Please feel free to add other reasons to support this campaign I may have overlooked.

    • Grace King says:

      Completely agree with everything said.
      Being friends with many pupils at both school, I know exactly how difficult it is for them to maintain a social life and have personally seen people affected by the fact they can’t see their friends and are too exhausted to go out after school as it takes them over an hour to get home.
      Also many students with pushy parents were overly tutored to take the test and are now struggling to maintain their grades as they are not as naturally academic as other students.

      • Carys McCullough says:

        I’d like to offer a differing view – I attended Kendrick from 1995 to 2002 and had both local friends (the majority of my peers were local) and those who lived a bit further out. My journey home could be as long as 90 minutes, despite living in Tilehurst, thanks to the joy of Reading buses but most of us did our homework on the way home, resulting in more time available once we were home. I didn’t have any problems maintaining an active social life with friends from Reading and Kendrick (those considered within the proposed catchment area and those travelling further) and most of my peers were very active in extra-curricular activities so to suggest that we were all too tired to go out is just untrue.

    • Steve says:

      Well said Mark – All good observations but this ones seems very important:

      6. Academically-proficient children living locally are failing to gain access to these schools because norm-referenced evaluation leads to children living much further away pipping them at the post with slightly higher marks.

      The scores are so close that a tiny difference can make the difference between getting a place or not. For such a small difference it makes much more sense to award places to the closest pupils

      • Bob says:

        I agree Steve, the scores are very close around the ‘cut’, but they do of course have to draw a line somewhere. There’s always going to winners and losers, a fact of life and a pretty hard pill to swallow for those whose child just misses out, regardless of their background or where they live.

        I’m sure you have gathered I am a staunch defender of Grammar schools and the spectacular results they consistently achieve. I am particularly anti the Grammar school haters out there whose aim is to shut down a system they clearly have no interest in claiming it’s for the privileged.

        Regarding TRAK’s objective, let’s be honest, without knowing where those say 10 places either side of the cut live and exactly where they finished in the test, it is difficult to have this debate with any clarity. We may, for example, only be talking about one or two children so the impact would be minimal. However, if the numbers are significant (and I would be surprised if they are) maybe I will reconsider my view point.

        Does anybody have any historical statistics??

        • James says:

          In theory the Freedom of Information Act has been in force for a decade. In practice it’s difficult/slow/impossible to get information if those who have it don’t want to share.

          We asked CEM to provide the raw and standardised scores for Reading/Kendrick/Slough cohorts. They said providing that information would prejudice their commercial interests. Since setting up the website we’ve been forwarded other FOI responses from CEM and it’s amazing how much information they _don’t_ hold. They design tests “with the goal of minimising the impact of intensive coaching”. Do they achieve that goal? Since there will never be any evidence about _which_ children are being tutored, CEM can never be challenged on that point but equally their claim can never be substantiated either although that doesn’t seem to have stemmed a massive increase in ‘tutor proof testing’. In 2011/12 CEM’s revenue from this testing was £329,695 in 2013/14 it had more than doubled to £757,064 and there are no shortage of tutors advertising their services to tutor for these tutor proof tests.

          FSM is seen as an _indicator_ of social deprivation so we asked Reading and Kendrick to provide the postal sector for their FSM students. Both refused claiming the request was vexatious. We can refer this to the Information Commissioner who will decide whether or not the schools were correct to refuse the information … about a month or two after their consultation period has finished.

          Nationally 20% of pupils are eligible for FSM. In grammar schools only 2.7%. Maybe there is a correlation between intelligence and affluence as one poster has suggested, in which case a better test is to compare Reading and Kendrick’s FSM figures against the nation average for grammar schools. Reading and Kendrick have about 1.5% FSM.

          Now that Reading School, along with anywhere between 30 and 90 other schools, are giving preference to FSM children I think we will see a lot more registered as their parents realise there is more to it than some see-through-thin roast lamb a dollop of soggy mash and the ubiquitous ‘mixed veg’:
          https://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2014/05/01/half-of-grammar-schools-will-give-priority-to-poor-children.aspx
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10802409/Grammar-schools-to-favour-poor-pupils-in-admissions.html

          Check http://trak.org.uk/resources/ for what we do have. Today Kendrick School told us they don’t hold the test results for entry in 2012/13/14 even though last month they were able to provide an extract of this information with all the interesting bits removed and saved as a PDF file even though I specifically requested a spreadsheet and it clearly was held as a spreadsheet. If you leaf through all those results I’m sure you’ll find lots of ties as they were recorded to 0.5 of a mark. This year they switched to 2dp so if that girl who scored 112.62 lives in Newbury and the one who scored 112.61 is from Newtown the Newbury girl is ranked higher.

          If you can get useful historical stats, preferably not printed out hard copy chewed by the dog then scanned in again please do share.

          • Steve says:

            Ha really – so they provided the data a month ago – and are now saying they don’t have it ?

            I really don’t understand the secrecy?

        • Steve says:

          This proposal isn’t bashing the grammars Bob – it’s just trying to improve access slightly for local children

          I think the only people with the data are the schools and they aren’t saying

          • Bob says:

            I said I oppose the Grammar school haters. Let’s be honest Steve, they are out there and they seek to undermine the Grammar school system.

            Take Mark’s post above where his first point about bulging class sizes in Primary Schools has little to do with the Grammar schools in Reading.

            Then there’s his seventh point about children catching the train to school. He is guessing as his use of the word ‘probably’ indicates.

            Making things up or making irrelevant points adds nothing to the debate on catchment areas, yet you and Grace seem to support these irrelevances. Just saying…

    • Tom says:

      5. Parents of children living in Reading have a Hobson’s choice of schools which are either full or poorly rated, particularly RG2.

      Why don’t we just improve these schools then?

      8. Travelling long distances to school is tiring for pupils, pollutes the environment and prevents pupils socialising when the schools are closed (friends could be living as far away as 30 miles from one another).

      Firstly, almost all the kids I know use public transportation, leading to no extra pollution

      Secondly, from experience I know that few kids find it tiring and the majority do not live very far outside of Reading

      Thirdly, have you considered
      social media eg facebook, twitter, skype
      MMOs
      after school clubs
      form time
      break time
      lunch time
      phones
      lunchtime clubs
      clubs outside of schools
      events (eg discos)?
      Most Reading School pupils I know have very healthy social lives.

    • Carys McCullough says:

      Mark – if I can address your points in turn, where I feel I have a relevant comment to make.

      1. The number of school places required in Reading is irrelevant to this discussion – the LEA has a requirement to provide sufficient school places for local children, not the individual schools.

      2. Any comment I make is subjective but based on personal experience I would say that Reading and Kendrick do achieve a certain level of social mobility.

      3. Do the grammar schools in Slough prevent people external to the borough from applying? If not, this point is irrelevant – the current system (supported by the Rotherham determination) allows free choice.

      4. Reading School was founded in 1125 and was one of the original private schools, Kendrick was founded in 1877 (although from the remaining money provided by John Kendrick upon his death in 1624, which originally funded a workhouse providing employment and education for the poor) – whilst your comment may be valid for Kendrick (based on the 1870 Education Act), the concept of free school education for all did not exist when Reading School was founded and it was the Education Act of 1944 that resulted in Reading School abolishing fees. What are you taking as the “original charter” for either school?

      5. The solution is to campaign for the improvement of all local schools, not to reduce the quality of entrants to the two available grammar schools – this proposal could only affect the outcome for a maximum of 220 pupils (i.e. the total combined entry for a year group at Reading and Kendrick) so there are thousands who would still not have access to an improved level of education.

      6. I’m unsure as to why living locally should give someone an advantage over someone living further away (parental choice as to whether the schools are close enough to commute to) – the point of a selective system is to pick those pupils with a higher academic ability. If you feel the tests are unfair or unrepresentative of a student’s real ability then attack them on that basis but Reading and Kendrick are selective schools.

      7. I grew up within the proposed catchment area (Tilehurst) but you would have seen me at Reading Station too! If the weather was good it was quicker and healthier for me to get the train to Tilehurst station and walk home than sit (or stand) on a bus that went on an extremely convoluted route.

      8. I disagree that specifically travelling long distances is tiring – having a lengthy commute is tiring but, depending on the provision of local public transport, it is not guaranteed that a person within the proposed catchment area would have a shorter commute. Once the bus routes changed for me, my trip home (~5 miles) could take up to 90 minutes. In terms of socialising with friends – I was out most weekends and never experienced an issue with socialising with those who travelled from Maidenhead, etc.

      Lastly, you state that you are a teacher and therefore your views are informed by research and a good knowledge of the local area and its schools as if that means your comments are more valid than anyone else’s – you provide no way of verifying your occupation (the internet is notorious for people to claim to be something that they are not) and many other occupations also require people to have good research skills to base any conclusions on.

  11. Ann Dee says:

    My understanding is that it is not really the boundaries that are an issue but rather that the places awarded are on academic merit and, if pupils are awarded the same mark, designated areas and radial distance to the school provide the determination as to who gets in so Reading pupils and Wokingham will be awarded places before those who live a long way away. Restricting entry to Reading and Wokingham pupils would have gone against my daughter as we live in Tilehurst but are actually significantly closer to Kendrick than my current Woodley (Wokingham) school. She wanted to go to Kendrick because it was an all girls’ school and not actually for the academic reputation. My daughter did not have a tutor, nor did my son who went to Reading Boys.

    I cannot, in all conscience, support the idea that Kendrick and Reading should lower their entrance requirements but would rather campaign to ensure all schools work to improve their standards of achievement/attainment. If we have selective schools, they are just that – perhaps we need more grammar schools as the number of children who sit the test would suggest there is a high demand for places. I can assure you that pupils of mine who have gone to Reading or Kendrick do not come from wealthy families (certainly my daughter didn’t) but those I have taught have been in the top 5% of the ability range. I do take your point about tutoring (although I would want to check the claim by that particular tutor that you mention) but I think you will find that those who do get in are unable to keep up the pace if they do not have natural ability as well. You may want to check what the ‘drop out’ rate is.

    • Steve says:

      Ann – Tilehurst would be well within the catchment – the proposal is RG1, RG2, RG4, RG5, RG6, RG7, RG8, RG9, RG10, RG30, RG31, RG40, RG41

      (Still too large in my opinion but this may be a compromise)

      The proposal doesn’t alter the ‘pass mark’ of 110. It just changes the way places are allocated to those that passed the test

      50% of places to the top scorers (could live anywhere in catchment)
      50% to closest children (these still need to have reached the 110.0 cut-off set by the schools)

      (My opinion would be to allocate all places for those that passed the test on radial distance – but again, this may be a compromise)

      This really isn’t a radical change and its not ‘grammar-bashing’. It just skews the admissions slightly towards children that live closer to the school

      • Ann says:

        Hi,
        I believe the ‘pass’ mark changes each year and is top down ie there are a pre-determined number of places in the with the school’s standard admission number and places are awarded to the children with the highest marks until the school has no more places to offer and in the case of the same mark being achieved the place is awarded on radial distance from the school.
        Thank you re the geographic location of Tilehurst – the headline bits of this petition keep highlighting Reading and Wokingham schools – no mention of West Berkshire which many Tilehurst schools and addresses come under – hence my point.

        • Steve says:

          I think there are 2 ‘pass marks’

          Firstly there is the 110 which is the minimum the grammars would accept. Several hundred children (300 maybe) reach this mark and would be acceptable to the schools

          But as you say, the over-subscription criteria awards spaces to the top scorers out of these 300, which does create a variable ‘effective pass-mark’

          There’s no reason things have to stay like this though

          • Ann says:

            I’m afraid we will have to agree to differ – the proposed change of admissions policy to include more ‘local’ children without ensuring the rigour of the selection test is maintained would be detrimental to all – those who would struggle to keep pace as well as those who do have the ability but would have to work at a slower pace to enable less academic children to keep up. No one wins in that situation.

          • Steve says:

            Ha maybe we will Ann 🙂

            But nobody’s suggesting changing the rigour of the test

          • Carys McCullough says:

            I’ll respond to this comment since I can’t apparently reply to your comment made at 8.30pm – you aren’t suggesting changing the rigour of the test that would be taken (i.e. everybody would still receive a valid mark and ranking) but you are suggesting changing the entry criteria for Reading and Kendrick, which would ultimately have the same effect.
            Whilst at Kendrick, one of the most significant impacts on my eduction was the atmosphere – the need to keep up with my peers. If that had been affected by a reduction in the average ability of my peers, I am sad to say that my education would have suffered. Unfortunately, until I went to university, I was the type of pupil that sank to the lowest common denominator and that is why getting into Kendrick was so beneficial for me.

  12. Ann says:

    Having read and reread the proposals there would appear to be a few factual inaccuracies in the information provided. but I am somewhat mystified by the your belief that ‘ admissions to these schools was opened up to a very wide geographic area simply to improve final GCSE league table results by increasing the level of the intake.’ I would be interested to hear what evidence there is to support this assertion. My understanding, both a long serving head teacher as well as my experience as a parent of a girl who went to Kendrick and a boy who went to Reading is somewhat different.

    Originally (back in 1986) there was a different pass mark for children who lived in Reading Borough compared with that of those children living out of the borough – children within Reading had a pass mark of 110 and out of the borough a much higher pass mark. This was changed as a result of the legal ruling known as the Greenwich ruling, went against Greenwich Council in south west London. It established that local education authorities could not stop children travelling to their schools from outside their boundaries. I believe it established that if a selection test was used as a condition of admission then it had to be fair and equitable for all those wishing to sit the entrance exam and therefore different pass marks or selection criteria could not be applied to different groups of children.
    I would suggest that your proposals to limit admissions to selected postcodes might in fact go against the Rotherham determination – the Court of Appeal ruled that the local education authority there had acted unlawfully by automatically allocating school places to children living in a catchment area, because that did not give sufficient choice to parents from outside the area.
    There are very many children who did not get in to Reading or Kendrick but with the designated area being the final determiner when equal marks are achieved, local Reading Borough children are favoured not disadvantaged.

    • Steve says:

      Wasn’t the Rotherham determination to do with borough boundaries?

      The TRAK proposal covers RG1, RG2, RG4, RG5, RG6, RG7, RG8, RG9, RG10, RG30, RG31, RG40, RG41 so several different boroughs. Can’t see it applies in this case?

      • Ann says:

        Hi,
        I believe it does apply because with Rotherham the Court of Appeal ruled that the local education authority there had acted unlawfully by automatically allocating school places to children living in a catchment area, because that did not give sufficient choice to parents from outside the area.
        My understanding is that anyone can apply to Reading or Kendrick from wherever they live even if they are not served by the areas suggested in the TRAK proposals and the designated area only comes into play if there is a tie with scores in the entrance exam. In the Rotherham situation the LA did not allow applications from outside the designated/catchment area.

        • Steve says:

          I don’t think the TRAK proposal stops other people applying does it ? There is already a catchment – the proposal just makes it slightly smaller

          • Ann says:

            Making it a 12 mile radius rather than the current 15 miles is something that could easily be conveyed in the responses to the admissions consultation rather than the hyperbole that appears to be accompanying this petition. The suggestion that less able ‘local’ children should be admitted in favour of more able children who live further away would seem to be trying to defeat the object of selection.

    • James says:

      Thanks Anne for providing what I think is reliable first hand information. Being very open minded, I’ve completely revised my own opinion of how the current situation came about, removed all references to my previous hypothesis and rewritten the whole of ‘catchment’. Sorry that has taken a few days.

      Regarding the ‘advantage’ given to Reading children, the Schools Admissions code section 14 says “In drawing up their admission arrangements, admission authorities must ensure that the practices and the criteria used to decide the allocation of school places are fair, clear and objective. Parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school will be allocated.”

      Reading School’s admissions criteria says, “With regard to the historic links with the Borough of Reading, eligible boys living nearer to the School will be accorded a higher priority in the allocation of day-boy places.

      Given the very public claim being made here you could be forgiven for thinking that the schools do in fact provide some very marginal benefit when it comes to deciding the very last place or two but in fact they record the test results to two decimal places which ensures this ‘preference’ simply never occurs. Not a great way to be ‘at the heart of the community‘.

      Reading school confirmed (http://trak.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2013-02-04-RS-FOIresponse.pdf) two years ago that they had not had a single tie-breaker for the previous 13 years and if you look at the CEM results this year (http://trak.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/CEM-2015-entry-results.xlsx) you’ll see there are no inconvenient ties.

  13. Kirsty says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree. As a current pupil of Kendrick School I would argue that making it into yet another “postcode lottery” school would make it far harder for low income families to get a place. Currently, all families in Berkshire can apply to have their intelligent children receive an extremely high quality education in a highly academic environment at Kendrick. This is regardless of their postcode. All that will happen is overtime, house prices in these postcodes will rise, excluding poorer families and their chances. Additionally, why should children in Crowthorne be excluded, but children in Wokingham included? Grammar schools serve a large area so they can meet the needs of the exceptional students in an area, some excluded postcodes will then have no grammar school to apply to. Thus forcing the parents to pay for private education, or, for low income families, to be deprived of a grammar school education. Perhaps students should not be in the catchment for more than one grammar school, but every student is entitled to a chance to apply.

  14. Chelys says:

    May I suggest that the parents in the Reading area wanting more grammar school places for their children should petition the government to allow the creation of new grammar schools. This would seem to be more positive than knocking the only two such schools in the area.

    It is true that years ago grammar schools tended to cater more for local children. In those days, however, every local area had its own grammar school, so the dynamic was completely different. Solve the problem: create more grammar school places.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your reply Chelys.

      Wouldn’t it make more sense for the children of Newbury, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Henley etc. to campaign for grammar schools ? Reading already has some – they just don’t cater for many children in Reading

      I really don’t think this is about knocking the grammar schools. It’s about improving access for children that pass the 11+ and live close to the schools

      Your point about more grammar spaces is an interesting one. The grammar system was mainly dismantled decades ago so maybe that’s the issue? Where you get isolated grammar schools (like Reading) there is just too much demand. Maybe we do need more grammar spaces. Or maybe no grammar spaces. I think that debate is beyond the scope of this campaign though?

      • Bob says:

        Chelys point is very well made.

        There are hundreds of bright children who fail to make the grammar school cut each year who would benefit from another such school or two in the area. However, this is never going to happen under the current education policy which is generally anti-selection.

        I’m afraid Steve, saying the Reading grammar schools “don’t cater for many children in Reading” is simply not the case. There are some children from the extremities of the catchment area I agree, but in my experience, the majority of students live in or immediately around the Reading area and certainly within the 12.5 km this site proposes.

        I think you are right about this flawed campaign. It just doesn’t get to the heart of the real problem of education standards in Reading.

        I see Reading is once again one of the highest ranked places in the country for GCSE and A level results. If you take the two grammar schools and Abbey (a fee paying school) out of the equation, we would see the real standard of state education in Reading.

      • Chelys says:

        Yes, Steve, it would make sense for parents in Newbury, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Henley, Reading and everywhere else, to campaign for more grammar schools. There is obviously a huge demand from parents, and successive governments have proclaimed their intention of improving parental choice in education! Everyone reading this might like to consider writing to their MP to remind him or her of this fact.

        Nevertheless, reducing the catchment area just increases the element of “post code lottery” in children’s education. Those living towards Slough, may have a choice of several convenient grammar schools, but those living west of Reading do not, and they too deserve the chance of a grammar school education. Reading children are in no way disadvantaged by the selection process and are selected on merit like those from other areas.

      • Carys McCullough says:

        I think the problem with the proposal is that it doesn’t tackle the root cause – demand for places outstrips supply. Reducing the pass mark for local pupils will reduce the average ability of the pupils at Reading and Kendrick; instead of challenging the system you further degrade the quality of the existing grammar schools.
        The quality of Reading and Kendrick is in part due to the very high ability of the pupils that study there – teachers and facilities play a part but the real value of my attendance there was the exposure to the whole environment.

      • Steve says:

        Kendrick has made an interesting point that there is no clear link between the entrance test score and the GCSE and A Level results that pupils achieve when they leave.

        Both grammars also say that pupils achieving over 110 marks would benefit from a grammar education

        Following on from these statements, its hard to see why ‘standards’ (and that’s a horrible word) would drop

  15. Steve says:

    Where did the discussion page go ?

    Does anyone know what the correlation is (if there is any) between entrance test scores and GCSE/A level results

    Pupils will have passed the tests with varying amounts of help/practise and from a variety of primary backgrounds so just wondering what happens after 5/7 years of grammar education

  16. Steve says:

    Just to add bit of context re. how close the scores are. as an example for Kendrick last year

    7 girls scored 130+
    21 girls scored between 125 and 130
    43 girls scored between 120 an 125
    131 girls scored between 110 and 120

    Total 201 passed the test

    • Steve says:

      So if they adopted the proposal

      The first 48 places would be awarded to the top scorers, so over a score of over 121.5

      The other 48 would be awarded to those closest to the school – so presumably a random mix of scores between 110 and 121.5

      Seems pretty reasonable – and not a massive change

      Note: Assuming no FSM, looked after children etc.

      • Diddles says:

        Typically, because some of those in the top 96 for Kendrick (choosing other schools instead), the places tend to offered down to the top 120-130 and have been for quite some years.

    • Carys McCullough says:

      As an ex-Kendrick girl I’m unsure how you feel that 201 passed the test? I admit that it may have changed (and I apologise that I haven’t even looked at the school website to see if that is the case) since I started at Kendrick in 1995 but there was no pass mark. You were ranked and the available places were allocated from the highest score down to all places being filled.

      • Amanda says:

        Hi Carys, hope you’re well!

        As I remember it, if you scored between 110 and 116 then your teachers from your primary school had to defend your ability to that place. I scored 115.5 so fitted into this, and my head teacher had to argue my cause. Interestingly, despite being one of the lower scorers, I seemed to be about average once there.

        Apologies if this information is factually incorrect, this is just what I remember.

        • Steve says:

          Hi Amanda – thanks for your comments

          I don’t think primary schools get involved in this any more (they certainly shouldn’t 🙂 but who knows ….)

          Kendrick have confirmed that there’s no clear link between your 11+ score and how well you do at the school. The 11+ is a one-off test and children will have very different backgrounds and preparation for it – so I can easily imagine that things change when they all have same education at the grammars

      • Steve says:

        Hi Carys – the 201 comes from the admissions criteria and the results given to TRAK by Kendrick. Check out the resources page for the results for 2014 – the pass mark (110) is in the admissions criteria

        As you say, places are awarded in ranking order so the pass mark of 110 isn’t relevant currently except for SEN and FSM pupils

  17. Mother or Reading Boy says:

    I’m not sure that the catchment area quoted is correct which should invalidate this petition anyway. We are in Yateley and right on the edge of catchment. Farnham postcodes are GU9 which are not included. The edge of Farnham is 9 miles from us. This petition is ridiculous and petty. Gifted children need somewhere like Reading. It is paid for by national taxes, not local taxes. Travelwise we are walking distance from the train station and the train takes only 8 minutes longer than from Wokingham, although I work in Reading and often take him myself.

    • James says:

      I think you hit one of the the nails on the head here. Neither school publish a map of their catchment areas making it very difficult to understand the extend of them. Farnborough is in the Kendrick catchment not Farnham.

      We are doing our best to facilitate open and informed public debate on this subject. We’ve asked the schools to submit an article putting forward their perspective or point out any errors with anything we’ve written. We’ve also asked them to meet with us to discuss admissions. They’ve declined all three offers.

      The best indication you can get of the current catchment area is this Google Earth KML file
      http://trak.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ReadingKendrickCatchment.kmz. This was based on Ordnance Survey codepoint data and the school’s published admissions criteria for 2015 entry. Thanks for pointing out the Farn[ham/borough] error. It’s now been corrected.

      • Mother of Reading Boy says:

        Farnborough is not in catchment. Farnborough is GU14. Nor is High Wycombe who have an HP postcode. Reading School are transparent and publish the postcodes. It is very clear and easy to check the area covered by the postcodes online. I was always told it was approximately a 13 mile radius of the school – not sure if that is exact but it is not far off. Distance is almost irrelevant anyway – travel time is more important and acts as a natural catchment. If you feel you can get to the school in a reasonable time then as far as I’m concerned that’s ok. I work within site of Kendrick but live at the edge of catchment – why shouldn’t my children choose these schools?

      • Mother of Reading Boy says:

        Farnborough is not in catchment. Farnborough is GU14. Nor is High Wycombe who have an HP postcode. Reading School are transparent and publish the postcodes. It is very clear and easy to check the area covered by the postcodes online. I was always told it was approximately a 13 mile radius of the school – not sure if that is exact but it is not far off. Distance is almost irrelevant anyway – travel time is more important and acts as a natural catchment. If you feel you can get to the school in a reasonable time then as far as I’m concerned that’s ok. I work within sight of Kendrick but live at the edge of catchment – why shouldn’t my children choose these schools?

        • James says:

          This was never just about Reading School and it’s become far bigger than just Reading and Kendrick but for the record Kendrick’s admissions policy is available here:
          http://www.kendrick.reading.sch.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Year-7-Admissions-Policy-for-September-2015-Entry-FINAL-AND-PUBLISHED.pdf
          It includes the whole of GU14 and HP10 9, HP11, HP12, HP14 3.

          The schools admissions code says, “Admission authorities must ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social group”. I believe that including areas in the catchment which are well beyond the economical reach of those who can’t afford the cost of commuting disadvantages those on low incomes. It probably also explains the schools’ FSM representation which is extremely low, even by grammar school standards. Equally the codes says, “pupils should not be discriminated against in relation to admission to the school simply because they reside outside the local authority area” which is an argument for not restricting catchment to just Reading Borough. I also think that the current system, which allows the schools operate admissions in a way which best influences their final GCSE results when we should be looking at their Value Add (the educational benefit they bring) is very wrong, but that is a personal opinion which isn’t shared by everyone. I’d like to facilitate discussion of all viewpoints but the final decision on both these points rests with the Schools Adjudicator. I will raising them with her and requesting that she provides a ruling on these points which will be applicable to all grammar schools so there is clear guidance.

          For their part the schools argued on Radio Berkshire that opening up catchment to a wide area has promoted social mobility, however they’ve refused to provide information on the home locations of those on pupil premium (seen by the Sutton Education Trust as indicative of social deprivation) so we are deprived of the necessary information needed to make an informed decision on this point. They are currently ‘consulting’ on their admissions but as soon as someone has engaged in this process they’ve refused to provide information or meet to discuss. That’s a very narrow definition of ‘consultation’. The process is open to everyone to express their beliefs and if you believe the current policy should be retained then you should write to the schools, your local MP, councillors, local media, social networking etc. There are some addresses on the resources page.

  18. Sophie says:

    I won’t be signing the petition which I believe to be misguided: we live in the Reading Area (RG4); my son is at Reading and my daughter at Kendrick. The majority of my children’s friends also live in the Reading area. They have a handful of friends, who commute to school by train or bus, but I’m not aware of any with a journey of more than an hour, or with problems maintaining friendships. I believe the catchment used to be much bigger, but that this has been addressed in recent years.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Sophie – RG4 would be well within the proposed new catchment

      • Carys McCullough says:

        So you’ve missed her point, which is that she believes the petition is misguided!
        I will also not be signing the petition. I attended Kendrick from 1995 to 2002 and the majority of my peers and those in the 2 years above/below me were what I consider to be Reading-based (Caversham, Tilehurst, Burghfield, Winnersh, etc). Even those who were based further out (Maidenhead, Crowthorne) often had shorter journeys home than some of us because the Reading bus routes were appalling and they got the train. We also used our “commuting” time and often arrived home with little or no homework until we got into our GCSE years.
        Equally, we had a broader view of where to consider for A-levels. It was quite common for people to look at either the number or variety of A-levels that were available at Kendrick and explore attending Henley College instead (either to do 5 or to do a combination not available due to time-tabling).

  19. William says:

    While the argument that the current system is depriving children within the Reading area a chance at attending these schools can’t be disputed (since there are many very able students who got into both schools after failing the initial tests and joining in both year 9 and 12) the same argument can be made against the petition. Is it really our place to deprive students away from the school the chance at top quality eduction.

    In the case of Reading School lowering catchment size would increase demand for boarding places. If you can afford to pay to live at school even though you live within fair commute then you can still apply, while poorer households will be forced to pass. Grammar school are all about increasing social mobility and having a large catchment increases this.

    I do not consider it as wise to tamper with a system that has been creating outstanding students. The suggested catchment idea would decrease the average test score of pupils at these schools as it would not always be the top candidates who got in. Once the quality of students has dropped what is to say the standards will remain high?

    • Carys McCullough says:

      I would echo your concern regarding whether the standards would remain high if the quality of pupils dropped. Fundamentally, Reading and Kendrick are ranked very highly but when I was at Kendrick the facilities were old and degrading (my parents tried to get me to go to a comprehensive that had better / newer facilities) and, whilst the staff are all very intelligent, I’m sorry to say that my personal experience was that not all of them are good teachers. I was fortunate enough to have some brilliant teachers but it was the atmosphere created by having so many able pupils working together that enable the girls who study there to reach their full potential.

      • Steve says:

        Thanks for your comments Carys

        I’m not sure why you think the “quality” of the intake will drop though ? The schools have set a mark above which children will benefit from a grammar education (110).

        This proposal isn’t changing that – it just tweaks the way places are allocated to children that pass the 11+

  20. Martin says:

    I’m sorry Grace, if you’re able to “maintain those a/a* grades at your current comprehensive, then why are you petitioning, this has nothing to do with you at all, I have a few Friends who didn’t get into Kendrick, because they didn’t pass the exam. And you didn’t do the exam so how would you know if you would have got in? And I doubt in year 6 you were put off by the catchment area……

    It’s like if I don’t even go to Cambridge university and I complain about Cambridge getting too many offers, and they take someone from abroad and not someone in the UK and the abroad student feels home sick and is struggling etc.

    Anyone can join Kendrick and the ones that do well get in that’s why its a selective school. And not every single girl has mental health issues or struggles with work load due to the long distance from home, it’s the odd one or two who struggle.

    Overall I feel you are trying to find something against Kendrick and Reading schools, and your friends should leave if they’re struggling, surely their parents would understand. Dont have a go at the school when the pushy parents force their child to go to that grammar school.

  21. Charly Lester says:

    As a former Kendrick pupil, I am completely against the suggested changes.

    I moved to Kendrick from another Reading-based school where I had been violently bullied because I was one of the most academic girls in the year. In my time at Kendrick, I never knew an instance of bullying because we were all so capable and supportive of each other’s successes. I was able to grow up in an environment where my intelligence was celebrated, not ridiculed, and where I was taught to tackle the world as a successful, capable woman.

    By opening the school to a wider range of abilities, you not only risk exposing the brightest girls to the same bullying and ‘geek’ brands they might receive in comprehensive and private schools, but you also end up making those who are less academic feel less capable, by forcing constant comparisons with classmates who were chosen because of their top results. The great thing about Kendrick was that we were never identified in ‘streams’ or separated out according to ability, in any class other than maths.

    With regards to the comments about friendship groups and location, they are completely invalid – I lived in Tilehurst, and three of my very closest friends, 20 years on, grew up in Wokingham, Caversham and near the University.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comments Charly

      I’m not sure why you think the proposal opens up admissions to other abilities though ? The schools have set a mark above which children will benefit from a grammar education (110).

      This proposal isn’t changing that – it just tweaks the way places are allocated to children that pass the 11+

  22. Hayley says:

    To comment on a few points raised and add a couple of my own:

    1. What are the current statistics for admissions? I’m pretty sure I can name 50 or so girls from my year who lived in this newly proposed catchment area anyhow.
    2. Why discriminate against a child based on where they were raised? The whole point of grammar schools is to offer the opportunity of a grammar school education to anyone.
    3. This idea of ‘move closer’ if you’d like a grammar school education is ludicrous. Someone earlier mentioned that Slough has 4 grammar schools. If this is your opinion, I suggest you move to Slough.
    4. Please note that every Kendrick girl that has commented here has detailed no issues with their social life or friendships. This argument is purely speculation. I currently live in Japan and am still in contact with my Kendrick friends. I’d actually go as far as to say living further away strengthened my social life, as I sought extra-curricular activities as a way to also make friends locally. Did wonders for my CV too.
    5. The tutoring argument never seems to end, but implying that receiving help with your education is some form of cheating is no solution. I’d argue that you can only truly tutor on how to go about the 11+, rather than the intelligence required.
    6. The travel argument. Oh the flaws… The children that received lifts to school were actually, in my experience, primarily those who lived close enough that the parents could fathom driving their child in through Reading traffic at 7.30am or were on their way to work anyhow. I pretty quickly learnt the value of public transport and realised I didn’t need parental aid to get to school, work, sleepovers, social clubs etc. I was significantly more independent. This kind of argument implies that those within walking distance should receive an extra-special admission preference. After all, their parents live so close that they could contribute to the school community during lunch breaks.

    We’ve got two great grammar schools that have been happily functioning for centuries. Why is there this consistent need to try and alter a well functioning system?

  23. Jemima says:

    I’m sure I would be right in saying that many people are intrigued to know who it is leading this campaign and, moreover, what history they have with grammar schools. Because the undoubted likelyhood is that it is a bitter parent with a child living in the Reading area, who sadly didn’t not manage to get into one of these two schools. As a consequence of this, they have now sought the best way possible they could think of to attack these schools, in attempt to satisfy their thirst for revenge. If you really care so much about your “local community”, why not spend your time doing something productive and useful to help the Reading community, instead setting up a futile campaign with no real argument.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comments Jemima

      Could you expand on why you think this is an attack on the schools ? To me it seems to be a minor tweak to the oversubscription criteria

  24. Anonymous says:

    As a Kendrick school pupil who lives 17 miles from the school and relies on public transport to commute there, it can take me up to an hour and a half to get to school each day. I can find this exhausting and it results in me having little time or energy to do things when I get home, and it is also difficult for me to meet with friends out of school. However, being a high achiever in my primary school, it is understandable why my parents sent me to Kendrick where I would be given more opportunity to fulfil my potential without having to pay for private school. I agree that the catchment area for Kendrick and Reading should be reduced, as living so far away is generally detrimental to the pupil’s wellbeing, especially as they school is particularly result focused(which some pupils can cope with better than others.)

  25. Amanda says:

    As an ex Kendrick girl, I find this discussion very interesting.

    I think it’s fair to say, that there were a pretty large contingent of us in my year (1995 entry) whose parents would have sent us to a local private school had we not passed the entrance exam (myself included).

    I also lived over an hour away, and used to hate getting the bus. However, there was only one closer alternative, which was a pretty awful comprehensive, and I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have thrived in such an environment. I know I was lucky to gain a place, and I did well at Kendrick, so I am grateful for the academic opportunity, but in terms of social life, I do have to agree that it suffered as a result, particularly in the pre Internet era that we lived in then.

    The main upshot of having such a long and awful journey to school (the entire bus journey was cancelled without warning one day for a duration of about six months) is that it probably had a fair amount of influence over my decision to work in sustainable transport.

  26. Kirsti Wilson says:

    FYI – Can you share these links as the consultation is (buried) in the policy pages of Reading and Kendrick Schools’ websites if people do want to comment – http://www.reading-school.co.uk/55/policies and http://www.kendrick.reading.sch.uk/admissions/admission-policies/

    Thanks

  27. Supporter of Grammar schools says:

    I think these schools should remain as they are – excellent. What we should be trying to do is lobby to increase the number of grammar schools there are – not decrease the standards in the ones we have. I do think changing the catchment area would diminish standards. I agree with Bob’s comments and I disagree with Grace’s comments, which are unsubstantiated and at times offensive to both parents and pupils of these schools.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comments. The issue of ‘standards’ comes up quite a lot on this discussion

      Interestingly, Kendrick has confirmed that there’s no clear link between 11+ score and how well children do at the school so I don’t think changing the admissions will make a lot of difference to the ‘standard’ of the intake.

      • James says:

        Don’t confuse the ‘standaridised score’ you get in the 11+ tests with the dictionary definition of standard, “a level of quality or attainment”. They’re two completely different things. A standardised score just provides a score relative to the group being compared. Its absolute value depends on who else turned up to the same test. If someone takes a lucky guess and scores an extra mark everyone else’s ‘standard’ drops as a result.

        The advantage of the standardised score for the schools is it lets them disguise what’s really happening and select their intake to maximise their odds of getting good final GCSE results. At least it does when they don’t make the mistake Reading School did in 2013 when they standardised the half dozen late test results as an entirely separate group. One candidate answered just 76 questions correctly but because he was only being compared against the other five candidates who turned up for that test his standardised score ranked him in the top 100. (See row 614 of the 2013 worksheet http://trak.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ReadingSchoolTests-2011-2013.xlsx). For the 2013 entry, 426 other candidates correctly answered more questions than he did but he reached the necessary ‘standard’ to be offered a place because as explained above, a standardised score is only relative to the cohort being tested – all six of them.

  28. East Reading says:

    Why can’t the Kendrick and Reading Schools expand? Reading school missed the chance to buy land right next to the school (unless it has actually done so)- 1.5 acres right opposite Royal Berkshire hospital on craven road . However all is not lost as Reading School also owns a large site on Morgan road right next to the Abbey school which could be used to expand both Reading and Kendrick schools is it not time to expand these excellent schools given the increasing number of primary school children in Reading who could benefit from attending these schools? There appears to be no issue with expaning existing selective schools, Setting new ones in another issue at the moment. http://schoolsimprovement.net/todays-poll-do-you-expect-entirely-new-grammar-schools-to-be-allowed-under-this-governement

  29. Darryl Green says:

    So many arguements for and against. I can say that currently the situation allows anyone in more than a few SL postal codes to write a test used for both the Reading-Kendrick and Slough schools. SO these people reach for the stars in Reading and get to use the 4 Slough schools as a backup! No wonder so many supporters of the current system?

    University students are adults so chosing a school anywhere in the country or out is normal – 11 year olds on the trains is just wrong, but I am Candian and I see the Brits will do anything for a kids schooling it seems.

  30. Kent says:

    How pathetic to say children on trains is wrong. The next thing you will say is children on buses is wrong. What is the difference?

    If you have a catchment area, why not allow families to move in to the area if their child gains a place. Is the refusal local apartheid?

  31. simone aspis says:

    Hello
    Interested to read all comments from the school students about the benefits and disadvantages of attending a grammar or a non selective school. Do any of you have a special education need or consider yourself as being disabled – be great to hear from you about your experience. Be good to hear about your experience – please visit me and where I work at the Alliance for Inclusive Education. http://www.allfie.org.uk simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk

    • trak says:

      Apologies for the time it’s taken to moderate your contribution! There have been some interesting comments all round but I don’t think any considering disadvantaged or SEN children. Just like the green paper, “education which works for everyone [other than those it excludes]” which if you read it doesn’t mention these minorities anywhere. Not enough Tory voting parents of SEN/disabled.

  32. Mark says:

    Darryl Green is deluded.

    Is there a difference between a child taking a 10 minute train journey and getting off at the next stop and a bus journey?

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