Calls to scrap admissions rule prioritising grammar students from outside Bexley
PUBLISHED: 09:42 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:42 03 December 2018
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Calls have been made to scrap a school admissions rule in Bexley which prioritises grammar students with high selection test scores even if they live outside the borough.
Opposition councillors are asking for the “180 rule” to be dropped after new figures showed 50.1 per cent of grammar school pupils live outside Bexley.
The rule means places are prioritised for children living outside the borough if they are one of the 180 highest scorers in selection tests.
Admission criteria also favour pupils who have siblings in schools or staff children above children living in the borough.
Councillor Wendy Perfect, shadow spokeswoman for education, said Bexley parents are being offered a false promise.
Cllr Perfect said: “They are being told that grammar schools are provided in Bexley to allow their children to fulfil their potential, but last year Bexley’s four grammar schools’ admission criteria resulted in less than 30 per cent of those students deemed selective at the test living in Bexley.”
Figures supplied by the opposition show 51 per cent of grammar pupils – 1,983 children – live outside Bexley, compared to 1,974 pupils coming from inside the borough.
Labour councillors have now called for the rule to be scrapped to ensure an “even playing field”.
Cllr Perfect said: “The average Bexley resident will rightly think it is a nonsense that last year students living in Somerset, Warwickshire and Wolverhampton sat the Bexley test knowing if they achieved one of the highest 180 scores they would have been guaranteed a place at a Bexley grammar school.”
However, grammar schools in Bexley are academies, which the council has little say over.
Academies are publicly-funded schools that are not under a council’s control, and have more power over pay and curriculum. They are funded by the government, not the local authority.
Bexley Council did said the policy is “relatively low” compared to the other parts of the country.
A spokesman for Bexley Council said: “The four grammar schools in Bexley are all academies and as such they set their own admissions criteria.
“This includes the guarantee that any child, regardless of where they live, will be offered the grammar school place they want as long they are one of the highest 180 scorers.
“The policy was introduced to ensure that all children from all across the borough had an equal chance of a grammar school place.
“The policy of only guaranteeing the top 180 a grammar place, is relatively low compared to other parts of the country who fill all of their grammar places purely based on the top scorers.
“It is worth noting that on national offer day this year only two Bexley pupils that were deemed selective did not have an offer of a school place.”
Similar policies are widely used by grammar schools, which in turn means Bexley pupils could benefit from being accepted to grammars outside the borough.
The two pupils mentioned were given a place eventually, it is understood.