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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
School rejection scheme could go
Homewood School in Tenterden
Homewood School is one of 15 in Kent to use 'conditionality'
A scheme which allows secondary schools in Kent to reject pupils who wanted to go to grammar school may soon be abolished.

The county's schools still operate a selection system based on the 11-plus exam, which attracts criticism from some parents and schools.

Fifteen foundation or church schools are able to exclude any would-be pupil whose first choice had been to go to a grammar school, but who failed the 11-plus.

But a schools adjudicator has ruled the practice should stop.

Last resort

Children in Kent about to take the 11-plus have to indicate which school they would want to go to as a first and second choice.

Many put a grammar school first and have a high school or comprehensive school second in case they fail the exam and cannot go to the grammar school.

The 15 schools operate a scheme called 'conditionality' which gives preference to pupils who put that school first on the list over those who only want to go there as a last resort.

The schools have been able to operate this rule for the past three years.

Education secretary Charles Clarke suggested this week that equal preference should be applied to school selection, co-ordinated by local education authorities.

'Sad business'

The national schools adjudicator, Philip Hunter, has now said conditionality should stop - but a final ruling will not be made until the end of the month.

Councillor Leyland Ridings, chairman of the Education Committee said the new system would be simpler for parents.

Martin Fry, a governor of Homewood School in Tenterden, which operates conditionality, said: "There are 600-700 pupils who opt to choose our school and there's only room for 360.

"The question is how to go about choosing the sad business of turning away children?"

Mr Fry said the school's governors maintained their system was fairest and said they would try to convince Mr Hunter by the end of September.

Plan to end school admissions row
10 Sep 03  |  Education
Minister rules out end to 11-plus
01 Apr 03  |  England
Clarke meets anti-grammar campaigners
19 Mar 03  |  Education
Objectors win 11-plus row
14 Feb 03  |  Education
Kent's selective schools compared
17 Jan 03  |  Education

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