One of Kent’s top grammar schools is to introduce its own 11-plus test to encourage more applications from pupils from different backgrounds.
The Judd School in Tonbridge will begin setting its own test from 2016 and says it is doing so to try and counter the culture of coaching.
Many believe the current 11-plus favours those who can afford private tuition and those who attend fee-paying prep schools.
School pupils. Stock picture
Head teacher Robert Masters said: “We select at the top end [of ability] and the Kent test is not designed for that. We think it is much better to test children on what they know already, rather than verbal and non-verbal reasoning.”
The school’s entrance exam will incorporate a creative writing element, which the existing Kent test does not.
“The Kent test is moving towards that, but does not include a creative writing test.
"There is a fair bit of evidence that parents do think there is no point trying for a place at Judd because they cannot afford coaching. We want to say to them that is not the case.”
Judd School headmaster Robert Masters
It was difficult to predict what the precise impact would be but the school’s intake was likely to see more children offered places from state primaries, he added.
Figures on the number of pupils from fee-paying prep schools going to grammars in Kent indicate the Judd has one of the highest proportions.
In 2012, 53 offers were made - second only to Tonbridge Grammar.
Last year, 50 offers were made.
Kent County Council says its new test, due to come in in 2014, will go some way towards eliminating the extent to which children can be coached.
There are concerns that if more schools go their own way, pupils could face the prospect of sitting several different tests for a place at a grammar.
Around 13,500 children sit the 11-plus each year for places at Kent’s 33 grammars each year.