Head teacher's wife 'tutors pupils through 11-plus', Kent County Council survey finds
KCC is considering
changes to rules on private tutoring for the 11-plus
by political editor Paul Francis
Head teachers across the county have expressed disquiet over the
extent of private coaching for the 11-plus and say Kent
County Council should be doing more to stop it.
Responses to a survey carried out by Kent County Council on
possible changes to the exam reveal many now consider private
tutoring and coaching in schools so prevalent that the tests are
unfairly skewed towards those able to pay for tuition.
Among more than 100 responses was a claim one Kent head
teacher even offers parents private tuition from his wife to help
children through the exam.
That is a breach of the county council's instructions to schools
they should not prepare or coach children for the test.
KCC said it was carrying out an investigation into the
The survey results indicates broad support for the county
council's aim of a "tutor proof" test but reservations about how it
can be done.
And they leave county education chiefs facing no clear consensus
among schools about the best way forward, with opinion evenly split
on many of the proposals they have put forward.
On a key suggestion that practice papers be dropped to limit the
amount of coaching, opinion was split with 65 disagreeing but 48
Many argued it would be impossible to stop practice papers being
sold commercially and said dropping them could disadvantage some
On the issue of whether the tests should continue to be taken at
primary schools, there was an exact split - 61 saying they should
and 61 saying they should be passed to grammar schools.
Patrick Leeson, KCC's director of education, said that where
there was evidence of coaching by schools, the council would
"Where there is evidence that schools are involved in this kind
of activity, we will always look carefully at any evidence that is
presented to us and will act accordingly."
He added: "The council is concerned about the industry that has
around tutoring and coaching for the test and the unreasonable
pressure it puts on children. We believe this is unfair and
should not be condoned.
"Reducing that pressure is something that I hope any parent
school would welcome."
He accepted it would be hard to devise a tutor-proof exam.
"While no test of this type can be coach-proof, the council
determined to reduce the degree to which coaching makes an
Details of the survey responses were released to the KM Group
Freedom of Information Act.
system is flawed'
The survey drew responses from 135 of the county's schools,
with the bulk - 108 - coming from primary headteachers and 25 from
Asked if practice papers should be dropped, 65 said no and 48 said
On the idea of tests over one day, 57 disagreed and 63
However, many were critical about the widespread coaching culture
in Kent and the failure of the authority to tackle the
KCC recently confirmed that it had taken no action against any
school over coaching.
Among the comments were:
"It is disgraceful the 'rich' and 'richer' are at an advantage
away as their schools advertise the fact they coach for the tests
parents are pressured into hiring tutors."
"Change the tests substantially each year to give children who
are not tutored a fairer chance."
"The whole system is flawed and should be discontinued."
"It will be very difficult to find tests resistant to parental
or external coaching."
"KCC needs to do more to stop the blatant coaching that goes on
schools and undermines the process."
"We even have a headteacher who offers his wife's time to
parents, at cost, to coach children."
"There is an imbalance between those children who do and do not
have tutoring and this needs to be addressed."
"Monitor schools who cram and tutor to the test far more
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