New 11-plus exams will be like Sats, says Kent County Council
Kent County Council wants
to streamline the 11-plus system
by political editor Paul Francis
A revamp of Kent's 11-plus exam is due to be considered by
county councillors today.
The changes will see it based more closely on what primary
children learn in preparation for their Sats, say county education
Kent County Council is to streamline the test to try to counter
the widespread coaching culture around the exam, particularly in
independent fee-paying prep schools.
Many now accept it favours those who can afford to pay for
private tuition, leaving poorer families at a disadvantage.
The authority says the 11-plus is to be based on what
pupils learn when taking tests in English and maths in Year 6
- the Sats.
While it is unclear exactly what changes will be made to the
exam format, education chiefs say that from 2015 there will
be fewer advantages to children who have been privately
Around 11,500 children took the test last year and competition
for places in certain areas, notably west Kent, is intense.
In other recommendations, pupils in Kent will take the tests on
one day instead of two, bringing them into line with "out of
The exam will continue to be held at primary schools despite
some calls for them to be administered by grammar schools.
A major change is pupils will take two tests instead of three.
These will continue to combine numeracy, literacy and reasoning and
there will also be a writing exercise, as there is now.
Head teacher assessment panels for borderline cases will
continue to operate.
Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), education cabinet member pictured above
right, said the tests would be more closely aligned with what was
ordinarily taught to primary school children.
"I want it [the test] to be more closely aligned to the
curriculum to take away the coachability factor, which is what
everyone is concerned about.
"If everyone has the same opportunity to learn what they need to
pass the test, that will help level the playing field."
He acknowledged no test would ever be tutor-proof, but KCC hoped
changes, expected to be brought in from 2015, would make the exam
believes the changes will help address the issue of pupils being
over-tutored and then struggling once they go to a grammar
Opposition Liberal Democrat spokesman Cllr Martin Vye was
saying the proposed changes were modest.
He said: "Quite frankly, unless you can devise a test that has
no cultural bias, it is not going to change anything."
A review of the 11-plus was carried out by KCC at the end of
Head teachers were asked what changes could be made to counter
coaching culture but there was no clear consensus.
Many urged KCC to award grammar school places on the basis
results and were highly critical of the practice of private
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