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Canterbury school defends its Kent Test changes

Simon Langton Grammar School for boys, Canterbury
Simon Langton Grammar School for boys, Canterbury

The Simon Langton Grammar School for boys in Canterbury is proposing to change its admissions procedure in an effort to restore its traditional recruiting ground for pupils.

A selective grammar school, the Langton wants to raise the number of marks pupils need to score in the Kent Test in order to win a place.

Massive demand for places in recent years has meant that the area from which pupils are able to get in has narrowed to just five miles from the school, denying places to boys from Whitstable and Herne Bay.

There was controversy last year when an 11-year-old from Herne Bay desperate to attend the Langton was refused a place despite scoring perfect marks in the Kent Test.

Critics may argue that by raising the pass mark the 1,050-pupil school is making itself more elitist, a claim rejected by senior teachers.

Head teacher Matthew Baxter said: “We have no more room to expand the school and take more students and what we have done is try to look for the fairest system possible.

“We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t because we could be accused of being elitist or otherwise we could be accused of being unfair.”

Traditionally, the Langton has taken pupils from within a nine-mile radius of the school.

However, as the school’s popularity has soared in recent years, precedence has been given to boys according to how far away they live from its Nackington Road site.

It's proposing to raise the amount of marks needed to 385 out of a possible 420 in the Kent Test. The usual pass mark is in the 340s although it varies from year to year.

Ken Moffat, the head of school, who has worked at the Langton since 1988, added: “In changing the criteria we are simply trying to return to our traditional recruiting grounds of Canterbury and district, including Herne Bay and Whitstable and outlying villages.

“We believe the proposed changes offer the fairest chance for future applicants to the school.”

A consultation over the proposals has just finished and Mr Moffat insists the school has received only positive responses to it.

If proposals are ratified by the school’s governors, and Kent County Council, they will come into effect by 2013.

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