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Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield urges Kent County Council to suspend 11-plus exams

An MP is calling for the 11-plus test to be suspended amid fears for children's mental health.

Kent County Council (KCC) is planning to go-ahead with the exams "at a time of heightened anxiety" in the first half of September.

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield is urging Kent County Council to reschedule the Kent Test. Picture: Suzanne Bold/The Labour Party
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield is urging Kent County Council to reschedule the Kent Test. Picture: Suzanne Bold/The Labour Party

But Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield is urging the authority to reschedule them as pupils will have had just "a few weeks of schooling in the five months" leading up to the assessments.

The Labour representative explained: "In light of the Covid-19 crisis, I am calling on Kent County Council to suspend the Kent Test and all grammar school entrance exams planned for September.

"It is not right that at a time of heightened anxiety for all children, another pressure is placed on them."

Ms Duffield has been a frequent critic of the 11-plus exams, having urged then Prime Minister Theresa May to end them due to the stress it puts on children last year.

She also described grammar schools as "not the way forward" during hustings in 2017.

MS Duffield believes the impact the outbreak of coronavirus has had on children's schooling will provide those from households that can afford tutors an added advantage in September. Stock picture
MS Duffield believes the impact the outbreak of coronavirus has had on children's schooling will provide those from households that can afford tutors an added advantage in September. Stock picture

But the MP believes the impact coronavirus has had on children's schooling will provide those pupils from households that can afford tutors with more of an advantage come September.

Ms Duffield continued: "Many of these children will only have had a few weeks of schooling in the five months that precede September and thus extra advantage will be given to those who grow up in households able to tutor and assist their children in preparation for the test.

"Many parents are contacting me with worries about this and it is right that the county council act swiftly to offer reassurance and clarity."

Kent's Conservative MPs wrote to council leaders last week urging them to delay the test by about a month.

Maidstone and The Weald representative Helen Grant said: "We appreciate and share the concerns of parents and pupils at this challenging time and so asked for it to be delayed by a month or so in order to provide some certainty and reassurance to those involved.

Maidstone MP Helen Grant believes the exams should be pushed back by about a month
Maidstone MP Helen Grant believes the exams should be pushed back by about a month

"I do not believe that a suspension of the Kent Test would be beneficial to pupils, parents or teachers because it is crucial that we recognise the hard work they have all put in to prepare for it."

KCC is in discussions with the Department for Education and will update schools and parents or carers as soon as a decision is made.

Registration for the test will open in June.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

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