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Published: 18:48, 10 February 2020
| Updated: 18:52, 10 February 2020
A group of 19 Catholic primary schools have been instructed to lift a Kent Test ban.
The Kent Catholic Schools' Partnership Trust (KCSP), which runs schools in almost every part of the county, had argued that it believed that allowing their schools to be used for testing led to pupils attending non-Catholic grammar schools.
In a letter sent to its schools last year, the trust said academies “must now cease enabling, facilitating or, especially, administering the Kent test (or any other 11-plus derivative)”.
The letter explained: “While the archbishop acknowledges the importance of parental choice, schools should promote Catholic education in the area that is in accord with the church’s social teachings and reinforces the value of all children as being created in the image of Christ and being born to nourish.”
But in a position statement issued by the Archdiocese of Southwark Education Commission, which oversees Catholic schools in Kent and Medway, schools have been told that such a ban was inoperable and they should not stop hosting the 11-plus test.
The statement said: "Even if it were policy, it would be hard to enforce and, in any case, it has been largely ignored."
Children were still able to sit the test elsewhere and of KCSP's 19 primary schools 16 "support pupils’ participation in the process of selection", it noted.
It continued: "In seeking to preserve, at all costs, all that is remarkable in our secondary schools, we must also reasonably recognise the choices of some parents whose children might have specific learning needs that can seemingly be better catered for in grammar schools."
It said: "We wish to emphasise that the problem is selection at 11-plus, not the Archdiocese’s unwritten rule of thumb which was an historical attempt to preserve comprehensive Catholic secondary education for those whose skills, gifts and talents are not adequately assessed by the battery of tests at 11-plus."
The statement added that in practice, schools that have previously administered the tests “may continue to do so” – if withdrawing would mean younger siblings did not have the same opportunity as older brothers and sisters.
At the same time, the statement said other primary schools should not start hosting the test if they did not already do so.
More by this authorPaul Francis