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Coronavirus Kent: Families need 'quick answers' over 11-plus exams

Kent families need "quick answers" around the future of the 11-plus test, a council committee has been told.

Lobbying to suspend the September exams continues, due to fears for children's mental health and differences in the level of homeschooling during the coronavirus lockdown.

Stock picture
Stock picture

Kent County Council's (KCC) scrutiny committee met earlier today, for the first time since the UK's Covid-19 outbreak in March, to discuss a range of county-wide issues, including school meal vouchers, school transport and the Kent Test.

KCC's Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Cllr Trudy Dean, who attended the meeting, called for urgent action and said: "It's important that members of the public know the answer to the Kent Test question very quickly."

KCC's virtual meeting comes a week after Boris Johnson announced a phased return of schools from June 1, at the earliest, for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes, if the Covid-19 infection reproduction (R) rate continues to decline or remains under 'one'.

But Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield last week called for the 11-plus exams to be suspended as she hopes to avoid "heightened anxiety" for school children in the months leading up to the assessments.

Kent councillors have also called for urgent action to be taken to address the issue during today's virtual scrutiny meeting.

Cllr Trudy Dean. Picture: Martin Apps
Cllr Trudy Dean. Picture: Martin Apps

Cllr Dean told the 13-person committee: "Parents have got to make decisions in June as to whether to submit their child for the Kent test or not.

"They might be influenced by whether that is assessed as normal - a series of three-hour tests - or whether they would be happy for their child to be assessed by a school teacher based assessment, which is the alternative."

Other education concerns raised by councillors at the meeting include transport logistical problems and issues around the school meal vouchers scheme, which has seen some school officials delivering "food parcels" to children at their family home.

Medway Council says it is awaiting feedback from the Department for Education on whether any changes will be made to the test.

It will let schools know in due course and officers are continuing to plan for the assessments as usual - taking into account possible need for social distancing.

Registration in Medway will be open as usual from June 1 to June 29.

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

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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