Published: 13:02, 08 February 2013
KCC is considering changes to rules on private tutoring for the 11-plus
by political editor Paul Francis
Head teachers across the county have expressed disquiet over the extent of private coaching for the 11-plus and say Kent County Council should be doing more to stop it.
Responses to a survey carried out by Kent County Council on possible changes to the exam reveal many now consider private tutoring and coaching in schools so prevalent that the tests are unfairly skewed towards those able to pay for tuition.
Among more than 100 responses was a claim one Kent head teacher even offers parents private tuition from his wife to help children through the exam.
That is a breach of the county council's instructions to schools they should not prepare or coach children for the test.
KCC said it was carrying out an investigation into the claim.
The survey results indicates broad support for the county council's aim of a "tutor proof" test but reservations about how it can be done.
And they leave county education chiefs facing no clear consensus among schools about the best way forward, with opinion evenly split on many of the proposals they have put forward.
On a key suggestion that practice papers be dropped to limit the amount of coaching, opinion was split with 65 disagreeing but 48 agreeing.
Many argued it would be impossible to stop practice papers being sold commercially and said dropping them could disadvantage some pupils.
On the issue of whether the tests should continue to be taken at primary schools, there was an exact split - 61 saying they should and 61 saying they should be passed to grammar schools.
Patrick Leeson, KCC's director of education, said that where there was evidence of coaching by schools, the council would act.
"Where there is evidence that schools are involved in this kind of activity, we will always look carefully at any evidence that is presented to us and will act accordingly."
He added: "The council is concerned about the industry that has grown up
around tutoring and coaching for the test and the unreasonable pressure it puts on children. We believe this is unfair and should not be condoned.
"Reducing that pressure is something that I hope any parent or
school would welcome."
He accepted it would be hard to devise a tutor-proof exam.
"While no test of this type can be coach-proof, the council is
determined to reduce the degree to which coaching makes an impact."
Details of the survey responses were released to the KM Group under the
Freedom of Information Act.