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Early 11-plus exam an option to avoid chaos

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PUPILS could sit Kent’s 11-plus exam two months earlier than they do now under county council plans to change its schools admissions policy next year.

The proposal is one option under consideration by KCC in an effort to avoid a repetition of the chaos which hit this year’s secondary admissions. Schools and parents are being asked for their views on a range of different options over next year’s admissions policy. Among the education authority’s four options is a proposal for pupils to sit the 11-plus test in late November, rather than in January, as they do now.

Bringing forward the test would enable places at both grammar and non-selective schools to be allocated at the end of January. Such a move would also mean KCC would comply with a requirement to make sure all pupils are told which school they are to go to on the same day.

A second variation on this option is for the test to be taken in November and for all places to be allocated a month later. To meet this timetable, the appeals process for the 11-plus would be streamlined, with the headteacher and parental appeal stages – which are held separately at the moment – being combined.

The third option under consideration is for pupils to sit the test as they currently do in January but for no places to be allocated at any secondary school until February. That is likely to be opposed by non-selective schools and parents whose children do not enter the test.

For them, it would mean a wait of more than two months to know the outcome of their application for a place at a non-selective school. The final option is for parents to make applications based on so-called “conditional” and “unconditional” choices.

Parents would either complete an “unconditional” list for a place at a non-selective school or submit a “conditional” application, listing both selective and non-selective schools if they wished their child to enter the 11-plus.

Cllr Leyland Ridings (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for schools organisation, said: “These options are designed to try and streamline the process for 2003. Given the timescale, it is probably the only thing we can do for admissions for next year.”

He hinted that KCC would be considering potentially radical changes for admissions in 2004. It is understood a “root and branch” review of Kent’s admissions policy is to be carried out.

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