Published: 06:00, 21 November 2019
| Updated: 10:16, 22 January 2020
Parents of children at some religious schools in the county have been told youngsters will no longer be able to sit the Kent Test at their chosen school.
The crackdown by the Kent Catholic Schools' Partnership means those attending Catholic primary schools under its leadership will not be able to sit the exam which determines if they can go to grammar school.
Children will still be able to take the test if they travel to another school which hosts it.
It comes following instruction from the Archbishop of Southwark, whose diocese covers south London and Kent.
The authority oversees schools across the county.
In a letter to colleagues, staff were told: “It is diocesan policy, at the request of the Archbishop, that school premises are not used to promote non-Catholic schools.
“This includes the use of Catholic premises for administering grammar school tests.
“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 flourish.”
Writing to parents about the decision, interim executive principal of junior schools St Edward’s in Sheerness and St Peter’s in Sittingbourne, Sara Wakefield, said she was being forced to follow procedure.
She wrote: “I must point out this is not a decision made by me as executive principal or the academy alone.
“As a Catholic academy we are required to follow policies laid down by our Catholic diocese in the name of our Archbishop John Wilson.
“Though a number of Catholic schools and academies have been in breach of this long-standing policy, it demands that the premises and resources of Catholic schools and academies are for the promotion of Catholic, non-selective education.”
Mrs Wakefield added that although parents still had the right to enter their child into the Kent Test, they would not be able to take it at those schools.
"I must point out this is not a decision made by me" - Sara Wakefield
Parent Emma Osborne, of Murston, said her youngest son, nine-year-old Harvey, will not have the same chance to sit the test as her 12-year-old Dylon, who now attends Borden Grammar.
Mrs Osborne said: “We’ve chosen to send our children to a Catholic school because we’re Catholic and we’re being discriminated against.
“They have to go to a school which they’re not used to at what is already a very stressful time.
“We don’t have a Catholic secondary school to send them to in Sittingbourne. There are quite a few of us who have been in uproar about it.”
Some schools outside the organisation have also banned sitting the Kent Test on their premises.
Of the nine other schools in Kent contacted, St Francis' Catholic Primary School in Queens Road, Maidstone, St Bartholomew's Catholic Primary School in Sycamore Drive, Swanley, and St Anselm's Catholic Primary School in Littlebrook Manorway, Dartford, said children cannot take it at their own school.
St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Greenfield Road, Gillingham, St Augustine's Catholic Primary School in St John's Road, Hythe, and St Ethelbert's Catholic Primary School in Dane Park Road, Ramsgate, let children take it in their usual classrooms.
Meanwhile, St Thomas' Catholic Primary School in Military Road, Canterbury, and St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Bleakwood Road, Chatham, did not want to comment.
St William of Perth Catholic Primary School in Canon Close, Rochester, said it does the Medway Test in school but pupils taking the Kent Test do so away from the school.
More by this authorEllis Stephenson