Wycombe Labour today exposed a cover- up by Tory-led BCC of serious failings with the new
n 2012, BCC officials questioned the Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), which was then developing the new 11+, about the effectiveness and fairness of the test.
Sometime before June 2013, the BCC officials recorded their assessment of CEM’s responses in a document known as the “due diligence” report. This was eventually released by BCC last month, although even then parts of the report were blacked out at the request of CEM.
In the report these BCC officials, identified only by their initials, flagged up serious and fundamental concerns about the new 11+. They doubted whether there was any correlation between tests such as the new 11+ and
future educational attainment.
They also doubted whether the new test:
- was appropriate for children in year 6 of the English education system,
- actually determined the suitability of children for grammar schools and
- was fair to pupils with English as an additional language, pupils with statements of special educational needs and black and ethnic minority groups, and
A red/orange flag (the highest level of warning) was given to BCC’s concerns about the impact of the new exam for children from black and ethnic minority groups and with special educational needs.
In the light of these concerns, BCC must have suspected the new 11+ test would not comply with the statutory Schools Admissions Code. In those circumstances, BCC was required by law to put its objections to the School Adjudicator who is responsible for ensuring admissions are fair. BCC did not do so.
Tory –led BCC has never indicated publicly at any point that BCC had these serious concerns.
David Williams, QC, Wycombe’s Parliamentary candidate said “It is extraordinary that BCC had these fundamental and serious concerns about the new 11+, even before the test was run, and has done nothing about it, not even to put those concerns to the Schools Adjudicator which it is legally required to do. Why is that? I hope it is not politically
BCC is now trying to wash its hands of any responsibility for the content of the test, saying it is all the responsibility of the grammar schools. But BCC knew there were serious unanswered questions about the test before it was run. They choose to sit on the information. They failed to act. In short, they covered up.
And who does that disadvantage? As usual with the Tories, the victims are the poorest and most disadvantaged sections of the community. “
David Williams continued “As well as the children involved, I feel for those honest officerswho spoke up in the interests of children and whose concerns were dismissed. We now know that all of their concerns were borne out in practice.
For example, we now know, thanks to the ‘Who Benefits?’ report from the Local, Equal and Excellent Group, that the new 11+ test does disadvantage pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds and from less affluent families.
If that is right, the test does not to comply with the Code and is therefore unlawful."
Asked what should happen now, David Williams replied "The Education, Skills and Children’s Services Select Committee is due to scrutinise the results of the 11+, as presented by the grammar schools, on 4 November. I hope that these officials brief the Chair of the Committee so she can ask some searching and relevant questions.
And the harm continues to be done because BCC has allowed a flawed 11+ test to be run again this year with the inevitable result that thousands of children across Bucks will not be treated fairly and equally in accessing the secondary school system.
Wycombe Labour believes the 11+ should be abolished.”