The Guardian reports that one of the country’s leading grammar schools has been accused of acting unlawfully by throwing out sixth-form students who failed to get top grades in AS and equivalent internal exams ahead of their final A-level year.
About 16 pupils at St Olave’s grammar school in Orpington, in the London borough of Bromley, were told their places for year 13 – the last year of school – had been withdrawn after they failed to get the required three Bs. One father accused the school of dumping his son like “old garbage”.
Other students were told they would be allowed to continue on a discretionary basis and were asked to sign a contract warning that if they did not get a minimum B grade in their mocks the school reserved the right not to enter them for their A-level exams.
Lawyers acting for two of the affected families have issued judicial review proceedings against the school’s governing body, also naming Bromley, the local authority responsible for maintaining the school, as an interested party. A hearing has been set for 20 September.
Education experts say a number of other schools – including other high-achieving grammars – are employing similar tactics to ensure the best possible results, but it is thought to be the first time the issue been challenged in court.
Education lawyer Imogen Jolley, of Simpson Millar, said it was generally accepted that withdrawing a school place at the end of year 12 amounted to an exclusion, which, in the case of a local authority maintained school – as St Olave’s is – would be governed by Department for Education exclusion guidance.
Under the guidance, it is only lawful to exclude a pupil on disciplinary matters. It states clearly that it is “unlawful” to exclude for “a reason such as academic attainment/ability”.
Has your school used these tactics? Have any of your pupils had to sign a ‘grade contract’? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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