Private primary schools caught 'coaching' children on the 11+ exam

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Private primary schools have been threatened with a Grammar school exam ban after they were caught “coaching” children for the Eleven Plus.

Schools in Kent are not allowed to teach pupils how to pass the Grammar school entry exam on the basis that this may give some children an unfair advantage over their peers.

An undercover BBC reporter, posing as a parent, approached ten fee-paying primary schools in Kent and found that nine of these were giving pupils special tutoring for the Eleven Plus.

It comes amid a debate about the extent to which Grammar schools should change their admissions policies to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Selective schools are under pressure to demonstrate that their entrance exams do not favour children from middle class families who can afford fees for primary schools or private tuition. 

Earlier this year, Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, announced a £50 million fund for Grammar school expansion, but only on the condition they can prove they will take in more children from lower income backgrounds.

In a series of recordings with private schools teachers, one said: "It's ridiculous they say you can't be tutored for it... we prepare children for the Kent test – 100 per cent."

Others discussed how they give children examples of past papers, and mock tests "structured in a very similar way" to the Kent Test.

Just one out of the ten schools denied giving any extra tutorials, saying "no school should be coaching children".

The county council said it would "always look at any firm evidence that suggests a school may have engaged in coaching". Schools found in breach of the rules could be banned from holding future exams.

Three schools were warned about coaching by the council in 2016, but no further action was taken and the council has never banned a school from holding the exam.

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