Northern Ireland news

Children who 'fail' 11-plus winning grammar places in later years

Pupils swapping non-grammar for grammar education is a long established practice

DOZENS of children who fail to win a grammar school place from primary school are transferring in later years, new figures reveal.

Pupils swapping non-grammar for grammar education after Year 8 – and prior to GCSEs or A-levels – is a long-established practice.

New statistics from the Department of Education show that 131 children who were first years at a non-grammar school in 2016/17, started the next year in a grammar setting.

A further 55 young people left their secondary school for a grammar education between Year 9 and Year 10 over the same period.

Observers claim that some parents are approached during Year 8 and offered a grammar place to start Year 9.

Such transfers are permitted. While grammar schools are strictly restricted regarding the number of first year admissions, they can bring in pupils for second or third year if they do not exceed their overall permitted admission number.

This will include children who have either not taken an 11-plus-style test or not scored high enough marks to win a place in first year.

Of the 186 pupils brought in from non-grammars to grammars, just 23.6 per cent were entitled to free school meals.

Many grammar schools will admit children after first year based on evidence of academic ability.

This can include their most recent reports and assessments, similar to the 11-plus, set by the receiving school in English, maths and non-verbal reasoning. They may also consider any other appropriate evidence of academic ability or potential.

Movement occurs in the opposite direction, with some pupils leaving grammars to transfer to non-grammars after Year 8.

Some children will move schools for reasons including parents moving jobs or marriage break-ups.

Again, the latest department figures show that from 2016/17 to 2017/18, 60 pupils moved from grammar to non-grammar between Year 8 and Year 9. A further 66 moved in the same timeframe between Year 9 and Year 10.

Of these 126 pupils, 43.6 per cent were entitled to free school meals.

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