Parents’ fury over Redbridge 11 plus exam ‘fiasco’

PUBLISHED: 10:47 22 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:47 22 November 2020

Parents are furious over the delay to to the 11 Plus exam in Redbridge. Picture: PA/David Jones

Parents are furious over the delay to to the 11 Plus exam in Redbridge. Picture: PA/David Jones

PA Wire/PA Images

Parents are furious at Redbridge Council after “hundreds” of students were barred from an exam to get into the borough’s grammar schools.

Students who live outside the Redbridge “common catchment area” reportedly found out days before the 11 Plus exam on November 21 that their place in the exam hall was cancelled.

One parent accused the council of a “fiasco”, adding there were many children with no invitation letter just days before the test or whose letter listed their sex wrong.

The “common catchment area” for the borough’s grammar schools covers the entirety of Redbridge and some parts of neighbouring boroughs, mostly to the north and west.

Redbridge Council told a parent on Twitter on November 18 that pupils from outside this area would now be tested on December 5.

Nichola Lashmar tweeted at Redbridge Council: “I would like to make public the FIASCO you have made of the arrangements for 11plus.

“Many parents with no invite letter two days before the test and incorrect gender on most letters. Admin teams phones off the hook. Where is my child’s letter? She is fretting.”

Dr Neha Rawat whose daughter attends Christchurch Primary and was supposed to sit the exam there said she was told by someone at the school that they never signed up for the exam in the first place.

She said: “The school should have noticed that their school was listed on the ID forms that needed to be signed off on and flagged it sooner.

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“It is an utter and complete shambles and no one is taking responsibility.”

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, said, “Christchurch Primary School contacted the council last week to inform us they would be unable to stage the eleven plus examination, as initially planned. There is essential building work currently taking place at the school, which would prevent them from accessing the only space in the building that would accommodate pupils safely and in line with social distancing guidelines.

“We immediately searched alternative venues but could not find anywhere large enough to safely accommodate the cohort of children due to sit the eleven-plus at Christchurch School. With that in mind, we reluctantly decided to reschedule the test date to December, when we can source a venue that will accommodate children safely. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Essex GP Priya Jay said some students had their place cancelled “just four days prior to the exam”, adding: “These kids’ dreams are devastated.”

Responding to a parent on Twitter, a Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “There is no appeal process for this decision, which we were required to make in unprecedented times to ensure the well-being of children and their families.

“A further email will be issued to all parents of out of Common Catchment Area applicants soon.”

To another parent, they later added: “All out of Common Catchment Area parents have been emailed today to advise that their children will be tested on the late test date on December 5, 2020.”

The council’s website states: “Due to the current Covid-19 situation, this year will be very different to previous years.

“All Redbridge Year 6 candidates will sit the test at a Redbridge Primary school, which may be the school they are currently on roll at.

“All other candidates within the Common Catchment Area will be tested at the two Redbridge grammar schools – girls at Woodford County High School and boys at Ilford County High School.”

Redbridge Council was asked for a statement on its arrangements for the 11 Plus exam on November 4 and has not responded to comment on this story.

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