11-plus `flawed', say heads

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The Independent Online
KEY ELEMENTS of the 11-plus exam to be taken by thousands of schoolchildren next week are flawed, according to an internal local authority document obtained by The Independent.

A consultation paper produced by the panel of head teachers that advises on the 11-plus in Kent warns that the English tests are unreliable and poor indicators of ability.

Anti-selection campaigners said yesterday that the document, which lists the "acknowledged advantages and disadvantages" of the tests, was proof that the grammar school system was unfair. But defenders of grammar schools said the system enjoyed widespread public confidence.

Education officers and headteachers acknowledged that the English tests had long been criticised by some heads, but insisted the 11-plus exams were only one part of the selection process. The revelation will reignite debate over the remaining 166 grammar schools, which face abolition if parents vote to end selection.

The consultation paper, sent to all Kent headteachers before Christmas, was drawn up as part of an exercise to revamp the 11-plus next year. It warns that comprehension tests used as part of the 11-plus "give no correlation between ability and achievement".

But the paper praises the maths test, which forms the second part of the 11-plus, as "extremely reliable" and praises IQ-style verbal and non- verbal reasoning tests used by some of the county's grant-maintained schools, which control their own admissions.