Private school entry exam is outdated, say headteachers

For more than a century, the Common Entrance exam has determined the fate of thousands of children seeking places at leading private schools. Now, it seems it might have failed its own test: that of keeping pace with modern life.

A summit is to be heldthis month to consider whether it should undergo radical changes, amid growing concerns from senior teachers that the exam is outdated.

Dr Anthony Seldon, head of Wellington College, has described it as a "roast beef and Yorkshire pudding kind of exam which is very staid".

"It is a test of rote learning and the quality of prep school teachers, rather than a reflection of the abilities and thinking of the candidates," he added.

Dr Alex Peterken, headmaster of Cheltenham College, where the summit isbeing held, added: "In my view, the time has arrived for an overhaul of the CE exams."

The exam, set by the Independent Schools Examinations Board, was introduced in 1904 and is normally sat by 13-year-olds in prep schools seeking places at senior schools.

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