Grammar school parents in revolt over plans to drop entry marks for

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Grammar school parents are in open revolt over plans to drop entry marks for disadvantaged pupils.Over 3,000 people have signed an online petition warning that reducing the pass mark for the Eleven Plus will lead to standards dropping “dramatically”.The King Edward VI Academy Trust, which runs six grammar schools in Birmingham, plans to introduce new catchment areas from next September that will give priority to disadvantaged pupils who live in those areas, even if they achieve slightly lower entry scores.Kaja Fawthrop, who wrote the petition, said that parents have raised almost £2,000 for a barrister’s opinion on the legality of the plans. They have also lodged an appeal with the  Office of the Schools Adjudicator.“We reject proposals to create new catchment areas around each Grammar school and drastically reduce the pass mark causing standards to drop dramatically in the best schools in our City,” the petition says.“They are some of the best State Grammar schools outside London, with entry based purely on merit, not how much money you have.”  The petition, titled “Keep Birmingham State Grammar Schools”, points out that if a child is bright enough to pass the Eleven Plus and win a place at a selective school then “it’s fair to hope they can have the chance to be educated with peers of a similar ability”. Writing on the site change.org, Ms Fawthrop said: “Grammar schools are designed for academically high achieving children. If entrance is decided on by postcode, what is the point of Grammar schools? What is the point of the 11+ test if catchment area is the deciding factor?”Current legislation forbids new grammar schools from being created, but a £50 million fund was created by the Prime Minister last year to create extra places at existing selective schools. So far, 16 grammars have been awarded funds to create new places on their existing site.The £50 million expansion fund is the bedrock of Theresa May’s trimmed-down grammar revolution. The money will be available to existing grammars on the condition they can prove they will take in more children from lower income backgrounds.Heath Monk, executive director of King Edward VI Foundation, has previously said: “Grammar schools have got to be more socially inclusive and they have got to do more to reach out to disadvantaged children and that inevitably means some fear of displacement. “What we are doing it is in line with government policy and where government wants grammar schools to go in terms of accessibility and access of disadvantaged children.”

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